How to use a sharpening stone

How to

Сutting any food is unafraid when you have sharp knives in your kitchen. You’ll do this quickly, comfortably and, most importantly, joyfully and with good humor. It is better spend a little nerves during sharpening than when you cook your favorite dishes. Besides, there are many ways to do this without much effort. However, choosing a good sharpening tool is not so simple: there are not only many types of them, but each one has its own characteristics. This is all about understanding what option will serve best for specific knives and skills. In this article, we will tell you how to use a sharpening stone correctly to make your kitchen or pocket knives really sharp. After all, this particular method is not only basic and affordable for everyone, but also the most effective one.

It is simply impossible to describe all the nuances of how to use a sharpening stone correctly in one article, but this is not necessary. Especially if an ordinary kitchen knife needs sharpening or you are just a beginner who needs to start somewhere.

In fact, at home, sharpening a kitchen knife to the edge at home can be quick and easy. But the challenge is that you need to preserve the blade sharpness for long and at the same time not to remove too much steel from the blade.

A bit about choosing stones

Sharpening stones are of the following types:

  • Ceramic
  • Diamond
  • Natural
  • Japanese water stones

As soon as you gain experience, you can buy several solid and expensive diamond stones or Japanese water stones. But you’d better start with ordinary ceramic bars. They are wear resistant, durable and affordable. Talking about the shortcomings, one can only note their uneven abrasion.

Here are some tips to help you find the right helper:

  • What size should a stone be? Ideally 1.5-2 times longer, or at least not shorter than the knife blade. The width and shape of the bar are not fundamental.
  • When buying a stone, make sure that it is flat and has no chips.
  • First, you can buy one universal stone of medium hardness. But if you want, buy one stone with two sides of different grain size or two stones with a larger and half the grain size. In future, a couple more stones can fill up your collection.

To bring the knife to razor sharpness, read our instructions for sharpening and finishing the kitchen knife.

Best sharpening stone on Amazon

Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone Knife Sharpening Stone 2 Side Grit 1000/6000 Waterstone
Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone Knife Sharpening Stone 2 Side Grit 1000/6000 Waterstone
MaterialAluminium Oxide
BrandSharp Pebble
Item Dimensions LxWxH7.25 x 2.25 x 1 inches
Item Weight2.12 Pounds

How to use a sharpening stone: 7-step instructions

So, there is one goal in sharpening the knife – to wipe so much metal from the blade so that the cutting edge becomes sharp again. You need to start work with coarse-grained abrasive and finish with fine-grained.

It is important to remember the following principles for sharpening knives:

  • The most important thing is to choose the optimal sharpening angle and hold it on the entire cutting edge while sliding along the bar.
  • The movements should be smooth, without pressure.
  • All the stones need to be moistened with water, and preferably with a soap solution: before sharpening (so that the blade glides better and the metal dust does not clog the pores), in the process (to remove the appearing suspension) and at the end to clean the stone.

One more important piece of advice: first practice with a knife that you’re not concerned about damaging. Especially if your main knife is too solid and expensive. Well, let’s get down to practice.

Step 1. Rinse the stone with water and then wipe it with a sponge and a drop of dishwashing liquid, for example.

How to use a sharpening stone: 7-step instructions

Step 2. Next, sit down at the table and set the stone on a wooden board, for example, chopping one. You can also put a towel under the board. Somebody likes putting the stone perpendicular to oneself and somebody put it at an angle of about 45 degrees. Over time, you will understand how it is more convenient for you to work.

Step 3. Now you need to determine the angle of sharpening and fix the position of the knife. What the angle should be? The general principle is that the smaller it is, the sharper the blade is, and the larger it is, the longer the blade remains sharp.

  • Ordinary kitchen knives are sharpened at an angle of 40-45 degrees. If you work with a filet knife (designed for cutting thin pieces of fish, poultry and meat), then sharp it harder – at an angle of 30-40 degrees. Divide the selected value by 2 and we obtain the angle between the blade and the surface of the stone. Means, to sharpen the blade at 45 degrees you need to sharpen each side of it at 22.5 degrees to the surface. Use a simple technique shown on the photo below to fix the knife at an angle of 22.5 degrees.
How to use a sharpening stone
  • Remember to adhere to the selected angle during the whole work.

