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Today I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time. I got myself a whetstone set and sharpened the kitchen knives. I got a super cheap, definitely nowhere near the best, set because I am not that serious about knives, and I’m not going to be doing this very often. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos, then I went at it. Here’s what I learned.
First, everybody worries about getting a super precise angle and super even edge. That is definitely a concern. If you are way off the angle, like I was at the start, the knife actually will get less sharp. But perfection isn’t necessary. Obviously someone with lots of skills will make it super sharp and amazing. But even with my beginner skills, the knives cut the paper like on YouTube. Just get the knives sharp enough for your kitchen, and you’re all good.
Don’t worry about ruining the knives. You really can’t ruin it. If you screw up, you can fix it if you just keep going. Worst case the knife loses more material. Not a big deal. The knife will still probably outlive you.
I started off on a knife that had some small chips in it. This was a good, but annoying, choice. I had to go at it on the lowest grit stone for a LONG time before the chips were gone. This was not fun. But in the process I was able to drastically improve my technique. As a result, I was able to sharpen my other knife, which was in much better shape, on a higher grit in no time at all. Going forward if my knives don’t get damaged, sharpening will be a breeze.
I tried the sharpie technique I learned from YouTube. It was helpful, but not necessary. I was quickly able to see and feel how I was doing. Also, acetone washes away sharpie like magic.
The cheap stones I got were just fine, but I now realize why a more expensive stone would be better. The biggest problem with the cheap stones were the small size. It would have been so much easier with larger stones. Not worth it for me, personally, but if you are serious, pay for bigger stones.
The set I got had all kinds of stuff in it. Two stones of two grits each, 400/1000/3000/8000. Protective gloves, angle guide, leather strop, flattening stone, etc. You don’t need all that stuff. All I needed was the 400/1000 and the wooden holder for it. I’ll need the flattening stone eventually, but not yet. If the knives don’t have major damage, you probably don’t even need the 400. Just one stone of 1000-ish when the knives are starting to get a little dull, and you’re all good.