A good whetstone and a little practice will keep all of your knives sharp and in perfect condition. The beauty is that it doesn’t take much effort to learn, just a good bit of practice to get the angle right and keep a consistent angle while you’re sharpening. Whetstones are available in department stores or online, and while they range in price based on the fineness of the grit, this thread at eGullet can help you pick a good grit to start with.
Grinding is generally done with some type of sharpening stone. Sharpening stones come in coarse and fine grits and can be described as hard or soft based on whether the grit comes free of the stone with use. Many sources of naturally occurring stones exist around the world; some types known to the ancient world are no longer used, due to exhaustion of former resources or the ready availability of superior alternatives. Arkansas, USA is one source for honing stones, which are traditionally used with water or honing oil. India is another traditional source for stones. Ceramic hones are also common, especially for fine grit size. Japanese water stones (both artificial and natural) come in very fine grits. Before use, they are soaked in water, then flushed with water occasionally to expose new stone material to the knife blade. The mixture of water and abraded stone and knife material is known as slurry, which can assist with the polishing of the knife edge and help sharpen the blade. Generally, these are more costly than oilstones. Coated hones, which have an abrasive, sometimes diamonds, on a base of plastic or metal, are also available.
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A: Another issue that comes up with electric knife sharpeners is how to clean them. Or if, in fact, they actually need cleaning at all. The answer to the second question is that yes, they do need to be cleaned occasionally. And by occasionally we mean once a year or so if you use them with any frequency. Obviously if you’ve only used the sharpener a few times then there’s no compelling reason to clean it, other than just wanting to keep things tidy (and there’s nothing wrong with that). So, having established that sharpeners do need to be cleaned occasionally you need to know how to do so in a safe and effective manner. It’s not complicated.
You’ll know you’re reached a stopping point when you can feel the slight catch of the bevel on the edge of the blade, by carefully running your finger in the direction of the blade, or by cutting through a sheet of paper. When the knife cuts cleanly through the paper, it’s time to hone the blade. Read our guide for more information about honing vs sharpening.
One of the most well-regarded natural whetstones is the yellow-gray "Belgian Coticule", which has been legendary for the edge it can give to blades since Roman times, and has been quarried for centuries from the Ardennes. The slightly coarser and more plentiful "Belgian Blue" whetstone is found naturally with the yellow coticule in adjacent strata; hence two-sided whetstones are available, with a naturally occurring seam between the yellow and blue layers. These are highly prized for their natural elegance and beauty, and for providing both a fast-cutting surface for establishing a bevel and a finer surface for refining it. This stone is considered one of the finest for sharpening straight razors.
The 8,000 grit Kitayama is definitely a popular 8K stone, it is my favourite, and the feedback has much to do with that. It is silky smooth and feels creamy when you use it. When reaching refinement levels of 6k and above, polished bevels/edge are inevitable, and often sought after. The level of polish from this particular stone is very beautiful, assuming that you have done some refinement prior to this but it is a wonderful 8,000 grit stone.
I've only used it to touch up the edge on an ESEE RB3 and a pocket folder so far, but it has done very nicely for those tasks. I found that using the rounded edge works best for me in order to be able to run the length of the blade without hitting the leather lanyard. I'll hopefully try it out soon on fish hooks, too. A worthy and handy accessory, and cool looking necklace, to boot!
A blade's sharpness may be tested by checking if it "bites"—begins to cut by being drawn across an object without pressure. Specialized sticks exist to check bite, though one can also use a soft ballpoint pen, such as the common white Bic Stic. A thumbnail may be used at the risk of a cut, or the edge of a sheet of paper. For kitchen knives, various vegetables may be used to check bite, notably carrots, tomatoes, or cucumbers. In testing in this way, any nicks are felt as obstacles.
Cerax and Suehiro stones from Suehiro are a little harder, and as such do not wear down as quickly as the classic Japanese water stones. The 8000 grit stone will perhaps give you the best cutting edge with a mirror polish on chisels and similar blades. Suehiro also makes a small combination stone for those who do not sharpen tools all that often and are reluctant to spend extra for a Cerax stone.
Once the burr is removed, it's time to test the sharpness with paper. Hold a piece of newspaper at about 45°, with a bit of tension, and slash lightly with each point of the blade. If it cuts through easily, your knife's sharp. Warner speedily lacerated his newspaper, but I of course struggled. There is an element of technique involved, he reassured me.
