Q. Is using a whetstone better than an electric knife sharpener? Any tips for using one?– Mike, Neenah
A. The use of a whetstone (also called an oil stone or a sharpening stone) has been around for thousands of years for sharpening all kinds of steel tools, blades and knives. Whetstones consist of natural stone materials of varied coarseness that are abrasive, and when steel is rubbed against their grittiness, small particles of steel are removed until the desired edge is achieved. Learning to use a whetstone is kind of an art form that requires smooth rhythmic glides across the stone at a consistent angle of about 20 degrees on both sides of the blade. An electric knife sharpener works similarly to a whetstone except the abrasive wheel is spinning and sharpens the blade more quickly. An electric knife sharpener often contains guides to ensure the knife blade is sharpened at a perfect angle. Care must be taken when using an electric knife sharpener as mistakes like little divots in the blade can happen quickly. Running the blade through the sharpening wheel with consistently smooth passes will give the best results. The choice to use either a whetstone or an electric sharpener is a personal preference as they are both effective sharpening tools.