The Best Sharpening Stones to Revive Your Dull Knives
It's no secret that a good knife is an essential tool for any home cook. Whether you're slicing, dicing, chopping, or julienning, an effective knife can make every task faster and easier. That's why it's so important to diligently care for your kitchen knives. A dull knife is actually more dangerous than a sharp one, so maintaining a sharp edge is the best way to ensure safe, efficient meal prep.
Any home cook will tell you that good knives don't come cheap. Even the highest quality options can lose their luster over time—especially when put through the extra wear and tear that comes with dishwashers and harsh detergents. Caring for your knives properly is the best way to protect your investment, and a sharpening stone is a simple tool that can help your favorite knife keep its edge for years.
When selecting the best sharpening stone, it's important to assess how often you'll use it, and what types of knives you intend to sharpen. Sharpening stones come in a range of coarseness and grit sizes, in a variety of materials, so there are a lot of options to choose from. We rounded up a few of the best sharpening stones for a variety of different types of knives. Overall, we were most impressed with the Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone, because it's affordable, durable, and versatile.
Our Top Picks:
- Best Overall: Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone
- Best for Beginners: King Whetstone Starter Set
- Best All-in-One Set: ShaPu Premium Whetstone Knife Sharpening Set
- Best Compact: Dan's Whetstone Company Inc. Genuine Arkansas Soft Pocket Knife Sharpening Stone
- Best Oil Stone: Norton Abrasives Multi-Oilstone Sharpening System
- Best Diamond Stone: Sharpal Dual Grit Diamond Whetstone
Best Overall: Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone
Best for Beginners: King Whetstone Starter Set
Best Set: ShaPu Premium Whetstone Knife Sharpening Set
Best Pocket Sharpening Stone: Dan's Whetstone Company Inc. Genuine Arkansas Pocket Knife Sharpening Stone
Best Oil Stone: Norton Abrasives Multi-Oilstone Sharpening System
Best Diamond Stone: Sharpal Dual-Grit Diamond Whetstone
Overall, the Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone impressed us as the most efficient sharpening stone for both professional and novice home cooks alike. The dual-sided sharpening stone features both coarse and fine grit levels, which allows it to sharpen ultra-dull knives and hone super-sharp edges. A non-slip base provides safety and security, and an angle guide makes it easy to use.
Factors to Consider
Before you purchase a sharpening stone, it's important to take factors like coarseness and grit size into consideration. If you're looking to sharpen a dull blade, a coarse sharpening stone is your best bet for bringing it back to life. Alternatively, a fine stone will help hone super-sharp edges and keep them in tip top shape. After assessing the level of coarseness you need, you'll next need to select a stone with the appropriate grit grade. Typically speaking, the lower the grit level, the coarser the stone. Dull knives, especially ones with burrs and chips, will be revived on grit levels ranging from 120 to 400, whereas standard blades will benefit from 700 to 2,000 level grit. If smoother-than-smooth is what you're after, then a grit of 3,000 or more will help buff away any serration. Since knives are longer in shape, you'll want a stone that is also bigger in length so you can use long, consistent strokes.
In general, there are three types of sharpening stones to choose from: water stones, oil stones, and diamond stones. Water stones are typically made from aluminum oxide and can come in a variety of different grit sizes, which makes them versatile and easy to use. Typically, aluminum oxide is softer than other materials, so it allows for faster, more efficient sharpening.
Oil stones, however, are available in a variety of coarseness levels and can create fine edges on knives, but can be time-consuming. Oil stones are typically made from silicone carbide or novaculite and require a layer of oil to lubricate the stone and assist with sharpening. Therefore, they can be messy to use and more difficult to clean than water stones.
Lastly, as their name suggests, diamond stones are made with small, man-made diamonds that are super coarse, and thus able to quickly sharpen and revive dull blades. Depending on the grit level you choose, diamond stones are best suited for honing the edges and points of sharp knives as opposed to serrated knives, which can get caught in them.
For this piece our editors performed extensive research on different types of sharpening stones, the metals they're made from and the levels of grit necessary for each. We combined our knowledge of knife sharpening with professional industry insights and the perspective of a knife expert from Messermeister to determine the qualities that are most important in a good sharpening stone. We determined the best sharpening stone for each category by utilizing a combination of personal experience and competitive research.
Pro Panel Q+A
Q: How do you clean a sharpening stone?
A: Sharpening stones aren't meant to be cleaned, according to Mark Wade, Executive VP of Messermeister. "Water stones are made of corundum, and they rely on the paste, or slurry, that builds up on the surface of the stone to do the work. These loose particles tumble across the surface during sharpening, grinding away against the metal blade. Oil stones work in a similar way. Just dry the stones off and put them away. Natural stones are a bit different as they are harder and do not develop a slurry. Just wipe off the excess lubricant and you are good to go," he says.
"If you are going to use a whetstone, it's a really good idea to have a diamond stone flattener. This keeps the surface of your stone flat, as uneven wear can cause your stone to saddle in the middle. You [can] also use a stone flattener to knock down or bevel the edges of the stone, which helps to make smoother strokes."
Q: How do you tell what grit a whetstone is?
A: "It's important to understand there are at least three different standards used to assign the level of grit, and they vary widely," Wade says. "A grit number is the approximate number of abrasive particles within a specific area on the surface of the stone. The easy way to determine what is right for you is to look at the assortment offered from a single whetstone maker, which will always have a range of coarseness from low (rough) to high (smooth). The grit number will be on the stone itself or at least the packaging."
Q: How do you choose a whetstone?
A: "When choosing from the range of coarseness, keep in mind what you are trying to accomplish. Are you trying to quickly set the edge angle with a few strokes? If so, choose a stone within the range that has a lower grit number. If you want a super-fine polish, choose a stone with a high number. Most of the time people use whetstones in series, starting first with a coarse stone and progressing to the finer grit stones to polish out the scratches. That's why many whetstones come double-sided with two different grits," Wade says.
Q: Do you wet a sharpening stone?
A: "Yes. In fact, it is essential," Wade says. "Water stones are actually porous clay matrices, which require a few minutes of soaking before use. Either water or oil can be used on most natural stones to lubricate the surface. Water is the most common lubricant, but if you use oil on a stone, then it will always be an oil stone. Reapply as needed during use."
This piece was co-written by Adria Greenhauff, a journalist specializing in food and dining content, with bylines on Allrecipes, BHG, and Southern Living, and Emily Belfiore, a lifestyle writer and editor with bylines on Real Simple, Health, and InStyle. For this list, they researched the category extensively and drew on their own experience using and caring for different types of knives and sharpening stones.
This piece was updated by Laura Denby, a professional chef and food writer. Laura utilizes her professional cooking experience to guide her product reviews, which you can find on AllRecipes, Real Simple, FoodNetwork.com, and more.
This piece was also updated by Stacey Ballis, a freelance writer, recipe developer, and product reviewer. Stacey has been published on Food & Wine, Eating Well, Allrecipes, MyRecipes, Delish, and more.