In this article, we will explain the proper way to sharpen your sword. This very much depends on your skill level and the availability of the right equipment. Fine high-end katana generally fall under the “do not try this at home” rule, as more damage than good can be done to these blades by untrained attempts at sharpening and, unless they are used for cutting very, very regularly they should rarely need sharpening. If, over time and use, the edge does deteriorate it’s best to contact a trained polisher (we’ll be happy to recommend one if necessary).
For less expensive katana, where the appearance of the blade is not a prime concern, an edge can be restored if done carefully and with strict regard to safety. Obtain a 6” x 2” ultra-fine diamond whetstone – this will do the job reasonably quickly and efficiently. Lay the sword on a table, with the edge facing away from you, and, holding the handle with the left hand, take the whetstone in the right hand. Adjust the angle of the stone so that it is laying on the edge, angled towards you (at the habaki end of the blade) and is slightly above the ridge line. Gently stroke the stone along the entire cutting edge three or four times.
Always keep your fingers away from the edge. Then turn the sword so that the grip is to your right (again with the edge facing away from you) and, holding the stone in your left hand, repeat the process. Turn the sword to its original position and stroke the stone along the blade, at the same angle, once. Test the edge on a piece of copy paper – if it slices it cleanly, you’re done. If not, repeat the whole process until a clean cut is obtained.
Be careful with that stone angle – if the stone touches the ridge line the blade will be scratched, if it is too far away from the ridge line the edge angle will be too steep and cutting ability will suffer. Above all, keep your fingers away from the edge.
The same procedure can be used for European swords but, in the case of double-edged swords, you will have edges both facing you and facing away so even more care is necessary. You should wear a pair of thick leather gloves and exercise extreme caution.
Check out these videos below about sharpening swords: