An extremely well written and informative article on sharpening. Overtime we all get to love certain stones for our sharpening needs. I am a huge coticule fan, and although i have used all the others, i always come back to this natural stone above all others. Still trying to figure if i chose it or it chose me! NEver the less there are so many options out there it is not hard with a little time and effort to find the right combination for your needs.


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 Japanese sharpening stone whetstone combo is about 9.1 in. in length. It's  multi-sided and actually looks like a block of wood. When you use the dark side or the medium grit side (#1000), soak it for about 2-3 minutes.  When finished, the ridge on the base which surrounds the stone will fit snugged into it. Even if the base wasn't there the stones friction will stay. Some of the good features of the base is actually the rubber stoppers to hold it on a dry surface. When you learn how to sharpen a pocket knife, doing it on one of these will help.
This wedge ends up short of a "point" to a much larger degree than the picture would indicate. The metal stops short, but then there is black non-slide "tape" applied to one side, and white "slide" tape applied to the other side, which makes the wedge even thicker than it appears in the photo, which means that in practice the end of wedge is even more truncated. So I have a hard time supporting my knives accurately on this wedge while sliding them down into contact with my stones. Prior to buying this wedge I just used a wooden wedge I cut off of a 3" by 3" post using a miter saw, said wedgewhich has a much less truncated end. That wooden wedge unfortunately absorbs water from my Japanese Waterstones. But I will try spraying polyurethane on that wooden wedge to help waterproof itand try again. If that doesn't work I will try to find a 3" by 3" plastic trim board somewhere and cut a wedge off the end of that. Note that you can buy 20 degree plastic wedges, but this is the first one I have found that does 15 degrees (nominal.) Note that Amazon also has the Blue AngleGuide set of wedges, but they are very small https://www.amazon.com/Angle-Guides-Sharpening-Knife-Stone/dp/B01N4QMO7U/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1499301705&sr=8-4&keywords=sharpening+angle+guide
This wedge ends up short of a "point" to a much larger degree than the picture would indicate. The metal stops short, but then there is black non-slide "tape" applied to one side, and white "slide" tape applied to the other side, which makes the wedge even thicker than it appears in the photo, which means that in practice the end of wedge is even more truncated. So I have a hard time supporting my knives accurately on this wedge while sliding them down into contact with my stones. Prior to buying this wedge I just used a wooden wedge I cut off of a 3" by 3" post using a miter saw, said wedgewhich has a much less truncated end. That wooden wedge unfortunately absorbs water from my Japanese Waterstones. But I will try spraying polyurethane on that wooden wedge to help waterproof itand try again. If that doesn't work I will try to find a 3" by 3" plastic trim board somewhere and cut a wedge off the end of that. Note that you can buy 20 degree plastic wedges, but this is the first one I have found that does 15 degrees (nominal.) Note that Amazon also has the Blue AngleGuide set of wedges, but they are very small https://www.amazon.com/Angle-Guides-Sharpening-Knife-Stone/dp/B01N4QMO7U/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1499301705&sr=8-4&keywords=sharpening+angle+guide
Last, it should be noted that dual-sided Coticule/Belgian Blue whetstones are also sometimes available which have a layer of Belgian Blue stone on one side and a layer of Coticule on the other. Thus, these whetstones provide a softer, more coarse, grit on one side and a harder, finer, grit on the other. Plus, due to the inherent toughness of the Belgian Blue stone, these dual-sided stones do not require a substrate layer.

