When you’re first getting started with a Wicked Edge sharpener, it’s best to match the existing angle on your knife. Thankfully, there is an easy way to determine what that angle is by following the instructions in this article: How to Find Your Angle. As you gain experience with the sharpener, you may want to experiment with different angles for your knives. Generally speaking, lower angles (displayed as lower numbers on your Degree Bar or Graduation Plate) mean sharper edges. However, depending on the type of steel in your knife, making the angle too low can cause the edge to be overly fragile.
A good rule of thumb starting out is that standard American and European stainless steel knives do well at 20 degrees per side, meaning that you’ll set each side to 20 degrees. High carbon blades, most Japanese knives and knives made from so-called “super steels” can handle angles between 15-17 degrees and will be extremely sharp. If you’re unsure about the steel in your knife, sharpening at 20 degrees per side is a good bet because it will be plenty sharp and durable. If you find that the knife isn’t staying sharp long enough for you, you can increase the angle by a degree or two until you find the optimal angle for that knife and the way you use it.