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.
If your dull knives are no longer getting the job done or you're worried you'll cut yourself, you should sharpen your knives with a stone. Sharpening stones, also called whetstones, are made of natural or synthetic materials and they can be used dry, with oil, or with water. Once you've chosen a stone, simply run your dull blades over the stone until they're sharp again. If you've used an even hand, your knives will feel like new!
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.
Once the burr is removed, it's time to test the sharpness with paper. Hold a piece of newspaper at about 45°, with a bit of tension, and slash lightly with each point of the blade. If it cuts through easily, your knife's sharp. Warner speedily lacerated his newspaper, but I of course struggled. There is an element of technique involved, he reassured me.
Basically, there are 3 types of whetstones, Arato (rough grits), Nakato (medium grits) and Shiageto (fine grits). We normally use Nakato for the sharpening, but you can start with Arato to correct rough or damaged edge, and then Nakato and finish with Shiageto to get a fine and keen edge. All the sharpening methods and processes are same. However, it is not recommended to sharpen the opposite flat side of the blade with Arato
With its premium series Select II, the whetstone manufacturer Sigma Power Corporation from Tokyo addresses users of high-alloy steels such as HSS. These stones, too, are obviously intended to engender a grinding experience similar to that of natural stones. The special production process is expensive, but the Sigma Select II probably has no equal when it comes to demolishing steel.
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”.
The height of the spine of your knife off of the stone below it will determine the angle. A typical sharpening angle for a typical chef knife is 19 or 20 degrees per side. For the sake of removing confusing obstacles that could hinder your progress, let’s just sharpen your knife at 20 degrees per side. You can determine exactly how high off the stone that knife should be held by measuring the height of your blade at the heel and then dividing that number by 3 for a 20 deg angle.
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.
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.)
Cutting angle – With a manual stick or sharpening stone you set the angle yourself so this does not factor into the equation when choosing that type of sharpener. When shopping for an electric sharpener however it does. You’ll want to decide if you want your knives to have the 15 degree “Asian” style angle so that you can make precise cuts or the Western standard 20 degrees or 22-degree sharpening angle. Most people will opt for the 20 or 22-degree angle simply because their cuisine doesn’t call for a lot of finesse from their knives and those knives are probably of a heavier Western variety anyway.
The Chef’s Choice 476 2-Stage Sharpener transforms your weary kitchen, hunting and pocket knives into razor sharp cutting instruments with dependable ease. The sharpener is simple in concept, solid in its fabrication and reliable in the way it goes about its business. The design is also free of right-hand bias which is good news for the lefty chefs out there.
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.
When the block is intended for installation on a bench it is called a bench stone. Small, portable stones (commonly made of bonded abrasive) are called pocket stones. Being smaller, they are more portable than bench stones but present difficulty in maintaining a consistent angle and pressure when drawing the stone along larger blades. However, they still can form a good edge. Frequently, fine grained pocket stones are used for honing, especially "in the field". Despite being a homophone with wet in most dialects of modern English, whetstones do not need to be lubricated with oil or water, although it is very common to do so. Lubrication aids the cutting action and carries swarf away.
The little white pieces don't seem to damage my stones, though I am careful to apply the bulk of my pressure to the blade edge. They ride back and forth just fine. There is a little bit of an art to finding the right movements so the jig doesn't fall off the side of your stone but you can still use most of the stone. It's sort of angled down and away from the top corner to the opposite bottom corner
One of the combinations of stones that I was introduced to several years ago is a unique one, it is a 500, 2,000 and 16,000 grit combination. I was apprehensive when I first tried this, that was thousands of knives ago, it works, it is fantastic combination. It is unique because the traditional way of thinking is that we should be doubling the grit sizes as we sharpen, for example, a 500 grit stone should be followed by a 1,000 grit, then 2,000 grit. This line of thought is meant to be flexible, it is a general rule only, I have broken it countless times.
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.
In most cases a sharpening stone will be a combination of sharpening grains and a binding agent. However, in case of a Ardennes Coticule it is a completely natural product. The grains have cutting edges which enables them to sharpen your knife. As soon as a sharpening stone is used little pieces of the grains break off, revealing a new cut ing edge. The higher the number, the finer the grain. Stones with coarse grains (up to grain 400) can be used to shape the blade of a blunt knife. You can subsequently take care of the fine finish with a stone with a smaller grain.
