How to Use a Whetstone to Sharpen your Knife: In-depth Tutorial

Not just for a chef, a kitchen knife is every person’s most price possession. Not only does it help you cut your meat and veggies, but it can also help you further hone your skills as a chef further. Having a sharp knife comes with its set of benefits, ranging from easy operations to making more predictable cuts.

It cuts through your fish and meat seamlessly and ensures to not bruise the herbs that you are trying to chop. And, one of the best ways to sharpen a knife is by using a whetstone. A sharp knife needs less effort but cuts through the food seamlessly without any hassle.

However, if you think that a sharp knife will be able to give you the skills of a MasterChef, you are mistaken. Not just the chopping part, sharpening your knife on a whetstone seamlessly helps you have a more enjoyable cooking experience too.

In case you have been wondering how to use a whetstone for knife sharpening, here is everything you need to know about the process.

What would you Need for Sharpening a Knife on a Whetstone?

If you are planning to sharpen your knives using a whetstone, here are a few things that you would need for the process.

  • A dull knife
  • Double-sided whetstone
  • Towel
  • Bowl of water

What Do You Need to Keep in Mind While Choosing a Whetstone?

In case you don’t have a whetstone at home, you will need to buy one for yourself. But, in order to get a sharp edge and ideal blade sharpness, you need to buy the right kind and high-quality stone.

While buying, consider buying a double-sided whetstone with 6000 grit on one end and 1000-2000 grit on the other end. The 1000 grit side is the coarser end that allows you to sharpen the knife for smoother functions.

How to Sharpen a Dull Knife Using Whetstone?

Just buying a good-quality whetstone is not enough for sharpening. You need to keep a check on the skills too. Here are a few important steps that you need to look out for.

Start by Wetting the Stone

When trying to sharpen your dull blade, it is important that you start by soaking the whetstone in a bucket of water. Keep an eye out and soak the stone till no more bubbles are coming out of stone. Not just initially, you also need to keep watering the stone during the sharpening process too. This creates a sticky slurry-like consistency that promotes faster sharpening without any issues.

Working at an Angle

If you want to get a sharp edge along with a thinner and sharper rest of the body of the knife, you need to find the ideal angle of the edge. This helps you push the knife against the grit stone for smoother sharpening. Finding the right angle for the sharpening process helps you get the pointed edge that you are trying to achieve in your razor-sharp knife.

The majority of the advanced chefs will tell you to aim the knife between 22.5 to 45 degrees angle for that optimal grip and a sharpened knife in no time at all.

But, just because you have found the ideal angle for the sharpening process, you can’t stick to just the front edge of the knife. You need to move the knife against the whetstone consistently and evenly to ensure that the knife is sharpened from both ends and not one side. If required, you can also hold the end of the knife with your thumb for a comfortable process.

If you are working at an angle, ensure that you always hold the handle of the knife with your dominant hand. You need to hold and move the knife using your dominant hand to put extra pressure and you need to use the other hand to apply extra pressure against the stone.

There is no point going extremely fast with the knife against the stone. Not only does it cause enhanced friction, but it also ends up creating excess heat during the process.

Focus on the Edge

Once you have the sharpening process almost done for the rest of the knife, you need to come back and focus on the edge of the knife again. Especially for the kitchen knives, you need to hold the blade against the stone at a 45-degree angle to reinforce the edge of the blade and sharpen it even further.

For sharpening the edge of the knife, you need to use the coarser end of the stone. Hole the knife in the ideal angle and then move it in a to and fro motion, providing optimal pressure against the stone. Put extra pressure when you are dragging the stone back against the knife. It is necessary that you repeat the process till you achieve the expected thickness and sharpness.

You need to be very patient with the process and focus on the motion instead of the speed. Hold the knife in the right way and move it back and forth till you achieve the ideal sharpness. If you witness the blade becoming too thin or bendy on one end, simply flip the knife and start sharpening it on the other end.

As for the number of times you’d have to move the knife against the whetstone, it varies. If you have an extremely dull knife, you might have to go over it more than 20 times. But, in case the knife is sharp enough, you can limit it between 10-15 to and fro motions.

Polish the Edge

Sharpening is not the end of the story. Not only do you need to sharpen a knife, but you also need to polish the edge too. This is very crucial, especially when it comes to the quality of the knife. While you need the coarser end for the sharpening process, you need the less coarse side for the polishing process.

So, take the whetstone’s 6000 grit side for the polishing part. For the polishing part, start by going on and off on one side of the blade and then flip it over, and then repeat the same process on the other side of the blade. Make sure that you polish the blade till it achieves a shiny and smooth finish.

Hone the Tip

Last but one of the most crucial steps to sharpening the kitchen knives is to hone the tip. The honing process is a lot similar to the sharpening process. All you have to do is hold the knife at the 45-degree angle and then move it back and forth till it achieves a shiny and sleek look.

But, unlike the sharpening process when you scratched the knife for over 20 minutes, for honing you need to do the same process 2-3 times.

How to Take Care of your Kitchen Knives After Sharpening?

Unless you have thrifted a chef’s knife from a store, you need to take care of your own knife after sharpening the same. If you think that sharpening your knife once will get the deed done, you are mistaken. You need to constantly keep tracking care of the knife to prevent it from rusting and other risks.

The process is never simple but you do need to make do with it. That said, after sharpening knives, follow the steps mentioned to keep them in the best condition.

  • If you generally stuff your knife inside a dishwasher after using it, don’t. Instead, wash it with your hands and then dry them on the rack. This keeps the knife’s sharpness intact.
  • If you leave your knives in the sink without washing them after use, you are setting it up for danger. Instead of leaving them in the sink, wash them right after use.
  • Chef’s knives and the general good-quality kitchen knives need to be in a proper casing. Instead of letting them lie around on the countertop, keep them inside a wooden knife stacker or put it inside the cover to prevent them from rusting or other risks of damage.
  • A cutting board is what pairs with a knife. If you want an optimal chopping experience, you need to use the knife on a cutting board instead of using it on a marble or a granite board.
  • If you use your cutting knife on a regular basis, it is important that you hone it after every use. This keeps the knife’s longevity in check.

Conclusion

If you have been looking for ways to sharpen a knife using a whetstone, we hope this article gives you all the information that you need to know. Just ensure that you follow the steps mentioned and practice precaution from the start till the end. Moreover, if possible, always get a superior quality whetstone with different gritting on both sides. This helps with sharpening, smoothing, and honing the knife, all at the same time. If you are dealing with high-end sashimi knives, get a fine-grit whetstone for the process.