A lot of people have dull knives in their kitchen drawer because they're concerned they might ruin the blade by incorrectly using a sharpening stone. This is a very real fear, because using the incorrect stone or the incorrect method for the knife you are sharpening can compromise the edge and make it very difficult to ever get a decent edge again. But never underestimate the importance of a sharp edge – it's essential. So we want to help by showing you the different types of stones and how to choose the right stone for the type of knife you are sharpening.
What is the Best Way to Sharpen a Kitchen Knife?
Keeping your knives sharp will require that you have the right tools and the correct method to ensure great results. Even the best sharpening stones won't make you a master knife sharpener, but at least you'll be ahead of the game.
Types of Sharpening Stones
There are different styles, sizes, and types of sharpening stones. Each one has specific uses and methods to use them correctly. Understanding the differences between the types of sharpening stones will help you to choose the right method for easily sharpening knives.
Whetstones are the most common type of knife sharpening tool and are widely available. But, not all whetstones are equal. There are both natural and synthetic knife sharpening stones. Natural stones are quarried, flat stones like Arkansas Stone or Belgium Blue Whetstones. Synthetic stones are the most common and go by names like Corundum and Carborundum to indicate the type of mineral used. Today, there is practically no difference between artificial and natural stones.
Water stones are a type of whetstone that uses water to work properly. Some stones are soaked in water before use while others are ready to use with just a splash. These stones frequently come from Japan and are often called Japan stones, though not all Japan stones are water stones (we know, that can be confusing).
As the name implies, these stones need to be oiled when in use. The majority of man-made stones are oil stones, while some natural stones like Arkansas Stone may also work well. The type of oil can vary from stone to stone, and there are tons of opinions about which oil is best to use with an oil stone to get a razor-sharp edge.
What to Look for in Sharpening Stones
You'll want to select a whetstone that is the appropriate size for the task. You probably have noticed that most stones are six to eight inches long and two to three inches wide. This tends to be a good size for most kitchen knives. Too large or too small of a stone can create more work.
The most important thing to consider is the grit of the stone. Grit is typically shown as a number. Higher numbers indicate a finer grit that is more appropriate for finishing. Lower numbers remove more material, but can leave a rough edge. A good starting point for a sharpening stone that has two sides. This will let you repair damage like chips and blunt edges, then finish the blade to get a sharp edge.
What Grit Sharpening Stone is Best?
The best grit is the one that is appropriate for the job you are tackling. A fine grit with a high number won't effectively put an edge on a very dull knife, and you may end up damaging the stone. With that said, you can buy double sided sharpening stones that have 1000 grit and 3000 grit sides. This will give you the best options for sharpening dull knives and getting a good finish on the edge of your kitchen knives.
Are Diamond Stones Better than Whetstones?
The use of industrial-grade diamonds for sharpening knives is a relatively new tool for sharpening knives. These "stones" are actually pieces of steel that are glued to blocks of aluminum. The most common type uses small dots or buttons of concentrated diamonds, while some varieties are a sheet of diamond-coated metal.
Diamond sharpening stones come in a wide array of grits, but are often more expensive than artificial stone. The trade off is that they can last much, much longer. Diamond stones work great on most types of kitchen knives and are the superior choice for high-carbon stainless steel blades that are difficult to get a fine edge on with a stone. A diamond stone is a good choice for creating fine edges.
Our Top Picks
The King Whetstone Starter Set is a great way to get the essential sharpening grits and accessories you need to get started learning to properly sharpen your knife blades. The dual grit sides feature a 1000 grit coarse and a 6000 grit fine surface and the set includes a handy blade angle guide to make the sharpening process easier.
This stone is intended to be pre-soaked in water before use. This makes it simpler to use since you don't have to fret about using the right type of honing oil for your stone. This is an ideal whetstone set for sharpening kitchen knives, straight razors, hunting knives, and chisels.
