How to Sharpen Japanese Kitchen Knives – Video Series

Posted by Jeremy Watson on

Japanese knife sharpening is a process that requires skill and attention to detail, involving the use of water stones to achieve a fine, razor-sharp edge. The key is to keep the blade at the correct angle and apply steady pressure, ensuring the knife not only becomes incredibly sharp but also will retain its edge for a long time.

Professional chef and sharpening enthusiast Eduardo Castro Estrada helped us put together a video guide for each of his essential steps on how to sharpen Japanese kitchen knives.

Step one: Choosing a stone.

Choosing the right stone will make the job easier.

400 grit: For small repairs and very dull knives

1000 grit: For regular sharpening (recommended starting point)

4000/6000 grit: For polish the edge

Step two: Soaking your stones.

Soak the stone until all bubbles comes out.

This will take 5 to 15 minutes.

With 4000 and 6000 grit, less time will be needed.

Step three: How to hold knives for sharpening.

Hold the knife with the thumb on the heel and your index finger on the spine. With the other hand, apply pressure.

Step four: Establishing an angle.

To get the right angle, I’m using two coins. Or, follow the existing bevel on the blade.

Step five: Creating and removing a burr.

Apply moderate pressure and start sharpening the right side of the knife. We want to create an even burr in all the edge. Once we feel the burr, we sharpen the left side.

Repeat with less pressure to make the burr smaller. Remove the burr with a stropping motion.

Step six: Moving on to a finer grit.

Repeat the process with the 4000 grit. Apply less pressure.

Remove any small burr left with a stropping motion.

For a better polished edge, do the same with the 6000 grit.

Step seven: Stropping. 

Stropping: you can use leather or balsa wood.

Use stropping compounds like chromium oxide on leather or balsa.

Even newspaper and cardboard works well.

Use almost no pressure here.

And that’s it.

Step eight: Flattening and fixing stones.

Keeping the stones flat is very important.

You can use sandpaper, a truing stone, or a diamond lapping plate.

I’m using a 240 grit stone.

Let the stones dry before storage.

About Eduardo Castro Estrada

Known amongst knife nuts on instagram as @jakkonoise, Eduardo lives in Morelia, Michoacán Mexico.  He began cooking when he was 15.  A culinary school graduate, he has worked in restaurants and hotels, but loves catering large events and cooking privately.  He first got interested in sharpening stones after ruining some of his first knives with a ‘pull through’ sharpening device.  Since then he became literally obsessed with sharpening. We’re grateful for his help in producing this series of how to sharpen Japanese kitchen knives using our sharpening stones. Find him on instagram and you’ll be amazed at the edges he’s able to put on all kinds of knives.

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