View Full Version : Having trouble sharpening yanagi

06-23-2011, 03:37 AM
I have a yoshihiro yanagi (this one http://cgi.ebay.ca/Japanese-sushi-chef-knife-Yanagi-YOSHIHIRO-Hongasumi-27-/230617866113?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35b1e55f81#ht_6765wt_1216).

Since I am very new to knives I am just comparing what I have. So comparing what I own and use, I just cannot get this yanagi to approach the sharpness of my konosuke HD gyuto.

I know the HD is much more expensive than this knife, but I have the feeling something just isn't right and I doubt I have reached the "limit" of this knife. Am I expecting too much out of this yanagi? I doubt it and think it is a problem with my technique, but I have been going at it a few times and doing it slowly but just not getting the results.

I have a yoshihiro usuba which is very sharp.

One thing...I do not have a nagura and notice I don't get much mud on my 6K. Does this make a big difference?

I use 1200 bester, Arashiyama 6000, leather strop with Chromium Oxide.

I've been following the instructions on Jon's youtube videos and I've tried to resharpen it multiple times.

06-23-2011, 06:46 AM
do you have a picture of the knife after you sharpened it?

i also think mud is important. i do not have a problem raising mud with the arashiyama by just rubbing my knife on it but i do feel it sharpens better with mud... perhaps you are using too much water and diluting/washing off the mud?

06-23-2011, 07:41 AM
It could be a technique issue, have you looked up youtube for videos of yanagi sharpening?
John (Jbroida) has video, Maksim has a video, and I am sure there are others too.
here Maksim's vid

John's vid:

06-23-2011, 09:32 AM
I wonder how flat the blade road is and whether the entire edge is being sharpened. Have you flattened the back? On your coarsest stone is there a uniform scratch pattern across the length of the edge?

I had this problem with a relatively inexpensive yanagiba that was my first traditional Japanese knife. It took a lot of work to get the edge or blade road flat. The entire bevel is still not flat:( Despite that, it is the sharpest knife I have.

PM me for more info.


06-23-2011, 10:30 AM
Sounds to me that the blade road isnt flat and you arent hitting the true edge when sharpening. You'll need to flatten the blade road over time and until then add a small micro bevel to the edge. Try and out and see what happens..

Dave Martell
06-23-2011, 11:28 AM
Have you flattened the back?

This would be the first thing that I checked. Almost all single bevels knives don't have the backside edge properly flat. A polishing stone alone won't fix this. Check to see if this bevel is dead flat and reaching the cutting edge before you do anything else.

06-23-2011, 01:23 PM
i kind of disagree dave... if you develop a burr on the main bevel and then, in sharpening the ura on a finishing stone, remove said burr, that would work and it totally possible. I always tell people to use finishing stones because i dont want them to mess up the ura, but as sharpeners become more skilled, there is no reason they can not use a more coarse stone as long as they are careful.

On the sharpening of the yanagiba, i would be happy to go over sharpening with you via skype if you would like... i'm pretty positive we can get your yanagiba sharp pretty easily... shoot me a PM if you're interested.

Dave Martell
06-23-2011, 01:46 PM
I agree that using a coarser stone on the back isn't wise advice to give but I also know that sharpening only one side of a knife doesn't work well either. So as much as I dislike telling people to fix the back I find it's a necessary step to getting the knife not only sharp but staying sharp.

06-23-2011, 01:49 PM
i agree it is important to do the back side properly, i just would rather someone take a bit longer and not mess it up than rush it and make mistakes

Dave Martell
06-23-2011, 02:26 PM
very true :)

Eamon Burke
06-23-2011, 05:06 PM
I was in this situation once, and it was sort a technique issue, and sort of a knife issue. The blade road wasn't dead flat, but that's not a big deal.

Where do you put your fingers on your left hand when you sharpen it? Do you press on the center of the backside, or do you put your fingers ON the edge? The thing that changed my yanagi sharpening is learning to put pressure on the edge with my left hand, and to put my fingers ON the edge. Your right hand should just be keeping the knife on the stone and doing a slight bit of push-pull.

06-23-2011, 05:56 PM
I'm no yanagi sharpening expert but I've now worked on two jacked up ones and it seems to me that if you hit the edge, it will get sharp. Frankly, I feel like I need more skill to sharpen a regular double bevel.

Citizen Snips
06-23-2011, 08:08 PM
the backside of my yanagi only see's the kitayama. i also try to think of the backside not as sharpening but straightening out the burr. from my humble experience no burr should form when addressing the backside. if i felt like more metal needed to be removed i would only do it from the front side and only long enough to meet the edge on the backside. i try not to begin a session on the yanagi below my bester 1200.

johndoughy-the push pull will happen automatically but the focus should not be on the right hand at all. it is a guide and angle setter and the slight push/pull you is one of those things where human error turns out to be a benefit

Eamon Burke
06-23-2011, 10:33 PM
I agree that double bevels require more skill to sharpen, but they are more self-explanitory. Steep but short learning curve.

08-30-2013, 06:37 PM
Sorry to bring back an old thread but what about stropping on a yani?
I have taken mine down to a 10K Naiwa stone and its pretty straight and sharp. I went very light on the back side from 3K and it seemed to take the burr off. Checked as close as I could with glasses and magnifier for a wire edge, but I also did not see it, or feel.
I tend to strop after, and as I said I am fairly light, similar to my straight razors. Still a bit new on this whole Yanigiba stuff, but loving how the slice (BIG TIME!). :)