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.
Removing the burr is fairly simple. You'll need a leather strop or block (this sort of thing), which is designed to catch the metal fibres from the knife. You could do it with a fibrous tea towel or some newspaper if you like, but I'd suggest going with leather to begin with. The motion is fairly similar to sharpening. Draw the knife over the leather, going away from the edge at roughly the same angle as when you sharpened.
Functionality – If you have experience with the stick or sharpening stone you likely don’t want or need anything else. If, however, you are in search of an electric-powered sharpener you’ll want to consider how many “stages” you need in your sharpener. In a typical 3-stage sharpener the first stage is the coarsest and does most of the heavy lifting required to turn the edge from dull to sharp. The second stage will have finer grain sharpening wheels. These are used to hone the edge, that is, to smooth out the burrs left by the coarse first stage. A third stage will refine the edge even further and remove any debris left over from the sharpening process.
Steeling helps maintain sharpness. This process realigns the edge, correcting for dulling causes such as a rolled edge. A sharpening steel is a type of hardened cylindrical rod used similarly to honing stones. For example, a butcher steel is a round file with the teeth running the long way, while a packer steel (used in the meat packer's industry) is a smooth, polished steel rod designed for straightening the turned edge of a knife, and is also useful for burnishing a newly finished edge. Because steels have a small diameter they exert high local pressure, and therefore affect the knife metal when used with very little force. They are intended for mild steel knives that are steeled several times a day, but are not well suited for today's tougher and harder blade steels. Diamond steels are now available that have an industrial diamond coating and can remove blade metal as well as straighten, therefore used correctly they can re-profile a knife instead of just honing.
While it may still feel like there is a lot to choose from, you don’t need a lot of of stones, you just a several good varieties to choose from. To summarize I will indicate below what my favourite stones are in each grit. Yes you can mix up the brands when sharpening but my recommendation is to buy a combination of 2-3 stones of the same brand and go from there.
Silicone Carbide whetstones on the other hand, are the fastest cutting of the three types of oil stones and the stones made by Norton are called Crystolon Stones. Also they too are graded as either fine, medium, or coarse stones depending on their grit. But, although these stones will not produce an edge as fine as Arkansas Oil Stones or India Oil Stones, their fast cutting ability makes them ideal for sharpening tools as well as for cutting the initial edge bevel on extremely dull knives or repairing the edge on damaged blades. Last, because they sharpen so quickly, it a common practice to start with a coarse Crystolon Oil Stone and then progress to either a medium or fine India Oil Stone and then to finish with an Arkansas Oil Stone.
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.
The stones from Shapton are probably the hardest of all Japanese sharpening stones. They will remain flat for a long time. They are therefore the best choice if you are looking for a relatively coarse stone that cuts quickly without having to be dressed repeatedly. The finer-grained stones also work very well. But Shapton stones do not provide the mirror finish you can achieve with softer stones.
Grit choices should fall in line with the steel used to make the knives you plan to sharpen. If your knives are all European, relatively soft steel knives, then you could finish off your knives at the 1,000 – 2,000 grit level. There is a lengthy explanation regarding this topic but suffice it to say that at 2,000 grit, these knives can be made extremely sharp.
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.
Though "whetstone" is often mistaken as a reference to the water sometimes used to lubricate such stones, the term is based on the word "whet", which means to sharpen a blade, not on the word "wet". The verb nowadays usually used to describe the process of using a sharpening stone is to sharpen, but the older term to whet is still sometimes used. The term to stone is so rare in this sense that it is no longer mentioned in for example the Oxford Living Dictionaries. One of the most common mistaken idioms in English involves the phrase "to whet your appetite", too often mistakenly written as "to wet". But to "whet" quite appropriately means "to sharpen" one's appetite, not to douse it with water.
The company is to be commended for including links to instructional videos in the package. Those videos lay out clearly how to get the most from your Whetstone sharpener stone. Once you get up to speed you’ll likely enjoy the process and at the same time achieve professional quality results time and again. Sure, it’s not fancy and doesn’t have a sleek, chrome plated design but it works.
The smaller the angle between the blade and stone, the sharper the knife will be, but the less side force is needed to bend the edge over or chip it off. The angle between the blade and the stone is the edge angle – the angle from the vertical to one of the knife edges, and equals the angle at which the blade is held. The total angle from one side to the other is called the included angle – on a symmetric double-ground edge (a wedge shape), the angle from one edge to the other is thus twice the edge angle. Typical edge angles are about 20° (making the included angle 40° on a double-ground edge). The edge angle for very sharp knives can be as little as 10 degrees (for a 20° included angle). Knives that require a tough edge (such as those that chop) may sharpen at 25° or more.
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.
The paper test - Remove your knife from the sharpener. Grab a piece of notebook paper and hold it vertically in your hand so that one edge is facing straight up. Now take the knife and push it down against this edge. If the blade cuts through without hesitation it’s sharp. If the paper simply crumples beneath the blade instead of cutting the blade needs a bit more work.
You will be given access to our useful online learning material: a set of videos and articles to help you improve your sharpening technique. These resources were made by professional knife sharpeners, specifically for beginners and intermediate sharpeners. The articles and videos will guide you and teach you knife sharpening from scratch, also covering more advanced techniques. You can also get in touch with us anytime if you have any questions concerning sharpening specific types knives.
We get asked regularly to recommend stones for the beginning sharpener. Everyone wants to get stones that will be of the most practical use. No one wants to waste money on something they will have to replace later. The goal is to get stones that can be used as a foundation for your future needs. But the number of options available can be bewildering to the inexperienced sharpener, leaving many wondering where to start.