Choosing The Right Knife Sharpening Angle

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8 min read
Microtech Ultratech - Spartan Blade on an sharpening stone

There's no such thing as a perfect angle that will work for all types of knife, or even your personal taste, so to find the right angle for your knife, think about how you use your knife and how much time and effort you're willing to put into keeping the blade in shape.

Why should i use different angles for different knifes?

Because different angles have different advantages and disadvantage, for example if you need a razor sharp knife or an actual razor you would go with an very steep angle of sharpening. But these edges will be more likely to chip or be damaged otherwise so they need a lot of maintenance to keep the blade performing well.

Most knives with such steep angles will be sharpened or honed very frequently, this is commonly seen in kitchen knives our razors.

For knives that see more heavy use, like an most outdoor or EDC knives you would go with a bit wider angle, this will make your blade not as sharp as the really steep angles but it will make your blade last longer and it should be more resistant to damage of the blade. This blade will need a bit less maintenance to do there job, but you will lose out on some cutting performance.

What are the most common sharpening angles?

Under 10 Degrees

Knives with angles under 10 degrees are typically used for cutting softer materials, like straight razors. These low angles create a sharp, delicate edge that is susceptible to damage under heavy use.

10 to 15 Degrees

This angle range is suitable for knives that require a sharp, fine edge for cutting soft items or slicing meats. Japanese knives often fall within this range due to their harder steel and precise cutting requirements. Water stones or ultra-fine abrasives are ideal for maintaining these low angles.

15 to 17 Degrees

Many Japanese knives and newer European or American cutlery are factory-sharpened at angles between 15 and 17 degrees. This angle range provides a very high amount of sharpness while still being solid enough for most tasks.

17 to 22 Degrees

This angle range is common for kitchen knives, pocket knives, and outdoor knives. Most North American-made knives are sharpened at approximately 20 degrees, providing a good balance between sharpness and durability. A 15 to 22-degree angle is ideal for most everyday cutting tasks.

22 to 30 Degrees

Knives with angles between 22 and 30 degrees are designed for more demanding tasks, such as hunting or heavy-duty cutting. These angles provide increased durability while still offering adequate cutting ability. Pocket knives, hunting knives, and other tools used for tougher applications often fall within this range.

Over 30 Degrees

Knives sharpened at angles over 30 degrees are highly durable but have reduced cutting ability. This angle range is best suited for tools like axes, cleavers, and machetes that require a strong, durable edge. While most knives won’t benefit from such a high angle, edged tools made from softer steel can benefit from the added durability.

Selecting the Right Angle for Your Knife

Now that you understand the different angle ranges and their purposes, selecting the right angle for your knife should be easier. Consider the knife’s intended use, steel hardness, and blade thickness, along with personal preference, to help you choose the best angle for your needs.

As a general rule, opt for lower angles (10-22 degrees) for knives intended for delicate cutting or slicing tasks, and higher angles (22-30+ degrees) for knives designed for more demanding applications. Remember that a lower angle will provide a sharper edge but may be more delicate, while a higher angle will offer increased durability at the expense of cutting ability.

Sharpening Angles for EDC Knives

EDC knives typically fall within the 17-25-degree angle range, with some exceptions. This angle range provides a balance between sharpness and durability, making it suitable for a variety of tasks. When sharpening your EDC knife, consider the blade’s hardness, thickness, and intended use to select the appropriate angle.

Kitchen Knife Sharpening

Kitchen knives are often sharpened at angles between 15 and 22 degrees, providing a balance between sharpness and durability for everyday cutting tasks. Select the appropriate angle based on the knife’s purpose, design, and material, and maintain that angle using a sharpening system or freehand technique. Although the angle is not that different from most EDC knives, even that 2-3 degrees requires a bit more maintenance to keep the blade in shape.

Böker Plus Kalashnikov 74 - Dessert Warrior Wallpaper


Understanding and choosing the right sharpening angles for your knives is crucial to maintaining their performance, longevity and overall cutting experience, so think about what you use your knife for to help you choose the right angle.