How to Use a Japanese Water Stone? | A Step By Step Beginner Guide

Sharpening your knife regularly is essential if you want to ensure that it will perform exceptionally each and every time you use it.

There are many tools you can use for that job, but arguably the best one is the Japanese water stone.

How to Use a Japanese Water Stone

Japanese water stones are great at providing immediate results and they are also compatible with all kinds of knives.

In this article, we will talk about how to use Japanese water stones. At the end of reading this, you should have all the knowledge you will need to properly perform this task.

A Step-By-Step Guide for Using Japanese Water Stone

Step 1: Choosing the right type of water stone

types of Japanese water stone

The first thing you need to is to figure out which Japanese water stone to use.
According to Chef’s Armoury, there are three general categories of Japanese water stones.

The first is known as the Arato stone and this one is best reserved for an exceptionally dull blade. These range from 200 to 800 grit.

Next up is the Nakato stone, and this will likely be the one you will end up using a lot. Nakato stones work great for simply sharpening the blade of the knife. The grit range for a Nakato stone goes from 800 to 1500.

You also have the Shiageto stones. Anything with a grit rating over 1500 is considered a Shiageto stone. These stones are mainly used to refine the edge of the knife, which is why they are also known as finishing stones.

Generally speaking, you will want to have both a Nakato stone and a Shiageto stone in your kitchen so that you can sharpen and refine your knives whenever the need to do so arises. However, you can also stick to looking for a Nakato stone with a higher grit rating if you have a strict budget.

Once you have chosen a stone, make sure to soak it in plenty of water before using it.

Step 2: Prepare the knife for sharpening

Prepare the knife for sharpening

After choosing the right type of Japanese water stone, the next step is to get your knife ready for the sharpening process.

This is where it’s important to note that you must use a quality knife together with the water stone.

According to this post on, you would not be using your time wisely if you spend it trying to sharpen a knife that lacks quality to begin with. Sharpening a cheap knife takes too much time, and even if you do everything right, it may still not produce the cuts and slices you want.

Instead, pick out the best knife in your kitchen and choose to improve that further by letting it hit the water stone.

Step 3: Begin sharpening the knife

Start by laying down a base for the water stone. This can either be something simple like a thick towel or you can also choose to purchase a holder specially designed for water stones if you have the extra money.

Next up, you have to get the positioning of your fingers on the knife right.

According to Korin, you should have your index finger on the spine of the knife, while your thumb must be located on the flat of the blade. The other three fingers should be grabbing the handle.

Begin working the tip of the knife by pressing it to the stone.

With a firm grip on the knife, proceed to push it along the stone at a 20-degree angle. Don’t be afraid to apply force to get the knife moving in the right direction, but make sure not to use an excessive amount of it as well.

Continue this process until you see that the levels have been sharpened evenly.

Step 4: Form the burr

To create the burr, what you need to do is to change the way in which you are holding the knife. Raise the angle at which you are sharpening the knife until your elbow is about parallel to the ground, as noted in that post.

Proceed to run the knife against the stone while keeping your fingers pressed to the tip to create more pressure. Follow the contour of the knife as you are doing this.

Soon enough, you should feel the burr form. Once a burr has formed, you can flip the knife over and create a burr on the other side. Remember to re-position your elbow.

After the second burr has formed, you can remove it by lowering the angle of the knife and then pushing it against the water stone. These are necessary steps to take if you want to make sure that your knife is as sharp as it can be.

Step 5: Refining the edge of the knife

Grab your Shigaeto or finishing stone and splash some water on it. This video from Korin Knives also encourages you to use a dressing stone to make the water stone better suited for the process of refining.

Place the knife on the stone, and then raise your hand to create an elevated angle. With your other hand, feel for the spot where the bevel is flat on the water stone. Use your free fingers to push the knife along the water stone, and periodically raise the angle to sharpen the knife further.

Repeat that process for the other side of the knife.

After that, rest the knife on top of the water stone, and then perform a sweeping motion that pulls the knife to your side. Flip the knife over, repeat the sweeping motion, but this time around, the knife should move away from you.

Make sure to not use too much pressure during this final step, or else you may ruin all the hard work you’ve already completed.

Video Guide: How to sharpening knife with japanese water stone


Having a sharp knife is a must inside the kitchen. Now that you understand how to use a Japanese water stones properly, you can ensure that you will no longer be forced to prepare a meal using substandard equipment.

Did you find this guide helpful? If you did, please feel free to share this with your friends and family members who could also use some help with regards to keeping their trusty knives nice and sharp.

Also, make sure to leave a comment below telling us what you think about this guide.
Good luck on your knife sharpening endeavors in the future!

About the Author Juan Williams

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