When it comes time to sharpen your favorite knife, it’s important to carefully consider the edge angle. Knives that are thin at the edge tend to cut better but at the cost of durability. Fragile edges tend to roll, chip, and go dull with less use than a knife with a more robust edge thickness. A thick edge is more durable but loses out on slicing tasks. Pairing the right edge angle (also called edge bevel) to your knife is an important element of maximizing your knifes performance.
Before we dive in, consider the thickness of your knife blade. A very thick blade will exhibit great toughness, but no edge angle (regardless of how thin it gets) will ever make the knife a slicer. At the same time, a very thin blade stock will lack stability even with a very thick bevel at the edge. It’s all about how the knife will be used.
Less Than 20 Degrees Inclusive
20 Degrees Inclusive Edge Bevels Are 10 Degrees Per Side
At 10 degrees or less per side, the lowest bevel angles are typically found on purpose-built tools that cut only soft and consistent materials. Such steep angles are incredibly fragile, and use is limited largely to straight razors, scalpels, and utility blades.
30 Degrees Inclusive
30 Degrees Inclusive Edge Bevels Are 15 Degrees Per Side
At 15 degrees per side the edge bevel is still quite weak and susceptible to impact damage under any type of chopping. Japanese chef knives frequently utilize a 30-degree inclusive edge bevel while western chef knives more often lean toward a slightly less aggressive angle. Some people have luck with sharpening premium steels to 15 per side, but that will take trial, error, and a lot of patience to find which ones can stand up with use.
It’s rare for a fixed blade or camp-style knife to be this thin behind the edge, but it’s not uncommon to find EDC-type knives or traditionals with a slicey bevel profile.
40-60 Degrees Inclusive
40-60 Degrees Inclusive Edge Bevels Are 20-30 Degrees Per Side
Knives sharpened to 20-30 degrees per side tend to best represent balance. Chop wood at the campsite and then run home to slice up tomatoes for a BLT. Your knife can do it all! There’s no better choice for an EDC knife.
More Than 60 Degrees Inclusive
60 Degrees Inclusive Edge Bevels Are 30 Degrees Per Side
Are we talking about a knife or a pry bar? But really, at 30 degrees per side this is getting a little ridiculous. Only sharpen your knife to a 60 degrees inclusive bevel in situations that require the most extreme edge holding.
AKA Chisel Grind
Single bevel knives (also known as chisel edge) are only sharpened on one side. Although it’s quite uncommon to see a single bevel pocket knife, this sharpening style is popular among Asian chef knives. The edge bevel can be extremely thin (0 degrees on one side and 15 degrees on the other). Knives with a single bevel can make extremely thin cuts.
Richard Kell Brass Bevel Gauge
Quick Check Blade AnglesThe Richard Kell brass bevel gauge is a great tool for measuring the edge angle your knife is sharpened to. Watch the video direct from the maker to discover how to use this simple tool.
BLADE ANGLES OVERVIEW
We live in a world obsessed with steel. Everyone wants the most advanced super steel and anything less is completely unacceptable! In reality, the geometry and heat treatment of your blade are the factors most responsible for cutting performance.
What’s your ideal edge angle? Do you like a knife to be absolutely bomb-proof tough or do you prefer having a katana-style slicer in your pocket?
You already know Blade HQ has all the knives. Make it happen, unbox your new knife with the handle of your choosing, and then email me a picture and a few words about what went into your decision (AHamilton at BladeHQ.com). We’ll feature submissions on our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
If you’re looking for an amazing all-around knife sharpener, check out our video on the Spyderco Sharpmaker. It’s simple to use and has guided angles that allow you to sharpen a variety of your knives.
OTHER BEST KNIFE GUIDES
Still in that information gathering phase? We’ve got a bunch more guides on many different topics! Happy hunting and may you find that one special knife of your dreams.