Knife Sharpening Angle Chart From Manufacturers | Tools & How-to

The secret how to sharpen a knife are the following three things: A consistent knife sharpening angle during the process on a stone. Followed by a diamond or ceramic rod. And finished with a strop.

I just sharpened some of my knives, so I recalled and updated this post. Sharpening knives can be kind of like therapy (grin).

See below for specific manufacturer bevel angles:

quick-jump to sections:

1. Maintaining consistent angle with sharpening stone

2. Diamond & Ceramic Rod

3. Stropping to a razor edge

Knife Sharpening Angle Chart

Consistent Angle

Maintain Consistent Sharpening Angle

It’s all about the proper sharpening angle (degrees) and keeping it the same / consistent during the process.

Do you know the proper sharpening angle for your knife?

Knives have varying bevel angles. It depends on the manufacturer and model type.

Common Sharpening Angles (degrees per side)

Pocket Knives – 20
Hunting Knives – 22
Euro/American Kitchen Knives – 20
Asian Edge Kitchen Knives – 16
Fillet Knives – 16
Tactical Knives – 23
Custom Knives – Varies by Designer

(jump to specific manufacturer recommendations below)

One quick-and-easy way to restore a sharp cutting edge is to use an adjustable knife sharpener. Simply select the same angle as your knife edge.

It’s an alternative to having a fixed angle or guided knife sharpener. Among the different types and techniques of sharpening, I also have (and use) the following ‘quick’ sharpener from Smith’s.

Smith’s 50264 Adjustable
(view on amzn)

Smith's adjustable knife sharpener

The best of the best? If money is no object, here’s what I consider to be possibly the best knife sharpener system. The Wicked Edge Pro system.

Wicked Edge Pro Pack 1
(view on amzn)

Short video about it:

Knife Sharpening Abrasives

Types of sharpening abrasive materials include Diamond, Carbides, Ceramics, Arkansas Stones, and Synthetics. Each have their own unique characteristics and sharpening capabilities:

Diamond Sharpener

Because diamonds are the hardest substance known to man, diamond abrasive knife sharpeners are fast, durable, and very effective.

They are very aggressive and remove metal quickly.

Premium diamond sharpening surfaces are characterized by a (interrupted) surface that collects and hold the metal filings that ordinarily build-up.

This allows sharpening with or without honing solution. Excellent for use on very hard tools or stainless steel.

Diamond stones always remain flat, as opposed to Natural Arkansas and Synthetic stones which wear down with use. They come in multiple grits.

Carbide Sharpener

Carbide is very aggressive and removes metal quickly.

It’s great for quickly restoring a good working edge in 3 or 4 strokes.

Ceramic Sharpener

Unlike other sharpening abrasives, Ceramic removes very little metal.

It’s excellent for finishing and maintaining a sharp edge.

Ceramic (and ceramic sharpening rods) come in various grits, colors, and shapes.

Arkansas Sharpening Stones

Arkansas stones are genuine silica “novaculite,” indigenous to Arkansas.

They remove the least amount of metal while polishing your edge to razor sharpness.

No other knife sharpener can perform both these tasks simultaneously. They are the best abrasive for honing and polishing an edge to razor sharpness and are known as “the world’s finest finishing stone.”

Synthetic Knife Sharpeners

Man-made stone; great for quick edge setting as well as final finishing. They also come in multiple grits, colors, or shapes.

Manufacturer Recommendations

Knife Sharpening Angle Chart (data from manufacturers)

Wondering what angle to sharpen your knife? It’s best to check with the manufacturer. Here’s a chart with sharpening angles from a number of various manufacturers.

