If you’ve just bought a really great set of knives for your kitchen, then you’ll want to make sure that they stay in good condition. Even the most premium of blades can grow blunt with use, so it’s best to have a sharpening stone on hand so that you’ll never have to struggle with cutting your meat and veggies.
A good sharpening stone, or whetstone, works by shaving off the small bits of steel that aren’t cutting it—pun intended—and leaving a new, clean edge behind. Just how much it sharpens the knife, though, depends on the grit size, which refers to the size of the stone’s individual abrasive grains. A low grit in the 100 to 200 range will quickly clear your knife of small chips, but a mid-range grit between 1000 and 2000 is typically the best for sharpening knives. Anything higher than that will simply make a sharp knife even sharper.
There are a few different kinds of whetstones to consider as well. A water stone, for instance will sharpen your knife faster than an oil stone, but will also wear down much faster. In other words, finding the right whetstone very much depends on what kind of knives you have—how big they are and how often they need to be sharpened being chief considerations. Here are four of the tops to choose from.
1. Sharp Pebble Complete Sharpening Stone Set
If your knife needs sharpening, chances are it may need some honing as well. If that’s the case, then Sharp Pebble’s kit has you covered. The aluminum oxide and leather water stone is double sided, with 1000 grits on one surface and 6000 on the other, depending on how much maintenance your knife needs. It’s easy enough to use, too, with a bamboo mount that will keep the whetstone in place while you sharpen. Plus, if your blade’s shape becomes warped, you can use the accompanying green compound to ease it back in place.
Pros: Will keep your knife properly honed and sharpened.
Cons: Doesn’t have as many grit options as other sets.
2. Finew Knife Sharpening Stone Kit
This kit comes with just about everything you’ll need to keep your knives super sharp. The set comes with two double-sided whetstones: One is 400/1000 grit, the other 3000/8000 grit. An accompanying flattening stone can be placed on each when they’re not in use in order to keep the whetstones flat and even. It even comes with a leather strop to polish the blade off when you’re all done.
Pros: Great variety of grits to choose from.
Cons: A lot of small components that might easily be misplaced.
3. KnifePlanet Sharpening Stone Set
KnifePlanet’s sharpening set isn’t just for fixing dull knives—it’s also perfect for keeping already sharp knives pristine. Its grit ranges from 400 to 8000, and a flattening stone ensures that none of these whetstones will bend and become less effective over time. Plus, if you’re unsure where to begin with this varied set, KnifePlanet offers a link to free educational articles and videos on the subject.
Pros: Educational resources will help anyone pick up and use the set.
Cons: Doesn’t include a leather strop or anything for honing.
4. Norton Abrasives Sharpening System
If you’d rather not have a bunch of whetstones and strops floating around your kitchen, then Norton Abrasives’s system is the one for you. All of its three water stones are tucked away in one machine—you can cycle through them by turning the wheel: 100 grit for repairing chips, 150 grit for sharpening and maintaining and 320 grit for further honing edges. It also comes with a lid, so you can close the system up and tuck it away when it’s not in use.
Pros: An all-in-one machine that’s easy to use.
Cons: Lacking in grit options above the 320 mark.