How To Sharpen a Katana

The katana sword is one of the most respected weapons by the Japanese. In the16th century, sword smiths held a high position in society just for sharpening swords. These highly respected individuals were called the Togishi.

If you do own an authentic a katana, you must take great care of it and must respect the weapon. You show this respect by making sure it is well maintained. If you do not know how to sharpen a katana by yourself, you will need to look for an experienced Togishi, as weapons such as these should only be handled by expert polishers. There have been incidents where due to the owners’ and the amateur polishers’ lack of knowledge and expertise, the blades simply snapped and the swords were ruined. But if your katana is a low-grade katana used for just cutting practice, you may learn to sharpen it by yourself.

Here’s how to sharpen your katana.

  • First you will need to buy a straightening and sharpening kit for your sword. You may buy this online (from a reputable dealer of course!) or directly from the manufacturer of your sword. The kit includes important sharpening tools such as the honing oil, jigs made from wood, sanding paper, whetstones and a wiping cloth. If the kits are too expensive you can make your own set and substitute with sand paper that is 600, 800, 1500, and 4000 in grit grade.
  • Prepare your katana by wiping it down with the clean cloth and submerging it in a cold bath of water for about half an hour. This is the time to straighten your katana blade if you want.
  • Remove the blade from the grip and place it on top of a towel. With one hand gripped around the towel and the blade, you can use your other hand to polish the blade.
  • First, sand the katana blade down with the 600-grit paper. If the kinks on the blade are major, you may want to use higher grit like the 800 grit sandpaper to smoothen it out. The 600-grit g sandpaper will be able to remove any rust and grime that is on the blade.
  • Grind the blade in long, smooth strokes, angled downwards toward the tip of the katana. As much as possible, keep to an angle. To make your blade shiny, you can proceed to using higher grits such as 1500 and 4000 Continue until you have achieved your desired sheen and the cutting edge shines.
  • Aside from sandpaper, you may also use the Japanese water stones for polishing. In order for the Japanese water stones to work, they must be soaked properly about five to twenty minutes before use. Add a ¼ cup of sodium bicarbonate into the water. This will prevent the blade from rusting when you use the water-soaked stones against the blade. Water stones are used wet when polishing so keep a handy rag or towel nearby.

After polishing, you can clean and dry the blade with a soft cloth towel and then reassemble your sword. If this is your first time to polish your katana, you may want to watch a professional do it first and then do the maintenance at home. Good luck!


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