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How to Sharpen a Knife With a Japanese Whetstone


 

Even the best knives will become dull over time. But there’s no need to invest in a brand new knife set every time your knives fail you.

Instead, learning how to take care of them using a whetstone will help keep your knives razor sharp while saving time and money...and it’s easier than you might think.

What is a Whetstone?

This little-known tool, also referred to as a Japanese water stone, has been used for hundreds of years to provide the most optimal sharpening solution. Whetstones are made of a combination of abrasive grits with one side being coarser than the other. Interestingly, the term "whetstone" is often mistaken as a reference to water, but the word "whet" means to sharpen.

Keep reading to find out how to sharpen a knife with a whetstone at home...

Before You Begin Sharpening Your Knife

With a light at your back, inspect the blade to identify imperfections (dents and dings). This is important so that you can check your progress while sharpening, paying special attention to these areas.

We also recommend starting with a #1000/#6000 grit whetstone, as it covers the broadest spectrum of knives.

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How to Sharpen a Knife with a Whetstone in 10 Easy Steps

#1

Always submerge the stone in water for 5-10 minutes. When all air bubbles disappear then the stone is sufficiently soaked and ready for use. You may need to add a small amount of extra water to the surface as needed to keep it wet. The water combines with small particles released from the stone to create an abrasive material, which facilitates the sharpening process.


#2

Be sure to keep the stone in place with a stone holder such as a scrap piece of wood. (Note that some whetstones are sold with an attached base for convenience.)


#3

When you’re ready to begin, hold the knife at a 15-20 degree angle. Be sure to keep this angle consistent while you sharpen.


#4

Start with the coarse #1000 grit side (blue side) of the stone which is ideal for grinding worn or damaged knives. For each stroke, start at the blade tip and end at the heel.


#5

Run the soon-to-be-sharp edge across the entire top face of stone with mild to moderate pressure. The idea is to work in a smooth and controlled motion, moving the blade back and forth (away from and towards the body), while maintaining the angle.


#6

Repeat this process several times until your blade is even on this side.


#7

Turn the knife around and work on the other side of the blade. Try to match the angle and roughly the same amount of pressure, to make both sides as flush as possible.


#8

Afterwards, flip to the fine #6000 grit side (white side) which is used for honing and polishing.


#9

Finally, test the knife to see if it’s sharp enough. Our favorite method is the “paper test”. Full video of it here.


#10

Just clean your knife in hot water when finished and your job is done.

Additional Tips

Try to use the entire length & width of the block for both sides. This is ideal because it keeps the sharpening surface even and increases the longevity of the stone.


Apply gentle pressure with your free hand to the face of the blade for extra accuracy.


Carefully dry your whetstone after each use.


Wear cut-resistant gloves for added safety.

And there you have it!

Hopefully these steps have shown you how easy it is to sharpen your knives with a whetstone at home, guaranteeing that they’re always ready when you need them to be...

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