For me, there’s no greater tool than a knife. Regardless of what situation I’m caught in, my knife is the partner I always keep by my side, and for that reason, keep it in tip-top shape. Knowing how to sharpen a knife with a whetstone is one of the fundamental skills any prepper should know.
Knives have always been one of the greatest and most versatile tools throughout history. From cutting, stabbing, to using as a measuring device, a spear when attached to a long enough stick and a vast amount of other uses, this is the tool you need.
It only makes sense then, that you should keep a tool this important, in peak condition, ready to use at a moment’s notice. And with a knife, sharpness is key. There’s nothing more frustrating than a knife with a dull blade.
Imagine facing the end of the world with a knife barely sharp enough to cut butter. There truly is nothing worse.
That’s why I wanted to share a few simple steps to rectify the situation. Knowing how to sharpen a knife with a whetstone isn’t as difficult as some people make out. The process is a quick sequence or a few simple steps that, when followed, result in an exquisitely-sharp knife.
Why Keep a Knife Sharp?
Despite being such an obvious question, it still surprises me to learn many people don’t sharpen their knives.
I guess it doesn’t really surprise me, considering how many people avoid servicing their cars. The idea of attending to something that doesn’t appear to need any attention is a common misconception.
But just like cars, knives need regular servicing, too. The blade of your knife is dulled the second you replace it into its sheath. Regardless of how carefully you treat your knife, the blade seems to dull with a simple stare, its edge slowly diminishing as you carry it by your side.
It’s not until you whip it out in anticipation of slicing a few trees down for kindling that you realize how frustrating the process is with a knife blade resembling the reverse side of a spoon.
Now sit back and take note of how to avoid that situation. Because with these few steps, your blade will always be at the optimum condition.
How to Sharpen Your Knife with a Whetstone
Step #1: Soak the Whetstone
Believe it or not, the whetstone you’re holding in your hand isn’t a solid chunk of rock.
It contains thousands of tiny air pockets and to eliminate the chances of damaging both your blade and your whetstone, soak your stone in water until the bubbles stop bubbling out.
Step #2: Secure Your Whetstone
Aside from setting your whetstone upon a secure surface, like a kitchen counter, you’ll also need it secured in place. This is to avoid the stone sliding around. Because your blade will be sliding along it repeatedly, they have a propensity to move.
Considering a steel blade will slide along its surface, it’s probably a good idea to keep yourself as safe as you can. You’ll also want to begin with the coarse side of the whetstone facing up.
Step #3: Angle Your Blade
Depending on what type of blade you have, make sure to hold it at the correct angle. Start by placing your blade flat on the whetstone surface.
Now, lift the knife by around 10 to 15 degrees for a Japanese-style knife or 18 to 22 degrees for a European knife. With one hand holding the knife’s handle, stabilize the tip with your other hand.
Step #4: Time to Slide
Using your other hand to apply some light pressure to the blade, begin sliding the blade’s sharpened edge along the whetstone.
Run the entire length of the blade across the entire length of the stone, as if pushing the sharpened edge away from yourself. Pretend you’re scraping a layer of paint off the stone’s surface.
Step #5: Repeat and Repeat
Repeat this process no less than 10 times for a single-beveled knife and 10 times per side for a double-beveled knife. Only once you finish these amounts do you turn the stone over.
Once the smoother side of the whetstone is face-up, repeat the process, 10 times per beveled edge.
Step #6: Same Way
If you start the process by pushing the blade away from yourself, then continue this direction. NEVER change direction as this will negate the effort you have already put in. If you start front-to-back then continue that way.
Step #7: Keep a Steady Knife
Maintaining the same pressure on the blade will also add to a better-quality result. Also, maintain the same angle throughout the sharpening process.
Step #8: Finish with a Clean
When you have completely finished, be sure to rinse your knife thoroughly and then dry it. Congratulations, you have sharpened your own blade.