How to Sharpen a Katana?


How to Sharpen a Katana?

Each authentic Katana has a rich and intriguing background, making them highly sought after by collectors. These rare and exquisite swords can cost thousands or even millions of dollars since they are an integral element of Japanese culture. The legend of Katanas is known by many. However, how to sharpen a katana is not something most are familiar with. 

In Japan, people call the sharpening of a katana "polishing." It's an aesthetic and spiritual endeavor that might take weeks, even when carried out by a master artisan. While this polishing method is commonly used to sharpen the edge of a blade, it also helps to reduce the appearance of cracks and highlight the blade's hamon line.

Now many people take up the hobby of collecting Japanese Katanas, even customize their own katana. But eventually, the edge of any blade will dull and need to be sharpened. No doubt, sharpening a Katana may be a scary task at first, but with experience, you'll get used to it. If you love collecting Katanas and wish to learn to sharpen them, keep reading to learn seven easy steps to sharpen a Katana!

Everything You Need to Sharpen Your Katana 

Before you learn how to sharpen your Katana, you must buy all the tools and materials. But note that purchasing the tools needed to sharpen a Katana isn't cheap. Its blade is still sharpened using grinding stones. They function by removing minute layers of the blade, leaving behind a razor's edge. All the other tools and materials you will need are – 

1. Whetstone

The first material you will need on hand is whetstones or sharpening stones. These tools are widely used to sharpen or polish the blade of a katana. Many stones are available, but you will want the flat stone for your Katana. Whetstones with grit between 1000 and 1500 are best for sharpening Katana swords. 

In addition to genuine Japanese whetstones, you can also find synthetic versions with varying grit levels for sharpening your blades. However, the price of such stones is typically more than that of standard whetstones.

2. Grit Sandpaper

You can get the best results sharpening your Katana on a piece of 3M emery cloth sandpaper. It is designed to remove rust and corrosion from metals before sanding them. This kind of cloth won't rip or tear the premium stainless steel.

3. Oil or Clean Water

Japanese water stones will eventually wear down from repeated use, which is natural and necessary for maintaining a sharp edge. That's why it's essential always to have water around, as it will save your life by preventing you from constantly searching for it. In addition, we advise loading up a water bottle to use as a spray. You'll always be able to spray water when you need it.

Even though water often suffices, oil is the ideal choice for sharpening Katana swords. The 3-in-1 oil is the best option for you. Most shops that sell weapons or metal hardware will carry this oil. Vegetable oil is widely available, but you shouldn't use it despite the temptation.

4. A Board or Tabletop Work Comfortably

When you sharpen your Katana, you will need a stable surface to hold it. Use a wooden board, work desk, or dedicated sword stand; any flat and level surface would do. 

If you're sharpening or scraping a blade, be sure the edge rests on one side of the surface. A simple wooden board may suffice in some situations.

5. Wiping/Gripping Fabric

You may use just about any fabric. The blade of the Katana can be made smoother and cleaner with the help of cloth. It may not seem like much, but a piece of cloth is the only tool you'll need to sharpen your Katana properly.

Keep an extra dry towel on hand to grip the Katana as you hone it. It will lessen the likelihood that you'll damage yourself.

7 Easy Steps to Sharpen Your Katana 

If you want to know how to sharpen your Katana at home, there are a few strategies you can employ. Still, it’s always recommended to have your blade sharpened by a professional. If you plan to learn and do it yourself, be well prepared, as it will take a long time to finish this procedure.

Step 1: Get Your Workspace Ready

Look for a neat, well-lit, and spacious place to work in peace. Get to a place where you won't be disturbed and can concentrate peacefully. 

Set up a solid base, like a wooden block or a sword stand, to keep the Katana in place. You're handling a razor-sharp blade; any slip-up or diversion might easily cost you a finger. 

Step 2: Clean the Blade

Check the blade for severe nicks, chips, or other damage. Avoid sharpening if there are serious problems; instead, have them fixed by a professional.

If there's no issue, use a thick towel to gently wipe the sword clean of any oil, residue, or dirt that may have accumulated since the last time you sharpened the blade. Gently slide the cloth along the edge without applying any pressure. You won't have to worry about accidentally cutting yourself.

Step 3: Choose the Appropriate Whetstone and Soak It in Water

Your sharpening needs will determine the grit level of the whetstone or Waterstone you should use. Finer grits, with 3000 or more, are ideal for honing and polishing the edge. Coarser grits, such as 1000 or lower, can eliminate nicks or reshape the blade.

To soak the whetstone, submerge it in water. The typical soak time for a whetstone is 15–20 minutes. The sharpening surface will be significantly safer for the fragile Katana. You may now begin the process of sharpening.

Step 4: Sharpen Your Katana 

Set the Katana down on its side, tang-side up. To determine the optimal sharpening angle, raise the spine ever-so-slightly. Keep the edge and stone at a constant 10-15 degree angle. Put your hand on the cloth-wrapped tang and your other hand on the blade's spine for a secure grip. To get the most out of each stroke, draw the blade across the stone at an angle as you press it into it. 

Repeat the process after putting the edge back. Put a pressure of about 4 to 6 pounds of force on the whetstone when sharpening your Katana. Do 3-5 sweeps on each side. Choose the left or right side to begin. Perform the same number of passes on the other side. After some time, your muscle memory should adapt as you continue practicing. But you can also use a honing guide for help.

Step 5: Use Oil and Water

While honing your Katana, don't forget to maintain the water and oil on the whetstone. Whether you should use water or sharpening oil depends on the material you use for the process.

The lubricant keeps the sharpening process cool by lowering the friction between the tools. Spread the liquid medium on the whetstone. After every third pass, treat the stone with water or oil.

Step 6: Blend the Edge

You don't have to do this; in fact, very few people do. Now that you've sharpened your blade to a razor's edge, you may smooth off any rough spots using a piece of sandpaper. 

After you've finished sharpening and polishing the blade to your satisfaction, wash it off with a clean towel to remove any residue or stray metal particles.

Step 7: Test the Sharpness

Every few passes, you should perform a paper cut test. Doing so lets you assess the blade's current sharpness and determine whether it needs further honing.

You may use any ordinary paper sheet by letting the Katana fall on it. If your blade can cleanly slice through the paper, it is sharp.

Katana is a great weapon but it doesn't cut everything, make sure your sharpness test don't go too far.


The Japanese Katana has a curved blade with a single edge and is one of the world's most impressive and well-made blades. Now many collect Katana swords as a hobby, but maintaining their sharpness can seem daunting. 

But don't worry; if you are searching for how to sharpen a Katana, I share seven easy steps in this article. Thanks for reading till now.  

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing
You have successfully subscribed!
This email has been registered