Understanding Grit: You’ll see a bunch of numbers being thrown around when discussing the grit of a sharpening stone. The number refers to the size of the grit. The larger the number, the finer the grit. A good beginner stone would be a two-sided stone with #400 and #1000 grit. The #400 grit is the courser stone for working out the nicks and imperfections, the #1000 grit is for refining.
Sharp knives make the culinary world go round but finding the best knife sharpener isn’t as simple as walking into the store (do people still walk into stores?) and grabbing the first sharpener that presents itself. There are different types of electric sharpeners, some that are straightforward and some whose sharpening process involves as many as 3 or 4 stages. If you’re looking to keep things simple by using a sharpening stone well, there are 3 different types of them as well – oil, water and diamond – and they each have their pros and cons. So it can be confusing.
The type of stone refers to the material it is made with. You can find many different types, including diamond, ceramic, natural stone, and synthetic. I would only suggest diamond if you’re planning to be sharpening only ceramic knives. Many of the stones you’ll find on Amazon or other retails are made of Corundum, which is a crystalline form of aluminium oxide. It’s a fine choice for a beginner sharpening stone. 

As you probably have guessed, knives are easier to sharpen on longer stones. The width of the stone is less important than the length when sharpening knives. The longer stone allows for longer sharpening strokes and contributes to faster sharpening. The longer strokes mean fewer strokes across your stone, making it easier to maintain a consistent sharpening angle. As a rule of thumb, a small knife can easily be sharpened on a large stone, but a large knife cannot easily be sharpened on a small stone.
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.

As you probably have guessed, knives are easier to sharpen on longer stones. The width of the stone is less important than the length when sharpening knives. The longer stone allows for longer sharpening strokes and contributes to faster sharpening. The longer strokes mean fewer strokes across your stone, making it easier to maintain a consistent sharpening angle. As a rule of thumb, a small knife can easily be sharpened on a large stone, but a large knife cannot easily be sharpened on a small stone.
Shapton Glass 320, 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 16,000. I have the 4,000, and 8,000, they are absolutely fine, great in fact but I just don’t use them as much as the others. These stones excel on knives made of hard steel, the hardest steel is no match for these. This does not mean you can’t sharpen hard knives on the Naniwa brand of course, you can. I have been using this particular brand of stone for many years and I absolutely love them.
The toughest angle to master is the angle at which you'll sharpen the edge of the knife. For a Japanese knife, that should be around 12-15 degrees. Before you reach for the protractor, a good test is to get roughly half an index finger's gap between the spine of the knife and the stone (see above). Remember to remove your finger before you start sharpening. For a Western-style knife, you want an angle of about 20°, so raise it ever-so-slightly higher.
There are no lengthy explanations needed to describe the Lansky 8” Ceramic Sharp Stick sharpener. It’s an old-fashioned device comprised of a hardwood handle and ceramic sharpening rod. That’s it. Sure it’s not going to create an absolutely picture perfect edge down to the last micron but it will keep your knives really sharp and do so for next to nothing.
Last, it should be noted that dual-sided Coticule/Belgian Blue whetstones are also sometimes available which have a layer of Belgian Blue stone on one side and a layer of Coticule on the other. Thus, these whetstones provide a softer, more coarse, grit on one side and a harder, finer, grit on the other. Plus, due to the inherent toughness of the Belgian Blue stone, these dual-sided stones do not require a substrate layer.

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.


Today, however, there is a whole new generation of mechanical sharpeners that are far more forgiving for those who may not use perfect technique. At the same time many more people have become accustomed to sharpening their knives this way and the average novice of 10 years ago is now the seasoned pro. It is still possible to damage knives with an electric sharpener, but you would have to either be trying to damage the knife or have some type of accident in order to do so.

Some experts recommend sharpening as if trying to slice a thin layer or decal off the stone. Don't consider doing this without significant experience: it is typically bad advice; most people don't hold the correct angle this way. You instinctively raise the blade until you feel and see the edge working. This creates larger edge angles and thicker bevels as time goes on and the results gradually deteriorate. The more you sharpen, the duller it gets. Sound familiar?


