Sharpening a knife is a skill well worth mastering to keep your knives at optimum performance level. In this review, we will look at knife sharpening methods and the best knife sharpeners.
To sharpen your knife you will need to grind and hone it on sharpening stones, whetstones (the word “whet,” meaning to sharpen a blade) and waterstones, the abrasive surface of these ‘stones’ is measured in grits – The number of grits indicate the density and size of the particles – However the grits are numbered differently depending on which part of the world they come from, but generally, the higher the grit number the higher the density and the smaller the particles and finer the grit.
Sharpening a knife entails working through starting from a coarse grit to a fine grit, depending on how blunt or damaged the blade of your knife is. A very coarse grit; 80 – 400; is for the fast removal of metal, and your knife may not need this every sharpening session. Medium coarse grits; 700 – 2000, are for refining the edge and removing the burr and fine grit stones; 3000 to 8000 grit; are for the final honing, removal of burr and polish.
How To Sharpen A Knife
Whetstones are made from a range of abrasive materials traditionally natural quarried stone and the more recent artificial blends. They can be used with both oil and water.
Waterstones need to be soaked in water before use and lubricated with water throughout the sharpening process. (oil will harm them.) Each stroke of the knife across the surface of the stone breaks away a few particles constantly exposing new and sharp particles and building up a good slurry-like paste of loose grit which is the mechanism by which waterstones sharpen a blade.
Sometimes used in conjunction with waterstones are the specialised ‘Nagura waterstones ’which have a fine 4000, 6000, 8000 and 10,000 grit, these help waterstones build up a good slurry and are also used to level them, which should ideally be done before every sharpen alternatively.
Nagura waterstones should also be saturated before you use them and a recommended method is to rub the flattening stone over the sharpening stone in a figure of 8 patterns. A course grit diamond honing stones can also be used to do the same thing.
Diamond Hone Sharpening Stones comprise a steel plate sometimes with a plastic or resin base. The plate is coated with diamond grit.
When sharpening your knife, lay the bevel of the blade edge flat on the sharpening stone.
There are two popular methods of sharpening one is… Keeping that angle, push the blade across the stone away from you in shaving motion. Repeat this motion a dozen or so times then turn the blade over and sharpen the opposite face towards you. Another popular pattern to follow with the blade is a figure of eight. Continue to do this splashing the stone with water from time to time, when you notice it is drying out, to keep the slurry forming. Then move to a finer grit.
The angle at which you hold your knife needs to stay consistent, to help with this, some sharpening systems are designed to hold the blade at specific angle. One of these is the bevel guiding clamp style tool which holds the blade in place and the stone on a movable pre-set angle mounts for guided strokes; (see Review of The Aligner Guided Diamond Sharpener below). Another is where two sticks are fixed to a base in a V shape. The knife is held perpendicular to the base and pulled up the V.
You will not be able to see the edge of a very sharp knife with the naked eye, but to see the reflection of the edge and catch sight of Knicks hold the blade to the sunlight.
The Strop: Finish up your sharpening session with a strop. The strop is traditionally leather, ideally with abrasive compounds impregnated into it or just a piece of leather, smooth wood, or even cloth, this removes any burr or curl that has developed during sharpening, improving without disturbing the edge you have already achieved, and polishes too. Rub the blade across the strop surface a good few times until you are satisfied that it the honing is complete.
Review of The Aligner Guided Diamond Sharpener
Made by DMT, who have been a leading innovator of manual diamond sharpening technology for over 30 years, this guided diamond sharpener provides fast, accurate knife sharpening ensures guided strokes and exact bevels to give a consistent angle with a choice of 7 angles. It is designed to hold any 4″ (110 mm) DMT® Diamond Whetstone or to be used separately with any bench model DMT® Diamond Whetstone. It comes with a fabric pouch useful for packing into a grab-bag.