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Help me sharpen my old Wusthofs

Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:42 am

OK. So I tried sharpening our old Wustofs and they didn't get very sharp. They're pretty dull and we had them professionally sharpened at Sur la Table (whatever that means) about two years ago. Are they beyond sharpening at this stage? Or should I just keep trying?


Re: Help me sharpen my old Wusthofs

Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:46 am

Hi Dave,

I doubt your knives are beyond sharpening. If you have had them sharpened many times over the years my first guess is that they need to be thinned.

However, most of my friends and I prefer knives made with harder steel and that are thinner. Both of these qualities help to make a knife very sharp and hold it's edge.

So, it sounds like you tried to sharpen you knife and it didn't work that great. Tell me how you did it and what you used? I think practicing with the knife you have is a good way to learn to sharpen and once you get descent at it you should reward yourself with a new and better knife that will be easier to sharpen.

Re: Help me sharpen my old Wusthofs

Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:51 am

Without knowing what your sharpening abilities are, what you sharpened with, etc. we'll be guessing....but:

A Wusthof will get pretty sharp....but this depends on your definition of sharp somewhat too. :)

I find the best way to sharpen Wusthof (and really any soft stainless, obtuse knife like these) is with a diamond plate, then a 1,000 grit waterstone to refine the edge a bit.....maybe a 2,000 just for fun. Anything past that is wasteful as the edge fails so quickly.

The problem I see a lot is that since a lot of these have been ran through Chef's Choice sharpeners, have been damaged, etc. is that when someone sets out to sharpen them the first time the angle they use is such that they have to grind away a LOT of metal before the hit the edge. People think the knife should be sharp in so many minutes....but that's not the case. You HAVE to develop a burr along the entire length of the opposite side of the edge, flip the knife over and form a burr along the entire opposite side.

Only then can you continue.

Now, removing a burr from a highly alloyed stainless is another problem. Be vicious about removing it....it HAS to come off before you're done.

Re: Help me sharpen my old Wusthofs

Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:20 am

Thanks Adam,

Let me expand on what you said a little.

If you sharpen a wusthof they typically are at a very wide angle and people will sharpen them at a steeper angle and miss the edge and basically start the process of thinning the knife. That can take a long time if you're using a medium or fine stone and often guys will basically never grind the edge of the knife.

Grinding until you get a burr is THE way to know you have ground an edge. You need to do that on both sides to get it sharp. Adam recommends a diamond plate because you can re-grind the edge and get that burr quickly and efficiently without thinning it all day. Then you move up the progression to a medium grit stone to finish the edge. Using a rough stone or diamond plate is a very good general recommendation when you first tackle a very dull German knife. You want something in the 150-500 grit range.

So, tell us if you got a burr for sure and then we'll help some more.

Re: Help me sharpen my old Wusthofs

Tue Sep 24, 2013 10:17 am

It definitely sounds like I need to thin the old Wustofs. BTW, I really like Mark's advice to practice on these and they buy a new one. I've got an extra coarse diamond DMT stone (which I bought to smooth the other stones) and 1000 and 4000 Shaptons. So should I start thinning with the DMT and then move to the 1000? It seems like it would take me all day to do it with the 1000.

Re: Help me sharpen my old Wusthofs

Tue Sep 24, 2013 10:25 am

I think if this is your first try at thinning a knife then start with the 1000 Shapton. After a little practice then try the switch to the DMT. Won't take long to get the feel for it on 1000, better safe than sorry.

Re: Help me sharpen my old Wusthofs

Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:09 am

I started with the 1000 and probably pulled a hundred strokes on each side (on both knives) and they were still dull. That's why I was asking about the DMT.

Re: Help me sharpen my old Wusthofs

Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:46 am

Then yeah, if you've had some practice with the 1000 grit, switch to the DMT plate. Has the DMT plate been used at all yet? If not, flatten some stone's with it before using it on the knife. That will help break down some of the really super aggressive diamonds.

Re: Help me sharpen my old Wusthofs

Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:39 pm

Yes use the DMT Plate but just realize you are going to grind about 10 times faster with it than the 1K shapton. Thin it till you get a burr and then move to the Shapton and use the 1K till you clean up the scratches you put in the knife with the DMT. You want a burr on one side, flip and get one on the other side. Flip again and get one with your 1K and flip again on the other side. This is called chasing the burr and as you move up in grit the burr will get smaller and smaller. Last step is to make sure you remove the burr and then you're done.

This practice you are getting on your beater wusthof will be valuable when you sharpen a good knife so don't get discouraged. If you get stuck or mess it up send it to me and we'll clean it up for you and thin it out. We charge $20 but really don't use us until you're ready to throw it out your back window. :)

Re: Help me sharpen my old Wusthofs

Tue Sep 24, 2013 2:55 pm

DVG - don't forget about friends, relatives, neighbors with knives that need to be sharpened. Their knives are normally in pretty bad shape, but most people are more than happy to let you sharpen their knives. Even as a newbie sharpener, you'll almost certainly return them sharper than when you got them, and they'll be happy campers. These are good practice knives as well. You'll probably need the DMT plate on most of them to get a good bevel. Don't worry about thinning these. Just try to match the existing bevel using the Sharpie trick as your guide.

Also, if the knives you sharpen have a full bolster down to the blade heel, you might need to grind this down so you can sharpen the actual edge at the heel. One way to do this is to hold the knife edge horizontal with the blade perpendicular to the floor, then lower the handle to raise the blade & tip so you hit just the bolster at an angle - maybe 15 degrees. Grind the bolster on your DMT plate until you get some clearance for the edge bevel at the heel.

Good luck! Achieving your first sharp edge on free hand stones is pretty cool and a nice accomplishment. You'll want to do it again and again :-).
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