Quality knives are the most important tool for any chef, and keeping your knives sharp is essential. Sharp, well-maintained knives are safer, provide more control, and are incredibly fun to use. While a new knife will arrive sharp, with continued use, even the best knives will eventually go dull.
What is sharpening, actually?
A sharp knife’s edge will come to a thin, polished point. Over time with use, this delicate edge will get worn down, exposing a thicker, duller point. When you sharpen a knife, you are physically removing steel from the surface of the knife to re-form a thin, sharp edge. (Note that sharpening is NOT the same as honing!)
This is what a sharp knife's edge will look like before it gets worn down.
Over time with use, the knife's edge gets worn down and becomes dull.
By sharpening and physically removing steel, the knife can become sharp again!
What’s the best way to sharpen a knife?
There are a several ways to sharpen knives at home, but we HIGHLY suggest learning how to sharpen using water stones (whetstones). While this method takes a bit of effort to learn, the payoff is well worth it. You’ll get the best edge and remove the least amount of material from your knife if done properly.
Understanding Sharpening Stones
Sharpening stones consist of coarse, abrasive material bound together to form solid stones. As you run your knife along the stone, the abrasive material will cut away microscopic layers of metal. You can see this metal in the dark paste that will form on the stone called the slurry (more on this later). Lower grit stones will remove metal more quickly, and provide a coarser edge. These are great for re-establishing an edge quickly and removing any dents or chips from your blade. As you increase in grit, the stone particles get finer, removing less metal with each pass and helping to create the polished, smooth edge that makes your knife screamingly sharp.
There are a several ways to sharpen knives at home, but we highly suggest learning how to sharpen using water stones.
What equipment do you need?
For beginners, we’d recommend starting with a medium grit stone (1000) to remove chips and set a new sharp edge. If you’re up for a little more, a finer stone (6000 or 8000) will help polish your knife to a scary sharp mirror finish. We’d also recommend getting a flattening stone (a ‘stone fixer’) to ensure your sharpening stones perform consistently, though a lower grit stone can also serve a similar function. Lastly, while sharpening stone holders are helpful (and we use them), you can easily just use a damp towel to place your sharpening stones on during use for stability.
here are a few quick recommendations for beginners
Medium Grit Stone
Togiharu or King 1000-Grit Stones
Fine Grit Stone
King 6000-Grit Stones
Flattening Stone (Fixer)
Norton or Korin Fixers
Sharpening Stone Holder
We use the Steelex Version
How to Sharpen at Home
Below we’ve provided a few pointers on how to sharpen your knife. While there are several different sharpening techniques, we focused on the one we use most often ourselves. Whatever technique you choose, the most important thing when learning to sharpen is to just get started!
Step One - Set Up
Preparing your stones is an important first step in the sharpening process. Start by soaking your lower grit stones in water until they stop bubbling (this could be 10-20 minutes). Afterwards, place your stone on a damp towel or base that won’t move while you sharpen.
Step Two - Begin Sharpening
Grip the handle of the knife firmly with one hand, and with your opposite hand spread your fingers across the the blade in a way that enables you to apply even pressure. Maintaining a consistent angle, and applying even pressure, drag your knife across the stone with slow, deliberate passes. Over time, you will see a build up of dark sludge called a slurry. This is good! It will help remove metal from your knife and make the edge sharp. Once you finish running the blade along one side you should be able to feel a small hook or ‘burr’ along the other. After you successfully form a burr, turn the knife over and start again on the other side.
Step Three - Finishing
After sharpening properly with a medium grit stone, your knife will be very sharp! If you want an extra sharp razor edge, we recommend finishing with a higher grit stone. The sharpening process is the same, but the stone will remove much less steel, and form a less noticeable burr. Be sure to clean your knife and stone thoroughly after using to wash away all the steel you removed from the blade. Lastly, be sure to let your stones dry completely after use before storage.
Misen Sharpening Service
If sharpening by hand isn’t for you (but it should be!), we’ve got you covered. Follow the below steps, and we'll get a sharp knife back in your hands.
Complete the below form to request knife sharpening service and purchase shipping and return labels.
Wrap your knife protectively and box carefully! Make sure to include your return label in the box.
Mail it out! Our professional sharpening partners will get your knife sharp again and sent back ready for action.