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Why You Should Pay a Pro to Sharpen Your Knives
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Sep 9, 2016
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For years I had my knives sharpened by a grizzled older gentleman who occasionally drove through my neighborhood in a converted Mr. Softee truck, ringing his bell to summon customers and using the same grinding wheel to hone everything from paring knives to hedge clippers.

I loved the price (low) and the convenience (house calls!), not to mention the Old-World charm, but when I realized my nine-inch chef's knife had been ground down to the size and profile of a seven-inch boning knife, I decided it was time to get serious about sharpening.

But First, Some Basics

When it comes to keeping your knives sharp, it's important to understand the difference between honing and sharpening. Honing, which is what you're doing when you're practicing your best Benihana-style swipes with your knife steel, doesn't actually sharpen the knife. Instead, it straightens out the edge and smooths any microscropic burrs.

It will make your knife feel sharper (i.e., easier to cut with) and also extend the time you can go between true sharpenings. So it's a good idea to give your blades a few passes over the steel every time you use them.

But a steel doesn't actually remove much metal (if any at all) from your blade. That's where sharpening comes in. This process involves shaving off metal to create a super-fine, like-new edge. And if something catastrophic happens to your knife, like deep nicks or a broken point, it's likely the old edge will have to be ground off completely and a new edge created in the undamaged metal.

More on Sharpening and Honing: Fox Brooch Macon amp; Lesquoy dWJy7I

Greg Hollman's mobile sharpening headquarters

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, a mobile sharpening service operating on Long Island, draws the following analogy: Tuning up your edges with a steel is like brushing your teeth; having your knives sharpened is like going to the dentist.

And you wouldn't want to drill your own cavities, would you?

Malachi Kirby Nicole Kidman Elle Fanning

Scottish director Michael Caton-Jones, who cast a 15-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio in 1993’s This Boy’s Life, put Wright in his 2015 film Urban Hymn , playing an angry young woman with a gift for song. That performance put Wright on the radar for Spielberg and Marvel—but first, she took a turn on the West End in Eclipsed, a play about Liberian rebel soldiers written by none other than her future Black Panther co-star Danai Gurira. When the play moved to Broadway, Wright’s role was played by yet another future Wakandan, Lupita Nyong’o.

Michael Caton-Jones, Leonardo DiCaprio

Wright calls this a “triangular, crazy connection,” but it also says something about the often limited opportunities for actresses of color unwilling to settle for stereotypical roles. Black Panther —with its myriad of multifaceted characters—could go a long way toward burying those stereotypes once and for all. “Everybody else has three-dimensional characters,” Wright points out. “Leonardo DiCaprio’s characters are all well-rounded and sort of ultra-cool, you know?”

And like her Black Panther co-star Michael B. Jordan, who is producing and starring in an upcoming adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, Wright knows she needs to take things into her own hands. “I have to also get into producing if I want to see these stories being made. . . . Let’s venture out and do projects with people of different ethnicities. Not just black, but also Asian actors and Asian superhero films. Just an equality across the board.”

Michael B. Jordan,

Wright say she’s already eager to prove she can do even more; she name checks Big Little Lies as the kind of series she’d do to surprise people once again. But for now, she’s created Shuri, who is already well on her way to being some other actor’s Akeelah (without the bee). After a packed advance screening of Black Panther in Los Angeles last week, two young boys went bounding ahead of the crowd leaping for joy and punching the warm night air. They weren’t pretending to be Black Panther, or even another Wakandan warrior. They were pretending to be Shuri.

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Joanna Robinson Joanna Robinson is a Hollywood writer covering TV and film for VanityFair.com.
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