Invented 2.5 million years ago- knives are one of the earliest tools used by humanity. From hunting to butchering, knives have been man’s best survival tool. But what kept their knives razor-sharp? You guessed it right; STONES! But in a raw form. Even after millions of years, stones are considered one of the best tools to sharpen your knives. Not only have they evolved to become incredibly sophisticated and versatile- they are good enough to give all the modern knife sharpeners a run for their money.
Sharpening stones, also known as whetstones, come in different forms. Being a knife enthusiast, I have gotten my hands on each and can vouch for the efficiency of these tools.
In this article, I will explain the best way to sharpen a knife with stone and it’s aftercare.
So let’s get into the details.
Best Way To Sharpen Knife with Stone
To sharpen a knife with a stone, use a honing guide, light to moderate pressure, and a lubricant such as water or oil to protect the blade and prolong the life of the stone.
Tools Required For Sharpening:
To sharpen a knife with a sharpening stone, you will need the following tools:
- Sharpening Stone: It can be made of various materials such as diamond, ceramic, or oilstones.
- Honing Guide: This is an optional tool to keep the knife at a consistent angle while sharpening.
- Leather Strop: This is another optional tool to remove any burrs from the knife edge after sharpening.
- Honing Oil or Water: It lubricates the stone and protects it from wear. Use water when using Whetstones.
- Knife: The tool you want to sharpen
- A Rag: To clean the knife and stone after sharpening.
Proper Way to Sharpen Knife on a Stone: Step-by-Step Process
Knife sharpening is not just a process but an art and skill that requires- practice, technique and the right amount of pressure. No other tool provides as great precision as whetstones do. However, you ought to learn some skills before getting on with the process. If you are wondering; how do you sharpen knives with a sharpening stone effectively, below I have mentioned an easy-to-follow step-by-step procedure.
Select the Appropriate Grit
Start by selecting the appropriate grit for your sharpening stone. A lower grit (around 200-400) for heavy repairs and reshaping of the blade. And a higher grit (around 600-1000) is used for honing and polishing the edge.
Set up the Station
Place the stone on a stable surface and add a few drops of honing oil to the sharpening stone. If using a Waterstone- make sure to submerge it in water for 45 minutes before the process.
Maintain the Angle
Hold the knife handle with one hand and place the blade flat on the stone with the other hand. If using a honing guide- clamp the guide onto the blade to maintain a consistent angle.
Use Moderate Pressure
Using moderate pressure, slide the blade across the stone, starting from the heel of the blade and working your way to the tip. Make sure to keep the angle consistent throughout the sharpening process.
Repeat the Process
Repeat this process on the other side of the blade. Remember, it is crucial to sharpen both sides of the knife evenly to maintain balance.
Use a Leather Strop
Once done with sharpening, use a leather strop to remove any burrs from the edge of the blade.
NOW: Hone the blade
Honing is an essential step after sharpening a knife with stone– but it often goes overlooked. Here’s how you should hone your knives to maintain the edge after each sharpening session:
- Choose honing steel or a rod slightly finer than the grit of the stone you used to sharpen the knife.
- Hold the honing steel or rod vertically and place the tip of the steel or rod on a stable surface.
- Starting from the heel, swipe the blade down the length of the steel or rod, maintaining the 20-degree angle.
- Repeat this process on the other side of the blade. It is essential to hone both sides of the knife to maintain balance.
I suggest you hone your knives after each use to maintain the edge of the knife while sharpening should be done when the blades become blunt.
Clean the Knife and the Stone
Once you are done with the sharpening and honing, it is essential to clean your knives to maintain the longevity of both tools. Here’s how you should clean the knife and stone.
- Use a dry cloth or rag to wipe the blade of the knife. Remove any metal shavings or debris that may have accumulated during the sharpening process.
- To clean the sharpening stone, you can use a stiff-bristled brush to sweep away debris. You can also use a damp cloth or rag to wipe the stone.
- If the sharpening stone is dirty- you can use a stone cleaning solution, like water and mild detergent, to clean the stone. Thoroughly rinse the stone and completely dry it before using it again.
- Once the knife and the sharpening stone are clean and dry, store them carefully.
Test the Sharpness of Your Knife
Finally, finish off by testing the sharpness of your knife. Here are the two most common methods to perform the test.
Hold the sheet of paper in one hand and the knife in the other hand. Hold the knife at a slight angle, then use the blade to slice through the paper. A sharp knife should be able to cut through the paper with little to no resistance. If the knife tears the paper or struggles to cut through it- the blade is dull and needs sharpening.
Another way to test sharpness is by running your thumb gently over the blade. If it is sharp- it should feel smooth as you run your thumb over it. If it feels jagged or rough- it is still blunt and requires sharpening.
Types of whetstones
Whetstones, also known as sharpening stones, come in various materials and grits. Here are the most common types of whetstones used for sharpening knives.
Oilstones are made from natural materials such as Novaculite, Arkansas, and Soft Arkansas. They are typically used with oil as a lubricant and known for their ability to produce a very sharp edge.
Waterstones are made from a combination of aluminium oxide and synthetic materials and used with water as a lubricant. They are known for their fast-cutting ability and for producing a polished edge.
Diamond stones are made of industrial-grade diamond particles bonded to a flat surface. They are durable, long-lasting and utilised to sharpen a wide range of tools and knives. They are also known for their ability to sharpen knives very quickly.
Ceramic stones are made from a ceramic abrasive material. They are known for their fast-cutting ability and for producing a fine edge.
These sharpening stones have two sides, one with coarse grit and the other with fine grit. They are designed to sharpen and hone the blade in one step.
FAQ – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can you use any stone to sharpen a knife? Yes, you can. But to sharpen the knives with precision, you need to understand the condition of your knife and which stone would do the job perfectly. Whetstones are the most convenient kitchen tools to keep your knives sharper than a razor. Not only this, but they are also inexpensive compared to the electric knife sharpeners that may cost you a fortune.
As a knife person, I can not survive without my sharpening stones. Although you need to learn some sharpening skills before using a whetstone- it will be worth it. Trust me, once you know the technique- you will enjoy sharpening your knives all by yourself, without ever needing the help of any professional knife sharpener.