Sharp knives are essential for every chef. It is not only easier and safer, it also takes your cooking experience to a whole new level. Once you get used to working with sharp knives, nothing else is an option.
The quality of a knife blade as well as the sharpening method depends largely on the correct hardness of the knife steel. This hardness is indicated in HRC (hardness according to Rockwell). The harder a knife blade is, the less wear and tear there is when used correctly. The sharp cutting edge of kitchen knives is only a fraction of a millimetre thick. Due to a higher hardness, the cutting edge remains sharp longer. This is also known as better edge retention. Cheap kitchen knives often have a hardness of 52 to 53 HRC. Such soft knives become dull after a short time and have to be constantly replenished. German kitchen knives are usually between 55 and 57 HRC. Our Premium WASABI Knives have a comparatively high hardness of ~ 58-62 HRC, which makes our knives more durable and keeps them sharp for a long time.
But no matter how high the knife quality is, at some point each one has to be resharpened. Whether you want to get your knife as sharp as an old samurai sword or whether you just want to sharpen your knife quickly and easily - we have the best solution for both in the following.
THE RECOMMENDED WAY
We at WASABI Knives would like to provide you with clear and detailed sharpening instructions so that you can take proper care of your Japanese chef's knives. We advise you to use a Japanese whetstone for sharpening your chef's knives to keep them very sharp for a long time. You will find a well-assorted selection of Japanese here in our online shop. There you can also find out which grit is the right one for your needs and your chef's knife.
Before you start sharpening, you should prepare your whetstone for the grinding process. To do this, place it completely in water so that the air escapes from the inside. This is visible by the many air bubbles that escape from the grindstone. Ten minutes later, after no more air bubbles escape, the whetstones are ready for the grinding process. Now it is ensured that new grinding particles can constantly be produced during the grinding process and that your Japanese chef's knife is sufficiently cooled during grinding. When grinding for longer periods of time, a little water is dripped onto the stone.
There are different methods for the actual grinding process: Either the blade is pulled parallel over the stone, whereby pressure is exerted during both the pushing and pulling phases; or the knife is pulled diagonally/lengthwise over the stone. In both cases it is necessary to maintain the correct angle (usually 10° to 15°).
Always start with the coarser grit if you want to work with different grit sizes. The fine grinding or polishing of your chef's knife always takes place at the end.
Notice that knives with serrated or sawed edges cannot be processed.
For someone who has no experience with Japanese whetstones, we recommend watching the following video to get the best technique from a true Japanese Master Sharpener.
To get an extremely razor sharp knife, a leather strop is needed. When grinding with the water stone, a so-called burr is created. At some point during the grinding process, the cutting edge reaches a thickness of less than a few µm at the tip. This wafer-thin cutting edge area that stands out from the grindstone is called burr, and a leather strop can follow the burr slightly as it bends away and is therefore able to remove it. We at WASABI Knives prefer a leather strop that has been treated with a good polishing paste.
The polishing paste contains abrasive particles which are much harder than steel and which press into the leather surface during use and therefore only a small part of them will stick out. If you pull off the freshly sharpened knife on such a belt, the abrasive particles on the leather carefully remove the last grinding burr and, depending on the fineness and hardness, even polish the cutting edge a little bit.
A detailed instruction can be seen here:
THE FAST & EASY WAY
Alternatively you can sharpen your knife using the sharpening steel. It ensures a sharp knife while being easy to use. In addition, the sharpening process only takes a few minutes. The disadvantage is that the sharpening does not last very long compared to the whetstones. For the most consistent and best results, according to Gordon Ramsay (3 Michelin Star Chef), knives should be sharpened briefly before each use.
The following video shows how Gordon Ramsay sharpens his knives using a sharpening steel.