Of all the common sharpening methods and means, a professional whetstone is the first choice for sharpening knives. Sharpening and grinding bars can sharpen special grinding shapes similarly well in high-quality ceramic designs. Grinders with rotating stone wheels are suitable for short blade lengths.
Grinding stones produce the best results
The most qualitatively demanding and highest-quality knife sharpening can be described as the sharpening of straight razors. For this supreme discipline of hand sharpening, only water sharpening stones come into consideration. No other grinding methods can produce the proverbial “razor sharpness” to the same degree.
The type of whetstone used for blade sharpening depends largely on the intended use of the knife. Not every blade needs to have become “razor sharp” after sharpening. For special types of sharpening such as serrated knives, bread knives and saw knives, the abrasives must be adapted to the shape of the cutting edge.
Fixed or rotating whetstones
Apart from metal and file-like sharpening rods and inferior general purpose sharpening machines, the sharpening result is largely dependent on proper handling and knowledge of metals and angles. Technically experienced and skilled knife grinders can achieve very good results with grinding rods as well as rotating and fixed grinding stones in disc form.
A major challenge to craftsmanship in knife sharpening is the ideal balance between material removal and sharpening results. With relatively short and straight blades, such as on planer knives, sharpening by hand means too much effort. Rotating grinding wheels are the best tool in this case.
Japanese water sharpening stones are unbeatable
For sharpening the sharpest chef’s and kitchen knives, a Japanese water sharpening stone or comparable products should always be used. For high quality multi-folded metal blades such as Damascus kn ives or Damascus knives, a top quality whetstone is mandatory. The grit should be 3000 grit and 8000 grit and above.
Extremely important after sharpening knives with a whetstone, regardless of the type, is to remove the burr by honing on leather. When looking for someone to sharpen knives, be sure to insist on this indispensable operation.
Ceramic grinding bars as an alternative
In the case of wavy knife edges with depressions and elevations in the course of the blade, the knife must be sharpened without a whetstone. The only professional alternative here is ceramic grinding rods, which are also selected in the appropriate grit sizes.
For private households where knives are sharpened themselves, a combined water stone with two different grit sides is ideal. Together with the honing leather for removing the abrasive burrs, this equipment is sufficient for medium-sharp to razor-sharp grinds. Grinding stones of this type cost between fifty and 150 pounds and are a lifetime purchase.
Tips & Tricks
With average use of your knives and proper care and storage, you can expect one sharpening a month if you want to keep the level of sharpness at about the same level all the time.