How to Sharpen Tanto Blade: Make It New

The tanto is a Japanese-style knife that has a unique blade shape. The main difference between the tanto and other knives is the angle of the edge. It makes the tanto great for piercing and stabbing motions. Learning how to sharpen a Tanto blade is different than sharpening other knives.

Because of the unique blade geometry, you’ll need to use a different sharpening technique. This blog post will show you how to sharpen your tanto, so it’s as good as new. 

What is a Tanto Blade?

⚔The History of the Tanto Blade

Tanto blades first existed in Japan during the Heian period, which lasted from 794 to 1185 AD. During this time, Japan was amidst a civil war, and samurai warriors often found themselves fighting in close quarters. The tanto blade was designed to become an armor-piercing dagger, quickly becoming a popular weapon among samurai. 

Towards the end of the Heian period, people used the tanto blade as a ceremonial knife. They use it at weddings and other significant events to symbolize the bond between two people. The tradition of using a tanto blade in ceremonies continues to this day. 

⚔Modern Uses for the Tanto Blade

While people no longer use the tanto blade as a weapon of war, it has found new life as a tool for self-defense. Today, many people who carry knives for self-defense choose to carry a tanto blade because of its strong point and ability to penetrate thick clothing.

Tanto blades are also popular among first responders and emergency medical technicians because they can cut through seat belts and other materials to free accident victims from their vehicles. 

⚔Reverse Tanto Blade

Unlike the traditional American tanto, the reverse tanto blade is not curved or tapered but has a spine that resembles a drop point. The tip is fortified with extra steel, which gives it the strength and reliability to perform well in challenging piercing applications.

The reverse tanto’s other claim to fame is its versatility. It can pierce thick car doors, cut rope and wood, and graft citrus trees. Although it may look intimidating, the reverse tanto blade is relatively easy to use. It’s an excellent stabbing tool, not as brittle as many fixed-blade knives.

The reverse tanto blade also has the honor of being one of the strongest knives in the world. Although some tips are more refined, this may not be the case for everyone. It has a beefy angular tip, a pronounced belly, and a flat spine.

What is a Tanto Blade Used For?

This design makes the tanto blade ideal for piercing and puncturing, which is why many use it as a tactical or self-defense knife. However, you can also use the tanto blade for everyday tasks. Here are some of the many uses for a tanto blade.


One of the most popular uses for a tanto blade is self-defense. The sharp point and strong construction of the tanto make it an effective weapon for fending off an attacker. You can use the tanto to jab or stab an assailant, and because of its size, it can be easily concealed until needed. If you are looking for a knife for self-defense, a tanto blade is an excellent option.

📍Food Preparation

While many don’t usually use it in western kitchens as other knives, you can also use tanto blades for food preparation. The sharp point and sturdy construction of the tanto make it ideal for cutting through tough meats and vegetables. A tanto blade is an excellent option if you are looking for a versatile knife that can handle delicate tasks such as slicing fruits and vegetables and tougher jobs such as chopping meat.

📍Opening Packages

Another common use for a tanto blade is opening packages. The knife’s sharp point can easily puncture through cardboard boxes and plastic packaging. If you don’t want to use your hands or teeth to open packages, a tanto blade can make quick work of them.

What are the Pros and Cons of Tanto Blade?

Here are some advantages and drawbacks to using a tanto blade that you should consider before purchasing one.


  • Sophisticated design: What other way can we express it? Knives made of tanto look amazing. If you use a magnetic knife holder to keep your blades in plain sight, having one in your kitchen is similar to having a work of art on display. Many think the design, which is evocative of Japanese samurai equipment, has an intriguing combination of tough brutality and sophistication.
  • The blade’s material quality: A hard substance is necessary for the tanto blade. Producers like Dalstrong, who are introducing the tanto knife design to the world of kitchen knives to ensure the knife has a respectable Rockwell hardness level, often use top-tier blade materials, frequently in the 60+ range. It is a potent kitchen tool because it has a superior Japanese steel cutting blade with 67 layers of Damascus coating.
  • Tip strength: The tanto is renowned for its reliable tip strength. The reverse tanto’s other claim to fame is its versatility. It can pierce thick car doors, cut rope and wood, and graft citrus trees. Although it may look intimidating, the reverse tanto blade is relatively easy to use.


  • Difficult to sharpen: One of the most significant disadvantages of carrying a tanto blade is that they’re notoriously tricky to sharpen. The tanto’s angled edge makes it easy to create an uneven bevel when sharpening, making it difficult to get a razor-sharp edge. If you don’t have a lot of experience sharpening knives, you may want to steer clear of the tanto blade.
  • Not as versatile as other blades: Another potential downside of carrying a tanto is that they’re not as versatile as other blade shapes. Sure, they’re great for piercing and slicing, but they’re not as useful for tasks like whittling or carving. The tanto blade might not be the best option if you need a knife to do it all. 
  • Uncomfortable in the pocket: Because of their unique shape, tanto blades can be pretty uncomfortable to carry. The angled edge tends to dig into your side when you sit down, and the pointy tip isn’t exactly comfortable either. If you prefer a pocket knife that’s comfortable to carry, you might want to choose a different blade shape. 

How to Sharpen Tanto Blade

Many people think that a tanto blade is only suitable for one thing – stabbing. But the truth is, a well-made tanto can be an incredible all-purpose blade. It’s strong, durable, and can take a beating. But to keep your tanto performing at its best, you must keep the edge sharp.

Here are some tips for how to sharpen a tanto blade:

💥Use the right tools.

