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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Frequently Asked Questions
How frequently does a fillet knife require sharpening?
Sharpening your fillet knife is an essential aspect of maintaining its performance. Typically, a fillet knife should be sharpened at least once a year. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule as the frequency of sharpening depends largely on how often you use the knife. If you find yourself using your fillet knife frequently for cutting fish or other tasks, a true sharpening may be needed more often than once per year. One noteworthy point here is to use a sharpening stone for this task. There are primarily two types of sharpening stones often recommended for the best results: water stones, also known as whetstones, and oil stones. These stones will help you to retain the sharpness of your fillet knife impeccably, ensuring a smooth cutting experience every time you use it.
What is the method to sharpen electric fillet knife blades with a work sharp?
Sharpening electric fillet knife blades with a work sharp can greatly extend their lifespan while maintaining their efficiency. However, the process requires a certain level of care and precision. To achieve optimal results, gently move the blade across the abrasive belt of your work sharp, ensuring to maintain the blade’s factory set angle. This ensures that the edge remains sharp, while avoiding unnecessary wear and tear. However, it’s crucial to remember that too much pressure can damage the knife, so a delicate hand is necessary. The same process should be repeated for all sides of the blade until satisfactory sharpness is achieved.
How can you manually sharpen a steak knife at home?
Manually sharpening a steak knife at home can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and technique, you can easily give your knife a new lease of life. The process involves using a sharpening rod or stone and following the blade’s curve. The key lies in maintaining a consistent angle (usually 20 degrees) and smoothly moving the knife edge from the hilt to the tip across the sharpener. Regular practice is beneficial in developing the proper hand-eye coordination necessary for efficient sharpening. Always remember that knife sharpening is a matter of patience and precision, rather than speed and force.
What is the best way to sharpen a serrated fillet knife blade?
Sharpening a serrated fillet knife blade can be tricky due to its unique design. The process requires a different technique than that used for a standard blade. Instead of a sharpening stone, a serrated knife sharpener or a round file that matches the size of the serrations would be used. Each individual serration needs to be sharpened separately by sliding the sharpener through it in a sweeping motion. The process is repeated for every serration, working from the base all the way to the tip of the blade. It’s a slower process compared to that of a standard blade, but the result is a finely sharpened serrated fillet knife that cuts with precision.
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