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.