Sharp knives work better, easier and more safely than a dull knife. Regardless of how a knife is used, using it dulls it. Obviously, carving marshmallows is going to be friendlier to a knife blade than other uses, like filetting fish. Personally, I cut far more fish than marshmallows so I spend more time keeping my knife blades sharp than the ‘mallow slicers and I’ve tried dozens of tools over the years.

Some do a great job, but are cumbersome. Some are highly portable, but don’t do quick or satisfactory job. Some take almost brain-surgeon-like skills to use, others are nearly foolproof. None are perfect.

When size and portability are not an issue, my current favorite sharpening tool is now a cordless, rechargeable sharpener from Smith’s Consumer Products ( In the field, I rely on sharpening steels or hand-held ceramic lappers to keep knives sharp or touch them up, if needed. At home, however, I use the cordless sharpeners to absolutely return my knives to “as new” condition. I could make a razor from a butter knife with it. The Smith’s sharpener has a guide to hold the knives at a precise angle and relies on power-driven, abrasive belts to do the sharpening.

To sharpen a butter knife, start with the coarse belt, then switch to the medium grit belt and finish with the 600 grit fine belt. Most filet knives that haven’t been abused can be sharpened and touched up with just the fine grit belt but if your knife has been used and abused you may need the medium grit first, then polish it smooth. The belts interchange in seconds.

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