If you want your kitchen to function optimally your equipment must be in excellent condition at all times.
Sharpening stones play a vital role in maintaining your utensils such as knives and scissors.
There are so many of these stones on the market.
How do you pick the one that’s appropriate for your situation?
Let’s look at some facts to help you decide.
Types of Sharpening Stones
Listed below are the most known stones on the market. You can see their benefits and judge which one your kitchen needs.
They can be made from natural or synthetic materials such as Aluminium Oxide.
They are softer than some other stones.
This has the benefit of worn layers disintegrating leaving you with a surface that will work fast.
- Use water—not oil—during sharpening which is less messy
- The softness means your stone eventually needs replacement or flattening
Oil Stones are made from:
- Aluminium Oxide
- Silicon Carbide
- This is an affordable item
- It’s made from hard substances so you don’t have to maintain and flatten the stones often
- Can be used for sharpening hardware
- It’s a messy sharpening method because you have to use oil
- It has a slow cutting rate
You’ll find coarse, medium and fine types of these stones.
During manufacturing, small diamonds are attached to metal plates.
These small jewels are able to remove a lot of your knives’ surface particulates at a time. You need some training to handle these stones correctly.
Because of the diamonds’ sharp edges, you should work carefully during the first few times it’s in use.
You don’t want to destroy your utensils.
- Fast sharpening processes thanks to the diamonds’ durability
- Low maintenance because the surface stays flat—doesn’t need flattening
- Lasts long
- Can use with or without a lubricant
- Expensive item
- Can cause grooves that require polishing
You find ceramic and ceramic bonding stones.
This stone requires water soaking before use which allows water to enter the pores.
This improves the stones’ effects.
- Very hard so will serve you well for long
- Can handle tough substances such as steel
- Easy maintenance
- You don’t need lubricant
- Some ceramic stones tend to be soft and can deteriorate fast.
- Not efficient on all utensils; mostly ideal for single edged knives.
- Requires skill to use optimally.
From Asia you get natural sharpening stones. Japan’s geology means stones are formed with unique characteristics:
- Silicate particles
- Clay matrixes
- A consistency softer than Novaculite
Many of them are mined in the Narutaki District.
- It uses water as lubricant instead of oil
- Can become expensive as resources dwindle
Various grit values are available ranging from 500 to 10 000.
Pocket Sharpening Stones:
These sharpening stones are usually encased so you can store it easily in your pocket or luggage.
You’ll find different types of sharpening surfaces such as diamond coated or ceramic stones.
- Some have more than one surface to use for sharpening. One device helps with coarse or fine sharpening.
- Compact sizes allow you to take them anywhere.
- They have limited sharpening potential.
One product has surfaces with different grit ratings.
These are stones that are mined in Japan.
The resource is depleted however.
This was one of the first ways people in Japan and Europe sharpened their knives.
- Can be used with water which is less messy than oil
- Sharpening effect lasts long
- Expensive because the stone is scarce
Random grit size. This actually helps your knives retain their edge longer.
Synthetic Sharpening Stones:
Thanks to modern technology synthetic sharpening stones are as good as natural ones.
Since manufacturing ensures a consistent particle size sharpening a blade is easier.
- No abrasive particles
- Can be manufactured to offer a specific grit rating
- Not aesthetically valuable as natural stones
Types of Grit and what Each One is Best for
You’ll find many grit sizes mentioned on sharpening products. They can be grouped into types:
- Coarse with a rating of #200 - #800: With these coarse edges, you can repair chips or work on very dull knives.
- Medium with a rating of #800 - #1500: This is the perfect grit to use for general sharpening.
- Polish/Finishing with a rating of #1500 and higher: Use them with medium rated stones to enhance the sharpening process. You can also get an extremely fine, polished blade which will easily cut through soft items such as fresh produce.
Want to Know more: Here
How to Use a Sharpening Stone
Much of the success in sharpening is connected to your technique. When using a sharpening stone keep the stone’s unique requirements in mind as mentioned above:
- Does the stone need preparation or soaking?
- Do you need lubricant?
- How much pressure must you apply?
When it comes to the technique you can follow this easy process or follow my step by step.
- Place your stone on a flat surface so you can work comfortably. Put a clean cloth underneath. This will protect your work surface and prevent the stone sliding around.
- Pick a side (coarse or fine) according to the type of sharpening you desire.
- Apply the necessary lubricant if necessary.
- Now slide the knife across the stone in a smooth arc. Take note:
- Hold the knife at a 20° angle to the stone.
- Maintain this angle so you sharpen the same piece of blade the whole time.
- Repeat this motion a few times—usually 10—on one side. Then turn the knife around. Repeat the same motion on the other side.
- If you started on a coarse or medium grit repeat this process on finer rated stones.
Instead of sharpening the length of the blade with each swipe you can sharpen it from tip to heel. This requires you to repeat the same motions for:
- Tip to heel on both sides
- Heel to tip on both sides
This is necessary since you use your knife for forward and backward motions during cutting.
Which Sharpening Stone to Buy
When in the process of purchasing a sharpening stone you must keep the end in sight:
- What do you want to sharpen?
- What will the utensil be used for?
Use the guideline above about the grit ratings.
Pick a stone which has the rating you require.
Beginners should opt for synthetic stones that allows for easy sharpening. Experienced users can try their hands at diamond sharpeners that require more skill.
Can you see how your utensils can benefit from the right sharpening stone? Remember to practice your technique for optimum results.
You may never have to purchase new knives again.