6 best Japanese sharpening stones / whetstones for razor sharp knives
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Are you looking for the best way to sharpen your knives?
Japanese sharpening stones are considered some of the best in the world. They’re made with a higher quality of materials and often last longer than other types of sharpening stones.
A Japanese whetstone is a perfect way to get that sharp edge. These stones come in various shapes and sizes so that you can find the perfect one for your needs.
Follow the steps below to learn what the best Japanese whetstone is and how to select one to get so you can get started using your now sharp knives to create the perfect dishes in no time!
But, what is the best Japanese whetstone to buy?
The best Japanese sharpening stone, or whetstone, depends on the type of knife you will be using for.
The Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone Knife Sharpening Stone has 2 grits you can use to sharpen all types of Japanese knives. It is durable and withstands repeated use. It also comes with an angle guide so you can always get the sharpest edge, regardless of the blade’s shape and size.
Let’s discuss the factors you need to keep in mind when selecting a whetstone for your knife and then I’ll show you some of the best whetstones available.
I’ll also explain what makes these Japanese sharpening stones so good and give you some tips on how to properly use one.
Check out the top whetstones and then read the full reviews down below:
|Best overall Japanese whetstone: The Sharp Pebble Premium||
|Best budget Japanese whetstone: Goodjob Premium||
|Best Japanese sharpening stone set & best for beginners: KERYE Professional|
|Best Japanese whetstone for professionals & chefs: MITSUMOTO SAKARI||
|Best diamond whetstone: Diamond Machine Technology (DMT)||
|Best ceramic whetstone: Ha No Kuromaku Medium Grit #1000||
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Buying guide: how do I choose the right Japanese whetstone for my needs?
Japan is known worldwide for its unique dishes and exceptional attention to detail when cooking. That’s why using sharp knives is essential for creating the perfect dish.
When choosing a Japanese sharpening stone, there are four main factors you need to consider: grit size, the type of stone, price, and durability.
You should also consider what type of knife you want to sharpen, the level of sharpness you need, your knife’s material, and your budget.
A carbon steel knife, for example, will need a different level of sharpening and grit size than a stainless steel one.
Fortunately, there are a ton of different types of whetstones on the market, so you’re sure to find one that meets your needs.
Grit size is the most important factor to consider when choosing a whetstone. The grit size refers to how fine the particles are that make up the stone.
The higher the grit number, the finer the particles and the sharper your knives will get.
A softer sharpening stone is better for thinner blades, while a harder sharpening stone is better for thicker blades.
Are you looking to maintain an already sharp knife? Then you’ll probably need a lower grit size.
However, if you need to sharpen a dull knife, then medium grit stones or higher may be necessary.
For most purposes, a medium grit size of 1000-2000 is ideal.
However, if you’re looking to get a really sharp edge on your knives, or you have a larger blade, it may be best to choose a higher grit size.
The right grit size for your knife will depend on the type and size of your blade, as well as how sharp you want it to be. For example, a lower grit like 220 is best for very dull or damaged blades that need to be repaired, while a higher grit like 3000 is better for general sharpening.
Type of sharpening stone
The type of whetstone you select is also an important consideration.
In general, there are six main types of Japanese sharpening stones:
- natural stone
- ceramic stone
- diamond stone
- combination stone
- water stone
- oil stone
Each type of sharpening stone has its own advantages and disadvantages including price, skill level necessary for use, and durability.
I’ll explain them in short.
Natural sharpening stone
Natural sharpening stones are made from a variety of materials, such as Novaculite, Arkansas Stone, and Washita Stone.
These stones are the most affordable options, but they require the most maintenance–you’ll need to soak them in water for at least 20 minutes before use.
What’s more, they need to be lubricated with oil during the sharpening process to prevent them from drying out.
Ceramic sharpening stone
Ceramic sharpening stones are man-made from a variety of materials, such as silicon carbide, aluminum oxide, and zirconia.
They’re more expensive than natural stones, but they don’t require as much maintenance. Even better? You’ll only need to soak them for a fraction of the time you’ll need to soak natural ones–about 5 minutes before use.
Diamond sharpening stone
As the name suggests, these stones are made from diamond dust. They’re the most expensive type of whetstone but also the most effective, able to sharpen even the toughest blades.
What’s more, they don’t require any soaking or lubrication–simply use them dry. However, you will need to clean them frequently to prevent the diamond dust from clogging the pores.
