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Feb 10, 2008 09:15 AM

Sharpening a santoku

Please help a naive knife owner !

Admittedly I don't own an expensive set of knives, nor do i own a stone. My favorite chopper is my cuisinart santoku knife, which is getting dull (probably because i'm constantly using it), it also seems to be sticking a bit more.......... I didn't pay a whole lot for it, but i really like this knife because it's smaller and works great for me. That being said, i don't really know how to sharpen it. The only "tool" i have it a built in sharpener thing that's on a knife block i own, one of those indents that you just drag the knife through.

I don't want to ruin my it ok to use the built in sharpener or will it mess up the indents?

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  1. Good question. I live by my Calphalon Santoku. I didn't pay much for it either, it was on clearance at BBB with a Chef's knife. Great knife though, and I guess this is a good question for those whose knives will dull in the future.

    1. I would bring your knife to a local kitchen shop for sharpening once every 3-6 months. It is usually around 2-5.00 dollars per knife. I pay 4.00. Once you have done that, be sure to use a steel constantly when you are cooking. The steel does not sharpen but hones the knife, keeping its precision. The knife and steel are best friends.

      My cutting surface of choice is definelty wood as it will not dull the knife quickly. Be sure to use some sort of bench scraper for picking up product from the cutting board. Scraping the knife against the board to pick things up and transport them to the pot or what have you, is bad for the knife blade. For future in home sharpening you can purchase a good stone, however this does take awhile to get used to and 10-15 minutes of repetative motion to sharpen a knife well. If you dont feel comfortable doing this I highly recommend a local shop.

      1. If you look, you’ll find an enormous amount of info here on CH regarding the differences between German and Japanese knives and their associated steel, plus advice on how to sharpen them. The main difference seems to be the angle of the edge, i.e., 15 degrees for the Japanese and 20 for the German. I recently received a Wüsthof Classic Ikon 6½“ Santoku knife. Rather than fool around with whetstones and the like, I purchased the Wüsthof Santoku sharpener for $19.95 from I haven’t used it yet as the knife came very sharp from the factory. I’ve used their regular sharpener on my 6” Classic Wüsthof chef knife for years now with good success. If you’re concerned about ruining the knife, I’d follow culinaryculture’s advice and take it to a pro, but make sure they know what they’re doing, particularly the edge difference between J and G knives.

        1. I would suggest that you invest in a inexpensive steel and use it with every kitchen session. I prefer Fdr. Dick's steels, and would suggest that you get a regular or fine cut model. You can also hone a knife by drawing it across the unglazed portion of a ceramic coffee cup or bowl.

          I agree that you might want to get your knife professionally sharpened, and I would also ask them to show you how to correctly use a steel when you pick it up.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Kelli2006

            I would opt for a ceramic steel over the basic metal ones. Very light strokes at the correct angle can make a big difference. Steeling every day is not advisable unless you are using a smooth steel to realign the edge.

            A lot of knife enthusiast use the sharpmaker


            I have seen many metal steels cost almost as much as this sharpener. I've not used it myself since I use an EdgePro but so many knife people swear by it if they aren't into using whetstones.

            1. re: scubadoo97

              I have a Kitchen-Aid santuko as well as many western knives, and I steel it before every use with my Frd. Dick double cut oval steel. 1 side is a standard cut, and the opposing side is a fine cut surface.

              I also have a fine cut whetstone and a small diamond hone, but I prefer to have my knives professionally sharpened every 6-9 months.

              1. re: scubadoo97

                Hi I think everyone feedback on this subject has been great, however I am concerned that you are advising not to use a steel... why wouldn’t you want to realign the edge? knives need to be kept in constant check. I have been cooking for a very long time and I don’t know a good chef around who doesn’t keep the steel close at hand. I would certainly recommend using it consistently as it aides in the effort of preventing knives from loosing their clean sharp edge. Why do you advise this scubadoo97? Constant sharpening takes metal off of the edge of the knife where as honing with a steel does not. Personally I would not want to sharpen one of my prize knives with a sharpener and risk having 3/4 of a knife in a couple of years.

                1. re: culinaryculture

                  Where did I advise constant sharpening? I advised the use of a ceramic over a grooved metal steel. The grit on a ceramic steel is like 1400. Actually I advised a smooth steel to realign the edge. Metal steels, outside of a smooth one, will take metal off the edge and I would not advise their use on a daily basis for a home cook. In a restaurant kitchen the chef is only interested in the knife being sharp. The will steel them to death and then dump them on the professional knife sharpener periodically to get them back in shape. The other problem is many people don't really know how to use a steel and it leads to even more edge abuse. I have to agree with you that if the person doing your sharpening is that aggressive that you would lose 1/4 of the knife over a few years I wouldn't want to sharpen much as well.

                  I personally only use my ceramic steel maybe once a week and sharpen 3-4 times a year. If your knives have not been abused you don't need to take much metal off to resharpen the edge. You should be able to sharpen that often and not lose enough metal to see a significant change in edge geometry in 10 years.

                  1. re: culinaryculture

                    With high end Japanese knives (even ones that are sharpened on both sides of the blade), I've seen it advised not to use a steel (and if you do use one, to use a ceramic steel). I /think/ part of the issue is maintaining a consistent angle, especially with knives that are typically sharpened at a very sharp angle.

                    "Do not use a sharpening steel to sharpen your Japanese knife. Using a sharpening steel can damage your blade and change the body style of your knife."

                    However, if you're going this way, you should of course hone and sharpen the knife frequently on a waterstone.

                    1. re: will47

                      im nomad stated that the knife was a cuisinart and not expensive. This imediatley indicated to me that the knife was certainly not a "high end" japanese knife, which can easily start out at 150.00 min. Many knives are "designed" to appear as though they are true japanese forged layered steel and are nothing more than fakes. I agree with you that a "true" japanese knife should not be honed with a steel and should be brought to a pro. It is far too brittle to be honed at home.

              2. alas, i live in a sucky area for a lot of things...even the nearest professional kitchen type shop is at least an hour away. Forgot about the bottom of the bowl way to sharpen though.

                perhaps i'll have to check out ebay for a santoku sharpener.

                4 Replies
                1. re: im_nomad

                  Get yourself something like this:
                  A couple bucks, a couple of strokes and you're back in business. It's not going to give you a crazy hairsplitting professional edge, but with a little practice you'll have an edge you're happy with.

                  If you really want to go commando, search for "scary sharp", an old technique
                  for sharpening tools with sandpaper. Here's one:
                  I've done this and it's a bit tedious but you can get a very nice edge.

                  Santoku is just a name for a blade shape, so you don't have to go looking for any special kind of sharpener. Anything that sharpens knives will sharpen your knife.

                  1. re: uh ... art

                    That is true, most often a knife just needs to be steeled to true the edge. You can't beat professional sharpening, but you'll probably get the best immediate results from just having a steel handy at home. My primary knife is a santoku, and I usually just need to glide it over a steel once in a while to maintain a great edge.

                    1. re: uh ... art

                      No, this is not true. Don't ruin your knife. Santoku edges have different angles than a western chef's knife and require a different sharpening angle. Many handled knife sharpeners have slots for western blades and Asian blades. Make sure to use the correct angle for the correct blade if sharpening at home.

                    2. re: im_nomad

                      There are a couple of places that specialize in mail-order knife sharpening, both of which have been recommended elsewhere on this board.



                      I haven't yet tried either, but expect to the next time I plan to be out of town for a few days.