For thousands of years, whetstones were essential tools used for sharpening all types of blade edges. Whetstones remain a simple but effective kitchen tool today. Consider adding a whetstone to your array of household tools.
Whetstones, sharpening or water stones have been used since ancient times. The name is believed to have originated from the English verb “whet,” which means to sharpen. While back in the day, someone might use a simple stone to hone the edge of a blade, today there are a number of whetstone options. Artificial or synthetic stones created today consist of aluminum oxide, silicon carbide or a diamond coating.
Whetstone grit of a whetstone refers to the stone's finish. The higher the grit number, the smoother the finish. Blades constructed with metals rated with a medium hardness of 53-59 HRC require a whetstone grit of 1000 to 3000 to sharpen the edge. Blades constructed of metal having a high hardness rating of 60 to 62 HRC require grits ranging between 6000 and 8000 to sharpen and polish the edge. Some of the best whetstones on the market today offer two sides featuring 1000/6000 or 3000/8000 grit options. Combination stones enable users to sharpen the edge and additionally polish the blade. Extend the life of your knives by obtaining a premium quality combo whetstone.
Sharpening with a Whetstone
Having one of the best whetstones that money can buy means little if the tool is not properly used. The low grit side must be soaked in water for a few minutes prior to use. After positioning the stone on its slip-resistant base, slide the knife blade across the stone back and forth at an approximate 10-to-20-degree angle. Work the entire blade. Flip the blade and repeat.