Many people I believe are very interested in learning how to sharpen a knife. It is something most men attempt at one point in their life, something draws people to the act of taking a dull knife to a stone or some device in an attempt to make it sharper.
In my experience, just about everyone I meet mentions a grandfather out in the garage with an oil stone sharpening knives and tools. Let's face it, knives have been around since the caveman era, so it is only natural that the urge to make a knife sharp is there inside of us.
However, with so many gadgets on the market and a "Worlds Best Knife Sharpener" on sale at just about every spot you can buy a knife, people fall into a trap, they believe what they read and worse, what they are told by a salesperson and the cycle of frustration begins.
It is unfortunate that when a person buys a knife that the salesperson doesn't talk to them about a Sharpening plan, Paderno in Halifax will do this for you but it is something people need to do. I can't tell you how many people have gone out and purchased an expensive knife or set of expensive knives only to find them all dull in 2 months or less. That is normal, for them to dull but until they found me, they had no plan to get them sharp again.
So back to the topic, ONE stone. If you could only buy one water stone because you are not sure if this is something you can catch onto than I recommend a 1, 000 grit Japanese Water Stone.
Now another good route to take is a combination stone, coarse on one side, like 400 and fine on the other like 1,000. However, theoretically, once you have your knife sharp with that 1k stone, you should never need a coarse stone, (SHOULD) if you are just sharpening your own knives.
You can both learn to sharpen on a 1,000 grit stone and that one stone will make your knives just as sharp as new after you get the hang of it. The problem is that people will only sharpen their knife or knives once every few months so the chance of building a muscle memory is slim.
Let's say there are two types of people in this case:
1. People who just want to sharpen a knife, make it less dull but don't really get into the art of sharpening, just know enough to make it better.
2. People who not just want to sharpen their own knives but want to learn more because they are interested in the art of sharpening by hand.
For the first group, get a King 1,000 grit stone and watch some videos on sharpening, use an inexpensive knife and go for it, practise practise and see how it goes. (Now if these people are successful...they become part of Group 2 in many cases, remember there is something quite addictive and peaceful about knife sharpening on a water stone)
For the second group, do the same but make sure you set yourself up for success, do your homework, what a video, ask questions (ask me questions), concentrate, focus and do the job in a quiet area. The same stone will do the trick but you need to manage your expectations. You don't need to make the knife razor sharp, you won't make it razor sharp at first, your goal is to establish a process that you can repeat and will build confidence and improve consistency. Once you get your knife just a little bit sharper, the hook is in, you took the bait and then hang on, you are now on your own sharpening journey. Now you start looking online at different stones and better stones.
Text, email me if you have any questions, I get my waterstones online at Paul's Finest here in Canada but Chef Knives to Go in the States has the ultimate collection of water stones with free shipping too.
Believe me, my dollar was better right now, I would be purchasing more from Mark at CKtG.
The most important thing is just to get started, watch some videos and see if this is something that you think you would like. Then, for 30 dollars you can get one stone and for 20 you can get a stone holder but you don't even need that at first.
Go for it, you will be glad you did.