Sharpening your meat grinder’s plate and blades is simpler than you might expect. It takes a bit of time and you will need a few supplies, but within an hour or two you’ll have your machine working as good as new.
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What supplies will I need?
sandpaper – 150 grit and 600 grit – sheets of at least 20cm x 20cm
hard flat surface – surprisingly, a thick sheet of glass is the best
a sharpie or permanent marker
What exactly will I be sharpening?
Take a moment to check the components. At the front end of the grinder is the grinder plate with holes in it and right behind it is the cutting blade with 4 arms. These are the two things that need sharpening.
You might be asking how you’d sharpen a metal disc with holes in it – and this is a good question. By using an abrasive surface to grind it flat, you’re giving each hole a honed edge that works in tandem with the blades. The blades and the plate need to be perfectly aligned to each other for your grinder to work smoothly.
Let’s do this!
Step one: Disassemble your grinder
First put on those gloves, then you need to detach the locking ring, grinding plate and cutting blade. If your grinder came with special tools to do this, use them. If you’re worried about forgetting the order in which you took them out, take a blank A4 paper and place each part on it in the order you took them out, jotting down any notes if necessary. This way it’ll be easy and stress-free to reassemble it again once you’re done. Make sure to not lose any screws or fastenings (if your model came with them).
Step two: Clean it
Make sure that each component (you may have multiple plates or blades) is clean from meat, meat juice, and grease. Any residue left on the metal surface would hinder the process.
Step three: Sharpen it
1. Prepare your hard, flat surface – the whole point of this exercise is to get the plates and blades to be completely flat against each other. So, your work surface cannot bulge or buckle under the pressure you’ll put on it from above. If you’re using a glass sheet, use a cloth or sponge to gently moisten the surface and lay the 150-grit sandpaper (the smooth side down) on top of it. The moisture on the glass will cause the sandpaper to stick to it.
2. Test the blades on a scrap piece of paper to see if it can cut through it at all. During and after sharpening you’ll repeat this step to see the improvement.
3. Put the cutting ‘star’ blade on the sandpaper with the flat part of the blades down (the side that meets the grinding plate). By holding the blades firmly with the fingers of one hand (not the palm) and stabilizing the rest of the surface with your other hand, gently start moving the blades across the sandpaper in small circular motions (like the mouse of your computer). For best results you should move it in a figure 8. When you feel more confident, increase the pressure you’re exerting on the blades.
4. Now take the grinding plate and completely colour in the side that sits against the blade using the sharpie or marker. By repeating the motion that you used with the blades, start to smooth down the side till it is completely flat. You’ll know that this has been achieved when all the sharpie/marker colour has been sanded off.
5. Repeat the sanding process for blades and plates using the 600-grit sandpaper (without using the sharpie or permanent marker).
6. Check the sharpness of the blades on the scrap paper again. If you’re happy, you’re done. If not, repeat step 4 and 5 on the blades until you are.
Step 4: Clean up
Now you can pack away the glass and sanding paper and then wipe the counter or floor or table you used. Each component you sharpened must be washed now – you’ll see a metallic powder that came off on your sanding paper and gloves. These are metal shavings that are not safe to ingest. So, wash those components well.
Step 5: Put it all back
Once the components are clean and dry, you can reassemble your meat grinder. Remember to put everything back in the same order you removed them. Give a last glance to the A4 paper you used to lay everything out on to make sure there’s nothing left behind.
End of the road
That’s it. It may feel a bit awkward at first, and the idea of finding a sheet of glass might seem daunting (pop over to your local hardware store/remember that a mirror is also glass) but once everything is laid out and you’ve started your figure eights on the sandpaper, you’ll soon feel like a pro. Not to mention the joy of having a smooth-running grinder again – totally worth the effort.