Step 4. Put the knife across the stone so that the upper edge of the handle is above the lower edge of the stone. Holding the handle with one hand and the blade with the other hand, start sliding along the bar away like is shown in the picture below.

How to use a sharpening stone
  • The point is that the cutting edge sliding on the stone is always perpendicular to the direction of movement.
  • Slightly lift the handle of the knife at the bend of the blade to withstand the selected angle.
  • Remember also that you cannot put pressure on the blade, but don’t do this too soft.

So, draw the blade about 40-50 times over the stone until a fin appears along the entire length of the cutting edge. This will tell you that the excess metal has worn out and there is no point in grinding further. Then turn the blade over and repeat the same steps.

  • Fin is a small roughness that is difficult to see, but you can feel it by gently sliding your finger along the edge of the blade (but not along the cutting edge as you may cut yourself).
How to use a sharpening stone

During operation, a suspension will appear on the blade – this is metal dust that needs to be washed off with water periodically.

Step 5. So, the fins are here, now we proceed to finishing. To do this, we repeat the same manipulations on the stone with half the grain size. There is an alternative way to finish the knife using honing steel.

  • A honing steel is an oval or round steel bar with longitudinal notches. It is designed only for correcting and maintaining sharpness, but not for sharpening a knife. A honing steel is recommended for correcting the knife every time before and after work.

Step 6. If you wish, you can bring your knife to razor sharpness. To do this, take any skin or leather belt, treat it with abrasive paste and then do the same steps, but only in the direction away from the cutting edge.

Step 7. Finally, check the quality of the sharpening. This is done very simply. Just cut the tomato or cut the paper. If you want to achieve razor sharpness, then try to shave the hair on your hand. The sharpest knives can even cut hair but you don’t need so sharp knives in your kitchen.

Alternative sharpening methods

If your kitchen knife is a simple and inexpensive “hard worker” or you don’t want to delve into the “knife culture”, we recommend using an electric sharpener, a roller sharpener or a sharpening system for using at home. What are their pros and cons?

  • The electric sharpener processes knives perfectly and quickly, but even the highest quality models remove too much material from the blades, thereby reducing its service life. Another drawback of an electric grinder is that a good device costs more than $200.
  • A roller sharpener is an inexpensive and easy to use option. You can quickly sharpen a kitchen knife with its help, but, unfortunately, the sharpness of the blade will not last long and the knife will deteriorate over time. The most trusted tool among roller sharpeners is the PriorityChef tool (pictured). Do not confuse the roller sharpener with a V-shaped one. The latter is the most wasteful option.
PriorityChef Knife Sharpener for Straight and Serrated Knives, 2-Stage Diamond Coated Wheel System
PriorityChef Knife Sharpener for Straight and Serrated Knives, 2-Stage Diamond Coated Wheel System
  • Sharpening systems are good in that they allow setting and maintaining the angle more accurately. Such sharpeners are different – with fixing the blade (by DMT and Lanski) and fixing the stones themselves at a certain angle (Spyderco Triangle Sharpmaker). Separately we can highlight the system where you can select the desired angle and control the position of the knife – this is the Edge Pro Apex Knife Sharpening System. Each system has its pros and cons. Thus, for example, the sharpeners with blade fixation are inconvenient to process wide chef-knives, and the Spyderco triangle rather correct the knives than sharpen them and the angles are limited by 30 or 40 degrees only. However, these angles are good for kitchen knives, and using a triangle is very simple. What are the downsides of the Apex Edge Pro? Perhaps this is only a high price – $245. But you can buy a Chinese copy of this sharpener for your kitchen knives (for example, on Amazon).

There is another tricky way to sharpen a knife at home using rough bottom line of a ceramic mug or plate. The principle of operation is the same – maintaining the angle, smooth movements, keeping the cutting edge perpendicular to the direction.

We hope that now you will have an understanding of all the ways of how to use a sharpening stone for any knife at home without harming yourself and the knife.

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