How to Sharpen Your Knife Using a Whetstone

Sharpening a kitchen knife can seem intimidating at first, but it's actually a simple process that anyone can learn with a little practice. One of the most effective tools for sharpening a kitchen knife is a whetstone, also known as a sharpening stone. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to sharpen your kitchen knife using a whetstone:

Gather your materials. In addition to your whetstone, you'll need a bowl of water, a towel or cloth.

Prepare your whetstone. Before you begin sharpening, you'll need to soak your whetstone in water for at least 10 minutes. This helps to create a slurry, which will help to remove any burrs or nicks on the blade.

Place your whetstone on a stable surface. You'll need to keep the whetstone in place while you're sharpening, so it's important to choose a surface that won't move around. A towel or cloth can help to keep the stone from slipping.

Hold your knife at the correct angle. The angle at which you hold your knife against the whetstone is important for getting a sharp edge. For most kitchen knives, a 20-degree angle is a good starting point. To achieve this angle, hold the knife with the blade facing down, and rest the spine (the top of the blade) on the whetstone. The blade should be resting on the stone at a 20-degree angle.

Sharpen the blade. Using a back and forth motion, sharpen the blade by moving it across the whetstone. Make sure to apply even pressure as you go, and pay attention to the blade's edge. You should aim to sharpen the entire length of the blade, including the tip.

Flip the knife and repeat. Once you've sharpened one side of the blade, flip the knife over and repeat the process on the other side. Make sure to maintain the 20-degree angle as you sharpen.

Use the honing rod to finish. Once you've sharpened both sides of the blade, you can use the honing rod to fine-tune the edge. To do this, hold the rod vertically with the tip resting on a cutting board. Place the blade against the rod at a 20-degree angle, and draw the blade down the length of the rod. Repeat this process on both sides of the blade.

Test the sharpness. To test the sharpness of your knife, try slicing through a tomato or a piece of paper. If the knife glides through smoothly, it's sharp. If it tears or requires too much force, you'll need to repeat the sharpening process until you achieve the desired sharpness.

With a little practice, sharpening your kitchen knife using a whetstone can become a quick and easy task. By following these steps, you'll be able to keep your knife sharp and ready for all your cooking needs.

For a detailed guide with everything you need to know about (Japanese) kitchen knives read our ultimate kitchen knife guide here. 

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"Nothing says I love you better than a real sharp knife"

Chef Michael Ruhlman