How to Sharpen your Knife
1. Start off with the rough grit. If you have a particularly dull blade, start off with the rough grit side of your sharpening stone. How do you tell which side is the rough grit? Sometimes you can tell by sight. If you can’t do that, do a thumbnail test. Scratch the surface with your thumbnail and whichever side feels rougher, that’s the side you want to start off with. Also, rough grits tend to be more porous than finer grits. So if you put water on one side and the stone really drinks it up, chances are it’s the rough grit.
2. Prep the stone. If you’re using a lubricant, get it out. Pour an ample amount of mineral oil all over the surface of the stone. You don’t need to drench it, but don’t be stingy either.
3. Place the knife blade flat on the stone and raise it to a 10 to 15 degree angle. The key to knife sharpening is maintaining a constant angle. Different knives require different sharpening angles. For a pocket knife, shoot for a 10 to 15 degree angle. This will give you an edge that’s sharp enough for most daily needs, but not sharp enough to perform heart surgery. Keeping a constant angle by hand takes a lot of practice. If you’re having difficulty, you might consider investing in a sharpening guide. It takes all the guess work out of maintaining the needed angle. They cost about $10.
4. Start sharpening the first side of the blade. With your blade set at the prefect angle, you’re ready to start sharpening. Imagine you’re carving off a slim piece of the stone’s surface. Personally, I bring the blade into the stone. Other people stroke the blade away from the stone. Both ways work, so just use whatever technique you prefer. If the knife blade is curved or if it’s longer than the stone, you’ll need to sweep the blade sideways as you work, so the entire edge is sharpened evenly. Apply moderate pressure as you sharpen. No need to bear down hard on the blade. After you make one stroke, start back at the beginning and repeat. Do this about 6-12 times.
5. Sharpen the other side of the blade. Flip the blade and do the same thing on the other side.
6. Take alternating strokes. After you’ve sharpened each side, make several alternating strokes- sharpening one side and then sharpening the other successively.
7. Flip the stone over on the fine grit and repeat above process.
8. That’s it… for a basic sharpening.
If you’re looking for advanced techniques, check out Knife Sharpening by Steve Bottorff. It’s a very thorough website that provides detailed guides on advanced knife sharpening techniques.