Of all the ways to sharpen knives at home, using a sharpening stone can be the most intimidating. However, with care and use, you’ll find using one makes for some pleasant time in the kitchen. Knowing how to use a sharpening stone is a worthy skill to learn, and can ensure that your knife blades are always at their best.
What You'll Learn
Sharpening Stone Pros and ConsPros
- Stones can be used for both Western- and Asian-style knives. (Learn more about different types of kitchen knives.)
- Stones can also be used on paring knives, meat cleavers, kitchen shears, or even gardening tools.
- No other sharpener can hone and sharpen such a varied amount of knives.
- You’re in control—with no guides to hold the blade, the angle at which you hold the knife will determine the grind.
- Sharpening stones take time to create a newly sharpened edge—it'll take several minutes, instead of a few quick passes through an electric sharpener.
Types of Sharpening Stones
Manufactures recommend soaking these in either oil or water before sharpening. Some say the oil or water helps to hold some of the grit in suspension during sharpening, but others say that both create a paste that clogs the open pores of the stone (rendering them less effective).
How to Use a Whetstone
Whetstone Pro Tips
- It’s important that the stone stays in one place. You can place it on a folded towel or a piece of rubberized shelf liner for stability. You can also go out to your garage and use a vice to hold the stone—simply use anything to hold it in place.
- How to hold your blade at the correct angle? One way to find out is by holding your knife perpendicular to the stone: This is a 90-degree angle.Now cut that angle in half (that’s 45 degrees):And half again (which is 22.5 degrees):Now just drop it a smidge more to approach the angle of your blade (typically 15 degrees for Asian-style knives, or 20 degrees for Western-style knives).
- You can also buy blade guides. They attach to the back end of the blade, and these are often knife and angle specific.
- Another trick: Place two taped, stacked coins on your stone. Two nickels creates roughly a 20-degree angle, or use two taped dimes for a 15-degree angle.
- Use the same amount of care for both sides of the blade. If you’re right-handed, when sharpening the first side, the blade should be at the left end of the stone with the remaining part of the blade cantilevering the stone.When repeating this on the other side, usually this will feel strange as you’re not holding the knife handle with your dominant hand.Just be patient, take your time, and check the blade edge (being careful to run your thumb across the blade, not along it) with every 10 passes to see if the burr is gone.
- All knives are different. You’ll find that most manufactures will state on their website the preferred angles for their knives.