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How To Sharpen Kitchen Knives With A Stone

Published by: Chef Matty Riedel • Updated: October 26, 2023

You might find your kitchen knives no longer able to provide efficient results as they once did. This can indicate that they need a bit of sharpening. A stone can help you achieve some great results, although it might take some practice to get the process and technique right.

To figure it out, you can go through the following steps of the process and try it out on your own. Let’s begin!

Check Your Knives

It is important for you to check your knives first before you move on to selecting the stone and beginning the process. This is because each of your knives might have dulled to different levels, with some needing more sharpening as compared to others.

A good way to figure this out is by actually testing the knives out. Take a tomato and try to slice through it. If you can’t cut through the tomato with the skin side up you have a blunt knife.

Further, if there are some knives that you tend to use frequently, they are likely to be in more need of sharpening than others that are used less frequently.

Select Style

A whetstone is usually what you use to sharpen your knives. This contains several grains and varying levels of grit that can help you out in the process. The stone can also be natural or manmade and might require different levels of preparation before you begin sharpening your knives against it.

Some kinds of whetstones include water stones, diamond stones, oil stones and ceramic stones, among others. The price, durability and maintenance can differ for each too.

Select Grit

Whetstones can be of fine or coarse grit, with many falling between the two. In general, the higher the grit number, the finer it is likely to be. The grit you opt for can depend on how dull your knives are, with duller ones requiring a finer grit.

An easy way here is to opt for a whetstone that has two sides for sharpening, one with finer grit and one with coarser grit.

Wet The Stone

Many whetstones first require you to soak them in a tray full of water for around ten minutes. Make sure you fully submerge the stone in water so that it can become well prepared for the sharpening process. Do not rush this process and make sure any bubbles that form fully disappear.

You can then remove it from the water and place it on the counter.

Confirm Instructions

Usually, if you have different kinds of whetstones, you might need to follow different processes for them. If they have come with their own information booklet, go through this so that you can get the process of preparing them right. For instance, while some stones require soaking, others might require you to pour some oil over them.

Find And Practice The Angle

What angle to sharpen kitchen knives is extremely important for you to get right so that you can carry out the process accurately without injuring yourself. Practice holding your knife at an angle of around 20-22 degrees from the edge of the stone.

If you keep the angle small, this will increase the level of sharpness of your kitchen knife. Make sure you do not overdo this otherwise, the sharpness might not last very long.

Place A Damp Towel

Before you start sharpening your knife against the stone, it is important to take the safety up one more notch. Take a towel and wash it under some water. Squeeze out the remaining water so that you can are left with a damp towel.

Place this on the counter before placing the stone over it. This can keep everything in place while you sharpen your knives.

Start Sharpening

You can now go ahead and start sharpening. Keep your knife at an accurate angle and rub it against the stone in sweeping upward or downward movements. Keep one hand around the handle and a few fingers from the other hand on the edge. Carry out the sharpening process as cautiously as possible.

Use some bandages to prevent cuts.

Sweep And Repeat

Make sure you apply enough pressure on the knife so that the edges can sweep well against the stone. Make sure you lift the knife up after each sweeping movement. Repeat the process until you are done with the side. See if your stone needs some lubrication before you move on.

Change Sides

Once you are done with one side, turn the knife over and work on the other side with equal care, caution and attention as the first side. Make sweeping motions until you are confident that the knives are sharp enough. You can test them out on a piece of paper and see if they cut through it cleanly.

Hone And Polish

If you have a sharpening rod, you can use it to hone the edge of the knife and polish it a bit more, or you can simply use the finer grit on your whetstone to complete the process. You can also polish it up a bit if you wish to.

If you do not feel confident throughout this entire process, it might be better for you to seek out a professional to sharpen your knives for you.

Clean Up

The final step in this process is for you to clean everything up. Clean your knife with warm water and some dish soap. Make sure you fully dry them up before you test them out again. If they seem ready, you can go ahead and use them.

Keep them upside down in their holder to keep the edges sharp for longer.

How To Sharpen Kitchen Knives With A Stone: Summing Up

Sharpening kitchen knives with a stone (usually a whetstone) involves first checking your knives and then selecting the stone based on its kind and grit. You can then prepare the stone, place a damp towel underneath it, find a good angle and start sweeping the knife against it carefully. Clean it up and test it out.

Chef and Restaurant Owner Matty Riedel
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