How to Sharpen Japanese Knives in 2023

How to Sharpen Japanese Knives in 2023

The Japanese knife is designed for cutting, slicing, dicing, and mincing. They are made from high-quality stainless steel. The blade has been polished to a fine edge, which is why they are also referred to as the master knife. If you have any questions on How to Sharpen Japanese Knives? Here Is a quick guide on what you need to sharpen and care for almost any Japanese knife, as well as the step-by-step process for doing so.

How to Sharpen Japanese Knives:

How to Sharpen Japanese Knives

I’ve been using Japanese knives for years, and I’m here to share the secrets of how to sharpen Japanese knives. These knives are very useful for cooking and for a variety of other tasks. They are usually made of high-quality stainless steel that is easy to maintain. I like to use honing steel to keep my knives sharp.

This will help to prevent rust and will extend the life of your knives. I have also heard that the proper way to clean a Japanese knife is to soak it in water with a little vinegar in it. Here it this article we are explain it with detail keep reading.

 What You’ll Need to Sharpen Your Knives:

How to Sharpen Japanese Knives

Sharpening your knife properly is essential, and not doing so can result in ruined blades or even serious injuries. To make sure you’re prepared, you should get quality equipment and pay attention to the instructions provided with it.

 These tools fall into two types: Sharpening Stones and Honing steel.

 Honing Steel:

A honing rod is a tool used to help keep the edge of a knife straight and well-aligned. Honing rods are usually used for sharpening multi-bevel knives and can be found in almost every kitchen or home.

In a nutshell, a honing rod is a small piece of steel that is used to bring the cutting edge of a knife back into alignment. It is different from a whetstone or a Waterstone, which removes material from the edge of a blade. Instead, a honing rod brings the edge of a knife back into alignment with the rest of the blade, allowing you to sharpen the blade more easily.

But, to be clear, a honing steel is not a substitute for a proper sharpening with a sharpening stone, and it should not be used on a single-bevel knife, such as a debt, usuba, yanagiba, or other.

However, for double-bevel blades like a gyuto or a santoku, honing can be a great way to reduce the frequency of when you need to sharpen your knives. It’s quick (no faffing around with submerging a stone), and requires less skill.

In summary, honing steel can be useful to reduce the frequency of when you need to sharpen your knives, but it is not a substitute for proper sharpening with a sharpening stone.

How to Sharpen Japanese Knives Step-by-Step Sharpening Process: 

The right selection of knives requires you to know how to maintain them effectively. It takes only 5 different tasks to ensure that your knife will stay sharp as you need it to be.

Step 1: Secure Your Stone:

Make sure that you keep your sharpening stone on a non-slip surface. Use a rubber mat or a damp towel to ensure that the stone remains in place while you’re working.

If you’re using coarse stones for the first time, start with the coarsest stone on the top row and work your way down to the finest stone on the bottom row. It may take several minutes for the stone to get sufficiently sharp for you to start honing.

It is better to begin with a coarse stone, rather than a fine one because a coarse stone will wear faster. When you’re done sharpening, take your knife and wash it clean to remove all the debris that has accumulated on it during the process.

 Step 2: Sharpen the First side:

After you’ve secured your stone, you can start trying to hone your knife’s first side.

The first thing to do is lay your blade edge away from you and flat on the surface of the stone. It’s important that your knife is lying across the stone, not parallel to it.

Lift the knife spine upwards towards you until the blade edge touches the stone at a specific angle. For most Japanese knives, you’ll want to keep your knife at around 14-16 degrees above the surface.

Tip for you:

Lots of sharpening stones you can find on Amazon such as this one come with an angle finder.

If you don’t have an angle finder (which I’d really recommend!), you can hold it at a 90-degree angle and then move down half that, which gives you 45 degrees. Go down half more, and your knife should be at 22.5 degrees. Now go down slightly less than half that, and you should be at your desired angle for sharpening.