(degrees per side):

Chef’s knife:

Global – 17
Shun – 16
Wusthof – 14
Zwilling Henckel / Cronidur – 12.5
All other Zwilling Henckel – 15

Serrated Knife:

All Brands – Manual Sharpening; Serrated Slot ONLY

Santoku Knife:

Global – 17
Shun – 16
Wusthof – 11
Zwilling Henckel / Cronidur – 12.5
All other Zwilling Henckel – 15

Paring Knife:

Global – 17
Shun – 16
Wusthof – 14
Zwilling Henckel / Cronidur – 12.5
All other Zwilling Henckel – 15

Utility knife:

Global – 17
Shun – 16
Wusthof – 14
Zwilling Henckel / Cronidur – 12.5
All other Zwilling Henckel – 15

Boning Knife:

Global – 17
Shun – 16
Wusthof – 18
Zwilling Henckel / Cronidur – 12.5
All other Zwilling Henckel – 15

Everyday Pocket Knives/Multi-Tools:

Al Mar – 20
Benchmade – 18-20
Blade-Tech – 20-22
Boker USA – 20-22
Buck – 13-16
Camillus – 23
Case – 19-22
Cold Steel – 23-25
Columbia River (CRKT) – 17-22.5(depending on designer)
KA-BAR – Listed on their website on a per knife basis, but generally 15 degrees per side
Kershaw – 20-22
Knives of Alaska – 18-20
Outdoor Edge – 20
SOG knife sharpening angle – 22 for flat grinds; 18-20 for hollow grinds
Spyderco – 20
Victorinox – 15-20
Winchester – Suggest using Smith’s recommended angle for knife type

Hunting/Outdoor – Fixed Blade:

Al Mar – 20
Benchmade – 18-20
Blade-Tech – 20-22
Boker USA – 20-22
Buck – 13-16
Camillus – 23
Case – 19-22
Cold Steel – 23-25
Columbia River (CRKT) – 17-22.5(depending on designer)
KA-BAR – Listed on their website on a per knife basis, but generally 20 degrees per side
Kershaw – 20-22
Knives of Alaska – 18-20
Outdoor Edge – 20
SOG – 22 for flat grinds; 18-20 for hollow grinds
Spyderco – 20
Winchester – Suggest using Smith’s recommended angle for knife type

Hunting knives / Folders:

Al Mar – 20
Benchmade – 18-20
Blade-Tech – 20-22
Boker USA – 20-22
Buck – 13-16
Camillus – 23
Case – 19-22
Cold Steel – 23-25
Columbia River (CRKT) – 17-22.5(depending on designer)
KA-BAR – Listed on their website on a per knife basis, but generally 15 degrees per side
Kershaw – 20-22
Knives of Alaska – 18-20
Outdoor Edge – 20
SOG – 22 for flat grinds; 18-20 for hollow grinds
Spyderco – 20
Winchester – Suggest using Smith’s recommended angle for knife type

Fillet Knives:

All Brands – 15-16

Tactical Knives:

Al Mar – 20
Benchmade – 18-20
Blade-Tech – 20-22
Boker USA – 20-22
Buck – 13-16
Camillus – 23
Case – 19-22
Cold Steel – 23-25
Columbia River (CRKT) – 17-22.5(depending on designer)
KA-BAR – Listed on their website on a per knife basis, but generally 15 degrees per side
Kershaw – 20-22
Mil-Tac – Generally 25 for Folders and 30 for Fixed Blades
SOG – 22 for flat grinds; 18-20 for hollow grinds
Spyderco – 20
Surefire – 28

Custom Knives:

A.G. Russell – 15
Chris Reeves – 18-20
William Henry – 17-22

List source: Smith’s

I also like the Lansky QuadSharp with its convenient form-factor.

Lansky QuadSharp QSHARP
(amzn)

Sharpening Rods

Diamond & Ceramic Rods

A knife sharpening rod works great due to the fact that every blade has a different degree of bevel or angle.

The rod allows you to let the edge guide you, while keeping the rest of the knife away from the sharpening device.

A diamond rod is for a knife blade with serious damage or very dulled blade.

The ceramic rod is for “freshening up” a dull-ish blade. I keep one on my bench as well as in the kitchen and field pack.

I use the following knife sharpening rods:

Lansky Diamond Carbide Rod
(view on amzn)

Lansky Tactical Knife Sharpener

Ceramic Rod

Arkansas Ceramic Rod, 8 1/2 inch

Ceramic Rod with handle

Arkansas Ceramic Sharpening Rod with handle

Strop

Sharpening a knife to razor edge with a Strop

This is the process in “how to sharpen a knife” where you can get your knife RAZOR SHARP!

Stropping to a Razor Edge

High Quality Leather Strop
(view on amzn)

This is the last step in the process of sharpening knives.

Stropping is a motion which pulls the cutting edge away from a substrate.