A diamond sharpening stone is the longest-lasting type of whetstone, so you won’t need to replace them as often.
Combination sharpening stone
As the name suggests, combination stones are a mix of two different types of stones. For example, a common combination is ceramic and diamond stone.
This combines the best of both worlds: the fast-sharpening ability of a diamond stone with the lower price point of a ceramic stone.
Water sharpening stone
The most common type is the water stone, which is made from abrasive materials such as silicon carbide or aluminum oxide.
Waterstones are typically softer than oilstones, making them more suitable for beginners. However, they can wear down quickly and require frequent flattening.
Oil sharpening stone
Oil stones are made from harder materials, such as Novaculite or Arkansas stone. They are more durable than water stones and don’t require as much flattening.
However, they can be more difficult to use because they require the use of oil. For this reason, they are typically reserved for experienced sharpeners.
No matter what type of Japanese whetstone you choose, you’ll be sure to get a quality sharpening stone that will last you for years to come.
Price is always an important consideration when making any purchase. Japanese whetstones range in price from around $10-$100.
Of course, you’ll get what you pay for, with the more expensive sharpening stones like diamond being of a higher quality and lasting far longer than other materials.
However, there are some great affordable options available, for those on more of a budget as discussed earlier (think natural and ceramic whetstones).
Finally, you’ll want to consider the durability of the stone.
Japanese whetstones are generally very durable, but some more so than others. The best example of this is natural sharpening stones vs ceramic or diamond sharpening stones.
No matter what your budget or needs are, there’s a Japanese sharpening stone out there that’s perfect for you. Just be sure to do your research before making your purchase.
Base of the Japanese sharpening stone
The base is the most important part of the sharpening stone. It needs to be flat and level so that the stone can sit securely on it without wobbling around.
A good way to test the flatness of the base is to put a piece of paper on it and see if it slides around. If it does, then the base is not flat enough.
The base should also be made of a material that is non-porous so that it does not absorb water from the stone. A good material for this is silicone or bamboo wood.
Bamboo is very popular because it is environmentally friendly, sustainable, and has a very low absorption rate.
The size of the base is also important. It should be large enough to fit the sharpening stone snugly, but not too large that it is difficult to move around.
Finally, make sure the base is non-slip because if the whetstone moves around as you sharpen your knives, you risk cutting your fingers.
Once you’ve got your Japanese knife sharp again make sure to store it properly as well in a knife block or stand
The best Japanese whetstones reviewed
Now that you know a little bit more about Japanese sharpening stones, it’s time to choose the best one for your needs.
We’ve created a detailed list of the best options on the market factoring in user skill, use, and stone material.
When making your decision we recommend considering the type of knife you have, the level of sharpness you need, and your budget.
There are many great options available, but which is actually the best for keeping your kitchen knives sharp and ready for action?
Let’s find out…
Best overall Japanese whetstone: The Sharp Pebble Premium
- water sharpening stone
- grit: 1000/6000
- base: bamboo
- weight: 2.1 lbs
If you’re looking for an authentic Japanese whetstone that you can use to sharpen all kinds of knives, this Sharp Pebble one is the best value buy.
Sharp Pebble is a well-known manufacturer of knife sharpeners and this particular one comes with two sides.
It’s a two-sided oil stone – one 1000 grit side for dealing with dull and damaged blades and the other 6000 grit side for polishing and finishing.
This whetstone is the best for sharpening authentic Japanese knives because it has the 1000 grit which is essential for a good sharp blade and then it has the 6000 grit for finishing and polishing to make your knives look like new.
This stone is meant to be used with water only and can be stored safely when not in use.
The oilstone is made from durable aluminum oxide and comes with a non-slip bamboo base to help you keep a steady hand while sharpening your knives.
It has an overall rating of 4.6* rating, scoring highly on durability, stability, and value for money.
The Sharp pebble premium also scored highly on ease of use, with many beginners being able to use this whetstone knife sharpener successfully on their first attempt.
What sets this sharpening stone apart from others is the easy-to-understand angle guide. It shows you what angle to sharpen at for different types of knives like yanagiba, deba, gyuto, etc.
There are many knockoff whetstones like this one but those just don’t last as long and turn too soft they feel like soap!
One thing to keep in mind is that this stone does wear down a bit faster than those $100+ whetstones.
However, it’s easy to use and doesn’t damage your blade so once you learn how to create a burr, your knife will be razor-sharp!
