First things first. If you assume that your ultra-superior knife set will last you a lifetime, it’s high time you snap out of your dream world! Even the best knives need regular sharpening, depending on how frequently they are being used.
Now that I have established the necessity of knife sharpening, let’s move on to what is the best equipment that you should use for the process. There are two categories to choose from- electric knife sharpeners and whetstones. Each has its pros and cons. I will be looking into each in detail, so let’s get going.
Electric Knife Sharpener vs Whetstone
When it comes to the final showdown, whetstones prove to be the best choice for sharpening your knives.
Learning how to use a whetstone is a skill, and you need to put precious time and energy into the process. However, the results are worth it. By controlling the sharpening angle and pressure, not only do you protect your knife but also achieve the perfection you desire.
Electric knife sharpeners, on the other hand, are quick and easy-to-use gadgets. One good read of the instructional manual and you’re all set for the process. But being quick and easy isn’t always what’s perfect. There are high chances of removing excess metal from your knife, which will ultimately shorten its lifespan.
Whetstone Knife Sharpener
Also known as sharpening stones, these are commonly available as rectangular blocks. In spite of being the most traditional knife sharpening method, whetstones are considered the best knife sharpener by kitchen experts. You can sharpen your knife by rubbing it against the stone’s surface.
Let’s explore the qualities of whetstones which make them the ultimate chef’s choice.
- You can use one sharpener for almost all knife types. These include paring knives, pocket knives and hunting knives. A quality that not many other sharpeners can boast of!
- Not too much metal is removed during the sharpening process, so you will not end up ruining your knife.
- They restore chips and cracks on the knife blade.
- You can control the sharpening angle and pressure, ultimately giving a cleaner and sharper edge.
- Whetstones are relatively inexpensive and many will last a lifetime. More value for money!
- These are the best options for expensive knives and those with a hardness of 60+ HRC.
- Once you’ve learnt how to use a whetstone, it’s a skill you will have forever.
- You can’t just jump straight into stoning your knife without prior practice. Try it and you can damage your knife blade quite badly.
- Since the process is not automated, you need to worry about a lot of variables. Angle, grit, and pressure, to name a few.
- Whetstones require maintenance for optimum performance.
- You need to use oil or water during the sharpening process and this can get pretty messy.
Types of Whetstones
There are three main categories of whetstone, each with unique quality. Knife sharpening experts like using a combination of two or three different stone types. Therefore, if you aspire to join this elite group, it’s about time you learnt more about your stone.
Oil stones: These are the oldest and most familiar types of stones. Available in Australia commercially for the last several decades. They get their name from the oil required during the knife sharpening process.
These stones are affordable, ranging from $7-$30. The downside of this particular stone type is its slow cutting speed.
Water stones: These are a relatively newer type but quickly climbing the popularity curve among the cutlery community. These are softer than oil stones which means that they provide quicker results. The downside is they wear down quickly too, so they require regular flattening.
Water stones need to be soaked in water prior to the sharpening process. To be read as you’ll have a cleaner countertop!
Furthermore, synthetic water stones range from $30-$160.
Diamond stones: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend and diamond stones are every knife sharpener’s best friend! These are not stones in the real sense but thin metal plates with diamonds embedded on the surface.
When talking about conventional whetstone vs diamond sharpener, diamond stones are the easiest to maintain. They will never change shape and all you need to do is give them a quick dry after use.
These stones give quicker results than oil and water stones. Available in a wide array of grits, you can easily purchase one anywhere between $20-$100.
Electric Knife Sharpeners
So you’ve heard all about the ease that these tools provide but it all seems too good to be true. Makes you wonder, “do electric knife sharpeners work?” These tools are a lot like pull-through sharpeners, only automated.
Depending on the type of sharpener, there are two or more slots on the gadget for coarse and fine sharpening. But is electric sharpener worth it? Read on, to make up your mind.
- These gadgets are user-friendly and easy to use. You can confidently sharpen knives with these appliances even if you are a beginner.
- You will get results in a flash.
- These appliances have almost zero maintenance.
- These appliances come with a hefty price tag.
- They have an aggressive sharpening approach. Too much metal is removed from the blade edge per sharpening which ultimately shortens the life of your knives.
- It is impossible to sharpen German knives with an electric knife sharpener since these have bolsters.
- The one size fits all approach does not cater to the unique needs of different knife types.
- Electrical appliances have a limited life and knife sharpeners are no exception.
Apart from the differences in characteristics between whetstones and electric knife sharpeners, they also vary significantly in how they sharpen knives. Since I will be exploring every nook and cranny of whetstones and electric sharpeners, let’s see how each works.
How to Use a Whetstone Knife Sharpener?
Prepare your whetstone for the process by soaking it in water or oil (differs on the type of stone). I like to do it for no more than ten minutes, but if you’re very particular, you can look for the bubbles to stop forming.
Next, place your stone on a mat or towel to prevent slipping. Start with the coarse side of the whetstone. Remember you have to progress slowly from coarse to finer grits to achieve the result you are looking for.
Hold the knife in your dominant hand, at a 20-degree angle from the stone surface. Place the fingers of the other hand on the non-cutting edge near the knife tip. You can make pressure changes with the help of this hand.
Once in position, slide the knife slowly from the base to the tip. There, that’s one stroke! Lift the knife up in the air at the end of the stroke and repeat the manoeuvre. After 10 to 15 strokes on this side, flip to the other side and continue in a similar fashion. Wet the stone as required.
After bevel formation, switch to using stones of finer grits and repeat the procedure. Keep moving to higher grits until you are fully satisfied with the polished look of your knife. Finally, wash your knife and enjoy the fruits of your hard hard work!
How to Sharpen Kitchen Knives With Electric Sharpener?
Here’s a general guide to how you can use an electric sharpener for your knives. However, I strongly recommend that you read the instruction manual that came with your personal appliance.
Place your sharpener on a stable surface. Most sharpeners allow you to choose between the blade types you will be sharpening. You can choose between ceramic, Asian, Euro or serrated.
Next, assess the sharpness of the knife at hand. If blunt, place the knife in the coarse sharpening slot and switch your appliance on. Run the knife through from the base to the tip, following the curve of the blade. Repeat till you can feel a burr form on the edge.
Move over to the fine sharpening slots. A couple of runs should do the trick. Turn off the sharpener. Wash your knife and pat it dry.
FAQ – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Electric knife sharpeners may seem lightning-fast and convenient, but fast isn’t always the best. Whetstones are by far superior to electric sharpeners. They may seem like a drag initially, but once you get the hang of how to use one, you would never consider exchanging it for an electric sharpener.
When using a whetstone, you can change variables like the angle you use, the pressure applied on the blade and the grit to use on the blade. Not only is it oddly satisfying, but the best thing that you can do for your knife.