A fillet knife comes in handy when dealing with delicate meat like fish. Unlike regular knives, a fillet knife impressively debones and cuts through fish to give you clean fillet cuts without bruises or tears.
Nonetheless, to enjoy the full functions of the knife, you need to learn how to sharpen a fillet knife. After all, using a dull knife doesn’t yield the same precise results. In fact, it can very easily damage your meat and pose safety risks.
What Is a Fillet Knife?
A fillet knife is a thin and flexible knife designed for cutting fish and removing its bones. These knives are typically fitted with 5 to 9-inch long blades and feature an upward curve along the blade with a sharply curved tip.
Furthermore, their long and shallow angled bevel gives them a soft razor-sharp blade. A soft blade reduces micro chips in the knife when dealing with the backbone or rib bones of the fish.
On the other hand, thinner blades allow them to handle excess force and maneuvers, which is essential for handling meats like fish.
This design also gives them the precision to remove scales while smoothly flexing around the contours of the body to prevent damaging the delicate meat of the fish.
Because fillet knives are specially designed for fish, most models are built to work in wet conditions. Thus, a good quality knife integrates a steel construction to resist corrosion and rust.
How Often Should You Sharpen Your Fillet Knife?
You should sharpen a fillet knife at least once or twice a year, depending on the use. Generally honing should be done daily when you use the knife. Since the edge of your fillet knife rolls during usage, honing it brings back the straight edge to sharpen it again.
If left unhoned, your knife will continue to roll, especially when used on large fish, causing it to feel dull. After some time, honing becomes useless, requiring you to resharpen the knife all over again to establish a new edge.
Here Are 4 Methods You Can Apply to Sharpen Your Fillet Knives
To sharpen your fillet knife, you can choose an option that works best for you from these four standard methods. These are;
01. Use an Electric Knife Sharpener
A popular option amongst anglers and cooks, an electric sharpener is the most convenient method for sharpening your fillet knife. These tools are available in different models to cater to home and professional kitchen needs.
An electric knife sharpener also offers the best sharpness compared to other sharpening tools. These tools integrated an abrasive diamond grinding stone which also helps prolong the durability of your knife’s blade.
A fillet knife sharpener integrates two key stages of sharpening to ensure a long-lasting edge and optimal sharpness.
Here’s how to sharpen fillet knives using an electric sharpener;
Step 1: Plug in the sharpener to an outlet or hit the power switch for battery-operated models. Place the blade at a 45-degree angle to the grinding stone of the sharpener and move back and forth gently. This first stage removes the blunt edges of the blade. Due to the ultra-thinness of the blade, you don’t want to apply too much pressure during the back and forth strokes and cause damage.
Step 2: Decrease the sharpening angle to about 20 degrees on the sharpener. Some sharpeners can do this automatically.
Step 3: Bring the blade back to the grinding stone and pull it back and forth 4 to 5 times. This stage ensures a finished factory-level sharp edge for cutting and boning fish.
02. Use a Sharpening Stone
While a sharpening stone isn’t as convenient as an electric sharpener, but it still produces a sharp and shiny blade. Fillet knives typically use a whetstone for sharpening.
A whetstone offers a more cost-effective option, although it requires manual work. Depending on its design, you will have to first soak it in water for about 5 to 15 minutes and then place it on a countertop atop a kitchen or cheesecloth before starting the sharpening process.
Here’s how to sharpen fillet knives using a sharpening stone;
Place the blade at a 12 to 15-degree angle to the stone and move it in back and forth strokes at a gradual speed. Be careful with the speed to avoid hurting your hand with the knife’s edge or tip. Repeat this process about 8 to 10 times on each side.
Once done, use a tomato or paper to test the knife’s sharpness by slicing through them. If you are not impressed with the results, repeat the sharpening process.
03. Use a Sharpening Rod
A sharpening rod is not always the easiest method to use for beginners. Nonetheless, it allows for effective results when used properly. This is why it is a popular choice for professionals.
A sharpening rod is also an excellent option for honing your fillet knife. This is because, unless your knife is rolled and deformed, a sharpening rod simply maintains and enhances the sharpness of your knife. Hence, this working mechanism explains its use for honing.
Here’s how to sharpen fillet knives using a sharpening rod;
Step 1: Hold the rod with your less dominant hand and the knife with your dominant hand. With minimal pressure, pull the knife’s blade along the rod towards you in a gentle sweeping motion. Repeat this motion at least 2 to 3 times, depending on how blunt your knife may feel. However, avoid overdoing it.
Step 2: Repeat the step on the other side of the knife.
Step 3: Repeat the first step on one side and go to the next side of the knife. Do this at least twice or three times until you achieve the sharpness you want
04. Use the AccuSharp Knife & Tool Sharpener
You can also use the AccuSharp knife & tool sharpener. This type of sharpening tool doesn’t only sharpen your fillet knife.
Its versatility allows you to use it on other tools like kitchen scissors. Its portability makes it an excellent option for anglers since you can toss it into your fishing bag or tackle box and use it anywhere.
Here’s how to sharpen fillet knives using an AccuSharp Tool;
Step1: Hold the knife tightly on the table, countertop, or firm surface. Place the V-sharp part of the tool on the knife’s blade.
Step 2: Slide the tool over the blade in a gentle motion in at least 4 to 5 strokes.
Step 3: Use a tomato or piece of paper to test the knife’s sharpness. If you aren’t satisfied with the sharpness, repeat steps one and two.
Undoubtedly, a high-quality fillet knife offers a precision job deboning your fish and produces the cleanest fillet cuts. However, poor maintenance means you will not enjoy the best results even with the best fillet knife.
Therefore, it is essential for you first to learn how to sharpen a fillet knife and pick the suitable method to do so for your knife. Sharpening your knife maintains not only its functionality but also prolongs its durability.
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