Also read: Japanese knife skills & techniques | Learn the moves like a pro
Best budget Japanese whetstone: Goodjob Premium
- water sharpening stone
- grit: 400/1000
- base: rubber
- weight: 1.87 lbs
If you’re looking for a good quality whetstone but don’t want to spend a lot of money, this Goodjob set is a great option.
It comes with two stones (400/1000 grit) and a rubber base for a very reasonable price.
The 400 grit side is perfect for repairing damaged blades and the 1000 grit can be used for sharpening the knife.
Unlike higher grit sharpening stones, this one isn’t recommended for finishing premium knives so I recommend it for just sharpening your knives regularly.
This whetstone is made from premium white corundum and also requires a good soak in water before you can start sharpening.
Goodjob also has a great video tutorial on how to use this whetstone if you’re a beginner.
One thing to keep in mind is that the stones are quite soft so they do wear down quickly.
But, they’re very affordable so it’s not a big deal to replace them often.
One downside of this product is that it doesn’t come with a storage case. Also, it can’t be used to sharpen serrated edges and ceramic knives – just stick to your regular Japanese knives.
The Goodjob whetstone has a rubber base for stability. The base is also non-slip so you won’t have to worry about it moving around while you’re sharpening your knives.
This set is great for those who are new to knife sharpening because it comes with a detailed guide on how to use the stones.
It also has an angle guide so you can sharpen your knives at the correct angle.
This is the kind of no-fuss, basic Japanese whetstone that is great for basic tasks like fixing small imperfections and keeping the blades sharp.
Best overall Sharp Pebble vs best budget Goodjob
The Sharp Pebble is better for those who are looking for a stone to use with premium knives while the Goodjob is better for those who want a basic stone to use for sharpening their regular knives.
If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, go with the Goodjob set. It’s a great quality product that comes with two stones and a rubber base for a very reasonable price.
The Sharp Pebble is also a great product but it’s more expensive and only comes with one stone.
However, you might notice the quality difference between these two from the get-go. The Sharp pebble has a bamboo base while the Goodjob has a rubber base.
The Sharp pebble is also double-sided while the Goodjob is only single-sided.
So, if you’re willing to spend a bit more money, the Sharp Pebble is the better option.
Both stones are made from white corundum and require a good soak in water before use.
Now let’s compare the grits. The Sharp Pebble is a bit finer at 6000 grit while the Goodjob is coarser at 1000 grit.
The Sharp Pebble is better for those who want a really fine finish on their knives while the Goodjob is better for those who just want to sharpen their knives and don’t mind a bit of imperfection.
To summarize, the Sharp Pebble is the better stone if you’re willing to spend a bit more money and you want a really fine finish on your knives.
The Goodjob is the better stone if you’re looking for a basic stone to use for sharpening your regular knives.
Best Japanese sharpening stone set & best for beginners: KERYE Professional
- water sharpening stone
- grit: 400/1000 + 3000/8000
- base: bamboo
- weight: 5 lbs
If you’re looking for a premium whetstone with all the accessories you need, the Kerye set is the one that has it all.
It comes with two whetstones with different grits. The first stone has a 400/1000 grit which is best for repairing and sharpening.
The second stone has a 3000/8000 grit for finishing and polishing.
Chefs recommend that you use the 3000 grit to sharpen your meat knives like gyuto or santoku while the 8000 grit is best for honing the cutting edge of your veggie knives like usuba or smaller paring knives.
This set also comes with a bamboo base, a flattening stone for leveling, a sharpening angle guide, a leather strop, anti-cut gloves, and a carrying case.
The leather strop helps you polish the blade and also remove burr. With the flattening stone, you can level the surface of your whetstone when it starts to get uneven.
The bamboo base is slip-resistant and also has a water reservoir to keep the stones wet. The angle guide ensures that you’re sharpening your knives at the correct angle.
The carrying case is great for storing everything together and for keeping the stones from chipping.
Plus, you get anti-cut gloves that keep your hands safe while sharpening.
The Kerye set is a bit more expensive than the Sharp Pebble but it’s worth it because you’re getting two stones and you can do more fine polishing since it has that 8000 grit surface.
So, if you’re looking for a complete set that has everything you need to sharpen your knives, the Kerye set is the one for you.
The Kerye set is also great for those who are new to knife sharpening because it comes with a detailed guide on how to use the stones.
