Your primary goal is just to improve the edge, make it a little bit sharper. Manage you’re expectations and don’t worry about getting the knife ready for eye surgery on day one. Ignore all those YouTube videos where you see folks performing miracles with their knives, forget that completely. You just want to make the knife a little less dull and by doing so you will achieve what most people will never even attempt. You want to get a taste of sharpening success and it can happen quickly. If you are reading this, or any other cool sharpening tips, you’re on the right path.
Here is what you need to get started and it does not begin with the tangibles. Success will come quickly if you understand and can visualize what it is you are attempting to do, what has to happen to make a knife sharp. My experience is with Japanese Water Stones but the same will hold true for other methods. I do not recommend pull through gadgets or electric grinders of any type by the way, I am opposed to those methods although I understand the desire to try everything out… remember, I thought I needed everything and I thought everything worked.
A: Experienced professionals know exactly how sharp they want their knives to be and have an instinctive feel for when they’re just right and when they’re even a tiny bit off. Most folks, however, need to have some sort of objective test they can use to determine if in fact their best knife has been properly sharpened. There are a few simple ones you can use:
A sharpening stone is a stone that has got a coarse side and usually a finer side, and that is going to take and re-shape your edge and get it back down thin enough in order to sharpen it. You are basically taking something that is blunt and thinning it back down. You have to remove all of this extra metal and get it back down to where it is thin enough to cut. Very simply, all a knife is is a very thin piece of steel to split whatever you are cutting. If the knife is obviously thicker, it is like trying to cut something with a chisel; it is not going to happen.
You will be given access to our useful online learning material: a set of videos and articles to help you improve your sharpening technique. These resources were made by professional knife sharpeners, specifically for beginners and intermediate sharpeners. The articles and videos will guide you and teach you knife sharpening from scratch, also covering more advanced techniques. You can also get in touch with us anytime if you have any questions concerning sharpening specific types knives.
Choose the style of stone. You'll need to choose a natural or synthetic stone that can be used wet (soaked in water), with oil, or dry. There are also diamond stones that are actually very small diamonds attached to a metal surface. Stones that are soaked in water are softer stones which means you can quickly sharpen your knives. Unfortunately, these stones will wear down faster than the others. Oil stones are the least expensive and they're made of a harder material.
However, because the Belgian Blue stone generally occurs in relatively wide columns with much thinner layers of Vielsalm Coticule on either side adjacent to the slate, the Belgian Blue stone is more plentiful that Coticule and thus, it’s somewhat less expensive. But, it’s also somewhat softer than Coticule and is not divided into different grades as Coticule is. Furthermore, because it is a softer stone than Coticule, it is sold without a substrate layer.
Unfortunately, the arrays of modern whetstone can be bewildering to the inexperienced sharpeners that so often times many of them end up with a crap or wrong decision on stone type for their utensils. The most difficult to determine is whether the whetstone is fake or fabricated with low quality of materials. To avoid this you can only go for the reliable brand of a whetstone.
Your immediate goal is to raise a burr on the side of knife opposite to the side you are sharpening and depending on the steel, the grit of stone and how you are doing, it will be either a very quick process or it will seem like it takes an eternity. Patience here will reward you, believe me. The sharpening process is incomplete with no burr creation on your first stone. (Yes, it is possible to stop at that magic moment without the burr forming but we are not there yet, we don’t even need to go there, ever, I am just mentioning it so those gifted sharpeners will be happy) . Think of the burr as the debris that is making the knife dull being forced down the blade towards the edge and over to the other side of the by your sharpening prowess. You form the burr, that knife will get sharp, no burr, you just need to look at your work. A Loupe is handy here, an inexpensive magnifying device with a light that allows you to see the edge very well, if you are not forming a burr, you are not reaching the edge. (Having a loupe also makes you look cool and scientific, like a Sharpologist).
It is better to understand the difference in sharpening stone materials before you are going to make any decision. Among the available options in the market today, Waterstone, oilstone and diamond stone are the most common type of sharpening stone. Each of stones comes with advantages and disadvantages. Waterstone and oilstone are available in natural and synthetic models. Synthetic are the most common and easy to find as man makes them. As the use of natural stones (e.g. original Arkansas or Japanese natural whetstones) is has diminished in popularity, they are beginning to rare in the market. Artificial stones have a more consistent particle size and controlled with a tight mechanism in providing high-quality sharpening stone.
The kind of tech we love: compact, reliable, durable, attractive and cheap. Purists may feel that other sharpeners will produce a more perfect result but for 99% of the human race this sharpener will be everything the doctor ordered. Your blades stay sharp for a good long time thanks to the 2-stage sharpening process and if you’re a left handed chef you’ll love the fact that it works just as effectively for you as for anyone else.
Last, it should be noted that dual-sided Coticule/Belgian Blue whetstones are also sometimes available which have a layer of Belgian Blue stone on one side and a layer of Coticule on the other. Thus, these whetstones provide a softer, more coarse, grit on one side and a harder, finer, grit on the other. Plus, due to the inherent toughness of the Belgian Blue stone, these dual-sided stones do not require a substrate layer.
Some experts recommend sharpening as if trying to slice a thin layer or decal off the stone. Don't consider doing this without significant experience: it is typically bad advice; most people don't hold the correct angle this way. You instinctively raise the blade until you feel and see the edge working. This creates larger edge angles and thicker bevels as time goes on and the results gradually deteriorate. The more you sharpen, the duller it gets. Sound familiar?
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Keep your knife razor-sharp with a high-quality sharpening stone. We offer a wide variety of sharpening stones, such as Arkansas stone, Diamond stone, Bench stone, Water stone and more. Whether you own a pocket knife, a hunting knife or a kitchen knife, a sharpening stone is essential for preventing your blade from becoming dull. Most of our sharpening stones are lightweight and portable, so you can use them at home or take them with you wherever you go.
In summary: Peter Nowlan is a professional knife sharpener based in Halifax (Canada) and he recommends the KnifePlanet Sharpening Stone Set, a beginners and intermediate kit that includes 4 sharpening grits: 400/1000, 3000/8000, a bamboo base and the KnifePlanet Flattening Stone. The Japanese Naniwa 3-stone combination is also a great (and more expensive) choice, ideal for professionals and more advanced sharpeners: the Naniwa stones are slightly bigger compared to KnifePlanet’s. In both cases, a coarse, medium and fine grit combination is very effective to sharpen and refine the edge:
An important but often confusing area of sharpening is knowing when you're done with one stone and ready for the next finer grit. On coarse stones it is very easy. When you sharpen one side you will notice a burr forming on the opposite side of the edge. This burr is hard to see but is easy to feel. Very carefully feel for the burr by gently running your hand from the spine to the edge. (Do not run your finger along the knife edge from heel to tip, that's only asking for trouble!) A burr is formed when your stone removes material directly at the edge. The burr will move from one side of your knife to another as you alternate sharpening sides. Make sure you have felt the burr jump between both sides before you move on to the next finer stone. That will ensure that you have sharpened both sides effectively. The finer grits are done the same way but the burr is much smaller. On the finest grits you may not be able to notice the burr at all. Testing the knife sharpness will tell you when you're done. (Learn how you can test to see if your knife is sharp.)