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Are Expensive Whetstones Worth It

Are Expensive Whetstones Worth It? Read This First!

Many people spend a lot of money on buying expensive whetstones as they provide knives with longer-lasting performance and enhanced durability. But the real question is, are expensive whetstones worth it?

Should you spend much money on expensive knife sharpening stones or not? We’ve shared a comprehensive guide to walk you through professional advice so you can save your money and efforts.

Are Expensive Whetstones Worth Buying or Not?

Expensive whetstones are certainly worth the investment. However, you should go for expensive whetstones if you have experience in handling them. A beginner can very easily damage an expensive whetstone due to a lack of skill and poor technique.

So, as a beginner, you are better off with a low to medium-priced whetstone until you hone your skills enough.

What Are Whetstones?

A whetstone refers to a fine-grained finishing tool used to sharpen and smoothen the blade edges of a knife.  These sharpening tools offer a gentler and more controlled way to sharpen your knife. Typically, a whetstone is dual-sided, with a fine and coarse side.

The purpose of the coarse grit side is to grind off rough edges and burrs as part of the pre-sharpening process. On the other hand, the fine grit side does the actual sharpening, turning a dull blade edge into an ultra-sharp one.

Types of Whetstones

Types of Whetstones

You can find several types of whetstones on the market. Here are common whetstones that you can use for knives and other tools sharpening.

Natural Whetstone

As the name suggests, natural stone refers to a natural grinding stone. It is made from natural materials, giving it all the natural properties. Therefore, it can easily break on impact if not cared for properly.

Diamond Whetstone

A diamond whetstone is fabricated using an artificial man-made diamond that is electroplated onto a metal. Nonetheless, it offers favorable properties that make it popular amongst many chefs and cooks. Diamond whetstones tend to be quite durable and promote quicker sharpening.

You can use them on steel, high carbon, and ceramic knives. This type of sharpening stone is more robust than all other abrasive sharpeners yet, its pricing ranges in the low to medium band.

Ceramic Whetstone

Ceramic whetstones are made using artificial grinding stone material. However, it retains great hardness to make it stronger than a traditional grinding stone.

But, compared to natural or diamond stone, it wears down quicker. Over time, you may have to resurface the stone to wear. Ceramic stones are particularly great for ceramic knives.

Oil Stones

Oil whetstones refer to grinding stones that require to be oiled before using them. These stones feature a man-made fabrication using abrasive materials put together using a bonding agent. Oil stones are available in two common options, i.e. aluminum oxide and silicon carbide.

Aluminum oxide offers superior abrasion and works great for creating edges on knives. Silicon carbide promotes fast sharpening. However, it doesn’t establish the sharpest edges compared to aluminum oxide.

Water Stones

Made from natural or man-made materials, these stones require water to lubricate them before use. You can find water stones anywhere between a cheap to expensive price band.

Why Are Whetstones So Expensive?

Why Are Whetstones So Expensive

Whetstones get their high price tag from the quality of material used in their construction. Generally, whetstone manufactured from basic materials will fetch at a lower price.

However, those constructed from high-quality material will cost you more. In this case, you also have to consider the time-consuming process and skill put into producing the final product.

Difference Between a Whetstone and Waterstone

There isn’t much difference between a whetstone and Waterstone. This is because any stone used to sharpen a knife’s blade is known as a whetstone.

Therefore, a Waterstone is a whetstone. Think of it this way – all water stones are whetstones but not all whetstones are water stones!

What’s the Difference Between an Expensive and Cheap Whetstone?

The most common differences between an expensive and cheap whetstone are the material quality and techniques used in making them. This, in turn, gives them distinct performance results.

An expensive whetstone will provide you with better performance quality, cutting faster, evenly, and quicker into the knife’s blade.

Additionally, an expensive sharpening stone gives you a sharper and longer-lasting edge than a cheaper one. However, this is not to say that a cheaper stone doesn’t deliver its fair share of positive results.

It’s only that using a cheaper stone takes longer to achieve the sharpness you want. Plus, a cheaper stone is less likely to be smoother and uniform.

How Can You Tell if a Sharpening Stone Is Good?

How Long Do Whetstones Last

The easiest way to tell if a sharpening stone is good is by looking at the type of material used. A stone made from high-quality material is more likely to give you positive results.

However, the grit number is also very important. Even with the best sharpening stone, the wrong grit size for your knife will give you disappointing results.

For example, a lower grit size works great for restoring damaged and chipped blades since it has a rougher surface.

A high grit number features a finer surface that works great for general maintenance that helps you maintain a smooth and polished blade finish.

What Type of Sharpening Stone Is Best?

The type of sharpening stone you go for depends on your needs. In general, diamond whetstones are popular amongst chefs and cooks due to their faster cutting performance.

However, if you want to enjoy more sharpening precision, water stones, and oil stones are better options. If you are sharpening a ceramic knife, stick to diamond or ceramic stones.

Is Higher Grit Better for Sharpening?

A higher grit level doesn’t necessarily mean better results. It all depends on the needs of your knife. If you have a dull, chipped, or damaged blade, a higher grit will not do any good. You want an otherwise lower grit that gives you a coarse surface that can handle the intense blade needs.

A higher grit level is well suited for everyday general maintenance. It works great for undamaged knives that only need their blades to be smoothed and polished.

Here’s a general guide for the three main grit levels;

  • Grit level #120-#600: This is a rough whetstone range used for repairing blades that require significant work. This includes anything from chipped to cracked and dulled blades.
  • Grit level #800-#2000: This is a medium whetstone range that targets issues such as declined sharpness and noticeable change in cutting abilities.
  • Grit level #3000 – #6000: This finishing whetstone range is for regular maintenance and minor adjustments to the cutting edge. They also do a good job of polishing and smoothing edges.

Are Diamond Stones Better Than Whetstones?

Are Diamond Stones Better Than Whetstones

It depends on what you are looking for. Diamond stones work best for those who want better sharpening speed. However, it doesn’t offer the same sharpening ability that other whetstones, like water stones, offer.

For example, unlike a water stone, it won’t achieve a very flat surface on a knife blade. Additionally, diamond stones are not available in fine grit grades which are essential for a smooth and polished edge.

Do Sharpening Stones Wear Out?

Over time, any type of sharpening stone wears out, even water and oil stones. The only difference is that some stones will wear out faster than others. For example, a natural whetstone wears out faster than options like diamond stones.

When Should You Replace a Whetstone?

You are advised to replace a whetstone every 5 to 10 years. However, this depends on the usage frequency. With infrequent use, some sharpening stones can last you more than a decade before they need replacement.

Simply take note of how the stone works on your knife. The way your knife cuts and retains its edge is a good indicator of whether or not your stone needs replacement.

How Long Do Whetstones Last?

The longevity of your whetstone depends on the quality and usage. In general, a stone for sharpening knives will last you between 5 and 10 years.

However, with limited use, some stones can go for as long as 20 years. A good quality, expensive whetstone can easily last you up to 2 decades.

Conclusion

Investing in expensive whetstones is certainly worth it. After all, using a good quality whetstone is rewarding, guaranteeing impressive and long-lasting results on your knife blade. However, there’s also a catch to buying expensive stones.

To make the most of your sharpening tool and preserve its durability, you need the right skills and techniques to ensure you don’t damage them during the knife sharpening process. So, until you hone your skills enough, as a beginner, you are better off going for a low-priced to mid-priced option.

References: https://www.mashed.com/442353/what-is-a-whetstone-and-how-do-you-use-it/

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