Your knife is something like the Millennium Falcon.
Even though it is old,
If you take good care of it, it will still have great performance.
You found the right article.
Because I am the Chewbacca of the kitchen knife world.
1. Acquiring this skill takes a practice but it’s worth it
When I was a kid, my dad used to sharpen the kitchen knives in the sink in a hut behind our house.
I would be there to listen to the noise while he was sharpening using whetstones.
There were 2 whetstones.
A brick colored one and a dark brown one…
Did you know this?
2. If you sharpen them, any knife can get very keen
This is true.
A knife from the dollar store can be really keen
Don’t get me wrong.
This is also true that…
If you compare cheap knives to expensive knives
And they are equally-well sharpened,
You can feel the difference clearly.
My point is…
Kitchen knives are not disposable
3. First, you need to know where to sharpen
You need to sharpen 3 parts of your kitchen knife.
The face of the blade, the primary bevel, and the micro bevel.
If you haven’t sharpened your knife or your knife is relatively new,
you don’t have to shave the face of the blade.
And making a micro bevel is an extra step to make your knife blade durable.
4. You only need to sharpen the primary bevel if you are a beginner
When you master sharpening the primary bevel, you can go ahead with the micro bevel and the face of the knife.
5. Your knife edge needs a small zig-zag shape to be keen
Sharpening your knife with a whetstone means a zig-zag shape on the knife edge.
A whetstone is made of abrasive particles and binder materials.
These particles are harder than steel or stainless steel.
And the binder material is sticking to the particles together.
When you sharpen your kitchen knife,
These hard particles and the knife metal grind together and it shaves the knife edge.
Doing so, the knife edge forms a zig-zag shape like you can see on a saw.
6. You need a medium whetstone(around #1000)
In addition, you need to prepare a kitchen knife, water, a piece of cloth, and a few pieces of paper.
A medium whetstone is enough to make your knife keen again.
For a home kitchen, a medium whetstone will do the work well.
When you want another level of keenness, you will probably need a coarse whetstone and a fine whetstone.
But for now, a medium whetstone is enough.
7. You need water to sharpen your knife too
For most of the whetstones, you need to soak them in water for 10 minutes.
Until no bubbles come out from the whetstone.
And while you are sharpening your knife,
You also need to keep feeding in some water.
This is because water makes the surface of the whetstone smooth.
8. Without water, there will be so much friction
So it is difficult to move your knife on the surface.
Another reason why you use water is water cools down your knife and whetstone.
Again, because of friction, your knife and stone can be really hot without water.
9. Water prevents clogging of your whetstone
When you sharpen a knife, you will get residue on your whetstone.
This dirt looking thing on the whetstone is coming from your kitchen knife blade and whetstone.
If you create too much residue, it clogs the surface of the whetstone.
Too much of it makes it difficult to sharpen your knife.
This residue has grinding power.
If you keep the residue on your whetstone, you can sharpen your knife faster.
So the point is not to wash off all the residue. Adjusting the amount of residue using water.
10. A piece of cloth is for stabilizing a whetstone
Wet the cloth and put it under your whetstone.
It will prevent the whetstone from moving.
You can keep your kitchen countertop clean with this cloth..
Sharpening your knife with a whetstone creates some gray-coloured dirty water.
The piece of cloth can catch this dirt,
And keep your countertop clean.
If you have a little extra budget, I recommend getting a whetstone stand too.
A whetstone stand is useful because it can lift the whetstone to the right height.
If you put a whetstone on the table directly and use it,
Sometimes your hands touch the table.
It is quite annoying.
A whetstone stand fastens the stone very well
You can adjust the size using the screws depending on the length of the whetstone.
So your whetstone won’t move or shake.
11. You use a few pieces of paper as a strop
A strop is for getting rid of burr on the edge of your knife after using a whetstone.
You can use a few pieces of newspaper or cardboard as a strop.
But having a leather strop from a knife maker is ideal.
It makes the process easier.
12. You need to sharpen the primary bevel in 30 – 40 degree
The primary bevel does the actual cutting.
It touches and strikes the food and hits the cutting board all the time.
So, this bevel must be durable and tough.
In order to have a durable and tough bevel, the angle of the primary bevel should have a larger angle than the face of the blade.
If the angle is under 25 degrees, your knife tends to have chops because the bevel is too thin.
13. Checking for burr is very important for knife sharpening
A burr tells you if the edge of your knife is well sharpened or not.
A burr is a waste metal at the edge of the knife.
It forms when you shave a knife using a whetstone.
It looks like a really thin thread.
How do you check for burr?
Try to sense burr using your thumb
The burr is supposed to be on the other side of the edge that you just sharpened.
Place your thumb on the blade and move it towards the edge.
You will be able to catch some rough metal feeling there.
And it is the burr.
If you can’t feel anything, then you need to use your whetstone to sharpen more.
You must get rid of the burr to get to a sharp knife
After sharpening your knife, you have to get rid of the burr, so your knife can cut things well.
You can get rid of it by rubbing the edge of the knife on denim cloth, leather, or a piece of paper a few times.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Wash your kitchen knife
Before sharpening your knife, use a dishwasher to make it clean.
Step 2: Soak your whetstone for 10 minutes
You need to soak your stone until no bubbles come out from it.
(Some whetstones don’t need this process. Read the instruction of the whetstone)
Step 3: Put your whetstone on a wet piece of cloth
If you have a whetstone stand, use it instead of the cloth.
[holding a knife]
Step 4: Hold your knife handle using your right hand
LIke this picture, touch the heel of the blade using your thumb.
Doing so will stabilize your knife while you are sharpening.
Step 5: Place your knife diagonally against the whetstone
Step 6: Set an angle to 15 – 20 degrees like this picture
It is a rough indication but the gap between the spine of your knife and whetstone will be…
The thickness of 2 quarter coins.
As we discussed, you want the primary bevel to be 30 – 40 degrees.
And the reason why I said to set it to 15 – 20 degrees is…
Because you need to sharpen 2 sides of the edge.
So let’s say you sharpen one side of the edge for 15 degrees,
And you sharpen the other side for 15 degrees,
Then the total of the angle will be 30 degrees.
Step 7: Place your left hand index and middle fingers on the blade
Remember: the only place you can sharpen is the place you put pressure on with these fingers.
Step 8: Push forward and pull backward
Put pressure with your left hand index and middle fingers while you push your knife blade forward.
When you pull backward, don’t put any pressure on the blade.
And continue until all part of the edge forms a burr.
Don’t forget to add some water when the whetstone is dry.
Step 9: After making sure the burr is formed, flip the blade and do step 3 to 8
Do the exact same thing, but using the opposite hands.
Grip the knife handle using your left hand.
And use your right index and middle finger to put pressure on the blade, etc..
Step 10: Get rid of burr by rubbing on some paper
After successfully forming a burr for the other side of the knife edge, you must get rid of the burr.
If there is a burr on the knife edge, your knife can’t be sharp.
Getting rid of burr makes your knife cut things well.
You can get rid of it by rubbing the edge of the knife on…
Denim cloth, leather, or a piece of paper a few times.
Step 11: Wash your knife well
Wash off all the dirt and residue.
After that, your knife is good to use!