The direction of stropping strokes:

Drag the edge backwards over the strop. In other words, it’s a “trailing stroke” by pulling the knife edge rather than “leading strokes” (as you would with a stone or rod).

Use a light touch and maintain the angle of the knife edge.

Alternate sides with each stroke.

Use Stropping Compound to further enhance results:

Extra Fine Buffing Compound
(view on amzn)

How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife by Hand

The basic technique to sharpen kitchen knives and a pocket knife is the same as the steps listed above!

Here’s a basic method to sharpen a knife! It works!

sharpening-knives

Sharpening my pocket knife:

The portable knife sharpener shown in the picture is one that I often use.

It has microscopic diamonds embedded in each of the two sides (one side is finer grit than the other).

Double Sided Diafold
(view on amzn)

Sharpening Technique:

Hold the knife against the sharpening stone at the same angle as the sharpened edge itself. Then push it forward across the sharpening tool while maintaining that same angle.

After sliding the knife across the stone, don’t slide it back up against the stone… Lift the knife and start over from the top of the knife sharpener and slide it down across its surface again.

More specifically, you should sweep the knife such that you are contacting the entire surface of the blade in one arcing motion down the sharpening tool (therefore sharpening evenly). The longer the blade, the more dramatic the sweep, so as to get the entire blade in one smooth motion.

You will get into a steady rhythm while practicing. Apply light to moderate pressure.

how-to-sharpen-pocket-knife

Maintain The Angle

The key when sharpening by hand (without a jig) is to hold and maintain the knife blade at the proper angle.

To determine that angle, it may help to first rest the knife on the edge of the stone. Look closely at the blade’s sharpened edge. Then adjust the knife’s angle until you see that the sharpened edge sits ‘flat’ against the knife sharpener tool’s surface.

Once you’ve visualized the proper angle, just go with it…

Without getting into the various differences in proper angle, suffice it to say that ‘typically’ that angle is somewhere around 20-degrees.

So one trick is to first hold the knife at a 45-degree angle against the sharpening tool (easy to visualize) and then adjust the knife to half that angle, which will be close to what you want.

knife-sharpening-angle

[ Read: Your Favorite Small Pocket Knife ]

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29 Comments

  1. A long time ago I was told by a gentleman who was older than NRP, Tommyboy or me, that one should always:

    – Run the blade through the same number of sharpening strokes on EACH side. NEVER do more on one side.

    – Never use water as a lubricant unless you are using a diamond media. Stones should always have an oil media applied to them.

    – Never clean a knife with anything other than Dawn.

    -Always use someone else’s arm to see if you can shave hairs. (Duh!)

    – Never let a relative “borrow” any of your Arkansas stones.

    I blew it on the last one. My 5-stone set is now a 3-stone set. If I ever come near that sucker that ‘borrowed’ the other two……….

    1. Thanks for the memory- my dad always sharpened our knives using a stone and I remember him always shaving the hairs on his arm!

  2. I used to have a German made Puma Hunters Friend. Bought it in high school, took it to Vietnam, Carried on many backpacking and hunting trips and finally retired it minus it’s original sheath that went MIA on a hike off of the Likelike highway on Oahu. I was going to give it to young guy at work who lived for deer hunting. Then I saw what they were going for on eBay. Long story short he did not get the knife and i got a couple of hundred bucks for a knife I paid $16.00 for in 1967.

    I also made a hundred bucks on a Case boot dagger that was EDC after I got back form Vietnam. One thing I learned is that quality knives appreciated in value. what contributes to the value is having the original box and papers if any came with the knife. Original sheath. Never used and never sharpened. Ironically I had tossed the box for the Case about 6 months before I saw what they were going for on eBay. It took bout $50.00 off of the value.

    One is none, two is one. If you buy two put one away in a dry place. Don’t sharpen it keep a light coat of oil on the blade and try not to let the sheath get any mold on it. My Puma in mint condition would have been worth between $300.00 and $400.00 dollars which would have been a very good return on the $16.00 I spent on it.

    On the Puma knives, although the blades are still made in Germany they are now shipped to China for finishing.

  3. All sorts of ways to sharpen, i think it boils down to preference, even angles, some guys like the steep angles that a lot of bushcraft and tactical knives come with, personally i like my knives to be Japanese sushi chef sharp so always re grind.

