Whetstones: It’s all in the grit!

  • Whetstones come in a range of grits
  • less than 1000 grit is typically used to repair knives with chipped edges
  • 1000 to 3000 grit are used to sharpen dull knives
  • 4000 to 8000 grit are finishing stones and are used to refine your knife edge
  • If you are using your knife to cut meat it is best to stop at between 4000 and 6000 grit as you can bend your knife edge on the muscle and sinew
  • Visit our Official site at SohoKnives.com to see our wide range of knives and for all of our Whetstones click here

You’ve probably seen a number – say 1000 – on the side or top of the Whetstone you just bought and are at a loss as to what it all means, or even worse the person who sold it to you, didn’t know or forgot to mention it. Which ever of these scenarios sounds about right, you are left with a stone and no idea how you should be using it, well let me enlighten you dear reader.

The number on your whetstone represents the coarseness and the lower it is the coarser it is.

Each grit grade will sharpen your knife differently, and I will list below what each number range means and how you can use it to keep your knives nice and sharp.

Coarse stones

number range: Less than 1000

A Whetstone with a number less than a 1000 is primarily used for knives which are damaged. If your blade has any nicks or chips in the blade, then these stones will get rid of those for you in no time.

This dual Whetstone comes with a coarse side for fixing nicks and chips and medium side for general sharpening

This dual Whetstone comes with a coarse side for fixing nicks and chips and medium side for general sharpening

If your knives have also completely lost their edge then these stones will also get it back for you.

These Whetstones are brilliant for damaged or extremely dull knives, but due to their abrasiveness they shouldn’t be used for general sharpening as they don’t leave the best finish on your blade edge.

Medium Stones

number range: 1000 to 3000

The 1000 grit stone is considered your basic, go to, sharpening stone. If your knives have lost their edge and need a good sharpen, then this is the grit you should start with.

The 1000 grit whetstone is the basic sharpening stone

The 1000 grit whetstone is the basic sharpening stone

You shouldn’t use this stone often, as it will wear your knife down. The 2000 and 3000 grit stones can be used more often if you are the sort of person who likes to sharpen a bit more regularly as they are less coarse, but again, they are designed for sharpening and not maintaining your edge.

Once you get into a routine, you will get to know how often you need to use your medium stone.

NOTE: A little bit of advice I was given by a Chef; a 3000 grit whetstone is ideal for a boning knife and you don’t need to go any higher as refining your edge more will bend the knife on the muscle and sinew of the meat, meaning more frequent sharpening.

Finishing stones

number range: 4000 to 8000

now your 4000 and 5000 grit stones are like the bridge between your sharpening and superfine finishing stones, the latter giving you a super refined edge.

Superfine 8000 grit combination stone with 3000 grit medium.

Superfine 8000 grit combination stone with 3000 grit medium.

You can actually use these stones as finishing stones in their own right however and perhaps for Western knives which typically have a cutting edge similar to a ‘U’ rather than a ‘V’ shaped edge, a 5000 grit stone may well be as far as you need to go.

but if you want to go for the 6000 or 8000 super fine stones then go for it!

The only bit of advice you should follow is this: If you are using your knife to cut meat, then you can happily stop at 4000 or 6000 grit. If you are only using it for vegetables or fruit go all the way to the 8000.

This is because the refinement you get from a 8000 grit stone is such that your knife edge has the potential to bend whilst cutting through muscle and sinew.

So that’s Whetstone grits explained. Hopefully that gives you everything you need to know.

We have a selection of whetstones on our website, spanning the whole grit range.

Stones require patience to learn and skill to use, but with a little practice you will get there and it will be well worth it – have a look here to get an idea on how to use one.

Until next time.

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10 responses to “Whetstones: It’s all in the grit!

    • Hi Caide, our most popular stone at the moment is our Grunwerg 1000/3000 grit whetstone from speaking to our customers it’s definitely down to the pretty competitive price, but also they have said that the finish on the knife is just as good as some of our more expensive ones, the main difference is it doesn’t seem to last as long. For one that does last and leave a good finish then our Minosharp 1000 grit whetstone is also popular.

      If by most used you meant grit and not the specific stone, then the 1000 grit is definitely the go-to for most people, because it will bring an edge to a dull knife pretty sharpish (no pun intended)

      Hope that helps!

    • Hi Kostas, as we only deal with knives for use in the kitchen at Soho Knives, I am not 100% sure. I would imagine that the whetstones we have would be fine for it, but as for the combination, I am not sure what would be best for the type of work you would be doing with this knife. Sorry I can’t be more helpful

  1. THANK YOU! I’m about to buy a set of whetstones for my Yaxell 69 layers Damascus knives, now I know what to choose and for which knives, Peeler, Paring, flexible, chinese, santoku,
    800 to fix any of them
    1000 to start sharpening
    3000(max for my meat knife)
    5000(for my chinese knife) to sharpen and finish
    and maybe 10,000 just to go nuts hehe
    Any recommendation? is it crazy to go under 15 degrees? lets say 10…
    THANK YOU AGAIN!

    • Hi Ed, you’re pretty much spot on with the grades there.

      Recommendations for going for 10 degrees? Good luck!!! That aside, the main issue with going that acute will be whether the steel is strong enough to maintain that angle. You may just bend it as soon as you go to cut, might be good for vegetables (avoid root veg probably), but for anything sinewy I’d say avoid!

      Good luck and let us know your results!

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