In a previous article, we discussed the importance of having flat stones. Keeping your stones from getting dished out is paramount to getting proper results when sharpening a knife — but there’s still the matter of keeping your stones clean. Sometimes, a splash of water is all it takes to get all the gunk off of the surface of your stone, but then again, sometimes it isn’t. Enter the…
A ceramic nagura (or “dressing”) stone is an important tool to gently clean your sharpening stones. After touching up or honing a few knives on a finishing stone (3000 or higher), it’s normal to see a little bit of gunk in the water on the surface of the stone. This “slurry” is a mixture of worn away stone and steel from your knife mixing together into a delicious sharpening melange. This slurry can actually be really useful for sharpening or finishing your knives (more on that another day!), but some of it will inevitably get embedded into the surface of your stone and clog up the pores. A stone works because it has microscopic peaks and valleys that generate friction to grind and polish steel — but if these valleys get all clogged up with gunk, the stone ceases to work properly.
1. Soak your nagura stone
This part is easy. Just plunk it into some clean water and let it get totally saturated. This usually takes about 10-15 minutes.
2. Wet your whetstone
This part is also easy, but it’s very important! You want to have lots of clean water all over that stone to keep it and the nagura stone from sticking together.
3. Work the nagura stone all over the whetstone
I like to work in a tight circular pattern. Make sure the edges of the nagura stone hang over the edges of the whetstone on each pass, this will ensure that you make contact with the entirety of the whetstone. Work the little circles from the top to the bottom.
4. Work carefully!
Sometimes, the nagura stone and whetstone have a tendency to grip one another. It’s always a good idea to mount the whetstone in a stone holder or sink bridge to ensure that it doesn’t scoot around too much. Use a gentle touch!
Watch all that gunk floooooow away. So Satisfying! Give that stone a feel - notice how smooth the surface is. That’s exactly what you’re looking for out of a nice finishing stone.
And there you have it! An essential, but easy, part of maintaining a well-rounded sharpening stone collection. If you'd like to know more about knife sharpening, check out our articles here!