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.
Just keep at it and concentrate, visualize that edge and bevel as you sharpen and keep in mind what you are trying to achieve. You need to do this on both sides, for me, I found that the hardest part, getting the other side of the knife to match the side I started on. I start on the right side of the blade at the tip and work my way towards the heel. When I do the “back” of the knife, I start at the heel and work towards the tip.
Step 1 is to select an appropriate lapping plate or flattening stone, which is extremely coarse. Take a straight edge tool and lay it across your water stone to see if it truly needs flattening. Get down on eye level with the stone to see if a gap is visible, if so, then you will need to do a little bit of flattening. Sometimes the gap may be so slight that you will need to slip a piece of paper underneath the straight edge, which means if it can pass through, the stone needs flattened. This test will prove whether or not the stone genuinely needs to be flattened, so you do not waste your time.
Mastering the art of knife sharpening isn’t a cake walk. Manual knife sharpeners do provide great results but only when they’re operated correctly. There are three basic stages of the process of knife sharpening. Sharpening is the first of them. For this technique, you need a heavier sharpener stone than the knife material. The main target in this stage is to eliminate the metal from the blade to give it a terrific sharpness. Scrubbing the blade across the abrasive stone causes the metal particles to unravel. Placing the tool at a right angle is the most critical part of this process. Different angles have different effects on the edge. For sharpening, a shallow angle of 20o is considered perfect for most of the knives. A steep angle produces durable sharpness.
“I definitely do feel a difference between when I use this knife sharpener and when I don't,” reported one of our testers. “Vegetables are much easier to chop and bread is easier to cut.” She also thought the instructions were detailed and clear, and that the sharpener looked “elegant” on the countertop. However, one of our testers did point out that because the sharpener is both large and heavy, it’s not very portable. “I would like it to be smaller and lighter — maybe one day they'll make a mini version for camping,” she mused.
A sharpening stone is made of particles of abrasive material that are sintered or bonded together. The blade is moved across the stone and the steel is worn away, which creates the edge. However, at the same time, the stone is also worn away to reveal new, coarse particles. As a general rule, the softer the stone, the more rapidly it will wear and will be more aggressive in use. Harder stones don’t wear as quickly.
Jigs, such as the industry-standard Edge Pro, are an extension of the stone method, as they use simple but cleverly designed armatures to maintain a consistent angle between the stone and the blade. They’re extremely effective—professional knife sharpeners are some of their biggest champions—but they’re also expensive, and really practical only with a dedicated workbench.
Step 3 is to use lots of water, while rubbing the water stone over top of the lapping plate. Running tap water will be your best option, but if this option is not available you will need to keep the stone plentifully saturated with water. Make sure that you use random circular motions, while covering the stone’s surface completely. Randomly wash away the abrasive material, if you are not using running tap water, because you do not want it to interfere with the flattening process. You can pick up the water stone to see if the lines are wearing away, which they should, if you are doing the process correctly. Of course, the lines on the outside edges will wear away first, because they are higher than the center portion of the water stone.
Once sufficiently wet, it's time to position the stone on something solid, so it doesn't move about during sharpening. Many come with holders, but you can just place it on a slightly damp tea towel on the table. The stone should be roughly perpendicular to your body, though Warner told me it is sometimes easier to angle it ever so slightly to the right (if you're right handed).
A great sharpener for all your kitchen knives the CS2 also makes a smart addition to the gear when you’re going away on a family camping trip. It will also do a bang-up job on your hunting, pocket, boning knife and more. As mentioned it does require just a bit of getting used to in order to achieve optimal results but nothing too involved. A simple, effective, no-frills sharpener.
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 you apply a sharp knife to the surface of a tomato, cucumber, carrot or other food item it should - if you are holding it firmly and applying minimal pressure - sink into the particular item without effort. As such all you really need to work on is your technique and making sure you keep your fingers out of the way. With a dull knife however things aren’t quite so simple. When you apply a dull blade to, say, a tomato it’s not going to slice into the skin. Instead the skin will be able to push back meaning you’ll need to apply ever more pressure to get the knife to penetrate. Increasing the pressure on the knife increases the likelihood of the knife slipping off the offending food item to one side or another. And if it slips to the side where your hand is attempting to hold the vegetable steady you could be in store for a very nasty cut. Because even a dull knife will cause injury if there’s enough force behind it.
Ceramic – Although the ceramic is used in the same manner, it is much more delicate and capable of delivering a much finer edge. With ceramic, you’ll need to select a grit. Typically, 1500 grit will be sufficient and will be able to provide you with a sufficiently sharp edge, with six to eight strokes. With this level of grit, you will not remove any metal from the blade, which is also a plus! If you want the best knife sharpener that is a sharpening steel, you’ll be better off with a ceramic model!
Now to finish: Again with P1 pressure, trailing strokes only, this time lift the blade off the stone as you finish pushing it over the stone away from you, bring it back and repeat this 5 times, on each side. The burr should be gone and your knife will be sharp, remember, manage your expectations but if you have followed this, that knife is going to be sharper than when you started and this is just the beginning. Now you can test your knife for sharpness trying to cut some telephone book paper.
After testing nine honing rods, both steel and ceramic, we think the Idahone 12″ fine ceramic rod is best for most kitchens. We were looking for a tool that kept knives of all styles sharp, from 4-inch paring knives to 12-inch chef’s knives. We wanted one that worked equally well on German and Japanese blades, which are made of softer and harder steels, respectively. We also wanted to pay less than $40. The Idahone met all our requirements. Its surface was noticeably smoother than that of the other three ceramic models we tried, yet rapidly restored the edges of all the knives we tested. It also removed less material from the blades, which will help to prolong their working lives. And compared with the five steel honing rods we tested, the Idahone was gentler on the blades.
Japanese water stones – both natural and synthetic – are known for their superior sharpening performance, not only for Japanese tools, but also on their Western equivalents. The loosely bonded abrasive grit is washed out very quickly, as it blunts during the sharpening process; this exposes new, sharp, particles that can get to work on the blade. Water stones are lubricated only with water! Never use oil!
This was given to me as a Christmas present and might be ok for any cheap dull knives, but if you care enough to seek out a whetstone and have good quality knives, you'll probably know to go elsewhere. The grit rating is not provided for either side, on the packaging or website so, you'll be taking a chance. For decent quality knives you'll probably need 1000/3000 to get them razor sharp or 1000/and below if you knives are really blunt.