Top-quality sharpening stones and whetstones
There are many ways to sharpen your knives. You are still, however, left with the best results if you use the 'old-fashioned' sharpening stones, also called whetstones. Is sharpening on sharpening stones easy? No. Is it difficult? Not at all! At first it might take a little getting used to, but with some experience everyone can sharpen their knives on a sharpening stone. Sharper than with any other sharpening method.
Sharpening on sharpening stones or whetstones gives you a true sense of craftsmanship. You will get to know the characteristic features of your knife better and better. In addition, your personal sharpening style gives your knife a unique edge. The only thing you need to know is this: how do I choose the right sharpening stone?
Grain sizes of sharpening stones/whetstones
Which sharpening stone you need completely depends on the state of your knife. And with 'which sharpening stone' we mean 'which grain size'. The blunter your knife, the coarser the stone needs to be. In other words: the lower the grain size. If your knife is still relatively sharp one sharpening stone with a relatively high grain size will be enough (let's say 800 or higher). If your knife is blunt you will need multiple stones. First a coarse stone (grain size 120) to restore the fold, followed by other sharpening stones in increasing grain sizes to sharpen the edge and finally a strop to polish the blade. But you can read more about this in our info-topic about sharpening on Japanese water stones.
Material sharpening stones/whetstones
A whetstone is in most cases a composition of a basic stone, sharpening particles and a binding agent. Skerper Arkansas and Ardennes Coticule stones, however, are completely natural. The sharpening particles have cutting edges that ensure they can sharpen. As soon as a sharpening stone is used, small parts of the grain break off after which a new cutting edge emerges.
These particles can be made from different materials. Materials often used are carbide, ceramics, aluminium oxide and novaculite. The strongest sharpening stones have a diamond coating that cannot wear out which is also why these stones can be used as flattening stones. Flattening stones can be used to flatten your hollowed out sharpening stone. You can read more about this in the info-topic: Sharpening stone materials: which are the best?
The binding agent keeping the sharpening particles together is also important. Synthetic resin is an agent that is often used. But magnesium and ceramic-bound sharpening stones are relatively common. Other binding agents are inorganic compound, nickel, synthetic sapphire and mica. The binding agent used determines the amount of sharpening particles per surface unit and thus how fast and precise you can sharpen. Some binding agents, such as magnesium, however, cannot handle water and can therefore not be submerged in water. Definitely something to take into account.
Brands of sharpening stones