Last updated: August 5, 2021

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Sharpening stones are a particularly useful tool. With their help, you can relatively easily restore your kitchen knives and bring them back to their original sharpness. Even garden tools such as axes, hedge trimmers or the blade of your lawn mower are no problem. We have summarised what you need to look out for and how you can use a sharpening stone as simply as possible.

Choosing the right type of sharpening stone will be easy with our large sharpening stone test 2021. We have prepared and analysed the most important information. We have also compared different types of whetstones with each other and listed the respective advantages and disadvantages for you to make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • Sharpening stones are great for sharpening blades and knives on your own. There are four different types, namely natural stones, water stones, oil stones and diamond stones.
  • When choosing the right stone, the grain size is important. Here, the coarser the grit, the duller knives can be sharpened. Finer grits are suitable for regrinding and refining the blade.
  • Double-sided whetstones are particularly recommended, as they are relatively inexpensive and kill two birds with one stone.

The Best Grindstone: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for whetstones

If you are buying a whetstone for the first time, you should know what to look for when making your purchase to make it easier for you, we have analysed and prepared the most important criteria for you. The criteria that help you find the right whetstone for the right purpose:

Area of application

The first question to ask is, what do I want to grind in the first place? It can be a wide variety of products. In principle, almost anything with a blade. Certainly, most people first think of various knives such as kitchen knives, pocket knives, Japanese knives, survival knives and many more. But not only knives, but also various garden tools and implements can be sharpened with whetstones.

You can sharpen axes and hatchets, garden and all-purpose shears, hedge trimmers and even lawn mower blades yourself. Your children's ice skates are blunt? No problem, you can sharpen them too. So what you want to use your sharpening stone for is important in the selection process of your purchase.

You should make sure that the manufacturer specifies what kind of blades it can be used for.

Ceramic knives, for example, require a diamond stone for sharpening, as ceramic blades can break easily.

Intended use

Once you know what product you want to sharpen, the next step is to determine what your goal is. Do you just want to resharpen something or, for example, is the kitchen knife so dull that it can no longer be used?

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No household should be without a well-sharpened chef's knife. It offers a faster and more efficient cooking experience.
(Image sources: Nikolay Osmachko / pexels)

As mentioned above, the grit determines whether something is pre-sharpened or re-sharpened with the whetstone. But there can be other reasons why it makes sense to buy a whetstone. When cooking, it is much easier to work with a sharp blade. A dull blade is very tedious and makes kitchen work much more difficult. Furthermore, "safety first" applies. It is much safer to work with a sharp blade. If the knife is blunt, you will automatically apply more pressure to achieve the desired result. Therefore, you are more likely to slip and cut yourself.

Knives last longer if they are sharpened regularly. Prevention is better than cure.

Type

There are four different types of whetstones offered by manufacturers. Depending on the area of application or intended use, they all have their individual advantages and disadvantages. We will explain these in more detail later. The four types of whetstones are:

  • Natural stone
  • Water stone
  • Oil stone
  • Diamond stone

Natural stone

Natural stones are quarried from various mountains around the world and later shaped to be used as sharpening stones. The two best-known stones are the Arkansas stone and the Belgian chunk. Since natural stones have different grain sizes depending on where they are quarried and are difficult to work with, they are rarely used.

Water stone

When speaking of water stones, most people mean Japanese water stones. These are completely soaked, i.e. completely submerged in water for about ten minutes, so that all air bubbles can escape. A normal water stone is only wetted with water.

Oil stone

Oil stones are used in the grinding process with an oil abrasive. Therefore, the best results are achieved with this type of stone. An oil stone can also be used with water, but the final result is better if oil is used.

Diamond stone

These are stones on which a synthetic diamond coating is applied to a carrier plate. Due to the diamond particles, the material is very hard and does not wear off.

