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I have a couple of nice Japanese kitchen knives, and a whetstone in two grades. I can sharpen them reasonably well using the stone, but does anyone have any good tips for improving my sharpening skills?

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    Great question -- I'm in a similar boat! I can get my Japanese knives pretty sharp on the stone, but I can get my European knives much sharper. Embarrassing, as the whetstones are Japanese! – Harlan Jul 12 '10 at 1:42
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The Japanese Knife Company has a couple of good tutorials on their website. http://www.japaneseknifecompany.com/sharpening-guides .

Update from Joe:

They have videos on many different ways of sharpening knives (diamond steel, wheel, water wheel, stone, water stone, single sided blades). If you check their YouTube channel Japanese Knife Company, they also have videos for maintenance of your knives (stropping using newspaper), storage (magnets or blade up in knife blocks; advantages of different blade protectors)

It's almost impossible to describe the process only with text, especially as some of his advice has to do with the sound of the sharpening or stropping, or showing undesired movements of your arm, so videos are the best way to explain the process online. But even with that, you might not be aware of mistakes that you're making, so you may want to look to see if there are knife or kitchenware stores in your area that offer classes.

  • These are excellent! – Joel in Gö Jul 15 '10 at 20:33
  • @Joe If you want to discuss this further, please take it to Seasoned Advice Meta. We're fine hearing criticism, but it needs to be somewhere where it can actually be discussed. – Cascabel Mar 12 '18 at 16:52
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I would suggest looking on youtube and finding the Japanese Knife Imports channel. The owner of the shop is very skilled and very helpful in maintaining and sharpening all sorts of Japanese knives. His name is Jon Broida, super nice and super knowledgeable about the subject. He has many videos that will help you get started with sharpening. He also has a website... http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com, the store is Los Angeles. Super fun store if you are in the area to visit. Hope this helps.

  • The nice thing about YouTube is that it'll show you related videos ... so you can learn tips from lots of different people in a short amount of time. There will be some that are the same (and those are important), but you'll also get some more subtle, unique tips – Joe Mar 12 '18 at 15:01
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I have a "Work Sharp" belted sharpener and have whet stones and diamond impregnated sharpening tools. Japanese knives typically have an extra hardened surface that is supposed to keep them sharp longer. Sharpening these knives removes some of the extra hardening surface layer. Assuming yours are serrated as well, one side is flat without any bevel and should only be smoothed of any burrs, not sharpened. The angle of the edge on the other side should be studied to determine proper attack. There are a couple different gauges made for this purpose.

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    No. Japanese cooking knives (hocho) are typically neither case hardened nor using any lamination technique with a softer core - quite the opposite actually. Neither are they serrated. And using a belt grinder of any kind without knowing what you are doing is one of the few ways to REALLY damage a blade. – rackandboneman Feb 28 '18 at 9:20
  • Addition: Yes, you could bust a warikomi forged knife by REALLY grinding away too much - but there it isn't a "hardened surface layer" but a strip of very hard steel inserted into the blade, forming the edge and going about halfway into the blade. – rackandboneman Feb 28 '18 at 9:24

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