Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Jan 4, 2009 10:42 PM

Knife Sharpening Courses in Boston?

Does anyone know of any in Boston that can teach me the right way to use a wet stone. I have been moving towards more expensive Japanese knives that are ridiculously sharp and I want to keep them that way without destroying them. Thanks

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Cambridge Culinary Institute offers a knife skills class. I don't know if it includes sharpening.

    4 Replies
    1. re: pemma

      I took it some years ago and it included honing, but not a sharpening drill - though it's the kind of environment you could feel comfortable asking for a demo (bring your own whetstone, just in case)

      1. re: enhF94

        What did you think of that class in general? I keep almost, but not quite signing up.

        1. re: finlero

          That particular class: it's a lot of fruit salad, and you'll feel better about it if you practice for 20 minutes a day for two weeks after you finish the class, so you can really pick up the skills. Instructors change, so no telling about your particular teacher.

          1. re: finlero

            Agreed enh94 - a VERY basic class. When I took it, nearly everyone hadn't seen a chef's knife before. We chopped the usual culprits - carrots, celery, potato, onion. The chefs and instructors are very open to answering questions and demo'ing though. Nice people and a good facility.

      2. Sharpening a knife is SO SO easy. There are plenty of resources on the web, just google.

        This link even has a video:

        Really all you need is a half decent stone and you will be sharpening your knives in two seconds. Once they are sharp you won't even need to use the course part of the stone unless you really ding the blade.

        In chinatown you can get stones for $5 or so but they are really a bit too course for really good knives. The japanese one below looks about right.

        I use a course chinatown stone to get dings out of my blades and then a Japanese whet stone for most of my monthly (or so) sharpening. Buy a stone, give it a whirl, it is so NOT tricky.

        Here are two decent looking stones:

        5 Replies
        1. re: StriperGuy

          The folks at the incredible offer a gread DVD that gives step by step instructions on using wet stones. Their site is also probably the best place for ordering a wide variety of both traditional Japanese knives and western style knives by Japanese producers. For the most part, it is where every chef I know purchases their knives. And if you ever find yourself in the Tribeca area of NYC they offer classes at their store which is well worth the visit. I also take advantage of their master knife maker and send my knives in once every 18 months or so to have the bevel of my knives returned to perfect. They can also fix just about any chip or broken tip (which saved me from nearly killing an extern who left the tip of a $300 sashimi knife in a wall). Hope this didn't sound like an ad but these guys are great and their DVD is probably the industry standard.

          1. re: lovinlinecook

            That's really helpful info, thanks. I taught myself to use a whetstone a while ago and I agree it's not that difficult. A DVD like this probably would have been more helpful than the written instructions on the 'net.

            But I'll definitely pop into the shop next time I'm in Tribeca.

            1. re: lovinlinecook

              Thanks, great recommendation. I will probably do this route. Knife skills class I took taught us a bit about stoning a knife, but not the different types of bevels that I seem to have on knives that I recently bought in Japan. They are the sickest cutting knives I have ever used and want to keep them that way.

              1. re: chefboyardee

                Which knives did you buy and would you repurchase them again? I'm in the market (again!) for a new knife (I have Henkels and Global Chef's). Just can't have the most perfect knife!

                1. re: alwayscooking

                  This is turning into a bit of an obsession, so I have more knives than I need now. I have really been partial to the Santoku style knife recently. I have several traditional german knives, henkel and wustof, and then bought a modified version of the traditional knife with a Shun Ken Onion chef knife (which I hate, but its looks really nice, which is a small consolation to the fact that I hate how it feels). I bought a cheap Mac Santoku and wind up using that the most. This led me down the path of Japanese knives, which just feel different and allow me to cut very differently, and ultimately cook very differently. I bought a Mac Santoku several years ago, and that is now my go to knife. Its light, very thin, and can be sharpened much more than the german knives I have (even in the silly machine I used to use). When I went to Japan I bought another santoku and a Sashimi type knive, no idea what the brand it (its stamped in Japanese), but it was a carbon steel knife with the sharpest edge I have ever used. I was showing a friend a fine dice this past w/e and it was a dice that would have had Ken Oringer proud. They distinctly told me not to use a machine, and don't even steel them, therefore the start of this post., which was mentioned above is the only place that I have seen that carries the type of knives that I saw in Tokyo, so I would go there to feel these knives. I ordered a Kramer knife about 2 years ago, which still has not arrived, and I am hoping that it will become a favorite of mine. BTW, I started stoning after watching the Korin video, and I can get the Mac (my stoning Guinea Pig), sharper than the machine, but still not as sharp as the Tokyo purchased knives.

          2. I too have a bit of an obsession with this - but I also have some bad news.

            Unless your REALLY , REALLY serious, its best not to sharpen your own knives. In fact most really good knife companies (such as Shun) take them back to sharpen and you do this once or twice a year for a nominal cost.

            You should however be honing your knives with a honing stick, to keep the blade up to task. Alton brown actually does an excellent explanation of all this in a goods eat episode ( ) - check it out its a good one.

            Fact is most Japanese knives have a 15 degree angle (so its sharper but dulls quicker) whereas western / European knives have a 20 degree angle to the blade. Think you can match a factory set 15 degree angle using just your eye and a whet stone? I sure as heck can't.

            There are professionals who do this for a living and have special jigs and tools and machines setup just for this purpose. In japan sword makers, knife makers and sushi chefs never do this task themselves, they send it to the guy who's only job is to sharpen these things perfectly. You'd think that if a guy can forge a sword and put an edge on it he could sharpen the thing, right? Wrong, they have enough respect and foresight to send them out to a pro.

            So in the end, honing is a good thing (think 'sharpening' steel) sharpening is a bad thing. If you have expensive knives your likely to just make them worse without years of practice, or you might get a decent edge that's good enough to cut but probably not that razor like edge your dreaming of.

            If your really still obsessed about this, the way to go is Japanese whetstones in progressively finer grits (you'll need at least 3) -followed by a stropping leather and rouge, but a diamond stone would be a passable solution, but absolutely stay away from Arkansas whetstones.

            And finally, for what it's worth, I've always found the "V" style sharpener to be a great little tool for my knives in a pinch, and it will only set you back about 10 bucks compared to 100+ for the japanese whetstones. I'm constantly using it on my dexter russel fillet and boning knives which go dull constantly with use. 3-4 swipes later and I've got a perfect, uniform edge and a razor sharp knife .

            Here's an expensive one from victorinox


            1 Reply
            1. re: jefskil

              Totally disagree. It is way easy to sharpen your own knives I have been doing it for years.

            2. excuse me, I meant Japanese Water Stones, not whet stones.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jefskil

                I strongly encourage bringing your knives to Stoddard's, in Newton. Family-run business and they sharpen by hand, not machine.