Need to sharpen a knife? All you need is a coffee mug

If your knife isn't honed and you don't have a sharpener, you can easily make do by sharpening the blades on the bottom rim of a ceramic coffee mug.

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Too many of us toss our knives in the dish washer, rarely sharpen them and continue hacking away at food as the edges of their expensive cutlery dull to near butter knife status.

If there's ever a time when a knife is too dull to work with, and you don't have a dedicated sharpener handy, all you need is a coffee mug.

Choosing your mug

Obviously, you will need a knife or two, so gather any you will be working with. You will also need a ceramic cup or bowl. Most ceramic dishes have an unglazed rim along the bottom. This is the most crucial part.

Just about any unglazed ceramic will do, but the larger the edge, the more room you will have to work with.

How to sharpen a knife with a mug

Keep in mind that this isn't exactly a standard way to sharpen a knife, and you probably shouldn't rely on it as a long-term method of sharpening. However, it will certainly do if you have no other sharpener on hand.

To sharpen a knife on a ceramic dish:

  • Place the dish upside down on a level working surface. This will expose the unglazed rim.
  • Select one of the knives you will be working with and grab it by the handle. Use your non-dominant hand to hold the ceramic dish in place.
  • Place the heel of the knife blade against the rim and hold it at a 30 to 45 degree angle, depending on the knife and the existing bevel. Slowly pull the edge of the knife across the ceramic rim from the heel of the blade to the tip.
  • Repeat this step 5 to 10 times, flip the blade over and repeat the steps for the other side of the blade.

There should be some residue left on the bottom of the cup. This is a clear indicator that it's working and that it's shaving off extremely small bits of metal from the blade.

Continue this until the blade is sharp enough to use. Rinse the knife to remove any residual bits of loose metal and you're ready to go.

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