My advice for newbie knife sharpeners (2015 updates) - Sharpening Technique Here's my spiel. I agree with what others have said: you need to just get some stones (you can start with just 2: coarse and fine), take a deep breath, and jump in feet-first... Of course, if that is the only advice people give you, then they are giving you crap advice. That's what inspired me to write this little post. You need a little more advice than "Just start sharpening," since it's all new to you. You need a little guidance. I could have used a little guidance when I was getting started, besides just "Google it, bud," or "just get a stone and start doing it." So here goes: All I can say is that your first stop should be employing your powerful search-fu for "sharpening" on YouTube and watch a LOT of vids before you even start sharpening yourself. Here's a few I recommend, but there are many, many more worth watching. 2015 CAVEAT: Note that it is impossible to see how much pressure a sharpener is applying (and where) in a video of someone else sharpening. It is simply too fine a motor manipulation to perceive with your eyes as youre watching someone else do it. Rest assured, these guys are very much tuned into their stones, hands, fingers, and blades -- and pressure is constantly on their minds as they are sharpening. Rick Marchand has great technique. He's using Japanese water-stones here. [youtube]UAxd7SV-ZtM[/youtube] This is the first in a 5-part series, I believe. The guy has a ton more videos to watch, too. I recommend you watch all the ones that have something to do with sharpening. [youtube]QNwP-2xBphI[/youtube] This guy (I didnt realize in 2012 that this was knifenut, aka Jason_B) explains some great fundamentals and techniques for moving up in grit. Also watch the second part in the 2-part series, which is about stropping. Good demonstrations. [youtube]lqhNbJt8tpU[/youtube] This guy (I didnt realize in 2012 that this was CrimsonTideShooter) does a fast progression through all the steps (extra coarse all the way to strop) to give you a "quick and dirty" sense of the sharpening process. He has lots of more detailed videos, too, which you can watch. [youtube]Kc1bdN2ELSs[/youtube] That will give you a concept around which to build. Read all the stickies in this forum. Here' s a few other threads I recommend, too: http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/732635-The-first-sharpening http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/697747-The-burr I highly recommend these treatises on sharpening by Chad Ward and Joe Talmadge, too: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php/topic/26036-knife-maintenance-and-sharpening/ http://www.knifeart.com/sharfaqbyjoe.html And keep a few things in mind. Note that it will be impossible to really visualize these things; just keep them in mind. As you start sharpening (after watching YouTube videos and reading all the above threads), these things will make more sense and eventually come into clearer focus: Point #1. To keep the correct angle along the entire blade, through the curves and the belly, as the blade contacts the stone along its belly curve, you must lift the handle to keep the angle consistent. See? Hard to visualize, I know. Watch the videos, read the posts, and try it yourself and it will eventually make sense. Don't worry about doing it perfectly at first. Practice makes perfect. Let the bevel guide you. If you are hitting the right angle along the whole edge, the bevel should be evenly-wide, from heel to tip. Adjust as needed, lifting the blade a bit along the curve, as you sharpen more knives and as you learn what your unique quirks are. Point #2. Simple tip for "eyeballing" angles: 90 degrees is holding the blade perpendicular to the stone. half of that is 45. half of that is 22.5. Bring it down just a tad lower and you should be at 17-20 degrees, generally considered a good utility angle for most purposes. Point #3. Don't push too hard, but also don't be afraid to use a little pressure. Your knife's blade is a piece of solid steel, not a crystal wine glass. It can take a little rough handling. You won't ruin your knife. After a while, you'll get a sense of what pressure you need to use on your stones to cut the steel correctly. Remember that diamonds are very, very efficient at cutting steel and only require light pressure... if you have diamond stones, which I highly recommend. I recommend the DMT stones, both Duosharp and Diasharp. As the old adage goes, let the diamonds do the work. You also risk dislodging diamonds if you use too much pressure on a diamond stone. Point #4. Number of strokes? Time frame? It depends. If you want a working edge on 420C that will competently cut a piece of chicken in two, you might spend a few minutes on a coarse Arkansas stone. If I am reprofiling a bad edge from the factory, I might spend 10 - 20 minutes or so with an apprx. 200 grit stone. I'll spend another 10 - 30 minutes with the high grits and finally the strop. So again, it depends on your goals, your steel, your blade, etc. As for whether to stroke heel-to-tip, tip-to-heel, back stroke, front stroke, whatever, etc... everybody prefers something different. You'll get a feel for it. So in conclusion, after you've read all those resources and watched all the vids available on YouTube and mentally noted my above points... NOW is the time to give you the advice everyone gives: you need to just get some stones (you can start with just 2: coarse and fine), take a deep breath, and jump in feet-first.