Practice holding the knife at a 20 degree angle. Most straight blades need to be sharpened at a 20 degree angle. To find the angle, hold the directly in front of you so it's straight up and down. This is 90 degrees. Tilt the knife halfway towards the table so it's at a 45 degree angle. Tilt the knife halfway again so it's about an inch (2.5 cm) above the table. This should be a 20 degree angle.
Here is what you need to get started and it does not begin with the tangibles. Success will come quickly if you understand and can visualize what it is you are attempting to do, what has to happen to make a knife sharp. My experience is with Japanese Water Stones but the same will hold true for other methods. I do not recommend pull through gadgets or electric grinders of any type by the way, I am opposed to those methods although I understand the desire to try everything out… remember, I thought I needed everything and I thought everything worked.
For instance, American Novaculite (aka Washita and Arkansas Stones) is a form of metamorphic Chert that produces some of the best known and best loved natural whetstones in existence. Then, there is a form of Belgian Coticule which has been known for providing extra-keen edges since Roman times and, there is a Japanese Siliciclastic sedimentary stone (aka Japanese Water Stones) which consist of a fine silicate particles suspended in a clay matrix. Plus, there are also various types of man-made whetstones available such as Silicon Carbide (aka Crystalon) stones and Aluminum Oxide (aka India Stones) as well as a synthetic Corundum (aka Ruby) rod and Aluminum Oxide impregnated ceramic rods as well as several different types of diamond hones.
Push the point you want to sharpen with your 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.
The angle on a Buck Knife is set based upon how we feel the knife will be used. Heavy use needs a strong and blunt "V" while skinning or filleting would need a deeper but more vulnerable "V". We tend to grind to 13-16 degrees per side (see illustrations). If you match the existing edge angle and hold the knife against the stone to cut evenly across the edge grind, you will produce an edge with a similar angle.
Our large selection of stones from many well-known manufacturers will allow connoisseurs to find the ideal stone for their needs. Because all manufacturers formulate their stones to emphasize a different mix of qualities, and because these qualities can vary widely between different stones, most woodworkers choose stones from several manufacturers to build up an optimal set of sharpening stones. Then again, once you get to know the characteristics of certain types of stone, you may find one supplier who will provide all the stones you need. Sometimes this can be an advantage. But there is no one size that fits all; each stone must fit your needs and work style.