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There are so many hacks for sharpening knives that you can see online that it is not surprising that someone would come up with this one at some point. There are hacks for sharpening your knife on car windows to using kitchen scourers to put an edge back on your blade. Some are totally bogus, while some have merit. Let’s investigate if sharpening your knife with a cheese grater is one of the former or the latter.
You cannot sharpen a knife with a cheese grater. You can sharpen your knife on a 4-way diamond stone sharpening block, which looks similar to a cheese grater. The similarity in appearance of a diamond stone to a cheese grater is probably where this misconception originated.
While the idea of sharpening a knife on a cheese grater may seem laughable to many people who know something about knives and sharpeners, one can understand how the misconception came about if you look at the similarities between a diamond stone and a cheese grater. But even if your cheese grater does not make for a good knife sharpener, there are other household items that can work in a pinch.
If you are interested in checking out the best whetstones for your knives we recommend and use you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Does A Cheese Grater Make A Good Knife Sharpener?
A cheese grater is a great kitchen implement for, well, grating cheese! Some cheese graters have up to 4 sides, which can be used to grate cheese or vegetables, such as carrots, into fine or chunky grated strips.
As good as a cheese grater may be for grating cheese, that is the purpose that you should reserve this kitchen tool for. A grater does not make for a great knife sharpener, or even a mediocre or poor knife sharpener, for that matter.
You should only bring out your cheese grater if you need to grate some cheese or produce some finely grated carrots for your carrot cake. Never bring your cheese grater out for the purpose of sharpening your knife.
The reasons that a cheese grater does not make a good knife sharpener are as follows.
- No control. It is difficult to maintain control of the knife while you pass it over the cheese grater.
- Uneven surface. The uneven surface of the grater makes it impossible to pass the blade smoothly and evenly over the surface of the grater.
- Cannot maintain an angle. When sharpening knives, it is necessary to maintain an angle as you pull the knife across the sharpener to create an even and straight, sharp edge. It is not possible to maintain the sharpening angle with the bumpy surface of the cheese grater.
These reasons make it extremely difficult to use a cheese grater in the role of a knife sharpener or even in the role of a basic hone for the edge of your knife.
The Reason Why People Think A Cheese Grater Can Sharpen A Knife
The misconception about a cheese grater as a possible alternative knife sharpener probably arose from someone who did not know any better witnessing a video where someone else is using a diamond stone to sharpen a knife.
Diamond stones often have elliptical-shaped holes in their surface, which is intended to give waste material from the sharpening process a place to go to keep the sharpening surface clear of the swarf.
Swarf is a minute piece of metal that gets ground off the surface of the blade during the sharpening process. This swarf can build up on the surface of the diamond stone and reduce the effectiveness of the stone.
If you are using water or some other lubricant for the sharpening process, this swarf can form a thick paste on the surface of the stone.
The holes in the surface of the diamond plate help to remove the swarf from the cutting surface of the diamond stone to maintain its sharpening effectiveness.
These evenly spaced elliptical holes in a diamond stone, or diamond plate sharpener give these sharpening stones an uncanny resemblance to a cheese grater!
Anyone who does not know what a diamond stone looks like and witnesses someone using one for the first time could easily mistake the diamond stone for a cheese grater.
Not all diamond stones look like cheese graters! Some diamond stones are configured to look like a flat plate of steel, such as the Ultra Sharp Diamond Sharpening Stone Set (Amazon link).
Diamond stones that resemble cheese graters can come in single plates, such as the Premium Diamond Sharpening Stone Plate (Amazon link), or they can come in a four-sided arrangement, such as this 4 Way Diamond Knife Sharpener (Amazon link), which looks even more like a cheese grater than the single plate.
PRO TIP: I personally use diamond plates by Atoma. They are quite expensive but of the top quality with very long service life. The initial costs are higher but you have an option of buying replacing diamond skin for all Atoma plates. The costs of replacing diamond skin are lower than the cost of buying a new diamond plate.
So if you are going to use diamond plates regularly and want to get the best quality on the market, check out the four Atoma diamond plates listed below. By the way, Atoma diamond plates are not only the best for sharpening ceramic knives but they are the best choice for flatting your whetstones too.
Atoma Diamond Sharpener Coarse Grade 140 Grit (Amazon link)
Atoma Diamond Sharpener Medium 400 Grit (Amazon link)
Atoma Diamond Sharpener Fine 600 Grit (Amazon link)
Atoma Diamond Sharpener Super Fine 1200 Grit (Amazon link)
Diamond stones make a much better choice as a knife sharpener than a cheese grater for the following reasons.
- The flat surface. Diamond stones have a flat surface which makes it easy to pull the knife across the sharpening surface.
- Easy to maintain the sharpening angle. Because of the flat surface of the diamond stones, you can maintain the sharpening angle throughout the stroke of the knife across the stone.
- Different grit values. The diamond stones come in a variety of grits to accommodate aggressive repair of a knife edge to fine-grit refining of the edge. This allows you to sharpen an extremely dull knife or simply touch up the edge of a knife that is only slightly blunt.
