Many types of sharpening stones exist today. Along with aluminum oxide stones, you will find diamond, water, oil and Arkansas stones to be some of the more popular. Many of these may be better suited to sharpen one type of metal than another. All of them have one thing in common: It is necessary to use a lubricant with them while sharpening a blade. The most common size sharpening stone used by many is approximately two inches by eight inches. This allows plenty of room to move the blade back and forth.
Choose an angle to sharpen your knife. You may already know at what angle your knife needs to be sharpened. If you don't have this information or if this is the first time you are sharpening this knife, then you can check with the knife's manufacturer. Another method would be to take the knife to a professional and he can determine the appropriate angle for your knife. You must choose between 10 degrees and 30 degrees per side. A shallow angle gives you a sharp edge that will not last as long. A steep angle offers durability. Bear in mind the types of cutting jobs you want to perform with your knife.
Attach an angle guide to your knife. An angle guide controls the sharpening angle and keeps it uniform throughout the sharpening process. In order to sharpen your knife with precision on both sides you must use an angle guide. Angle guides attach to the flat side of the blade with several screws and are sold in a variety of shapes and sizes. Attach the angle guide to the flat side of your knife, making certain that the screws are tight and secured. Injury can occur if the knife comes loose from the angle guide during the sharpening process.
Pour an ample amount of the lubricant onto the sharpening stone. It is not necessary to drench the stone in oil, but do attempt to evenly spread a generous portion of oil or other lubricant over the surface of the stone. If a lubricant such as mineral oil is not available, water can be substituted.
Grasp the knife firmly by the handle and drag it across the stone with an even, consistent motion pulling it toward you. Keep the angle guide pressed against the stone. Run the knife completely down the length of the stone in one fluid motion. Continue to sweep the blade across the stone in fluid motions. Repeat this action approximately 10 times for each side of the knife.
Test the sharpness of the blade. Many methods of testing sharpness exist. You may choose the one that best suits your personal tastes. Hold a piece of newspaper up by two fingers and use your knife to slice through the edge of the newspaper. Another method might be to try shaving the hair on your arm with the newly sharpened knife blade. A third method would be to try slicing through a ripe tomato. With a gentle pressure, pull the knife blade downward against the skin of the tomato. It should easily cut right through it.
An inexpensive knife will not hold a sharp edge and will be difficult to sharpen. If you are not certain of the correct angle for your knife, try using 17 degrees as a good median angle. When a knife is in constant use, it may require frequent touch-ups to keep the blade sharp.
Once you have used oil on your aluminum oxide stone, you cannot use water. Though you may use either oil or water as a lubricant, these cannot be alternated using the same sharpening stone. Be careful around newly sharpened blades.