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.