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Knives are some of the most frequently used kitchen tools. Most, if not all kitchens, have a knife or more than one. They come in different shapes and sizes and are made up of various materials, the most common being steel. As a result of their frequent use, there is a need to keep them sharp and maintain their edges. There are numerous techniques and tools used to sharpen knives, such as sharpening stones, electronic sharpeners, and grinding wheels, among countless others.
One of the significant aspects of sharpening knives is the angle that the knife is placed during sharpening. The key determinant of what angle to sharpen a knife is the intended use. For example, curving wood and filleting a fish require different edges. For knives that have bevels on both sides, which is usually the most common kind, sharpening at 20° on each side. There are some rare knives, such as the traditional Asian knife with only one level. In this case, the beveled side can be sharpened at 20 degrees, with the other at 0 degrees. A few things to consider when selecting which angle to use while sharpening your tools include:
Hardness vs. Toughness
This is very key when selecting the sharpening angle. While toughness refers to the ability to withstand fracture, hardness is concerned with how resistant it is to scratch and wear. Striking a balance between these two aspects is key in upholding the integrity of the blade being sharpened. If the steel is too hard, it is prone to breaking easily, while too much softness may hinder its ability to hold an edge.
Under 10 Degree Angles
These angles are recommended for edges that cut soft and delicate materials. They are recommended for blades whose edges are not subject to abuse. A good example of these edges is those on straight edge razors. They are sharpened to approximately 7 to 8 degrees.
10 to 17 Degrees Angles
This angle provides perfect edges for cutting, and can best be used to sharpen knives intended for slicing meat and other soft materials. It is low for regular knives and is not recommended for tools intended to chop or cut more rigid materials.
17 to 22 Degree Angles
Most kitchen knives are within this bracket and sharpened at the range of 15 and 20 degrees. Within this range, they cut well and are durable. However, there are some differences, depending on the type of blade. For instance, some Japanese knives are sharpened at 17 degrees, while most western ones are sharpened at 20 degrees. One drawback with this range is that there is no durability because when the total angles are under 40 degrees, the knives do not perform very well when used on slightly harder materials.
22 to 30 Degree Angles
Knives within this range tend to be more durable. Some typical examples of knives that can be sharpened within this angle-range include pocket knives and hunting knives. These knives are used in cutting harder materials such as wood for a fire, skinning games, and making materials for setting up a camp. Such knives can handle more extensive and harder use than kitchen knives.
Over 30 Degrees Angles
Tools sharpened at these angles tend to be very durable. Some tools in this category include the ax, machetes, and cleavers. These tools are very durable because of the nature of the tough nature of materials they cut.