Choosing the Sharpening Stones

Although sharpening stones are the perfect way to keep your blades in top shape, choosing the most effective sharpening stone can be difficult - there are so many types! Choosing a sharpening stone is a matter of matching price and convenience with the amount of sharpening your blades require.

Using a Sharpening Stone

  • True grit. "Grit" defines the coarseness of a sharpening stone. The grit of sharpening stones can vary from 120 all the way up to 10000. The higher the grit rating, the smoother the sharpening stone will be.
  • Match the stone to the job. There are three types of sharpening: grinding, sharpening and finishing (sometimes called polishing). Grinding uses a coarse stone in the 120 to 500-grit range. Grinding is used to remove nicks and other imperfections from your blade. Sharpening requires a stone with a grit of around 2000. Sharpening smoothes out the imperfections of grinding and returns your blade to a fine edge. Finish sharpening uses a stone with a grit above 3000. Finish sharpening takes out minute scratches and removes burrs left behind by the other sharpening.
  • Keep your angle. The key to using a sharpening stone is to keep the angle of the blade consistent throughout its length. For beginners, there are stands and jigs to hold the blade at a selected angle.
  • Why choose just one? For many users, the most economical solution is a combination sharpening stone. A combination stone pairs different grits (usually sharpening and finishing) on one stone. Combination stones are a convenient alternative to purchasing multiple stones.

Pick The Right Stone
There are several types of stones on the market. The most common are:

  • Oilstones - The oilstone is a traditional sharpening stone that is lubricated with oil. Oilstones stay flatter longer than other stones, but some users find them messy.
  • Waterstones - Waterstones sharpen faster than oilstones and are lubricated and cleaned with water. Because waterstones use softer material, they must be repaired (using a process called flattening) more often than other stones.
  • Diamond - Using industrial diamonds applied to a metal backing, diamond sharpening stones sharpen quickly, but don't need to be flattened. Although their initial coast is high, diamond stones are long lasting and perfect for high-volume sharpening.
  • Ceramic - These man-made sharpening stones are water lubricated and leave a very sharp edge on steel blades.
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