It may take a little practice to get it just right but sharpening on a stone is the number one sharpening technique chosen by culinary professionals. It will give you the ultimate control and precision over the edge you give your knife.
Here’s a primer on how to use a sharpening stone.
1. PREPARE THE STONE
Before using, immerse the stone in water for about five minutes. Then, place the non-slip side of the stone facing down into a wooden base. For best results, maintain the wetness of the stone throughout the entire process. A grey liquid is produced during sharpening. This is normal and improves the effectiveness.
Now hold the handle of the knife firmly in one hand and, with the blade facing you, place it on the sharpening stone at an angle of 10 – 20°. Make sure that there is a gap less than a ¼ inch wide between the back of the blade and the sharpening stone. Place your free hand on the blade, but never directly on the cutting edge. Touching the cutting edge can lead to serious injury so be very careful.
Now move the blade – with a little pressure – in regular strokes up and down across the sharpening stone. Always maintain the same angle between the blade and the stone. You will notice a burr, or a line of waste metal at the edge of the knife, that will become visible after 5 or so strokes. If the knife has a large blade, mentally divide the blade into three parts to sharpen individually. Always start with the tip and work back towards the bolster.
4. CHANGING SIDES
Now turn the knife so that the blade is no longer pointing towards your body. Continue to maintain the angle of 10 – 20° and the gap of about ¼ inch from the back of the blade to the sharpening stone. Slide the cutting edge up and down over the sharpening stone. Grind both sides of the blade alternately, around 5 to 10 times on each side.
5. REMOVING THE BURR
To remove the resulting waste metal from the edge of the knife, draw the knife in a curve from top left to bottom right across the sharpening stone. Then hold the knife under running water to remove all residue and dry it carefully. Store the stone in a cool, dry place – away from direct sunlight.
6. TEST FOR SHARPNESS
You can use a sheet of paper to check the sharpness of your knife. Hold the sheet of paper up in the air from one end, being careful to keep your fingers out of harm’s way. If the blade is perfectly sharp, it will glide through the sheet of paper without serious pressure or scratching. If you are not yet satisfied with the sharpness of your knife, repeat sharpening until you have achieved the desired result.