Grit

Grinding stones are available with different grain sizes. There are stones with coarse, medium and fine grit. Depending on the result you want to achieve when sharpening your knife, you should pay attention to the value of the grit when buying. Basically, there are three different types:

  • Grinding stones with coarse grit
  • Medium grit whetstones
  • Grinding stones with fine grit

Grinding stones with coarse grit

These are best for making very dull blades sharp again. The grit value here is between 150 and 800. Coarse grit whetstones are usually used for preliminary sharpening. If a blade is damaged, this can also be repaired with a coarse grit.

Medium grit whetstones

If the knife is not yet completely dull, it is best to use a medium-grit whetstone. These stones are also commonly used for sharpening. Here, the grit value is between 800 and 1000.

Grinding stones with fine grit

To give a blade the finishing touch and make it really sharp, you should use whetstones with a very fine grit. The value here is between 1000 and 6000. There is still room for improvement, but from 8000 upwards you will notice almost no difference. Stones with a very fine grit are also called polishing stones.

Type of cut

There are different ways to use the whetstone. With water, oil or dry. However, this also depends on the material of the stone. Grinding fluids are good for cooling the cutting edge, ensuring better steel abrasion and generally achieving a better result when grinding.

There are types of stone, such as diamond stone or ceramic stone, that are used dry and do not require grinding fluid.

Attention important! Once the grindstone has been treated with oil, it can no longer be used with water.

Water is used most often because it is available to everyone almost free of charge. Another advantage is that it basically does not make a mess and is not an additional odour nuisance, as can sometimes happen with grinding oils.

If you like to work with an oil stone, you should be aware that once treated with oil fluid it is almost impossible to get the oil out of the grindstone completely.

Decision: What types of whetstones are there and which is the right one for you?

Once you have decided what you want to sharpen and how sharp you want your blade to be, you need to consider which type of whetstone is right for you.

All types have their advantages and disadvantages. The following overview should help you with your decision:

Type Area of application
Natural stone various knives except ceramics and serrated blades, tool blades
Water stone Japanese knives, various knives except ceramics and serrated blades
Oil stone particularly damaged knives and blades, various knives except ceramics and serrated blades
Diamond stone various knives and blades including ceramics and serrated blades

In the following section we will go into a little more detail about the different types of whetstones and their advantages and disadvantages.

Natural stone

Natural stone

As the name suggests, this is a natural product that some people prefer. Probably the biggest advantage is the long durability of natural stone. Because it removes little material during grinding, it is easier to control and correct the result. The biggest disadvantage of natural stone is the duration of the grinding process. Other types of stone are much quicker to handle here.

Advantages
  • high quality
  • natural
Disadvantages
  • rarely found
  • quality depends on place of removal
Water stone

Water stone

The advantage of the water stone is that it releases very little material through soaking and at the same time is gentle on the metal. A small disadvantage of the water stone is that it needs ten minutes of soaking before it can be used.

Advantages
  • gentle on stone and material
  • many representatives
  • wears out less material
Disadvantages
  • needs soaking time
Oil stone

Oil stone

Similar to the water stone, the oil that is used during use prevents more material abrasion. Another advantage of oil stones is the rust protection it gives to the knife for a while. The disadvantage of this stone is that it is more laborious to use and the oil may cause an odour nuisance.

Advantages
  • Rust protection
  • protective oil film
  • good for very dull knives
Disadvantages
  • laborious
  • smell nuisance
Diamond stone

Diamond stone

Grinding stones made of diamond particles are very hard and therefore have almost no wear. Due to their nature, only very little force is needed when working, which is another advantage. When grinding with diamond stones, it is not necessary to use water or oil. You can achieve faster results with a diamond whetstone, but if you are looking for a finer cut, you should use a different whetstone.

Advantages
  • little wear
  • little effort
  • can be used dry
  • fast work possible
Disadvantages
  • sometimes more expensive to buy

Guide: Frequently asked questions about whetstones answered in detail

The following are important questions that many buyers ask before buying a whetstone.

What is a whetstone?

A whetstone, also called a whetstone or whetstone, is a tool used to sharpen various blades. It is most often used to sharpen knives. However, a variety of other products can be sharpened and polished. Grinding stones are made from a wide variety of materials. The four most important ones have already been explained in more detail above.

