Your immediate goal is to raise a burr on the side of knife opposite to the side you are sharpening and depending on the steel, the grit of stone and how you are doing, it will be either a very quick process or it will seem like it takes an eternity. Patience here will reward you, believe me. The sharpening process is incomplete with no burr creation on your first stone. (Yes, it is possible to stop at that magic moment without the burr forming but we are not there yet, we don’t even need to go there, ever, I am just mentioning it so those gifted sharpeners will be happy) . Think of the burr as the debris that is making the knife dull being forced down the blade towards the edge and over to the other side of the by your sharpening prowess. You form the burr, that knife will get sharp, no burr, you just need to look at your work. A Loupe is handy here, an inexpensive magnifying device with a light that allows you to see the edge very well, if you are not forming a burr, you are not reaching the edge. (Having a loupe also makes you look cool and scientific, like a Sharpologist).


In most cases a sharpening stone will be a combination of sharpening grains and a binding agent. However, in case of a Ardennes Coticule it is a completely natural product. The grains have cutting edges which enables them to sharpen your knife. As soon as a sharpening stone is used little pieces of the grains break off, revealing a new cut ing edge. The higher the number, the finer the grain. Stones with coarse grains (up to grain 400) can be used to shape the blade of a blunt knife. You can subsequently take care of the fine finish with a stone with a smaller grain.

Technically, the name whetstone can be applied to any form of sharpening stone, regardless of what cutting fluid is typically used with it. However because whet sounds like wet, many hear the word and assume that it refers to a stone that is used wet with water. Actually, water stones, oil stones diamond stones and ceramic stones are all forms of whetstones. So, while all water stones are whetstones, not all whetstones are water stones. 

The video above, from the How To You YouTube channel, explains everything you need to sharpen with a whetstone at home, and the best methods for doing so. Obviously, you’ll need a whetstone (as well as a few other things), and you’ll want to work near your sink or a bucket so you have easy access to water. Fill a container with water, then soak the whetstone in it until it stops bubbling. Inspect your blades for any trouble spots, and get to sharpening using the methods and motions described in the video; making sure to check your progress as you go. We’ve talked about sharpening knives with whetstones before, but this guide is a bit more thorough and the old video has since been removed.
Japanese water stones – both natural and synthetic – are known for their superior sharpening performance, not only for Japanese tools, but also on their Western equivalents. The loosely bonded abrasive grit is washed out very quickly, as it blunts during the sharpening process; this exposes new, sharp, particles that can get to work on the blade. Water stones are lubricated only with water! Never use oil!
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 the common sharpening purpose, generally, people tend to use two phases. In the first phases, they use the coarse stone to shape the edges then jump to the finer stone. In application, these of the two phases can be extended with the grit stone in between. It might be varying in the number of grits or mesh in different types of sharpening stone.
Method 1: Use an Electric Sharpener. Quality electric sharpeners are an option, but I strongly discourage their use. First off, they remove a tremendous amount of material from your edge. Sharpen your knife a dozen times, and you've lost a good half-centimeter of width, throwing it off balance, and rendering any blade with a bolster (i.e. most high-end forged blades) useless. Secondly, even the best models provide only an adequate edge. If you don't mind replacing your knives every few years and are happy with the edge they give you, they'll do the trick. But a much better choice is to...

A shinkansen is a Japanese-style pull-through sharpener named after the famous bullet train. It features two sets of ceramic wheels set at the right angle for sharpening a Japanese blade, which takes out the guesswork of the waterstone. Simply hold the handle with your left hand, then saw back and forth gently through the coarser wheel to sharpen, before switching to the finer wheel to polish.
Chefs will do this every day, and there's no reason you shouldn't too. Before cooking, or after you've done the washing up, honing your knife will help keep it in good condition. "When you're using a honing steel, you're not actually removing any metal at all, just re-straightening that edge, to get it back in line," says Authbert. Remember that you'll still need to sharpen it every two or three months. 
Serrated blades have a grind on one side of the blade. Only sharpen the grind side of the blade. Hold the sharpener at the angle that matches the original edge angle. Hold the knife with the edge away from you and the serrated side of the edge facing up. Set the tapered diamond sharpener in a serration so that you fill the indentation. Draw the sharpener towards the edge.
The following are my personal favourites and they are all synthetic stones, I do have experience with natural what stones but lets keep it simple, lets stick to synthetic water stones. Believe me, some of the world sharpest knives are sharpened solely on synthetic stones. Here are my personal favourites, I use these water stones every day and the order is not necessarily in priority, they are all good.
Oil Stones differ from water stones in that they require the use of honing oil to float the swarf (metal particles). Also, these stones are commonly made from one of three different materials consisting of Novaculite, Aluminum Oxide (Corundum), or Silicon Carbide (Carborundum) and they all use oil to lubricate the stone and suspend the swarf in order to prevent the stone from becoming clogged. Also, while Novaculite and Coticule are the most traditional types of oil stones, there are also synthetic oil stones made by the Norton abrasives company called “India Oil Stones”.

