Thoughts on the Right Knife Sharpening Angle
Sharpening a knife at the right angle achieves a sharp edge which can last sufficiently long. Finding the right balance between edge sharpness and blade longevity is tricky, though; 2 main parameters contribute to it: the toughness and hardness of the metal, and the angles that the edges are sharpened at.
Unsurprisingly, the knife craftsmen have figured it all out. Buy your knife from a reputable knife manufacture or craftsman, and you are usually guaranteed a sharp edge. (Most professional Japanese knives require 本刄付け to achieve maximum sharpness. We will cover this later.) Knife manufactures know their steels; some may even have their proprietary recipes for making alloy with undisclosed amount of iron, carbon, chromium and nickel. Depending on the metal properties, the knives are ground down accordingly to achieve the edges that are sharp and long lasting.
Every knife is different; the right knife sharpening angle is usually the one that the knife manufacture originally designed for your very knife. When a knife gets dull, it is often because its edge is slightly bent to one side or has become rounded due to wear. This does not affect the angle of bevel, though; following the angle of the existing bevel, we can easily restore the sharp edge again.
The rest is just some trials and errors to figure out the right sharpening angle for your knife. Experienced knife sharpener can tell the sharpening angles by pressing the index and middle fingers on the knife bevel against a whetstone, but there is a less error-prone way. You will need a black/blue marker for this.
- Cover the entire edge of the blade with the marker ink
2. Test sharpening the knife with little force on whetstone at a slightly higher angle, say 25 – 30 degrees. To avoid scraping away too much metal, a #1000 – #2000 medium stone would be appropriate.
3. Observe how much ink is removed from the edge.
4. Repeat #2 and #3 while slowly lowering the sharpening angle until all the ink has been removed. At this point you have achieved the right sharpening angle for the knife.
5. Remember this angle with your body (or just take notes of it and stick on the fridge door)
Did I lose you at the remark on the use of a medium stone? Let’s chat about whetstones next time.