Our large selection of stones from many well-known manufacturers will allow connoisseurs to find the ideal stone for their needs. Because all manufacturers formulate their stones to emphasize a different mix of qualities, and because these qualities can vary widely between different stones, most woodworkers choose stones from several manufacturers to build up an optimal set of sharpening stones. Then again, once you get to know the characteristics of certain types of stone, you may find one supplier who will provide all the stones you need. Sometimes this can be an advantage. But there is no one size that fits all; each stone must fit your needs and work style.

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Different knives are sharpened differently according to grind (edge geometry) and application. For example, surgical scalpels are extremely sharp but fragile, and are generally disposed of, rather than sharpened, after use. Straight razors used for shaving must cut with minimal pressure, and thus must be very sharp with a small angle and often a hollow grind. Typically these are stropped daily or more often. Kitchen knives are less sharp, and generally cut by slicing rather than just pressing, and are steeled daily. At the other extreme, an axe for chopping wood will be less sharp still, and is primarily used to split wood by chopping, not by slicing, and may be reground but will not be sharpened daily. In general, but not always, the harder the material to be cut, the higher (duller) the angle of the edge.
Learning sharpening technique requires focus even without worrying about the stone itself. Stones that require frequent flattening, soaking and cleaning, or that take a long time to create an edge can be a source of frustration to some beginning sharpeners. Keep in mind your willingness perform regular maintenance when choosing a starting set of stones.
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Your stroke can be straight or circular, from "hilt to tip" OR "tip to hilt," whichever is more comfortable. If you're using a small portable sharpener, stroke the blade in nearly a straight direction. Remember to always cut into the stone and never pull or drag your edge backwards. The blade edge should face in the same direction as your stroke. So, you're essentially moving the metal away from the edge. We recommend the circular stroke as it helps you maintain your angle instead of having to find it every time you lift the knife from the stone.
To summarize, Shapton Glass 500, 1,000 and 2,000 is a good combination and if you would like to throw in the 4,000 grit stone in lieu of the 2,000 that is good as well. If your knives are very hard, ZDP 189 for example, this is a fantastic choice. (They are also excellent for tools, chisels etc. and they are the premier choice for many Straight Razor honers).
Feedback is something that is very important to most sharpeners, i.e. how the stone feels when you are using it. Does it feel smooth, creamy and silky or does it feel hard and scratchy. While feedback, pleasant or unpleasant may be a purchase deterring factor it really doesn’t have any effect on level of sharpness that the stone can deliver. Unless of course the feedback is so distracting that it hinders the sharpeners focus and enjoyment and as a result, the sharpener doesn’t like what he/she is doing so that ultimately it does have the potential to negatively impact the results.

Stropping a knife is a finishing step. This is often done with a leather strap, either clean or impregnated with abrasive compounds (e.g. chromium(III) oxide or diamond), but can be done on paper, cardstock, cloth, or even bare skin in a pinch. It removes little or no metal material, but produces a very sharp edge by either straightening or very slightly reshaping the edge. Stropping may bring a somewhat sharp blade to "like new" condition.
Now you are going to use P2 pressure, moderate and in this case the stone is going to do the work, you are just guiding the knife along, stabilizing it as the amazing water stones does it’s job. Use the exact same technique, same angle but just moderate pressure, hardly pressing down at all, you are not trying to form a burr here, that is already done, now you refining the edge and bevel, removing some of the scratches left by your first stage of the process. Here is where the knife will get sharp and it will happen quickly. Now you are removing the burr, you are cleaning up the edge, some of that fatigued metal is going to want to hang on to the mother ship, your moderate pressure is going to start taking it away, as reluctant as it is to leave, it won’t have a choice. This should only take a couple minutes just mimicking the first step but with lighter pressure and this time visualizing the burr being scraped away, it will start to vanish.
Oil Stones differ from water stones in that they require the use of honing oil to float the swarf (metal particles). Also, these stones are commonly made from one of three different materials consisting of Novaculite, Aluminum Oxide (Corundum), or Silicon Carbide (Carborundum) and they all use oil to lubricate the stone and suspend the swarf in order to prevent the stone from becoming clogged. Also, while Novaculite and Coticule are the most traditional types of oil stones, there are also synthetic oil stones made by the Norton abrasives company called “India Oil Stones”.
We regret that due to technical challenges caused by new regulations in Europe, we can for the time being no longer accept orders from the European Union. If you reside in the UK you can continue to order from our UK websites or shop from our locations and partners. Visit West Elm at www.westelm.co.uk and Pottery Barn Kids at www.potterybarnkids.co.uk.
Now you may wonder, if a finer stone produces a better cutting edge why do I need a coarse stone at all? The answer is that finer stones work much more slowly than coarse ones. The amount of metal a fine stone removes with each pass is much less than what a coarse stone removes. If you have an edge with a good shape to it from a coarse stone, this is not a problem because the fine stone doesn’t have to remove much metal to improve the edge. If the edge is dull, it will take many times longer to reshape it with a fine stone than it would with a coarse one.
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