I do have to question the grit ratings of these stones. I didn't notice anything before using them, but after a day, the 2000 grit actually felt courser than the 1000 grit side of the other stone. Whether that could be a byproduct of other factors or an indication of the more obvious, being that the grit ratings aren't accurate, I don't know. But that seemed to be the main criticism of cheaper whetstones, that their grit ratings often aren't accurate. Or maybe it's less a problem with accuracy and more a difference that most synthetic stones might have in common when being compared to much pricier natural stones?
1. Start off with the rough grit. If you have a particularly dull blade, start off with the rough grit side of your sharpening stone. How do you tell which side is the rough grit? Sometimes you can tell by sight. If you can’t do that, do a thumbnail test. Scratch the surface with your thumbnail and whichever side feels rougher, that’s the side you want to start off with. Also, rough grits tend to be more porous than finer grits. So if you put water on one side and the stone really drinks it up, chances are it’s the rough grit.
Whetstone has two different sides of grain for sharpening and polishing knife edges. These softer Japanese stones have several advantages over harder stones. Because they are softer, they do not become glazed or loaded with detritus. Plus, they are lubricated effectively with water rather than oil, but can be used with either. Submerge the stone in water for about 5 - 10 minutes. Continue to apply water while sharpening with the Whetstone Cutlery Two sided Whetstone Sharpening Stone. The stone releases small particles during the sharpening process; this powder in combination with water allows the sharpening. After a while you will notice a small burr at the edge. Now repeat the same process on the other side of the blade. Finally, turn the stone over and repeat the procedure, this time using the finer grit of the stone. In order to remove the remaining burr, pull the blade at an angle over the stone. Rinse the stone and clean off the grinding residue. Clean your knife with hot water.
These are very popular stones. 8" Dia-Sharps have a single grit per stone making them more expensive, but at 8" by 3" they are wider than the 8" DuoSharps, offering a good working surface. The 8" Dia-Sharp line also has the widest range of grits available from DMT, with extra extra coarse, medium extra fine and extra extra fine options not available in other sizes, so it is good line to consider. One coarse and one fine stone is a good starting point.
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The coarse stone will cut the metal off quicker but it is going to give you a rougher edge but that way the job gets done quicker, without the oil. It is not as messy. This is just a real simple set up. If you do wood work you can make a little wooden box and rout it out. In this particular case it is just a 2x4, stone traced out, finishing nails tapped down so they are deeper than the stone so when you drop the stone in, if you are at a workbench you can C-clamp it down in place or you can hold on to it.
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.
Honing steels are another story altogether. Honing steels are those instruments that look light a saber (light or otherwise) which you use to gussy up the edge of the blade periodically before using it. These do wear out every few years or less, depending on how often you use them. If you are unsure whether your honing steel is worn out run your finger around it. If it feels smooth all the way around then it’s time for a replacement. Not to worry though, they’re really affordable. One thing you may want to keep in mind about honing steels is that they typically won’t do much to hone the edge of some super hard knives, such as Japanese Global brand knives.
We’ve shown you how to keep knives sharp before, and even discussed why water stones are best, but this crash course is quick, fast, and gets to the point. In most cases the most the average person at home can do is either hone their blade with a honing steel, which straightens and lines up the blade’s edge, but it doesn’t sharpen it. Alternatively you could run it through a handheld or electronic sharpener, but depending on the model you use it can do more harm than good.