Over the course of two days I re-sharpened nearly a dozen old blades, including removing the secondary bevel on an old stainless Ontario saber-grind Navy diver's knife, convexing the edge on flat ground 1095 Schrade 55 that also came with a secondary bevel, and fixing a broken tip on an old Kershaw folder. These stones made quick work of the Schrade and Kershaw. Both had completely new edge geometry within 30 minutes apiece. The Kershaw looked like-new, as if the tip had never broken. And the Schrade cut much better than it's secondary bevel would previously allow, regardless of how sharp I got it with a ceramic rod and strops. The Ontario took a little more work, as it had been abused a little the last time I'd held it, over 25 years ago and was as dull as a case knife - one of the reasons I decided to go ahead and do a full saber grind - well, a slightly convexed saber, I suppose would be more accurate. But within under an hour of using the two stones and a couple leather strops (one with black compound, another with green), the Ontario was shaving sharp again too.

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.


Vielsalm Coticule on the other hand generally occurs in much more narrow layers sandwiched between the slate layer and the Belgian Blue layer and thus, it is both less plentiful and more expensive than Belgian Blue stone. Also, Coticule is divided into different grades and sometimes displays blemishes on the surface due to its proximity to the slate layer. Furthermore, it is somewhat harder than Belgium Blue stone and, due to its brittleness, it is bonded to a substrate layer of hard slate prior to sale to prevent the stone from breaking during use.
So you are going to start at the heel and you are going to time it so that it goes all the way across. You go from one side to the other. You also want to make sure that your stone, I am not going to use as much pressure as I normally would because I cannot mount it on this showcase, you want to alternate from side to side to keep your bevel centered. Some people will take and do three times on one side and then three times on the other, the problem is that your backhand is never as good as your forehand and you end up cheating and you are going to end up with a blade that is offset. That is going to take it and thin down, you are going to get a thin bevel right on the edge. Once you get that V established, you can go from the coarser side to the finer side.
Both Belgian Blue and Vielsalm Coticule are ancient stone layers found in the Belgian Ardenne Mountains with characteristics similar to both Novaculite and Siliciclastic sedimentary stone in that it is a metamorphic stone consisting of both gray and yellow volcanic ash mixed with tiny Spessartite Garnet crystals suspended in a clay matrix. However, due to its geology, both types of stone occur only in vertical seams sandwiched between two thick layers of bluish-purple slate and thus, they must be meticulously extracted mostly by hand. However, this type of extraction process is both very time-consuming and very labor-intensive and, quarrymen can only extract the stone for a few months each year due to inclement weather conditions. Consequently, both Belgium Blue and Coticule whetstones tend to be somewhat expensive.
I really liked this whetstone! I had a Smith's pocket sharpener that could get my knife sharp enough for working around in the yard (I have an Opinel no.8). However, in doing a little research I found that the sharpener was only around 600 grit on the finest setting. So this BearMoo 1000/4000 grit looked like the perfect step up, and it turned out to be the perfect stone for me. The pictures are an accurate representation of what you get. The removable rubber base was helpful when switching from one side to the next, and it kept the stone from sliding around. The instructions say that the stone can work with either water or oil, but that water is preferred. It said to leave the stone soaking in water for five minutes, and the stone worked like a champ. I especially liked how the instructions gave you an approximate time of how long the stone takes to sharpen a knife -- it just helped give me an idea that it would take about 15-20 minutes on the 1000 grit side, and then another 10-15 minutes on the 4000 grit. Just turn on a TV show!

The type of stone refers to the material it is made with. You can find many different types, including diamond, ceramic, natural stone, and synthetic. I would only suggest diamond if you’re planning to be sharpening only ceramic knives. Many of the stones you’ll find on Amazon or other retails are made of Corundum, which is a crystalline form of aluminium oxide. It’s a fine choice for a beginner sharpening stone.
Put the pointed, narrow end of the sharpener up against the open end of the gut hook. The narrow, pointed end of the sharpener should face in toward the thickness of the blade, away from the edge of the gut hook. Match the angle of the sharpener to the original edge angle. This will maintain the correct sharpening angle and prevent you from getting cut by the blade tip. Hold the same angle when sharpening each side of the gut hook.
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