To use Al's method, take a black felt pen and shade in the bevel of the knife. Then take two strokes on the stone and examine the edge. If you have maintained the proper angle then all the black will be gone. If you see black on the top of the edge it means you are holding the back of the knife too far from the stone. If there is black on the bottom of the edge but the top is clean then you are laying the knife too flat on the stone and you need to raise it a bit. Repaint the edge and try it again. Once you discover what the right angle looks like then just maintain that.
Now move the blade – with a little pressure – in regular movements up and down along the sharpening stone. Always maintain the angle between the blade and stone. You will notice a burr become visible after five or so movements. Mentally divide the blade into three sections if the knife has a large blade. Always start with the tip and work back towards the bolster.
However, due to limited natural deposits and extensive quarrying over the centuries, true, high quality, Japanese water stones are now few and far between and are very expensive. Thus, various companies are now producing synthetic Japanese Water Stones which generally have a more consistent composition and grit size than natural stones as well as often begin somewhat harder and thus, lasting a bit longer; not to mention being cheaper to purchase.
Clamp-style sharpening tools use a clamp with several holes with predefined angles. The stone is mounted on a rod and is pulled through these holes, so that the angle remains consistent. Another system is the crock stick setup, where two sticks are put into a plastic or wooden base to form a V shape. When the knife is pulled up the V, the angle is held so long as the blade is held perpendicular to the base. Several cutlery manufacturers now offer electric knife sharpeners with multiple stages with at least one grinding stage. These electric sharpeners are typically used in the kitchen but have the ability to sharpen blades such as pocket or tactical knives. The main benefit of using an electric sharpener is speed with many models that can complete the sharpening process in one to two minutes. The disadvantage is that the sharpening angle is fixed so some specialized knives, like a Japanese style Santoku, may need additional attention to sharpen to the ideal angle.
Don't know. Not sure that I really care, as these stones definitely did the job that was asked of them, and did it with ease, even for a beginner whetstone user. I'll probably stick with them, at least until I get a lot more experience. Though, I do see a 10,000 or higher grit stone in my immediate future - more to play around with, than a feeling of genuine need.
I would say they are worth the money. Go for it. I took a blunted Pampered Chef kitchen knife from completely dull to razor sharp in about an hour (of bumbling and repairing mistakes LOL) heavy grinding. If you have a severely damaged blade, grab one of those cheesey two sided stones from Harbor Freight to do your heavy grinding. From there these stones will work very well.
Water stones can also be made out of natural or synthetic materials and they are fast becoming the most popular type of whetstone as they only require the use of water to lubricate the stone. They are not as messy to work with as an oil stone and deliver fast sharpening results but for even better results, soak the stone in water for 5 or 10 minutes.
This is my first time ordering from hayneedle, but you came thru with flying colors. I was so happy to see the delivery come so quick as stated. It was just as i hoped it would be, i now have my whetstone sharpening stone, to really get my kitchen knives as sharp as i can get them. This to me is the best way to sharpen a knife, it takes patience but the reward is worth it. Thanks Hayneedle you rock!!! Ray D.
Table mounted device – Typically the manual powered table mounted sharpener looks virtually identical to the electric powered sharpener with a slot for each stage. Where they differ is that each slot in the manual powered sharpener has only one groove and you pull the blade through this groove toward you to sharpen the blade. Once the blade is sufficiently sharp you place it in the honing groove to refine the edge and pull it toward you again several times. If there is a third, cleaning, stage you repeat the process for that stage as well.
I've always wanted to sharpen knives on water stones, and this set gave me the motivation to finally give it a shot. The price is amazing for the quality and content of the set. It comes with all the grits you need to sharpen anything... I usually start on the 400 grit if the knife is very dull, or directly on the 1000 grit if it's not too dull. The 3000 and 8000 grit stones are softer and ideal after the coarser stones. The online learning section is truly amazing, much better than I expected. A convenient place with instructional videos and many articles about knife sharpening. Only downside is that the knives are now so sharp I need to be very careful using them... but that's a good thing! I feel like I fell in love with knife sharpening again.
Some of the videos I watched suggested soaking the stone for 12-15 minutes prior to use. One suggested using vegetable oil on the surface versus water/soaking (I used water and presoaking it for 15-minutes). So instead of a simple 'out-of-the-box-and-use' approach, it required a bit of research before sharpening a knife. Otherwise I would have given this product a 5-star rating.