Knife Planet Puts the Free in Freehand Sharpening School has opened the doors on its Online Sharpening School, a new, digital resource on freehand sharpening. Four lessons have already been posted, and there will be more to follow.

The Sharpening School is headed up by Peter Nowlan, owner of New Edge Sharpening in Nova Scotia, Canada, and Jon Broida of Japanese Knife Imports. Together, the teachers have decades of freehand sharpening experience. Each lesson will cover a new topic using a combination of text and accompanying video material.

Nowlan believes that everybody should know how to sharpen their knives. “A dull knife tears through the food,” he explains. People often treat themselves to a high-quality cut of meat and immediately ruin it in their kitchen with dull cutlery. “Damage occurs at the molecular level as adjacent cells are torn apart and juice and blood spills, drying out the food and even changing its color sometimes.”

Learning how to sharpen freehand may seem even more insurmountable than learning with a guided system. But, Nowlan insists that the improvisation and on-the-fly adjustments afforded by freehand sharpening ultimately results in sharper knives. “After much freehand practice, my knives are consistently sharper doing them by hand.” Nowlan describes it as a living skill, one that grows with the sharpener indefinitely. “There seems to be no peak, the journey is a series of stepping stones, each one with a different learning experience.”

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Knife Planet hopes to target a broad user base with the Sharpening School. “We believe that sharpening is a basic skill for any knife enthusiast, home cook, knife collector – literally anybody dealing with knives should be able to learn,” Nowlan says. And although the road to mastery may be long, he points out that it doesn’t take a great deal of effort to become competent. “During lessons, it’s common for folks who have never even seen a water stone to make knives sharper than they have ever seen in less than an hour.”

The first four lessons cover the essential skills and concepts. Future lessons will begin to delve into advanced topics like repairing damaged edges. Knife Planet Founder Roberto Mazzarella says that even as the project grows, it will continue to be free. “The school is completely free to join, and always will be.”