How to Sharpen Damascus Steel Knife in 3 Different Ways

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You can easily recognize what Damascus steel is by the beautiful pattern on the blade’s surface. It’s one of the most popular types of knives for its strong and sharp edge. But even with that, you still need to sharpen it regularly. In this post, you can learn how to sharpen Damascus steel knife in 3 different ways.

But first, let’s get to know more about a Damascus steel knife.

What is Damascus Steel Knife?

What is Damascus Steel Knife

Damascus knife is a blade made from Damascus steel, which was made through a specific technique. This technique used to create the steel marks the blade as “Damascus.” This unique characteristic itself, not any other part of the knife or its design that makes it known as Damascus steel knife.

The identifiable mark on this specific knife is a wavy, mottled pattern running along the blade. These days, you will find most Damascus steel made by two different techniques. The first one involves various types of steel forge-welded together with the metal then twisted and manipulated.

The other method involves one type of steel flattened and folded to create layers on the metal. Although the techniques are different, both results into the wavy pattern you will often see on Damascus knives. At first glance, you must though all these just bring only aesthetic benefits to the blade.

However, the folding and refolding of the metal actually have benefits. It evens out the natural impurities found in the metal, making Damascus steel is one of the strongest metals used in knives. The thing about this particular knife is its rust resistance depends on the type of steel used when creating it although most use stainless steel.

As to whether it holds an edge, the high-quality ones have them really well. The reason for that is the fact the knives are usually from a high-carbon specialty steel’s inner core. Softer stainless steel then surrounds that core, which produces the distinctive pattern of the blade. This is how unique a Damascus steel knife is.

Now, let’s talk about how to sharpen Damascus steel knife to keep that edge.

What You’ll Need;

For sharpening your Damascus steel knife, there are three main tools you need. They are:

  • Whetstone
  • Sharpening/Honing Steel
  • Tabletop Sharpener

Also, you may need:

  • Water
  • Oil

Of course, you can’t forget:Damascus Steel Knife

Below are the steps to sharpen your Damascus knife.

Step-by-Step Instructions

You probably think sharpening a Damascus knife needs some special method. That is not true, however. You can sharpen this blade the same way as any other non-serrated knife. That is, you can use one of any the three methods mentioned below:

1. Sharpening with Whetstone

How to Sharpen Damascus Steel Knife
  • Wet the Whetstone with Lubricant: The use of lubricant depends on the whetstone. Some of them does not need one, so it’s better to ask the manufacturer. But if it does, you can use either water or oil – it’s up to you. However, you can never use the whetstone with water again if you already used oil. But oil works to a whetstone lubricated with water. Lubricate the stone per instruction or about 10 to 15 minutes, or when you can see small bubbles on its surface.
  • Put the Whetstone on a Flat Surface: Put the stone in an even surface to start sharpening. Hold your knife in one hand, placing your fingers from the other hand near its tip. The blade should be flat against the whetstone, the edge away from you. Sharpen it by tilting the blade and pivoting it on the edge at around 20-degrees angle.
  • Move the Blade in Even Swipes: Start moving the blade away while sliding it across the stone’s surface. Please do this in light but even swipes, running its entire length over the stone. Remember only to use the push stroke when sharpening. Also, count the strokes you made so that you can apply the same number of times on the other side for even sharpening. You can start moving back and forth when you become more confident that you stay in the same angle.
  • Swap to Other Side and Repeat the Process: Swap the knife to your other hand to work on the other side of the blade. Repeat the process starting from Step 2 to 3. After this, you will feel the metal as it grinds against the stone where fine silt collects on the blade. Continue to do this until your desired sharpness but don’t over-sharpen and shorten the life of your Damascus knife.

2. Sharpening with Tabletop Sharpener

Sharpening with Tabletop Sharpener

A tabletop sharpener is an excellent option for quick sharpening. The steps to sharpen your Damascus steel in this method are as follows:

  • Place the Sharpener on a Surface: While placed in a flat surface, insert the edge of your Damascus steel into the sharpener. Put the blade into the slot nearest to its handle. Start the sharpening at the roughest stage if there are various levels of coarseness.
  • Pull the Knife Towards You: Apply just enough pressure when you pull the blade towards you to feel the grinding effect. Ensure that you don’t push down too hard or you might end up warping the knife. Sharpen it by running its full length through the sharpener from the handle to the tip.
  • Repeat the Process: Repeat this process for 4 to 5 times. While doing so, make sure you just pull the blade, not push. After every stroke, lift it then go back to the starting position (nearest to the handle) then pull the blade again.
  • Repeat the Process at the Next Stages: If there are different levels, move on the next when you are done at the coarsest grade. By moving to the finer grades, you can better refine the Damascus steel’s edge. When you are done, wipe your knife clean before storing.

3. Sharpening with Honing Steel

Sharpening with Honing Steel

This method is not precisely sharpening but honing. The steps involve are:

  • Hold the Honing Steel Downward on a Hard Surface: With the tip on the surface, keep the honing steel vertical at a 90-degrees angle.
  • Place the Back of the Knife Against the Steel: While the honing steel is in position, place the back edge of your knife against it an angle of 15 to 20-degrees.
  • Pull the Blade in a Sweeping Motion: Apply pressure while maintaining the angle when you pull the blade against the honing steel. Do this in a sweeping downward motion from the bottom of the blade (near the handle) to the tip.
  • Put the Blade to the Opposite Side of Honing Steel: When you are done on one side, place the blade to the other side of the honing steel. After that, repeat the same motion you did in step 3. Make sure to do the same number of strokes as you did on the other side.


Now, there’s the answer to the question “how to sharpen Damascus steel.” As you can see, it’s not difficult. It is the same way you sharpen your stainless steel, carbon steel or even VG10 knife. It can be through a whetstone, sharpener or honing steel. Either way, consistent sharpening is the key.

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