Flat bevels

Dec 31, 2006
Good morning to you all. I hope you can tolerate an enthusiastic newcomer.

I used to own a sushi restaurant. It didn’t survive long – the cost of the head chef’s salary pretty well put us out of business. During our short time together, Shunji San taught me to sharpen Japanese style, on a wet-stone, under a trickle of water. His own knives were devastatingly sharp, and so they should have been too: his 12” sushi knife cost a huge fortune, even in Japan. He reported that he’d had it for nearly twenty years. Before we all parted company, he went to and from Japan, and at my request, brought back a top quality sushi knife and a heavy deba type for me. He also gave me an M15 Shapton wet-stone. When the knives arrived, he told me to go and sharpen them. They already felt sharp to me. Anyway, I spent three or four hours making them sharp enough to cut with nary but a glance in their direction, and took them back to Shunji San. ‘Not sharp,’ he said, and took them away to do them properly for me. So that’s my short apprenticeship described, in a nutshell.

To my innocent mind, sharpening a deep, flat bevel (or bevels) is a sensible way of maintaining an edge, and ensuring that it is always at a constant angle. Obviously, the two Japanese knives were single bevelled. So, when it came to selecting a new knife for field dressing deer, I chose a two-flat bevelled knife – a high quality Finnish puukko. This is now almost too sharp to be taken out of its sheath.

BUT – as many of you will be saying at this point, field dressing a big deer almost always requires that the knife be given a stroke or two on the stone. That’s fine with some knives, but a quick stroke or two with anything, on a finely honed straight bevel edge just screws it up disastrously. Sharpening these things is not really a field job. Did I choose the wrong knife?

Another question: where the blade thins, towards the point, how does one maintain that essential flat-to-the-stone angle on a wet-stone, when the flat is diving away?

I look forward to hearing from you experts.
Welcome to Bladeforums!

Watermain, single bevel knives are often praised for ease of field sharpening. Some will sharpen them flat to the stone but others will not and add a slight secondary bevel. Generally to sharpen most tips you have to rotate and/or lift the hand.

I do not understand why some think a single bevel is easy for field sharpening?

First, you need a perfectly flat stone, and good technique.

Secondly, if you need to fix the smallest nick or a damaged edge, you will need to remove a LOT of metal!

I rather touch up my knives to 40 degr or so since they have a 30 degr back bevel. Much more room for error (in the field).

Any ideas on that?

I do not understand why some think a single bevel is easy for field sharpening?

Like most of the propoganda on that bevel, it has little logical support.

Any ideas on that?

Yeah, you are right. Figure out what angle is needed to keep the edge stable and use the optimal primary grind to provide relief to enhance the cutting ability and ease of sharpening, as well as increase the strength/weight ratio.

Flat bevels = experience, artistry, and magic to get it right...


Psssst: I don't have any of the above qualities, so I avoid them as much as possible -- oh yeah, I've got to work on those scissors someday...
You might need to know these knives for a professinal in Japanese professional kitchen.
In additin, Yanagiba(a long sushi knife) and Deba are totally diffrent purpose. And no one use them out of a kitchen in Japan. There are available different kinds of knife for a field.
However Deba can be done field duty IMHO coz this has been made robust.

Most Japanese people haven't got a Yanagiba which has been specially designed to cut precisely for Sashimi in professional hands, Deba Designed for to be able to hack, particularly 1/3 blade of the blade from handle.
Their single bevel is to be easily sharpened, yet this is not context of western knives.
Yanagiba's edge must be always razor sharp which might be more than you imagine.
Besides M15 of Shapton, which grade have you got, is available #180 to #12000 in Japanese grade. #12000 would suit least requirement for Yanagiba.

Most Japanese knife has convex(you cannot see or feel,
it's just slighly or can be said micro convex) bevel, to protect their narrow angled bevel.
To make it, attach the bevel as flat as possible on the stone which must be very flat. Starting at the edge, which should be attached on the stone nearly flat, you just push slightly hard on the edge. And next step, pushsing middle of the bevel to the stone, third step would be push top of the bevel to the stone. to do this by your sense of finger tips and sound which come out from edge and stone.
It sounds complicated, yes to do this properly, not easy task. Burr can be best way to remove by using newspaper.