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Reader Dan Bridenbaugh asks us a question we’ve been hearing more and more: “How do I sharpen my ceramic-bladed knife?”  (In this case it’s a Boker folding pocket knife with a ceramic blade.)  This seems like a fairly simple and logical question — however the answers we came across may surprise you.

We talked to a few professional blade sharpeners, and they agree that ceramic doesn’t take very well to traditional methods of sharpening. One of the most common first lines of attack is a diamond stone. Diamond will cut anything, ceramic included, but it leaves tiny scratches that act as stress risers and can cause the blade’s edge to chip and fail — no good.

Aluminum oxide and paper wheels are the next candidate for sharpening ceramic knives. They won’t chip and scratch the blade like diamond will — but the edge on a ceramic blade is so sharp and razor-thin, the wheel will often roll the edge instead of honing it.

In short, sharpening a ceramic knife presents a complex task that’s difficult even for the most accomplished sharpener.  Most pros suggest contacting the manufacturer of the blade and asking how they recommend sharpening. Two of the larger names in ceramic knives, Kyocera and Boker, will have you send the blade back to the factory where they’ll run it through a computer-assisted sharpening machine.  So in this unusual case we advise you to NOT do it yourself — enlist the manufacturer’s assistance.

Folding Ceramic Knives [Boker]
Street Pricing [Google Products]

 

5 Responses to Reader Question: Sharpening Ceramic Blades

  1. Good to know… I have a Kyocera ceramic paring knife in the kitchen that I bought to try out before I went with a full-blown santuko or chef’s knife…

    I’m unimpressed… At first it was uber-sharp, but now not so much.. My traditional Henkel’s paring knife is similarly sharp, and granted, does get duller faster, but with a few quick pulls on my $10 sharpener I can get it back where it was in no time.. versus the Kyocera ceramic one which I apparently have to ship back to Korea.

    I’ll stick with my cheap 2 for $12 Santoku at Sam’s Club..

  2. Wing says:

    Apparently some at the knifeforums.com have had success with diamond paste, postits and patience. I ruined my Kyocera even with diamond tape on my Apex Jr rig and had to send it back to the official resharpening service center ( there’s one in California where I live ). They did an amazing job and it came back sharper than new. I’m not buying anymore ceramic knives unless they become more chip resistant and there’s a simple way for me to sharpen them like I do with my steel knives.

  3. Frank Townend says:

    Like Rice I bought a Kyocera paring knife and, after a year, it still has an sharp edge. I always wondered what to do to sharpen it and now I know. Thanks for the post.

  4. Frank Townend says:

    Sorry, Like Rick, not Rice. Didn’t mean to change your name.

  5. Captain Obvious says:

    Diamond stone, then diamond paste, is the way to go.

    The first helps you remove the material you need to.

    The paste on wood, or a strop, gives you the edge you want.

    The only difference between “factory” sharpening and home sharpening with the same materials is that the factory goes to a smaller grit, so you don’t see the scratches.

    As for what makes the nicest blades… if you think “henckels” is nice to work with, try “Dojo” brand at the Japan Woodworker.

    They’re heavenly.

    http://www.japanwoodworker.com/dept.asp?s=JapanWoodworker&dept_id=13251

    Ah, I see they’ve DISCONTINUED the nicest sizes.

    Oh, well: money matters more than anything else -shrug-.

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