What people really like about this set is the added angle guard. This is a tiny clip that goes on your knife’s back and it keeps the blade in position so you can get that 18-degree angle with every contact.
Therefore, you won’t end up sharpening at different angles. This feature is a must-have for beginners because it ensures consistent sharpening.
Some people also find that the Kerye stones are softer and easier to use.
One thing to note is that the Kerye set is quite large and heavy so it might not be suitable for those who are looking for a portable option.
Make your set even more complete with a traditional Japanese knife sheath to protect your sharp knife
Best Japanese whetstone for professionals & chefs: MITSUMOTO SAKARI
- water sharpening stone
- grit: 1000/3000
- base: bamboo
- weight: 1.7 lbs
This is an authentic Japanese whetstone built for chefs and professionals.
The Mitsumoto Sakari stone is a natural water stone that’s been quarried in the Niigata prefecture of Japan.
It has a grit rating of 1000/3000 and it’s one of the hardest stones on the market. It’s a classic double-sided whetstone that can be used for both repairing and finishing.
The 1000 grit side is for repairing and the 3000 grit side is for finishing.
This type of Japanese stone will make your blade last a long time without losing its edge. It allows you to sharpen knives between 10-20 degree angles.
This stone is perfect for those who want a really sharp edge on their knives.
It’s also great for those who sharpen their knives often because it doesn’t wear down as quickly as other stones.
Therefore, it’s more suitable for chefs who have to constantly sharpen their Japanese knife collection while working in a busy restaurant.
You’ll clearly notice a huge difference between Mitsumoto and budget stones like Goodjob which will wear down much faster.
Also, this whetstone’s bamboo base contains a rubber gasket that prevents it from slipping while in use.
Some cheaper products don’t have a good rubber gasket so your stone can make small movements while you sharpen and that’s quite unsafe.
The base is also quite large so you won’t have to worry about the stone moving around while you’re sharpening your knives.
This whetstone lacks the 6000 grit necessary for extra fine polishing but if you’re constantly cooking, you don’t really need a finer grit than the 3000 because you have to keep sharpening your blade over and over again.
The only downside to this stone is that it’s quite expensive. But, if you’re looking for a high-quality option that will last you a long time, the Mitsumoto Sakari is the best choice.
Kerye set for beginners vs Mitsumoto for chefs
The Kerye set is great for beginners because it comes with a detailed guide and an angle guard. The Mitsumoto stone is better for chefs because it’s a harder stone that can withstand more sharpening.
With the Kerye set, you get 4 grits to choose from while the Mitsumoto only has 2.
The Kerye is also softer and easier to use while the Mitsumoto is harder and better for those who want a really sharp edge.
The Kerye set is large and heavy while the Mitsumoto is smaller and more portable.
Both whetstones have a sturdy non-slip bamboo base but the Mitsumoto has a better rubber gasket.
If you’re working at a restaurant you aren’t going to do as much knife polishing so you probably don’t need such a fine 8000 grit.
You need a better, stronger stone that doesn’t wear down as fast. That’s why I recommend the Mitsumoto. It’s made in Japan and it will last you a long time.
If you’re starting out, go with the Kerye set because it comes with a helpful guide and 4 different grits to choose from.
Lastly, the Kerye set is more affordable while the Mitsumoto is more expensive.
Best diamond whetstone: Diamond Machine Technology (DMT)
- diamond sharpening stone
- grit: 45 Micron / 325 Mesh, 25 Micron / 600 Mesh, 9 Micron / 1200 Mesh
- base: wood
- weight: 1.8 lbs
This diamond whetstone is the best choice for those who don’t like traditional Japanese whetstones or find them too hard to use.
The DMT has a three-stone system that’s easy to use and it comes with a durable base that won’t slip while you’re sharpening your knives.
It also doesn’t require any water so it’s great for those who travel often.
The three grits allow you to sharpen, repair, and finish your blades.
The 45 Micron / 325 Mesh is for repairing, the 25 Micron / 600 Mesh is for sharpening and the 9 Micron / 1200 Mesh is for finishing.
This diamond whetstone is perfect for those who want a really sharp edge on their knives. It’s also great for those who sharpen their knives often because it doesn’t wear down as quickly as other stones.
Traditional waterstones will bevel and gouge over time – this doesn’t happen with diamond stones. That’s why many people prefer to use this material for sharpening their Japanese knives.
