The Best Sharpening Stones, According to Our Test Kitchen
Whether you're a novice cook or a well-seasoned professional, anyone who spends time in a kitchen relies upon knives to get the job done. And it's important to keep those knives sharp, because a sharp knife is actually safer than a dull one (a dull knife requires more pressure to cut, which can lead you to slip and potentially injure yourself). To help keep those blades in peak condition, we've pulled together a list of the best knife-sharpening stones, so you can maintain your knives with ease.
Types of Sharpening Stones
Sharpening stones, also known as whetstones, can be classified into a few different categories: oil stones, diamond stones and water stones (we tested oil and water stones for this guide). According to Sharpening Supplies, a store that specializes in sharpening products, oil stones are made from one of three materials (novaculite, aluminum oxide or silicon carbide) and use oil on the surface of the stone to help with sharpening. While these stones are often more budget-friendly, they take longer to sharpen your knives due to their slower cutting rate.
Meanwhile, water stones are often made from aluminum oxide, although they can also be made from natural materials. Water stones use water on the surface to help with sharpening and are known to be faster in sharpening compared to oil stones (some water stones may require pre-soaking before use). However, Sharpening Supplies notes that because water stones are softer than oil stones, the stone can wear down faster and unevenly (although that can be fixed with a flattening stone).
Finally, diamond stones contain small diamonds attached to the face of a metal plate, according to Sharpening Supplies. The surface of diamond stones can differ between one with holes and one with a continuous surface. While diamond stones are higher in price, they are known to sharpen knives quickly and last a long time. (We elected not to test them because we felt that the less expensive types of stones would serve the purposes of most home cooks.)
Understanding Grit Level
Regardless of material, you'll need to consider the coarseness and grit level of the stone. A stone with a grit level of 1,000 or less is coarse, which makes it perfect for dull knives. Meanwhile, a stone with a grit level between 1,000 and 3,000 is great for basic sharpening (this range of grit levels is also known as medium). Finally, a stone with a grit level of 3,000 and higher is designed to maintain a blade's edge (this range of grit levels is also known as fine). Depending on the condition of your knives, you would typically start sharpening with the coarser side of a stone and slowly progress up in grit level as the knife is being honed. We recommend getting a sharpening stone with different grits on either side, so you'll always have the right coarseness.
Best Sharpening Stones
This is our list of the best sharpening stones to make it easier for you to pick one.
Read on for what makes these stones the best, as well as the ones that deserve an honorable mention.
Best Overall Sharpening Stone
Shun 300/1,000-Grit Combination Whetstone
We ranked Shun's chef's knife as the best overall in our guide to the best chef's knives, and their sharpening stone takes the top spot too (even better, you can use them together!). With a dual-sided grit of 300 and 1,000, the water stone is perfect for working out rough edges and honing duller blades. The sharpening stone needs to be pre-soaked, but once it's ready, it's a breeze to use. With a rubber base for stability, this sharpening stone is a great choice for dull knives. Plus, to clean the stone, all you need to do is run it under water and let it air-dry. If you're looking for a higher grit level or want to fine tune a blade, Shun also makes a stone with a dual-sided grit of 1,000 and 6,000, which performed just as well in our test.
Buy the 300/1,000: Williams Sonoma, $80
Buy the 1,000/6,000: Amazon, $80
You might also consider:
Zwilling Sharpening Stone
The Zwilling sharpening stone is another great option for a water stone, with a dual-sided grit of 250 and 1,000. With this aluminum oxide stone, you just need water on the surface of the stone as you sharpen—no pre-soaking required. This stone includes a non-slip base for stability (although it wasn't as stable as the Shun) and is multicolored to make it easy to distinguish between the different grits.
Buy it: Zwilling, $80
Best Budget-Friendly Sharpening Stone
Wüsthof 240/1,000/3,000-Grit Tri-Stone Sharpener
The Wüsthof is the best budget-friendly sharpening stone for a few reasons. First, it's triple-sided, with grit levels of 240, 1,000 and 3,000, which means more bang for your buck and you'll always have the perfect coarseness for any knife that needs sharpening. Second, this stone comes with thoughtful features that enhance the user's experience, including a wooden base for stability and a mini water bottle to help you keep the stone wet as you sharpen (this water stone does require pre-soaking). The stone is also clearly labeled with "coarse," "medium" and "fine" so you don't mix up the different grit levels. With so many helpful features, the Wüsthof has everything you need for sharpening, all at an affordable price.
Buy it: Williams Sonoma, $50
You might also consider:
Nano Hone 35 Micron True Splash and Go Whetstone
This whetstone is a great choice if you're only looking for one grit level. At 35 micron, which is considered a medium grit level, according to this chart from Sharpening Supplies, this stone is perfect for basic sharpening. The Nano Hone stone only requires water periodically as you sharpen. It does come with a base, but we found the stone moved around during sharpening, so we would recommend placing a kitchen towel underneath for stability.
Buy it: Amazon, $65
Victorinox Sharpening Stone
This oil stone has two sides: a coarse side and a fine side, both of which were effective during our test. Although it is the most affordable stone on this list, it doesn't include some of the helpful features of the other stones, like a base for stability. There are also limited directions for this stone, so we would recommend this stone for people who are more experienced with the sharpening process.
Buy it: Amazon: $37
Best Value Sharpening Stone Set
Sha-Pu Whetstone Sharpening Set
For cooks who sharpen their knives frequently, this sharpening set from Sha-Pu is a great option. With four double-sided whetstones, you can choose between eight grit levels ranging from 240 to 10,000. Each water stone comes with its own base and a larger wooden base, so the grip is super stable. Plus, to help you sharpen your knife correctly, this set comes with a knife angle guide, so you can be sure the blade is flush with the stone and thus sharpening properly. And in case your whetstone gets uneven, the set also includes a flattening stone. With so many great add-ons, this sharpening stone set provides great value for a reasonable price.
Buy it: Amazon, $130 (Editor's note: This product was not available online at the time of publication, but check with your local kitchenware store to see if they stock it.)