So you have some dull knives that you need to sharpen. But why settle for second-best? You need to get yourself the best knife sharpener stone you can find.
As I discovered, there is a lot of geology, even history, involved in making the best knife sharpener stone. For example, the novaculite they find in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas dates back to the Devonian Period and the early Mississippian Subperiod some 410 to 325 million years ago.
I share that with you because that same novaculite that started life even before I was born is highly prized and sought after around the globe to use for a best knife sharpener stone.
And while we all are aware that Japanese knives are some of the best in the world. How many of us know that their water sharpening stones are also some of the best in the world? And they are becoming scarce, and therefore very expensive.
That’s because they’ve just about depleted the deposits of Japanese siliciclastic stone, which they use to make a best knife sharpener stone. Fortunately, the industrious Japanese are making some excellent synthetic water stones that are approaching the same quality as the natural ones.
Enough with the geology lesson — let’s learn about the best knife sharpener stone options. But first, a little more about sharpening stones.
What Is a Sharpening Stone?
A sharpening stone is often called a whetstone, and it’s used to grind and hone the edges of a blade. That is true whether that blade is a gardening tool, woodworking tool, kitchen knife, or even a fish hook. Anything that cuts and needs to be sharp needs to dance across a stone occasionally.
And there are many different types, grits, and sizes.
There are three main groups of sharpening stones: oil, water, and diamond.
Oil stones are traditional Western stones that are the most familiar. These are called oil stones because you need to put a small amount of oil on it before sharpening a blade. The oil reduces friction and helps ease the movement of the blade as you sharpen it.
And oil stones can be either natural or synthetic. The synthetic stones are either aluminum oxide or silicon carbide, and the natural stones are novaculite.
Novaculite is a hard, dense, fine-grained siliceous rock with a high content of microcrystalline quartz.
The novaculite they use in most sharpening stones comes from the central Arkansas Ouachita Mountains.
Generally, oil stones hold their flatness better than water stones. But they need to be cleaned more often, and they tend to sharpen slower.
You can use oil on any stone made of aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, or novaculite. Once you use oil on a sharpening stone, you will always need to use oil on that stone.
However, never use oil on a Japanese water stone, which we’ll talk about next.
Water stones are relatively new to the Western world but are becoming more popular due to their many advantages.
Like oil stones, water stones are natural and synthetic. They usually make synthetic water stones of aluminum oxide.
Before using, soak synthetic water stones in water for 5 to 15 minutes before you use them. You need to soak natural sharpening stones for up to 24 hours before using them. Since you need to use both types of water stones wet, do not dry them off before using.
Because of extensive quarrying of limited natural deposits over centuries, natural water stones are costly and hard to find. If you’d like to read more about natural sharpening stones, click here.
Water stones require less effort to clean than oil sharpening stones and won’t leave residue on your knives. And using water rather than buying oil will save you money over time.
It won’t come as a surprise that diamond stones represent the best quality sharpening stone in the market. Although, some would say that Japanese natural stone sharpening stones are the best — hands down.
They make diamond stones with small industrial diamonds, which make them much harder than any of the other sharpening stones. Diamond stones deliver a quicker sharpened edge, and the sharpening stones are more more likely to remain flat than different types of sharpening stones.
There are two main types of diamond stones. The most common have holes in the diamond surface, and the holes capture the swarf, the fine metal filings. These stones cut fast and are simple to use.
The other is a continuous diamond surface and is preferred when sharpening small tools or tools that have pointed edges that could get caught in the holes.
Both types of diamond stones come in either mono-crystalline or poly-crystalline diamonds. The mono-crystalline will last longer, making them more desirable.
You can also use diamond stones dry, which makes them the right choice when it’s impractical to use water. Some recommend, however, using a small amount of water when using diamond stones.
The two significant advantages of diamond stones are they are fast and retain their flatness. The main disadvantage is they are costly.
When sharpening blades, the grit measurement of the stone needed will depend on the condition of the blade edge you want to sharpen.
If you have a blade that is very dull or has nicks and chips, you should start with a coarse grit to remove as much metal as quickly as possible. Then progress through higher grit measurements honing the edge up to razor sharpness and mirror shine,
Hopefully, you won’t have too many blades that require coarse grit sharpeners. And your knives will only need the attention of medium and high grit whetstones.
Low, or coarse, grit that measures up to 500 is where you’ll start with very dull knives or knives that have nicks and cuts in the blade. It is the roughest and most aggressive grit.
Medium grit measuring from 500 to 2000 is suitable for sharpening and maintaining the majority of your knives and will give you a nice razor-sharp edge.
High grit measuring 2000 to 4000 is when you want to take your sharp knives to the next level. Also, This is the grit you want to use before you transform that knife to the ultimate level of sharpness.
