A new knife takes hours on end to get it to a good edge and "Then and ONLY THEN", will it only take a few strokes to restore the edge........
I know mine is as sharp as I want it when I can shave the hair off my arm without very much pressure.
Getting a knife sharp will wear your hands and wrist out if you try to do it all at once. Even then you will never get there at one time..
When I get a new knife, (which isn't very often because I take care of them after I have spent hours getting them where I want them, but I did loose mine a couple months ago while cutting firewood in the woods, never to be seen again,. and the new Buck I got took about 3 weeks to get it where I half way liked it, and I am still working on it) any way, I set my stones where we watch TV. I don't use oil, I spit on them as someone else said. Grandpa taught me that trick.
When we are watching TV I work on it during each commercial and put it down when the show comes back on.
What you need to get is a 3 sided stone. A good one will cost you at least 20 to 30 bucks and according to the quality, it goes up from there.
Use the course side to bring the shoulder down.
To start with, I will never buy a knife again, that doesn't have a hollow ground blade on it. When looking for a knife, you will see what I mean by hollow ground. The blade has a negative cup shape all the way down it. It makes it much easier and faster to get an edge on it.
Now the course stone should be something like a 400 grit stone and when using this stone keep the blade at an angle of about 8 to 10 degrees which as mike said is almost flat.
This stone will not put a good edge on your knife
According to how good your knife is and how good your stone is, this can take a few hours, a few days or a few weeks of fiddling with it. You are not going to get a good edge on a new knife, such as a buck, and they are good knifes, in fifteen minutes. Not what I call a good edge anyway.
After you are satisfied you have the shoulder down and out of the way, your second stone should be a medium grit, about 600 to 800 grit.
This is where you start bringing an edge up. Move it away from you but at just a hair more angle on it and I mean just a hair....... on one side of the blade for 20 or 30 strokes. You should be able to feel, I don't know what Gram pa called it, it's kinda like a roll of metal that has come up at the edge of the blade. Keep going on that side for however many strokes it takes and count them. After you get that roll start on the other side and do it the same number of strokes minus about 5 percent. You will get a smaller roll on the other side. Keep dropping back each time you go to the other side of it until you get to about 10 strokes and after that drop one stroke per side each time until you have no strokes left..
Sharpening a knife requires the art of getting a rythem going. Counting the strokes helps me. Grandpa hummed songs but you have to get a rythem or it becomes a pain in the ***. I am getting where I hum also. More fun than counting.
By this time it should be fairly sharp but this is when I love it. If you have a good knife with good steel in it, you have just spent hours working on it to get it to where it is. Try to shave some hair from your arm.
Won't do it????? Didn't think so.
Go to the fine stone. At least a 1,000 grit, but a good hard 1,200 to 1,400 grit stone is where the razor edge comes from.
Now you raise the angle up to about 15 degrees and this is my secrete to razor sharp knives but I'll pass it out. Put an old towel or some rags under the stone, and spit on the stone and keep spitting on it the whole time you are working. Keep it wet.
Start making small circles with the blade at about 15 degrees or so and every time you make a circle make the blade touch the stone a little further up the blade. Now you are pushing and pulling the blade on the stone in a circle and don't use much pressure here. Just a little round and around and away we go kinda thing. Just start at the tip of the blade and as you make the circles work your way back to the butt of the blade.
Work about one hundred circles on one side and then the other. Drop back to 80 then 60 then 40 then 20 then 10,9,8,7,6,5.
By the time you get to 5 it should take the hair off you arm with an easy slice and leave the skin intact.
One more word of advice. People usually get cut bad with either very dull or very sharp knives. If it is dull, you are pulling too hard and it slips.
If it is sharp as what I just told you how to get it, and you are used to using a dull knife and you pull too hard and by the time the blade stops, you are amazed at what it just done to yourself, and it won't be pretty.
A sharp knife is by far better than a dull one, but it demands a greater amount of respect.
A knife that will take the hair off your arm will put some ugly gashes in your fingers, arms, legs & etc.
Been there and done that.
Good luck and God Bless.
Grandpa used to make knives and taught me a lot. And I have made a few myself.
After I had spent all this time, I looked up knife sharpeing on yahoo and got www.knifeart.com/sharfagbyjoe.html
They go into way more details there but they say about the same thing I said. .