How Do I Determine Which Angle I Should Sharpen My Knife To?

How Do I Determine Which Angle I Should Sharpen My Knife To?

This is a question we get frequently. And honestly, there's no one size fits all answer! When deciding what angle to sharpen you blade to, so much depends on you, your blade, and how you plan to use it!

Once you find your angle and sweet spot, you'll most likely notice that the angles are different on each side of your knife. This is totally normal and not something to be concerned with. The vast majority of knife makers put the final edge on their blades with a belt grinder. While this is quick and can definitely give you a really nice factory edge, it's very difficult to keep the bevels consistent from side to side. So, what do you do? Below are the basic options you have.
  1. You can leave the angles where they are. This is the best option if you've used the knife before and like how it cuts and/or want to preserve as much metal on your blade as possible, extending its life. Something else to consider with this is how do the bevels look? If you like how they look an don't want to make them any larger to change them, then simply match the factory angles and keep the blade as is. 
  2. The second option is to meet in the middle and reprofile both sides. For example, if one side is 18 and the other is 22, set both sides to 20 degrees and use a coarse stone to reprofile. If the angle difference from one side to the other is larger than 5 degrees, you may want to just keep the factory angles as this amount of reprofiling takes significant work and will remove a lot of metal and could make the bevels significantly wider. This process of reprofiling to keep both bevels the same is the process we most often suggest and makes it easier to remember your blade's angles.
  3. The last option, which we don't recommend but is doable, is to simply pick the angle you want your blade to be at and reprofile it to that angle. For instance, if your knife is around 20 degrees on each side but want a more acute angle, you can set your sharpener to a lower angle and reprofile the edge to that angle. This option can take a significant amount of time, remove a lot of metal, and possible lead to less than stellar results. If you decide to go this route, it's imperative that you make sure you're taking the knife's usage and steel hardness into consideration to ensure your blade will still perform the way you want it to
Things to remember:
  1. Your sharpener may make the decision for you. If you have a sharpener that doesn't have a micro-adjust feature (like some variants of the Generation 4 Pro), you'll need to reprofile and match the angles on each side.
  2. Softer metals are often more flexible, but less durable meaning they will require a wider angle to keep the edge. Save very low angles for blade steels that are hard and can hold that edge.
  3. If you don't want to do a full reprofile job right away, you can also create a micro-bevel.

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