Another advantage of this type of sharpening stone is that using it is less time-consuming.
On average, it takes about 1/3 of the strokes and sharpening moves to get your knife razor-sharp compared to a regular aluminum whetstone.
One disadvantage is that the diamond stones are narrower than your traditional whetstones so it takes a bit of getting used to. But, once you get the hang of it, you won’t have any problems.
Also, I want to mention that you don’t need to use a lot of water with these so you only need a light mist of water. This means less mess and no more slushy dirty water to clean up.
This type of whetstone is a real-time saver. Just be aware that this kind of whetstone is much pricier than others.
Best ceramic whetstone: Ha No Kuromaku Medium Grit #1000
- ceramic sharpening stone
- grit: 1000
- base: plastic
- weight: 1.5 ounces
With this whetstone, you don’t need to soak it before use. Just splash it with some water and then you’re ready to start sharpening in about a minute.
The Ha No Kuromaku is a great ceramic whetstone that is perfect for those who are just starting out. It has a medium grit of 1000 which is great for sharpening and repairing your knives.
For regular at-home use, this is the kind of grit you need and this stone will keep your blades in pristine condition.
It’s the kind of whetstone that provides consistent results and won’t let you down, use after use.
What you’ll notice immediately is that it’s very hard compared to the regular water stones.
Unlike the water stones, this one doesn’t shed and it’s much denser. Therefore, you can expect excellent results after using it.
But, one thing to keep in mind is that this type of whetstone can chip easily so you need to be extra careful while using it. Also, it might feel a bit rough on your fingers at first but after a few uses, you’ll get used to it.
It’s also really small and light so it’s perfect for those who travel often or don’t have a lot of counter space.
The only downside to this whetstone is that it doesn’t come with a wooden base and many people prefer the classic bamboo base. However, the plastic is sturdy and doubles as a carrying case.
Diamond vs ceramic whetstone
These are two different types of whetstones: diamond and ceramic. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs.
Diamond whetstones are more expensive than ceramic but they’re also more durable and last longer. They’re also easier to use because you don’t need to soak them before use.
Ceramic whetstones are more affordable but you’ll need to wet the stone for about a minute before you can get to work.
When it comes to sharpening, both types of whetstones will get the job done but diamond stones are faster.
The DMT whetstone has 3 grits you can use whereas the Ha No Kuromaku only has one 1000 grit which is medium.
Also, the Ha No Kuromaku has a plastic base which some people might not like as much as the classic bamboo base.
So, it really comes down to your personal preferences and needs when deciding which type of whetstone to buy.
If you’re looking for a fast, durable, and easy-to-use sharpening stone, then go for the diamond whetstone. If you’re looking for an affordable option that still gets the job done, then go for the ceramic whetstone.
Electric vs manual sharpening stones
A lot of people think that using a knife sharpener is easy, but there are actually some things to consider before purchasing one. One of these considerations is whether to purchase a manual or electric whetstone.
Electric sharpeners are the quickest and easiest to use.
That’s because all you have to do is run the blade through the sharpener a few times and it does the rest of the work for you. The downside to them is they can be expensive.
Manual sharpeners, on the other hand, require a little bit more effort but are a far more budget-friendly option.
To use a manual Japanese whetstone, hold the blade at the correct angle and run it through the sharpener in a consistent motion.
The best option for you really depends on your needs.
If you are looking for a quick and easy way to sharpen your kitchen knives, then an electric whetstone is the way to go.
However, if you are on a budget or simply prefer the satisfaction of sharpening your knives by hand, then a manual whetstone is likely the better option.
Choosing the right Japanese whetstone is essential for getting the most out of your knife sharpening kit.
There are many different types and sizes of whetstones available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. It is important to choose the right one for your needs in order to get the best results.
When it comes to the top pick for the best Japanese whetstone, the award goes to The Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone Knife Sharpening Stone.
This is a universal sharpening stone with the most used grits that you can use to sharpen Japanese and Western knives so you always have sharp cutlery on hand.
It can also be used to sharpen all types of knives including pocket knives, fillet knives, kitchen knives, and more.
Regardless of your budget or skill level, there is a Japanese whetstone that is perfect for you. There are plenty of great options available on the market, so you’ll definitely find the right sharpening tool for your needs.
Also check out these amazing & traditional Japanese knife rolls and arry your knife collection safely like a pro
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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.