Begin by sharpening the knife from the front side. Sharpening is completed when the knife has an even burr. Only use a flat-surfaced stone to finish the back surface of the blade. Sharpen the blade from the edge to the spine. Do not sharpen at too great an angle between the blade and the stone. The stone used to finish the cutting edge of the blade should contact the edge evenly.
When starting out sharpening, it won’t be long before you hear about the “toothy” vs “polished” edge. It will suffice to know that a 1k stone is going to give you an edge that will perform beautifully as will a knife finished at 5k. There is a belief that a knife that has a highly polished finish, 5k and up will be so polished that it’s toothy goodness will be erased. This knife will not bite into the skin of a tomato for example because the edge is too polished, it will slide over the top. This is not always true, if the knife has been sharpened well, i.e. if Side A and Side B of the blade meet precisely at the Apex of the knife, that edge will slide into a tomato quite beautifully. I have seen many brand new Japanese knives with highly polished 8k edges that no tomato skin can stand up to.
When a whetstone is used to cut metal, it acts like sandpaper by removing small particles of metal (aka “swarf”) with each pass of the blade over the stone. Therefore, whetstones with more coarse grits cut faster than those with finer grits and, at the same time, soft whetstones cut faster than hard whetstones because each pass of the blade over both types of whetstones not only removes fine particles of metal from the blade, it also removes fine particles from the surface of the whetstone (aka “slurry”) which continuously exposes new cutting crystals. However, if the swarf is allowed to build up on the surface of the whetstone during sharpening, it will clog the stone and drastically diminish its effectiveness. Therefore, some whetstones require water to lubricate the stone and suspend the swarf whereas, other whetstones require oil to lubricate the stone and suspend the swarf.
The word “Novaculite” is derived from the Latin word “novacula”, which means “razor stone” and is essentially a metamorphic, recrystallized, variety of Chert composed mostly of microcrystalline quartz that is found in the found in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma and in the Marathon Uplift of Deposited in the Devonian Period and the early Mississippian Subperiod some 410 to 325 million years ago and subjected to uplift and folding during the Ouachita orogeny of the Atokan Epoch (early Pennsylvanian Subperiod), Novaculite is a very tough stone that is resistant to erosion and thus, the various layers of Novaculite stand out as ridges in the Ouachita Mountains. Thus, due to both its availability and its composition, it has been mined since ancient times for use as arrowheads and spear heads as well as in more modern times for use as sharpening stones.
An extremely well written and informative article on sharpening. Overtime we all get to love certain stones for our sharpening needs. I am a huge coticule fan, and although i have used all the others, i always come back to this natural stone above all others. Still trying to figure if i chose it or it chose me! NEver the less there are so many options out there it is not hard with a little time and effort to find the right combination for your needs.