What is the best sharpening stone? | excavated cave (2023)

If you use cutting tools, you will be forced to sharpen them over time as they dull. There are three optionssharpen your toolsnamely; the use of a pull-through sharpener, the power sharpener and the whetstone.

I'm going to focus on whetstones and show you some of the best whetstones you can use to get your tools sharp and ready to use. But before that, let me share with you what to look out for when looking for a good whetstone.

The best whetstone to invest in is the diamond stone, which contains diamonds bonded to a metal surface. This combination results in a very hard abrasive material that sharpens your tools.

Which whetstone do I get?

People often confuse that all grinding wheels are related to water, but this is not the case. Whetstone comes from the word "whet" which meanssharp.

Whetstones come in different types which are; Oil stones, diamond stones, water stones and ceramic stones. They also have a variety of grit levels, from coarse on the lower end to fine on the upper end, and are used at different levels when sharpening.

Different types of whetstones


Diamond whetstones are good

Diamond stones are the best sharpening stones to use.

Sharpening stones contain industrial-grade diamonds, which are the hardest abrasive material ever developed for grinding stones bonded to a metal surface.

Whetstones come in different sizes, shapes and grains to help you with different levels and different tool blades as well.

There istwo main typesof diamond stones; Onecontains holes in the surface of the diamondto capture the fills left by the tool as it sharpens.

The holes in the surface of the stone also give it another name, namely the surface of the broken diamond, and an example of this type of whetstone is theDMT Duo-Sharp. It cuts very quickly and makes them very economical.

These special service holes prevent filler from building up. It also acts quickly and is very effective.

The second contains a continuous diamond surface and is more preferred when sharpening tools that may be interrupted by the diamond surface. An example of this whetstone is DMT Dia-Sharp

What is the best sharpening stone? | excavated cave (1)

Diamond stones are available inmonocrystallineand this type is of high quality and does not break, which makes them last for a long time.

It is also available inpolycrystallineAnd this sharpener is made of micro diamond powder and metal catalyst under high temperature and high pressure environment, providing excellent wear resistance and hardness.

Diamond stones can be used wet or dry, and if used wet, use water or water-based sharpening oil. Do not use petroleum based oil

ceramic stones

Ceramic stones are famous for their durability and the very good sharpness they give when thinner.

It is ideal for carvers grinding freehand and fast wear grooves in waterstone.

What is the best sharpening stone? | excavated cave (2)

Ceramic stones have a dark stone around 800 grit used for edge sharpening and a white stone around 8000 grit used for final sharpening.

water stones

Water stones are usually made of aluminum oxide abrasive material and you will also find this material in oil stones. The difference between these two is the binder that holds the abrasive together.

Waterstones are softer than oilstones and the softer binder promotes faster cutting as the old abrasive material wears away and is replaced by new sharp material.

Another benefit of waterstones is that they come in a much wider variety of grits than most types of whetstones.

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Also, water stones are easy to clean and water is readily available compared to oil.

What is the best sharpening stone? | excavated cave (3)

The only downside is that while it leaves your tools sharp and ready to use, it doesn't last long compared to diamond whetstones.

After prolonged use, it forms a slope, which means that the stone must be smoothed regularly.


Oil stones have been around for a long time and this was the best whetstone used in the traditional days. So far it has been one of the best whetstones.

Oil stones have been more readily available than water stones in the US for many years.

The original oil stones were mined in Arkansas and made into Arkansas Stones.

Oil stones can produce a polished edge, but they cut slower than artificial stones.

What is the best sharpening stone? | excavated cave (4)

Hard Black Arkansas and Hard Translucent are more expensive because they are so rare to find.

Another type of oil stone is Norton Indian Stones and this artificial stone is very popular. These stones cut very quickly and create a fine edge on the tools you are sharpening.

Norton Indian Stones are usually brown or orange and compared to Arkansas Stones, Indian Stone is coarser.

Indian stones are made of aluminum oxide. When it comes to faster cutting oil stones, silicon carbide stones

What oil to use for grinding stones?

When most people look for oil for sharpening, it's not for sharpening, but for sharpening. What is the difference between sharpening and sharpening?

With sharpening, you take an already sharpened knife and straighten the edges, but with sharpening, you sharpen the metal on the blade to create a new edge.

Oil whetstones are one of the best whetstones you can buy. They can be used for wood carving and you can also sharpen your dull knives at home.

