Best Sharpening Angle for Kitchen Knives

With the popularity of Japanese knives, we are seeing more and more brands and manufacturers that sharpen their knives on a lower pre-sharpened angle. But what sharpening angle should you go for and why?

Why do knife manufacturers go for a lower sharpening angle?

The main reason is because of the rise in competition from Japanese knives. Not only are Japanese knives sharpened on a lower angle the majority of the home cooks have a pre assumption that a lower angle means a better knife. The other reason is that you will have to maintain the edge more and more on a lower angle since the edge can’t be held for a longer period of time. Therefore reducing the lifespan of your knife and since the manufacturers and knife makers earn the majority of their income by selling knives it means that they sell more knives in a shorter period. Therefore you usually see that a higher Rockwell is more expensive than a lower Rockwell knife.

What angle should you use?

Since you are a home cook that wants to learn how to sharpen you often get the recommendation to go for the same angle as they come out of the box. The reason why you should not go for that has been explained above but what angle should you go for? The knife design, style, and usage are all different and therefore I recommend various angles for each styled knife. And to compensate for the bad knife skills of home cooks and the fact that they prepare a lot of different food with different toughness throughout the week. So you have a different angle than a Chef in a restaurant since he has to do a lot of prep work of the same item and most likely owns more than one knife.

Diffrent types of knives with diffrent angles

Since we can categorize some of the knife styles and design you will have different angles. Because of the lighter weight and straighter profile of the Japanese knife, you can give it a lower angle without sacrificing the edge retention. The goal is to find the sweet spot between long edge retention without sacrificing the sharpness.

Why I don’t recommend a lower angle even on Japanese knives?

Since the majority of us are not cooking Japanese dishes which usually have less dense and less tough food. Therefore I opt for a higher angle to compensate for the root vegetables and denser harder food in the western cuisine. Therefore I don’t recommend the factory angle of most hand-made Japanese knives that comes usually pre-sharpened at 10°  to 12° since they are sharpened for their cuisine and are not adapted for the western cuisine. This is completely different for a chef that works in a restaurant and that means that the restaurant course menu decides the angle for your specific knife and usage.

Chinese Cleavers

For the Chinese cleaver knife, there are different types of knives and I recommend the following:

Chinese All Purpose/ Dual Purpose:

This version has a reinforced heel area and the only one I recommend 2 different angles for you to try.

20 degrees at the 2/3 front area and for the last 1/3 heel area 25 degrees. (of course, this is optional and you can just do one angle across the complete blade)

Chinese Vegetable Cleaver: 20 degrees across the complete blade.

Bone Cleavers: 25 degrees due to its design and intended use.

Sharpening angle guideline for home cooks

Knife StyleRockwell HardnessSharpening Angle
Japanese knife59 or lower15°  to 17° 
Japanese knife60 and above15° 
Western style chef knife60 or lower17° 
Chinese ”Vegetable” cleaver61 and lower20°
Chinese ”Bone” Cleaver58 and lower25° 
Chinese ”Dual/All Purpose” Cleaver58 and lower20°  to 25° 
For flat ”V” grind double bevel knives

Sharpening angle guideline for knife enthusiast and proffesional cooks

Knife StyleRockwell HardnessSharpening Angle
Japanese knife59 or lower17° 
Japanese knife60 – 6215° 
Japanese knife62 and above12° to 15° 
Western style chef knife60 or lower17° to 20°
Chinese ”Vegetable” cleaver61 and lower20° to 25° 
Chinese ”Bone” Cleaver58 and lower25° 
Chinese ”Dual/All Purpose” Cleaver58 and lower20°  to 25° 
For flat ”V” grind double bevel knives

If you have any questions leave them behind in the comment section below

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