Best Ways to Test Your Knife’s Sharpness

Whether you use it for cooking or hunting, the importance of having a sharp knife cannot be understated. Not only is a sharp knife reliable but it is also much safer than a dull knife. If you’re interested in testing whether your knives are sharp enough, here are the best ways to find out.

The Paper Test

One of the easiest and quickest ways to test your knife is with a piece of paper. Simply get a standard piece of paper, hold the knife up to its edge and slice downward (making sure your hand is out of the way, of course). If the knife is sharp enough, it will easily slice down through the paper, cutting it cleanly into two pieces. If the knife is dull, it will either slide off the edge or rip it unevenly.

Another version of the paper test uses magazine paper, which is much finer. Round the paper in half and slice the knife downward. Again, the paper should slice finely.

The Tomato Test

Although the tomato test is aimed specifically at kitchen knives, it’s actually a good test for any knife. All you have to do is get a tomato, rest the knife on top and pull back without applying any pressure. If the knife slides through the tomato without any downward force, it’s sharp. This can be done with a lot of different vegetables, but the tomato is one of the best.

The Arm Hair Test

Probably one of the least efficient ways to test a knife’s sharpness, using your arm hair as testing ground is surprisingly effective. All you do is run the knife above your arm. If the blade is sharp, the hairs will pop right off. If not, they will bend around the blade and not get cut. This is actually a good test, but there are a few issues. First, it’s a bit dangerous for those who are accident prone. Second, it will leave an awkward spot of your arm with trimmed hair. Finally, you could quickly run out of hair to test with if you have a large knife collection.

The Thumb Test

This last method takes some practice and requires intimate knowledge of knives. Gently move your thumb back and forth against the blade of the knife—not along the edge where you can cut yourself. A sharp blade should have a distinct edge; a dull blade will be more rounded. It may take some time to be able to really distinguish a perfectly sharpened knife, but you will get the hang of it in time.

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