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Learning to sharpen

Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:28 am

Hi Mark,

I'm thinking seriously about getting some stones. I've never really tried sharpening but am pretty good with my hands. I'm also tired of driving and hour and a half to get my knives sharpened at the only place I feel does a good enough job. That said, I take really good care of my knives so I don't anticipate having to deal with chipping. I'd just like to restore a really fine edge to my knives, most of which are at least 60 Rockwell. I'm thinking maybe a 3 stone set up to 5000 grit. But I'm really not sure. Could I just get away with one 5k stone for now? What would you recommend?



Re: Learning to sharpen

Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:31 am

Hi Jonathan,

If you need to drive an hour and a half to get your knives sharpened it's really time to learn. You can learn to sharpen in less than an hour easy.

Watch my free tutorial videos here:

You can start with just a Shapton 1K or 2K Glass stone which I used in the videos. That's all you need to start. If you get into it you can add other accessories and stones as you go along but you should be able to get really good results with just one of these.

Re: Learning to sharpen

Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:54 am

I wouldn't get just a 5,000 grit stone. There's virtually no metal removal at that point so if any of your knives are dulled at all, it will take forever to resharpen with just that one stone.

If you get just one stone, I'd pick up a 1,000 grit stone. Adding a higher grit stone is nice too.

If you go the Shapton route, this would be a nice place to start:


Re: Learning to sharpen

Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:46 pm

The Idahone ceramic rod http://www.chefknivestogo.com/idahone.html works well to touch up between sharpenings and you won't have to sharpen as often.

Re: Learning to sharpen

Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:13 pm

I say Shapton Glass 1k+ 4k like Adam said and add a strop with 1µ diamond spray or Boron carbide.

Re: Learning to sharpen

Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:21 pm

I just watched Mark's demo videos on teaching newbies how to sharpen a knife using a waterstone.

I noticed toward the end he opted to use a stropping technique. I have seen some demos where the person used that techniwue exclusively throughout the entire sharpening process as he moved through the various stone grits.

Question: Is it safe to just use that stropping technique exclusively?
Question: Can you simply strop in one direction (pull toward you, flip the blade over, repeat) versus the pull and push approach (that emulates a sawing motion for a visual comparison)?


Re: Learning to sharpen

Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:01 am

Yes, it's "safe" to use only a stropping motion....but I can't find a good reason to.

Same answer really.

It will just take longer and I feel that with a back and forth motion I can keep a more consistent angle. Some people like to use the push/pull and only apply pressure in one direction (whichever they feel more comfortable at).

Re: Learning to sharpen

Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:00 am

As Adam said yes and yes but no good reason to, will take you much longer this way.
Some like to use a few stropping strokes before moving to the next stone, helps in deburring. Some also only strop on higher grit stones because they are softer and easier to gouge. You will develop your own techniques once you get started.

Re: Learning to sharpen

Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:38 am

I actually finish with edge leading strokes instead of a stropping motion as I feel it removes the burr a bit cleaner. Could be just a placebo, but my edges seem sharper that way.

Re: Learning to sharpen

Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:27 am

Thanks everyone. I always appreciate the sincere replies on this forum.

Having never used waterstones and anticipating the purchase of one or two fairly expensive kitchen knives, I am feeling nervous about the process. I'll definitely use an old knife numerous times to achieve a skill level that has me feeling confident enough to bring out the expensive knife. Success is, at best, a 50/50 proposition for me. I am actually counting on my wife to master this wetstone, sharpening process, and have her do all of the sharpening. I often struggle with these types of technical hand / eye activities.
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