The 6 Best Sharpening Stones to Maintain Your Knives

Our top pick is the King Whetstone Starter Set.

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Knife on sharpening stone

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Whether you’re chopping onions, slicing tomatoes, or dicing carrots, a sharp knife is the best knife, no matter what brand you favor. And all knives eventually need some TLC. How can you tell if it’s time to sharpen? Knives should glide effortlessly through food. Dull knives require you to tug or pull the knife through foods with force, which increases the odds that you’ll slip and nick yourself.  

Keeping your knives sharp also means you’ll be able to keep them a long time, so you won't have to replace them frequently. You already should be honing your knives regularly with a sharpening steel, a long, pointed rod that helps keep the microscopically-small cutting teeth of your knife edge aligned. This can be done after every use, if you like. But if your knives still aren’t sharp after honing, it’s time to sharpen them. For most knives, you can do this at home with a sharpening stone, also called a whetstone.

Ahead, our top picks for the best sharpening stones:

Best Overall: King Whetstone Starter Set

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King Whetstone Starter Set

Courtesy of Amazon

This set, made in Japan, includes a two-sided ceramic stone which has 1000 grit on one side and 6000 grit on the other. It comes with a plastic base to keep it steady on the counter and an angle holder set, which helps you keep the knife blade at the correct angle as you sharpen it.

Typically, you should purchase a whetstone that’s the length of your longest blade so you can make long, consistent strokes. At 9 inches long, this stone is a good size for most kitchen knives. It’s also a good set for beginners to use because of the angle holders and base.

Fun Fact

The term whetstone comes from “whet,” a word dating to the 12th century and meaning “to sharpen”— not from the fact that many sharpening stones must be used with water or oil.

Best Budget: Best Sharpening Stones Arkansas Sharpening Stone Set

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Best Sharpening Stones Arkansas Sharpening Stone Set

Amazon

This kit is a great buy because it offers a variety of grits for a reasonable price. The set of three stones includes coarse (600), fine (1000), and extra-fine grits (2500) so you can start with the coarsest stone first, then work up to the finest grit until you smooth and sharpen your knives to a nice edge. The sets are available in 6, 8, or 10-inch lengths.

Each stone, which can be used with water or oil, is mounted to a wood base to make them easier to handle because you can set them on the counter with a towel or non-slip mat beneath them to prevent sliding. We especially like that they’re made in the United States from natural stone that’s indigenous to Arkansas, and they have a lifetime guarantee.

Best Ceramic: Shapton Ceramic Whetstone

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Shapton Ceramic Whetstone

Courtesy of Woodcraft

This iconic brand, made in Japan, is the choice of many knife enthusiasts. The ceramic stones are available in various grit sizes ranging from 120 to 30,000 grit. Both sides of each stone can be used with either water or oil (though once you use oil on a stone, you should always use oil on that stone).

At about 9 inches long x 4 inches wide, they’re sized appropriately for sharpening most home knives. These stones don’t have to be pre-soaked, only moistened with a few drops of water or oil before using.

Best for Pocketknives: Dan's Whestone Company Pocket Knife Sharpening Stone

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Dan's Whestone Company Pocket Knife Sharpening Stone

Amazon

If you’re always using a pocketknife to cut open boxes or remove tags, it gets dull fast. This natural stone from Arkansas is available in grades ranging from medium (400 to 600 grit) to ultra-fine (1200+ grit).

At just 1 x 3 inches, this whetstone isn’t designed to use on kitchen knives. But it’s super handy to keep for quick touchups on your go-to pocketknife. It comes in a small leather sleeve for storage and is recommended for use with oil. Use it for quick passes on small knives or to take along on camping trips.

Best for Kitchen Use: Zwilling Sharpening Stone

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Zwilling Sharpening Stone

Zwilling

This two-sided water stone, made in Japan, has a side with 250 grit for preliminary passes and a 1000 grit side for fine sharpening. Just flip it over for the grit you want to use. It comes with a base that has non-slip feet so it won’t walk all over the counter while you’re using it.

It doesn’t need pre-soaking like some water stones (just a few drops are needed as you work), and it’s relatively compact so you can store in easily in a kitchen drawer for handy access.

Best Premium Sharpening Stone Set: Zwilling Bob Kramer by Zwilling J.A. Henckels Knife Sharpening Kit

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Zwilling J.A. Henckels Bob Kramer by Zwilling J.A. Henckels 6pc Glass Water Stone Knife Sharpening Set

Courtesy of Wayfair

This deluxe set, made in Japan, has everything the experienced (or not-so-experienced) home chef could possibly want in sharpening tools. It includes a nice range of grits: A coarse 400-grit glass stone, 1000-grit glass stone, and 5000-grit glass stone for finishing touches.

The expandable bamboo sink bridge/base holds the stones in place when in use. You can set the base on the counter or adjust it to fit over the sink to catch any messes. It also comes with an instructional DVD.

Final Verdict

Treehugger’s top pick of sharpening stone is the King Whetstone Starter Set for its value and ease of use. However, if you’re looking to invest in a premium sharpening set, consider the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Knife Sharpening Kit .

How Sharpening Stones Work

A whetstone works by removing tiny bits of metal from the edge of your knife to create a new edge. Obviously, how often you need to sharpen depends on how much you use your knives, but most home cooks probably need to do this task a few times a year. Some whetstones also can be used to sharpen scissors and garden tools. By learning to sharpen with a whetstone, you’ll save money and time by not having to send your knives out to a professional service annually.

Sharpening stones have surfaces that range from coarse to ultra-fine (the higher the number, the finer the grit). To use one, hold the knife at a 10 to 20-degree angle, depending on your knife manufacturer’s recommendation, while sweeping it across the stone repeatedly. It takes practice, but most of the knife manufacturers have excellent videos to teach the technique. If you’re still nervous, start with one of your less expensive knives.

Once you’ve sharpened your knives, protect their edges by keeping them in a knife block or mounted magnetic bars. And always hand wash and dry because the dishwasher’s heat can dull blades fast.

Why Trust Treehugger?

We researched the market based on product value, reviews, and company longevity and reputation. Arricca SanSone is a health and lifestyle writer specializing in home, shelter and gardening. The only thing she hates worse than a dull knife is a dirty sponge left in the sink.