A whetstone, also known as a sharpening stone, is an indispensable tool for preserving the sharpness of various cutting tools, from kitchen knives and razors to scissors. Generally rectangular, it features an abrasive surface meant to grind and hone the edges of steel implements.
The grit of whetstones, dictated by the size of its abrasive particles, can vary extensively. Coarser stones with lower grit numbers are excellent for redefining or repairing damaged tool edges, whereas finer stones with higher grit numbers are used to polish and refine the blade edge to ultimate sharpness.
There are two main categories of whetstones: oil stones and water stones. Oil stones, fashioned from novaculite, silicon carbide, or aluminum oxide, require oil as a lubricant to clear away swarf (tiny metal chips). Conversely, water stones, often also made from aluminum oxide, need water and are praised for their rapid cutting action.
Diamond stones and ceramic stones are additional types. Diamond stones feature small diamonds affixed to a metal plate surface, providing exceptional durability and a uniform, assertive cut. Although ceramic stones work slower, their hard, sleek surface can deliver an exquisitely honed edge. Whetstones are essential for enhancing the effectiveness and lifespan of cutting tools.