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May 6, 2013 07:41 PM

Why can't I sharpen my knife like a factory edge

So I have a 1000 grit Whetstone which I soak for 10-20 mins in water to get all the air out. I lay down a dam cloth so the stone wont move, then I proceed to sharpen. To sharpren I hold the knife edge at a 15 degree angle and with my three middle fingers starting in the middle of the knife push it back and forth and equal number of times. As i move up and down the knife edge i check part that im sharpening to make sure it matches the whole length if the knife edge. then i turn it over and repeat the process on the other side of the knife. Now I think it pretty sharp but todat I just received my Fujiwara High Carbon Steel FKH-2 Petty 150mm and holly shit that is a sharp knife make my old knife seem dull. So my question is what am I doing wrong and can I achieve this lever of factory sharpness at home?

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  1. Yes but stop counting strokes and go watch these...

    Jon is one of the best around.

    One grit isn't going to work magic. I did a jacked yanagiba yesterday and went though 6 grits.


    1 Reply
    1. re: knifesavers

      Agree, doesn't matter how many strokes you do, if you don't raise a burr and chase it from side to side then deburr you haven't created a new edge. I have never counted strokes. Just sharpen till I get a burr on both sides, then deburr

      A 1000 grit good enough to get razor sharp with good techique

    2. There are many explanations and many possibilities to your questions.

      1) You may be new to knife sharpening, so it will take you a few more knives to get the hang of it. It is just a possibility. Equal strokes on both side is a good starting point, but you don't have to be exact. To practice knife sharpening, try to use your cheaper knives for practice.

      2) For the very first time you sharpening a knife, you want to able to feel the burr. This means you have sharpening the knife to the point where the two sides have met.

      Once you have achieved the burr, then you will need to remove it in order to get a sharp edge. You cannot achieve a sharp edge if the burr is still there.

      3) Different steels are different. Your Fujiwara high carbon steel knife may simple has a better knife steel, and your other knives may never be as sharp as it. With proper knife sharpening, your Hiromoto AS (I believe you bought it) should be your sharpest knife.

      4) There are many good knife sharpening video. Jon's videos (suggested by knifesavers) are great. I find Mark's videos are bit easier for beginners. You really only need to watch video #2 - #4.

      Finally to answer your question: <can I achieve this lever of factory sharpness at home>

      Yes, you can. With reasonable sharpening skill (does not have to extremely good), you should able to get your knives sharper than the factory edge. You may need another stone to help you, but it is not required, but it helps. You can a 1000 grit stone. You may want a 3000 or 4000 grit stone. I know some people with great skill can use simply use a 1000 grit stone. What you need to do is to progressively sharpen your knife with lighter and lighter pressure.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        So just go my Hiromoto AS and it's one bad ass knife much sharper factory edge than my Fujiwara High Carbon petty ( and way better build quality ) this knife feels like a knife if you know what i mean. In time and practice I will get better in sharpening, and I most likely will get another stone(3000 or 4000 grit) but for now practice practice practice

        1. re: ukjason

          I am glad you like the Hiromoto AS and I am more glad that you have let us know about your experience. Hiromoto AS is known to be a very good value knife. Very good steel, good build, and not too expensive -- not much more than a standard Wusthof or a Henckels knife.

          Aside from all the great suggestions for knife sharpening, I find that nothing can substitute for practice. Yet, you don't want to practice on an expensive knife. So practice on an inexpensive knife if you have one. If not, just go to your local HomeGoods, TJ Maxx...etc and get a $10-15 Kuhn Rikon or Pure Komchi knife or something like that for practice.

          Don't worry too much about a 3000 or 4000 grit stone for now. But if you ever need suggestions, then please let us know. Have fun with your Hiromoto AS knife.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I completely agree. Practice on a cheap softer steel knife which will be easier to sharpen so you can work on your technique. The technique you use makes a big difference.

            I'm not a professional knife sharpener but from my experience to find the optimal angle that'll give you a better than factory edge you really have to do it by feel and sound. You'll notice in Mark Richmond's video (see Chem's earlier post) that he doesn't mention anything about ideal knife angles 22 deg, 20, 15, etc. Yet he shows you the magic marker trick. What he's really showing you is way to help you feel and find the optimal angle.

            It's easier to feel the contact the edge makes with a 4000 - 6000 finishing stone. The sound the knife makes will also be more apparent with a fine grit versus a 1000 grit. Which IMO is too coarse.

      2. I don't think you're doing anything wrong.

        When I sharpen my knives, I first use a 1000 grit Shapton Pro ceramic waterstone. That gets them sharp enough to "slash cut" paper (i.e., pretty sharp, but not super sharp).

        Then, I polish the edge on a leather bench strop charged with chromium oxide. That gets them sharp enough to "push cut" paper (or ripe tomatoes).

        You can probably achieve the same level of sharpness using stones of progressively finer grit, but the simple two-step process described above keeps my knives as sharp as or sharper than a factory edge.

