A VG10 is a premium Japanese blade that is made from high-quality steel. The quality of steel will often heavily influence how easy it is to sharpen your knife and it’s easy to feel slightly intimidated or unprepared when it comes to sharpening a knife of such quality.
We find that most people are always cautious when it comes to sharpening a VG10 blade as they don’t want to make a mistake or potentially ruin their knife. This, therefore, leads to the question of how to correctly sharpen a VG10.
To correctly sharpen a VG10 Japanese blade you need to follow a few simple steps. Firstly, use the correct sharpening tool in the form of whetstone with a suitable degree of coarse (400/1000 grade is a good starting point).
Secondly, make sure you use a sharpening angle that is the same as the factory formed edge and finally, sharpen your knife to build up a burr using a coarse stone and then use a finer coarse stone to refine and polish the edge.
The process for correctly sharpening a VG10 knife is not too different from most other knives, there are however some important factors that you need to be aware of to get the perfect edge and we’ll cover these in more detail in this article.
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Is VG10 Steel Easy to Sharpen
VG10 is more premium steel and while premium steel is “easier” to sharpen, you should not confuse the term easy with fast. When sharpening a knife of any material there are a few factors to take into consideration:
The toughness of the metal - Some metals are harder than others and will therefore need a coarser material to sharpen. You should never need to use more physical effort to get a blade sharp, if you find this is the case then you are using the wrong tool for the job.
Blade profile - the more dull a blade's edge is, the more time and effort you will need to give it in order to reform and sharpen a new edge. Blades that are maintained weekly will be much easier to sharpen than those that are neglected and don’t have regular honing after use.
Sharpening tool - A fine blade like a VG10 will not be sharpened by a normal steel as the blade is too tough, therefore whetstones with varying degrees of grit grade would need to be used to manipulate a finer edge.
VG10 is a premium steel, it should be very easy to sharpen provided you use the correct tools, have not let the profile of the blade become too dull, and finally, realize that the process could take anywhere from 10 - 40 minutes to get the desired edge sharpness.
Just because it can be easy to sharpen a VG10 knife does not mean it’s fast, therefore we are now going to run through how you can correctly sharpen your VG10 knife for a perfect edge every time.
Best Tools for Sharpening a VG10 Blade
Before we get into the correct sharpening technique for a VG10 blade, you first need to know that to sharpen a VG10 blade certain tools are better suited to the task. If you want a razor-sharp edge then make sure you have some of these tools listed below:
Ceramic or diamond tipped Sharpening Rod - Firstly, honing on a ceramic rod should be a frequent thing you do before using a stone to sharpen an edge. Honing helps to maintain a sharp edge however with VG10 blades, you will need to use a ceramic sharpening rod and not a steel one.
Whetstone - A whetstone should be your primary method for sharpening a VG10 blade and this technique alone will be enough to get you a nice sharp edge with any of the other tools or techniques that we’ll mention.
A good combination for a VG10 knife is a 400/1000 grit whetstone which will give you a coarse side needed to form a burr and a finer coarse level to refine and sharpen the edge.
Leather Strop - There are mixed opinions over whether or not you should use a leather strop to polish the edge of a premium blade like a VG10. A beginner could easily deform the edge if they don’t know how to strop correctly whereas a professional can strop and get the finest, most polished edge you’ll come across.
In our opinion, we’d recommend not stropping a VG10 knife until you can sharpen a range of knives to a high standard using water stones and sharpening rods first. If you are confident of using a strop, then a few passes between each coarse stone will do a great job of really refining and polishing up the knife edge.
Diamondstone - Again, this is a tool you might be familiar with when sharpening knives and can sometimes be recommended for sharpening a VG10 blade however, a diamond stone is too coarse to properly sharpen a VG10 knife and we’d advise that you use a whetstone with coarse grades mentioned above.
How to Correctly Sharpen VG10 Japanese Blades
The following is a step by step process that you can use to correctly sharpen your VG10 knife and ensure that you are getting a razor-sharp edge each time. For this, you will need a whetstone with a coarse grit and a finer grit.
Set the Sharpening Angle
This is the most important step when it comes to creating a sharp edge, Japanese knives like the VG10 are much sharper than the western equivalents due to a smaller sharpening angle. For a VG10 you will want to check the factory information to know what initial edge angle the knife was manufactured to have.
If you are more experienced, then you can check the knife bevel yourself to determine the angle or simply rest the knife down on the whetstone until the bevel is flat (as this will be your cutting angle).
For most Japanese knives, the angle will be around 15 degrees on one side, this should then be matched on the other side for double bevel knives. We cover this in more detail in 'The Correct Angle to Sharpen Your Knives'.
The Correct Japanese Knife Sharpening Angle
Create the Edge
Once you have your desired angle you will next want to create/maintain/reform a sharp knife-edge, to do this you will need to go through the process of creating a burr.
This is done using the coarse whetstone and for those new to knife sharpening, a burr is essentially microscopic teeth that give the blade edge it’s sharpness. To create a burr, you will need to pass the knife over the whetstone for multiple passes that could take 5 - 20 minutes depending on how dull your blade is.
Make sure to keep a consistent motion without applying pressure to the knife, also check frequently for any burrs, and ensure you apply focus to the heel, mid-portion, and tip of the blade to create even distribution all the way along the knife's edge.
Turn the Knife Over and Repeat
Once you have found the burr on one side and it’s consistent from the tip to the heel of the knife you should flip the knife over and repeat this exact process on the other side to create a sharp edge for your VG10 knife.
Note - this only applies to a knife that has a double bevel blade.
Refine the Edge
Once you have the burrs on both sides of the knife you can then look to use a finer grade grit to polish and refine the edge. Simply repeat the steps above (taking less time and passes) on a finer whetstone grade.
This is the time when you can also stop to refine the edges.
A high quality, VG10 Japanese knife is a blade that you will want to maintain and keep in excellent condition which means regular sharpening should be a top priority.
Honing is a crucial process and something that should be done frequently however, this process will not maintain a sharp edge indefinitely and therefore you need to be proactive and ensure your edge does not become dull over time.
As long as you follow some of the steps above then sharpening a VG10 is no different from sharpening any other type of knife (either Japanese or Western) and you should find that it’s just as easy to do provided you use the correct tools for the task.