Oilstones, like the Norton whetstone, can be made out of natural or synthetic material like Novaculite, Aluminium Oxide, or Silicon Carbide. As per the name, oilstones require the use of oil as you sharpen your knife's blade. This type of stone is slower at sharpening or honing a blade and it can be messy and you need to always have some oil on hand but it creates a nice sharp edge and a beautiful polish.
The emergence of high quality synthetic stones has begun to replace their natural stone counterparts. This is in part because of the limited resources of natural stones in the current market. The synthetic models boast a consistent particle size and high quality to rival the natural stone. The advantage of natural stones are their natural beauty and their rarity, which make them collectors items and they are usually handed down from one generation to the next.

The emergence of high quality synthetic stones has begun to replace their natural stone counterparts. This is in part because of the limited resources of natural stones in the current market. The synthetic models boast a consistent particle size and high quality to rival the natural stone. The advantage of natural stones are their natural beauty and their rarity, which make them collectors items and they are usually handed down from one generation to the next.
The price of a whetstone is most often indicative of its quality, which directly correlates to how hard the stone is. “The more expensive stone, typically, is comprised of a harder material, which is efficient at grinding metal off of a good-quality knife,” Lau says. “It allows you to sharpen quicker [and] it allows you to sharpen a very high-quality knife, whereas a cheaper stone may not create a good edge if a knife is made from a very hard metal.” A well-made whetstone should cost $60 to $70.
We begin our whetstone sharpening process with a 400 grit stone to shape the edge of the blade and develop a burr along the edge of the knife. Once the shape is set and we have a burr along the full length of the knife we move on to the 1000 grit stone to refine the edge and begin removing the burr, followed by the 5000 grit fine stone stone to give a beautiful sharp edge on the blade. We finish off each knife on a leather stropping block which removes the final remnants of the burr and gives a strong and lasting edge.
I used this stone to add the finishing touches on my 210mm Tojiro gyuto and wow is it sharp - it slices through red onions with zero effort. While this particular stone isn't the largest, it still does the job just fine for all my cutlery. Take note of your sharpening angle; too steep and you'll end up cutting into the stone itself, which is fairly soft to begin with.
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