If you don't have honing oil available, oils like vegetable oil, mineral oil, industrial cleaners, window cleaners, but also water can be used as honing liquids. This liquid serves as an alternative to grinding oil as it does not harden when poured onto the grinding wheel.

You're probably wondering how water makes the list. Honing oil does not necessarily just mean oil in this scenario, and therefore other non-petroleum fluids can still be used as a substitute for honing.

However, oil is the best choice if you want to get the most out of your whetstone.

vegetable oils

The reason vegetable oils are at the top of my list is that they are used in cooking in most homes and are therefore easily accessible.

Not all vegetable oils are suitable for sharpening, as some become rancid after being poured onto the grinding wheel and can irritate the ear.

To avoid this, you can use vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, peanut oil and canola oil.

mineral oil

Some vegetable oils like almond oil and macadamia oil are very expensive and using them as a substitute for sharpening oil seems wasteful, so consider using bottled water.

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The reason for using minerals is that there are no toxic fumes and smells, whereas certain brands of mineral oil are used for babies.

It is light enough to use on a whetstone and does not bind, making it a good substitute for whetstone oil. Another advantage of this oil is that it does not go rancid.

industrial cleaner

Industrial cleaner is not oil based, but can serve as a substitute for honing oil. A good example is simple green cleaner, as it does not contain toxic or harmful chemicals that could aggravate the stone and tools you are stripping.

Industrial cleaners act as degreasers and therefore do not clog the pores of the whetstone, but help to remove grease that has accumulated in the pores of the stone.


Glass cleaners are great at getting into the tiny pores of the glass and removing anything that might have settled there, and this quality makes it a good substitute for polishing oil.

A good example is Windex glass cleaner and they are safe to sharpen as they do not contain toxic chemicals that could harm your health.


Water can also be used as a substitute for honing oil and works well to mimic honing oil properties. The reason water works well is because whetstones are best used dry (using oil lubricants) or completely wet.

Water is great for providing some lubrication as it fills the stone's pores to prevent small chips from getting into them.

Water saves money and is easily accessible.

Which whetstone to use

Depending on the range, different types of whetstones are used for different purposes.

If the knife has chipped edges, you will need to create a new edge, starting with a 1000 grit or less. If you are sharpening a dull knife and the edge is still good, start with a 2000-3000 grit.

Grain 4000-8000 is used to refine the edge of a knife, which is the finishing process. If the knife is to cut meat, do not exceed 6000 grit, but if it is to cut vegetables, you can exceed 6000 grit.

Which whetstones do I need?

Grit is the smoothness or roughness of the whetstone. Grit size is indicated by a grit number on the sharpening side, indicating smoothness or roughness.

Using the wrong grit will only damage your tools, so make sure you use the correct grit at the different sharpening levels.

A lower number on the wheel indicates a lower density, meaning the particles are spaced farther apart and this gives a rougher surface. The lower number is mainly used for a very dull blade that cannot cut anything, and the higher number is used in the final finishing process to sharpen your tool.

grain levels

There are 4 main levels of Grit and each one is categorized to impart its tools differently. The main stages are;

Whetstones: 1000 grit or less

The wheels in this layer have a low density, making it the layer with the coarsest stones. This level is recommended for tools with blades that are damaged, nicked or chipped, or that are extremely dull and have completely lost their sharpness.

Due to the low density of these stones, avoid sharpening in general, as they will not give your tools a good finish.

Low grit will also damage your tools if too much pressure is applied and takes too much material off the tools, so it is not advisable for general sharpening.

Medium stones: grit 1000 – 3000

This is the phase where the grain density is neither too low nor too high and it is your whetstone that sharpens your tools just right to regain their sharpness.

When they say this is your go-to whetstone when you need to sharpen your tools, that doesn't mean it's the only grain to use for sharpening your tools when you're looking for a super-fine edge.

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It's the initial grit that helps bring the tool back to its sharpness, and those who sharpen their knives regularly can even skip the 1000 grit and start with a 2000 or 3000 grit whetstone.

This is because they are less coarse than 1000 grit.

Some are satisfied with the sharpness at this level and find no reason to keep sharpening, but if you want more sharpness, what do you use?

Refining Stones: Grain 4000-8000

This level is called full stop because it's for those who want a super sharp edge.

When sharpening the carving tool, it is best to stop sharpening at 5000 grit to avoid bending.

