Knife Sharpening on Whetstones: Part 3 of 4 "Refining the Edge"

Welcome back! So, last week we talked about Raising a Burr. If you were to start using your knife after that stage, you would notice it would feel rough against the cutting board and you wouldn't be getting nice smooth cuts through whatever you are preparing. It is important to further refine the edge of your knife by moving up through the higher grit stones.

The process:

  • When you are done working on the coarse stone you are ready to move to the medium grit stone.
  • Once again you are going to break up your knife into three sections: the heel, the belly and the tip. Starting with the heel, you are going to run it back and forth over the whetstone before moving on to the belly and then the tip.
  • As you get more comfortable with sharpening you won't have to worry so much about the three sections, as you will be able to transition smoothly along the knife.
  • There is no set number of passes you will have to make over the stones. You will be doing visual checks as you sharpen, looking for a nice consistent finish.
  • After the medium grit stone you will move to the fine grit stone and use the same technique, making sure to continue using the same angle.

 

*example of a basic micro-bevel sharpened on a western chef knife

*Knife Sharpening Tip* It is probably tempting to learn how to sharpen on a cheap knife that you aren't worried about damaging. The trouble with that approach is that cheap knives are made with low quality steel and are notoriously hard to sharpen. So if you aren't pleased with the results you are getting you may have better luck sharpening a higher quality knife.

As you get into the higher grit stones you may not be able to actually feel a burr forming although it will be there microscopically. Next week we will be covering how to remove the final burr and polish your knife to have an extremely sharp edge. See you next week to learn all about honing and stropping!