How To Use A Whetstone to Sharpen Knives
What happens when your knives get dull? You sharpen them, of course. But what’s the best way to go about it? Many manufacturers offer a sharpening service, but you have to mail your knives back to the plant and wait a few weeks to get them back. It’s generally easier to just do it yourself. There are a few ways to go about that task, like using an electric sharpener. We like to get all close and intimate with our work by using a whetstone. It results in a better sharpening, and it just feels far more manly. We reckon you’d like to feel manly too, so here’s how to use a whetstone.
How To Use A Whetstone
Whetstones generally have two sides, a course grit and a fine grit. The course side works as a sort of pre-sharpening by grinding off the rough edge and any burrs. The fine grit finishes off the work by turning your dull edge into a super sharp edge.
Saturate the Whetstone
There’s not necessarily a consensus among knife sharpeners about whether or not to wet your whetstone. Some folks won’t use water and just go at it dry, while others like to use water or mineral oil. This reduces the heat caused by friction. We prefer to keep things lubed up.
To use a whetstone, submerge it in water for at least 5 – 10 minutes, but the longer the better. We know of some people who will soak their whetstone for a minimum of 24 hours.
After you’ve saturated your whetstone, you’ll need to place it on top of a mat, or towel, or something that will keep the stone from sliding around on the countertop while also trapping wayward water.
While sharpening, you’ll continue to apply water from time to time as well. As you sharpen, particles from the stone will release, getting trapped in the liquid and forming an abrasive paste. You’ll want to keep it at a pretty runny consistency.
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Using the coarse side of the stone, hold the blade at a 15° – 20° angle. It’s important to maintain the same angle the entire time you sharpen. Applying a light but even pressure, move the blade back and forth across the length of the stone. It all depends on how dull your blade starts, but you’ll probably need quite a few back and forths. To finish off, give the blade a couple quick swipes on the corner of the stone to knock off any burrs.
When that side has sharpened up, flip the knife and repeat the process with the other side of the blade.
When you’ve finished the coarse grind, flip the whetstone over to the fine grit. You’ll go through the exact same process on this side of the whetstone as well. Remember to keep the blade angled consistently.
Overall, using a whetstone isn’t rocket science. However, it takes some practice to get it right. Once you dial in a technique, you can start adjusting your angle for specific applications and steel blends that you have.
If you’re an old hand at sharpening knives, and have any tips and tricks for how to use a whetstone, feel free to add them in the comments section below.
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