A Beginner’s Guide To Choosing A Whetstone Sharpener

The Japanese whetstone, also known as a water stone, is available in both a synthetic and natural material option. As an item, it is used as a sharpener not only for Japanese knives, but also Western blades with the growing popularity in Western countries. The method used by whetstones to sharpen blades is accomplished by the tiny particles in the stone itself that are bound together. It is these particles that wash out the blade and provide the blade with new surface particles that are sharper and cleaner.

Whetstones are available in different sizes or in a range of grits. Less than 1,000 grit is typically utilized for knife repair, whereas 1,000 to 3,000 grit is used to sharpen dull blades. A whetstone with 4,000 to 8,000 grip is known as a finishing stone and is often utilized to refine the knife blade’s edge. To ensure you receive the best finish for your needs, it is important to choose the correct whetstone grit. For example, if the knife is utilized for butchering meat, you should not use a whetstone with 4,000 grit as this will cause the knife edge to bend. This article will provide information on how to choose a whetstone sharpener.

Which Stone Should Be Used For What Purpose?

As is mentioned above, you should always opt for the grit most suited to your knife sharpening needs. For a rough sharpening where you need to remove chips in the blade’s edge or when the blade is dull, it is recommended that the stone have a grain or grit between 120 and 240. However, for normal sharpening, the stone should have a grain between 700 and 2,000.

To remove any finer scratches from a blade or the burr left by coarser whetstones to polish the blade surface, it is recommended that you utilize a stone with 2,000 grain. Above this, there is no available theoretical limit; however, at the same time, stones above 10,000 grain do not provide any practical improvement in a blade’s edge. It may also be interesting to note that anything about an 8,000 grain or grit is not available in the Japanese measurement standard. With all whetstones presenting as having finer grit, a buyer will have to take the stone’s manufacturer’s word at face value.

For people who have some experience using whetstones to sharpen blades, it is recommended you use a finishing stone with 8,000 grit. If you are uncertain about these stones, or are a novice, then try using a whetstone with a grit of between 3,000 and 8,000 to provide acceptable results.

For a person who does not sharpen blades regularly, but knows they will need to sharpen a blade without having to remove a chip, then a combination stone should be considered. This type of finishing stone is a trade-off between speed and cost. The larger the stone, the speedier the task; however, smaller stones will work as well despite taking more time to complete the task.

What Are The Different Types Of Whetstones?

  1. The Coarse Stone With Less Than 1,000 Grit

A whetstone presenting with less than 1,000 grain or grit is typically utilized for blades that become damaged. For example, if your knife has a chip or nick in the blade, then this type of stone will remove the damage without too much trouble. Dual coarse stones are ideal when dealing with kitchen knives as the coarse side will remove chips and the medium stone size will generally sharpen the blade.

If your blade has lost its edge completely, then the coarse stone is beneficial to help renew its sharpness. Coarse whetstones are ideal for extremely dull knives as they are highly abrasive and can help regain a sharp edge. However, the abrasiveness of a coarse stone should not be used for general sharpening because they do not leave a good finish on edges.

  1. The Medium Stone With 1,000 To 3,000 Grit

The 1,000 grit whetstone option is considered a basic, “go-to” option if a knife has lost its edge and requires a sharpening. However, you should not utilize this stone too often as it can wear down the blade. A whetstone with 2,000 or 3,000 grit can be utilized more regularly because they are less coarse than the 1,000 grit alternative. Once again, they are created to sharpen and not maintain the blade’s edge. If you make it a habit of sharpening a blade, you will learn how often to use the medium whetstone.

  1. The Finishing Stone With 4,000 To 8,000 Grit

Whetstones presenting with 4,000 and 5,000 grit can be considered a bridge between superfine finishing stones and sharpening stones, the former offering you a super refined blade edge. This type of finishing stone can be used independently, but Western knives may require a U cutting edge instead of the traditional V shape. The 5,000 grit alternative may be as far as you need to go, but there is also the 6,000 and 8,000 grit finishing stones available.

One piece of advice when choosing a finishing stone is that the refinement a blade receives from higher grit whetstones can result in the knife edge bending when cutting. For example, sharpening a blade on a whetstone with 8,000 grit can increase the risk of the blade bending when cutting through muscle. This type of stone is often utilized by butchers and vendors in markets because of the type of blades they use.

Which Whetstone Should Beginners Use?

If you are a novice user or an occasional whetstone user, it is recommended that you opt for the combination whetstone. A combination whetstone places two different ranges of stone in a single whetstone. Experts believe that adding other stones as you gain experience is the best course of action when using whetstones.

How Do I Care For The Whetstone?

It is important that you do not soak the stone in water before use, particularly if the finishing stone has a grit of 3,000 and above. If needed, you should splash the stone with water. After the stone has been used allow the stone to dry thoroughly before returning it to the box. If it is returned to its box when wet, there is the chance of mold and the stone’s quality can decrease.

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Melissa Thompson

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.