A: For many years there was a heated debate around this topic with manufacturer’s stating flatly the notion their products actually damaged knives was absurd, and many professional chefs claiming not only was it not absurd, it was common for mechanical sharpeners to damage expensive cutlery. So who was right? To a certain extent they both were. The manufacturers were correct in asserting that if you followed the instructions to the letter there was little if any chance your knives would be damaged. However, in reality few people actually followed the instructions to the letter and when they veered from the recommended course the potential was there for damage.
An extremely well written and informative article on sharpening. Overtime we all get to love certain stones for our sharpening needs. I am a huge coticule fan, and although i have used all the others, i always come back to this natural stone above all others. Still trying to figure if i chose it or it chose me! NEver the less there are so many options out there it is not hard with a little time and effort to find the right combination for your needs.
As you see in the pictures, it is always very important to keep same angle of about 10' to 15', which is about two coins height between the blade and the whetstone. Gently push the point you want to sharpen with your first, second and third fingers. While keeping the angle and pushing the point with your fingers, stroke the blade until it reaches the other edge of the whetstone. Then pull the blade back until it reaches the edge of the whetstone. This back and forth is counted as one stroke. Repeat it for about five strokes until you can see or feel some small burrs (edge curvatures). Then move the position of your fingers to where you have not sharpened yet, and repeat this five strokes of sharpening processed from the tip to the base of the blade.
Rest your knife on the stone at your chosen angle. An easy method for determining the angle by eye is to visualize a 45 degree angle and then take half that amount. That will give you a ballpark estimate of the angle and then you can adjust accordingly up or down. With a slicing action bring the length of the knife across the stone with a motion that starts with the heel of the knife on the stone and ends with the point of the knife. The motion should resemble a sweeping arc pattern across your stone. Be very careful to maintain the angle of the knife on the stone. Longer curved knives provide additional challenges but as long as you can maintain the angle you will be sharpening very effectively. Repeat this process on the other side of the knife and continue repeating until you have sharpened your knife though all your stone grits.
At this point, I can flip the stone over and use the fine course side. Most Whetstones come with a nice wooden base that do a good job to hold the stone in place while sharpening. Before starting, you might need to add a bit more water to the surface. Now with the fine course stone, finish the sharpening process like before at the same blade angle and nice consistent passes along the stone. About 10 to 12 passes is good before switching to the other side of the blade. At this point, the blade should be extremely sharp. I’ll just give a quick paper test here. I can now slice paper quite easily with my knife.
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You’ll know you’re reached a stopping point when you can feel the slight catch of the bevel on the edge of the blade, by carefully running your finger in the direction of the blade, or by cutting through a sheet of paper. When the knife cuts cleanly through the paper, it’s time to hone the blade. Read our guide for more information about honing vs sharpening.
Now you may wonder, if a finer stone produces a better cutting edge why do I need a coarse stone at all? The answer is that finer stones work much more slowly than coarse ones. The amount of metal a fine stone removes with each pass is much less than what a coarse stone removes. If you have an edge with a good shape to it from a coarse stone, this is not a problem because the fine stone doesn’t have to remove much metal to improve the edge. If the edge is dull, it will take many times longer to reshape it with a fine stone than it would with a coarse one.