I've used ceramic rods, diamond plates, and leather strops for our sharpening needs. And, like most, I've tried a dozen little gimmicky sharpeners that, while some work, those that do often remove way too much material from the edge, making your blade wear down faster. I've also used oil stones, grinders and buffers for less meticulous sharpening of axes and such. These two stones from Unimi (600/1000 and 2000/6000) served as my introduction to whetstone sharpening. And I must say I like it. Though, I'm not sure of the need for investing in more expensive stones.
There is no dominant standard for the relationship between "grit size" and particle diameter. Part of the difficulty is that "grit size" is used to refer to the smoothness of the finish produced by a sharpening stone, and not just the actual size of the grit particles. Other factors apart from particle diameter that affect the finish (and thus the "grit size" rating) are:
The basic concept of sharpening is simple – you're using an abrasive edge to remove metal – but the knife you buy may alter the method you should use. A general rule of thumb is that a waterstone can be used for both Japanese- and Western-style blades, but you should avoid pull-through sharpeners for Japanese knives (or any knife with very brittle blades).
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!
The Juuma sharpening and honing stones offer a simplified working principle while at the same time ensuring the highest possible quality in the offered grits. Juuma Cobalt Blue stones are made of an aluminium oxide and a bonding agent. Adding cobalt serves to slow stone abrasion and increase the speed of sharpening. The speed bonus is especially marked when stoning blue steel (blue paper steel that is often used for Japanese planes and chisels). The cobalt gives the stones their blue colour. Juuma is our proprietary brand. Juuma sharpening stones are produced by a renowned Japanese whetstone manufacturer.
However, it should also be noted that “water stones” are generally significantly softer than oil stones and thus, water stones generally cut faster than oil stones but, they also have to be flattened more often that oil stones do. Furthermore, it should be noted that some water stones must be soaked in water for several hours prior to use whereas, others are of the “splash and sharpen” variety and thus, they only need to be soaked for a few minutes before use and then wetted down occasionally during sharpening process. Diamond hones on the other hand are more durable than either water stones or oil stones and, because they generally have a more coarse grit, they cut faster than natural whetstones. Plus, due to their construction, they never need truing and, in fact, coarse diamond hones are often used to flatten both natural and synthetic whetstones.
The answer to the question of how to choose a single whetstone from among the many is actually one of both purpose and expense. Indeed, as the old adage says: “You get what you pay for” – This is certainly the case with sharpening stones. In fact, as a general rule, a high quality, natural, whetstone is significantly more expensive than a man-made whetstone but, they also tend to produce a noticeably finer edge than man-made stones do. On the other hand, man-made whetstones (with the exception of diamond hones) are very affordable and, just like natural whetstones, they too are available in different grits for different stages in the sharpening process from cutting the initial edge bevel to polishing a finely honed edge.
Though "whetstone" is often mistaken as a reference to the water sometimes used to lubricate such stones, the term is based on the word "whet", which means to sharpen a blade, not on the word "wet". The verb nowadays usually used to describe the process of using a sharpening stone is to sharpen, but the older term to whet is still sometimes used. The term to stone is so rare in this sense that it is no longer mentioned in for example the Oxford Living Dictionaries. One of the most common mistaken idioms in English involves the phrase "to whet your appetite", too often mistakenly written as "to wet". But to "whet" quite appropriately means "to sharpen" one's appetite, not to douse it with water.
Frequently, our recommendation for beginning sharpeners is to start with diamond stones as their strengths make them ideal to build a sharpening toolkit around. Diamond stones are low maintenance and durable, lasting many years with only occasional cleaning. They are among the fastest stones to use making them time efficient. Diamond grit will handle even very hard steels, and diamond stones can be used for flattening waterstones. All these things make diamond stones a practical foundation for your sharpening toolkit.
You might not need to spend hundreds of pounds to get the best knife sharpener, but you do need to know what you're doing. Warner gave me a crash course in the technique. As a newbie to this method, it took a while to get used to (especially since Warner handed me a knife that had never previously been sharpened) but after half an hour's practice and a little encouragement, I got the hang of it. Here's what I learned...
The height of the spine of your knife off of the stone below it will determine the angle. A typical sharpening angle for a typical chef knife is 19 or 20 degrees per side. For the sake of removing confusing obstacles that could hinder your progress, let’s just sharpen your knife at 20 degrees per side. You can determine exactly how high off the stone that knife should be held by measuring the height of your blade at the heel and then dividing that number by 3 for a 20 deg angle.
Mine came plain white then started to darken after a few weeks. About 4 weeks in it settled to a more natural stone/slate grey. The leather has darkened a bit too and remains soft and comfortable. The leather remains easy to adjust and my selected sizings stays in place firmly. Overall It feels, looks and works great. The knot and darker stone/leather compliment each other well.
This article is not about how to sharpen a knife, check this article instead, but briefly, a coarse stone is critical, it has the potential to raise a Burr quickly and make a dull knife sharp quickly. The correct use of pressure enables us to form a burr, remove the burr and then do some coarse stone refinement and thus create a very sharp knife. This sensation is motivation, it is a confidence builder and will enhance your sharpening experience, so believe me when I say that a coarse stone is your first priority. I recommend a 400, 600 or 800 grit. After that, depending on the knives you are sharpening strive to obtain stone combination, such as a 400 – 1,000 – 5,000 grit three stone combination is going to allow you to achieve knives sharper than most people have ever seen.
A: That depends almost entirely on how often you use them. If you are a professional chef who uses his or her knives every day then you should hone them every time you use your knives. But honing has its limits and over time your edge is going to become dull no matter what. Therefore your knives will need to be sharpened at least several times a year. Some chefs, in fact, will use a whetstone on an almost daily basis in order to ensure their knives are always razor sharp. Most of us, however, are not professional chefs and may not even touch our kitchen knives for days at a time. In that case, it’s probably a good idea to hone the edge after every couple of uses and have your knives sharpened once a year.