Frequently, our recommendation for beginning sharpeners is to start with diamond stones as their strengths make them ideal to build a sharpening toolkit around. Diamond stones are low maintenance and durable, lasting many years with only occasional cleaning. They are among the fastest stones to use making them time efficient. Diamond grit will handle even very hard steels, and diamond stones can be used for flattening waterstones. All these things make diamond stones a practical foundation for your sharpening toolkit.
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.
Speaking of building muscle memory, here is a good exercise for you, a confidence builder: Paint the edge of your knife and bevel with a Sharpie and sharpen the knife at an angle that results in the removal of that Sharpie. In many cases it will be close to the 20 deg angle anyway. When you have achieved success, repeat the process and do that ten times. Now flip the blade over and do it on the other side, you don’t need to use much pressure here, just a little. You want to get to the point where you can place the knife at the SRA “Sharpie Removal Angle” the first time, every time.
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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.
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.
Diamond sharpening stone delivers fast cutting and sharp edges. They are tougher in material and doesn’t flatten. Therefore, it is the best way on investment if you want such of the sharpener that easy to maintain and practical to use. Diamond sharpening stone doesn’t require water other than a spill. It is also applicable to use with lubrication if you wish to.
Whetstone has two different sides of grain for sharpening and polishing knife edges. These softer Japanese stones have several advantages over harder stones. Because they are softer, they do not become glazed or loaded with detritus. Plus, they are lubricated effectively with water rather than oil, but can be used with either. Submerge the stone in water for about 5 - 10 minutes. Continue to apply water while sharpening with the Whetstone Cutlery Two sided Whetstone Sharpening Stone. The stone releases small particles during the sharpening process; this powder in combination with water allows the sharpening. After a while you will notice a small burr at the edge. Now repeat the same process on the other side of the blade. Finally, turn the stone over and repeat the procedure, this time using the finer grit of the stone. In order to remove the remaining burr, pull the blade at an angle over the stone. Rinse the stone and clean off the grinding residue. Clean your knife with hot water.
Steeling helps maintain sharpness. This process realigns the edge, correcting for dulling causes such as a rolled edge. A sharpening steel is a type of hardened cylindrical rod used similarly to honing stones. For example, a butcher steel is a round file with the teeth running the long way, while a packer steel (used in the meat packer's industry) is a smooth, polished steel rod designed for straightening the turned edge of a knife, and is also useful for burnishing a newly finished edge. Because steels have a small diameter they exert high local pressure, and therefore affect the knife metal when used with very little force. They are intended for mild steel knives that are steeled several times a day, but are not well suited for today's tougher and harder blade steels. Diamond steels are now available that have an industrial diamond coating and can remove blade metal as well as straighten, therefore used correctly they can re-profile a knife instead of just honing.
Learning sharpening technique requires focus even without worrying about the stone itself. Stones that require frequent flattening, soaking and cleaning, or that take a long time to create an edge can be a source of frustration to some beginning sharpeners. Keep in mind your willingness perform regular maintenance when choosing a starting set of stones.
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.