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Oct 24, 2008 01:54 PM

Perils & Pitfalls Of Knife Sharpening [split from Ontario board]

Where else can we take our Japanese knives? I've got a Global knife that is in bad need of a sharpening. Anyone else got recommendations?

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  1. Adam, almost every commercial knife sharpener will use high speed grinders that will destroy the quality of your knives and they will never stay sharp for long again. To maintain your investment in Japanese knives purchase a good knife sharpening system or the traditional wet stones from someone like Lee Valley. Alternatively, find a skilled professional cook or meat cutter to correctly sharpen them for you.
    If you can get them sharpened by a professional who values good knives, all you really need for home cooking is a diamond dust knife sharpener to maintain them between approximately annual re-sharpening. They are a hand held item you can buy at any commercial foodservice equipment supplier. Be sure to get the salesperson to show you how to use it.
    Good luck.

    1. Do not use a diamond steel on your Japanese knives! Avoid steels in general for Japanese knives, they're too abrasive. Honing steels are meant for use on softer knives Henckels/Wusthofs etc. Honing simply aligns the blade straight, it does not sharpen. In my opinion, a diamond steel is a quick fix as it feels like it sharpens your knife, but in effect is leaving groove marks on your blade. Think of it as a microscopic serrated bread knife. It catches what you're cutting, but these mini-serrations wear out rapidly, thus returning your knife to a dull state. You will thus have to use the diamond steel quite often, which will wear your knife down in no time.

      You have 3 common options.....

      1. Chef's Choice sharpeners - they specifically make a model designed for Japanese knives such as Global, which are still 50/50 but have a lower angle (15-17 degrees). The foolproof method, but also the most damaging to your knives in the long run. It will wear down your knives much quicker than the next 2 options.

      2. Sharpen by hand using systems that range from rods to guides to Japanese waterstones. The best results involve sharpening with 3 waterstones of various grit, but there is a learning curve. The rods/guides take the angle guesswork out of the equation. Refer to section 7 on this sharpening guide. Also the video demonstrates the correct method of sharpening on waterstones. There is a lot of misinformation in regards to sharpening on the internet, especially youtube.

      3. send to professional - unfortunately, there aren't any for hire services available in Toronto to my knowledge. If you can't find any chef friends that have a knife fetish, maybe look for woodworking friends? They're just as obsessed about sharpness. There are two very reliable services over the internet you can send your knives to. The first is the aforementioned Korin. The second is Dave at D&R/japanese knife sharpening. It'll cost you but it's a worthy investment, they'll give your knife the love it deserves. Btw Korin is offering a discount on its sharpening service until the end of the year.

      1. Dave Martell at D&R Sharpening ( is a terrific person to sharpen your knives. He is excellent and can put a "scary sharp" edge on your knives. He has done some sharpening for me and I was extremely pleased with the results!

        2 Replies
        1. re: BoardSMITH

          2nd the recommendation to use Dave Martell. There are a few that know Japanese steel and knives. Dave not only has a vast knowedge but has a passion for perfection and will take a lot of time to make sure your knives get the best treatment he can give.

          1. re: BoardSMITH

            3rd vote for Dave. He does an incredible job. LOL, this is becoming the "Dave Martell Show" :) But he really is that good. He'll put the right angle on the edge based on the quality of the knife (and how you use it if you tell him). He also sells supplies for maintaining the edge once it's properly sharpened.

            Maybe we'll get him to show up here and post one of these days :)

          2. If you want to learn more than you want to know about knife sharpening you can look in here:


            These people are totally obsessed with sharpening knives.

            All I need to sharpen my Japanese knives (harder, more brittle steel than other knives) is a medium diamond sharpening stone and a fine diamond or ceramic "steel", i.e. honing rod. So I disagree with Aser about diamond "steels" (rods) vis-a-vis Japanese knives. Ordinary steel steels, the grooved butcher steels, will mess up your Jap. knife because the knife's steel is actually harder than the steel's steel. Ceramic and diamond is very hard, though, much harder than any steel. The trick to using these honing rods is to hold the knife at the proper angle (not too acute an angle) AND USE A VERY LIGHT TOUCH. Of course you have to know how to use the sharpening stone, too, but it's really quite an easy skill to learn. You only use the stone when the touch up on the "steel" no longer suffices to produce a sharp edge. Of course you can also sharpen non-Jap. knives with those things, too.