With use, every knife eventually becomes blunt and the blade is no longer as sharp as it was. The loss of blade sharpness is too often caused by improper use and storage.

For knife sharpening, the classic Japanese knife sharpener is still the best solution. Fortunately, you can sharpen it yourself at home, but do not use electrical appliances. Using a sharpening stone will help your knife stay sharp for longer.

With a blunt knife you cannot be efficient and make clean cuts. Japanese knives usually require more frequent sharpening than the knives we are used to. In Japan, they do not use an electric knife sharpener, but a special stone for sharpening knives called a whetstone or water stone. If you want to sharpen your Japanese knife, you can do it at home with a whetstone. Part of maintaining a Japanese knife is to sharpen it frequently, even when it is still quite sharp. After all, a razor-sharp blade is the key to efficient chopping and cutting.

The process of sharpening a Japanese knife is longer, but produces amazing results and a sharp edge. Always use a water stone, which is a rectangular piece of stone designed specifically for this purpose. This is because grinding with stones is the ideal method for ensuring smooth and sharp edges.

A detailed description on how to correctly sharpen a Japanese knife can be found below.

Step one

The first step of sharpening is to prepare your stone. Please note that after frequent use, ceramic and synthetic whetstones start to wear. As stones are delicate, you should never get them too wet. The appropriateness of soaking depends on the type. Medium and coarse grit whetstones should be soaked in water for about 10 to 15 minutes before being used to sharpen knives. Fine stones should not be soaked in water as they may crack. Fine stones should be sprayed with a little water while grinding. If you have a double-sided cutter with a combination of fine and medium grit, soak only part of the medium grit stone in water.

Soaking the stone for too long will deteriorate its quality and make it more difficult to grind. After sharpening, wipe the stone and allow it to air dry. Store the stone in a dry towel. If you put a damp stone in a cardboard box, mold may appear and weaken the stone’s purpose.

Step two

Place the grinding stone in something solid, such as a larger stone or solid surface, and hold it in place. You can also place it on a damp kitchen towel on the table. It is important to stabilize it while sharpening the knives.

Step three

You should hold the knife so that your index finger is resting on the spine of the knife. The thumb should be flat and the other three fingers should grip the handle firmly. Start sharpening at the tip of the knife. Use two or three fingers on your left hand and press the edge of the blade against the stone.

Step four

You must place the blade perpendicular to the stone and make sure it lies perfectly flat. Then use your index and middle fingers and gently press the blade against the stone. The edge of the blade should be pressed evenly against the stone. Glide the blade over the stone for about 10 minutes.

Step five

If you have a knife with a blade on both sides, turn it over and repeat the process.

Once the grinding process is complete, you can test the sharpness and condition of the blade with paper. The blade should easily cut the paper without catching, but cut it evenly.

Once the knife is properly sharp, you are ready for new cooking adventures. Japanese traditional knives are known for their extremely sharp and strong blades, and sharpness sets them apart from the knives we have used so far. Because knives lose their sharpness after a few uses, you need to re-sharpen them to be able to cook to your satisfaction.

Spice up your cooking adventures with a Japanese knife!