How to Use & Choose a Japanese Whetstone?


Japanese chef Techniques

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What kind of Japanese whetstones are there? How do you use them? I will answer the following questions!!

Sharpening knives with Japanese whetstones. However, even Japanese people do not know how to use a whetstone. A whetstone is indispensable for the maintenance of kitchen knives. (Especially if you are a professional.)
In this article, I would like to explain it clearly with pictures.

There are three types of Japanese whetstones

As you may know if you have ever seen a whetstone, there is an index called a "grindstone number", which indicates the "grain size (fineness of particles).

💡"grindstone number"

It is represented by a number such as #800 or #1000.

The smaller the number, the rougher the grain size, and the larger the number, the finer.

There are three main types of whetstones, depending on the number of grindstones.

Rough grinding stone (#200~#600)
Medium whetstone    (#800~#2000)
Finishing stone          (#3000 and above)

and are used according to the grain size.

For pro, three kinds. For home use? Medium is sufficient

A rough grindstone is used for chipped blades and is not really necessary for everyday use. However, for professional use, it is a good idea to have one.

Whether for home or professional use, a medium whetstone is the most commonly used. If you are buying a whetstone forthe first time, you shoud start with this medium whetstone. (For home use, this one stone is sufficient.)

The finishing stone is used to make knives sharpened with the medium whetstone even more beautiful. The grain size is finer, the sharpness is sharpened, and the strength is increased. Professionals usually sharpen knives to this level to prolong their sharpness.  (For home use, you won't need it.)

Compatibility with knives is important

There is also a wide variety of materials used for grinding wheels, including "hard to soft" and "ceraic to diamond". The knives themselves also come in a variety of materials, so it is important to choose the right whetstone for your own precious knives.

💡Example of how to choose

Stainless steel knives⇒soft whetstone (can sharpen basically any type of knife)
Ceramic nives⇒Diamond whetstone
Steel knives⇒hard whetstone (however, depending of the type of steel, soft is best)

✨If you are buying for the first time, it is a good idea to choose a grindstone that can be used for all types of knives.

When to sharpen knives?

Some chefs and cooks are knife-sharpening fanatics, sharpening their knives daily even though they are still sharp. (Depending on usage and frequency of use, it is not necessary to sharpen every day if handled with care.)

⚠️Indeed, steel knives are prone to rust and require daily maintenance. However, please note that daily sharpening will make them amaller and smaller.

Basically, sharpening 1-2 times a month for home use and 1-2 times a week for professional use is sufficient.

🔶When this happens, it's time to sharpen.
  • when you cut tomato, it will crushed
  • when you cut onion, it stain your eyes
  • cannot easily cut plastic bags
  • after using a knife, your arm gets tired

How to sharpen knives using a whetstone

Some people, even chefs, cannot sharpen knives properly. It is important to learn the basics.

Wrong way to sharpen knives

Before using a whetstone, I have given you these points to keep in mind.  Wrong use will damage your knife, so be careful.

🔶Using a bent whetstone

A whetstone whose shape has become distorted.

When sharpening, the wheel will inevitably become distorted like this. This is why it is important to "correct the surface of the whetstone". It is necessary to flatten the surface of the whetstone before use. (see below in this article)

🔶A knife called a "CRANE'S NECK"

Image: 🔗quora

The knife above is a crane's neck. It is considered "embarrassing" among chefs. The knife below was resharpened correctly. It has a solid curve and the correct knife shape. Sharpen your knives so that they do not lose the shape they were in when you bought them.

Sharpen a knife with a whetstone

Now, I will try to explain how to sharpen knives using a whetstone with pictures. 

My most recommended grinding stones "SHAPTON"

First, soak the whetstone in water for 10-15 minutes.

SHAPTON does not need to be soaked in water, running water is fine◎

💡The whetstone has a number of small holes in it, which absorb water when soaked in water, making the blade glide more smoothly when sharpening.

Next, set the whetstone.


💡To prevent the whetstone from slipping, it is recommended to place a non-slip pad underneath.

Putting the blade to the whetstone.

Place the whetstone straight in front of your body and set the knife at a 45-degree angle to the whetstone. In addition, raise the knife about 15-degree in that position, about enough to fit two coins. Note that too much angle will sharpen the edge of the blade and make it more difficult to cut.

While maintaining the upper angle, hold the point to be sharpened and sharpen it.

Hold the knife at two points on the handle and belly and move it back and forth about 10 times. Apply force when pushing toward the back and relax lightly when moving back toward the front.

💡When the whetstone is dry, wet it with water while sharpening.

💡Depending on the length of the blade, you should divide the work into two or three parts and sharpen each part 10 times.

💡After sharpening one side of the knife, you will see a small protrusion called "kaeshi" or "kaeri" on the edge of the blade, so turn the knife over and sharpen off the kaeshi as well. Turn the knife over and sharpen it in the same way.

💡While sharpening, you will get some kind of mud on the surface, but you do not need to wash this mud off. This mud makes sharpening easier.

Check the sharpness of the blade.

💡Use a piece of "Tempura paper" or hard paper to check the sharpness.

Keep the whetstone in good condition

The center of the whetstone will become hollow after use. If sharpened in this condition, the blade will not be sharpened as desired, and it may also cause the blade to lose its shape, so the whetstone must be kept flat.


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