The video above, from the How To You YouTube channel, explains everything you need to sharpen with a whetstone at home, and the best methods for doing so. Obviously, you’ll need a whetstone (as well as a few other things), and you’ll want to work near your sink or a bucket so you have easy access to water. Fill a container with water, then soak the whetstone in it until it stops bubbling. Inspect your blades for any trouble spots, and get to sharpening using the methods and motions described in the video; making sure to check your progress as you go. We’ve talked about sharpening knives with whetstones before, but this guide is a bit more thorough and the old video has since been removed.
Over the course of two days I re-sharpened nearly a dozen old blades, including removing the secondary bevel on an old stainless Ontario saber-grind Navy diver's knife, convexing the edge on flat ground 1095 Schrade 55 that also came with a secondary bevel, and fixing a broken tip on an old Kershaw folder. These stones made quick work of the Schrade and Kershaw. Both had completely new edge geometry within 30 minutes apiece. The Kershaw looked like-new, as if the tip had never broken. And the Schrade cut much better than it's secondary bevel would previously allow, regardless of how sharp I got it with a ceramic rod and strops. The Ontario took a little more work, as it had been abused a little the last time I'd held it, over 25 years ago and was as dull as a case knife - one of the reasons I decided to go ahead and do a full saber grind - well, a slightly convexed saber, I suppose would be more accurate. But within under an hour of using the two stones and a couple leather strops (one with black compound, another with green), the Ontario was shaving sharp again too.
I had wanted a pair of sharpening stones for a while, so was enthused to get this last week. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos on how to use them and a deburring strop I also bought and wow, my kitchen and pocket knives are now wicked sharp. Pro tip: if you post anything about it on social media, family and friends will almost surely volunteer their knives for more practice...
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Very interesting. If you work flat, 45 degree is what I was taught. Love the wet stones, especially the oiled ones. The nice thing about the leather part, is the mirror finish on a razor sharp blade which is a must if doing fine wood working, carving etc. A rough blade simply does not have the fine detailed dexterity. I find that the oiled sandpaper can work great as well, but found that the refined clay bars (white refined fired clay rounds and flats etc) does a wonderful job of keeping those razor edges refined, smooth as possible and then one can high polish them for smooth cutting. Believe me, when working wood for a flute, one wants that refined edge.! Learning how to hone a blade on a flat surface teaches one to work outside without a table/wall handy too...:) But we all have to start somewhere!:) Anyway, great stuff and a great start for those who want more from their tools!:) Cheers!
Beginning on the right side of the knife, move from tip to heel and heel to tip, then flip the knife and repeat. For the left side, it’s opposite—start at the top of the stone to reach the heel area completely. So, you will move from heel to tip and then tip to heel. Remember to apply and release pressure as you did earlier, exactly the same as in Step 2, but with light, refining pressure.
You must put the knife blade's position at the perfect angle which is called "against the stone." What's important is the blade should be facing opposite from you. Where you've determined where the bevel angle is located, then this is what you will position against the stone. It's a good idea to know the differences between various angles for certain blade uses. There's a certain height of the blade that it should be from the stone. You'll be able to find various charts on height of the blade online. Normally, for a pocket knife or kitchen knife, it'll be 17° - 22° angle against the stone. The "Rule of thumb" is the smaller the angle, the sharper the knife. Most makers will have it in the instruction or on their official website.
To take off the fine scratches and burrs left by coarser stones, and to polish the surface, you can use stones starting at around 2000 grit. There is theoretically no upper limit, but stones above about 10000 grit achieve practically no measurable improvement in the edge. It is also interesting to note that above 8000 grit, there is no Japanese measurement standard. For stones labelled as having a finer grit, you simply have to take the manufacturer's word for it.
As you see in the pictures, it is always very important to keep same angle of about 10' to 15', which is about two coins height between the blade and the whetstone. Gently push the point you want to sharpen with your first, second and third fingers. While keeping the angle and pushing the point with your fingers, stroke the blade until it reaches the other edge of the whetstone. Then pull the blade back until it reaches the edge of the whetstone. This back and forth is counted as one stroke. Repeat it for about five strokes until you can see or feel some small burrs (edge curvatures). Then move the position of your fingers to where you have not sharpened yet, and repeat this five strokes of sharpening processed from the tip to the base of the blade.
If your knife is dull, we advise you to start with the diamond stone. After restoring the edge to original shape, de-burr the edge lightly with the ceramic stone in order to get a razor-sharp edge. Use no oil or water. Start by laying the blade flat on the stone, raise the blade spine approx. the thickness of the blade, and start moving the knife in circular motions.
Clamp-style sharpening tools use a clamp with several holes with predefined angles. The stone is mounted on a rod and is pulled through these holes, so that the angle remains consistent. Another system is the crock stick setup, where two sticks are put into a plastic or wooden base to form a V shape. When the knife is pulled up the V, the angle is held so long as the blade is held perpendicular to the base. Several cutlery manufacturers now offer electric knife sharpeners with multiple stages with at least one grinding stage. These electric sharpeners are typically used in the kitchen but have the ability to sharpen blades such as pocket or tactical knives. The main benefit of using an electric sharpener is speed with many models that can complete the sharpening process in one to two minutes. The disadvantage is that the sharpening angle is fixed so some specialized knives, like a Japanese style Santoku, may need additional attention to sharpen to the ideal angle.
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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using an appropriate blade for the task – a thinner blade for more delicate work, and a thicker blade whenever a thinner blade is not required (e.g. a thinner blade might be used to cut fillets, butterfly steak or roast for stuffing, or perform Mukimono, while a thicker one might be used to slice or chop repeatedly, separate primal cuts of poultry or small game, or scrape and trim fat from meat or hide, as these actions would be more likely to cause unnecessary wear on a thinner blade.)
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