15° or 20°?


How to choose the grinding angle when using the HORL® 2 or the HORL® 2 Pro

What are the differences between the two grinding angles of 15° and 20°?

The sharpening angle is a key factor in creating or maintaining a long-lasting, high-performance edge. Taking into account the quality of the steel as well as the geometry of the blade, sharpening can be simplified as follows: the smaller the sharpening angle, the finer the edge of the blade, the better the performance. As a general rule, all blades can therefore be sharpened with the 20° angle, as all blades from the strongest to the most delicate will have the possibility to relearn this constant angle. For the more qualitative and delicate blades, with higher quality steel, then the 15° angle can be used and the edge can be even more efficient.

15° grinding angle for fine sharpness

  • results in a thin edge, whit less resistance while cutting
  • ideal for knives which do fine cutting work, e.g.: sushi, sashimi
  • sharper results
  • demands a sensible usage to avoid outbursts
  • less sharpness durability due to tough steels

Ideal for:
fine blades, Damascus knives, Asian kitchen knives, particularly hard steels with a high carbon content

20° grinding angle for universal sharpness

  • results in a stable, less sensible blade
  • ideal for different work in the kitchen 
  • good sharpness in less time 
  • long sharpness duration
  • little less sharpness potential in comparison to the 15° angle

Ideal for: 
European kitchen knives, hard resp. soft steel, stainless and rust-resistant steels, universal blades with a large knifes‘ back, very dull knives, outdoor knives

How do I choose which grinding angle is best suited for my knife?

Manufacturers information

In the manufacturer’s information, you usually find recommendations about the angle suggested for sharpening your knife. For most knives, it is recommended to sharpen at an angle between 15 and 20°. If the recommendation differs from a few degrees, a unique change of the angle is not a problem.

Shape of the blade

The blades’ geometry will give you indications for choosing the right grinding angle. The golden rule is: filigree blades will achieve a fine sharpness with the 15° angle, universal blades with a robust knife back will achieve a stable sharpness with the 20° angle.

Condition of the knife

If you have not sharpened your knife for a while, a little patience will be needed. If the grinding process takes longer than ten to 15 minutes, we recommend using the 20° grinding angle. In extreme hard cases or very dull knives, we recommend the coarse diamond surface which will get even more residues removed. 

How can I control if this is the right angle for my knife? 

The pen-marker method in the video will help you find out if the 15° angle is suited for your knife and if the knife has learned the new angle. Furthermore, you can visually see and control the sharpening process. To do this, draw a thin line with a pen-marker along the blade, in order to have a line on both sides of the cutting edge. Grind your knife for a few minutes with the 15° angle. The knife is sharpened if the pen-marker line has disappeared. However, if the line is still visible after a few minutes of grinding, we recommend changing to the 20° angle. If you have the feeling that the knife gets dull quickly after usage, it is possible that the knife is too hard resp. too soft for the 15° angle. In this case, we recommend that you sharpen your knife with the 20° angle. 

We are a family of innovation pioneers with 25+ years of experience in knife sharpening based at the foot of the Black Forest.