Three other positives to the Brød & Taylor: First, you can use it to sharpen serrated blades by tilting the blade in the horizontal plane so that only one carbide (generally the one on the right, given how the edges of most serrated blades are ground) contacts the metal. Second, it’s ambidextrous, because lefties simply have to turn it around to engage their dominant hand. And third, unique among our test models, it can sharpen blades all the way to the heel, because the left- and right-hand carbides meet at a single point. (The ⅜ inch of the blade that our Chef’sChoice picks leave unsharpened at the heel is largely ignorable, but praise where praise is due.)
A major benefit of sharpening your knives on a sharpening stone is that you can thin out your knife. When thinning out a knife, you grind away extra material on the sides of the blade, making the blade thinner. Thinning of a knife is useful for knives that are often sharpened, as the cutting edge gets fatter when the blade is sharpened more often. Thinning is of great importance for the preservation of good cutting properties.
Feedback is something that is very important to most sharpeners, i.e. how the stone feels when you are using it. Does it feel smooth, creamy and silky or does it feel hard and scratchy. While feedback, pleasant or unpleasant may be a purchase deterring factor it really doesn’t have any effect on level of sharpness that the stone can deliver. Unless of course the feedback is so distracting that it hinders the sharpeners focus and enjoyment and as a result, the sharpener doesn’t like what he/she is doing so that ultimately it does have the potential to negatively impact the results.
Let's begin by sharpening the knife from the front side. Western knives are not evenly double-beveled. The ratio for sharpening them is 80% on the front side and 20% on the back side of the blade. (The angle of the blade to the sharpening stone surface is about 10 degrees.) All knives are sharpened from the cutting edge to the spine of the blade. You hold the handle with your right hand, push down on the side of the blade with the fingers of your left hand, and sharpen by moving the blade toward the center of the stone.
The most important aspect of a sharpening stone is the grit. If you have knives that have taken a beating and are either nicked up or really dull, you’ll need a courser stone to get it back into shape. And in order to put an exceptionally sharp edge on an already sharp knife, you’ll need a finer grit stone. If your knives are already in pretty good shape and just need a touch up, buying just a finer grit stone might be enough, but don’t think you can get away without a courser stone for knives that need more TLC. It is possible to buy a combination, or two-sided sharpening stone.
Our favorite way to sharpen a blade is to use a whetstone—a rectangular block that works almost like sandpaper, helping to straighten and refine the cutting edge on the blade as you slide the knife across it. Most whetstones are designed to be soaked in water before every use, so check the manufacturer's instructions to be sure. (Fun fact: Whetstones aren't actually named for the fact that most are used wet—"whet" is actually just an old word for "sharpen").
TO USE: Soak stone in water for no more than 5-10 minutes. Place stone on a damp cloth with the courser 400 grit side (dark green) facing up. Hold the knife so that it’s flat and perpendicular to the block, with the blade facing left. Holding the knife at a 20-degree angle, slowly sweep the edge of the blade from left to right down the length of the stone and continue until sharp. If stone starts to feel too dry, add more water. Be patient and take your time. Flip knife over and repeat on the other side (now moving from right to left). Be sure to sharpen both sides evenly. To polish the blade further, flip stone over to the fine 1000 grit side (light green) and repeat the process. When blade is honed to desired sharpness, wash and dry your knife. To clean your stone, simply rinse with water, wipe away any remaining metal residue with a rag, rinse again, then dry.