Ease of use – Most people in search of a mechanical sharpener want one because they don’t want to be bothered with trying to achieve a perfect edge themselves using a stick or sharpening stone. They want predictable, first class results every time. In that case it’s important that the electric powered device is easy to use, achieves results quickly and with little effort and is designed with user safety in mind. Keep in mind too that it’s easy to apply too much pressure when using a mechanical sharpener and when that happens you’re likely to see unsatisfactory results. In addition there are subtle differences between mechanical devices designed for Asian-style knives and those designed for Western-style knives. This has to do with the sharpening angle discussed above. Don’t get an Asian sharpener if you don’t need precise control over your cuts.
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.
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.
One of the most well-regarded natural whetstones is the yellow-gray "Belgian Coticule", which has been legendary for the edge it can give to blades since Roman times, and has been quarried for centuries from the Ardennes. The slightly coarser and more plentiful "Belgian Blue" whetstone is found naturally with the yellow coticule in adjacent strata; hence two-sided whetstones are available, with a naturally occurring seam between the yellow and blue layers. These are highly prized for their natural elegance and beauty, and for providing both a fast-cutting surface for establishing a bevel and a finer surface for refining it. This stone is considered one of the finest for sharpening straight razors.
Shapton Glass 320, 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 16,000. I have the 4,000, and 8,000, they are absolutely fine, great in fact but I just don’t use them as much as the others. These stones excel on knives made of hard steel, the hardest steel is no match for these. This does not mean you can’t sharpen hard knives on the Naniwa brand of course, you can. I have been using this particular brand of stone for many years and I absolutely love them.
Naniwa also makes the Naniwa Traditional line of stones, these are less expensive than the Professional lineup and I believe were created to compete in terms of cost with some other brands such as King that are less expensive, more attractive to some who are just starting and may not want to invest a lot of money. I have tried the Naniwa Traditional 220, 1,000 and 2,000 grit stones and I thoroughly enjoyed them, so if you are considering a less expensive brand to get started, these are also good. I do not like them as much as the Professional line but I do like them, they work, they make the knives sharp.
In addition, there are three broad grades of Japanese Water Stones consisting of the Ara-to (rough stone), the Naka-to (middle/medium stone) and, the Shiage-to (finishing stone). However, it should be noted that the various grades of natural Japanese Water Stones vary widely in both density and grit size from stone to stone and thus, they do not translate well to American or European abrasive standards. Furthermore, because they are significantly softer than Novaculite, Japanese Water Stones must be flattened more often and do not last as long as a either Novaculite or Coticule stones. But, because they form a slurry of fine particles when used, they also do a superior job of both cutting and polishing.
Some of the videos I watched suggested soaking the stone for 12-15 minutes prior to use. One suggested using vegetable oil on the surface versus water/soaking (I used water and presoaking it for 15-minutes). So instead of a simple 'out-of-the-box-and-use' approach, it required a bit of research before sharpening a knife. Otherwise I would have given this product a 5-star rating.
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.
Cost – While you can get a perfectly serviceable sharpening stick or stone sharpener for short money and some very high-quality tabletop manual 2 and 3-stage sharpeners for less than $50, high-quality mechanical systems will often run you $200 or even more. While that’s not so much money it’s likely to impact the quality of your life it is a lot to pay to keep a decent edge on your knives. While how much you ultimately pay for a sharpener is entirely up to you, you may want to consider your commitment to cooking and how often you are actually liable to use the device. If this is your first sharpener you might also want to consider learning how to sharpen a blade using a classic stick or stone sharpener first, before deciding if moving up to a mechanical sharpener is the right thing for you.
Be careful: Don’t move your fingers laterally along the edge, you’ll cut yourself. Feel for a rough area running from tip to heel. Again, it takes time to know what to expect because the best burr will be subtle. Just know that the bigger the burr, the more metal you are removing—more than necessary. Don’t worry, you won’t ruin the knife doing this. You’re learning here, and mistakes are part of the sharpening journey. Learn from them.
These are very popular stones. 8" Dia-Sharps have a single grit per stone making them more expensive, but at 8" by 3" they are wider than the 8" DuoSharps, offering a good working surface. The 8" Dia-Sharp line also has the widest range of grits available from DMT, with extra extra coarse, medium extra fine and extra extra fine options not available in other sizes, so it is good line to consider. One coarse and one fine stone is a good starting point.
The truth is that there is no one recommendation that we can make that will meet everyone’s needs. Every sharpener’s needs are different and every sharpening toolkit will be different. In order to help beginning sharpeners get started with good sharpening stones to build around, we need to understand their individual needs. So with that in mind, let’s look at the basic needs of a beginning sharpener.
A: That depends almost entirely on how often you use them. If you are a professional chef who uses his or her knives every day then you should hone them every time you use your knives. But honing has its limits and over time your edge is going to become dull no matter what. Therefore your knives will need to be sharpened at least several times a year. Some chefs, in fact, will use a whetstone on an almost daily basis in order to ensure their knives are always razor sharp. Most of us, however, are not professional chefs and may not even touch our kitchen knives for days at a time. In that case, it’s probably a good idea to hone the edge after every couple of uses and have your knives sharpened once a year.