Knowing how to sharpen a knife on a whetstone is less important than choosing the right grit whetstone. A miscalculated grit can make your knife unusable and make the whole point of whetting a knife on a whetstone a complete waste of time.
There is no universal whetstone size that will work with any kitchen knives. Some knives need a smooth grit, while some need something on the coarser side. When you know which whetstone is the best for your knife, the rest of the whetting job gets easy.
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In this guide, we’ll talk about why you need a whetstone of a correct grit size as well as give you some basics on them. Getting a right whetstone is completing half the job of sharpening your knife.
What Is a Whetstone?
However contrasting it may sound to the popular belief that you can use any whetstone to sharpen your kitchen knives, whetstones differ greatly by their grit levels and can wreak havoc on knives if a properly sized grit level isn’t used.
Whetstone is no different from any stones, except they have their surface ground. And the grinding is measured by the grit number. The higher grind a whetstone has, the lesser the grit level and vice versa.
Suppose you have a very dull knife, that’s gotten to a point that it’s almost unusable. You need to use a harsh grind to let the dullness go away with hard scrubs. On the other hand, sensitive kitchen knives can get damaged if they’re sharpened with anything but a high grit count. They need smooth sharpening.
Another common misconception people have about whetstones is that you don’t need more than one of them. The idea is wrong, however. You can sharpen a dull knife with a low grit count, but the whetting will be up to a certain level. To smoothen, even more, a high grit count with a thin grind is required for a whetstone.
What Grit Should I Use to Sharpen a Knife?
Grit whetstones can be categorized into three levels. Let’s have some idea about all these to find out which one is suited for a specific knife –
1000 or Less Grit Count Whetstone
Grit levels under this category are capable of giving the harshest grinding to your knife. This grit is used on knives that have gotten dull to the point of being almost unusable. The coarse grit grind can easily remotely split bits from knives and smoothen up cracked chips.
This one isn’t intended to be used on a knife regularly. It’s good to be used once in a while when you need some serious knife repair. But sharpening a knife on a whetstone of this range will make the knife wear out very quickly.
This 1000 grit whetstone is good only for up to a point. It won’t make the knife blade as smooth as a new one. It’ll get the sharpness to a usable point. For better results, you’ll have to use a whetstone of higher grit count.
More Than 1000 and Upto 3000 Grit Count Whetstone
If you don’t know which whetstone your knife needs but need to use something without thinking too much, then this is the range of whetstone grit you should get.
1000 grit whetstones are generally intended for severely dull knives. They can slightly sharpen, but their major task is to make a knife usable. On the other hand, 1000 to 3000 grit whetstones can be used with knives of any size, irrespective of their certain smoothness.
Unlike the 1000 grit variations, whetstones under this range can be used regularly to sharpen knives. These won’t help maintain the shape of a knife blade like a whetstone with 8000 grit will, but these are enough for basic whetting needs.
From 4000 to 8000 Grit Whetstone
This range holds the sharpest and smoothest whetstone variations. If you have a premium chef knife and need to sharpen it to professional chef levels, this is the one you should use.
The higher you go in this range, the sharper you can get your knife to become. This category is good for you if you like to have a razor-like sharpness to cut anything – from fruits and thick meat – smoothly.
Also Read: Best knife For Cutting Meat.
Using a whetstone is easy but choosing the right one isn’t. Mismatching a whetstone grit with a knife smoothness can be risky and might cost you one good knife.
Hopefully, you have some idea on choosing the right-sized whetstone and why it’s important to do so. If your knife comes with a manufacturer’s guide, check it before getting a whetstone as this will be the best idea.