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!
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.