12° angleI would recommend that you lay out your stone on a table over a towel to keep the water from getting everywhere. There are multiple ways to sharpen your knife on a wet stone. I do a simple side to side motion, and I do the same angle on both sides of my knife. What ever you do you're going to want to apply 4-6 lbs. of pressure evenly distributed across the knife. Some chefs want one side to be more angled than the other, that's all up to you and how you actually want to handle your knife.
You'll want to take care of your stone so that it can take care of your knives. If your stone starts to bow you're not going to create an even edge on your knife! To do this, you'll need a flattening stone.
When your stone is wet, make some hash marks with a pencil across the entire the top of the stone. Rub the flattening stone along your wet stone until the surface is nice and flat and all the pencil marks disappear . This will ensure that your stone and your knives are kept in great condition!Once you're done with your stone you'll want to make sure it's nice and clean (it will look black from the metal), dry it off (soak up any residual water), and keep it in a ventilated container or a nice dry area. Although this is our preferred method to sharpen knives, for the home cook who's intimidated by investing in and learning to use wet stones, there exist other very serviceable knife sharpening alternatives. We've achieved excellent results using an Apex Edge Pro device. This contraption helps to set the proper angle and encourage the proper motions without as much practice required as traditional stones. The end result can be effectively the same as a sharpening on a traditional stone. Highly recommended. Another option is a Diamond Hone knife sharpener. These offer preset angles. Some units will sharpen all knives to 20 degrees. Others will sharpen to 15. Some units allow you to switch and back and forth between multiple angles. These are very intuitive to use and will do a good job at making most knives plenty sharp for most applications. However, these don't get your knives quite as sharp as a true stone and in applications you may be left wishing your knife was even sharper. Something that most home chefs don't know is that many knife manufacturers offer a life time sharpening policy. You typically only have to pay for the shipping. Just mail your knives in and receive them back later with a fresh factory edge! If you use your knives daily, the waiting game may be unreasonable. But for many home cooks, this can be a great option. There are also some bad sharpening options to avoid. For example, devices like the one below can help you get through a project in a pinch when your knife is dull and not cutting effectively. However, these are not a long term solution and are certainly not recommended for regular repeated use. Instead of the sanding / polishing effect of a stone, these tend to shred the metal on the edge of the blade, which both removes the proper bevel and shortens the lifespan of the knife. What about honing steels? Many of you will have a honing steel already. These are often sold as part of a knife set. These are a must have tool and very helpful in the kitchen. However, it's important to understand that these do NOT sharpen your knives. Sharpening is the act of creating an angled bevel on the blade edge. Honing, on the other hand, is simply ensuring that the bevel is straight along the edge of the blade. If you've ever seen a barber strop a straight razor on a leather strap prior to a shave, you can understand the difference here. That razor gets sharpened on a stone whenever it's dull. But it is stropped (honed) on the leather before every use. Your knives should be sharpened as needed depending on when your knives are dull. Your knives should be honed before most every use. Your honing steel is the kitchen equivalent of the barber's leather strap. It should be used regularly, but it takes just a few passes to ensure that the edge is straight. Happy cooking! Chef Warren