How to Use a Sharpening Stone

Sharpening stone!

Well, rarely I see someone who have enough braveness and patience to get it their kitchen to sharpen their cooking knives by themselves. Mostly because they are worried that they’re going to mess up the blades.

However, good news is it isn’t that hard when it comes to sharpening a stone. The guide is very simple, clear and easy to carry out. What you need is just paying a little attention to the progress and find the right angle to have the knives sharpened in the best way.

Here is my step-by-step instruction of how to use a sharpening stone alongside with some frequently asked questions that might you wonder, too. Such as wet and dry sharpening – which is better, or which kinds of oil should be used in sharpening, etc.

Don’t miss out!


To start off, you will need three things firstly:

Now, a good sharpening stone is obviously, but why should we have scratch papers here, which might some people wonder. Actually, you will need something to resurface the knife blade as it may get many flat spots and burrs or those hard knives steel like the Ontario 1095 can’t only work on a sharping stone.

Besides, a thick leather piece is a must to use as a strop.

How to sharpen a knife

Find the right angle

Angle is very important when sharpening a knife.

After years of cooking, I learn that almost knife blades are about 15 – 22 degrees of angle and this basically covers all your fixed blades and folders. The only exception is when the manufacturer makes a different angle on the knife blade for a special purpose.

I highly recommend you to stick to the 22.5 as this is the standard in which it sharpens a knife blade perfectly without changing the angle too badly.

However, to find and remember that 22.5-degree angle is a whole different story. My tip for this is to use a piece of ordinary computer paper. Lay it on the table, fold it on diagonal, which will give you 45 degrees.

Now, fold it again in the same direction. There, a half of 45 degrees which equals to 22.5-degree angle. There, you are having a great reference for most fixed blades and folders.

Next, set the sharpening down on the table. Take the paper piece, put it on the stone, have your knife slide down and take out the paper. Remember to hold the posture.

This will give you the angle to run over the sharpening stone. What to do if you forget the angle and how to hold the knife? Easy, just take the paper back in, repeat the steps above to remind yourself.

After a couple of times reminding like this, automatically you will keep it in memory and enable to put the knife down in place.

Apart from memorizing the angle, you need to remember a number of passes each side.

Check the progress

The next step is checking your sharpening progress after a couple passes. Make sure you’re keeping the angle of the knife and that you’re actually sharpening it.

With hard steel knife blade, it will take a lot more passes to have the blade sharpened. On the contrary, like those 440-stainless steel, you need to notice that every single pass can remove a lot of material. HOWEVER, the risks of making mistakes is higher. Thus, be careful!

While checking the blade, if you notice that it’s rough and exists some micro serrated, don’t fret, the leather piece will take care of that.

What should you do if accidentally, you find out some problem areas that your sharpening stone can’t help? My solution is taking the help of a rougher stone. Working those areas on it until they are fixed. After that, go back to the sharpening stone.

How do you resurface a sharpening stone?

Once you’re satisfied with the sharp level of your knife blade. It must get no flat spots or burrs and reasonably sharp, let’s learn how to resurface it.

If there’s an available strop, I advise you to put it on a table for better stability. If it’s hung on a hook at the end, due to my experience, the strop might get flexes and round off your knife edge.

If you don’t have a strop, then, as I said in the beginning, prepare yourself a small thick leather piece. Put it on the table and then, use it as the sharpening stone.

Again, to have the blade resurfaced perfectly, you need to find the right angle. My tip for this is to rest it on the leather piece, take a look closely and rock it just until the edge touches. There, the angle you need to use for each pass.

While resurfacing, you need to keep in mind this common mistake. It’s dropping!

It’s when your knife blade goes through the leather piece and at its end, many people usually round the blade up. This sign tells you that the resurface progress is a little bit fast. So, slow down and bear on mind to stay consistent throughout the whole pass.

What happens if you catch this mistake? Might you know it or it, the leather piece is too abrasive to ruin your knife edge. That leads to the result that you must start the sharpening progress all over again. Thus, find the right angle and treat it like the stone. Again, remember the number of passes on each side.

As this step is for resurfacing your knife blade, it might take longer time than the stone. However, utilizing this leather piece like that will succeed your knife’s sharpness.

Wet and dry sharpening – which is better?

In fact, it’s advised to wet sharpening a knife. Why do you need to wet a sharpening stone?

Because the fluid will help the progress more easily as well as take away the waste material or swarf to avoid your knife blade from being clogged.

However, I don’t mean that dry sharpening isn’t good. But this type is much more suitable for those who already have experienced in sharpening.

Now, the next question is “Do you have to use oil on a sharpening stone?”

And it’s a yes from me because compared to water, oil will give better lubrication and help your knife blade against being clogged better. In fact, honing oil shows a clear difference between wet and dry sharpening.

Also, keep in mind that, with dry use, you need to clean and resurface the blade while the wet use doesn’t.

What kind of oil do you use on a sharpening stone?

Another great question!

When it comes to choosing the best sharpening oil, consider those with resin free, low viscosity and non-polymerizing. You can search it with the keywords like “sewing machine oil” and “universal oil”.

Heavier mineral oils work so-so but chances they will leave stain on whichever your knife touch to. Also, they might have distinct odor.

Many people like to make advantage on olive oil, transmission fluid, or motor oil but I don’t highly recommend this because they will make a mess on your sharpening stone. Either your knife gets clogged or it will smell like a mangy dog. The same things with cold polymerizing plant oils such as Linseed oil.

If you are looking for another better alternative, I recommend the cutting oil though it’s a little pricier and more difficult to apply based on higher viscosity. But compared to the listed oils above, this is the best replacement for sewing machine oil.

Things you should NEVER buy

I hope that my instruction will give you the skills to avoid choosing those drag through carbide sharpener. I usually advise people not to run their knife duties on these things as they can damage a really good knife very fast.

It removes more material than it needs to and to be honest, I am never impressed with my knife blade that’s been run through them.

Let’s get started!

Now that’s all of my instruction on how to use a sharpening stone. Easy peasy, right? It’s your turn now and good luck!


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