The basic whetting, or sharpening, equipment for scissors and shears is an aluminum oxide bench stone, which is generally available at hardware stores. Brown in color, it is coarse on one side and fine on the other. A new stone should be soaked overnight in a pan of light machine oil. Store the stone in a closed box when not using it; otherwise, it may clog with dust and become useless. Oil it lightly before each use.
The edges of both scissors and shears should not be honed smooth. They are designed to break through fibers, not to slice them, and the blades should, therefore, be sharpened only on the coarse face of the stone. Both scissors and shears are sharpened at a steep angle. The blades should meet and bear lightly on one another. If they do not, try tightening the pivot screw, or hammering the pivot down. Open scissors wide, place the blade on stone with the inner face vertical, tip it back slightly less than ten degrees. Grip scissors and rub from side to side on the coarse
face of the oiled stone. Work from base to tip. Repeat with second blade.
Pocket knives-Close examination of a new knife blade will show that where the two main faces appear to join there is a secondary pair of narrower bevels; these meet at an angle to form the cutting edge. This sharp edge may feel smooth, but it actually consists of microscopic serrations, or teeth. Dulling results as the teeth bend and splinter. Whetting abrades away the bent and damaged metal, so that the serrated bevels are again aligned at a clean angle along the cutting edge.
A small knife seldom requires coarse whetting. Use the fine side of the bench stone. Put a drop of oil on the stone before using it and wipe it clean afterward. Press firmly at first, then less so as the edge becomes fine. Finish by lightly stropping both sides of the blade, with the edge trailing, on leather or rough cloth. To get the proper angle, visualize half the vertical at 45 degrees and then halve that. You are close to 20 degrees. Rub both sides of the blade, using a circular motion. Start at the base, raising the handle slightly as you work toward the point.
Cutlery- In the case of carving knives and other unserrated cutlery, the chief cause of dulling is the contact the blade makes with the cutting surface beneath the food. Make a habit of using a cutting board. Ceramic and metal plates and platters, much more so than wood, will bend the fine edge of the cutlery. Using a Chef’s steel can keep a good edge on unserrated cutlery for weeks on end. Once the edge has become badly dulled, try using the procedure for pocket knives.
A Chef’s steel simply rubs away the bent lip on the edge of the blade. Move the knife along the steel. Stroke downward only. To stroke any other way will not restore the blade edge.