When sharpening a knife, you're actually grinding away the existing blade to create a new edge. This is evidenced by the fact that upon completion, you can find tiny metal filings, called swarf, when wiping down the stone. Because the metal blade is actually being ground away, a high importance is placed on the technique and consistency of drawing a knife over the stone.
I recommend keeping two stones in your kit. One with a medium grit (around 800 or so) to perform major sharpening jobs, and one with a fine grit (at least 2,000) to tune the edge to a razor-sharp finish. For real pros, a stone with an ultra-fine grit (8,000 and above) will leave a mirror-like finish on your blade, but most cooks won't notice the difference in terms of cutting ability.
The stick – With a stick sharpener hold the sharpener in front of you (facing away from you) with one hand and the handle in the other hand. Hold the base of the knife against the base of the tip at a slight angle and then push the blade along the stick pulling it across the stick at the same time. The tip of the blade should cross the end of the stick. To sharpen the other side of the blade place it under the stick and repeat the process making sure to reverse the angle at which you are holding the knife against the stick.
2. Although I’ve been sharpening knives for a while, I never could get a knife sharp using the freehand method, I’ve had to rely on various jigs to set & maintain a constant angle to the bevel. To begin with, the Lanksy knife sharpener kit was my main tool, but then I found a South African jig made by Warthog Knife Sharpeners. I still have their first model, which, if memory serves me, came out in the late 1990’s. This has since been upgraded & is supplied with a diamond stone, which is worthless unless it’s going to be used for ceramic knives. However-the Warthog & the Warthog Multi-Blade’s modus operandi has the knife moving ABOVE the stone, unlike the Lanksy / Edge Pro / Edge Pro Chinese copies & variants. ( No oil / water dripping off the stone from above the knife). Also, the Warthogs use any bench-size whetstone available to its owner, a very big plus if you want to use your grand-dad’s old Arkansas stone.No tie in having to buy the manufacturer’s specialised stones which work only with one type of sharpening jig.
In addition, there are three broad grades of Japanese Water Stones consisting of the Ara-to (rough stone), the Naka-to (middle/medium stone) and, the Shiage-to (finishing stone). However, it should be noted that the various grades of natural Japanese Water Stones vary widely in both density and grit size from stone to stone and thus, they do not translate well to American or European abrasive standards. Furthermore, because they are significantly softer than Novaculite, Japanese Water Stones must be flattened more often and do not last as long as a either Novaculite or Coticule stones. But, because they form a slurry of fine particles when used, they also do a superior job of both cutting and polishing.
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.
The DuoSharp Plus stones are nicely sized at 8” long by 2 5/8” wide and have two grits on each stone to maximize value. The Plus in the name refers to an area of continuous grit in the otherwise interrupted grit surface of the stone. This area is for sharpening edges with fine points that might be difficult on the interrupted surface. A coarse/fine DuoSharp Plus stone is a good single stone to start a sharpening toolkit.
The unique three stone system features a 6" medium Arkansas, 6" fine Arkansas and 6" coarse synthetic stone mounted on a molded plastic triangle with handles on the end for easy stone selection. The sturdy molded plastic base has non-skid rubber feet for safety, a V-shaped trough to catch oil drippings and easy-to- read stone identification markings.
Sharpening stone/whetstones. Just as there are dozens of different ways to sharpen a knife, there are dozens of different sharpening stones. There are Japanese water stones, stones with diamond encrusted surfaces, and stones with different grades of grit. Again, choosing a stone is a matter of function and preference. Play around with different kinds of stones to find the one that gives you the results you’re looking for.
Now it's time to polish. This is when you'll swap over from the coarse grit to the finer grit (make sure this side is wet, too). I found the knife still had a bit of grime on it, so I gave it a wipe clean beforehand. The motion is exactly the same as with sharpening, but you can apply slightly less pressure, and limit to roughly 30 strokes on each side.
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.
High Grit Stones: These are also known as finishing stones with the number range going up to 8000, and give you a super refined edge. They work great with Western knives as they cutting edge resembles a “U” as opposed to a “V”. If you are using your knife to cut meat, then you can happily stop at 4000 or 6000 grit. If you are only using it for vegetables or fruit go all the way to the 8000.