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A whetstone is a useful tool for sharpening knives yourself.
(Image source: 7241990 / Pixabay)

How much does a whetstone cost?

A whetstone does not have to cost the earth to be able to call it your own. In terms of price, it usually differs in whether there is one grit or two different grits within one stone. Here, you should pay close attention to the value of the stone and whether the stone is intended for preliminary sharpening, main sharpening or for polishing the blade. You can find out which grit is used for which purpose in the section on grit above. Sharpening stones with one grit range from 10 to 80 euros, while sharpening stones with two grits cost around 40 to 160 euros.
Type price range
Single-grit whetstone €10-80
Two-grit combination whetstone €40-160

How do I use a whetstone?

It only takes a little practice to sharpen a knife yourself. We will briefly explain the most important steps here.

  1. First you should check the condition of the blade you want to sharpen. Is it already completely blunted or does it still have some residual sharpness? Depending on the condition, start with a coarse-grit whetstone for the preliminary sharpening or a medium- or fine-grit whetstone for the final sharpening. You can find more detailed information on the different stones and grit sizes above under the criteria.
  2. Next, prepare your whetstone accordingly, depending on the type. For a water stone you soak it for ten minutes until all air bubbles have disappeared and for an oil stone you prepare it with a suitable grinding oil
  3. Now comes the exciting part. What is the best way to move the knife over the whetstone? Quite simply, it is all a question of the right angle. The usual recommendation from experts is about 20°. Here's a little tip: put your thumb under the back of the knife. This should roughly correspond to the angle.
  4. Once you have determined the right angle, you are ready to start. The entire blade is dragged from the end of the whetstone to the beginning of the whetstone above it. In other words, the end of the blade is pulled along the entire whetstone in your direction with light pressure until it reaches the tip.
  5. The sharpening process is repeated until a kind of burr appears on one side of the blade. Once this is the case, turn the blade over and repeat the process again until a burr appears on the other side. Next, if you need another sharpening, change the grindstone to a finer grit and start again with the same steps until you see a burr on both sides of the blade.

To give your knife the perfect finish and optimum sharpness, you can then remove the blade on a leather belt, also known as stropping.

Which whetstone is suitable for which knife?

That depends on what you want your whetstone to be used for. You can determine which stone is right for you by looking at the grit. Grinding stones with a coarse grit between 150 and 800 are intended for preliminary sharpening or when the knife is already very blunt.

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When choosing the right whetstone, it is important to look at the grit value.
(Image sources: Robby McCullough / unsplash)

For resharpening or knives that only need a little sharpening, whetstones with a grit of 800 to 1000 are suitable. If you want your blade to be extra sharp, use a grindstone or polishing stone with a grit of 1000 upwards for best results.

Which is better, whetstone with oil or water?

For the ideal method, you should first work on the desired blade with water. Only if you feel you are not getting good results can you try coating the whetstone with a suitable grinding oil. Make sure that you let the stone dry well first. It is also important to try the water first, as once applied, the oil cannot be completely removed from the stone and therefore no use with water is guaranteed.

How do I straighten my whetstone?

When is it necessary to straighten a whetstone? You can easily find out with the ruler trick. Place a long ruler over the entire stone to see if there is a hollow under the ruler. A cavity of up to 3 mm still achieves a good sharpness, after that the whetstone should be straightened. To get a better idea of where you should remove the grindstone, draw a check pattern over the entire stone with a pencil. Now start to work on the stone with wet sandpaper. You have to remove more at the places where the pattern disappears first. Continue this process until the entire pattern has disappeared.

What alternatives are there to the whetstone?

If you do not have a whetstone at hand, other tools such as diamond files or sharpening rods are suitable. Here you should make sure that you have a suitable diameter to be able to carry out the correct angular alignment for sharpening.

An alternative is a second knife. It is important that the second knife has a harder steel than the knife you want to sharpen.

Image source: mikeosphoto/ 123rf.com

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