Once sufficiently wet, it's time to position the stone on something solid, so it doesn't move about during sharpening. Many come with holders, but you can just place it on a slightly damp tea towel on the table. The stone should be roughly perpendicular to your body, though Warner told me it is sometimes easier to angle it ever so slightly to the right (if you're right handed).
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.
Once you've sharpened one side, you need to flip over, but don't swap the hand gripping the blade – think of it a bit like going backhand with a tennis racket (see above). Lead with the heel this time, rather then with the blade, but repeat the process in three parts. After five strokes on each third of the blade, it's time to check your knife. It's not an exact science, and it all depends on how blunt your blade was to start with (mine was very blunt indeed). But if you sharpen fairly regularly, it should just take a few strokes.
A: Experienced professionals know exactly how sharp they want their knives to be and have an instinctive feel for when they’re just right and when they’re even a tiny bit off. Most folks, however, need to have some sort of objective test they can use to determine if in fact their best knife has been properly sharpened. There are a few simple ones you can use:
As opposed to water whetstones that require you to pre-soak the stone, the Norton oil stone is pre-filled with oil to save time and eliminate the need to pre-soak it prior to use and the lubricant stays on the surface during sharpening. The oil also prevents metal from bonding with the abrasive surface by flushing away dislodged abrasive and metal chips.
Different knives are sharpened differently according to grind (edge geometry) and application. For example, surgical scalpels are extremely sharp but fragile, and are generally disposed of, rather than sharpened, after use. Straight razors used for shaving must cut with minimal pressure, and thus must be very sharp with a small angle and often a hollow grind. Typically these are stropped daily or more often. Kitchen knives are less sharp, and generally cut by slicing rather than just pressing, and are steeled daily. At the other extreme, an axe for chopping wood will be less sharp still, and is primarily used to split wood by chopping, not by slicing, and may be reground but will not be sharpened daily. In general, but not always, the harder the material to be cut, the higher (duller) the angle of the edge.
A: People often make the mistake of assuming that just because a mechanical knife sharpener will sharpen the edge of a knife that means it will sharpen any type of cutting edge, including scissors. This is a mistake and can wind up being a costly mistake when you have to replace both your scissors and the knife sharpener. There are sharpening devices specifically designed to handle scissors. Or you can bring your scissors to a sharpening pro who will usually have the right equipment on hand to also sharpen scissors. Another thing to keep in mind about trying to use a sharpener to sharpen scissors is that by using the device in this fashion you are likely voiding the warranty. As such if you damage the device trying to sharpen scissors you’ll need to pay to have it repaired or replaced as the warranty won’t cover it. Also, certain types of high end scissors also come with a warranty. And, just as with the sharpener itself, if you try to sharpen them using a mechanical sharpener you can say goodbye to the warranty protection. The bottom line is to always use the appropriate tool for the job at hand. That way you’re assured of the best possible result and any warranty remains in effect.
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.
To take off the fine scratches and burrs left by coarser stones, and to polish the surface, you can use stones starting at around 2000 grit. There is theoretically no upper limit, but stones above about 10000 grit achieve practically no measurable improvement in the edge. It is also interesting to note that above 8000 grit, there is no Japanese measurement standard. For stones labelled as having a finer grit, you simply have to take the manufacturer's word for it.
J. Kenji López-Alt is the Chief Culinary Advisor of Serious Eats, and author of the James Beard Award-nominated column The Food Lab, where he unravels the science of home cooking. A restaurant-trained chef and former Editor at Cook's Illustrated magazine, his first book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science is a New York Times Best-Seller, the recipient of a James Beard Award, and was named Cookbook of the Year in 2015 by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
We regret that due to technical challenges caused by new regulations in Europe, we can for the time being no longer accept orders from the European Union. If you reside in the UK you can continue to order from our UK websites or shop from our locations and partners. Visit West Elm at www.westelm.co.uk and Pottery Barn Kids at www.potterybarnkids.co.uk.
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 sharpener has come a long way in the past couple of thousand years and yet it hasn’t. That is, while there have been incredible advances in the development of mechanical knife sharpeners the classic and very ancient sharpening stone is still with us and very much in use as you read this. The best knife sharpener for you will be one that meets the needs of your cuisine and your temperament but which, first and foremost, reliably produces the sharp knives (look after your knife!) you need with the least hassle.
Actually, the company contacted me to make sure I received the stones and that I was happy with them. Excellent service. The stones are great! I'm pretty much a novice so the clear instructions that came with the stones and the eBook instructions were wonderful. The eBook had quality pictures demonstrating the use of the stones and the written instructions were clear and to the point. Within minutes of opening the box I had the stones figured out and sharpening my AF survival knife, my pocket knife and a couple of my wife's kitchen knives...which included a very expensive chef's knife. Very satisfied with this product and highly recommend it.
This set of two Norton combination waterstones provides four grits and also includes a flattening stone as an added value. The 220, 1000, 4000 and 8000 grit sides will handle everything from aggressive shaping to final polishing. They are 8" long by 3" wide, big enough to handle most knives and tools easily. Our most popular waterstone kit, this has everything you need to both sharpen with waterstones and maintain the stones themselves. A great starter set.
Cost – While you can get a perfectly serviceable sharpening stick or stone sharpener for short money and some very high-quality tabletop manual 2 and 3-stage sharpeners for less than $50, high-quality mechanical systems will often run you $200 or even more. While that’s not so much money it’s likely to impact the quality of your life it is a lot to pay to keep a decent edge on your knives. While how much you ultimately pay for a sharpener is entirely up to you, you may want to consider your commitment to cooking and how often you are actually liable to use the device. If this is your first sharpener you might also want to consider learning how to sharpen a blade using a classic stick or stone sharpener first, before deciding if moving up to a mechanical sharpener is the right thing for you.
Not sure why I bought this item and then I received it. It has a bit of a 'cool' factor and is well made. I took the sharp edges of the stone as they were a bit uncomfortable on my chest but have since been wearing it a lot. Used it to put an edge on some workmates knives and to tickle up my own daily use knife. I like it, it is a bit different and useful.
Ye olde tomato test - After you have sharpened using one of the above sharpeners grab a firm tomato and try to slice it. If the blade is properly sharpened it will slice through the skin with virtually no effort and without pushing the skin inward first. If the skin is able to fight back against the blade then your knives are not properly sharpened yet.
For instance, American Novaculite (aka Washita and Arkansas Stones) is a form of metamorphic Chert that produces some of the best known and best loved natural whetstones in existence. Then, there is a form of Belgian Coticule which has been known for providing extra-keen edges since Roman times and, there is a Japanese Siliciclastic sedimentary stone (aka Japanese Water Stones) which consist of a fine silicate particles suspended in a clay matrix. Plus, there are also various types of man-made whetstones available such as Silicon Carbide (aka Crystalon) stones and Aluminum Oxide (aka India Stones) as well as a synthetic Corundum (aka Ruby) rod and Aluminum Oxide impregnated ceramic rods as well as several different types of diamond hones.