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Whetstone vs Electric Sharpener: The Key Factors Explained

whetstone vs electric sharpener
Written by Erik Himmel

Whetstones have been used to sharpens knives since ancient times. The term whet which actually means to sharpen. These stones were used to sharpen various steel objects including that of sword blades. Electric sharpeners are still a new concept when in comparison to the stone tried and tested method. The decision regarding ‘whetstone vs electric sharpener’ is a matter of user preference.  Here is a bit about both the whetstone and electric sharper to help make the decision a little easier!

Whetstone vs Electric Sharpener: What Matters Most?

Now, you’ll be learning what matters and what not as you’re trying to get the bottom of it.

Using an Electric Knife Sharpener

The electric knife sharpener started out as a grinding wheel that would stand on the floor. It slowly developed into the compact high-end countertop electric sharpeners currently used today. They usually consist of three grinding phases each phase consisting of two slots. Each slot in a phase sharpens one side of the knife (either the left side or the right side).

Using an electric knife sharpener

Working Procedures

  • Make sure to become familiar with the device.
  • Plug it into to an electric socket
  • Turn the device so the on/off button is facing the person about to use it
  • Ready the knife or knives that need to be sharpened or honed
  • Switch on the machine
  • Working from left to right, using each side of each stage lower the knife to the hilt with the point sticking out the other end into the first slot (usually the coarse mode or 1).
  • Lower until the grinding noise is heard
  • Pull in easy fluid motions the knife back towards you tilting the knife along with the blade design to ensure the tip is sharpened
  • Depending oh how blunt the knife if this procedure should be repeated at least twice in all six slots.
  • Once finished with the first slot (coarse or 1) move to the second one (fine or 2) once done with the second stage move to the final stage (extra fine or 3)
  • Turn off the machine
  • Test the knife by holding up a piece of paper and slicing it. The blade should glide through the paper
  • When satisfied with the sharpness of the knife rinse in warm soapy water before using it

Advantages

  • Smooth even clean sharp edges
  • It is a lot faster and easier than the manual way

Limitations

  • When there is no power then you will not be able to sharpen your knives
  • It can be a bit abrasive on a knife especially if not used correctly
  • Not very energy efficient
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Using Whetstones

Whetstone is a stone that used to sharpen blades, it can even be used to sharpen items such as razor blades and scissors. The term whet is usually mistakenly written as wet! These stones were historically used by soldiers to sharpen their swords, or spears and knives.

using whetstones

They can be made from most natural stone but the most commonly used are oil and water stones. However, there are synthetic stones that are used today and most who use them report them to be a lot better at sharpening and honing a blade than the natural one.

Whetstone’s are a more natural way of sharpening a blade, they are also a lot easy to carry and store. They are not dependent on electricity and can also be a lot less harmful to the blade.

Working Procedures

  • Place the stone on a flat surface it is better to use a non-slip grip or mat beneath the stone
  • It may be held in the palm of the hand, but this can lead to injuries
  • Stabilizing the stone with your one hand run the left side of the knife blade down and across the stone from just above the hilt to the tip. Curving to run with the shape of the blade
  • Turn the knife over and repeat the process until the knife is smooth and free of burs and sharp.

Advantages

  • The user has control over the pressure of the grind
  • Less damaging to the knife
  • More cost effective
  • Will last longer than an electric or manual knife sharpener
  • Does not need electricity to work
  • Easier to store
  • Easier to take with on trips if the need arises

Limitations

  • It takes a bit of experience to use them correctly to make the most our them
  • They can be a bit more dangerous to use as far as getting cut goes.

So, What’s the Key?

Both the whetstone and the electric knife sharpener have their good and bad points. Although these are very few. The whetstone is going to last longer and can be used anywhere due to the fact it is not limited by the need for electricity. Plus they are still the choice of most top chef’s.

The electric sharpener, however, is a bit easier to use and does not make that horrible nails on a chalkboard sound like the whetstone does. They also get the knife blade honed to the ultimate sharpness making them able to cut through anything with an easy glide.

The electric sharpener also tends to leave fewer burrs on the knife as the polish setting on them are marvelous for buffing these out. Leaving the knife edge as smooth as finely polished silver.

But the whetstone can get the same finished results or really close to the same as the electric sharpener does. It just requires a bit more effort and skill. That is not to say a novice cannot use a whetstone because they are pretty straight forward. It is the precision honing that takes the skill which anyone can perfect with practice and time.

For beginners wanting to learn how to sharpen a nice starting off the electric sharpener is probably best. This will not only avoid calamities but will also teach them how to test the knife, get the feel of what it takes to sharpen and hone the knife.

Once they are more comfortable with sharpening knives and know how to feel and test the sharpness; giving the manual sharpening procedure a try is an excellent idea. You never know when you are going to be left in the dark with no power.

Deciding between the electric knife sharpener vs stone really depends on what it is you are looking for. How often you sharpen your knives whether kitchen knives or the throwing knives and the quality of your knives. Some low-end knives do not really do very well in an electric sharpener.

Check your cutlery and see what the recommended sharpening method and how often they should be sharpened.

If you can afford it having both in the kitchen is a good idea that way you always have access to a knife sharpener.

About the author

Erik Himmel

A Part-Time Firearm Instructor

Hi, this is Erik. We all know firearms are dangerous, but only when one doesn’t know how to use and care for them. I have 15+ years of experience with different types of guns and for the last 10 years, I have taught numerous people how to hold and shoot a gun while staying safe and keeping the surroundings unharmed. My neighbors are some of my biggest admirers who enjoy talking to me about their guns, firearms safety and maintenance.

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