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Do I really need a coarse grit sharpening stone?

Do I really need a coarse grit sharpening stone?

Do I Really Need a Coarse Grit Sharpening Stone?

Many Sharpening Stones

The coarse stone is one of the most overlooked but most important sharpening stones you can own. We speak directly to customers every day and customers regularly question whether they need a coarser sharpening stone.

The coarse stone is the workhorse of the sharpening stones. If you have a dull edge, you start with this stone and spend the most time with the stone. The finer stones perform the important task of refining the edge and making it sharper.

Common reasons why people choose not to purchase a coarse sharpening stone:

  • I want to save money and purchase fewer grits.
  • I never let my edge get too dull.
  • I can just spend more time on my finer stones.
  • My knife is very expensive, so only the finest grits are allowed to touch it.

The Coarse Sharpening Stones Are Often the Least Expensive

Saving money by skipping the coarse grit rarely works. The coarse grits are the same or less expensive than comparable fine grits. If you want to save money, skip the finest grits, not the coarse ones. Yes, we are happy to sell you more expensive stones, but we're even happier when we can help you make the right choice.

Everyone Gets a Dull Edge

Anyone that uses a tool or knife eventually gets a dull edge. It is possible that you never get a dull edge because you sharpen every day and carefully use your knife or tool. If you are that rare person, then maybe you could skip the coarse stone. However, there are so many reasons that a knife or tool can get dull, even with the best intentions.

A Few Reasons to Start with a Coarse Grit:

  • Your knife or tool became dull through use.
  • Your knife or tool wasn't sharpened correctly from the factory.
  • You want to change the angle of the edge.
  • Your very inconsiderate friend used your hand plane to plane down an old door and hit a nail and damaged the edge.
  • You bumped your knife into the edge of a kitchen counter.
  • You dropped your tool or knife on a hard floor.
  • Your neighbor brought over a knife to sharpen (last sharpened at the factory 10 years ago).

A Fine Stone Sharpens Much Slower Than a Coarse Stone

In theory, you can just spend more time using fine stone to achieve the same results as a coarser stone. In practice, the additional time spent on the finer stone is considerably longer. It won't be twice as long, it will likely be at minimum 5 times longer but often more than 10 times longer to achieve the same result. If you have all the time in the world and don't mind wearing your fine stone up to 10 times faster, then maybe just a finer stone is right for you.

A Coarse Grit Can Be Used On Quality Edges

A coarse stone can be used on fine quality tools and knives. If you have a quality tool or knife that has become dull, the coarse stone is where you start. After the coarse, you move to the finer grits to hone the edge.

The exceptions to the rule of starting with a coarse stone would be extremely delicate blades. A good example of a delicate blade is a straight razor. The angle is extremely low and the blade is very thin. The same advice would apply to a knife that has a very thin edge with a very low angle.

Popular Coarse Sharpening Stone

Norton Oil Stones

Oil Stones

Norton makes some very good and economical coarse oil stones. The Norton India Stones are made of aluminum oxide and the coarse stones are 150 grit. The Norton Crystolon Stones are made of silicon carbide and the coarse stones are 120 grit.


Water Stones

Water Stones

Water Stones are available from a number of different manufacturers. Most are available with a 220 grit. Visit our Water Stones page to learn about all the coarse water stone options available.




Water Stones

Diamond Stones

DMT makes the most popular diamond stones. The coarse grit is 325, but we consider the extra coarse, 220 grit, to be best choice for a coarse diamond stone. We carry a variety of different sizes and price ranges.