Some stones need water, while other stones need oil for floating the swarf (small metal filings created when sharpening) away. Simply apply a few drops of either oil or water directly to the stone. (We recommend using an inexpensive spray bottle for applying the water.) The lubricant you need is determined by the type of stone you are using. Water stones and diamond stones require water. Oil stones such as India, Crystolon and Arkansas stones use oil for a lubricant.
I bet those Vikings, relatives of mine no doubt, never had it so good. They never had surated blades to sharpen or needed to wear cool things around their necks to woo the women (they just grabbed them by the hair I guess). I love my stone. So useful and beautiful. I always have spit to wet it with, and I always have a way to sharpen my tool. Wazoo makes high quality products. I give them the highest rating I have. Dudes!
Just to prove that we're not merely sharpening geeks, here's an interesting side note. The word whet pops up in some unexpected places. A small species of owl is called the saw-whet owl because the sound it makes reminded people of the sound made when sharpening a saw with a file. And the phrase "to whet your appetite" comes from the idea of your hunger growing sharper at the thought of food.
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.
Since 1814, knives bearing the Wusthof name and the Trident logo have been crafted in the world's "Cutlery Capital" of Solingen, Germany. Today, in a state-of-the-art facility, that tradition of quality is ensured as old-world craftsmanship meets twenty first century production methods. Knives are amongst the most important kitchen implements and should therefore always be kept sharp. Yet even the sharpest blades will go blunt at some point! When this happens, the blade will need to be sharpened again quickly. Professional chefs swear by using a whetstone for sharpening. This particularly gentle and effective way of sharpening is becoming increasingly popular with knife connoisseurs and yet there is always the issue of achieving the correct angle. After all, when sharpening on a whetstone, the knife must always be held at precisely the right angle to the stone, otherwise you will get an uneven cutting edge. The new slider from Wusthof ensures this can no longer happen and is also exceptionally easy to handle. The knife is simply placed on the wedge-shaped slider with its structured silicone surface and then pulled gentle over the whetstone. The pre-set 14° angle ensures that the knife always maintains a consistent angle - from the tip to the end of the blade. The soft silicone surface prevents the blade from getting scratched. The underneath of the slider has two ceramic strips on the bottom to ensure it glides smoothly over the whetstone. The ergonomic shape of this practical sharpening aid fits nicely in the hand and will be much appreciated for its ease of use. Even for those without any experience, this new product is just the thing for effortless sharpening using a whetstone.
Your task as a sharpener is to remove that fatigued metal and expose the steel underneath, the fresh strong steel and bring side A and B of the knife together at the Apex precisely, sounds easy doesn’t it? Like peeling a layer off and having a fresh start, over and over. Of course there is much more to it than this but in very basic terms, you want the abrasive properties of the water stone to abrade the fatigued metal away, like an eraser.
To use Al's method, take a black felt pen and shade in the bevel of the knife. Then take two strokes on the stone and examine the edge. If you have maintained the proper angle then all the black will be gone. If you see black on the top of the edge it means you are holding the back of the knife too far from the stone. If there is black on the bottom of the edge but the top is clean then you are laying the knife too flat on the stone and you need to raise it a bit. Repaint the edge and try it again. Once you discover what the right angle looks like then just maintain that.
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.
Honing steels are another story altogether. Honing steels are those instruments that look light a saber (light or otherwise) which you use to gussy up the edge of the blade periodically before using it. These do wear out every few years or less, depending on how often you use them. If you are unsure whether your honing steel is worn out run your finger around it. If it feels smooth all the way around then it’s time for a replacement. Not to worry though, they’re really affordable. One thing you may want to keep in mind about honing steels is that they typically won’t do much to hone the edge of some super hard knives, such as Japanese Global brand knives.
You need to adjust your fingers as you move the knife back and forth. Because sharpening takes place under your fingers, start with them at the tip and, as you pull the knife back toward you, release pressure completely and pause. Then, shift your fingers just a little down the blade toward the heel. This finger dance is critical and takes time getting used to.
J. Kenji López-Alt is the Chief Culinary Advisor of Serious Eats, and author of the James Beard Award-nominated column The Food Lab, where he unravels the science of home cooking. A restaurant-trained chef and former Editor at Cook's Illustrated magazine, his first book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science is a New York Times Best-Seller, the recipient of a James Beard Award, and was named Cookbook of the Year in 2015 by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.