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Knife sharpener for Japanese knives

Knife sharpener for Japanese knives

Japanese knives stand out for their strength, sharpness and durability. However, even these cutting tools need to be sharpened from time to time. Knifemakers use sharpening whetstones and specialized devices for this purpose. To keep your Japanese knife blade edge always sharp, you should understand the sharpening process and choose the proper sharpener. Below we will consider the peculiarities of processing such products and the devices used.

Japanese knives features

Blades of this type can be found in a professional kitchen. These are various narrow-specialized and universal models. They are popular among professionals due to several features:

  • Minimum sharpening angle. Models with a one-sided edge have a sharpening angle of 15-18 degrees. This ensures that the product has a high level of sharpness.
  • Durability. The steel used for manufacturing these knives is highly wear-resistant. Therefore, a simple edge honing is often enough to make the edge sharper.
  • Hardness up to 60 HRC. Thanks to the use of high quality steel, the edge with a minimum sharpening angle is resistant to mechanical damage.

Also, most Japanese models have a single bevel blade grind. This shape of the cutting edge requires special skills in work. Therefore, to use a Japanese knife for professional purposes one will require a fair amount of experience.

Japanese knife

Sharpening or honing

Before beginning you need to understand exactly what steps one must take to restore the sharpness of a knife. There are two ways to make the cutting tool edge sharp:

  • Sharpening. The process involves removing some metal from the cutting edge. It is possible to change the sharpening angle. Special stones, sharpeners and other tools are used to do this. During sharpening you can change the shape of the cutting edge of your knife.
  • Honing. Honing is used to push the dull cutting edge line back in alignment. Honing involves the use of a ceramic or a steel sharpening rod. A few back-and-forth movements are enough to re-align the edge. The sharpening angle that was formed during sharpening remains the same during honing.

Due to the high level of hardness of the steel, Japanese knives do not need to be sharpened very often. It is more common to hone the cutting edge of Japanese knives. You do not need to use a sharpening stone or other devices for this purpose. After honing the edge, the knife blade will get sharp.

Please note that honing allows just a temporary restoration of the shape of the cutting edge. Eventually it will lose its sharpness and will require a proper sharpening.

What sharpening tools to choose 

A knifemaker would use a special sharpening stone. A beginner, however, will find it quite difficult to cope with such a task. That is due to the fact that Japanese knives have a shallow sharpening angle.

Water sharpening whetstone 

Sometimes a special water whetstone is used for sharpening. Manufacturers produce such stones in a rectangular shape. A water whetstone can have different grits. Therefore, for high-quality sharpening, you will need several stones. Restoring the sharpness of a Japanese knife on a water stone is done in several steps:

  1. The stone should be kept under water for a few minutes. This is essential to ensure that during sharpening the surface of the stone produces a slurry. The slurry is vital for polishing the edge of the cutting tool. Meanwhile, the abrasive stone will remove metal particles. It is easy to determine that the stone is ready for work. The air bubbles will stop coming out of it.
  2. Then the stone should be placed on a special backing plate or secured on the surface in any other way. A table, a workbench or any other stable surface will be best. It is super important to make sure that the surface does not wobble. Breaking this rule may result in injury. You will not be able to hold the stone with one hand and sharpen the knife with the other. This is due to the nature of the process. You will need to hold the knife with one hand and press it against the abrasive with the other.
  3. You have to hold the blade at the desired angle to the surface and run the cutting edge on the stone. Make sure to run the entire cutting edge over the stone. The blade should be guided over the stone in the direction from the heel to the tip of the blade.
  4. Then, you should change the stone to a stone with finer abrasive grit. And repeat the sharpening movements. Each stone should be changed to a stone with a finer grit until the knife gets the desired level of sharpness.

Using stones of different grits helps to repair serious damage and make the blade sharp. However, holding the knife at the required angle is not easy and requires a certain amount of experience. Thus, this method will be difficult for a beginner.

You should wash the blade under running water to remove any steel particles from the surface left after sharpening.

ATTENTION: Do not wash your kitchen knives in a dishwasher. Chemicals and high temperatures can affect the steel quality of the cutting tool and reduce sharpness.

Boride CS-HD water sharpening stones

Electric knife sharpeners

There is a wide range of models on the market that are powered by an electric engine and a rotating abrasive wheel. From the point of view of some users, it may seem that such a sharpener is the best option for knife sharpening. But one should be aware of several electric knife sharpeners' features:

  • Rotating abrasive disc. Rotating disc makes It difficult to control the sharpening angle. Due to the rotation speed, you can accidentally remove a lot of metal from the edge. As a result, you will have to reshape the cutting edge.
  • Protective cover that prevents visual inspection of the process. It is not possible to set the desired sharpening angle. There is a high risk of damaging a Japanese knife.
  • Coarse grain of the abrasive disс. Such sharpening leaves scratches and grooves on the metal surface. This makes the blade less sharp. You will have to do the hand sanding of the cutting edge.

