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.
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Whetstones may be natural or artificial stones. Artificial stones usually come in the form of a bonded abrasive composed of a ceramic such as silicon carbide (carborundum) or of aluminium oxide (corundum). Bonded abrasives provide a faster cutting action than natural stones. They are commonly available as a double-sided block with a coarse grit on one side and a fine grit on the other enabling one stone to satisfy the basic requirements of sharpening. Some shapes are designed for specific purposes such as sharpening scythes, drills or serrations.
Before we start, I want to make clear that there are dozens of different ways to sharpen a knife. Everyone has a way they think is best, and men have all sorts of techniques and tools that they feel are essential in getting a sharp blade. In the end, much of it comes down to personal preference. I’m going to show you the way I learned how to sharpen a pocket knife. It’s very basic, good for beginners, and best of all, it works. If you have an alternative method that you prefer, great. Share it with us in the comments. I’d love to hear your tips.
As opposed to water whetstones that require you to pre-soak the stone, the Norton oil stone is pre-filled with oil to save time and eliminate the need to pre-soak it prior to use and the lubricant stays on the surface during sharpening. The oil also prevents metal from bonding with the abrasive surface by flushing away dislodged abrasive and metal chips.
Shapton Glass 320, 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 16,000. I have the 4,000, and 8,000, they are absolutely fine, great in fact but I just don’t use them as much as the others. These stones excel on knives made of hard steel, the hardest steel is no match for these. This does not mean you can’t sharpen hard knives on the Naniwa brand of course, you can. I have been using this particular brand of stone for many years and I absolutely love them.
The Brød & Taylor Pocket Knife Sharpener (which is no longer available) uses the same carbide stones as the full-size model noted above, and it sharpens and hones just as well. It would make a solid, pocketable tool for campers, hunters, and anglers. But this compact model is not stable enough for long or heavy kitchen knives, and you can’t engage the spring-loaded arms in order to use a polishing function.
In addition, there are three broad grades of Japanese Water Stones consisting of the Ara-to (rough stone), the Naka-to (middle/medium stone) and, the Shiage-to (finishing stone). However, it should be noted that the various grades of natural Japanese Water Stones vary widely in both density and grit size from stone to stone and thus, they do not translate well to American or European abrasive standards. Furthermore, because they are significantly softer than Novaculite, Japanese Water Stones must be flattened more often and do not last as long as a either Novaculite or Coticule stones. But, because they form a slurry of fine particles when used, they also do a superior job of both cutting and polishing.