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 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 for the same item and most likely owns more than one knife.

Different types of knives with different angles

Since we can categorize some of the knife styles and designs 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 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 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 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 is the only one I recommend two 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: 17-20 degrees across the complete blade.

Dual Purpose Cleavers: 20-25 degrees due to its design and intended use.

Bone Cleavers: 40-50 degrees due to their design and intended use.

Sharpening angle guidelines for home cooks
(If you have no sharpening experience keep the factory angle)

Knife StyleRockwell HardnessSharpening Angle
Japanese knife59 or lower15°  to 17° 
Japanese knife60 and above15° 
Western-style chef knife60 or lower17° 
Chinese ”Vegetable” cleaver60 and lower17 to 20°
Chinese ”Bone” Cleaver57 and lower40° to 50° (for bigger bones)
Chinese ”Dual/All Purpose” Cleaver58 and lower20°  to 25° 
For flat ”V” grind double bevel knives (per side)

Sharpening angle guidelines for knife enthusiasts and professional cooks

Knife StyleRockwell HardnessSharpening Angle
Japanese knife59 or lower15° to 17° 
Japanese knife60 and above12° to 15° 
Japanese knife62 and above12° to 15° 
Western-style chef knife60 or lower17° to 20°
Chinese ”Vegetable” cleaver60 and lower20° to 25° 
Chinese ”Bone” Cleaver57 and lower40° to 50°
For flat ”V” grind double bevel knives (per side)

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

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  1. Dear Sir; thank you for all the beneficial videos on You Tube channel which I am a member. I did notice, after really examining the knives being presented, that you had a western style knife with the brand linoroso; a 8 inch chef knife. I just checked in Amazon and it sells for approximately $30. The Wusthof Classic Ikon is $200 if purchased from Amazon. Since you briefly exposed the linoroso in one of your videos, I am wondering if you could give feedback on this particular brand. Its price tag is much more suited to my budget–just being a basic home cook trying to improve. Thank you for a prompt reply

    1. Linorosso judged from a price perspective they are priced accordingly. And catered to the home cooks, the specifications were false at the time of reviewing. Which I believe they have fixed in the product description.
      While the other knife that I recommend is a Gyuto it is very similar to a western chef’s knife. And currently one of my most recommended knife for beginners and knife enthusiast.

      The brand is from Xinzuo and particularly thier Gyuto 440C knife is my recommendation and similarly priced: you can see the review by clicking here. You can buy the knife here on unfortunately the Amazon store is limited when it comes to the Xinzuo collection.

      I wish that I could recommend more but unfortunately there is not a lot that nears the 440C knife from Xinzuo in price and quality. Other one I used to recommend in the past did a bait and switch so I no longer recommend that knife which was a random ”white label knife” switching the 7cr17 steel for a 4cr or even 3cr steel which is a lot cheaper and lower quality.

      I do recommend learning how to sharpen your own knives as that is the most important aspect, which is maintaining sharpness.

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