Place your fingers on the top side of the blade, making sure you keep enough distance away from the cutting edge. Start pulling the blade towards you in a smooth circular fashion while keeping the angle of sharpening constant. Pull the knife edge-to-edge of the stone depending on the dullness of the knife.

Doing this starts to create a burr or debris generated from the sharpening. This will be the key to determining if your knife was sharpened correctly.

Step 3: Check the Burr:

Recall how we mentioned that the burr would be the key in checking if your knife has been sharpened enough? It is imperative that you do this procedure properly as you may injure yourself if you go about it incorrectly.

Position the knife by the spine and hold it vertically against the blade edge.

The slower you feel for a bump of metal, the more chance you have that it is a “burr” or metal fragment that is displaced. If you don’t happen to feel any bump of excess metal, you may have either of two situations.

The first is that you have not properly aligned the knife, causing the burr to miss the edge. This may mean you’ve shaved too far away from the edge. Adjust your knife and sharpen again at the correct angle.

The second may be that you haven’t removed enough metal. Move your knife more along the stone to remove more metal and sharpen the knife further.

 Step 4: Sharpen the Side

Having finished with sharpening the tip of the blade on the first side of the whetstone, repeat the same steps on the opposite side of the blade. Consistency is vital here: you don’t want to have a knife with uneven sharpening on either end.

Keep your movements consistent and your angle precise. You can count how many times you sharpen the blade across the stone in order to make sure that your knife gets the same amount of sharpening on both sides.

 Step 5: Repeat the Entire Process:

When you’ve finished both sides of the blade, don’t just move on. A true razor-sharp finish comes from knives being sharpened first on a coarse side and then sharpened on a finer side.

Make sure you also complete step 1 when you are switching sides, as moving a sharpening block can be very dangerous for you and your knives.

Sharpening Stone:

First let’s talk about whetstones and Waterstones. Sometimes you’ll hear those terms used interchangeably, but that isn’t correct. Technically, any type of sharpening stone is a whetstone. So, while a Waterstone is a whetstone, not all whetstones are water stones.

Waterstones are made primarily in Japan. They can be made of a wide variety of materials, including jadeite, zirconia, agate, carborundum, granite, quartz, and synthetic stones. They are commonly submerged in water, and the amount of time they’re submerged depends on the size and type of the stone.

There are different levels of hardness that you can use to sharpen the blade. These are measured in grams. It’s essential to know that the harder the material you’re sharpening, the coarser it needs to be before you can achieve a clean cut.

You use the two sides in conjunction with the “coarser” side when you start to sharpen the knife and the “finer” side when you’re finished. During the process, it’s important that you don’t go too quickly or you’ll remove too much of the blade.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are Japanese knives so sharp?

Many high-quality Japanese knives can be sharpened to a much finer angle at the cutting edge because of the harder steel. This contributes to a sharper knife that slices and cuts through food with ease and with the additional benefit of less pressure on the muscles and joints in the hand.

Do Japanese knives need honing?

Japan is a country with a long history of knife making and culture. There are many different types of Japanese knives, but in essence, they are made from steel which is much harder than their European counterparts. Their edges do not curl easily and do not require frequent honing.

How often should you sharpen Japanese knives?

There are times that the sharpening period changes drastically depending on the cutting technique, food products, knife geometry, steel quality, and other factors.

Do you sharpen both sides of a Japanese knife?

The correct sharpening angle for a Japanese knife is 10 – 15 degrees on one single side. Most Japanese knives are now double bevel, meaning the blade needs to be sharpened to 10 – 15 degrees on the other side.

Conclusion:

How to Sharpen Japanese Knives the sharpening process of any high-end knife will always be tricky.

However, the Japanese make this particularly challenging as their blades. It need to be at a lower angle of sharpening compared to their western counterparts. Nevertheless, it is essential to know how to properly care for your blade to keep its cutting edge as sharp as the day you first bought it. See if you have any good but dull knives lying around and start sharpening now.


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