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Your Last Chance to Bag A Free Whetstone

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Using whetstones or water stones is the best way to maintain the sharp edge of a chefs knife for longer, and the purists' choice for experienced chefs. Learning to use a whetstone in the right way will save time and money, but how is it done?

Whetstones offer the most versatile sharpening tool for chefs knives, being able to refine a blade's edge as well as bringing it back from dullness. Not only do they give you the best edge, but also removes the least amount of material. But what should you look for in choosing a whetstone?

Just For Today

This might be your last chance to get your free whetstone, when you spend £50 or more on Chefs Knives only on the 27th July 2017. Simply use the voucher code - FREEWHETSTONE - as you checkout.

How To Pick A Whetstone

Whetstones come in a variety of shapes, sizes and levels of abrasion. A sharpening stone's level of abrasion is relative to the size of its grit particles which is described as grit numbers. A stone’s grit number refers to the number of particle per square centimetre. In finer stones, the particles are much smaller, so they are more concentrated. The grit level generally ranges from the coarsest at 100 to the finest at 8000 and above to as much as 10,000.

The best practice when choosing a whetstone is to base your decision on how fast you need to remove metal and how fine an edge you require. Therefore, having a combination of three whetstones of different grit levels gives you more choice over your sharpening options. The other thing you’ll want to consider is the hardness of your knife. If your knife collection mostly consists of harder steels around the 60-64 range, then you’ll want to refine at a high grit level of 5,000 to 8,000 for example. For a breakdown of every whetstone grit level, read our guide on how to sharpen and hone chefs’ knives.

How to sharpen using a whetstone?

A great rule to remember when using a whetstone is that less it more! The main goal of this technique is to remove fatigued metal and expose the fresh, stronger steel underneath. Although higher grit stones will give you a finer sharp edge to your blade, this also requires more physical effort so it’s worth bearing in mind the nature of the task requires skill and patience. One crucial factor in using a whetstone is your level of lighting. If you can’t see the edge of the steel and your progress it will be very difficult to determine if the bevels are being ground evenly. The first aim is to raise the burr on the opposite side of the knife that you are sharpening. Once you have been grinding one side for more than 3-4 minutes, flip the knife and work the opposite side. As you start to stroke the blade across the whetstone you’ll notice a black residue forming on the knife. This is actually minute particles of steel mixing with the water, and it’s a good thing as it means you’re making progress.

A summary of best practices when using a whetstone:

  • Try to minimise distractions such as music, bleeping devices and smart phones. Sharpening with whetstones demands your full focus and attention, and will bring you the best results if you are fully concentrated 
  • Prepare your whetstone, and ensure you have good lighting above your sharpening station 
  • Find the best sharpening angle for your knife and practice strokes at this angle to build muscle memory 
  •  Pressure is key to whetstone sharpening, but on first attempts its best to keep it to a minimum until you’re confident with the process.
  • Raise a burr on both sides of the knife
  • Remove the burr completely
  • Test your knife for sharpness with paper 
  • Repeat if necessary and discover that persistence and patience pay off in the end! 

Whetstone sharpening techniques are different depending on the style of knife. For more detailed instructions on these techniques and the style of knives they work best for, take a look at our infographic on how to sharpen your knives using a whetstone.

Which grit whetstone do you use regularly and why?  As ever, let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.


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