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The Correct & Proper Way to Sharpen a Knife

Updated on January 10, 2016
Learn the correct and proper way to sharpen a knife
Learn the correct and proper way to sharpen a knife | Source

Know the Correct & Proper Way to Sharpen a Knife

Sharpen a Knife to a Razors Edge

Not knowing the correct & proper way to sharpen a knife could damage the blade beyond repair

Using a Whetstone or an Oil Stone to Sharpen a Knife

Before you begin to sharpen a knife, decide whether you are going to use a whetstone or an oil stone. There isn't much difference between the two other than one you use with water and the other is used with oil - that's it. However, most knife experts in the United States prefer to use oil, while other parts of the world (China, Japan, South Korea, &c.) choose to use water.

Sharpening stones can be purchased at most stores that sell survival and camping equipment. You can usually always find a store that sell sharpening stones in your city's "Chinatown" district. They're pretty cheap ($1 - $10), but you may have to flatten the surface of your sharpening stone yourself before you begin to sharpen a knife.

In all actuality, the need for oil or water is NOT really necessary. It's true, sharpening a knife on a dry stone (according to this Hub's author, (James Timothy Peters) is probably the best way to correctly and properly sharpen a knife.

*Special Note: Once you place oil on a sharpening stone, water doesn't seem to work well anymore. If you're going to go out and find your own "natural" sharpening stone, remember that some stones are naturally oily. Use your best judgement before using it to sharpen a knife.

Sharpen a Knife with a Whetstone

Japanese Swordsman prefer the WheTStone to Sharpen a Knife

Since man first learned how to make knives and other cutting tools, they learned how to make and keep them sharp. Sharpening stones have even been found on prehistoric cavemen who wore them as pendants. Prehistoric cavemen knew the importance of keeping weapons and tools sharp at all times, just as expert woodsman and professional chefs today understand that dull knives are useless and can cause accidents.


When the water is placed on a sharpening stone, it's actually serving two purposes. It's not only lubricating the knife and the sharpening stone, but it's also floating the stone dust up and away from the stone, so when you sharpen a knife it can make full contact on the stone.

Oil on a sharpening stone also serves the same two purposes.


The Misconception

Some experts would like to mention the misconception with sharpening a knife with water. It comes from "whetstone". Whetstones were commonly used to sharpen knives. This eventually led to the belief that water should be used because it was misunderstood between "whetstone" and "wet stone".

Sharpen a Knife with an Oil Stone

Before you sharpen a knife with an oil stone be sure that the sharpening stone is able to handle being oiled down. Some "man-made" sharpening stones are labeled a "wet/dry", meaning that you may sharpen a knife with or without the aid of water - nothing else.

12" Winter Camo Hunting Knife

I bought this knife for ONE CENT off Ebay
I bought this knife for ONE CENT off Ebay

The Proper and Correct Way to Sharpen a Knife

Using a Whetstone or an Oil Stone

How to Correctly Sharpen a Knife

When sharpening a knife, the goal should be trying to give the blade the best symmetrical edge possible. To gain a symmetrical edge drag the knife across the stone in the opposite direction you would normally do to try to slice a thin layer of the stone off. Repeating this step over and over again (doing it EXACTLY the same) is what you need to do in order to gain that perfect symmetrical edge.

When using a whetstone, place the water directly on the stone. However, it is recommended that you DO NOT place oil directly on the stone for this could cause the stone to wear down more rapidly than normal. Instead, place a generous amount of oil directly on the blade itself using a thick cotton ball.

*Special Note: Read the directions first that comes with any sharpening stone in regards to care and use.

How to Sharpen a Knife with a Stone

Aichmophobia

The Fear of Knives

Knives, Pencils, a Pointing Finger, the Sharp Point of an Umbrella

If anything with a sharp point makes you feel uneasy, you may suffer from a mild form of Aichmophobia. People who have an extreme case of Aichmophobia can't even be in the same room with a knife. The knife must be safely put away out-of-sight in order for an Aichmophobic to remain calm and collective.

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    • James Peters profile image
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      James Timothy Peters 4 years ago from Hammond, Indiana

      Thank you for the comment. It's appreciated VERY much.

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      lesliebyars 4 years ago

      Nice hub my friend. I learned a lot from this article. Voted up and useful, keep up the great work.