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.
The stick – With a stick sharpener hold the sharpener in front of you (facing away from you) with one hand and the handle in the other hand. Hold the base of the knife against the base of the tip at a slight angle and then push the blade along the stick pulling it across the stick at the same time. The tip of the blade should cross the end of the stick. To sharpen the other side of the blade place it under the stick and repeat the process making sure to reverse the angle at which you are holding the knife against the stick.
Now move the blade – with a little pressure – in regular movements up and down along the sharpening stone. Always maintain the angle between the blade and stone. You will notice a burr become visible after five or so movements. Mentally divide the blade into three sections if the knife has a large blade. Always start with the tip and work back towards the bolster.
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.
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.
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.
Aesthetics – While it’s true that most people keep their sharpener, (even their expensive mechanical sharpeners) in the drawer until it’s time to use them you’ll still want to be aware of whether your sharpener fits into the overall aesthetic of your kitchen when you do take it out to use. While sharpener designs are fairly limited to be sure you typically have some control over the color and finish of the device as well as design factors like whether the device is boxy or rounded in appearance. With a stone sharpener or a stick however you pretty much get what you get.
Ceramic sharpening stones were the early replacement for natural stones. Unfortunately there are huge differences in the quality of ceramic stones so be wary. Some are extremely soft and dish out very quickly and at the other end of the spectrum some are so hard they tend to glaze over in a hurry. Ceramic stones need a good soaking for about 10 or more minutes to saturate the pores of the stone prior to use. As all knife steels are different we tend to find that ceramic stones tend to work better with some knives over others. There are no hard and fast rules but we like ceramic for Ao-ko and single edged knives. The Kaiden Ceramic stones are the fastest cutting Japanese stones in Australia and are recommended for advanced users.
A: That depends almost entirely on how often you use them. If you are a professional chef who uses his or her knives every day then you should hone them every time you use your knives. But honing has its limits and over time your edge is going to become dull no matter what. Therefore your knives will need to be sharpened at least several times a year. Some chefs, in fact, will use a whetstone on an almost daily basis in order to ensure their knives are always razor sharp. Most of us, however, are not professional chefs and may not even touch our kitchen knives for days at a time. In that case, it’s probably a good idea to hone the edge after every couple of uses and have your knives sharpened once a year.