How to choose the best sharpening stone
From chef’s knives to multitools to hatchets and axes, having a sharp blade is not only crucial for completing your intended task but is also less likely to slip, making it safer than a dull blade. Using a manual sharpening stone, you can easily and efficiently keep all of your knives and other tools in premium condition.
Sharpening stones range in size, material, grit and price, so knowing which one is best for your sharpening needs isn’t always simple. The trustworthy Diamond Machining Technology DuoSharp Plus Bench Stone is a durable stone that can satisfy a wide array of sharpening needs.
What to know before you buy a sharpening stone
Sharpening stone uses
Sharpening stones can essentially sharpen any tool or object that features a metal blade. Commonly used by chefs, woodworkers and those who deal with various tools, sharpening stones can come in handy when sharpening items such as knives, razors, lawnmower blades, farming and gardening tools, scissors, swords, axes, chisels and more.
Sharpening vs. honing
Before purchasing a sharpening stone, it is crucial to know the difference between sharpening and honing.
Sharpening is the process of creating a new or defined edge on a blade that has become dull or damaged.
Honing is the act of maintaining an already sharp edge, which is commonly performed on chef’s knives using a “steel” or on frequently used tools.
Whether sharpening or honing, make sure to focus on achieving the correct angle for your specific blade.
The overall size of the blades will impact the size of the sharpening stone you’ll need. With both larger bench sharpening stones available and compact, pocket-sized models, size should be the main consideration.
What to look for in a quality sharpening stone
Sharpening stones will all feature a grit number, which correlates to the coarseness of the stone. Grit numbers can range from the most coarse at 400, up to 4,000 or higher on the finest models.
Coarse grits, less than 500, are ideal for initiating the sharpening process on overly dull blades or blades needing repair.
Medium grit numbers, which generally range from 1,000 to 3,000, are suitable for casual uses on household tools or home knife sets. Many users will find that stones with medium grits can meet their needs.
Fine grits over 4,000 create a razor-sharp edge and are also known as finishing stones. Some Japanese sharpening stones can sport a grit number up to 30,000, which is only needed for the most precise honing requirements.
When using diamond stones, be aware that they use an alternate rating system of mesh/microns.
These common stones have been around for quite some time and use either silicon carbide, aluminum oxide or novaculite. Oilstones require an oil lubricant but are easily accessible, affordable and used for multiple blade types. However, they tend to wear down more easily, causing them to become uneven.
Waterstones tend to be constructed from the same materials as oilstones but utilize water rather than oil during the sharpening process. You should presoak this type of sharpening stone before sharpening, but it allows for a quicker process. While they can wear down, they are usually easy to restore.
Ceramic stones are sintered, which means aluminum oxide has been heated, compressed and bound with ceramic powder to create a hard sharpening stone that doesn’t require any form of lubrication. Ceramic stones can be more expensive than other options but can form a sharp edge.
Built by adhering diamond particles to a metal or plastic base, these sharpeners are efficient and used with or without a lubricant. Diamond stones are less likely to wear down and are used for all types of blades. If you need a fine grit diamond stone, expect to pay significantly more.
The three main types of sharpening stones are bench, pocket and combination models. Bench sharpening stones are the largest and most stable, providing the greatest surface area for substantial blades.
Pocket sharpening stones are more portable options that can still serve the same purpose as a bench stone on a smaller scale.
Combination stones usually feature a double-sided construction with a coarser grit on one side and a finer grit on the other.
How much you can expect to spend on a sharpening stone
Sharpening stone prices can range from $15-$650 depending on material and grit. Respectable mid-range options will likely cost you $20-$100.
Sharpening stone FAQ
How can I tell if my knife blade is too dull?
A. One easy way to test the sharpness of your knife blade is to see if the blade can easily glide through a sheet of paper when holding it in the air. Sharp blades will be able to cut through the paper without much pressure or back and forth movement.
Do ceramic knives need to be sharpened?
A. Being made from a different material than steel knives, ceramic blades do not usually need to be sharpened the same way as other blades. Your best option is to have them sharpened by the manufacturer or to use a professional sharpening service.
What’s the best sharpening stone to buy?
Top sharpening stone
What you need to know: A great multipurpose stone, this durable model is perfect for sharpening or defining a blade.
What you’ll love: The monocrystalline diamond surface can be used both wet and dry. A sturdy base is included with your purchase.
What you should consider: The surface can be worn down if not used properly.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top sharpening stone for the money
What you need to know: This is a practical and budget-friendly sharpening stone that works well for most people.
What you’ll love: The double-sided stone gives you both a 400 grit option and a 1,000 grit option for sharpening and honing.
What you should consider: Can wear down after extended use.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: The four different grit options make this great for many sharpening needs.
What you’ll love: A stable bamboo base that provides a way to hold the oil-free stones in place while sharpening.
What you should consider: These stones are somewhat soft, leading to uneven surfaces after time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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