You’ve probably seen a number – say 1000 – on the side or top of the Whetstone you just bought and are at a loss as to what it all means, or even worse the person who sold it to you, didn’t know or forgot to mention it. Which ever of these scenarios sounds about right, you are left with a stone and no idea how you should be using it, well let me enlighten you dear reader.
Cut a wine cork so that it measures .5 of an inch and use that as your visual guide. You can keep it at the end of your water stone and rest the spine of the knife on it so that you can see what that angle looks like. Now this is all pretty nifty but you still have to learn to move that knife over the water stone holding it at that angle, whether you chose 20 or 15 deg, making the template is the easy part, stabilizing that angle is where practice is crucial. You can hold the knife with that wine cork in place and that is the angle you want sharpen at but now that piece of cork has to go, you’re on your own. I have taught many many people to sharpen a knife and believe me, this particular part of the process is not as hard as many people believe! In fact as you start actually sharpening the knife you will become quite motivated to succeed because it isn’t as hard as you thought it would be. In time, you’ll learn that you don’t need or want to sharpen everything at 20 deg, but for the sake of building muscle memory it is a good place to start.
Furthermore, Novaculite consists of several different layers of stone of different densities, grit sizes, and colors. Thus, the red Novaculite layer (aka Washita Stone) is the both the softest and most coarse while, the next most coarse/hard grade is the grey/white Soft Arkansas stone; both of which cut relatively fast for a hard whetstone material and thus, they are an excellent choice for refining a bevel. Then, the next grade of coarseness/hardness is the hard Arkansas stone which is used to polish the bevel rather than define it and, last there are the grades of Hard Black and Hard Translucent Arkansas stones which are used for extremely fine honing and polishing of a cutting edge. Plus, it’s also the primary material in “Charnley Forest” (English) and “Turkey” oilstones.
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.
Unfortunately, the arrays of modern whetstone can be bewildering to the inexperienced sharpeners that so often times many of them end up with a crap or wrong decision on stone type for their utensils. The most difficult to determine is whether the whetstone is fake or fabricated with low quality of materials. To avoid this you can only go for the reliable brand of a whetstone.
I recommend keeping two stones in your kit. One with a medium grit (around 800 or so) to perform major sharpening jobs, and one with a fine grit (at least 2,000) to tune the edge to a razor-sharp finish. For real pros, a stone with an ultra-fine grit (8,000 and above) will leave a mirror-like finish on your blade, but most cooks won't notice the difference in terms of cutting ability.

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...
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)
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.
When a whetstone is used to cut metal, it acts like sandpaper by removing small particles of metal (aka “swarf”) with each pass of the blade over the stone. Therefore, whetstones with more coarse grits cut faster than those with finer grits and, at the same time, soft whetstones cut faster than hard whetstones because each pass of the blade over both types of whetstones not only removes fine particles of metal from the blade, it also removes fine particles from the surface of the whetstone (aka “slurry”) which continuously exposes new cutting crystals. However, if the swarf is allowed to build up on the surface of the whetstone during sharpening, it will clog the stone and drastically diminish its effectiveness. Therefore, some whetstones require water to lubricate the stone and suspend the swarf whereas, other whetstones require oil to lubricate the stone and suspend the swarf.
Siliciclastic stone is a clastic, noncarbonate, sedimentary stone that is almost exclusively silica-bearing and exists as either a form of quartz or, another silicate mineral. In addition, hardened clay is also a sedimentary stone but, it is formed from organic materials such as plant and animal matter and thus, it is much softer than Siliciclastic However, when silicon sediment is suspended in a clay matrix and then naturally hardened over thousands of years, it forms an excellent whetstone material; although, it is somewhat softer than Novaculite. Thus, because the geology of Japan once held large deposits of this type of stone it has been used for hundreds of years for sharpening tools, knives, and swords. However, unlike Novaculite, Belgian Blue, and Coticule, both natural and synthetic Japanese whetstones use water for lubrication and thus, they are commonly known as “Japanese Water Stones” because this type of stone is very porous. Thus, natural Japanese Water Stones must be soaked in water for up to twenty-four hours prior to use whereas, synthetic Japanese Water Stones can be soaked for only a few moments.
There is no dominant standard for the relationship between "grit size" and particle diameter. Part of the difficulty is that "grit size" is used to refer to the smoothness of the finish produced by a sharpening stone, and not just the actual size of the grit particles. Other factors apart from particle diameter that affect the finish (and thus the "grit size" rating) are:
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.
Removing the burr is fairly simple. You'll need a leather strop or block (this sort of thing), which is designed to catch the metal fibres from the knife. You could do it with a fibrous tea towel or some newspaper if you like, but I'd suggest going with leather to begin with. The motion is fairly similar to sharpening. Draw the knife over the leather, going away from the edge at roughly the same angle as when you sharpened. 

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.
Sharpening on the other hand is reupholstering the furniture or telling the hair stylist to give you a new look. Material is going to be removed from the edge of the blade. There’s no way around it. How much is removed will be a function of just how dull the knife has become or whether you’re sharpening to compensate for a chip in the edge or because the tip has broken off. If your knife is not damaged and you have it sharpened twice a year very little material will be removed each time, yet it may still be enough for you to notice just by looking carefully with the naked eye.
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.
I would say they are worth the money. Go for it. I took a blunted Pampered Chef kitchen knife from completely dull to razor sharp in about an hour (of bumbling and repairing mistakes LOL) heavy grinding. If you have a severely damaged blade, grab one of those cheesey two sided stones from Harbor Freight to do your heavy grinding. From there these stones will work very well.
This is a good quality stone for a beginner looking to learn about hand sharpening knives and blades. It holds up well, especially for the price point. New sharpeners are prone to gouging and scratching stones, pushing too hard, etc, and this stone handles the abuse nicely. The no slip base is very effective at cementing the stone in place, which is a critical safety feature.

