Different Types of Sharpening Stones and How to Use Them

Posted by Jeremy Watson on

Types of Sharpening Stones and How to Use Them

One indisputable fact about using a knife is that at some point, it will need to be sharpened. There are ways to prolong the life of your blade, like using the right knife for the job and avoiding hard cutting surfaces, but eventually, all knives need to be sharpened. 

If you’re new to knife care, committing yourself to sharpening your dull blades is the first step, but how do you choose the best sharpening stone?

Types of Sharpening Stones

There are several types of sharpening stones, also called whetstones, that can be used to sharpen the edge of the blade.

You’ll find different types of stones for the sharpening process that include water, oil, diamond, and Arkansas stones.

Oil stones are typically made from silicon carbide or aluminum oxide. These stones should be lubricated with mineral oil before sharpening.

Diamond stones are made from synthetic diamond particles mounted on a metal plate. These are gaining popularity among chefs because of their durability, but it should be noted that they tend to take a lot of material off the edge, shortening the lifespan of your knife.

Arkansas stones are created from bedrock found in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. These stones can be lubricated with water or oil.  

Water stones can be natural or synthetic. They get their name because these stones must be lubricated with water.  Our Chubo line of waterstones is made in collaboration with a stone maker in Kyoto. We also offer a limited supply of natural Japanese sharpening stones quarried from the mountains of Kyoto

We recommend only using water stones for Japanese knife sharpening. Waterstones are softer, but faster cutting, meaning that when used correctly, these stones will give you a razor-sharp knife edge in a reasonable amount of time. 

How to Choose a Sharpening Stone  

Generally speaking, the first step in sharpening a chef’s knife blade is to use a medium stone, with a grit size of #800-#1500. This will take material off the edge in a controlled way and prepare the blade for the next step. 

Next, you want to use a finer grit stone for the purpose of refining the knife edge. Polishing stones have grits ranging from #2000-#6000. The higher the grit, the more super polished the cutting edge will be. Natural stones, although impossible to grade can reach grits as high as #20,000. 

How high do you need to go on the polishing stone? It’s really a matter of personal preferences and which knife you are sharpening and how it will be used. Knives used in butchery, like a honesuki, can benefit from a bit of toothy grip achieved with a lower grit. When cutting fish for crudo or sashimi, you will usually want a high polished edge to create thin slices with minimal cell damage to the ingredients. 

Rough stones with grits around #400 are very useful if you have a high level of sharpening knowledge. Rough stones are essential for repairs and make quick work of sharpening very dull knives, but they can take a lot of metal off the knife and should be used with caution. 

Now that you know how to choose a sharpening stone, learn more about the proper use and techniques involved in sharpening your knives. 

Knife Sharpening Tutorial

In this video we demonstrate the various sharpening techniques and tools essential to properly maintain your kitchen knives. We focus on the types of sharpening stones and how to use them. Specifically, we’ll demonstrate and explain the different grits of stones we carry at Chubo and how to achieve a sharp edge.

Video Transcript

Today we're going to discuss the type of stones we carry here at the Chubo. Here we have a coarse 220 grit stone. Coarse grit stones usually range from 220 to 500 rough stone. They're excellent for repairs and chips on your knife. They also help to speed things up when you're trying to sharpen the knife and create a bar quickly.

If you sharpen a lot of knives at once, and they're all fairly dull, a 220 grit stone makes quick work of that and helps you progress a little quicker to the next stone--which is usually a 1,000 medium grit stone. The 1000 grit stone is going to start to refine the edge from the edge you left from the 220 grit and start polishing about any of those little nicks—get the edge going—get the furrow.

After you do that with the 1000 stone, usually the next step is a 6000 finishing stone. This will polish the knife, it’ll refine the edge, and again make it even sharper.

Our sharpening stones come with a stone dresser, which will help build a slurry on the stone, create a little bit of mud, and just refine the edge even more.

Two in One Sharpening Stones

We also carry a convenient two in one stone. This has one thousand grit on the first side and six thousand grit on the opposite side. You could soak in the water for about five to ten minutes or until the bubble stops. It's convenient if you're on the go— if you're a chef working in a professional kitchen you don't have to lug around two stones at once you have these two in one here. So it's just a little bit more convenient.

Eventually, after sharpening on sharpening stones these synthetic stones will tend to dish or concave a little bit. To address that problem, we have a stone fixer. And what that's going to do is going to keep the stone level and flat and just give you a more consistent edge on your knife.

—End Transcript—

We hope you enjoyed this insightful video on the different types of sharpening stones and how to use them.

Sharpening Stones for Japanese Knives

Correctly sharpening your knives is essential for performance and durability. If you’re looking to hone your sharpening skills, check out our professional line of sharpening stones and Japanese knives.



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