Extremely high or finishing grit measuring 4000 to 30000 is when you want to achieve the sharpest of sharp and see your reflection in the edge.
Now a word of caution. Every time you take that knife to the stone, you’re removing some of the metal. So two things, make sure you wipe the blade after you sharpen it to remove any filings.
And don’t put that blade on the stone more often than necessary. My dear sweet mother-in-law had the wonkiest shaped knives I’ve ever seen. Dad used to take her knives to his shop and sharpen them often.
There are many different sizes of sharpener stones available. And the size of your best knife sharpener stone is going to depend on the knife you want to sharpen and where you are when you want to sharpen.
The most recommended size for kitchen knives is a stone that is about 7 inches in length and 2.5 inches in width. That size gives you sufficient length and width to move your knife’s blade efficiently and effectively. Almost every sharpener on our best knife sharpener stone list meets this size.
For knife sharpeners you will use outdoors, be it in the garden, on a camping trip, or tailgating, a smaller knife sharpener would be more convenient.
How to Keep Your Knives Sharp
Just in case you are someone who hasn’t heard, a sharp knife is much safer than a dull one. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful when using a sharp knife.
The bottom line is that you should take care of your knives, keep them sharp, and keep your skin unpunctured.
How to sharpen
Step number one is to make sure your sharpener stone is not going to be slipping and sliding on your countertop. Chasing the slipping stone is not part of this sharpening exercise.
Place either a rubberized shelf liner or damp paper towels under the stone, unless your sharpener stone has a non-slip stand.
Face your knife away from you with the blade at 15 degrees for Asian knives or around 20 degrees for Western knives. Place your free hand on the middle of the knife blade, keeping your fingers flat and away from the sharp edge.
Draw the blade down the stone in a circular manner, maintaining the angle and keeping your fingers flat. Check to see if the first side is sharp by carefully running your thumb perpendicular to the blade. Do not run your fingers or thumb parallel to the knife’s edge.
When side one is sharp, and you have successfully not cut your thumb or fingers, flip the knife to the other side, and repeat the process.
Then flip your whetstone over to use the fine grit side and repeat the above until you have a nice sharp blade.
If there’s one thing to stress here, other than keeping your fingers out of the way of the sharp blade edge, it’s holding your knife at the proper angle. If you have that angle too high, you will end up with a very shallow knife edge.
Your knuckles will probably keep you from holding the knife too low. You’d quickly find out just how abrasive that seemingly smooth sharpener stone is.
You may now safely slice tomatoes.
To strop or not
I have to admit when I first heard this, I had a mental picture of my husband sitting in the barber’s chair while the barber had my 12-inch chef’s knife in his hand and was stropping away.
The kitchen is my favorite room, and I like to think I’m up on all the latest and greatest and even if I don’t have any Shun knives, I know what they are.
And I keep my knives fairly sharp and store them on a magnetic strip, not jumbled up in the silverware drawer.
But I had never heard of stropping culinary knives.
But if you want to remove the last imperfections and polish that edge after you’ve drilled through the grits to get that perfectly honed edge; strop your knife, and it will be significantly sharper.
This strop is the one in my Amazon basket; my knives are going to be more than “fairly” sharp.
How We Honed Our Best Knife Sharpener Stone List
This best knife sharpener stone review is an independent analysis of the different types of sharpening stones available in today’s marketplace.
To narrow our best knife sharpener stone list to 10, we researched and compared over 50 knife sharpening stones, along with internet and customer reviews and comments. We also consulted best-of lists and professional recommendations on the best knife sharpeners.
We have no business or financial ties to any of the manufacturers we mentioned in our best knife sharpener stone list.
The purpose of this review is to give you sufficient factual, unbiased information so that you can make a confident, informed, and easier decision when purchasing a best knife sharpener stone.
The 10 Best Knife Sharpener Stone Options Available
Geology lessons aside, we did do a lot of research and comparisons so that we could narrow our best knife sharpener stone list to just 10. And these are the 10 we picked.
Once upon a time, when there were butchers at your local grocery store, you could ask when their knife sharpener was coming by and schedule an appointment for them to sharpen your knives too.
We were led to believe that the home cooks could never be proficient enough to sharpen their knives, beyond using the steel that came with the set of knives.
There was some magic locked up in that best knife sharpener stone that only the knife sharpening magician could unlock. But of course, we know this isn’t the case.
Arkansas Wood Mounted Kit
The Arkansas Wood Mounted Kit from Best Sharpening Stones includes three oilstones, soft, hard, and coarse black Arkansas.
The soft-Arkansas 600 grit is used to repair badly worn or damaged edges, the hard 1200 grit hones a fine edge, and the black-Arkansas 2000 grit is an extra-fine stone to polish that edge. The black-Arkansas is traditionally used to sharpen dental tools, surgeons scalpels, and straight razors.
Because they permanently glue the stones onto a quality woodblock, they can pass along that cost-saving of not lapping the other side of the stone. And you can use these stones as a bench stone or handheld.
This kit is available in sizes 6 inches by 2 inches, 8 inches by 2 inches, or 10 inches by 2 inches. They say “these stones produce a fine edge and are popular with chefs, woodworkers, craftsmen, and sportsmen around the globe.”
Amazon customers rated these stones 4.5 out of 5 stars. A respectable 78 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Smith’s TRI-6 Three-stone Sharpening System
Smith’s TRI-6 Three-stone Sharpening System is an oilstone three system, mounted on a rotating molded plastic triangle, on a molded synthetic base. The base has nonskid rubber feet for safety, and they install the stones on the triangle for ease of use.
This system includes a synthetic coarse 400 grit stone for setting a new sharp edge on a very dull or damaged blade. And a synthetic medium 600 grit stone that’s not as aggressive as the coarse, but still removes a moderate amount of metal.
Also, a fine Arkansas 1000 grit stone to finish and polish the cutting edge.
The measurements of the sharpener stones in this kit are 6 inches by 1.625 inches by .375 inches. This kit also includes a yellow Smith’s Angle Guide and a bottle of Smith’s Honing Solution.
Smith’s reminds users that it is vital to clean the stones after each use to keep the pores free of stone and metal particles. They recommend scrubbing vigorously with water, liquid soap, and a stiff nylon brush.
Amazon customer rated this three-stone system 4.4 out of 5 stars. A respectable 64 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Sharp Pebble Whetstone Grit 400/1000
The Whetstone Grit 400/1000 water stone from Sharp Pepper is a dual grit stone on a non-slip rubber base. Also included is the Sharp Pebble flattening stone, angle guide, and an eBook instruction guide.
Use the 400 grit side of this dual grit stone to repair damaged or chipped edges, and the 1000 grit side to hone very dull knives to a sharp edge.
Use the flattening stone to level any uneven surfaces that may occur after repeated use.
The SP 400/1000 premium grade, silicon carbide, water stone (imported from Japan) measures 7 inches by 2.25 inches by 1 inch. The flattening stone measures 2.25 inches by 2 inches by 1 inch.
Smart Pebble also offers their trademarked SP dual grit stones in 1000/6000 and 3000/8000.
Sharp Pebble reminds users to keep the sharpening angle consistent as you sharpen the entire length of the blade. While you are using the stone, make sure it is entirely flat. And to take your time and be proficient and careful.
Amazon customers rated this dual-grit stone 4.7 out of 5 stars. An impressive 85 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Grocery Art Whetstone Knife Sharpening Stone 1000/6000 Grit
The Whetstone Knife Sharpening Stone 1000/6000 Grit from Grocery Art is a dual-sided water stone that includes a non-slip attractive bamboo base and an angle support guide.
The angle support guide slips onto your knife to help you keep your knife at the correct 22.5-degree angle as you sharpen the entire blade.
Soak this stone in water for 5 to 10 minutes and do not dry the sharpening stone before using. Use the 1000 grit side of this dual-sided water stone to sharpen dull (not damaged or chipped) blades, and the 6000 grit side to finely polish the edge.
The dual-grit stone, in its base, measures 8.3 inches by 3.5 inches by 2.4 inches.
Grocery Art says it’s essential to use the whole surface of the stone when sharpening your blades. And do not hone serrated blades or ceramic knives on this whetstone.
Amazon customers rated this sharpening stone 4.8 out of 5.0 stars. A remarkable 94 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5 stars.
BearMoo 2-IN-1 Whetstone
The BearMoo 2-IN-1 Whetstone fine honing 3000/8000 grit water stone includes a non-slip silicone base.
BearMoo makes this stone with professional-grade white corundum that is corrosion and heat-resistant.
Soak this dual-grit stone in water for 5 to 10 minutes (don’t dry the sharpening stone) before using. Make sure you place the wet sharpening stone into its stand on a flat, stable surface.
Then use the 3000 grit side of the stone to put a fine edge on your knife, and the 8000 grit side to finely polish and put a mirror finish to the blade.
This dual-grit water stone measures 7.09 inches by 2.36 inches by 1.18 inches.
BearMoo reminds users to use the entire stone, not just the middle when sharpening knives. And do not use this sharpening stone on serrated blades or ceramic knives.
Amazon customers rated this polishing stone 4.5 out of 5 stars. A favorable 73 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Spyderco Ceramic File Set
Spyderco’s Ceramic File Set is a four-piece set that comes in a suede snap-close pouch. These ceramic sharpeners are perfect for removing burrs, getting into difficult areas of your knives, and small blades, like paring and hobby.
This set of four includes round, square, triangular, and slip (heart) shaped ceramic files that are each six inches long. These made in the USA ceramic files, clean easily with a plastic scouring pad and an abrasive powder cleaner.
While this set of files does come in a suede pouch, many reviewers commented that the bag doesn’t protect the ceramic files from breaking, so handle (and store) carefully.
Another helpful comment from reviewers is that they’ve used this set on all kinds of small blades, including pencil-sharpening blades and small replaceable hobby knife blades, also, on tools, guns, watch, and clock parts.
Amazon customers rated these ceramic files 4.9 out of 5 stars. An extraordinary 88 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Shapton Ceramic 8000
Shapton’s Ceramic 8000 grain size ceramic stone comes with a plastic carrying case that doubles as a non-slip stand. They make these ceramic stones in Japan.
While you never want to soak a ceramic stone in water (it weakens the sharpening stone), you do want to use a small amount of water or oil while sharpening your blades.
In spite of this being a smooth polishing stone, it’s abrasive and will take metal off your blade, so pay attention as you polish your edges.
This stone measures 8.25 inches by 2.75 inches. Also, Shapton offers ceramic stones in 120, 220, 320, 1500, 2000, 5000, 12000, and 30000-grain stones.
Amazon customers rated this ceramic stone 4.6 out of 5 stars. A remarkable 85 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Diamond Machine Technology 8 Inch DuoSharp Bench Stone
The 8 Inch DMT DuoSharp Plus Diamond from Diamond Machine Technology includes the DuoBase elevated stone holder. The DuoSharp Plus Diamond dual-grit stone has fine and coarse grits.
The DuoBase keeps stones firmly in place, and the rubber feet keep the base securely stationary on a variety of surfaces. The comfortable elevated height has two inches clearance for your knuckles.
Diamond Machine Technology says they are unique in their use of micronized monocrystalline diamonds. They use them because they are sized precisely for a more uniform diamond surface.
The analogy they use to compare to their competitors is that monocrystalline is like an ice cube made up of one particle holding its form. While using poly-crystalline (like their competitors) is like a snow-cone made of many small particles that get sheared off during use.
Use the coarse grit side of the stone to transform dull edges, and finish the honing with the fine grit side, to give your blade a razor-sharp edge. This sharpening stone measures 8 inches long by 2.625 inches wide.
The interrupted (polka dot) surface has slightly recessed holes to collect the metal fines (swarf) removed while you sharpen your blades.
Diamond Machine Technology says they do not recommend this stone for pointed or small tools or blades.
Amazon customers rated this sharpener stone 4.5 out of 5 stars. An impressive 83 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Diamond Machine Technology Dia-Sharp Credit Card Sharpener
This set of three Dia-Sharp Credit Card Sharpener, are ideal for keeping in your wallet or pocket. And each comes in a different color-coded carrying case.
You may be asking why and when would you need something that seems to be frivolous. Well, I think it would be handy to have one packed in a picnic basket, your RV, or with your tail-gate supplies.
They’re small and handy enough to be available for whenever you run into a dull blade. If you’ve ever been away from home and run into a dull knife, you can appreciate this credit-card size diamond sharpener.
There are three cards in this kit of three, coarse (325 mesh) to quickly restore a neglected edge, fine (600 mesh) for a razor-sharp edge, and extra-fine (1200 mesh) to polish and refine.
Amazon customers rated these convenient sharpeners 4.5 out of 5 stars. An incredible 80 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener
Work Sharp’s Guided Field Sharpener is a five-stage sharpening solution. And while they designed this for outdoor lovers who need a compact solution while out in the field, that compact solution could be convenient for others as well.
This compact sharpener includes 2 diamond plates, 1 coarse (220 grit) and 1 fine (600 grit) both measuring 4 inches by 1 inch.
And two ceramic rods. One has a three-position ceramic rod incorporating coarse and fine grit and fish hook honing sides, the other a smaller diameter fine grit.
Plus a leather strop that is conditioned with a micro-abrasive to finish blades with a razor-sharp edge.
From camp tools to serrated edges, even to fish hooks, this 6.8 inches by 1.5 inches by 1-inch compact sharpening tool is an excellent tool to have just about anywhere. And it is made in America by a 4th-generation, family-owned company.
Amazon customers rated this compact sharpener 4.8 out of 5.0 stars. A noteworthy 83 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Ready to Safely Slice and Dice
We’ve given you a lot of information in our best knife sharpener stone review, including a very brief geology lesson.
The essential take-a-way is that you must keep your knives sharp — for ease of use, but even more importantly for safety. Any of these could be the best knife sharpener for you. They all enjoy amazing ratings and great user experience.
So let us know in the comments below, which sharpener you think is best.