How to use a whetstone

A good knife is likely to be the most important tool in your kitchen so it’s wise to keep it razor-sharp.

One of the best ways to sharpen your knife is to use a whetstone – it takes a little time and patience but, once you’ve mastered it, you’ll never have to battle again with a blunt knife.

Watch this video and learn how to use a whetstone. We’ve also laid out a step by step tutorial below.

1. Submerge your whetstone in water for between 10 to 15 minutes.

Whetstones come with different grits or grains (kind of like sandpaper). A course grain (a lower number) will grind the metal off the knife quickly. A finer grain (a higher number) will smooth and refine the blade, producing a sharper and long-lasting edge. Some whetstones (like the one pictured here) have two different grains.

2. Place the whetstone onto a tea towel or a surface on which it will not slip. Place it with the coarse grain facing up.

3. Hold your knife firmly. Place your blade at an angle of approximately 20° to the whetstone. To get this angle, place your knife at 90°, half this to 45° and half again. The angle of your blade is important and some knives will require slightly different angles (for example, Japanese knives) so you may need to do some further research on your particular knife.
4. Place an even and gentle pressure on your knife and draw the blade along the stone from tip to hilt. Repeat a a couple of times. Then turn the knife over and repeat on the other side. It’s important to repeat exactly the same process on the other side of the knife (unless you are dealing with a Sashimi knife or something similar which will require more technique).
5. Test your knife (be careful not to cut yourself). You can test it using some fruit instead of your finger!
6. Turn over the whetstone and repeat the process using the finer grain.

7. Repeat the process on both sides of your knife.

Whetstones are a great option for keeping your knife collection in top nick but don’t get too carried away and over sharpen your knives or place too much pressure on the blade. The angle you place your knife on the whetstone is important so do some research before you grind away if you have a particularly fancy knife. Some whetstones come with handy angle guides.

You don’t need to use a whetstone to maintain your knives but only to sharpen them when they are in need. To find out more about maintaining your knives on a daily basis, check out: how to maintain your knives.

Once you’ve mastered it, you and your knives will live happily ever after. That is for sure.

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