- It will actually sharpen your knife. The diamond stone is created for the express purpose of sharpening knives, and it does a great job when used as intended.
A diamond stone is a much better proposition for sharpening your knives, and it will not only do a mediocre job, but your knife’s sharp edge will be the envy of your friends!
The Origin Of The Myth
The idea of using a cheese grater to sharpen knives might sound peculiar to many, but like many myths, it has roots that trace back to a mix of misunderstandings and half-truths. So, where did this unusual notion originate?
Misleading DIY Videos: With the rise of social media and DIY culture, numerous hacks and shortcuts have been shared online, some without proper validation. A video or post demonstrating knife sharpening with a cheese grater can quickly go viral, leading many to believe in its efficacy without questioning its authenticity.
Confusion with Other Tools: Some kitchen tools, like the Microplane, which is often used for zesting, have been effectively used for certain sharpening tasks. This might have contributed to the confusion, with people assuming that if one kitchen tool can sharpen, why not another?
Word of Mouth: As with many myths, word of mouth plays a significant role. A casual mention by someone about using a cheese grater for sharpening can be taken out of context, leading to the spread of misinformation.
While the cheese grater’s surface might appear abrasive and somewhat similar to sharpening tools, its design, and material are not intended for the delicate task of honing a knife’s edge. It’s essential to differentiate between kitchen myths and validated techniques to ensure the longevity of our tools and safety in the kitchen.
TIP: Forged knives are popular among a lot of people. Do you know how to sharpen them properly? Find out the answer in the article below:
Can You Sharpen Forged Knives? The Complete Breakdown
Dangers Of Using A Cheese Grater To Sharpen A Knife
While the idea of using a cheese grater as a makeshift knife sharpener might seem innovative, it comes with a set of risks that can compromise both the knife’s integrity and the user’s safety. Here are some of the dangers associated with this unconventional method:
1. Inconsistent Edge: Cheese graters are not designed to provide a consistent sharpening angle. Using one can result in an uneven edge, which not only affects the knife’s performance but can also make it more prone to chipping.
2. Excessive Metal Removal: The abrasive nature of a cheese grater can remove more metal from the knife than necessary. Over time, this can significantly reduce the lifespan of the knife.
3. Risk of Injury: Attempting to sharpen a knife on a cheese grater increases the risk of the knife slipping or catching on the grater’s surface. This can lead to cuts or other injuries.
4. Damage to the Grater: Just as the knife can be damaged, the cheese grater itself can also sustain wear and tear from the sharpening process, rendering it less effective for its intended purpose.
5. Inadequate Sharpening: Even if one manages to sharpen a knife using a cheese grater without causing damage, the resulting edge is likely to be subpar compared to traditional sharpening methods.
6. Heat Generation: Rapidly moving a knife against the grater’s surface can generate heat, potentially affecting the knife’s tempering. This can weaken the blade, making it more susceptible to bending or breaking.
7. Contamination Concerns: Using a kitchen tool like a cheese grater for non-food-related tasks can introduce contaminants. If not cleaned properly, this can pose a risk the next time the grater is used for food preparation. While it might be tempting to try out novel methods for knife sharpening, it’s crucial to weigh the potential risks against the benefits. Using the right tools and techniques ensures that knives remain sharp, durable, and safe to use.
What If You Don’t Have A Diamond Stone To Sharpen Your Knives?
If you need to sharpen your knife and you do not have a diamond stone, the simplest solution is to go out and get one. If you get to the store and they are all sold out, then you can try one of these other options before you are tempted to get your cheese grater out.
- Sandpaper on a hard backing. A stip of 600-grit sandpaper mounted to a solid backing, such as a small block of wood, makes a much better sharpener than your cheese grater.
- Use a double-sided nail file. Many nail files, or emery boards, have a coarse side and a fine side, and they are essentially sandpaper.
- Use a leather belt as a strop. If the knife is not too dull, you could re-establish the edge by using a leather belt to stop the knife and restore and polish the edge back to being sharp.
If you want to take good care of your knives and make them last a long time, you should always have a suitable knife sharpener on hand to sharpen your knives when you need to.
All these hacks can work as a temporary measure in a pinch, but there is no replacement for a proper sharpening method.
A diamond stone knife sharpener may look like a cheese grater, but it won’t be able to grate your cheese or your carrots. It will, however, do a great job of sharpening your dull knives in the kitchen!
A cheese grater may look like a diamond stone, but it won’t be able to sharpen your knives. It will, however, do a sterling job of grating your cheese and your carrots!
So get yourself a diamond stone to sharpen your knives and stand it next to your cheese grater on the kitchen counter. Just make sure you reach for the right tool for the right job in the kitchen!
TIP: Another unusual way to sharpen a knife is using a rock. Check out the complete guide on how to sharpen a knife with a rock in the article below:
Complete Guide: How To Sharpen A Knife With A Rock