Whether you are a professional chef or you are the main cook in your home, you know how valuable a sharp knife is. There is nothing worse than cooking a beautiful roast or a turkey and cutting into it with a dull blade. When a knife isn’t sharp, it not only makes it difficult to cut through meat, produce and bread, but it also tears apart the item you are cutting, making a big mess. A sharp knife is the key to making quick and easy cuts.
Even the highest quality knives get dull blades. Every time you slice something, the blade loses some of its sharpness. To ensure your blades are always sharp and ready to use, a sharpening stone is a must have accessory in every kitchen. There are many different types of sharpening stones available, though, which can make finding the best one for you specific needs a bit of a challenge. To help you with the task of finding the best sharpening stone, we have assembled this buyer’s guide, which is full of valuable information that will guide you in the right direction.
Types of Sharpening Stones
There are four main types of sharpening stones:
- Oil stones
- Water stones
- Ceramic stones
- Diamond stones
Oil Sharpening Stones
Oil stones are among the most popular types of sharpening stones. Natural oil stones are often referred to as Arkansas stone, as this is the location where a large quantity of these stones were mind; however, there are also manufactured oil stones, which are comprised of various materials, including silicon carbide and aluminum oxide. Oil is used as the lubricant, which allows for the most effective friction between the surface of the stone and the metal of the blade. Each time you sharpen a knife, you are essentially removing small pieces of metal from the blade, and those small pieces become embedded in the surface of the sharpener, thus rendering it ineffective. The oil prevents the metal pieces from becoming embedded in the stone.
Water Sharpening Stones
As the name suggests, water stones use water as a lubricant instead of oil. Water stones are submerged in water for about 15 minutes before they are used. The water creates a slurry on the stone’s surface, which prevents metal fragments from clogging its surface. Water stones are very effective for creating a polished blade edge. The downside of a water stone is that they are made of softer materials, which means that they wear out more quickly than other stones. To prevent uneven wearing, make sure you use the entire stone to sharpen your knives instead of just one concentrated area.
Ceramic Sharpening Stones
Ceramic sharpening stones have become highly popular in recent years. They are available in a range of grits, which means that they can handle anything from repairing to polishing a blade. They don’t need a lubricant, which makes them easier to use, and if they are cared for properly, they ceramic stones can last a lifetime.
Diamond Sharpening Stones
Diamond sharpening stones really aren’t stones; rather, they are metal plates that have a diamond abrasive bonded to their surface. Though diamond sharpening stones tend to be the most expensive of all sharpening stones, they do offer several advantages: They do not need lubricant; they are very durable and, if taken care of properly, they can last a lifetime. They also cut extremely quickly and they can effectively sharpen carbide blades; something other sharpening stones cannot do.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Sharpening Stone
There are a number of factors that should be taken into consideration before you purchase a sharpening stone. These factors will help you select the best stone for your specific needs. We think that the following factors are the most important factors to take into consideration.
The grit of the sharpening stone will determine the type of sharpening and repair it will do. As a general rule of thumb, the following information applies to different grips:
- #200 grit – These are very abrasive stones. They are best used to reshape blades or repair chips
- #300 grit – These are also very abrasive stones. They are best used to put a quick edge on knives that have become very dull.
- #1,000 grit – This is the most commonly used sharpening stone. It effectively sharpens dull blades with ease.
- #1,200 grit – These are considered medium grit stones and are ideal for sharpening traditional Japanese knives, which are made of more delicate materials than Western knives.
- #2,000 grit – These are also considered to be medium grit stones, though they are not as abrasive as 1,000 or 1,200 grit stones, which also means that it will take longer to sharpen with these stones. These stones are ideal for people who like to sharpen their knives often.
The size of the blade that you are sharpening will determine the size of the stone that you need. Generally, a 6 inch stone is considered a small sharpening stone, while an 8 inch stone is considered a large stone. Stones that are larger than 8 inches are considered to be generously sized. Stones that are smaller than 6 inches are considered pocket stones and are ideal for on the go sharpening.
Unless you plan on using a different stone to sharpen different knives, you want to look for a stone that is versatile so that you can sharpen more than one knife with the stone.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is also an important factor to consider. If you are a beginner, stones that don’t require flattening, soaking or cleaning are ideal, as they are easier to use.
Sharpening stones vary significantly in price. No matter what your budget is, you will be able to find a stone that will fit into your budget. Typically, less expensive stones won’t last as long and won’t provide as effective results as more expensive stones; however, that is not to say that less expensive stones won’t provide good results.
Sharpening Stone Features
Sharpening stones can be straightforward with no additional features; or, they can offer various features. These features are intended to make using your sharpening stone easier and more effective; however, if you don’t need or want these features, you may want to avoid buying a sharpening stone that is outfitted with them. Therefore, understanding the different features that sharpening stones can offer is important.
Basic sharpening stones will need to be placed on non-skid surface, such as a towel, to prevent them from slipping. Some sharpening stones come with non-skid surfaces, such as rubber, that will prevent them from skidding.
Dual Sharpening Surfaces
Some stones also feature dual sharpening surfaces. In other words, they offer different grits or different materials. Generally, one side of the stone will feature one material or grit, and the other side of the stone will feature another material or grit.
If you want to be able to easily store your sharpening stone without having to worry about it potentially being damaged, look for one that features a storage container. When you need to sharpen a blade, simply pop it out of the container, and when you are done, pop it back in.
If you want to protect your investment and ensure you satisfaction, look for a sharpening stone that comes with a warranty. Should anything happen to the stone or if you are unsatisfied with it for any reason, the warranty will cover the cost of replacing the stone, or will refund your money (do note that you should check the specifications of your warranty to ensure exactly what it covers.)
Best Sharpening Stone Brands
There are several companies that manufacture sharpening stones, which can make it difficult to choose the best stone for your needs. To help you sift through the different brands, we have conducted extensive research and have tested out several of the brands ourselves. After our investigation, we have determined that the following brands are the best of the best.
Derpras makes some of the highest quality sharpening stones on the market. We like that they offer a wide range of materials and grits, and that their stones also offer some great features. We found that our knife blades were extremely sharp and cut with pinpoint precision after sharpening with Depras stones.
We found that the Edge Craft sharpening stones received some of the highest ratings on the World Wide Web, an after testing them, we can attest that these ratings are true. Edge Craft sharpening stones are very durable, are very easy to take care of and last a long time. We like that this company offers a wide selection of sharpening stones in various price ranges.
Smith’s also offers some excellent sharpening stone choices. They offer various types of stones in an array of grits and price ranges. Their stones are very easy to use and easy to maintain, too.
Duo Sharp produces several types of sharpening stones, including dual sided stones and stones that offer various grits. They also boast some handy features that make these tools easier to use.