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 you will need to sharpen the blade.
We recommend only using water stones for this purpose. If you’re new to knife care, knowing you need a whetstone is great, but how should you choose a sharpening stone? There are several things to keep in mind when selecting the right stones.
About Sharpening Stone Grit and Use
Generally speaking, the first step in sharpening a knife is to use a medium stone, with a grit 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 fine stone for the purpose of refining the edge. Polishing stones have grits ranging from #2000-#6000. The higher grit you go, the more super polished the 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.