Using Waterstones - the essentials

It is essential to follow a few basic principles to get the best out of our stones.

Keep your stone flat by dressing its surface with a flat, coarse abrasive. Adhesive-backed sandpaper stuck to a piece of appropriately sized glass gives good results and is inexpensive. Using a coarser grain waterstone to dress finer grain stones is a well known method, but for best results a third stone should be introduced to the process, as two stones can begin to mirror each other's undulations. Finally, we will soon be stocking diamond plates designed to flatten your stones - be sure to keep an eye on our shop. 

Avoid cross-contaminating your stones while sharpening, and be sure to rinse your workpiece as well as your stones thoroughly when moving between stone grains. Introducing coarse abrasives from a sharpening stone onto a fine-grained honing stone will slow down your sharpening, undo your good polishing work as fast as it happens, and potentially impregnate your stone with the wrong sized abrasive.

Maintain a constant angle as you guide your workpiece across the stone. This is especially important when sharpening kitchen knives without a guide, as any differences in geometry are accentuated.

Aim to raise a burr across the entire length of your blade's edge, at least on the lower grits. Only move on from the #1000 and coarser stones once a burr is noticeable, and even on finer stones a small burr is preferable (though it can be hard to detect).

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