How To: Sharpen Kitchen Knives with a Newspaper

Sharpen Kitchen Knives with a Newspaper

Just like skinning a cat, there's more than one way to sharpen a knife (disclaimer: while I advocate sharpening your knives daily, please don't ever even consider skinning a cat). There's a stone, for an uber-sharp finish; the underside of a mug, for an awesome makeshift sharpening tool; the chef's daily ritual, honing with a sharpening steel; and then there's the remarkably simple, old-school Japanese trick—using a newspaper.

Step 1: Grab a Newspaper

You need a page of the newspaper with black ink, so as much as you may be tempted to sharpen your knife with your favorite Sunday morning comic strip, it just won't do the trick. The reason for this is because the black ink acts similarly to a fine polish (perhaps due to its carbon content) and the grit in it has a sharpening effect on the knives.

Step 2: Lay Your Knife Flat on the Paper

If you have a one-sided blade, you only need to sharpen that side, so lay the sharp side flat on the newspaper. If you have a traditional two-sided knife, just finish the process, then repeat on the other side.

Step 3: Stroke Your Knife Across the Paper

Simply run your knife over the newspaper (while keeping it flat) a few times. Do this slowly and steadily.

Step 4: Rinse, Dry, & Use

You'll want to rinse your knife off afterwards to get any graphite off of your knife. Then it's ready to be tested for sharpness (you can reuse the newspaper to see if the knife is adequately sharp), and then you can get back to mincing and julienning and preparing dinner.

While this technique will work for any knife, Saveur notes that it works best for the traditional ultra-thin knives that Japan is well known for.

Between a newspaper and coffee mug, you can sharpen your knives with two breakfast staples. Do you know of any more knife-sharpening secrets?

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Photos by Brady Klopfer/Food Hacks


We sometimes use the edge of the steps on our stoop to sharpen our knives

Oh, cool. Concrete steps, I'm assuming?

Tempered glass works pretty well, so your car window does a decent job.

Ha! That's a funny image.

Thanks for the tips, Matthew and Andrew. Crazy how many ways there are to take care of a knife!

Bottom of ceramic mugs work too (the exposed white rim that is rough and not glossy) is good as well

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