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.
Clean the knives and stone. As soon as you've finished sharpening your knives, wash and dry the blades. You should also clean the stone according to the manufacturer's instructions. For example, if you have an oil stone, you might need to scrub it occasionally with a stiff fiber brush and soak it in oil. For a water stone, wash off any of the residue and store it in a dry cloth until you need to use it again.[11]

I've been using this stone for months and have started to find that, while the fine side does provide a nice sharp edge, the 400gr side is wearing my knives unevenly, which causes me to be unable to finely sharpen the entire length of the blade when moving to the fine side. The logo that is put in the middle of the 400gr side of the knife is causing more material to be removed than the rest of the blade when I'm sweeping across. I even verified this by going straight down the length of the fine side and watching the wear pattern come from the material coming off of the knife onto the stone.
So you are going to start at the heel and you are going to time it so that it goes all the way across. You go from one side to the other. You also want to make sure that your stone, I am not going to use as much pressure as I normally would because I cannot mount it on this showcase, you want to alternate from side to side to keep your bevel centered. Some people will take and do three times on one side and then three times on the other, the problem is that your backhand is never as good as your forehand and you end up cheating and you are going to end up with a blade that is offset. That is going to take it and thin down, you are going to get a thin bevel right on the edge. Once you get that V established, you can go from the coarser side to the finer side.

You need the right size of sharpening stone that fit the type and size of your blades and tools. In general, 6-inches stones are the smaller models and 8-inches are the larger ones. The stones larger than 8 inches are work best for big-sized blades and tools. You may also find sort of ‘pocket knife sharpener’ out there. Most of the credit card sized sharpening stone are smaller than 6 inches and ideal for on the go sharpening not for regular basis.


This is a good quality stone for a beginner looking to learn about hand sharpening knives and blades. It holds up well, especially for the price point. New sharpeners are prone to gouging and scratching stones, pushing too hard, etc, and this stone handles the abuse nicely. The no slip base is very effective at cementing the stone in place, which is a critical safety feature.
The thumbnail test (not recommended for novices) - With this test you take your newly sharpened blade and run it oh-so-delicately over your thumbnail. If you feel it digging in even a tiny bit, it’s likely sharp enough. If on the other hand it just slips and slides across the surface of your nail it’s not sharp yet. Again, this test is only recommended for people with lots of experience handling knives and even then they’d probably be better off just grabbing a tomato or a piece of paper.
The whetstone is the most popular for sharpening pocket knives (or knives). But, before  you go into the sharpening, you must prepare the whetstone beforehand.  Don't worry, it's quite easy. The majority used can be done by dipping the stone in water for about 15 minutes. Regardless of what type of whetstone you use, never use it while it's dry. It's important for a clean sharpening. Using mineral oil is another way to prepare a whetstone. It'll absorb into it once you begin putting the right amount on the surface. How you will determine how much to put is to ensure a "thick film" is lathered across the entire surface. This is critical when you learn how to sharpen a pocket knife.
The following are my personal favourites and they are all synthetic stones, I do have experience with natural what stones but lets keep it simple, lets stick to synthetic water stones. Believe me, some of the world sharpest knives are sharpened solely on synthetic stones. Here are my personal favourites, I use these water stones every day and the order is not necessarily in priority, they are all good.
Over the course of two days I re-sharpened nearly a dozen old blades, including removing the secondary bevel on an old stainless Ontario saber-grind Navy diver's knife, convexing the edge on flat ground 1095 Schrade 55 that also came with a secondary bevel, and fixing a broken tip on an old Kershaw folder. These stones made quick work of the Schrade and Kershaw. Both had completely new edge geometry within 30 minutes apiece. The Kershaw looked like-new, as if the tip had never broken. And the Schrade cut much better than it's secondary bevel would previously allow, regardless of how sharp I got it with a ceramic rod and strops. The Ontario took a little more work, as it had been abused a little the last time I'd held it, over 25 years ago and was as dull as a case knife - one of the reasons I decided to go ahead and do a full saber grind - well, a slightly convexed saber, I suppose would be more accurate. But within under an hour of using the two stones and a couple leather strops (one with black compound, another with green), the Ontario was shaving sharp again too.
Understanding Grit: You’ll see a bunch of numbers being thrown around when discussing the grit of a sharpening stone. The number refers to the size of the grit. The larger the number, the finer the grit. A good beginner stone would be a two-sided stone with #400 and #1000 grit. The #400 grit is the courser stone for working out the nicks and imperfections, the #1000 grit is for refining.
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. 

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.
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