Sharpening A Japanese Knife

I just bought an inexpensive Wahoo Gyutou Japanese knife. I don’t have a sharpening stone yet. Can I sharpen this knife using the course/fine sharpener where you drag your knife upright through the V? I forgot what this style of sharpener is called.

Thank you!

Japanese knifes have single bevel edge vs. Western knives which have a double bevel edge. (Japanese sharpened on one side only, so it is one angle all the way across the edge, apx. 15-17 degree angle; Western are sharpened on both sides, two angles that meet half way, two 20 degree angles, for a total of 40 degrees.) With the lesser angle the Japanese knives can be much sharper, also they handle different having one flat side and one beveled side.

One of the sharpeners you mention will instantly destroy the edge on a Japanese knife. You may want to research what types of sharpeners are made for single bevel edge knives. Some of the electric ones can sharpen both styles and cost apx. $100-300. I tried several and wasn’t impressed.

if you can use a sharpening stone it is easy to learn to sharpen a single bevel edge. Easier than a double bevel edge. Same for using a steel, which is what you need before each use anyway. With a regular touch up from a steel you only need to sharpen around once a year, with typical use.

You should google sharpening Japanese style knives for details.

1 Like

Is ChefBoyardee same as CowBoyardee? :smile:
We have a knife expert (here and on Chowhound) goes by the name of CowBoyardee. If you are CowBoyardee then you really know everything we were about to say.
Anyway, to your question, you can do it, but I won’t recommend. Many Western-Japanese knives (inexpensive or not) are sharpened to a shallower angle: 15o each side. Gyutou is a Western-Japanese style knife. While many of these V sharpeners have an angle of 20o each side. These so called V sharpeners are very effective, but also a bit overly aggressive.

1 Like

Hi Curt,

For the knife you describe, the v will work–sort of.

All but the very cheapest v- pull through will cost more than your knife, but it will work for touch-ups. Sur La Table, and Williams-Sonoma will sharpen your knife for free when touch-ups aren’t enough–or you can pay about $6 to a pro, once a year.


Thank you for your help mq7070!

Nope, not the same as Cowboyardee… I just saw his user name a few days ago.

Thank you for the link you provided, very cool.

Awesome, thank you! I was just in Sur La Table and saw their knife sharpening service. Prolly go that route for now.

Hope it’s okay to hitch a ride!
I believe I read that thread when I got a new knife. I had Chefs Choice electric sharpener, but got this whetstone, used it once, bent the tip of one; no TWO knives, and have been scared to try again.

I don’t remember if it’s got a western edge or Japanese.

I have another, from a friend who visited Japan, and I don’t know what kind of edge IT has either.

Thinking of taking it to a “pro” that set up in a nearby hardware store, but what if he doesn’t know what HE’S doing? I could send some back to William Sonoma , but I can’t seem to figure out the logistics. It seems silly to be so afraid of making a mistake that I do nothing!

Yup, of course it’s okay:)
I went back to Sur La Table today with two knives. The guy was actually very knowledgeable. He said my new Japanese knife didn’t need to be sharpened, but he worked it on a honing rod for a while.
My other cheap Zyliss chef’s knife he did sharpen and now it is exceedingly sharp! Didn’t charge me anything either. Pretty great experience.

1 Like

That’s good feedback! Thanks. Unfortunately I live sort of far from Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma.

The first one looks like a KAI Shun knife. I don’t recognize the second one. I do think they both have this 15-16o edge angle on both side.



Thanks. But I’m doing nothing because I’m afraid of destroying them!

Well, you can make the knives worse, but it will be pretty difficult to destroy knives – in general.

1 Like

Knives! Feh.

Yes, I get what you meant earlier. You didn’t mean literally destroyed. I am just saying that… most of the time you can recover from a mistake. So don’t be shy – especially start with an inexpensive knife first.


Exactly what I needed to hear. Hoping I can fix these bent tips!

1 Like

I don’t know about Japanese knifes but I was gifted a worx sharp sharpener and I can put a razor sharp edge on my ten kitchen work knifes in about ten minutes. I mean shave sharp. Has anyone worked with one of these? This is a single bevel sharpener per side.


Work Sharp?

1 Like

Designed by Ken Onion. Great idea. I don’t have one, but others, like you, have given it rave reviews.

1 Like
“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold