How To Sharpen Kitchen Knives With A Whetstone

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 01/25/21 •  5 min read

To sharpen a kitchen knife with a whetstone, start by soaking the stone thoroughly.

After soaking, place the knife at the right angle for sharpening, and pass the blade over the stone using a back and forth motion, only applying pressure when pulling the blade back.

Work slowly and repeat the process until you’ve sharpened the entire blade before moving on to the next stone.

Sharpening a knife with a whetstone is as fun as it is challenging.

While it’s a critical aspect of knife care, many knife users get the technique wrong when sharpening.

Using the wrong technique when sharpening a knife can cause some serious consequences and might even dull or damage a blade.

So, when using a whetstone, it’s important to read up up the right techniques so you don’t mess it up.

To make the process easier, here is what you need to know about using a whetstone to sharpen your kitchen blade.

How to prepare the whetstone for sharpening

With whetstones just like other sharpening stones, you need to prepare the stone for sharpening.

Some of the steps to follow when preparing the stone are:

Place the whetstone on a damp towel or cloth.

Ensure that both the towel and whetstone rest on a flat surface.

This will help in preventing the stone and cloth from sliding while sharpening.

Place the whetstone with the coarse side facing on top-This is the quickest and easiest way of forming the blade’s edge back into its correct shape.

Lubricate the stone- There are two ways of lubricating a whetstone; you can either use water or oil.

However, you should check the manufacturer’s provisions to confirm whether you should use water or oil on your whetstone.

Some whetstones like diamond stones, do not require you to use any type of lubricant.

Hold the knife for sharpening

Once you have set the whetstone, the next thing you should do is hold the knife correctly for sharpening.

Perhaps the most uncertain, complex, and trickiest aspect for beginners when using whetstones is learning how to set the correct sharpening angle.

Here is how you will find the best sharpening angle:

Hold the knife with the blade down at the right angle.

Then move the blade to an acute angle (45 degrees) by halving the distance from the whetstone to the blade.

Then half the acute angle so that the resultant angle is approximately 22.5 degrees.

This is the recommended sharpening angle for most blades.

You can adjust this angle as needed depending on the blade you are sharpening.

Sharpen the knife

After you have found the correct sharpening angle and have prepared the stone sharpener, the next thing you should do is begin sharpening your kitchen knife.

Here are the steps to follow when using a whetstone to sharpen your kitchen blade:

With the blade held at 20 degrees, slowly draw the blade down and across the whetstone in a smooth and consistent motion.

Start at the heel all through to the tip and ensure that the entire edge is sharpened evenly.

You can repeat this action several times like 5 or more depending on the state of your blade.

For excessively dull edges, you may need to repeat the action for longer.

Flip the blade to the other side and repeat steps 1 and 2.

Sharpen this side just like the other side for a similar number of times.

This provides for consistency.

After you have sharpened both sides, you should then return the blade to the side you started with.

This time, draw the blade starting at the tip towards the heel.

You should repeat the motion at least 5 times.

Flip to the other side, and repeat the same motion for 5 times.

Turn the whetstone to the fine sharpening side repeat all the steps from 1 to 4 in quick succession.

How do you know when you have finished sharpening?

The easiest way of knowing whether your blade has been fully sharpened is by feeling the cutting edge.

You do this by running your finger across the blade from the spine to the cutting edge.

You should undertake this step carefully to prevent cuts and other injuries.

If you notice that the edge is not sufficiently sharp like you would like, you can sharpen the knife again.

Cleaning the whetstone

After use, it is necessary that you clean the stone sharpener.

All you need to do when cleaning this stone is using a damp towel/cloth for wiping away excess oil and any metal shavings on the surface of the whetstone.

You do not necessarily have to wash or rinse the whetstone after use.

Once you have wiped your whetstone clean, the next thing you should do is store it in a clean and dry place, away from moisture.


While using a stone sharpener for sharpening your kitchen blades is a tasking experience, it is the most affordable option of retaining the sharpness of your blades.

Using a whetstone is a simple task that does not require you to possess any special skills.

All you need to do is learn how to position the blade at the right angle and secure the whetstone.

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.