1. Salt & PaperIt is the oldest trick in the book but works like a charm every time. Take a paper and try slicing the paper with a little pressure. An excellent and sharp knife will smoothly cut through the paper, but a blunt knife would either crumple the paper under the blade or start to tear unevenly with rough edges. You can even try magazine paper as it is thinner and thus adds up the difficulty level. Folding the open ends and then trying to cut both sides at once can be the ultimate test. Feel free to try tissue paper, too, preferably a single ply. If it cuts with a smooth edge, you know your knife is ready to cut things.
2. Onion PeelWe know what you are thinking, and yes, onions are soft, but the magic of this test lies under the onion’s skin. Grab a nice onion, and don’t peel it. Place it on your countertop and rest your knife on it with minimum to no pressure. Try cutting the onion. If your blade is sharp, it will get through the onion’s skin very quickly, but if the knife isn’t sharp, it will merely glide from the peel and won’t cut. Of course, it can cut the onion if a little pressure is applied, but the trick lies in not putting pressure and seeing how well the knife works.
3. TomatoYou might need to raid your fridge for this method and dig deeper to find a ripe tomato. The riper, the better! Take your knife and with the same technique of little to no pressure, try cutting the tomato. If the tomato gets squeezed while cutting, then the blade isn’t sharp. If the tomato stays intact in terms of shape, your knife is sharp. You can even pull out a few strands of herbs from your garden, preferably chives. If the blade cuts the chives without crushing them, you are ready to use your knife.
4. ShavingIt might be one of the easiest tricks to do, but you might get a mean cut on your arm if you are not careful enough. Take your knife and decide on a patch you might want to work on. In one single swipe, glide your knife across. If the blade shaves off all the hair that came in its way, that tool is very sharp, but if the knife were to be blunt, the edge would simply glide off your hair, thus not cutting it properly or leaving a patch. Just be careful. You don’t want to dig the knife deeper while doing the test. Stay away from any loud or noisy area as a little sound or light push from someone might bring results that you won’t like.
5. Nailing ItAnother example that doesn’t require any type of material. Hold your thumb out and place your knife perpendicular on top of it. Do not apply pressure and see if it catches the nail. A sharp knife won’t move as it will dig a little into your nail. A dull knife will slide right off from the surface. Again, be careful. A little extra jerk or even some pressure might bring undesirable results.
6. MarkerAnother great tip to try if using your knife on your thumb seems a little nerve-wracking. Hold your sharpie or marker at a 45-degree angle and start testing all the parts of your knife, from the root to the tip. Wherever there is a dull edge, it will glide off, and whichever part is sharp, it will stick to the marker. It is excellent to find out which areas need a little more sharpening.
7. LightsaverHold your knife, point the edge towards your face, stand back, and make sure there is a light source behind you. Now start inspecting the blade carefully. Usually, as the light hits the edge, it reflects the light, and you will see a different pattern or inconsistent light reflection where your knife has lost its sharpness or is dull. One can quickly find out the areas that might need a little sharpening. If you want to see any chips or nicks, hold your knife sideways and look at the horizon of the blade. Any dents or chips could be easily identified with this method.
8. Actual CuttingIf you are pretty familiar with your cooking regimen, you can quickly access the blades’ sharpness by chopping all the regular things you chop. You will notice the difference in the pressure that you might need to apply or the cuts that might be choppier. If you start seeing this, take out your grinding belt and sharpen your tool.
Tsujigiri: An Unethical Practice To Tell The Efficiency Of The ToolIt is not the right way to test the tool’s efficiency and sharpness as it is unethical, illegal, immoral, and dangerous. We have included this point just for knowledge and entertainment purpose. In earlier times, samurais test their katanas on harmless people on the road to test the swords’ efficiency. They would even try to test how many torsos they could cut in a single stroke. It was a very extreme practice that soon got banned and was deemed a punishable offense by the Edo government.
Tips & Tricks To Maintain Knives’ Sharpness
- Never use a dull knife. It can cause difficulty in cutting at the same time, might give you below-average results.
- Keep a honing rod and wet stone in your hardware drawer. Try to sharpen your knives as soon as you can because 10 minutes of sharpening is way better than few months of injury recovery if the tool goes out of hand or the wrong amount of pressure is applied. Learn the art of sharpening the knife, and with time, you will learn to do it with precision.
- A ceramic mug can be your best friend on an occasion of a misplaced wet stone. Simply flip the ceramic mug to see the exposed gritty base. Start sharpening your knife by keeping a steady 20-degree angle. After several passes from both sides, your knife is ready to cut. If you want a little finished feel, take your honing rod and swipe your blade across a few times, and there you have it- a perfectly sharp knife within minutes for those last-minute lunches or dinner plans.
- Washing your knives by hand works well for saving the edge of your knife. When you toss these knives in the dishwasher, it can damage the edge because of the heat, pressure, moment, and detergent. Giving it an old-fashioned rub with warm water and mild detergent works the best.
- Avoid cutting on stronger surfaces like steel, aluminum, granite, or glass- these surfaces can damage the knife’s life. Use a wood or plastic, chopping board.
- Store them properly. Avoid carelessly tossing knives in any drawer. Keep a dedicated place to store your knives. A block or magnetic strip is highly recommended. Take care of them to stay intact and in good condition for a longer period.