How to Use a Whetstone

A whetstone is a tool used to sharpen knives and other cutting devices. Also known as sharpening stones or water stones, whetstones can be flat in shape or three dimensional. Whetstones can be used to sharpen knives, razors, scissors and chisels among other tools. Oil and water are the two basic types of whetstones. An oil whetstone is prepared by greasing it with drops of oil smoothed lightly evened out across the stone. A water stone is moisturized by soaking in water for 10 to 15 minutes. However, modern guides advise against the use of any substance on your whetstone.

Things you will need

  • Cutting board
  • Whetstone – coarse, medium or fine depending on your tool
  • Knife
  • Honing steel


  1. Place the whetstone on a cutting board ensure the coarse grit is facing up.
  2. Hold the knife at a 20 degree angle and lay the heel of the blade on the stone.
  3. Balance the extended tip of the knife with one hand to guide it, and draw the blade toward you, sweeping across the stone.
  4. Maintaining the angle grind one side of the blade until it touches the cutting edge. Use about ten strokes.
  5. Test the edge on the opposite side by finding the burr (the curled edge).
  6. Flip the knife on the other side and repeat the grinding process until that edge has a burr.
  7. Turn the whetstone with the fine grit facing up and repeat the sharpening process.
  8. Once the blade is at the desired sharpness use the honing steel to smooth jagged edges.
  9. Hold the knife at 20 degree angle and draw it across the honing steel using the same method as the whetstone. Repeat 5 to 6 times.
  10. Flip the knife and repeat.
  11. Cleanse knife and whetstone and store away.


  • Use an angle guide to control the edge angle
  • Sharpen until you raise a burr
  • Hone or polish the edge smooth
  • When using the whetstone you should smooth in one direction, do not go back and forth.