There are many methods of sharpening your knives today. For example, you can use a sharpening stone, an electric knife sharpener or sharpening system. The best sharpening technique depends on the type of knife you want to sharpen, the type of steel of the blade, your experience in sharpening as well as your own preferences. But we will focus on how to sharpen a knife with a stone.
Sharpening stones have long been the preferred method of sharpening tools and knives. There are four major types of stones: diamond stones, ceramic stones, water stones and oil stones. Water stones and oil stones were originally found by mining. They are the commonly used stones by both professionals and home cooks.
In this article we will discuss the critical steps to follow when sharpening a knife with a stone. We will also teach you how to flatten and clean your sharpening stones. But before that, lets discuss why you should learn how sharpen your knife.
- 1 Why You Should Learn How to Sharpen Knives
- 2 How to Sharpen a Knife With a Stone using Oil Stones
- 3 How to Sharpen a Knife Using a Waterstone / Whetstone
- 4 How to Flatten Your Sharpening Stone
- 5 The Two Common Techniques of Flattening a Stone
- 6 How to Clean a Sharpening Stone
Why You Should Learn How to Sharpen Knives
It Gives You More Control
It is important to learn how to sharpen a knife on your own. This is because you will be able to control the bevel of the edge to fit a specific knife. For instance, you may opt to sharpen your blade at an angle of 45 degrees for a razor sharp blade that will be ideal for chopping. Or, you can hone the edge to an angle of 15 degrees on each side for a fine slicing knife. Therefore, learning how to sharpen your knives allows you to control how finely you hone your blades.
- It Is Safer
It is safe to use a sharp blade because it is predictable. When it drowns or stroke across the food surface, it will not slip. Thus, it becomes easy to control the blade movements through the food, giving you a control over slicing or chopping. A blunt blade will slip, making it difficult to control. This increases the danger of the blade slipping into your fingers. With a blunt knife, chances of cutting yourself are very high.
- It Is Accurate
A sharp knife gives you a smart look to your dish, particularly when preparing food for a special guest. If you are cutting delicate foods, such as tomatoes, a sharp knife will give you precision cuts. This means you will maintain the integrity of the ingredients as well as the quality of your foods.
- It Is Easy to Control
It is simple and safer to control a sharp knife than a blunt knife which can easily slip causing injury to your fingers. When using a sharp knife, it is not easy to injure yourself because you will be using less force to make the cuts. However, you need to handle a sharp knife with a lot of care. If you are using a blunt knife, it is only a matter of time before it strikes your fingers. Therefore, it is important for you to learn on how to sharpen a knife. A sharp knife does a good work when it comes to slicing or cutting foods.
- Avoid Accidents
It is essential to use a sharp knife when cutting ingredients such as onions as it will not bruise the cells easily. However, if you are using a blunt knife to split ingredients, it will bruise the cells causing oils to split, since you have to exert a lot of pressure to make a cut. To determine whether your knife is sharp, look at its motion as it cuts via foods. This can be either with some difficulty or smoothness.
- It Works Better
A sharp knife requires less force to cut than a blunt knife. Less brute force causes small damage to the food, and it can be easily seen by looking closely at the cut. If you use a sharp knife to slice delicate ingredients such as herbs, they will appear fresh for long. However, if your knife is dull, it will crush several cells surrounding a cut, thus ultimately accelerating, wilting and discoloration. A blunt knife also slows you down while a sharp knife makes it easier and enjoyable when slicing.
How to Sharpen a Knife With a Stone using Oil Stones
First, wet a clean rug, squeeze it to remove excess water, and then lay it straight on a flat surface. Put the stone on top of the rug. The rug prevents the stone from slipping when you are sharpening your blade.
If you are using a two-sided oil stone, it will have a course and a fine side. Start with the coarse side to sharpen your blade and then use the fine side to do the honing.
Pour about 1 to 2 teaspoons of mineral oil on the coarse side of the stone, use manufactured oil to rub the oil all over the stone until it becomes good and lubricated. At times, during the sharpening process, your stone may seemed to be drying up, to keep the stone functioning optimally, continually add more oil on both sides of the stone.
Start your sharpening on the coarse side of the oil stone. Place your bottom part of the blade at your preferred sharpening angle, for example 22.5 degrees for a German knife. Begin moving the blade along the sharpening stone from the bolster towards the tip.
To maintain the sharpening angle, ensure that your left hand is holding the tip of the knife. This will help you to apply even pressure as you gently move the blade along the length of the sharpening stone.
Switch the other side of the blade. If you are holding the handle of your knife with your right hand, you will be holding it with the left hand. Follow the steps above to choose your preferred sharpening angle (in this case our sharpening angle is 22.5 degrees).
On each side of the blade of the blade, do 10-30 strokes using the coarse side of your stone and then do another 10 to 30 strokes on the fine side of the stone to hone your knife.
