How to sharpen a japanese knife?

How to sharpen a japanese knife?

In the world of culinary precision, Japanese knives stand out for their exceptional craftsmanship and razor-sharp edges. However, even the finest Japanese knives require regular maintenance to ensure they retain their cutting prowess. That's where proper sharpening techniques come into play. Sharpening a Japanese knife may seem daunting at first, but with the right knowledge and tools, anyone can achieve professional-level results. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the step-by-step process of sharpening a Japanese knife, so you can keep your blades razor-sharp and ready for action.

Step 1: Understand the Anatomy of Your Knife


Before you begin sharpening, it's important to familiarize yourself with the anatomy of your Japanese knife. Japanese knives typically have a single bevel edge, which means only one side of the blade is sharpened. Some knives may have a double bevel edge, with both sides sharpened. Determine the angle of your knife's edge – most Japanese knives have an angle between 10 and 15 degrees.

Step 2: Choose the Right Sharpening Stone

sharpening stone

Selecting the appropriate sharpening stone is crucial for achieving optimal results. Japanese water stones are the preferred choice for sharpening Japanese knives, as they provide a fine, precise edge. Choose a stone with a grit level appropriate for your knife – a lower grit (around 800-1000) for repairing chips and dull edges, and a higher grit (3000-8000) for refining and polishing the edge.

Step 3: Prepare the Stone

soaking stone in water

Before sharpening, soak the sharpening stone in water for about 10-15 minutes, or as directed by the manufacturer. This will ensure the stone is properly hydrated and ready for use. Place a damp towel or non-slip mat underneath the stone to prevent it from sliding during sharpening.

Step 4: Establish the Angle

knife against waterstone

Hold the knife at the appropriate angle against the sharpening stone. For single bevel knives, place the flat side of the blade against the stone and tilt it upward until you reach the desired angle (usually between 10 and 15 degrees). For double bevel knives, divide the angle in half and sharpen each side evenly.

Step 5: Sharpening Technique

Using gentle pressure, glide the knife along the length of the stone in a smooth, sweeping motion. Start at the heel of the blade and work your way towards the tip, maintaining a consistent angle throughout. Repeat this process on both sides of the blade until you have achieved the desired sharpness.

Step 6: Honing and Polishing

After sharpening, it's important to hone and polish the edge to remove any burrs and achieve a razor-sharp finish. Use a finer grit stone (3000-8000) or a leather strop to gently refine the edge and remove any remaining imperfections.

Step 7: Test the Sharpness

testing the knife sharpness

Once you've finished sharpening, carefully test the sharpness of your knife by slicing through a piece of paper or a ripe tomato. A properly sharpened knife should slice effortlessly and cleanly without tearing or crushing.


Sharpening a Japanese knife is a skill that requires patience, practice, and attention to detail. By following these step-by-step instructions and using the right tools, you can achieve professional-level results and keep your Japanese knives performing at their best. Remember to sharpen your knives regularly to maintain their sharpness and prolong their lifespan. With proper care and maintenance, your Japanese knives will continue to serve you faithfully for years to come, making every culinary task a pleasure to perform.

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