Knife Sharpening for Beginners: A Comprehensive Guide

We at It’s Just Sharp has gotten a ton of emails from beginners asking about what the best kind of knife sharpening stone is to take a dull knife to a sharp knife, to make things easier here’s a guide through whetstones and how to get started taking care of your knives.

In order to keep your knives sharp you’re going to need a sharpening stone. There are many different types and brands on the market today so it can be tough knowing where to start. In this article we’ll discuss the basics of knife sharpening and what you need to get started.

Different Stones for Different Knives

Sharpening stones

Not all sharpening stone are created equal. In fact, there are many different types of knife sharpening stones on the market today.

The big thing to know is that sharpening stones/Whetstones work similar to sandpaper during the sharpening process . As you work a blade across the stone the grit will take some metal away to help restore the angle of attack on the bevel. 

Sharpening knives

Most times in order to put a razor sharp edge back on your knife you’ll need to use a combination of sharpening stones to achieve best results. 

In addition its important to think of the kind of knife you’re using. A kitchen knife like a Shun chefs knife is much harder than a standard straight razor and will need a harder stone. To get a straight razor back into alignment you may only need to use a strop where the chefs knife might need a diamond stone. 

Knife sharpening stone

when you look for the kind of sharpening system you want you’ll probably run into a couple of phrases. 

Oil Stones

Oil stones are best utilized using a sharpening stone or honing oil as a lubricant. The oil also does the job of collecting metal shavings. Generally they are more expensive however they can last longer or go to higher grits. 

Water Stones

Water stones, as you can probably guess sharpen knives after being soaked in water. As you work your knife across it you’ll need to re-soak the stone from time to time as it dries out. 

two sided stone

Two sided stones ( also known as double sided stones ) are a cheaper solution for sharpening knives. They can be either a Water stone or an Oil stone, the difference being that it will be one grit on one side and a different grit on the opposing face. 

Getting the correct angle. 

In order to have your everyday kitchen knives in the best shape you’ll need to get the angle in which to take to your stone. Some manufacturers under stand the plight of consumers and their sharpening needs by providing an included angle guide in the user booklet included with the tools. 

If you don’t know what the angle is even the best sharpening stones won’t be able to help you and will act more as a flattening stone than a knife sharpening stone. For the beginner we recommend either an angle guide or a small level to get the edge angle right to sharpen correctly. 

Single stones Vs Sharpening systems.

Standard single stones

If you go on google and search for a whetstone more than likely a single standard flat stone will be the first thing that pops up. 

You soak the stone or give it a coating of oil and rely on your steady hand to keep the knife at the right angle as you drag the bevel across the stone over and over on each side, then you move to the next higher stone and repeat the process until you get the results you want. 

Some people love this process however it can be extremely frustrating for beginners and the chances of getting the sharpness you want are small unless you have a ton of practice under you belt.

Sharpening systems.

These are what we recommend for beginners and professional knife users. Let’s face it, you probably don’t want to spend hours hunched over the table focused solely on dragging your knife back and forth across a stone. Instead we recommend fixed angle systems where stones are relatively cheap and easy to switch out. 


For example, if I place my knife in our Ruixin Pro then I simply slide my knife into the clamp, tighten the screws with the included tightener, and set the arm angle. From there all I have to do is slide the stone back and forth to get the sharpness I want. I can even flip the blade over without having to loosen the screws. 

Best of all It comes with multiple stones to work my way up the grits until I’ve achieved the sharpness I want. Instead of having to spend hours staring at the stone, I can put a great sharpened edge on all my chefs knives, pocket knives, and my wood tools while watching the latest Game of Thrones episode and still have time to take my wife out for dinner.

Electric sharpeners

Electric sharpeners can seem like a great way to quickly get the job done. We don’t recommend them due to their instability and chance of ruining your tools. Instead a good oil stone, double sided stone, or a sharpening system is better for a beginner to get started with as stones are more forgiving on an edge. 

Final thoughts.

We hope this article has been helpful and given you some insight into the world of sharpening stones and sharpening systems. If you have any questions about your knives, please feel free to reach out to us at We’ll be happy to help you find the right sharpener for your needs.

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