Ease of use – Most people in search of a mechanical sharpener want one because they don’t want to be bothered with trying to achieve a perfect edge themselves using a stick or sharpening stone. They want predictable, first class results every time. In that case it’s important that the electric powered device is easy to use, achieves results quickly and with little effort and is designed with user safety in mind. Keep in mind too that it’s easy to apply too much pressure when using a mechanical sharpener and when that happens you’re likely to see unsatisfactory results. In addition there are subtle differences between mechanical devices designed for Asian-style knives and those designed for Western-style knives. This has to do with the sharpening angle discussed above. Don’t get an Asian sharpener if you don’t need precise control over your cuts.
If you do not remove enough metal to create a new edge, you will leave some of the dull edge in place. A dull blade (or a blade with dull spots or nicks) will reflect light from the very edge of the blade. A razor sharp knife edge will not show "bright spots" when you hold it blade up under a bright light. You will need to remove enough material from the sides of the bevel so that the edge stops reflecting light.
However, it should also be noted that “water stones” are generally significantly softer than oil stones and thus, water stones generally cut faster than oil stones but, they also have to be flattened more often that oil stones do. Furthermore, it should be noted that some water stones must be soaked in water for several hours prior to use whereas, others are of the “splash and sharpen” variety and thus, they only need to be soaked for a few minutes before use and then wetted down occasionally during sharpening process. Diamond hones on the other hand are more durable than either water stones or oil stones and, because they generally have a more coarse grit, they cut faster than natural whetstones. Plus, due to their construction, they never need truing and, in fact, coarse diamond hones are often used to flatten both natural and synthetic whetstones.
Prior to using any kind of sharpening stone, it is advised that individuals soak the sharpening stone in light machine oil or household oil for at least 12 hours before being used. Before being used, it is advisable to wipe the surface of the sharpening stone to get rid of grime, grit or dirt that may have accumulated overtime during the time of storage.
Also natural stones have a random grit size that gives a long lasting edge. Basically the random grits create varying sizes of micro-serration in the blade that wear down at a different rate, therefore longer edge retention. Whether this is true or not we really like natural stone, especially for sharpening tradition single bevel Japanese knives. Use natural stones with water – it’s far cheaper than sake.
The stones from Shapton are probably the hardest of all Japanese sharpening stones. They will remain flat for a long time. They are therefore the best choice if you are looking for a relatively coarse stone that cuts quickly without having to be dressed repeatedly. The finer-grained stones also work very well. But Shapton stones do not provide the mirror finish you can achieve with softer stones.
Hi Caide, our most popular stone at the moment is our Grunwerg 1000/3000 grit whetstone from speaking to our customers it’s definitely down to the pretty competitive price, but also they have said that the finish on the knife is just as good as some of our more expensive ones, the main difference is it doesn’t seem to last as long. For one that does last and leave a good finish then our Minosharp 1000 grit whetstone is also popular.
Sharpening stones have been around since the dawn of civilization for a very good reason: they work. Yes, they’re more labor intensive than most electric sharpeners but they also allow you an unprecedented level of control. Once you get used to something like the Fallkniven DC3 Diamond/Ceramic Whetstone Sharpener you may never take out your electric sharpener again.
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.
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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At age 10, Terada learned the basics of sushi from his father and then went on to attend RKC Chef's School in Kochi, Japan from 1987-1989. He soon earned a nickname for his fast knife, attention to detail, divine presentation and ability to create new dishes and accents based on traditional Japanese cuisine. After graduating RKC Chef School, he was called to serve under Master Chef Kondo at Yuzuan restaurant in Kochi, Japan from 1989-1992. Mr. Kondo is the master of Kansai style cooking, considered to be the high-end of Japanese cuisine. Terada earned the title Master Sushi Chef by becoming the standing head sushi chef & can serve Fugu (Japan Licensed) to the public.
One of the combinations of stones that I was introduced to several years ago is a unique one, it is a 500, 2,000 and 16,000 grit combination. I was apprehensive when I first tried this, that was thousands of knives ago, it works, it is fantastic combination. It is unique because the traditional way of thinking is that we should be doubling the grit sizes as we sharpen, for example, a 500 grit stone should be followed by a 1,000 grit, then 2,000 grit. This line of thought is meant to be flexible, it is a general rule only, I have broken it countless times.
One of the combinations of stones that I was introduced to several years ago is a unique one, it is a 500, 2,000 and 16,000 grit combination. I was apprehensive when I first tried this, that was thousands of knives ago, it works, it is fantastic combination. It is unique because the traditional way of thinking is that we should be doubling the grit sizes as we sharpen, for example, a 500 grit stone should be followed by a 1,000 grit, then 2,000 grit. This line of thought is meant to be flexible, it is a general rule only, I have broken it countless times.
At age 10, Terada learned the basics of sushi from his father and then went on to attend RKC Chef's School in Kochi, Japan from 1987-1989. He soon earned a nickname for his fast knife, attention to detail, divine presentation and ability to create new dishes and accents based on traditional Japanese cuisine. After graduating RKC Chef School, he was called to serve under Master Chef Kondo at Yuzuan restaurant in Kochi, Japan from 1989-1992. Mr. Kondo is the master of Kansai style cooking, considered to be the high-end of Japanese cuisine. Terada earned the title Master Sushi Chef by becoming the standing head sushi chef & can serve Fugu (Japan Licensed) to the public.

This is a good size stone and has the two different grits needed for knife sharpening. No instructions were included, but there are many websites with written and video instructions, so this is not an issue for most people. A fair amount of dust is generated during the sharpening process, so protect the work surface and wash the knife after sharpening is completed.
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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).
You’ll know you’re reached a stopping point when you can feel the slight catch of the bevel on the edge of the blade, by carefully running your finger in the direction of the blade, or by cutting through a sheet of paper. When the knife cuts cleanly through the paper, it’s time to hone the blade. Read our guide for more information about honing vs sharpening.
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.
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