How to Sharpen a Knife Using a Waterstone / Whetstone
If you are sharpening a Japanese knife, then it is recommendable that you always use a water stone, unless you are instructed otherwise by the manufacturer. Using an oil stone actually dulls a Japanese knife or ruins it completely. Here are the critical steps to follow when sharpening a blade using a water stone.
Prior to sharpening, soak the water stone in water for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Water acts as lubrication and allows particles taken off the blade during sharpening to easily leave the sharpening stone.
Remove your sharpening stone in water and use a kitchen towel to squeeze out the excess moisture from the stone. Lay the stone flat on your work surface. You will notice the stone has two sides: the coarse side ad fine side. The coarse side is used for sharpening while the finer side is used for honing.
At the top end of your sharpening stone, place the bottom of your blade at an angle of 16 to 18 degrees. To find the right angle, place your blade on top of the stone, as if you want to cut into two, that would be a 90 degrees angle, half that to get an angle of 45 degrees, half that to get an angle of 22.5 degrees, which is an ideal angle for sharpening a German knife. Now, take off a few more degrees to get an angle of 18 to 16 degrees.
Start sharpening your blade from the bolster towards its tip. When sharpening, make sure you are running the blade along the sharpening stone. Ensure your left hand is holding the tip of the blade so you can be sure you are maintaining the right sharpening angle.
Repeat the process for 10 to 30 strokes. This however depends on how dull your knife is.
Once you are done sharpening both sides of the blade, flip the stone over to the finer side to hone your blade. Again, do 10 to 30 strokes on each side of the blade.
Once you have completed the sharpening process, run the blade on a honing steel at the same angle you were sharpening it. If your knife is not as sharp as you would have wanted it to be, repeat the entire process again.
How to Flatten Your Sharpening Stone
Sharpening stones must be plane. A sharpening stone that is worn out and has become concave will never give you the best result. In such a case, it should be flattened before use. Japanese sharpening are the easiest to get place since they are soft, with a loose composition.
There are many methods of flattening a sharpening stone. The simplest technique is to apply some 100 grit sandpaper to half of glass with a small amount of adhesive, then run your stone over the sandpaper until it is flat. If your sharpening stone came with a flattening plate, then you can use that plate to flatten it.
In most cases, a sharpening stone will wear out in the middle rather than at the edges. If you continue to sharpen in the dished part of a stone, the cutting edge of your tool will be slightly rounded, making it difficult to remove the high sides.
Oil stones and water stones wear out at different rates. Water stones wear out faster and require flattening more often. It is recommendable that you flatten them every time prior to starting your sharpening session. Oil stones should be flattened after about 10 sharpening sessions. The best part is that, it only takes about 15 seconds to flatten your stone. There are many benefits of flattening your sharpening stone. The primary benefit is that it helps you to remove embedded metal fillings that impair the stone’s sharpening action.
The Two Common Techniques of Flattening a Stone
Flat Is Where It Is At
The cheapest option for flattening a stone is by use of sandpaper. All you need to do is rub the sandpaper with 100-grit on the stone. Repeat the process using 400 –grit paper to get rid of any coarse scratches. If you notice some little wear after flattening your water stone, avoid dipping using the 100-grit sandpaper. Instead add water to stone and user finer grit sandpaper while flattening. Ensure you place a rug below the stone so that it remains firm on the surface while sharpening
Using a Flattening Plate
If you are using a flattening plate, you need to wet the stone first with oil or water (this will depend on the type of a stone). Use the flattening plate to rub over the surface of your sharpening stone until all grayish remains of the previous sharpening have vanished. To determine if the stone is flat, make some marks across the stone using a pencil and then flatten it until the marks disappear. In conclusion, it is essential that regularly flatten your plate using sandpaper. Use a pencil to make some marks along the length of the stone and then rub it until it disappears.
How to Clean a Sharpening Stone
It is highly recommendable that you clean your sharpening stone after every use to keep in a good shape. If you see glossy gray streaks on your stone, then debris has already accumulated on it and you cleaning should be done. To clean the stone, place a towel under it. Next, choose the preferred cleaning method. You can choose to use honing oil or warm soapy water.
If you are using water-based honing oil, then clean your stone using warm soapy water. Use a scrubbing sponge or an old toothbrush to do the cleaning. To clean the stone with honing oil, apply a small amount of oil; rub it in circular motion down the length of the stone. You will notice some metal flecks rising up from the pores as this happens wipe the stone with a paper towel or rug. Once you are done, rinse the stone by running in water and then dry it using a rug or paper towel.
These are the most important things to know about how to sharpen a knife with a stone. If you are looking for the best sharpening stones on the market today, browse our site to see the list of our top sharpening stones in 2018 or the best knife sharpener in 2018 for the best knife sharpening tools We have provided detailed reviews for each sharpening tool. Enjoy!