Given these features, it is better not to use an electric sharpener to try to make a Japanese kitchen knife sharp. Doing so may result in blade damage.

Mechanical sharpeners

Products of this type are extremely widespread. They are used for knifemaking, cutting edge restoration, as well as for sharpening when a cutting tool looses its sharpness. The main advantages of manual sharpening with the help of a special tool:

  • Possibility to control how much metal gets removed. Due to the fact that the work is manual, the sharpener can always monitor the removal of metal particles. The risk of spoiling the blade is extremely low.
  • Quick setting of the sharpening angle. Manufacturers design devices with the ability to adjust the position of the abrasive in relation to the blade. This allows you to set the desired angle.
  • Possibility to remove scratches and burrs. Progressive change of the abrasive to a finer one allows to remove any irregularities.
  • Works without electricity. It can be used in your apartment kitchen, garage, workshop, outdoors or anywhere else.

When using a mechanical sharpener, a person controls the pressure force of the abrasive stone on the knife. And the absence of an electric drive means that there will be no accidental blade damage.

Can one use a grinder

The use of a grinder can cause serious blade damage due to the high rotation speed of the belt, the pressure and strong friction, which heats the blade. This has a negative effect on the hardness of the blade. Therefore, it is better not to use a grinder to work with Japanese knives.

If this is the only possible option, you should only work at a very low speed. This sharpening method involves manual setting of the sharpening angle. The knife gets gradually pressed to the abrasive surface. At the same time you should always monitor the progress. Due to the rotation of the abrasive element, there is a high risk of damaging the blade.

To avoid overheating of the blade, there should be water cooling of the stone. Besides, you should constantly monitor the temperature of the metal. If the temperature goes up, the blade should be cooled down.

Besides, it is not a good idea to use a grinder sanders in a kitchen, it is more suitable for a workshop.



TSPROF mechanical sharpeners

The TSPROF sharpening systems are popular among knife makers, sharpening professionals, beginners, knife lovers and collectors. The TSPROF models are very common due to their simple design. Any person without special skills can cope with the work. In addition, the demand for these sharpening systems is due to a number of advantages:

  • A wide range of models. Both beginners and professionals can choose a knife sharpener for their purposes. Models differ in specifications and technical features.
  • Compact dimensions. These devices can be conveniently moved around. They do not take up much space in an apartment kitchen or workshop. TSPROF sharpeners can be used even in limited space.
  • Easy to set the angle. The systems are the best for sharpening Japanese knives at an angle of 15-18 degrees. Thanks to a special mechanism, the cutting edge will have the proper shape.
  • Quick change of sharpening stones. Thanks to the spring-loaded abrasive clamps, it takes very little time to change the abrasive. This allows a faster knife sharpening.
  • Compatible with electronic knife angle finders. The device with a magnetic base can be easily fixed on the steel surface.
  • Durability and quality of construction. The TSPROF knife sharpener will last a long time. It is made of high-strength materials. This reduces the risk of mechanical damage.
  • Knife rotating mechanism. Anyone will be able to create the same sharpening angle on both sides without trouble.

Other advantages include the surface stability of the sharpeners. Their heavy bases allow them to be placed securely on a table, workbench or other surface.

TSPROF Pioneer Sharpener

How to sharpen a Japanese knife with the TSPROF sharpening system

A Japanese knife can be sharpened on one or both sides. The method of restoring the cutting edge is determined according to the features of a particular cutting tool. The sharpening process is quite simple:

  • Preparing the sharpening system. The sharpening system should be placed on a stable surface. It is better to choose a table or workbench made of non-slip materials.
  • Mounting the abrasive. At the initial stage, choose a sharpening stone with coarse grit. This way, you can quickly remove the desired amount of metal from your knife edge. To install the abrasive, simply pull the spring-loaded abrasive clamp and insert the sharpening stone.
  • Blade clamping. The knife should be mounted in special clamps. If needed, you can move them along the grooves. The distance between the clamps should be adjusted according to the length of the blade.
  • Setting the desired angle. You can use a special electronic angle finder at this stage. This way, you can set the desired angle with the utmost precision.
  • Sharpening. The abrasive should be moved back and forth along the cutting edge. At the same time, you should control the amount of pressure of the sharpening stone on the blade.

After you complete these steps, you can mount an abrasive with a finer grit. This helps to remove scratches and irregularities on the cutting edge. Repeat the same steps with finer abrasive stones until you get the desired condition of the cutting edge.

Professional kitchen chefs favor Japanese knives for their sharpness and durability. To keep your blade in the best condition, you should sharpen it manually. The best option is to use a manual sharpener. This device works equally well for beginners and professionals and allows you to make a sharp cutting edge in the shortest possible time.

When choosing a sharpener, one should pay attention to its specifications, as well as the sizes of knives that can be sharpened with this or that sharpener. With this approach, you will be able to choose a device that meets your purposes.

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