A knife-sharpener is actually a profession back in India, or atleast it was when I was growing up. There used to be a guy who would ride around in a bicycle outfitted with wooden slats carrying a wide variety of sharp knives – and a really heavy whetstone to sharpen knives with wedged somewhere in front or behind him on that flimsy bike. He was the original dare-devil; imagine riding around the bumpy Hyderabad roads with so many sharp objects close to your body!
My mom or grandmother would flag him down and present all the knives in the house to him for sharpening; in a very ‘green’ display of using human energy, he would hook up the whetstone apparatus to the cycle in a way that the stone would whirl around as he pedaled – and he help up the knives against that blade to produce a deafening ‘grrrrr’, plenty of sparks that amused my 8-yr-old self, and a brilliantly sharp edge. I would watch my mom slice through piles of vegetables the day after this awesome feat of low-tech machinery, and sorely miss the ingenuity of the true ‘cutting-edge’ technology of the good old days!
In the so-called high-tech days we find ourselves in these days, hoping for a pedaling, knife-sharpening daredevil to make his way around New York is probably a lot to ask for. However, home cooks soon come to find that sharp knives are some of the best tool to have around the house – contrary to the fears of all beginner cooks, the sharper the knife, the safer it is to use. A dull knife will slip off the surface of whatever it is you are trying to cut; use a sharp knife with precise strokes and you can slice and dice without endangering your digits.
After quite a bit of research on appliances to use to sharpen my beginner knife set, I settled on the JA Henckels model pictured above. It has a few things going for it that I like:
- the horizontal design yields a heavy, sturdy base, and a nice curved grip that I canhold with one hand while I move the knife back and forth between the blades
- The base had a rubber coating so I can lay it on my coffee table and sharpen the knives while I catch up on the latest Kardashian dramas (I mean, as I watch the NFL)
- The blade design workes on any kind of knife blade except for santoku-style serrate knives, which I don’t use anyways.
- stored vertically, the gadget takes barely any space and can be thrown in to any back-corner of a cabinet. I usually sharpen my knives once every couple of months, so I don’t need to be reaching it frequently.
- It has lasted my over 3 yrs now, and still does a great job sharpening all the knives we have.
There are a few newer models that have come out in the few years since I’ve gotten this one, so make sure you check out your closest home store to find the one that best fits your knife sharpening needs – and remember, if you happen to find a true human knife sharpener in your travels around the world, pause and take a picture with an original daredevil!