If you are sharpening a knife to cut meat, you can go up to 6000 grit, which is the highest grit you can go.

When sharpening your knife for cutting vegetables, you can use 8000 grit or higher. One trick my partner shared with me is that you can't shed tears when you're slicing onions with a super-sharp knife.

Which side of the whetstone is coarse?

Do whetstones wear out?

Regardless of the material used, all whetstones wear out, the difference is how long each type will serve you.

Diamond stones will last a long time if kept clean and stored in a dry place.

With regular use, it can serve from 10 to 20 years.

Waterstones wear faster because they use the principle of refraction of surfaces which create new cutting particles to wear down your steel cutting tool.

This creates a hollow surface along the length of the stone, forcing you to flatten the stone. To smooth the stone, you need another stone to finish and smooth the surface.

There is a method that works well and you will never have to plan your stone again, even if the stone is still worn.

How do you clean a whetstone?

Cleaning your whetstone will make it last longer. So, after using the stone, just wipe it with a damp cloth to remove the metal shavings and excess oil.

There is no need to wash and rinse the stone after use, and after cleaning you can put it back in the box or store it where you keep it. Make sure the location is dry to prevent mold from growing on your stone.

Do serrated knives need to be sharpened?

Serrated knives are sharp blades with saw-like cuts or teeth on one side of the blade surface, allowing food to be cut cleanly without damaging the delicate or tender texture.

Serrated knives need to be sharpened, and these types of knives require a different technique and sharpener.

You only sharpen the side with the serrated edge because serrated knives are only sharpened on one side.

Sesharpening serrated knives, hold the pointer at an angle that matches the original angle of the border.

Place the narrow, pointed end of the sharpener against the serration and slide the sharpener into the serration, away from the edge of the blade, toward the spine.

Knives must be sharpened until the width of the conical sharpener reaches the same width as the serration. Always keep the width of the teeth, do not increase it.

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A serrated knife doubles as a sharpener and the serrated edges are sharpened separately. When sharpening a knife with a serrated blade, a whetstone will not help. What is used instead is a serrated knife sharpener as it is designed to fit the serrations.

This type of knife uses a different technique, so how do you do it?

How to sharpen serrated knives

Before choosing a sharpener and the tool you want to sharpen, clean up your workspace to remove the clutter that is still brewing in the shop.

Serrated knives are perfect for slicing bread, tomatoes and even meat. And when sharpening, take some vegetables with you to test whether the knife is sharp to your liking.

Choosing the Right Equipment

Determine the width of the teeth to determine the size of sharpening steel needed. Some knives have different sized teeth, in which case you will need several toothpicks.

Please note that flat files, whetstones and edge sharpeners will not work with serrated knives.

Find the beveled edge

The beveled edges are on the side where you can see the jagged edges more clearly. The back should be flat and you'll barely see the jagged edges looking this way.

The back should never be sharpened as this would damage your knife.

Drag the pointer along the edges to get the bevel to your liking.

Find the right angle to sharpen

Toggle tools for different sized fillets or straight edges

If your serrated knife has different sized teeth, change your sharpening tools to avoid widening the teeth as they should remain the normal size.

Increasing the teeth width will only damage your knife.

sand the burrs

When you sharpen your knife, burrs, the little bits of metal, collect on the flat side of the knife.

These pieces are removed by running the flat edge of the knife over a whetstone or a piece of fine sandpaper and your knife will have a clean edge.


When you think of the best knife to sharpen, what's the best way to keep it in pristine condition?

Before using the different grades of whetstones, avoid soaking stones with more than 3000 grains in water, and if water is needed, simply hose it down.

When working with oil stones, you can use denatured alcohol to remove the oil from the stone after you are finished sharpening.

Before placing a whetstone back in its box, make sure it has dried completely to prevent it from forming on the surface of stones such as waterstone.

Some degrade over time, which is why drying is important to prolong the life of your sharpening tools.

Never wash your knife in the dishwasher, as over time this will damage the serrations or flat edges, creating a dull, worthless edge.

The high heat of the dishwasher can break down any organic material on your knife, so if the handle is wood it will break.

Keep in mind that sharpening uses the reduction method. So if you archive too much, you can't go back. So check your progress frequently to avoid removing too much metal.

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Check by running your finger over the non-beveled side of the blade. When you work with metal, you have a lot of space to work with before you get to the point of overfilling.


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