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Thread: Initial Sharpening questions

  1. #1
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    Initial Sharpening questions

    Just really started getting into J-knives recently, and been looking at what to purchase. One thing that I'm not really clear on is initial sharpening. From my reading, I understand that if I buy a knife from Japanese makers directly, initial sharpening needs to be done to remove the factory edge to unlock the potential of a knife. A couple of questions comes to mind:

    1. If I buy a knife from someone like Tosho or JKI, does it still need initial sharpening? I.e. do these retailers do the initial sharpening by default?
    2. How about if I order from Aframe or MetalMaster?
    3. How to tell a if knife needs initial sharpening?
    Steve

  2. #2

    echerub's Avatar
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    A brand new Japanese knife, particularly a single bevel, needs to be "opened" with an initial sharpening. Tosho and others will do that initial sharpening if you wish, but I don't know if they do it as a "standard" and included part of the purchase price or not. By default though, it's up to the new owner themselves to put on the kind of edge that they want.

    Dunno about Aframes but pretty sure Metalmaster won't
    Len

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    Thanks Len, good to know. So much to learn.
    Steve

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    Senior Member Culverin's Avatar
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    What kind of a knife are you looking to get?

    What are your current knives?

    What's your lvl of sharpening skill and gear?

  5. #5

    JBroida's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldcookie View Post
    Just really started getting into J-knives recently, and been looking at what to purchase. One thing that I'm not really clear on is initial sharpening. From my reading, I understand that if I buy a knife from Japanese makers directly, initial sharpening needs to be done to remove the factory edge to unlock the potential of a knife. A couple of questions comes to mind:

    1. If I buy a knife from someone like Tosho or JKI, does it still need initial sharpening? I.e. do these retailers do the initial sharpening by default?
    2. How about if I order from Aframe or MetalMaster?
    3. How to tell a if knife needs initial sharpening?
    for what its worth, and to answer question number 1, most single bevel knives do need it. We offer it for free most of the time, unless someone has crazy requests about how specifically it should be done.

  6. #6
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    It is easy to obsess about sharpening.

    If you get a new knife, and it is sharp enough to cut what you want how you want, then use it until it needs sharpening. If you buy a new knife, it makes sense to ask if it os sharpened, and if not ask them to sharpen it. Then start to put your edge on the blade. There are some great videos referenced on this site that will show you how to do that.

    How to tell: cut through a potato cleanly - it should require little effort. Cut through a tomato - does the knife struggle to pierce the skin. If you cut through a breast of chicken or a piece of fish, does the knife glide through smoothly or do you have to saw back and forth. A sharp knife cuts cleanly and without much pressure or back and forth sawing. You will know if it is sharp.

    People make a real big deal about sharpening, but it is quite a basic thing that people have been doing for centuries. Single bevel knives (in fact any knives) are in fact not that hard to sharpen and unless you are looking to obtain a really fine polish, two stones (or a combination stone) will do you fine to start with. For most kitchen work you need a practical, slightly toothy edge that will cut easily and be durable.

    Probably for most western cooking a Gyuto, which is just a Japanese version of western chefs knife and will have a double bevel, will be a great place to start. Avoid carbon unless you re happy to spend more time on caring for your knives (especially wiping during use and washing and drying promptly afterwards).

    As with all things, you tend to get what you pay for.

  7. #7
    Senior Member aaamax's Avatar
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    If she comes wicked-sharp, she doesn't need sharpening.
    Personally I like to touch up all new blades even if sharp to see what and where we are at. What I mean with that is do a light lapping on a 4k ish stone and see how it feels afterwards. Maybe drop down to 2k for a moment, bring her back up, then just strop on some leather. I'm not talking about a serious sharpening session, just some nice and easy passes to see how the blade responds.
    Have fun and just try your way forward. It'll work out just fine.
    Long live Carbon!!

  8. #8
    Senior Member chinacats's Avatar
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    Definitely get the initial sharpening done for you, it will give you an idea of what the knife is capable of with the original geometry...a goal if you wish for your future sharpening sessions.
    once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right

  9. #9
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    Thanks for all the responses/suggestions.

    To answer some questions. I've sharpened my own knives for years, only double bevels though. I have some carbon cleavers and I don't mind maintaining them. Always wanted some single bevels and recently decided to shop for some, that's where the questions comes from really. Would really like to learn to sharpen single bevels well, but since i have no experience with it, wanted to figure out the best way to get started, and how to get a reference for how sharp a knife can get.
    Steve

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBroida View Post
    for what its worth, and to answer question number 1, most single bevel knives do need it. We offer it for free most of the time, unless someone has crazy requests about how specifically it should be done.
    BTW, Jon, love your sharpening videos. I think your videos answered more questions on single bevel sharpening for me than anything else I can find. Big thanks!
    Steve

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