    My favorite sharpener is my Tormek, but it does have a learning curve, but the slow speed wet stone with the strop wheel is unbeatable for razor sharp results, i have gotten similar results on my 2×72 belt grinde, have belts from 24 all the way down to 6000 grit and a stropping belt, in my leather shop i regularly use sharp stuff, tend to never really “sharpen” any of it, use a polisher with green compound a lot and a small hand strop too, there is no substitute for a really sharp tool!

    I am a bit of a sharpening and knife junky, so have a pretty good compliment of wet stones and DMT diamond plates, i have a big wide long set of diamond plates with a base that holds them off the table and stable, these are real nice when combined with a good strop to get and keep the razor edge on knives, the wet stones work as well or better too but do require truing the stones with a truing stone occasionally to keep them nice and flat,

    Personally i find maintaining the edge with a strop and once every few uses a ultra fine stone or plate is best, just easier to maintain rather than restore

    1. (I am a bit of a sharpening and knife junky,)

      I think you just described most of us…

  4. I have used the Slicing Edge Sharpening System With 8″ Grit Wheel and Polishing Wheel – CW1 for over 30 years. Very fast and you can shave with my knives when sharpened.

  5. No need to over-think something that is very basic and that pretty much every boy has known how to do since they were 9-years old.

    It’s even easier these days with all the pre-made sharpeners with set angles.

    But honestly I think everyone should start out on a basic stone to build an understanding of how to do it.

    I have many sharpeners with pre-set angles and use them a good amount. But I also use basic stones just about as much.

    Not so important that you have the latest knife sharpening tech, it’s just important you know how to sharpen a knife, the method is not so important.

    My Dad (and Grandfather did) use a simple stone and I’m pretty sure few of us have a sharper knife then my dad does.

    1. Chuck,
      Heres one you will love,
      Even though i have all the tool holders and jigs for my Tormek grinder,
      I just prefer to freehand!
      Have been chastized for that before, by an analretentive yahoo,,,
      Never heard anything i was cutting on complain about the angle on my knife or tool being off
      🙄

    1. Chuck
      Good idea on carrying a knife sharpener. There is always a….i need to sharpen me knife, time. My jeans are ten pounds heavier with all the additional junk, no need or room for more. Haha
      Have a sharpener in the camper and several at home. Including stones. Good idea
      Diversify…..

    2. Years ago, a butcher turned me on to using a butcher’s steel to quickly return an edge to a knife. I purchased a pocket steel from a commercial butcher supply business on the outskirts of downtown Dallas about 40 years ago. It looks all the world like a miniature butcher’s steel, about three inches long and made of high carbon steel. I carry it hanging from a belt loop with a carabiner. It returns a quick edge to all my pocket knives if I dull a blade on a bone or other surface. I don’t know if the little buggers are available any longer, but it would hurt me to lose mine. I’ve also have a small diamond surface sharpening rod about the same size that works well, but I always follow it up with the steel for the final touch.

  6. I don’t know the degrees of the angles. I sharpen according to the work the knife does. If it gets rough treatment it gets a steeper edge. If it is used for fine work it gets more taper to make it sharper. I sharpen everything by hand. I use a stone for serious sharpening and a steel for touch ups. I have several different stones and steels that I use but none of them are expensive. I will also use leather to put the final touch on one I want extra sharp. If you have good technique you don’t need expensive equipment to put a good edge on a knife, but I have spent MANY hours over many years to develop that technique.

      1. Great article, Ken!! I was always terrified of sharpening my own knives.

        I bought some cheapies from Walmart to learn the technique, then built up the courage to sharpen my higher end pieces.

        Bottom line, I wound up up with seriously sharp and improved Walmart knives and brought my better ones back up to snuff.

        There are still a couple tactical knives I carry daily that I never use for everyday use and reserve the factory edge for the day I hope I never have to use them.

  7. Razor edge systems ultra fine hone is what I use. It puts s razor sharp edge on my knives. I would highly recommend it.

