“There’s no real end to learning how to sharpen knives because there’s always something more to improve on,” explains Vincent Lau, a sharpener at Korin, an early importer of Japanese knives to the U.S., who has trained under company founder Chiharu Sugai for eight years. That shouldn’t be a deterrent, however. Basic whetstone sharpening is simply a matter of finding the proper angle.
In summary: Peter Nowlan is a professional knife sharpener based in Halifax (Canada) and he recommends the KnifePlanet Sharpening Stone Set, a beginners and intermediate kit that includes 4 sharpening grits: 400/1000, 3000/8000, a bamboo base and the KnifePlanet Flattening Stone. The Japanese Naniwa 3-stone combination is also a great (and more expensive) choice, ideal for professionals and more advanced sharpeners: the Naniwa stones are slightly bigger compared to KnifePlanet’s. In both cases, a coarse, medium and fine grit combination is very effective to sharpen and refine the edge:
We offer a series of oilstone packages that combine India and Arkansas stones and are very reasonably priced. At 8" long by 2" wide these stones are not as wide as some other types, but still wide enough for many edges and are plenty wide for knife sharpeners. Available in four price levels, these kits are a great opportunity for the beginning sharpener on a budget.
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.

Your whetstone will most likely be double-sided with a coarse and a fine grit. The grit is determined by the number of sand-like particles in the stone. The coarse grit will have fewer particles, whereas the finer grit will have more grains. Both sides are utilized to effectively sharpen a blade. The coarse grit, usually a deeper color; red or gray, will pre-sharpen the blade and remove any burrs or discrepancies in the blade. The finer grit is then used to hone and polish the blade, creating a finished edge.
Your kitchen knife becomes dull when the metal at the primary edge, the cutting edge becomes fatigued and rolls over to one side or both sides of the blade. This is normal, it should happen regardless of the quality of the steel and what you are using the knife for. The difference will be “when” it gets fatigued, the better the steel the longer the edge will hold out, generally speaking. However, I have noticed something with high quality knives such as a Fujiwara and this may be applicable to you: I have several different brands of knives ranging from mediocre to my one dream knife. Theoretically, the mediocre knives with their mediocre steel should become dull faster under normal use. (I am referring to use at home, not in professional kitchen and not in the hands of someone who cuts lotus blossoms all day long)

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.


Note that, unlike steel honing rods, ceramic hones need occasional cleaning, as particles of knife metal build up on their surface (they form a gray layer). Idahone sells a “Superaser,” but on knife forums, many owners of ceramic hones recommend generic melamine foam sponges as a more economical alternative (the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is the famous name-brand version). Messermeister, the maker of one of the other ceramic hones in our test, recommends a mild abrasive cleanser, like Bon Ami or Bar Keepers Friend, advice that is also echoed by many knife enthusiasts.
We offer a series of oilstone packages that combine India and Arkansas stones and are very reasonably priced. At 8" long by 2" wide these stones are not as wide as some other types, but still wide enough for many edges and are plenty wide for knife sharpeners. Available in four price levels, these kits are a great opportunity for the beginning sharpener on a budget.

For instance, American Novaculite (aka Washita and Arkansas Stones) is a form of metamorphic Chert that produces some of the best known and best loved natural whetstones in existence. Then, there is a form of Belgian Coticule which has been known for providing extra-keen edges since Roman times and, there is a Japanese Siliciclastic sedimentary stone (aka Japanese Water Stones) which consist of a fine silicate particles suspended in a clay matrix. Plus, there are also various types of man-made whetstones available such as Silicon Carbide (aka Crystalon) stones and Aluminum Oxide (aka India Stones) as well as a synthetic Corundum (aka Ruby) rod and Aluminum Oxide impregnated ceramic rods as well as several different types of diamond hones.
Inspect the Handle – First and foremost, you will want to inspect the handle. Will it be comfortable, when it is held within your hand? Is the handle perfectly attached to the sharpening steel? Before purchasing one of these items, it is essential to look at the handful very carefully and ensure that it is well made and will provide you with long-term comfortable use and satisfaction. If the sharpening steel detaches from the handle, your purchase will likely be for naught. Therefore, this element is vital!
This is the one tool that services every knife sharpening need in your kitchen. It looks great, works durably and is easy to clean. If you want to experiment with knife edges from different cultures, this is the tool for you. You can also bring your old knives back from the dead, which will pay for the expense of the sharpener with a single application. The Chef’s Choice 1520 AngleSelect Diamond Hone Electric Knife Sharpener also comes with one of the best and most accurate “how to sharpen a knife” manuals of any product on the market.
Sharpening stone/whetstones. Just as there are dozens of different ways to sharpen a knife, there are dozens of different sharpening stones. There are Japanese water stones, stones with diamond encrusted surfaces, and stones with different grades of grit. Again, choosing a stone is a matter of function and preference. Play around with different kinds of stones to find the one that gives you the results you’re looking for.
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