To keep your kitchen knives in top condition, sharpening them occasionally is necessary. Home cooks have a few options to keep their knives sharp: a honing steel (which doesn’t actually sharpen the blade, but rather realigns the edge), an electric sharpener, a manual sharpener, or, as you might’ve guessed by the title of this article, a sharpening stone.
Sharpening stones, in this case we’re looking at water stones or whetstones, is the preferred method of sharpening by many. Using a whetstone takes practice and knowledge about the correct grit for each knife as well as proper technique, but it also offers great versatility and control.
This buying guide is geared toward beginners looking for a whetstone set to get started with. If you haven’t used whetstones before, you’ll want to learn about finding the right angle as well as the different grits suggested for the knives you have. Our recommendations will account for overall value and versatility, but make sure to account for your specific knife’s needs before you buy.
I’ll drop a few resources at the bottom, so let’s get into the products.
Bestseller: Sharp Pebble 1000/6000 Whetstone
The bestselling sharpening stone on Amazon is this kit from Sharp Pebble. It features a double-sided stone with 1000 and 6000 grit and a bamboo holding base. Current list price is under $40, and the reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
Note: One thing to reiterate is that this particular finishing grit isn’t ideal for all knives, so even though it’s a top seller, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Other grits from Sharp Pebble are available:
- 400/1000 grit — includes nonslip rubber base and flattening stone
- 3000/8000 grit — includes bamboo base and flattening stone
Having said that, the 1000/6000 is a good combo for beginners. Regarding the Sharp Pebble, as with anything you find on Amazon, there’s always the risk of fake positive reviews. That’s the key argument against this particular product on forums and non-Amazon reviews. Even so, with an adjusted rating of 4 stars to accommodate false reviews, this is still a great option.
The Sharp Pebble stone comes with an ebook that includes step by step directions and tips and pointers. Though you can find all this info online, it’s a nice option to have it all contained and directly related to the Sharp Pebble whetstone.
Also Popular: King 1000/6000
Often compared to the Sharp Pebble, and frequently recommended on forums, the King whetstone is currently cheaper than the bestseller we just discussed and comes from a well-known brand. This stone also includes a #1000 and #6000 double-sided stone but it has a plastic base instead of bamboo.
The most significant complaint about this product is damage from shipping — both from Amazon and elsewhere — so it’s one thing to keep in mind. However, it’s usually no problem to return for an undamaged stone (just inconvenient, of course).
Like the stone we discussed above, the 1000/6000 combo is common and often recommended for beginners, but not always the best grits for all knives.
A Fuller Set: KnifePlanet
Though new to the field, the KnifePlanet Complete Set is pretty appealing. Currently priced under $70, the set includes a bamboo base and flattening stone in addition to 400/1000 and 3000/8000 stones.
The price might be a bit high for what you’re looking for, but overall it’s a good value thanks to the four grit options, the flattening stone, and included base. Additionally, like the Sharp Pebble, KnifePlanet’s set includes access to online materials about how to use the stones.
Overall, the KnifePlanet option is worth considering if the price and included grits appeal to you. Because it is new, there isn’t a tremendous amount of non-sponsored reviews or conversations about it, but early reviewers and articles indicate the product is a good value.
Just look for a stone at an affordable price, without the full setup of base and other included items? Here are a few to check out:
- BearMoo: 3000/8000 or 400/1000 options, with rubber holder
- Whetstone Cutlery: 400/1000 (under $15)
- Chefic: 1000/4000 or 240/800, with rubber holder (under $20)
- King: 1000
Intro to Whetstones
The above video gives you a very basic idea of how to use a whetstone, so you can get a sense of the process. In reality, finding the right angle is key and depends on the angle of a particular knife’s blade. It takes practice to get it down, but once you do you’ll find that it’s quite easy.
A few key points to know about using a sharpening stone:
- Learn a bit about the different the different grits and their uses. This article gives a helpful overview of the most common options and best practices. One important takeaway: #1000 is a good basic grit, but overuse can damage the blade.
- Most sharpening stones, including the ones we discussed in this article, need to be wet before use. For lower grits, soaking is required. Typically, higher grit (#3000+) stones just need to be splashed a bit. Some videos and reviews recommend soaking the whole stone when it is two-sided. (Always go by the manufacturer guidelines on this.)
- On that note, ensure your stones have ample time to dry before you put them away. Storing away wet stones will result in mold and/or damage.
If you’re interested in learning even more, you can do some research on the materials made to create whetstones, as well as info on natural water stones. Pros and knife enthusiasts have plenty of opinions on this and it’s easy to find forums that concern the topic.
Here’s one more video, courtesy of LifeHacker, that’s a bit more in depth regarding sharpening with whetstones.