My name is Peter Nowlan, a retired Naval Officer. I became interested in Knife Sharpening 35 years ago starting on oilstones after watching my father sharpen a chisel. It was a trial and error thing at that time as there was no internet back then and nobody I knew had the same interest. I started my business, New Edge Sharpening, in Halifax (Canada) to make extra money just to feed my obsession with water stones but the business took off and I am truly enjoying an abundance of dull knives to sharpen.
Why spend hundreds of dollars on a knife sharpening machine when you can get your knives razor sharp for the price of a cheap necktie? It won’t take more than a few practice sessions to learn how to get your knives professionally sharp with the Lansky 8” Ceramic Sharp Stick. This device is simplicity incarnate and yet it does the job of electric sharpeners costing many times more.
Selecting the proper coarseness for your sharpening stone is an important first step in sharpening your knife. Not every knife needs to start at the coarsest stone you have, on the other hand a very dull knife can not be sharpened on only your finest stone. Starting with the proper coarseness will ensure that you achieve the edge you need quickly. If your knife is very dull or has a nicked blade, start with your coarsest stone. The coarse stone removes material quickly so a poor edge can be refined quickly. However, the coarse stone must be followed up with your finer stone to refine the edge. If your knife is only slightly dull and just needs a quick touch up, starting at a medium or fine stone can save you time. Starting on a fine stone requires fewer steps but must only be used on an edge requiring little work.
Now you may wonder, if a finer stone produces a better cutting edge why do I need a coarse stone at all? The answer is that finer stones work much more slowly than coarse ones. The amount of metal a fine stone removes with each pass is much less than what a coarse stone removes. If you have an edge with a good shape to it from a coarse stone, this is not a problem because the fine stone doesn’t have to remove much metal to improve the edge. If the edge is dull, it will take many times longer to reshape it with a fine stone than it would with a coarse one.
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.
In addition, the most prized of the natural Japanese Water Stones are quarried in the Narutaki District north of Kyoto, Japan and are commonly available as either bench stones or pocket stones in grits ranging from 120 to 12,000. On the other hand, synthetic water stones are made from Aluminum Oxide and commonly available as either bench stones or pocket stones as well in grits ranging from 220 to 8,000 and, although this is the same abrasive material used to make India Oil Stones, the difference between the two is that the binder that holds the abrasive together enables Water Stones to be much softer than India Oil Stones which, in turn, promotes faster cutting because the worn abrasive material breaks away more quickly and is replaced with fresh, sharp, abrasive material more quickly. In addition, because water stones do not become glazed or loaded with swarf like oil stones can, new abrasive particles are constantly exposed as the stone wears so it continues to cut consistently. Plus, they can be lubricated effectively with water (rather than oil which can ruin some water stones) which combines with the fine particles of abrasive from the surface of the stone to form a slurry which polishes the bevel as the stone cuts. However, it should also be noted that Water Stones do become uneven significantly faster than other types of whetstones although, their softness does make them easier to true again.
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.
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A: When it comes to the best knife sharpeners used in a domestic setting the abrasives used to sharpen the blade should last for quite a few years. When they do eventually wear out many of the best manufacturers will refurbish them for you, typically for a nominal fee. Again, however, unless you are using the sharpener on a daily basis (and there is virtually no reason the average person would do this), the sharpener should last for many years before ever needing service.
When the stone is intended for use on a flat surface, it is called a Bench Stone. On the other hand, small, portable, hand-held stones are referred to as Pocket Stones. Also, because Pocket Stones are smaller than Bench Stones, they are more easily transported but, they also present difficulty in maintaining a consistent angle and even pressure when attempting to sharpen longer blades. Consequently, Bench Stones are commonly used at home or in camp whereas, Pocket Stones are generally reserved for honing an edge in the field.
Once you've sharpened one side, you need to flip over, but don't swap the hand gripping the blade – think of it a bit like going backhand with a tennis racket (see above). Lead with the heel this time, rather then with the blade, but repeat the process in three parts. After five strokes on each third of the blade, it's time to check your knife. It's not an exact science, and it all depends on how blunt your blade was to start with (mine was very blunt indeed). But if you sharpen fairly regularly, it should just take a few strokes.
Stropping a knife is a finishing step. This is often done with a leather strap, either clean or impregnated with abrasive compounds (e.g. chromium(III) oxide or diamond), but can be done on paper, cardstock, cloth, or even bare skin in a pinch. It removes little or no metal material, but produces a very sharp edge by either straightening or very slightly reshaping the edge. Stropping may bring a somewhat sharp blade to "like new" condition.
The little white pieces don't seem to damage my stones, though I am careful to apply the bulk of my pressure to the blade edge. They ride back and forth just fine. There is a little bit of an art to finding the right movements so the jig doesn't fall off the side of your stone but you can still use most of the stone. It's sort of angled down and away from the top corner to the opposite bottom corner
However, because the Belgian Blue stone generally occurs in relatively wide columns with much thinner layers of Vielsalm Coticule on either side adjacent to the slate, the Belgian Blue stone is more plentiful that Coticule and thus, it’s somewhat less expensive. But, it’s also somewhat softer than Coticule and is not divided into different grades as Coticule is. Furthermore, because it is a softer stone than Coticule, it is sold without a substrate layer.