A sketch of a kitchen knife being manually sharpened on a whetstone in a wooden base.


A sharp knife is safer to use than a dull knife. Once a knife becomes dull the edge will fail to easily penetrate the item being cut and may slip away from the surface which can cause you to accidentally cut yourself. More force is also needed to cut through something with a dull knife which can also cause a dangerous accident if the knife slips away from the surface in an unintended direction. This is the reason you should only use knives that have been properly sharpened. A knife can be sharpened through various means like using a pull through sharpener or manually sharpening the edge with a whetstone. The knife’s sharpness can be maintained longer with a honing steel which is a tool that keeps the edge aligned.
WARNING: Always use caution when maintaining and sharpening your knives. It is important you have a thorough understanding of all the basic knife care skills to keep yourself safe during any maintenance process.


Sharpening a knife is the process where pieces of the blade are ground against a special surface consisting of a coarse, gritty material in order to shave off metal and create a new edge. This surface can be a custom sharpening surface or a smooth leather strop combined with a gritty compound specifically designed for this purpose. The angle the knife is sharpened to will also determine the performance of the edge. A wider angle gives the edge more durability while a narrower angle will give a more precise sharpness to the blade. 


Whetstones are fine grained stones which can be of various grits and are used to sharpen cutting tools. A double sided whetstone has a coarse grit side [around 1000] for initial edge sharpening and a fine grit side [around 6000 or up] for further fine sharpening. The whetstone should be securely held in a stable base to make the sharpening process safer.
*It is important to note that the whetstone should be soaked in water for 5 to 30 minutes prior to being used. Alternately you could just lubricate the whetstone with knife blade oil before sharpening.
White mineral oil is a non toxic, non drying, colorless, odorless and flavorless product perfect for knife and cutting board care and maintenance. White mineral oil is ideal for resisting moisture which helps maintain and extend the life of your cutting board and knife and acts as a rust inhibitor to the blade. This oil can also be utilized as a lubricant during the sharpening process creating a slurry from the metal scraped away from the knife’s edge that further refines the edge.
Ultra soft, non abrasive microcloths are perfect for cleaning and polishing your knife. The cloth can be used with our without cleaners and leaves a lint and streak free result. To clean the cloth rinse with water and let air dry.


A sketch of the edge of a kitchen knife touching the surface of a whetstone at an angle that matches the knife’s edge.
Fully submerge the whetstone in water for at least 5 to 10 minutes up to a couple hours prior to use. Put the whetstone in the wood base or on top of a damp towel and place on a flat, secure surface to begin sharpening process.
To sharpen a knife always go from coarse 1000 grit to more fine 6000 grit. If the whetstone has been soaked in water make sure it is secured on a flat surface either with a stable base designed to hold the stone or with a damp towel placed under it. Once secured lubricate the entire surface of the stone with water if the whetstone was soaked beforehand or just knife blade oil like foodsafe white mineral oil instead. This liquid should be reapplied to the surface throughout the sharpening process as needed. As metal is scraped away from the knife’s edge it will mix with the lubricant and make a slurry that helps sharpen the edge.


A sketch of the edge of a kitchen knife touching the surface of a double sided whetstone to demonstrate how to find the correct angle to sharpen the knife’s edge.

Hold the knife perpendicular to the whetstone with the edge lightly resting on the surface. Bring the spine of the knife towards the surface so the edge is facing away from your body, until the knife’s edge is touching the whetstone at the correct angle that your knife was originally sharpened. Lightly place the fingers of your free hand on top of the blade to guide the knife with light pressure during sharpening, letting the weight of the blade do the majority of the work. All Cangshan knives are sharpened to a 16 degree angle. The included knife sharpening guide can be used to ensure the correct angle is maintained during sharpening and refining.
For sharpening you will be pushing the knife’s edge towards the whetstone. You can either go from the heel of the blade to the tip or from the tip of the blade to the heel. Make sure to follow the curve of the edge along the full length of the blade keep consistent contact with the whetstone and edge. With the knife’s edge facing away from your body you will push the knife away from yourself. When the knife’s edge is facing towards your body you will pull the knife towards yourself.

A sketch of a kitchen knife being manually sharpened on a whetstone in a wooden base next to a bowl of water..

As you are sharpening the knife you will notice a burr forming on the opposite side of the edge. The burr is hard to see, but can be felt by carefully running your finger from the spine of the knife straight to its edge. Do not run your fingers along the edge of the knife or the burr, instead continue to move your fingers towards the edge until you feel the burr sticking out. This burr will be pushed back and forth as you sharpen each side of the blade. As you continue to sharpen your knife on the finer grit whetstone the burr will become smaller and smaller until it eventually disappears which means your knife has been properly sharpened.
To build up the burr alternate between 5 continuous strokes on each side. Once the burr has been formed alternate between 5 continuous strokes on each side, once completed switch to 4 continuous strokes on each side and continue this pattern until you are down to a single stroke on each side. Continue this stroke pattern on each side of the blade using the finer grit side of the whetstone until the burr is gone.


A sketch of a kitchen knife’s blade being cleaned with a sponge.

Once your knife is sharp use a damp cloth to wipe away any metal shavings and lubricant on the whetstone until dry. Hand wash your knife with a mild soap and water and dry immediately.
NOTE: Manually sharpening a knife is a skill that takes time and practice. Not everyone is comfortable or willing to sharpen their knives using a whetstone. In these cases when you notice your knife has become dull and no longer cuts with the same ease it initially did you can take your knife to a professional knife sharpener who will have the skill to bring your knife back to its initial sharpness.



A sketch of a kitchen knife being sharpened with a pull through knife sharpener.

These devices feature a slot with blades of a hard metal like tungsten carbide that either has a fixed or adjustable angle that should be matched to the knife’s current edge. To use the sharpener make sure it is secured on a flat surface while you are firmly holding it. Place the heel of your knife into the sharpening slot. Pull the knife back towards yourself from the heel to the tip of the knife’s edge with light pressure downwards. As you pull the knife backward follow the curve of the blade to ensure the knife’s edge is in constant contact with the sharpening blades. Repeat 8-10 times depending on how dull or damaged the knife is at the start. When you are finished sharpening your knife clean the knife and sharpener with a damp cloth or soft brush and dry immediately.
The sharpener may also have an additional slot consisting of ceramic honing blades which can be used for daily honing and final polishing of the edge. This honing slot can be used exactly like the sharpening slot as previously described.
WARNING: Never push the knife forward through the sharpening slot.