Introduction: Knife Sharpening With a Whetstone: an Easy Angle Guide for the Perfect Blade.

Knife, whetstone, & phone. Perfect blade.

Sharpening a knife using a stone can be challenging if you're just starting out and you can actually end up with a dull knife. The basic concept of sharpening a blade is equal angles on both sides. 17-17 - Great! or 22-22 Great! 22-17 means you end up with a dull blade.

Some stones come with guides but they mostly fit kitchen knives and make the whole process awkward. The method I'll be teaching you works with all knives: Survival/hunting knife, pocket knife, swiss army knife, kitchen knife and even an axe.

My father used to take his knifes to the pro sharpener down the street and he'd pay a small fortune. Forget that, you'll get the perfect blade every-time within minutes!

The links: The knife in this tutorial & The Whetstone used I bought mine on eBay.

Step 1: Use Any Right Angle - 90 Degrees

Find a counter, wall or door frame.

Your house is filled with 90 degree angles, a wall, kitchen counter, or door frame are just some examples. That's all you need along with a phone (or a protractor if you're old school), a whetstone and a knife.

I recommend using a cutting board with a groove to prevent slip. If you don't have one, no problem, you can also use a damp towel under the stone to prevent slipping.

Put your stone against the wall as pictured.

Note: If you're using a water based stone remember to let it soak first. Alternatively, the Arkansas stones will need honing oil.

Step 2: Find the Right Angle for Your Blade

Use a level app on your phone to find the perfect angle

On the iPhone you can use the compass app and swipe left to get the level app. On android download a level app. Simply place the edge of your phone flat on the stone and find the desired angle.

Some manufacturers like Gerber or Victorinox will state on their websites which angle you should use for their knives. Ideally you want to try and match the existing bevel.

Here's a segmented angle guide:

Super sharp, box cutter, kitchen knife use 7-15 degrees

General kitchen knife, pocket knife 17-22 degrees

Survival and hunting knife 22-30 degrees

Axe and machete - 30-35 degrees

Note: A smaller angle means a blade that will slice through soft materials (think tomato) but will be weaker. On the other hand, a larger angle be best suited for harder task (chopping wood, cutting metal etc) and will increase the knife's durability.

Step 3: Sharpen It

Parallel to wall. Slice the stone.

Hold your blade parallel to the wall and use a cutting motion to sharpen your blade. The cutting or slicing motion will ensure the tip of the blade also connects with the stone. On most blades you'll need to slightly lift while watching that parallel to make sure the tip hits the stone.

SHARP TEST: slice a ripe tomato. Without holding the tomato, try to cut from the side with a slicing motion. If your blade slices into through the tomato you've done a great job. If you're pushing it away, go back to your whetstone for another few minutes.

TIP: Use a heavy grit (1000) to repair damaged blades and a fine grit (3000+) to sharpen and polish your edge. Repeat on both sides until satisfied with the edge. Heavy grit will remove more metal from your blades, wearing them out faster. It's always preferable to sharpen slowly on a finer grit.

Comments

author
ElijahL (author)2017-03-16

If you have the GPS Status (&Toolbox) app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.eclipsim.gpsstatus2&hl=en) you can use the "Pitch" to determine the angle. U90 would be vertical so for 15 degrees just subtract. 90 - 15 = U75.

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author
DianaP7 (author)2016-03-10

Thank you so much for this information. My dad always sharpened the blades for the entire family. After he died, my hubby took it up for us. Since he has died I've managed to get the knives sharp enough to get by but just could not get that edge Dad nor hubby could get. I'll bet I can now! THANK YOU!

author
Tangski (author)2016-03-10

Very interesting. If you work flat, 45 degree is what I was taught. Love the wet stones, especially the oiled ones. The nice thing about the leather part, is the mirror finish on a razor sharp blade which is a must if doing fine wood working, carving etc. A rough blade simply does not have the fine detailed dexterity. I find that the oiled sandpaper can work great as well, but found that the refined clay bars (white refined fired clay rounds and flats etc) does a wonderful job of keeping those razor edges refined, smooth as possible and then one can high polish them for smooth cutting. Believe me, when working wood for a flute, one wants that refined edge.! Learning how to hone a blade on a flat surface teaches one to work outside without a table/wall handy too...:) But we all have to start somewhere!:) Anyway, great stuff and a great start for those who want more from their tools!:) Cheers!

Vicki.

author
JohnD217 (author)2015-11-25

It depends on the app (how the angle is measured). In the picture the app would give o degrees when the phone is straight up. However, some apps give 90 degrees when the phone is straight up (vertical). In the latter case you should use 90-22=68 degrees.

author
MadARD (author)2015-07-13

This is really cool but I don't understand one thing. I have android and I downloaded a level app. When you measure the stone is it supposed to say what angle u want it at? I want to sharpen a hunting knife but 22 degrees looks really weird. I'm confused

author
esawaya (author)MadARD2015-07-13

Hi MadARD, why does it look weird? Can you elaborate? If you're stone is leaning on a wall, 22 degrees isn't that far from upright, is that what you're getting? Post a pick, that might help us understand what's going on.

author
MadARD (author)esawaya2015-07-13

K but I'm confused because do you measure 22 degrees or 68 degrees.cause 90-68 is 22. Thanks for replying too.

author
esawaya (author)MadARD2015-07-13

measure it from the right angle, eg, corner and you should measure 22 degrees if that's the desired sharpening angle. The picture in my article is using a 22. Does yours look like that? It should!

author
MadARD (author)esawaya2015-07-13

OK thank you

author
esawaya (author)MadARD2015-07-13

Also, are you following all the steps? Make sure you read carefully and it should be pretty straight forward.

author
a1condor (author)2015-01-22

And when you are done Strop it on an old leather belt to get it razor sharp

author
esawaya (author)a1condor2015-01-25

That's true! However, for the readers who are new to this, remember, not all knives are meant to be razor sharp. Survival knives, for example, will serve you best with a tougher blade that won't dull or damage as fast!

author
longp2000 (author)2015-01-22

Brilliant man

author
esawaya (author)longp20002015-01-25

Thanks! Happy you enjoy it.

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