How To Use a Whetstone To Sharpen a Knife: A Basic Guide

how to use a whetstone to sharpen a knife

To be a great cook, even for just your small family, you need to learn a lot of different skills.

That is to make sure you can do everything from dish preparation up to the presentation.

Learning how to use a whetstone to sharpen a knife is just one of the skills that every home cook or chef needs to know.

As a cook, knives are like a part of their bodies already, so your work would slow down if the knife's blade becomes dull.

How To Use a Whetstone To Sharpen a Knife

Sharpening a knife with a whetstone is not a complicated process.

Once you’ve figured out how to do it on your first try, the next sharpening tasks won’t be too difficult.

Things You'll Need

Before you start your whetstone knife sharpening task, you need to prepare a few things.

That includes a bowl of water to keep the whetstone wet or lubricated.

You also need to prepare a whetstone holder, towel, or mat to keep the whetstone sharpening tool stable or in place while you're working on the knife.

You would also need the towel to clean the sharpened knife and surface of the sharpening tool.

The most important item you need to succeed in sharpening your knife is the right type of whetstone.

Whetstones come in different grits, and they all have specific functions when sharpening a knife.

It means that you cannot simply choose a random grit and start sharpening your knives. It can be ineffective or damage your knife.

When choosing a whetstone, always opt for a double-sided whetstone.

This is perfect for normal households since it is more affordable.

It serves two purposes. You can use one side to remove the damages, while the other side to sharpen the knife.

One side of the whetstone should be at least below 1000 grit, while the other side should have 1000 grit and above.

You can choose either synthetic or natural stones. Synthetic whetstones are more affordable and easier to use.

Whet Stone Knife Sharpening Procedure

Since you’ve already prepared everything and chosen your whetstone, here's a step-by-step guide on how you can sharpen a knife using a whetstone.

1. Wet the Stone

Whetstones have to be wet to be effective. Although some people would just grind away without wetting the stone, it is not advisable.

That is because it can damage the knife or even hurt your hand during the process.

For a normal whetstone, you have to submerge it in water for about five to 10 minutes.

Always make sure you pay attention to the whetstone and that no air bubbles are coming out before taking it out of the water.

Remember that it is better to soak the stone longer so you won’t have to apply water regularly while sharpening a knife with a whetstone.

Wetting the stone does not only happen at the beginning. You have to constantly add water to the whetstone while you are sharpening your knife.

The whetstone dust and water will turn into a slurry, which would help with the sharpening process.

how to use a whetstone to sharpen a knife

2. Find the Right Angle

Most people don’t really care about the angle when sharpening knives using whetstones.

They would just grind the knife without checking if the blades are pointy or not.

Finding the right angle usually depends on how you want your knife to turn out.

You can choose a pointy knife or a more durable blade.

With a pointy knife, chopping and slicing would be a breeze, but the blade would dull faster.

It would be less pointy for a durable blade, but it would last for a longer time without sharpening.

What You Need To Do

Here are the simple ways to find the right angle for sharpening a knife.

  • Put the blade of the knife at the surface of the whetstone and make a 90-degree angle.
  • Push the knife's back down to a 45-degree angle and go halfway again to get a 22.5-degree angle.
  • Remember the amount of space between the knife and the whetstone. Make sure that you consistently grind the knife at this angle to create a balanced blade.
  • The best way to do this is to put your thumb horizontally at the back of the knife. This way, you can easily know the amount of space needed to get the right angle for sharpening.

3. Redefine the Edge

The best way for you to know how to sharpen a knife with a whetstone is to define the edge.

You need a double-sided whetstone to help create a new edge for a dull knife.

Use the coarsest stone or the one with the lowest grit, find your angle, and start doing a back and forth motion.

Apply a bit of pressure to the knife to help create a new blade.

Be very calm and steady when sharpening a knife since, again, it can damage the knife or hurt your fingers.

4. Polish the Knife

The last step of the whetstone sharpening process is to polish the knife.

Once you’re done redefining the edge, you need to polish the knife so it won’t look ragged.

After using the coarse part, polishing the knife would require the part with the highest grip.

Although 1000 grit is already enough, you can use up to 3000 grit when polishing your knife.

Focus on one side of the blade, flip it, and work on the other side.

Just repeat the process until you get the sharpness that you are looking for.

Once you are done with whet stone knife sharpening, use the towel to wipe off any excess metal from the blade and wash it immediately.

How To Sharpen a Knife With a Whetstone

Knowing how to use a whetstone to sharpen a knife is an essential skill in the kitchen.

No matter how great your skills are with cooking, you will be in deep trouble if your knives become dull, and you have no idea how to sharpen them.

The process is not too complicated as long as you know the exact angle and how to position the knife to get the best sharpness properly.