However, due to limited natural deposits and extensive quarrying over the centuries, true, high quality, Japanese water stones are now few and far between and are very expensive. Thus, various companies are now producing synthetic Japanese Water Stones which generally have a more consistent composition and grit size than natural stones as well as often begin somewhat harder and thus, lasting a bit longer; not to mention being cheaper to purchase.
Place an old coffee mug upside down so that the bottom of the mug is exposed to the air. In a pinch, a coffee mug can serve as a surprisingly effective sharpening tool if you don't have any fancy equipment. The ceramic material of a mug is a material coarse enough to get good results. Indeed, some honing rods even use ceramic material to keep a blade homed in between sharpenings.
Selecting the right sharpening angle is the next step in sharpening. For more detailed instructions on selecting the right angle, try reading this article. Regardless of the method of sharpening, a appropriate angle should be selected. This angle doesn't need to be exact but following some general guidelines is a good idea. Most knife manufacturers recommend a roughly 20 degree angle. Depending on the use of your knife, you can move up or down from that angle. A fillet or slicing knife is never used on anything hard so an angle a few degrees less will produce a sharper edge. On the other hand, a survival knife with various uses can benefit from a more durable edge a few degrees larger.
This 600/1,000 grit is my second Unimi knife sharpener, the first is 2,000/6,000 grit and I love them both. Both stones together produce very sharp and well polished knives that reduce the cutting effort and save time in the kitchen. I particularly appreciate that the manufacture printed the grit number on the side of each stone - that helps use the different grits in the proper sequence from the coarser to the finer. The stone comes with a non-slip silicone/rubber base which is very handy.
Vielsalm Coticule on the other hand generally occurs in much more narrow layers sandwiched between the slate layer and the Belgian Blue layer and thus, it is both less plentiful and more expensive than Belgian Blue stone. Also, Coticule is divided into different grades and sometimes displays blemishes on the surface due to its proximity to the slate layer. Furthermore, it is somewhat harder than Belgium Blue stone and, due to its brittleness, it is bonded to a substrate layer of hard slate prior to sale to prevent the stone from breaking during use.
Ceramic sharpening stones were the early replacement for natural stones. Unfortunately there are huge differences in the quality of ceramic stones so be wary. Some are extremely soft and dish out very quickly and at the other end of the spectrum some are so hard they tend to glaze over in a hurry. Ceramic stones need a good soaking for about 10 or more minutes to saturate the pores of the stone prior to use. As all knife steels are different we tend to find that ceramic stones tend to work better with some knives over others. There are no hard and fast rules but we like ceramic for Ao-ko and single edged knives. The Kaiden Ceramic stones are the fastest cutting Japanese stones in Australia and are recommended for advanced users.
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.
For woodworking tools like chisels and plane blades, you will need stones that are at least as wide as the blades themselves. Length is helpful but not always critically important. The one exception is when you're using a guide for sharpening tools. The guide often rides on the stone and longer stones permit you to use a much larger portion of the stone as both the guide and the edge need to simultaneously touch the stones.
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.
As you apply pressure in one direction you release pressure in the opposite direction. So apply pressure with your finger tips as you push the knife from one end of the stone to the other and release as you pull it back. You could actually lift the knife off of the stone but don’t do this, keep that angle stable. Sharpening becomes this repetitive motion with the first step being the raising of the burr on both sides of the knife from heel to tip.
Medium Grit Stones: The number range here is from 1000 to 3000, with the latter being the basic, go-to sharpening stone. If your knives have lost their edge and need a good sharpen, then this is the grit you should start with. Don’t use it too often or the knife wears down rapidly. If you like to sharpen regularly, then the 2000 and 3000 grit are the ideal choice as they are less coarse, but please remember they are designed for sharpening and not maintaining the edge.
The toughest angle to master is the angle at which you'll sharpen the edge of the knife. For a Japanese knife, that should be around 12-15 degrees. Before you reach for the protractor, a good test is to get roughly half an index finger's gap between the spine of the knife and the stone (see above). Remember to remove your finger before you start sharpening. For a Western-style knife, you want an angle of about 20°, so raise it ever-so-slightly higher.
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?
Table mounted device – Typically the manual powered table mounted sharpener looks virtually identical to the electric powered sharpener with a slot for each stage. Where they differ is that each slot in the manual powered sharpener has only one groove and you pull the blade through this groove toward you to sharpen the blade. Once the blade is sufficiently sharp you place it in the honing groove to refine the edge and pull it toward you again several times. If there is a third, cleaning, stage you repeat the process for that stage as well.