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Jan 10, 2012 05:07 PM

Water stone(s) for a beginner sharpening a really dull knife

My father has kitchen knives (Chef's knife, boning knife, etc.) that he has used for well over 30 years that for some reason he is indignant to sharpening. As a result some of them are dull and some have minor knicks in the blade.

I cant afford the edgepro, so as a beginner with a limited budget I would like to try free hand sharpening with something that would really help me in putting a sharp edge on these knives. What types of stones and stone number grits should I look into?

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  1. I planned on sharpening the butcher knife, the chef knife, the boning knife, and maybe possibly the bread and fillet knife.

    I plan to use the knives for general meal preparation but MOSTLY for minor butchering (like cleaning a chicken breast, or maybe deboning, or separating drumettes from the wingette, etc.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: achilles007

      If the knives are in really bad shape,might I suggest taking them to a Pro sharpener(someone you can trust with a good reputation) first,otherwise you might end up buying 2 or 3 stones and spending a lot of time to get the job done right(400 grit 1k grit and maybe a 4 to 6k grit.I'm not trying to talk you out of buying stone and learning to free hand sharpen,but some jobs are best left to the pros.

    2. Yeah. It sounds like your knives are in pretty bad shapes. You can take it to a professional, and then take care of the knives on your own later. In truth, you can sharpen dull knives with low grit stones. However, it does not seem like a suitable job if you are new to knife sharpening. I mean, if you cannot get the knife edges as sharp as you like, then you won't know if it is because of the knives or because of your skill.

      For normal home knives, a ~1000 grit (Japanese scale) stone is most useful. It is aggressive enough to work on minor chips and refine enough as a finishing stone.

      Because your knives sound dull, you may need a ~500 grit or lower stone.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Totally agree.
        My daughter brought home her knives for me to sharpen. They were terribly dull.

        A few minutes on a 1000g stone and I was chasing the burr. Deburred and a couple swipes on my strop and it was sliding through paper. Because these were softer Euro steel no further refinement was done

      2. Here are a few excellent resources for you: and

        It sounds like you would need at least 2 stones, perhaps 3. That would get pretty expensive. There ARE alternatives that will still allow you to freehand your knives, and do it on a VERY reasonable budget.

        You can use sandpaper - or - 3M abrasive films. Or both. 3M has grits of extreme fineness. WIth just a few pieces of sandpaper from home depot or lowes or an auto parts store, you can put a very good edge on a knife.

        If you are open to a guided system, I can recommend what I use - a DMT Aligner. For $40 it's a great little system and comes with grits of 320, 600 and 1200. I also like the additional xx-fine stone (8000 grit), but it's not "necessary" per se. I use it on my better knives.

        1. My take:

          You may need to reprofile or thin behind the edge some.

          An overview of sharpening systems and how to sharpen is in Chad Ward's book "An Edge in the Kitchen" or at least see his online article at:

          Check your library before buying or buy from online used book vendors like

          One of the more cost effective ways to get into hands on sharpening is with sand paper and a mouse pad.

          A tutorial is here:

          and a description:

          I use a $30 1x30 belt sander with about $40 of multiple grit sanding belts followed by a leather belt with white compound.

          A smooth steel between sharpennings is recommended. There is a recent thread on this.

          1. I say just get a 1000 grit stone (maybe a king) and go from there. Getting a coarse stone when you have no experience tends to amplify problems. So it may take you a bit longer to get the knife sharp, but you'll be better off for it. Also, there are a number of freehand sharpening videos online. I've made some, but there are plenty out there that are good. Here's a link to mine:

            You may also want to look at a stone flattening system as some have mentioned. Wet/dry sand paper inverted on a flat surface gets the job done cheaply. Diamond plates are more expensive, but work better/faster.

            when i started really learning about sharpening, my chef in japan gave me a 1000 grit stone and told me not to use anything else. I used it for a year before i used another type of stone. My next stone was a coarse stone (for repairs) and then after that, a finishing stone. Now i've got about 100 stones or so ;)