How To Sharpen a Paring Knife (12 Simple Steps)

how to sharpen a paring knife

A properly sharpened paring knife is an essential tool in any kitchen. 

Whether you’re slicing fruits, and vegetables, or peeling potatoes, a sharp paring knife can make your prep work easier and more efficient. 

In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of how to sharpen a paring knife, step by step. 

By following our expert tips, you’ll be able to maintain a razor-sharp edge on your paring knife and enhance your culinary skills. 

Let’s get started!

Step-by-Step on How to Sharpen a Paring Knife

Sharpening a paring knife is a valuable skill for any home cook. A sharp knife is not only safer to use but also makes food preparation more efficient and enjoyable. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to sharpen a paring knife:

Materials and Tools You’ll Need:

  • Paring knife
  • Sharpening stone (whetstone)
  • Honing rod (optional)
  • A damp cloth
  • A container of water (for lubricating the stone)
  • A towel or non-slip mat (to prevent the stone from moving)

Step 1: Prepare Your Work Area 

Choose a clean, well-lit, and flat surface to work on. Place the towel or non-slip mat underneath the sharpening stone to prevent it from sliding during use.

Step 2: Assess the Knife 

Before you start sharpening, take a close look at your paring knife. Check for any nicks or damage to the blade. 

If there are significant damages, you may need to get it professionally repaired before sharpening.

Step 3: Soak the Stone (if required) 

If you are using a water stone, read the manufacturer’s instructions. Some require soaking in water before use, typically for 10-15 minutes.

If you’re using an oil stone, you’ll need to apply a small amount of honing oil.

Step 4: Position the Stone 

Place the sharpening stone on your work surface with the coarse-grit side facing up. The coarse side is for initial sharpening. Make sure it’s secure on the non-slip mat or towel.

Step 5: Set the Angle 

Hold the knife securely with your dominant hand. The ideal sharpening angle for most paring knives is around 15 to 20 degrees. You can maintain this angle by positioning the blade’s edge against the stone.

Step 6: Begin Sharpening 

With light pressure, draw the knife across the stone from the base of the blade to the tip.

Ensure the entire length of the blade makes contact with the stone. Use a smooth and steady motion.

Repeat this process several times on one side of the blade.

Step 7: Switch Sides 

Flip the knife over and sharpen the other side of the blade using the same angle and motion. Remember to maintain a consistent angle.

Step 8: Alternate Strokes 

Continue to alternate between both sides of the blade, gradually increasing the number of strokes. 

As you sharpen, you’ll notice a burr or a slight curl of metal on the opposite side. This is normal and indicates that you’re removing material evenly.

Step 9: Test Sharpness 

After a few strokes on each side, test the sharpness by lightly cutting a piece of paper or a tomato. Continue sharpening until you achieve the desired level of sharpness.

Step 10: Fine Honing (Optional) 

If you want an even finer edge, you can repeat the process on the fine-grit side of the stone. This will give the blade a polished finish.

Step 11: Honing (Optional) 

To maintain the knife’s sharpness between sharpenings, use a honing rod. Hold the rod vertically and run the knife along it, maintaining the same angle as when sharpening.

Step 12: Clean and Store 

After sharpening, wipe the knife clean with a damp cloth to remove any metal particles. Store your paring knife in a knife block or magnetic strip to protect the edge.

How to Maintain a Sharp Paring Knife

Maintaining a sharp paring knife is essential for efficient and safe food preparation. Here’s a guide on how to keep your paring knife sharp and in excellent condition:

1. Use a Cutting Board

Always use a soft cutting board, such as wood or plastic, as opposed to hard surfaces like glass or stone, which can quickly dull your knife. Avoid cutting on surfaces that contain hard materials like bone or frozen foods.

2. Hand Washing

Wash your paring knife by hand rather than using a dishwasher. The high heat, harsh detergents, and forceful water jets in dishwashers can cause the blade to dull and corrode over time.

3. Dry the Knife Thoroughly

After washing, dry the knife immediately with a clean towel to prevent moisture from causing rust or corrosion on the blade. Ensure you also dry the area where the handle meets the blade.

4. Store Properly

Invest in a knife block or a magnetic strip to store your paring knife safely. Storing it in a drawer with other utensils can lead to nicks and dulling. Consider using blade guards to protect the edge if you need to store it in a drawer.

5. Hone Regularly

Use a honing rod or sharpening steel to realign the edge of the blade. Regular honing helps maintain the knife’s sharpness between sharpenings. 

Hold the honing rod vertically and run the knife along it, maintaining the same angle as when sharpening.

6. Sharpen as Needed

Sharpen your paring knife when you notice it’s not performing as well as it used to. Signs that your knife needs sharpening include increased resistance when cutting, tearing rather than slicing, or visible nicks on the blade.

7. Learn to Sharpen

Invest time in learning how to properly sharpen your paring knife using a sharpening stone or a knife sharpener. 

Refer to the previous guide for step-by-step instructions on sharpening. Regular sharpening is key to maintaining a sharp edge.

8. Use the Right Cutting Technique

Proper cutting techniques can help maintain the knife’s sharpness. Use a controlled and smooth slicing motion rather than excessive force or twisting, which can cause the blade to roll or become damaged.

9. Avoid Hard or Frozen Foods

While paring knives are versatile, they are not designed for cutting through hard or frozen items. 

Use a different knife, like a chef’s knife or a cleaver, for tasks like breaking down poultry or chopping through tough vegetables.

10. Handle with Care

Be gentle with your paring knife. Avoid using it to pry open cans or packages, as this can damage the edge. 

Don’t use the knife to scrape food off the cutting board; instead, use the back of the blade or a spatula.

11. Regular Maintenance

Make knife maintenance a part of your routine. Check your knife’s sharpness and condition regularly.

The more consistent you are with maintenance, the longer your paring knife will stay sharp.


What’s the difference between honing and sharpening a paring knife?

Honing realigns the edge of the blade while sharpening removes material to create a new edge. Honing is for regular maintenance while sharpening is done less frequently to restore the blade’s sharpness.

How do I know when my paring knife needs sharpening?

Signs include increased resistance when cutting, tearing rather than slicing, or visible nicks on the blade. You can also test it by trying to cut a piece of paper or a tomato. If it doesn’t cut cleanly, it’s time to sharpen.

Can I use a sharpening stone for my paring knife if I’m a beginner?

Yes, sharpening stones can be used by beginners, but it may take some practice to get the technique right. It’s a valuable skill to learn and ensures you have more control over the sharpening process.

How often should I sharpen my paring knife?

The frequency of sharpening depends on how often you use the knife. In a home kitchen, sharpening every few months to a year is generally sufficient. More frequent honing is recommended for regular maintenance.

Can I use an electric knife sharpener for my paring knife?

Electric sharpeners can be used, but they may remove more metal from the blade than necessary. If not used carefully, they can also overheat and damage the knife. Manual sharpening methods are often preferred.

Can I sharpen a paring knife with a serrated edge?

Serrated knives have a different edge design, and sharpening them requires a specialized tool. It’s generally recommended to have serrated knives sharpened by a professional.

Wrap Up

Mastering the art of sharpening a paring knife is a valuable skill for any home cook. 

With the right techniques and a bit of practice, you can transform a dull blade into a precision tool that enhances your culinary prowess. 

Remember, a sharp knife isn’t just about efficiency; it’s also about safety.

So, take the time to maintain your paring knife regularly, and it will serve you faithfully, making your kitchen adventures more enjoyable and successful. 

Happy cooking!

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