The best knives require special care and consideration. A key component of knife care is knife sharpening. Japanese knives should always be sharpened and honed on premium quality Japanese water stones. A good quality Japanese waterstone not only is the best surface to sharpen and maintain of your knife, but it is also the best tool to preserve and take care of the blade the high quality steel that it is made of. Whetstones can be largely divided into three categories.
Rough stone #400-#1000 grit (Arato):
Best for repairing damaged and very dull knives. These stones are very abrasive and takes off a lot of material
Medium stone #1000- #3000 grit (Nakato):
The most frequently used stones. These stones are necessary to maintain the blade’s edge. They are not as abrasive as Arato grit stones and are recommended for routine sharpening (From #3000 includes Nagura Conditioning Stone)
Finishing stone #3000- #10000 grit (Shiage):
Creates a sharp polished edge. Essential for creating a refined edge, but may be more prone to dulling. (Included Nagura Conditioning Stone)
Whetstone Maintenance and Care
Submerge in water before use: Completely submerged it in water and wait till there are no longer any air bubbles rising from the stone. At that point, leave it in for another 1 minute before taking it out for use.
Use a Stone Fixer to re-flatten the surface: A surface of a whetstone will become concave with frequent use. A flat surface is essential for correctly sharpening an edge on a knife. Using a stone fixer will correctly re-flatten the surface of a stone. A couple swipes using the side with the ridges will create a flat surface, creating the optimal sharpening condition.
Use a Nagura Stone to recondition your Whetstone: Frequent use leads to a build-up of micro metal particles and micro-scratches on the surface of your whetstone. A couple of swipes with the nagura stone will clear these away, creating the optimal sharpening condition.
Sharpening DOUBLE-EDGED Knife
- Start with a #1000 grit stone. Divide the knife into 3 sections (tip, middle, heel). Facing the edge of the knife away from you, and starting at the tip of the knife, create an angle between the blade and the stone that is approximately 15-20 degrees.
- While maintaining the angle firmly push the blade to the edge of the whetstone (Red arrow). Then pull the blade back to where you started without applying pressure (Blue arrow). Repeat until a rough edge (burr) is felt at the opposite side of the blade. Continue through to the remaining sections.
- Flip the knife with the edge facing away. Firmly pull the blade towards the edge of the stone (Red arrow), then push back to where you started without applying any pressure(Blue arrow). Repeat until a burr is felt on the opposite side of the blade. Continue through to the remaining sections of the blade.
* Repeat steps 2 & 3 with a Finishing stone (#3000-#10000), but do not make a burr. Instead, sharpen each side until it is polished.
Sharpening SINGLE-EDGED Knife
- Start with a #1000 grit stone.Divide the knife into 3 sections (tip, middle, heel). With the edge of the knife facing away, place the Shinogi flat against the stone. Firmly push the blade to the edge (Red arrow). Next, pull the blade back to where you started without applying pressure (Blue arrow). Repeat until a rough edge (burr) is felt on the opposite side of the blade. Continue through to the other sections.
- Switch to a #3000 grit stone. Flip the knife with the edge facing away, and place the blade flat on the stone. Firmly pull in the blade towards the edge (Red arrow), then push the blade back to where you started without applying pressure (Blue arrow). It should feel like scraping water off the surface of the stone. Repeat this until the burr is no longer felt. Continue through to the remaining sections of the blade. * Repeat Step 1 with a #3000 grit stone. Next, repeat Step 2 with a #8000 grit stone. Finally, repeat Step 1 again with the #8000 grit stone, but do not make a burr. Instead, sharpen until the blade is polished.