Removing Burrs from Knives

When you sharpen a knife, you will inevitably encounter burrs. These need to be properly handled in order to get the best sharpness on your knife.

This quick article will talk about how to best handle this as part of your sharpening processes. It's a small, simple but equally necessary step in knife sharpening.

"Kaeri" - What is Burr Removal?

Knife sharpening itself is the process of removing metal from the blade of a knife. This is scraped off, normally with a whetstone.

But where does that scraped off metal go? Some of it is left behind on the whetstone, which can be washed off with water or cleaned away with a dressing stone.

However, some of these shavings stay on the knife and turn over to the opposite side of the blade that is being sharpened. These are what burrs are.

Since metal itself is a rather sticky substance, these burrs may stick on the knife and not come off even with washing, sticking to the sharpened edge.

These burrs are called kaeri, or sometimes also hagaeri.

How to Remove Burrs

If burrs are left on the blade, it won't cut sharply. Therefore, it's important to remove them as part of your sharpening process.

This is why we do sharpening on both sides, even on single-edged knives. Doing light sharpening on the opposite side is the way to solve this burr issue and remove them. With carbon steel knives, this is quite easy to do, but stainless steel knives are much trickier due to being more difficult to sharpen in general.

We have one main tip to help with burr removal. Do this after light sharpening on the other side, and never in replacement of.

Use newspaper (or a cloth fabric)

The easiest way to remove burrs is to simply use newspaper. Sometimes this is referred to as stropping.

Spread out the newspaper on a stable surface and gently rub both sides of the sharpened knife edge a few times. That's it!

While this seems like an incredibly easy trick, it's one of the best ways to remove burrs easily.

If you don't have newspaper readily available, you can also use cloth fabric. For example, at our store our sharpeners wear aprons when sharpening and they use that to remove burrs. That said, be careful doing this so you don't wear the fabric out - or accidentally cut it (so be especially careful doing this while wearing the fabric!)

After this, you should see an improvement in cutting performance. If you need help with sharpening or burr removal though, contact us - we have a very intensive sharpening service we offer here. And for all of our knives, one of those sharpening services comes completely free!