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As promised, we’re back with the second part of our Sharpening Basics series. Here we will answer some of the most common sharpening related questions.
Determining the sharpening angle: Of the many aspects of the sharpening process, getting the angle right is by far the most important aspect. Because if you get it wrong, at best you will have to work a lot longer to get the desired sharpness and at worst you will end up with a damaged edge. Here are a few important points you need to understand about finding the correct sharpening angle:
The angle you choose depends on the level of sharpness you intend to achieve.
A smaller sharpening angle will result in a sharper edge however it will also weaken it.
22.5 degrees is the angle that will give you a sufficiently sharp edge without compromising its strength or structural integrity.
An easy way to achieve that is to hold your knife at a 90-degree angle and reduce it by half twice.
Be careful to hold the knife gently with minimum downward force otherwise the edge could roll.
Japanese knives are an exception to this rule, as they need to be sharpened at an angle between 15-18 degrees.
Should you use a sharpening guide? If you have just started out with sharpening your blades, you may find it a bit tricky to maintain the correct angle during the process. Admittedly, it can get a bit frustrating. However, there is an easy fix. Get yourself a sharpening guide. It is essentially a small clip-on device that easily attaches to the spine of your knife while helping you maintain the correct angle. Once you’re comfortable with holding the angle, you can stop using it.
What is the importance of achieving a burr? While you’re sharpening the knife, it is critical that you achieve the burr. A burr is a microscopic bend on the opposite side of the edge you’ve been sharpening. The burr lets you determine if the sharpening process is working or not. Your objective is to achieve a burr on both sides of the edge. Once there, you move to a finer grain whetstone to finish the edge.
After that, you can test the sharpness by sliding the knife over a piece of paper. The knife should cut through it without any tugging or pulling. If it doesn’t you need to sharpen a bit more.
Here’s to sharp knives and great food!