Sharpening a tanto blade requires precision, so it’s essential to use the right tools. You may need the following:

  • good sharpening stones in a range of grits, from coarse to fine
  • Spray the bottle with water to keep the stones damp
  • Clean water in a tub to soak the stone
  • Paper towels for cleaning the blade
  • Towel to protect the whetstone from sliding

💥Soak the stones.

Take the clean water basin and all your whetstones on your workstation. You may notice bubbles emanating from them. It is to be anticipated, and you should wait to start working until the bubbles cease (indicating that the stones are well wet). Place the cloth on your workstation and let the stones soak while you do.

Make sure it is flat and free of significant creases. You may not want to sharpen your tanto knife at an offset angle because you should rest the stone as flat as possible. Also, don’t forget to place the stones on the towel. Ensure the water spray bottle is close to you so you can mist the stones often to preserve the moisture.

Dry stones are readily broken, which might harm the cutting edge of your knife. It’s time to proceed to the following stage after soaking the stones and adjusting your workstation to a reasonable height.

💥Use coarse pointed stones to sharpen.

Place the stones in the position that most nearly reflects the angle at which your blade is ground. Utilize the coarse brownstones first, pointing the corners in the same direction. Pass the knife from the blade’s heel to the second point while holding it straight out and with the cutting edge down, being careful to stop on or just before rounding the point. Apply roughly 20 strokes per side on both sides of the initial cutting edge.

💥Use coarse flat stones.

Once you’ve finished honing the blade’s primary edge, you can use the coarse flat stones to bring out a finer edge on each side. Hold the knife straight out with the cutting edge down, stopping on or just before rounding the point. Make sure to use an even number of strokes per side.

💥Flip the base over.

To align the Flat Sides, place the Brown-Stones flat in the bottom. Use a blade to sharpen the second cutting edge close to the tip. Position it such that the blade Push a straight knife on the stones while maintaining a flat grind angle as if you were removing a layer. Work the burrs off on both sides of the tanto knife edge.

💥Sharpen with white stones.

Once you’ve finished the coarse stones, move on to the finer white stones. White stones are finishing stones and typically have a grit count of over 4000. These help keep your blade honed and sharp. Use a flat and pointed stone to sharpen the two edges. To achieve a smoother edge, use an even number of strokes per side.

💥Apply stropping.

Once you’ve sharpened your tanto blade, it’s time for stropping. Inconsistencies that aren’t entirely evident to the human eye will be eliminated, making the edge razor-sharp.

Use an abrasive paste or a piece of leather for this stage.

One thing to remember when stropping is to avoid pushing the knife away from you. It will grow bland as a result. The additional material removed from the knife’s edge is pushed off the blade’s edge when you pull the knife closer to you. Stropping should be done lightly and evenly on both sides of the blade.

💥Rinse, dry, and store your blade.

Once you’ve finished honing and stropping your tanto, take it to a sink or bucket of water and rinse it off. Remove all traces of metal shavings, sharpening paste, and abrasive particles. Don’t forget to dry your blade with a clean cloth after rinsing it.

Finally, apply a thin coat of oil to the blade before you store it away in its sheath or case. It will help preserve the knife’s edge and keep it rust-free for years. You should sharpen your blade occasionally to maintain its sharpness.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common mistakes people make when sharpening a tanto blade?

Some common mistakes people make when sharpening a tanto blade include not soaking the stones, working too quickly, and not having the right angle to sharpen the blade. It’s vital to ensure that you have the proper set-up before beginning, as this will help you avoid any mistakes. Additionally, taking your time and patience is essential when sharpening a tanto blade, as rushing through the process can lead to poor results. Finally, it is crucial to maintain the correct angle while sharpening to achieve maximum results.

How do I know when my tanto blade is sharp enough?

When your tanto blade is sharp enough, it should easily cut through paper and thin materials. You can also test the sharpness of your blade by running your thumb along the edge of the blade. If you feel a slight tug on your skin, then the edge is likely sharp enough. Additionally, f there are no inconsistencies when you run your thumb along the blade, it is likely sharp enough.

What are some of the best tanto blade honing oils?

Some of the best tanto blade honing oils are Camellia oil, Mineral oil, and Jojoba oil. These oils provide a protective layer of lubrication when sharpening your blade, helping to prevent any damage or wear to the steel. Moreover, these oils help reduce friction while honing your blade, which enables you to achieve an even sharper edge.

What are some of the best tanto blade sharpening stones?

Some of the best tanto blade sharpening stones are natural stones such as Arkansas, Japanese water and oil, diamond, and ceramic. Natural stones like Arkansas and Japanese water stones provide excellent results when honing a tanto blade. Diamonds are also great for achieving a razor-sharp edge on your tanto, while ceramic stones are perfect for honing an already sharpened blade.

What angle do you sharpen tanto?

The angle at which you sharpen a tanto blade is typically between 20 and 30 degrees. This angle provides the perfect balance of sharpness and durability for your tanto, allowing it to easily cut through various materials. Furthermore, the larger surface area on a tanto means that honing the edge at an angle greater than 20-30 degrees can cause the blade to become too fragile.

Final Words

The tanto blade is a versatile and convenient option for anyone who wants an easy-to-use knife for self-defense or everyday tasks. Sharpening a tanto blade is no easy task, but with the right equipment and technique, you can achieve excellent results. Review how to sharpen a tanto blade carefully before beginning, and take your time while honing your knife. With patience, you can ensure that your tanto will be as sharp and dependable as ever.

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