- 1000 & 6000 grit whetstone
- Soak in water before use
- Includes a blade guide and wiping cloth
- Made in Japan of synthetic materials
- Ideal grit combination for fine-tuning an edge
- Included blade guide helps develop muscle memory
- High-quality and easy to use whetstone kit
- Some buyers had stones that separated when whetted
- Not an ideal choice for very hard metals or ceramic knives
The Victorinox hand sharpener is an excellent, easy to use knife sharpener that is ideally suited for stainless steel kitchen knives like our favorite Victorinox boning knives. This hand sharpener has fixed-angle carbide stones that give you an ideal blade angle. The sharpening stones can be turned in order to expose new grit to ensure years of use.
Not only is this the perfect companion to your Victorinox knives, it also is an excellent choice for all of your other Western-cut kitchen knives that feature a 20-degree angle. It doesn't require oil or water and performs best when you use a light pressure.
- Ideal for Victorinox knives
- Works for wavy or straight-edge knives
- Easy to use, handheld design
- Compact design that is easy to store and doesn't damage easily
- Safe and practical way to sharpen all of your kitchen knives
- Too small for larger kitchen knives
Diamond stone sharpeners are increasingly popular in home kitchen use because of the speed and effectiveness they offer. This is a great setup with industrial diamond bonded to a thin steel plate. It also includes a handy guide that allows you to get the proper angle for numerous styles of blades including very narrow 14-degree angles you'll find with straight razors up to 24 degree angles for hunting knives.
The stone comes with a cradle that makes it easy to sharpen your knives because it doesn't slip around. The dual grit sharpener has a coarse 325 grit side and a fine 1200 grit surface that ensures you get a razor sharp edge.
- Dual grit bonded diamond surface
- Includes blade guide and plastic cradle
- 3-year warranty
- Sharpens steel, stainless, ceramic, and other extra-hard steels
- Excellent full-coverage diamond whetstone
- Ideal for very hard knife materials
- Excellent customer service
- Some buyers had defective bonding that required a replacement
The most challenging thing about using a whetstone correctly is maintaining the appropriate angle. This device takes all the guess work out of the process and gives you the ability to consistently repeat the proper angle. The tri-abrasive rod gives you coarse and fine diamond stones and a fine ceramic stone. Sharpening angles are adjustable from 15-degrees to 30-degrees in 1-degree increments.
Despite looking intimidatingly complex to use, this sharpener is quite simple to set up. A rotating clamp holds the blade in place while a knob adjusts the angle. Once the angle is set, the sharpening stone is rotated to the proper grit, then you simply draw the stone across the blade. The rotating blade clamp lets you flip the knife over to sharpen the other side without having to make any changes to the setup.
- 15-30 degree angle adjustment
- Consistently repeatable angle
- 300 grit & 600 grit diamond stones, ceramic sharpening stone
- Stable base
- The best way to get the correct angle every time
- An easy way for anyone to sharpen knife
- Some users had problems with the knife holding apparatus
- Replacement stones and finer-grit stones can be hard to find
This is a budget option that also lets you sharpen scissors and shears. It's a handy design that offers an adjustable angle knob to provide 14 to 24-degree angles. The coarse slot is tungsten-carbide steel while the fine slot is ceramic. A handy guide is printed on the side to help identify the proper angle for the type of knife you are sharpening.
Sharpening kitchen shears is something that can make a huge difference in prep time. Dull shears are a pain to use so having the option to quickly and effectively sharpen scissors makes this a good tool to have in the kitchen.
- Coarse, fine, and shears slots
- Convenient stone set that is rotatable and replaceable
- Adjustable angles from 14-24-degrees
- One-year warranty
- Sharpens a wide range of kitchen knives, hunting knives, and shears
- Easy to use and excellent portable design
- Some users had problems with inaccurate results
- Angle knob may become stuck
Regardless of Your Pick, Practice Makes Perfect
The only way to get good at sharpening knives is to get a good-quality whetstone or diamond stone and start practicing. It will take a while to get the correct angle by feel, but some of the tools on our list can help you learn. Once you start sharpening your knives regularly, you'll unlock a world of enjoyment in the kitchen. A properly sharpened knife makes it easy to thin slice meats and vegetables, quickly chop herbs, and work through large hunks of meat effortlessly. If you want to start sharpening your knives, any of the products on this page make a great starting point.
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