If you want to master the art of Japanese knife care skills, you have to follow some steps. However, first, you have to prepare yourself with some basic things. The art of learning Japanese knives is quite hard and most people give up at an early stage. You have to be patient and learn some techniques to become an artist.
Dealing with Japanese chefs taught you a few things. One of the most important lessons was to understand that they are proud of their work and will not let anyone treat their blade art as yet another utility product. In order to make a deal with them, you needed to promise that you would always educate others about treating their knives with respect and maintaining them at a certain level.
We have collected all the tips and tricks that will assist you in learning Japanese knife art.
1. To test your knife, use a piece of paper.
Cutting through a sheet of paper is the simplest way to determine whether you should sharpen your knives, which most blacksmiths recommend doing four to five times a year. Of course, these figures will vary depending on how frequently you use the blade, but you should immediately react if it appears blunt.
You can see if the knife wins if you hold a knife in one hand and a piece of paper in the other. A knife should cut anything it comes into touch with smoothly, just as a razor easily splits hair. If your knife slips neatly and straight through the sheet of paper, you can continue to use it as is. If not, it is time to hone your skills.
How to Test Your Knife Using This Method
Hold a piece of paper at the edge with your non-dominant hand. Set your knife blade at the top of the sheet of paper and press it down using the hand you normally use to hold knives. If the knife slices the paper in two pieces it means the knife is perfectly sharp.
2. Don’t be concerned; severe damage to your knife on a whetstone is nearly impossible.
Even if you have never sharpened a knife before and thought it was a chore for professionals, you can do it without risking ruining your expensive knife. Do not wait until your knife is so worn that you can hardly cut a tomato with it. With a few quick, accurate strokes on the sharpening stone, even a total novice can sharpen the knife. Remember that the most damage you can do is to run your knife too flat along the stone and scratch the side, which will irritate you but will have no effect on the knife’s usefulness.
3. If you have never sharpened a knife before, start with a paring knife.
Most masters recommend starting with an 8- to 10-inch paring knife since it is lighter, smaller, and hence easier to use than a chef knife. Avoid using knives with bolsters (the curved, metal piece of the knife that links the blade and handle), as these can catch on the whetstone during hand sharpening. The general rule of thumb is that the simpler (and smaller) the design better, you can learn more about the deals here.
4. Honing is as important as sharpening.
Your thumb is the best tool for judging whether your knife has “rolled,” which happens when a knife goes over a hard surface, such as a serving plate or a pan, and the sharp edge bends slightly to one side.
Slide your thumb along the side of the edge to feel for a rolled edge. A rolled edge can be repaired with honing steel from Japan or Germany.
Tip: just because a knife is not cutting cleanly does not mean it is dull; it could be out of alignment or the sharp edge has been rolled over.
5. Use more pressure than you think is necessary during sharpening.
Applying more pressure during the sharpening process will not result in steel breaking or cracking. Not applying adequate pressure is one of the most common mistakes our blacksmiths see people make while sharpening knives. Weigh your knife on a kitchen scale and apply the same amount of pressure to it on the sharpening stone to ensure you’re using the correct amount of pressure (four to six pounds for a little out-of-shape knife, eight pounds for an exceedingly dull blade).
6. Not all whetstones are the same.
Whetstones come in a range of coarseness gradients. Lower grits, around #400, provide a bigger textured surface area and are ideal for bending blades and mending chips since they remove the most material. Higher grits, such as #1000, are preferable for polishing and general sharpening, if you only buy one stone, pick this one. The highest-grade stones, around #8000, are utilized for smoothing and polishing your edge.
When sharpening knives, it’s best to use a variety of whetstones (if you can afford them) and work your way up from coarseness (lower numbers) to coarseness (higher numbers), much like you’d use rough sandpaper to smooth out the wood, then slightly finer paper to polish it.
7. The angle at which you sharpen your knife is quite important.
Professional chefs sharpen their knives to various degrees for specialized jobs. For example, if you are constantly separating chickens, 20° per side will offer you more strength. When cutting cucumbers, aim for 10° per side to make the process fluid and efficient. However, if you are just getting started, keep the angle between 10° and 15°. If you are unsure, place your knife on the sharpening stone and place a matchbook under the blade, then remove the matchbook and retain the angle, this should be about 15°.
8. Sharpening and honing are beneficial to even low-quality blades.
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9. Knife care necessitates good cutting technique.
Every blacksmith will despair if you run your blade sideways across the board. This can cause the edge to roll and dull more quickly. Avoid using your knife to slide the thing you are chopping into a pile or to brush it off into a pan when chopping on a cutting board. It is possible to do it with your hands.
10. Utilize magnetic racks
A 12′′ (300mm) knife rack can usually hold five chef knives, an 18′′ (450mm) rack 7-8 knives, and a 22′′ rack 10-12 knives.