  8. Thanks for the reference chart Ken. It also points out the fact that many people that hunt or fish have very sharp blades that go in the field with them yet the ones at home in the drawer or knife block may be dull and never used. I have a relative that has a food processer and every knife they have is dull and there is a gadget to sharpen knives but no stones or set of stones to be found in their modern kitchen.
    To answer Chuck Findley’s question of when to carry sharpening tools with you: The bigger the job you anticipate, the more likely I will carry the lightweight diamond hones with me in the field and to the kitchens of other people that do not have sharp knives or stones to regrind the blade. I use diamond sharpeners made by DMT and I take 1 smaller one into the field with me to touch up the edge as I go. Gutting a feral pig or big russian boar will dull a blade very quickly. The guide I used to go with used a beefed up Lansky system that he fabricated to be more heavy duty. To Dennis: They make a chefs sharpening steel in aluminum coated with diamond dust that I use in my kitchen. It is full sized and works good for touching up as you work. Some see diamond stones as being too aggressive because they remove steel too fast. I say: just be careful sharpening and it allows me to do less sharpening and more cutting. As a prep cook and helping out at BBQ’s, I bring my own knives and 1 DMT sharpening stone in medium grit…and they go home with me at the end of the job.

  9. for quick touch ups on things like axes, machetes or cheap kitchen knives ( we all have some) i like the Corona AC 8300 Sharpening Tool available from amazon. they were recommended to me by John Rourke and they work very well for quick touch ups in the field. they are small and fit into your pocket easily. i love em. they also great for ferro rods.

    [ Ken J. Edit: (Here’s a short video I found on the Corona sharpening tool for gardening shears) ]

  10. I forgot to add: If you work in a kitchen and you have sharp knives, some guests that come over need to be warned about your sharp blades. My wife learned early on to heed my warnings when she came over to my home to help me cook a meal when we were dating. ( she checked the blades and needed a couple of band-aids right away.) Her family had Chicago Cutlery and were average/indifferent to having sharp blades in their kitchen. ( they ate a lot of packaged foods in serving sized portions…Bay Area Cali )
    I have Chicago Cutlery too but most of my blades are old, rehandled, discarded blades made by Solingen knifeworks, Henckel and Wustoff. Those of us that have spent a lot of time cooking from field to table have different standards of being sharp.

    A sharp knife is a safe knife – butt some people still need to be warned.

    1. Calirefugee,
      yup, every time DW asks me to sharpen her kitchen knives i always check our supply of band aids because i know it’s coming. it’s just a short matter of time.

  11. I switched to the Works Sharp and never looked back. This puts a convex edge which is the strongest edge with the most metal behind the cutting edge. Very easy to reprofile a blade and touch up is only 10 strokes per side after the edge has rolled. I use 3 different belts 60 grit, 200 grit and 600-1000 grit. Then finish with a leather strop with green paste. All my blades will shave hair and depending on the steel will clean 2-3 deer and a hog before they need a touch up. I love S90v steel and have a few kitchen knives and hunting knives in it. Also like elmax. If you can buy a blade in either of these steels and they are from a reputable manufacturer with a good heat treat and they will stay sharp longer than any of the generic steels sold for most knives.

    1. @ RWT,
      Thanks for the tip about the “Work Sharp” belt sharpening system. This looks good – and I like how the flexible belt will apply a convex cut. I might have to add this tool sometime in the future (grin).

      1. Ken, you will love it if you get it, the Ken Onion special edition kit is the way to go, comes with everything, is about as close as you can get to belt grinder results in a package that fits in your cupboard

  12. I have the Smith version of this and I really like it for blades that are in rough condition. It will put a good working edge on one in a short time. If you want it really sharp you have to work it on a stone. FYI get extra sanding belts.

  13. Agree on the extra belts and I learned do. It go after market with the belts. I purchased a large # of aftermarket belts for the WS and they all broke on the first use. I switched back to factory belts and they last a long time. Also do not leave the belts in the garage or shed if your weather is over 90 in the summer. I believe this contributed to the
    aftermarket belts failures. IMO the steel and heat treat are the most important part of keeping a blade keep an edge. I can get just about any commercial knife sharp enough to shave hair. However, the difference is how long they will keep that edge. Many of the lesser steels barley make it through cleaning one animal or 3 days of cutting vegetables before they need to be touched up. Then again I am a steel snob with a few customs from Phil Wilson/spyderco and Busse.

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