How to use a whetstone

A particularly gentle and effective way of sharpening your knives is to maintain their edge using a whetstone. Wüsthof whetstones are made up of a combination of abrasive grits with a super fine grain to give you the sharpest results. Here’s how to use a whetstone to keep your knife collection in top condition.

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What is a whetstone?

A whetstone is a knife sharpening tool with two different sides: one with a fine grit and the other with a coarse grit. The coarse grit is used to grind away any roughness – this is the pre-sharpening stage. The fine grit is used to give the knife its ultimate sharpness and to polish the edge – this is the fine sharpening stage. The finer the grit of the stone, the finer the edge of the blade.

How to use a whetstone

  • Submerge the whetstone in water for about five to ten minutes to soak. When there are no more little air bubbles appearing, the stone has absorbed the optimum amount of water.

  • Continue to apply water to the stone while sharpening. The water combines with small particles released from the stone to form an abrasive substance, which allows the sharpening to take place.

  • Place the stone on a slip-resistant base, like a non-slip whetstone holder, with the coarse grit facing up.

  • Hold your knife firmly against the coarse grit of the stone and place your blade at an angle of approximately 15-20° to the whetstone. To get this angle, invest in a Sharpening Guide Slider or place your knife at 90°, halve this to 45° and halve again. It’s important to always maintain the same angle throughout the sharpening process.

  • Next, place an even and gentle pressure on your knife and draw the blade along the stone from tip to hilt. Repeat a couple of times. Then turn the knife over and repeat on the other side. It’s vital to repeat exactly the same process on both sides of the blade.

  • Turn over the whetstone and repeat the process on both sides of your knife using the finer grain.

  • Rinse off the whetstone and clean off the grinding residue.

  • Rinse the knives carefully in hot water.

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Understanding grit

There are fixed standards for grit sizes – a European standard and a Japanese standard. These are abbreviated to (F) or (J). The smaller the grit value, the coarser the stone. The Wüsthof 4451 Whetstone, for example, has a coarse side with a F 400 / J 1000 grit and a fine side with a F1000 / J 3000 grit.

Mastering the technique of sharpening with a whetstone will ensure that you get the most out of your blades for many years to come. Head this way to browse Wüsthof’s full range of whetstones and accessories.

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