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When talking about the angle of the edge, one traditionally distinguishes between Japanese and European grinding angle. European kitchen knives normally have a softer and thicker blade with a 20-25 degree angle (eg Victorinox and Sabatier). The Japanese knives usually have significantly harder blades and can therefore be sharpened down to a 10-15 degree angle (Shun, Takamura, Mac, Global etc.). Because knives with very hard blades can be sharpened at a much steeper angle and still retain their sharpness during use, the Japanese chef's knives have become immensely popular in recent years. The downside, however, is that hard blades are more difficult to grind once they have lost their sharpness. We recommend that you regularly use a whetstone to restore the edge, and maintain the sharpness with a ceramic whetstone if you dont have the possibility to use whestones on a regular basis. 

3 decent ways of keeping your knives sharp:

1.  Whetstones.

2. Ceramic honing rod, diamond honing rod or a steel honing rod.

3. Sharpmaker from Spyderco.


 1. Using your whetstone

Japanese knives are sharpened most effictive on a whetstone. A big advantage of the whetstone is that you can thin out the blade over time, as the edge of the knife travels upwards on the blade. You therefore never get a knife that is perceived to have a thick blade. Sharpening with stones is not trivial though. It requires commitment, patience and equipment. However, you learn quickly, and as always; Practise makes perfect!

A coarse stone (<700 grains) is used to grind away small chips in the edge, thin out a blade or to re-profile the blade. It leaves a rough surface behind which you need to polish with a finer stone before you get any sharpness to speak of.

A medium fine stone handles the everyday sharpening (800-2000 grains).  The semi polished edge will not be shiny nor razor sharp. It leaves a good cutting edge even though it is hazy. What a medium fine edge lacks in sharpness, it makes up for in bite. The semi polished edge will retain a certain toothiness. This helps grabbing the tomatoes well, just like a serrated knife would. A super polished edge will start sliding around after it loses its initial sharpness. Many seasoned users choose to stop at 1000-3000. Its a good and functial everyday edge but nothing you bring to the showroom. 

A fine stone (> 3000 grains) does not remove much metal. It is mainly used to polish the edge and removes all scratches from previous steps. When the edge is completely shiny, it slides easily through the produce and has a super sharp edge, provided that previous steps have been performed correct.

 

 


 

2. Ceramic honing rod, diamond honing rod or a steel honing rod.

A honing rod made of steel, ceramic or diamond is a very good way to maintain the sharpness of your knife. What separates them is mainly how much metal they can remove. A steel rod is only used on European knives, while ceramic and diamond whetstones are suitable for all types of knives. The edge is mainly used to straighten out the edge and remove burr that forms on the edge. It can be said that the honing rod only restores the sharpness that already exists.

Steel honing rod: No grinding effect. Used only to straighten the edge of European knives. Japanese knives usually have very hard steels and then the steel edge is too soft to give any effect.

Ceramic rod: Minimal grinding effect. Used to straighten the edge of both Japanese and European knives.

Diamond rod: Consists of thousands of industrial diamonds that provide some felling of the steel. It therefore helps to work up the sharpness quickly. As a rule, the diamond edge is coarser than the ceramic edge, which usually gives a slightly rougher edge compared to the ceramic edge. Slightly simplified it can therefore be said that the diamond edge is faster to bring out the sharpness, while the ceramic edge gives a slightly sharper edge. The coarser diamond rod will eat away at your edge faster than aceramic rod and after some use the edge will need to be fully restored.  You get the feeling that 'nothing happens', and then it's time to sharpen the edge of your chef's knife on a whetstone.


3. Spyderco Sharpmaker

Sharpmaker is the name of a very popular knife sharpener from Spyderco. Some call the Sharpmaker an advanced whetstone while others say it is like a honing rod with built-in assistance. The truth lies somewhere in between. Choose which fineness of rods you want to use. Insert them into the Sharpmaker at either a 15 or 20 degree angle. Then sharpen the edge by moving the knife up and down in a completely vertical position. You only need to think about keeping the knife straight, like with you cut bread.

Very flexible for anyone who does not have exact control of grinding angles. The sharpener grinds the edge much faster than a ceramic honing rod because the grinding rods are completely flat and they are also coarse. This creates a flat surface that is larger than an ordinary ceramic whetstone

Buy it here