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.
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Diamond sharpening stones are becoming really popular because of their ability to cut fast. We tend not to recommend diamond sharpening stones/plates because a lot of damage can be done very quickly. Also diamonds are pretty sharp and at arato level they leave deep scratches in the blade that need to be polished out quite aggressively. Diamond stones can be used with and without lubricant.
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.

2. Although I’ve been sharpening knives for a while, I never could get a knife sharp using the freehand method, I’ve had to rely on various jigs to set & maintain a constant angle to the bevel. To begin with, the Lanksy knife sharpener kit was my main tool, but then I found a South African jig made by Warthog Knife Sharpeners. I still have their first model, which, if memory serves me, came out in the late 1990’s. This has since been upgraded & is supplied with a diamond stone, which is worthless unless it’s going to be used for ceramic knives. However-the Warthog & the Warthog Multi-Blade’s modus operandi has the knife moving ABOVE the stone, unlike the Lanksy / Edge Pro / Edge Pro Chinese copies & variants. ( No oil / water dripping off the stone from above the knife). Also, the Warthogs use any bench-size whetstone available to its owner, a very big plus if you want to use your grand-dad’s old Arkansas stone.No tie in having to buy the manufacturer’s specialised stones which work only with one type of sharpening jig.


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.
It is better to understand the difference in sharpening stone materials before you are going to make any decision. Among the available options in the market today, Waterstone, oilstone and diamond stone are the most common type of sharpening stone. Each of stones comes with advantages and disadvantages. Waterstone and oilstone are available in natural and synthetic models. Synthetic are the most common and easy to find as man makes them. As the use of natural stones (e.g. original Arkansas or Japanese natural whetstones) is has diminished in popularity, they are beginning to rare in the market. Artificial stones have a more consistent particle size and controlled with a tight mechanism in providing high-quality sharpening stone.

There is no dominant standard for the relationship between "grit size" and particle diameter. Part of the difficulty is that "grit size" is used to refer to the smoothness of the finish produced by a sharpening stone, and not just the actual size of the grit particles. Other factors apart from particle diameter that affect the finish (and thus the "grit size" rating) are:


At this point, I can flip the stone over and use the fine course side. Most Whetstones come with a nice wooden base that do a good job to hold the stone in place while sharpening. Before starting, you might need to add a bit more water to the surface. Now with the fine course stone, finish the sharpening process like before at the same blade angle and nice consistent passes along the stone. About 10 to 12 passes is good before switching to the other side of the blade. At this point, the blade should be extremely sharp. I’ll just give a quick paper test here. I can now slice paper quite easily with my knife.
I bought this and Unimi's 600/1000 whetstone at the same time. Curiously, reviews are currently blocked for their 600/1000 model, as amazon wouldn't let me leave one for it. Considering the conspicuous absence of reviews in the other stone's listing, one can only assume they're being censored for everyone. So, maybe I should be more critical of these stones, and use them a while longer before giving them any praise? But I've had a very positive experience with them so far, and the 600/1000 stone was the one I found most useful.
Method 1: Use an Electric Sharpener. Quality electric sharpeners are an option, but I strongly discourage their use. First off, they remove a tremendous amount of material from your edge. Sharpen your knife a dozen times, and you've lost a good half-centimeter of width, throwing it off balance, and rendering any blade with a bolster (i.e. most high-end forged blades) useless. Secondly, even the best models provide only an adequate edge. If you don't mind replacing your knives every few years and are happy with the edge they give you, they'll do the trick. But a much better choice is to...
Your immediate goal is to raise a burr on the side of knife opposite to the side you are sharpening and depending on the steel, the grit of stone and how you are doing, it will be either a very quick process or it will seem like it takes an eternity. Patience here will reward you, believe me. The sharpening process is incomplete with no burr creation on your first stone. (Yes, it is possible to stop at that magic moment without the burr forming but we are not there yet, we don’t even need to go there, ever, I am just mentioning it so those gifted sharpeners will be happy) . Think of the burr as the debris that is making the knife dull being forced down the blade towards the edge and over to the other side of the by your sharpening prowess. You form the burr, that knife will get sharp, no burr, you just need to look at your work. A Loupe is handy here, an inexpensive magnifying device with a light that allows you to see the edge very well, if you are not forming a burr, you are not reaching the edge. (Having a loupe also makes you look cool and scientific, like a Sharpologist).
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