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Feb 20, 2012 07:42 AM

Knife sharpening for Japanese knives

I have a number of Shun knives that are woefully dull. I've been putting off getting them sharpened by sending them in the mail because of things like packaging and going to the post office, so I'm hoping there might be somewhere local that would make the whole process less of a pain.

I read some reviews of local knife sharpeners, but I noticed some people complaining that the Japanese knives were not being sharpened properly. Are there any local sharpeners who are good at handling the harder steel of the Japanese knives? (preferably T-accessible)

I will probably learn to sharpen myself eventually, but for now, I need my knives back to working well.

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  1. Stoddards in Newton (Nonantum) is definitely the place to go. They have done a great job with all my knives, including my Shun slicer. It is not T accessible, but I am sure there are several bus routes which could get you there.

    Also, I was surprised to find out that Shun recently did away with their complementary knife sharpening. You now get a preferred price at a vendor they have partnered with, per their website. This makes it a pretty easy call not to deal with the shipping.

    In a previous thread, Striper and others discussed knife stones and systems. I would like to purchase an Apex sharpener at some point. There are some good YouTube tutorials and it looks easy enough.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gabatta

      Ooops, meant to reply to this one; See my post below, Shun did bring it back:

      And I agree, Stoddards is a great local option.

      1. re: Gabatta

        You can get to Stoddards in Nonantum by two buses, one from the Newton Highlands stop, the other from Harvard Square switching at Watertown (I worked over there once). The Newton Highlands one is a pretty short ride if you're on the Riverside Green line.

      2. Patti Small (On the Edge Knife Sharpening) did a fantastic job on my Ken Onion Shun's.
        She is at a fair amount of farmers markets throughout the year.
        Hand sharpening only

        3 Replies
        1. re: tritonlab

          +1 for Patti. She takes wonderful care of my Global knives.

          1. re: mjg0725

            +2 for Patti. She is a master. She comes to Farmers' Markets in the summer, and to Formaggio (maybe other places as well) in the winter.

            1. re: calisson

              +3 - Patti is the best! She's at Pemberton's on Mass Ave in Cambridge (a short walk from Porter) the first Sunday of the month and I bring my knives to her every couple of months. If you catch her at the beginning of her "shift" she's usually done in an hour or two, but the wait may be longer if a long line of blades forms in front of you. She takes excellent care of my Shun, and I've seen her adjust her equipment to get the angle right. She's also taken my Wusthofs down to 18-19 degrees which is quite a treat.

              Plus she often travels with a gorgeous mountain dog and a gray parrot named shish kabob. So you get bonus cute animal time AND sharp knives.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. I would, although painful, send it back to Shun for sharpening. I would not trust local sharpeners to those knives.

            2 Replies
            1. re: treb

              I would trust Stoddard's. They are knife and sharpening freaks. If they can't do it, they'll tell you.

              1. re: treb

                This isn't an option. As posted above, Shun no longer sharpens knives in house. I used Shun when they offered complementary sharpening services directly (not through a 3rd party), and I use Stoddards now. Stoddards does every bit as good of a job as Shun did.

              2. Honestly the Fiskars brand sharpener works better than anyone you'd bring it to around here.

                4 Replies
                  1. re: Gabatta

                    I didn't mean that to come of as a slight against Patti or the guys at Stoddards. The all do fine work, if only a bit inconsistent. I used to bring all my blades to Stoddards to get touched up. They would always bring my shinogi lines way lower than I would like and they would often be very uneven. I do it myself, these days, every 3 days.
                    For home cooks, I would seriously suggest a Fiskars sharpener. They're inexpensive and will keep a decent 50-50 edge on your Shuns.

                    1. re: adamgendreau

                      Yeh, if you want to ruin your Shuns. I was researching very same topic recently. Shuns (and other Japanese knives) blades are sharpened at a 16 deg angle while the W├╝stof and other European brands are sharpened at a 20 deg angle.

                      Plus, you do NOT want to be sharpening your knives that often. You can hone them frequently and then occasionally sharpen them as needed.

                      If you want to do it home, use a sharpening stone and do it by hand. Shun sells the stone with a holder at the right angle. I'm still deciding on whether to bring it to Stoddards or to try doing it at home myself. (Leaning towards Stoddards since the pros (chefs) even bring their blades to pros (sharpeners).)

                      I found this video by Alton Brown helpful and informative (albeit silly) to understanding your Shun knives better:

                      1. re: mahlzeit_yumyum

                        I don't use a Fiskars, myself. I sharpen my knives every 3 days on an 8000 grit stone, which is recommended by the fine folks who made my knives. Was only recommending the Fiskars for home cooks. They work very well on Shun and most damascus steel knives.