Are you looking for a whetstone to sharpen your knives, tools or razors? Belgian whetstones can offer a simple, yet effective solution for your sharpening needs.
To get the most out of your tools (regardless of what that maybe) you need to ensure they are well cared for and of course very well sharpened. Without these simple ingredients, they cannot perform at their highest level each and every-time. The more you use a knife, the more you should be sharpening it. They do not stay sharp forever (regardless of the steel type or cost). Simply, if you do not keep up on your sharpening routine, you will end spending more time when you finally do take the time to sharpen. Not only this, but a more coarse grit whetstone will be required so you can save time (using a fine grit stone to sharpen a very blunt knife is frustrating and time consuming).
Alternatively, if you sharpen on a regular basis, the ‘touch-ups’ will take less time and a higher grit stone is usually all that is needed to maintain your blades.
Simply, a regular sharpening routine is important!
If you are considering Belgian stones for your sharpening routine, but are unsure if they are right for you, here are few points that may help you decide.
- A perfect choice for those looking for a natural alternative, to man-made synthetics.
- Although still available and not considered rare just yet, consider the fact that these Belgian stones are only manufactured (hand-made) in the Ardennes Belgian, in one factory. Once that goes, the stones go forever….then like many of the Japanese natural stones, the costs will increase well out of range of the average person.
- Belgian coticules and Belgian blue stones contain garnets. These garnets provide the abrasive cutting power. Coticules are said to have a higher concentration of garnets than the Belgian blue stones. In turn, this makes the Belgian blue stones abrasive power slightly less on average. Now, the best way to look at that statement is:
Belgian blue stones will give the same result as the coticule on average, just a little slower process. That is it, the only difference!
- Unlike many stones, the Belgian stones don’t load up with swarf on the surface to the degree of other water stones (natural or synthetic). When you sharpen, the metal particles (swarf) from the blade embeds (clogs) into the whetstone surface reducing its abrasive power.
You will notice this by the black appearance over the surface. This in turn slows down the sharpening process considerably and unless you constantly lap (remove) this build-up, you get a poor cutting stone. Belgian stones only require a splash of water and this swarf washes away easily, making them very easy to work with.
- Grit range: first up, there is no grit range to Belgian stones (like any natural stone). However, as a rough guide somewhere in the 6000 grit is on average estimate for the coticule and slightly higher for the Belgian blue (when both are used with water only). However, with a slurry stone you can decrease its grit rating and increase its cutting power.
A slurry stone (which is simply a small off-cut) is rubbed onto the surface of the coticule or Belgian blue (depending on which you own) with water, which in turn creates a mud. This mud, depending on its thickness (dilution), will create a faster cutting (more abrasive) surface. So if your knife is a little more blunt than usual, you can use this slurry to speed up the process. On your final passes you can use water only to get the higher grit finish.
- Belgian stones work with other stones very well (natural or synthetic). Due the higher/finer grit range of these stones, they are not the best stones (like any high grits whetstone) for knives, tools or razors that are extremely blunt or have damage that needs repair (i.e. chips). For this initial stage of sharpening, a good coarse grit synthetic is needed to be most efficient. Once that part of the process is complete, you can jump to the Belgian stones (1000 grit stone to a Belgian stone is fine). If you wish to move up the ladder higher after your Belgian stones, a 12000 grit plus whetstone or loaded strop (with compound or even bare) is next to finalize.
- Keeping your Belgian stones level/flat is easy. You can use a diamond plate with water, or wet/dry sandpaper with water on a level surface. A few passes and your water stone is level again. Like sharpening, do this on a regular basis.
Belgian stones are not the cheapest water stones on the market, however once you have used them, you are sure to be glad you did.
Still unsure? Email your question.