Knife sharpening 101
We sharpen mostly knife kitchen knives but many of the sharpening principles are universal
We take joy in honing our craft and keeping our attention to detail focused on sharp. You can too. A wide range of skill, tools and techniques (how to sharpen a knife)can make all the difference in your sharp edges and your cutting and cooking experiences with your knives.
At the very basic level, the 101 of knife sharpening
Removing material. Sharpening a knife has everything to do with simply removing material in order to create a point on the cutting edge and to refine that point. That point can be different angles from knife to knife. The angle often depends on a knife style (e.g. german or Japanese). Refining an angle for sharpness comes from increasing the "grit" of the sharpening stone, belt or other removal material. At its simple form, sharpening is about removing material. Easy.
No two sharpenings are the same
Assess each knife for it's specific material(s), edge health, and intended use. Then build your plan and sharpen each knife with its uniqueness in mind. Chipped knives need more work than those that are not chipped. Single bevel knives require different work than double bevel knives (the majority of knifes), etc. Different materials respond differently to different abrasives. Build your plan for each knife through an assessment before you start.
Sharpening is a craftsperson kind of thing. Your fingers will get dirty. It can be refreshing. Use a DIY tool or free hand tools or something in between. Either way, enjoy the process of hands on work.
As a guide, Japanese knives are more oten sharpened on stones. German knives are sharpened on belts. Each are sharpened to their appropriate angles - steeper for Japanese style knives. Each will need to be burred and deburred in the process. Some can even be best polished as the final step.
Grab you rod and get ready for individual work. Each tooth is to be attended to by hand on serrated knives. They can take more time but can be wonderful again after they are sharpened.
Build your process on a low grit tool for profiling or re-profiling the knife you're working on. That is, if it needs it. Then, work up through your grits keeping special attention to first creating a burr and then maintaining a consistent sharpening angle from grit to grit. This is true regardless of the tool you're using - stones, belts or wheels.
Metal is hard. Sharpening is the act of using something harder to remove material in order to build a pointed edge. Consider rough tools all the way down to one hundred and twenty grit and other abrasives all the way up into the thousands in grit.
In general terms, a knife maker can use entry level metal to make a knife, and the sharpener can make it really sharp. However, that entry level metal will likely dull faster with use. Where as, very high end material can prove to be more difficult to sharpen, hold an edge longer but if pushed too far it can be prone to chipping. It's always a balance and there are numerous ways to balance the variables. Know your knife and your hardness in general terms when sharpening. The harder knives may take more work but stay sharper longer.
You'll love your knives or simply sharpen them again. There is always a path to sharp so long as there is material to work with.
Would you like your knives professionally sharpened by mail?
We'd be happy to assist.
Order your knives sharpened to receive your mail order sharpening package to send back to us. We'll pay for shipping, insure them in transit and turn them around sharp! Or, at minimum, join our email list via the footer on this page! It's great to meet you.