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knife sharpening lessons?

I've got a selection of the standard brands of knives (Global, Henckel, etc) but was recently given a high-end handmade Japanese number. I am loath to send this knife to Columbus cutlery or similar, and would rather go the wetstone or equivalent approach.
I've searched the web and downloaded all the instructions for how to use wetstones, and bought that multi-coloured version (forget the name) where you attach the stones to metal rods and use a clamp. But no matter how closely I follow the instructions, my edges don't come out sharp.
Does anyone know of a passionate knife person who would do private lessons (preferably in the city)? I could even get a small group together and make it even more worth their while.
... dave

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  1. Perhaps a call to the lovely people at Hida in Berkeley can be of some help.

    1. korin has a great DVD on how to sharpen your knife. otherwise, i don't know of any place that does private lessons. although if you befriend a chef, he/she should be able to give you a lesson.

      1. I've been meaning to take my knives to be sharpened, but haven't found the time. I would definitely be interested in a lesson! Meanwhile, you might want to call Bob at Critical Edge. He's the one with the stand at the Saturday Ferry Bldg Farmer's Market, as well as and various other Farmer's Markets throughout the Bay Area. He doesn't have a retail store.

        You can read reviews at

        1. I wonder if this is still available.
          If you're really attached to SF, then what you've done is great. But there's a new kid in town in the east bay, http://www.pauldingandco.com/calendar...

          I took a knife sharpening class there that was great.
          sailorbuoys May 18, 2007 04:26PM

          I had trouble with the link but company still exists and if you contact them perhaps you can schedule a class, no knife sharpening on present calendar.

          1. You might consider the semester-long, Saturday morning Japanese Woodworking
            class at Laney College. Although there's some actual joinery to be learned, the intro
            class is predominantly about earning to sharpen. And though the tools you'll be
            sharpening are mostly chisels and plane blades, the skills are directly transferrable
            to knives.

            Cost is about $60 total for about 15 4-hour classes.


              1. I have only read good things about this guy, Josh, at Bernal Cutlery. In fact, I think that he works out of a butcher shop, but seems to have a following on Yelp.



                1 Reply
                1. re: jeffroc

                  Just got my knives sharpened at Bernal Cultery - I could not be happier.

                2. Actually, if you could get a small group class together, I might be interested in being a part of it. I bet I could get a few others interested as well.

                  1. I ordered from Hunter 2 sharpeners and a dvd will let you know how it all works out I looked at the website and was inpressed

                    1. I think you may be crossing into "seems simple at first but really complex when you think about it" territory.

                      Knife and blade sharpening is a bit of an art and craft, and you'll no doubt notice that you have different edges on your knives that require different sharpening angles. Your high end Japanese knife may also be a single-side or hollow edge as well.

                      I think lots of people can use the Spiderco style sharpeners well.

                      If your edges aren't coming well, you're most likely rolling your edges and not keeping a precise angle to the sharpening surface. That will round the edge a bit and give inconsistent results. The Spiderco style seems more natural, because people are used to keeping a blade vertical, rather than an exact 22 degree or whatever angle from horizontal.

                      Keep an eye out for knife sharpening places that use machines... someone who's lazy or in a hurry can easily build up a lot of heat on the edge of a blade. There's NO fixing that, ever.

                      PS: If anyone has ever come across a Spiderco Enduro at the Oakland estuary, I still miss that blade sometimes.

                      1. First of all, I've never seen a 3 section water stone that turns on a spindle. Are you sure you didn't buy an oilstone? I ask as the oilstone (most commonly by Norton) is already impregnated with sharpening oil and shouldn't be used with water. Learning to sharpen knives is a passion and takes time to learn. I wouldn't practice with your expensive knives as it's easy to ruin them or nick them if you don't use enough water. Having said that it's a rewarding skill to learn but patience is required. I would seek out lessons on Utube and watch before you practice. There was a wonderful article written in Fine Homebuilding about sharpening knives and chisels with various grits of sandpaper glued to glass that you might find in the library (web requires subscription). The reason I suggest it is that it is cheap and very accurate as it is always a flat even surface...something that you have to watch with either water or oil stones as it's easy to embed metal fragments that can damage your knives. I don't know how long you are working the knife or how many times you turn it but it requires a lot of time especially if you are used to taking your knives to a farmer's market for example. A very different experience in that it is very slow when done well. Maybe you aren't sharpening long enough which is what I suspect. Maybe be more specific about how you are doing it and for how long. I applaude your efforts and many of the suggestions already made are good but it is not something to be learned quickly but worthwhile if you love knives. Hope this helps.

                        Until after writing this I didn't note the age of the post...I wonder if he ever learned the skill he was looking for?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: cakebaker

                          Jeff at Bernal Cutlery does indeed offer classes for 2 or 3 people - I think it's 30 to 40 bucks. I would be VERY interested in arranging a class. If there are others that have interest please reach me at sb_94102@yahoo.com. I hope we can take the class.

                          1. re: sparky403

                            Sparky403, Did you take the class? If so, what did you think?

                            1. re: elise h

                              Last I checked he was too busy to offer it any longer:-( I should check with him again.