If you’re anything like me, you probably have two or three As Seen on TV-esque knife sharpening gizmos in your kitchen. If you’re also anything like me, they’re likely sitting unused in a drawer.
Happily, I learned a few years ago in culinary school the joy of a whetstone, or a fine-grained stone used to sharpen knives that you can pick up at virtually any store for household goods. When I studied at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City, which is now part of the Institute of Culinary Education, I learned how easy and effective this method can be.
Once you’ve purchased a good whetstone — like the Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone for $35.99 on Amazon if you prefer to order one online — you can throw out all the other sharpening gadgets you own (or let them sit and collect dust like me). Before using, soak your stone in water for a half an hour. Then holding your traditional French chef’s knife at around 15 to 22 degrees (or the height of two stacked pennies) swipe your blade along the stone in the same direction. You know you’re done when a burr begins to form. When you’re done, be sure to wipe your blade to remove any stray particles. My school recommended sharpening on the finer-grained side of the stone on a daily or weekly basis or using the coarse side of the stone first followed by the finer side if your blade is quite dull.
For a visual of the process, check out the YouTube video below.
WATCH: How to Hone a Knife
Once you get the hang of this technique — which is an oddly soothing kitchen ritual if I do say so myself — you’ll never want to sharpen your knife any other way.