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Old 01-04-2009, 05:31 PM   #1
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Do I need a separate sharpener for a santoku?

I apologize in advance if this sounds silly, but I know you guys will have the answer. I just got my first santoku knife for Xmas so it doesn't need to be sharpened yet. I already have this sharpener for my knives, but while browsing I noticed this one and was wondering what the difference is. Can anyone advise? TIA!

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Old 01-04-2009, 06:33 PM   #2
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See Can.
Open Can.
Watch worms squirm.

Sharpening knives is one of those things that you can put as much, or as little, effort into as you want.

The pull through sharpeners are OK and can put a serviceable edge on a knife. If you overuse or misuse them you can really damage a blade however.

The angle a knife gets sharpened at depends on a lot of things and is essentially a trade off between durability of the edge and sharpness. i.e. the sharper a knife is the shorter the time it will hold that edge.

Different steel qualities also affect the sharpness. Japanese knives tend to be made with hard relatively brittle steel. This means that they can take and hold a sharp edge for longer, but more work is required to sharpen them. German knives tend to be made from relatively soft and malleable steel. They hold their edges for shorter times but are quicker and easier to sharpen.

Long story short is that you should match any pull through sharpener to the same country of origin for the knife, i.e. sharpen Japanese knives on a Japanese sharpener and German knives on a German sharpener. Going any further than that is just marketing guff.

However, if you want to get your knives truly sharp you'll need to learn how to sharpen your knives on a whetstone or get a more advanced sharpening system like the edge-pro apex.
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Old 01-04-2009, 06:40 PM   #3
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Putting aside whether those sharpeners are good or not, no you do not need a separate sharpener for a Santoku. The difference between those two is simply marketing.
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:11 PM   #4
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Thanks, that helps. I found a knife shop that does sharpening and I'll be taking my knives there. As far as home sharpening goes I use these type of sharpeners because they're what I can handle easily. No matter how many times I try a honing steel it just feels awkward. Anything more advanced in the home and I would probably chop off a limb.
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:13 PM   #5
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A honing steel has nothing to do with sharpening. Honing is a separate thing and you should really learn how to do it. It's not hard and will feel less awkward after a while.
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:39 PM   #6
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The santoku sharpener states that knife has a different edge angle from other knives. That may be true for Wustoff knives but who knows if it applies to other brands.
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:45 PM   #7
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I recently attended a cooking class that included a lesson on knife sharpening. Simply said, they told us that the softer German steel needs a pull through sharpener, while Japanese steel needs a honing stone.
As far as a honing steel, it re-aligns the particles on a knife edge. It does not sharpen it.
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:25 PM   #8
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Honing steel realigns the edge and does not sharpen it. A sharpener or stone sharpens it. If your santoku is made by the same german manufacturer that makes your other knives, then you can use the same one you have been using... the wusthof thingamagig you posted, both are exactly the same thing - this is how they get your money. if you are using japanese-made knives (hattori, misono, mac, masamoto) i absolutely recommend a japanese whetstone.
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:51 PM   #9
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My santoku is Wusthof, like my other knives. I just couldn't see why I would possibly need another sharpener for just one knife. What you're all saying makes sense. Now, let's just see how much of it I retain. As I mentioned before, I do plan to have my knives professionally sharpened (I just found a place a few days ago). I feel almost neglectful not honing my knives, but I do try to sharpen them at home periodically to take care of them. If it's doing more damage than good then I'd rather know that and I'll stop.

I understand that honing is different, but it's not something I can easily do. I often make dinner with two little ones underfoot because DH is away 5-6 nights a week. I am very, very nervous around knives, especially around my children. Someone purposely cut my hand as a child and it has probably made me a little more paranoid than necessary. I know it may sound like just an excuse, but it has taken me a long time to even get to where I am. The knives have been a gift from DH for overcoming this.
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Old 01-04-2009, 11:34 PM   #10
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Celiac,

One of the easiest and safest ways to use a honing steel is to put a towel down on the bench and hold the steel vertically with the tip on the towel and then pull the knives through towards yourself. not as fast or fancy as the TV chefs but it does the job.
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