        Seriously, using a strop was a major revelation for me. It might well do the trick for you too.

        21 Replies
          1. re: tanuki soup

            Good point about the strop. It is also a cheaper options. I also have a leather belt strop and I find it invaluable. Funny thing is that I use it all the time that I no longer think about it as one of the things that the original poster can use. I probably just assume everyone has one. :)

            I am also going to add that any strop will help -- with or without chromium oxide.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Agree. I've read that some folks even use old newspaper or cardboard. Maybe ukjason could try one of those free options first, and if the results are good, consider buying or making a leather strop.

              1. re: tanuki soup

                Yeah, I have heard people used newspaper, cardboard and jeans. I would suggest that ukjason can try to use an old/cheap leather belt. One with a smooth smooth -- not the one with uneven texture, and just try to strop on it. If it improves, then invest more.


                1. re: tanuki soup

                  Hi, tanuki:

                  The fiber backing from a legal pad works well as a strop.


                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I picked this up at a flea market quite a few years ago. I believe it's called a "strop stick". This one looks to be pretty old, but I still use it. I like to believe it adds that finishing touch. Has anyone else ever seen/used one?

                  1. re: grampart

                    Yeah, it does look like a strop stick. It looks to be softer or more plush than the ones I usually see.



                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      You can't see in the photo, but two sides are a softer, padded texture. The other 2 are hard leather with no padding.

                      1. re: grampart

                        The palm of your hand works ok as a strop for running with scissors type people.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            And, if no one is looking, the sole of my foot.

                            1. re: grampart

                              The only place I would (and have) use as a strop is the flat surface of my thigh.

                              It is just too dangerous to use hands or feet. :)

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                But the sole of my foot is much more leathery. ;-)

                                1. re: grampart

                                  And I would prefer to cut my hand over some areas in the vicinity of my thigh.

                                  1. re: kengk

                                    <And I would prefer to cut my hand over some areas in the vicinity of my thigh.>

                                    But there is so much more meat in your thigh than your palm. :)

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      Okay, I am sufficiently grossed out.... :-P

                                      1. re: Eiron

                                        not sure where that conversation going

                                        1. re: ukjason

                                          What? You don't know? We are trying to find a solution for your stropping material. :P

                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Years ago I had a strop that I impregnated with diamond lapping compound. That thing really worked good. I mainly used it on my wood carving tools. It comes in microns and I have no idea how that relates to grit size. The tube I had just felt like grease between the fingers.

                      1. re: kengk

                        Thanks. So you put the diamond compound on your palm and then strop the knives on your hand, right? :P

                        Just kidding.

                        There are various conversion table, but here is one.


                        5 um is approximate the same as 3000 grit size in Japanese standard.

                        1 um is then approximately similar to 8000 grit size.

                        When you get down to 0.1 um (100 nm), then it get really fine:

                        I don't think I would need something this fine though, but that is just me.

                  2. Try using a large marker pen on your knife to see where you are removing the metal;

                    1. Have you tried a sharpening system? I use Edge Pro and also Wicked Edge systems. I consistently get edges SHARPER than factory.

                      Look on line or the respective web sites for videos about these 2 systems. Wicked Edge system gives the sharpest edges ever seen.

                      there is an initial investment but I have found both well worth while.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Jeff C

                        <I use Edge Pro and also Wicked Edge systems.>

                        Which do you use more?

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          My first choice is Wicked Edge. I seem to get better results and there is less opportunity for user error.

                          I have had my Edge Pro longer. I have learned to use it and have made some modifications that make it a good fit for my uses. I like that it has a wider variety of stones and I can get a lower angle on it.

                          BUT IN 90 % OF ALL SITUATIONS I GET A SHARPER KNIFE ON EDGE PRO. ...One can set it to a 0.10 of a degree accuracy with no variation and repeat the exact settings the next time the knife is sharpened.

                          So I use both, but I am going to Wicked Edge as my #1 and Edge Pro as a back up or specialty.

                          BTW the Edge Pro forum is an amazing source of Q&A as well as support.

                          1. re: Jeff C

                            I have a question. The Wicked Edge looks small compare, fairly small compared to Edge Pro. Do you find it difficult to sharpen large kitchen knives (>8") on the Wicked Edge?

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              It is easier to sharpen a larger knife on the wicked edge I have a 14" chefs knife (a real monster) ... easier on Wicked edge but can be done w/o much difficulty on edge pro as well.

                              Either system will handle an 8" with no problem whatsoever.

                              1. re: Jeff C

                                <It is easier to sharpen a larger knife on the wicked edge I have a 14" chefs knife (a real monster) >

                                Thanks. I appreciate the information.

                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            what Wicked edge system do you use ? model #

                            1. re: overthehill42

                              Maybe you meant to reply to Jeff C. I actually do not use Wicked Edge.