What Grit Should I Use to Sharpen a Knife

Knife sharpening is an important issue in most kitchens. Being a crucial component of our everyday life, it plays a huge role in slicing, dicing, cutting, or chopping ingredients for cooking.

An effective knife must be edgy enough to get your job done. But even the best one can lose its sharpness over time. 

What will you do then? Buy a new one? Why so when you can sharpen the edges with the fine water stones?

But you must choose the grit of the stones accurately in order to make this solution effective. Along with the coarseness, the grit size is equally important to consider buying a sharpening stone.

Our follow-up conversation concentrates on the effect of different grit sizes for sharpening different kinds of knives.

Stay tuned if you need further information. 

what grit should i use to sharpen a knife

What Does Grit Size Mean?

This is probably the most asked question by the new fellows who are using whetstone/water stone for the first time. They struggle to figure out what grit size actually refers to.

Well, this is an absolute must to know if you want to sharpen your knife correctly. Otherwise, you will end up messing with the whole process. In a word, you will not be able to choose the right sharpening stone for your knife.

The digit labeled on a whetstone is an indication of the grit size of the stone. This grit size specifically indicates the abrasive particles within the stone. Also, it points out the spatial density of the materials in the stone. 

Now, you might misjudge the number unless you know the correct information. The lower the number, the coarser the stone because of the rougher surface. 

Categories of Grit Size

There are three main categories of water stones based on the grit sizes. Each of them is engineered for knives that require different levels of sharpening. 

The three prominent sharpening stones based on their grits are-

  • Coarse Stones (#1000 or less)
  • Medium Stones (#1000 to #3000)
  • Finishing Stones (#4000 to #8000)

Let’s explore each range of grit thoroughly to decide the exact grit size for your knives.

Coarse Stones: Grit Range #1000 or Less

Need a rough sharpening to your entirely damaged knife sets? Then choose grit size within this range and rely on the stone. 

These stones are tailored with both an unrefined side and a moderately refined side. They work for removing nicks and chips and for usual sharpening, respectively. 

You can get your dullest set of knives back by using this. But never use it for general sharpening. It will not do any good to whet the edges of the blade. Instead, the finishing will be the worst.

Medium Stones: Grit Range #1000 – #3000

The medium stones are usually considered beginner-friendly whetstones for knife sharpening. You can have it as your fundamental tool to perform basic sharpening on a regular basis. 

You will love this grit range around #2000 – #3000 especially if you need to hone your knife edges more often. As they are not as coarse as the coarse stones, they are less abrasive as well. 

Still, you should not use them quite often. It can hamper your knife’s performance. As a go-to sharpening tool, this grit range is perfectly fine. But it is not workable for protecting edges. 

So, be cautious when you are using it. Try not to affect the blade’s edges in the name of making them razor sharp.

Finishing Stones: Grit Range #4000 – #8000

What if you need both exact sharpness and superfine edges? The above two will not do the job at a time, right?

Then you should try this grit number that ranges from #4000 – #8000.

Generally, a grit range of #4000 – #5000 is considered the perfect pick to balance between the accurate arrowy and superfine finishing.

For a Western knife having a U-shaped cutting edge will be okay with a #5000 grit whetstone. You can also pick a #6000 or a #8000 stone based on your preferences. 

However, a #8000 grit stone is more suitable for cutting vegetables and fruits. You can lower the range to #4000 or #6000 in case your knife is for cutting meats. 

The reason behind this is that a #8000 grit provides the finest polishing possible. It will make your knife bending prone while cutting meats. 

Deciding the Right Grit to Sharpen Your Knife

Although practice and patience are the two deciding factors to achieve mastery in sharpening knives with stones, proper grit number is also a matter of concern.

You have already learned about which grit range is applicable for which purpose. Now let’s discuss further details. 

A stone of #120 to #400 grit is the best to get rid of chips and hone a dull knife. Our recommendation is #240 grit in this case. 

For a usual sharpening purpose, we recommend a stone that has the grit number in between #700 to #1200. You can go for up to #2000 grit if needed. 

While sharpening with a coarse stone, you might end up having scratches on the edges of the knife blade. For polishing them perfectly, start with a #2000 grit water stone. Although the maximum limit is not fixed, stones having grit numbers above #10000 is kind of unnecessary in this regard. 

For the starter in knife sharpening, we would not recommend stones with #8000 grit until you gain some experience. For beginners, going with stones in between #3000 to #6000 is more than enough.

So, make your choice based on your demands. If you need a significant amount of sharpening regularly, it’s better to have at least three stones. They will serve all the purposes of rough-grinding, normal sharpening, and honing. 

Final Words

We have explained all the ins and outs of grit numbers in terms of water stones. Now it’s your turn to consider which grit will suit your needs the best. 

Selecting the exact grit to sharpen your knife is very important. Or else, your hard-earned money will be wasted in the wrong whetstone. Besides, your damaged knife will not be honed accurately. 

As a knife grinder is important to customize the sharpness of the blades, so is the grit. Only a perfect grit can lead towards the perfect execution of a whetstone.

So, choose it wisely and make your knives last longer to serve you for years.

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About Gavin Ford

Hi, I am Gavin Ford. I am a full-time power tools salesperson and a part-time mechanic. I help my friends and neighbors with their tools. Which one to buy, how to buy it, how to use it, methods to fix broken tools, and so on. In I will do the same for the rest of the world. You will get everything you need to know about tools for regular and professional use.

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