How to Sharpen A Knife with A Stone: A Comprehensive Guide


Have you have noticed that your knives are getting dull? Are they no longer as effective as before? Even your favorite knife is now a slow and clumsy tool.

Then, it is time you sharpened them.Sharpening knives make them more effective.

It is safe to use a sharp knife than a dull knife to cut. Using a blunt knife can cause cut injuries.

There different ways to sharpen knives.

You can drop them at the professional knife sharpener, you can use an electric sharpener, or you can use the timeless sharpening stones.

Sharpening stones are handy. They are easy and safe to use compared to the electric sharpeners.

They are also cheaper than professional sharpening. It may cost you some money to buy a good stone, but a sharpening stones last long.

If you are unsure of how to sharpen a knife with a stone, you are in the right place.

Things to know before sharpening with stone

Step 1. Choosing a stone

The stone you choose to sharpen your knives will depend on the dullness of the knives.

Dull knives need stones with large grit size. Large grit means that the stone surface is coarse.

You can determine how dull your knife is by how smooth it cuts through your food, steak or vegetables.

The more resistance you experience while using the knife, the duller that knife is.

Your choice of the stone will also be determined by your budget. If you do not have a sharpening stone already, you will need to purchase a new one.

There are different types of stones: natural/water stones, oil stones, ceramic stones, and diamond stones.

Diamond stones are the most expensive. Whereas, water stones are the most affordable.

Stones are also used differently, some can be used when dry, some need soaking in water before use, and other stones need oiling. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instruction.

It is also important to choose the right grit of the stone. Choose a coarse grit for very dull knives then followed by a fine grit. You can choose a medium grit for knives that are not too dull.

You can also pick a stone that has a finer and a coarse grit on its alternate sides.

Step 2. Preparing the stone

Depending on the stone you have, follow these steps to prepare it for effective use.

Soak/oil the stone: If you are using a stone that needs to be soaked such as the natural or water stone, place it in a bowl of water to soak for about 45 minutes. The water should cover the stone completely.

If you are using an oil stone, lubricate it with honing oil before using it. The oil will reduce friction and make the sharpening process smooth and safe.

However, some stones such as the diamond stones can be used while dry.

Place the stone on a damp towel, rag or clothe: Once you have soaked or oiled your stone, place it on a flat surface on top of a damp rag or towel in preparation for sharpening.

The damp clothing will keep your stone in place and prevent it from slipping away during sharpening.

Any type of sharpening stone needs to be placed on a damp rag/towel before you begin sharpening.

If you are using a stone with different levels of grit on either side, place the coarse side facing up for a start. You will start by sharpening your knife with the coarse grit before flipping the stone over to the finer side.

Step 3. Finding the sharpening angle

Before you beginning sharpening your knife, you need to find the correct angle of sharpening.

The appropriate angle of sharpening knives on a stone is a 20-degree angle.

Getting a 20-degree angle can be tricky and confusing. If you are unsure of how to get the 20-degree angle, follow these simple steps.

• Hold the blade of the knife down on the stone at a 90-degree angle.
• Move the knife down to half the 90-degree angle to get a 45-degree angle.
• Move the knife further down to half of the 45-degree angle. You will have an estimated 20-25 degree angle.

You can adjust the sharpening angle depending on the thickness of the knife’s blade.

A coarse grit may require you to use a smaller angle to avoid chipping off your blade excessively.

Once you have the appropriate sharpening angle, it is time to start sharpening your knife.

Step 4. Sharpening

Hold the knife firmly on top of the stone with the edge of the blade facing away from you.

Control the direction and the pressure of the blade by using the fingertips of one hand as the other hand holds onto the handle of the knife firmly.

Easiest 6 steps to Sharpen a knife

1. Swipe the knife in arcs across the stone

When you have the right sharpening angle and your stone is securely on top on a damp cloth, swipe the knife down across your sharpening stone. 

Make sure to draw the whole blade starting from the heel to its tip so that it is sharpened evenly.

Repeat this process as many times as you want on one side until it is sharp before turning the blade to sharpen the opposite side.

The number of times you repeat the sharpening stripes will depend on the dullness of the blade.

For evenness, make sure to repeat the same number of times on either side of the blade.

2. Flip the blade and sharpen the other side

Turn the blade to sharpen the other side. Hold it on the right sharpening angle and repeat the process above.

Sharpen the blade from heel to the tip.

Repeat the two steps until the blade feels sharp against the skin when you touch it.

3. Sharpen the knife from tip to heel

Cutting involves moving a knife back and forth in a push and pull motion. Therefore, it is important to sharpen the knife in both directions.

Hold the knife upwards with the blade facing away from you but hold the handle downwards. Repeat the steps 1 and 2 above.

4. Flip the stone to the finer grit

It is important to sharpen the knife on both the coarse and the finer grit sides of the stone for a smooth finish.

Flip the stone and repeat the sharpening steps 1,2, and 3 on the finer grit.

5. Testing the knife

Once you have completed the sharpening process, you need to test the sharpness of your knife.

To test your knife, you can feel the blade with your fingers for the sharpness and smoothness of its edges.

If the edges are not smooth enough, you may need to use the fine grit to smoothen them.

You can also hold the knife between a paper and slice through it. If your knife is sharp enough it will cut through the paper with ease.

If it does not cut through easily, you may need to sharpen it more.

Step 6. Cleaning

When you are satisfied with the sharpness of your knife, you need to clean both the knife and the stone.

Wash the knife well to remove the metal flecks, dry it well, and store it in a knife bag, a knife block or in a magnetic strip.

You will also need to clean your stone before storing. For a water stone, rinse it under running water and wipe it dry with a cloth.

For an oil stone, wiping it may be enough but you need to scrub it occasionally to keep it clean.

Occasionally, you may need to clean your stone(s) thoroughly to remove dirt build-up.


Sharpening knives may be a difficult routine. You may not know where and how to start. Our guide provides you with the steps of accomplishing the process easily.

It guides you through picking the right stones, finding the right sharpening angle, sharpening the knife, and cleaning it.

Sharpen your knives properly, follow the right procedure and you will have a beautiful and effective cutting experience.

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