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How to use a sharpening stone
Follow this simple step-by-step guide to learn how to use a sharpening stone to correctly sharpen a knife.
Step 1 - Anchor your stone
Clear a little work space and set down a cloth, non-slip mat or sharpening jig so that your stone will not move around when you begin to sharpen your tool. Alternatively, you could set the stone in a vice.
Step 2 - Select correct stones
Selecting the correct coarseness of your sharpening stones is an important step to sharpening your knife. Not every knife-sharpening operation needs to be started with the coarsest stone, and not every knife needs to go through three levels of sharpening. It all depends on the current state of your knife's cutting edge.
If your blade is severely chipped or damaged you will need to start with a very coarse stone to grind the edge back to usability. If your blade is sharp but has lost its razor edge, then you can skip straight to the honing stage using a very fine stone.
Step 3a - Soak water stones
If you are using water stones, soak them in water for about 5-8 minutes.
Step 3b - Lubricate oil stones
If you are using an oil stone, lubricate its surface with a little cutting oil.
Diamond stones can be used with or without water but should never be used with oil. Using a spray bottle to apply water to a diamond stone will ensure you get excellent coverage without over-wetting.
Step 1 - Maintain constant pressure
Hold the knife's handle in your dominant hand. With your other hand, apply pressure to the side of the blade. Maintain this pressure for the further steps.
Step 2 - Draw knife across stone
The knife should be held at an approximately 20-25 degree angle from the stone. Begin to draw the knife backwards slowly across the stone. Maintain pressure.
Step 3 - Smooth action
Continue drawing back the knife in a smooth continuous action.
Step 4 - Draw knife off stone
Once the knife has been drawn back across the stone right to the tip, draw the knife off the stone completely.
Step 5 - Turn knife over and repeat
Turn the knife over and repeat the process of drawing the knife across the stone in a smooth continuous action and whilst maintaining pressure upon the blade.
Step 6 - Draw knife off stone
Draw the knife off the stone and revert to step one. Repeat this whole process until you have reached your required sharpness or you move to a finer grit sharpening stone. Sharpen each side of the knife an equal number of times for the best results.
• Alternate sides often (if applicable).
• Check your progress frequently.
• Handle a sharpener with care to protect the surface of the sharpening components. Protect the surface during use and storage.
• Use Sharpening fluid when sharpening with flat stones. Some people recommend sharpening dry and cleaning the sharpener as needed. We recommend always using a sharpening fluid no matter if the flat stone can be used wet or dry (i.e. diamond stones) because it keeps the pores of the sharpener clear and clean, dissipates frictional heat, and facilitates a smooth sharpening action. Always use a non-petroleum based honing solution or water to lubricate the stones. NOTE:Lubricant should always be used on a Natural Stone to avoid damaging the stone. Once you use oil on a natural, synthetic, or diamond stone, it is difficult to change back to using water. Treat the decision to use oil as a permanent one.
• Use enough to keep a visible layer of fluid on the stone while you are sharpening. When the pool gets murky, pat or lightly wipe up with a rag and add fresh fluid. After every use, use a little extra fluid and wipe the sharpener clean and dry after use. After 3 or 4 uses, we suggest cleaning your stone with soapy water and a mild brush to eliminate debris build-up (swarf). Glossy grey streaks are an indicator of debris build-up. An old toothbrush works great for scrubbing the stones.
• Sharpen regularly. Regular sharpening may involve only fine-tuning the edge, but infrequent sharpening may require much more work to restore the edge. Sharpen the edge as soon as you notice it’s not working as well as it should. If you attend to the edge soon enough, it shouldn’t take much to bring the edge back to sharp.
• Is the blade nicked or extremely dull?
If so, you should start the sharpening process with a coarse abrasive material (coarse stones or diamond stones) to remove inconsistencies in the blade edge and take it from very dull to sharp, but not finished. After setting the new sharp edge on the blade, you should move to a medium or fine abrasive material for finishing.
• Is the blade somewhat dull or just in need of a touch-up?
If so, start the sharpening process with a medium or fine abrasive material (i.e. Medium or SoftGrit stones) depending on how dull your blade is on the edge. If you start with a medium grit abrasive, always finish the process with a fine abrasive material to smooth scratches from sharpening and remove any remaining burr.