4 Ingredients to Sharpening a Knife

Sharpening a knife takes practice and patience but over time your edges will get sharper and stronger and you’ll be able to notice the various nuances that create a better and longer-lasting edge. It is important to start somewhere and I’ve noted the 4 basic ingredients to get you introduced to the art of sharpening. 

#1 The Stone:

Sharpening stones are generally categorized into two types, old school oil or a dry system and a classic wet stone. It is widely considered that a wet stone or a wet stone ‘system’ is the best all-purpose and most effective choice when selecting your sharpening medium. It’s easy to get lost in how fine a grit one should use but generally speaking all you really need is a double-sided stone that has a #1000 and #3000. Most stones come with conditioning instructions, so be sure to read those before you get started. 

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#2 The Angle:

For most hunting, sport knife and kitchen knives the general rule is that a blade should be held anywhere from about a 22- to 30- degree angle off the stone – imagine if you were to place a penny below the surface of the edge facing the stone – You can always use an angle guide to get started . The wider the angle the harder it is to achieve a razor’s edge but the more durable the edge is. You’ll need to play with these angles to align with the purpose of your blade but these are good general rules.

#3 The Lubricant:

Since you’ll be using a wet stone, you’ll want to ensure that you have a spray bottle nearby to constantly keep your stone wet, not just damp. You’ll also want to have a rag handy as you’ll want to remove the excess steel sediment that will build up as you sharpen your edge.

#4 The Push

It may be counterintuitive but you only ‘pull’ you knife when refining your edge at the end of your wet sharpening – this is usually done with a sheath of leather. When sharpening your knife against the stone you’ll want to slightly push the blade against the stone and away from you. You’ll do this 5-7 times on each side with a softer pressure on each push. The ‘push’ creates a bur which is what eventually creates a fine razor-sharp edge.   

Author: Allen Degringle has been sharpening knives for over 15 years.