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post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
So i recently bought a Hattori hf. After this recent upgrade, I was looking to upgrade from my old oil tri stone. Any thoughs a what whestones I should invest into? Also can I get buy on a combo stone or am I best off buying seperate stones?
post #2 of 18
The Hattori "Forum" knive is really too much for oilstones. You really should make the switch to waterstones.

Which stones to get depends on a lot of factors like price and ease of use, and also on where you peg what you think is the most important stone. For most people that's either the final polishing stone or the stone they use most often to "pull a wire," that is, start the actual sharpening process.

If the knives don't get too dull or damaged, something in the 700# to 2000# range is a good choice as that first sharpening stone. In your case, it's probably adequate as your coarsest stone -- at least for awhile.

Given the nature of the FH, you'll want to finish with at least some polish. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 4000# to 6000#. You can live with it as a final polish, and it's not an impossibly long step from the sharpening stone.

If you're already a competent sharpener, a combi-stone isn't necessarily a good choice. They wear out pretty quickly, one side faster than the other. They're outstanding for beginners though. Knowledge keeps pace with wear, and by the time the stone is ready to be replaced, the sharpener knows enough to make informed choices about better stones.

There have been some changes in sharpening stones over the past few years. Both in abrasive and binder. As a rule, modern stones require less flattening and soaking than their older counterparts. But they're still waterstones, and therefore a PITA.

There are several ways to flatten. You'll have to choose one right off the bat. You cannot sharpen with waterstones and not flatten. You may get away with three or four sharpenings on very fine stones between flattenings. But best practice is to flatten the sharpening stone before every sharpening. Probably necessary as well.

The trend with high-end knife hobbyists seems to be flattening with a coarse diamond stone -- usually a DMT XXC. IMO, they're too small to do a good flattening. "Flattening stones" are also popular. When I used waterstones, I flattened on sandpaper, but understand drywall screen is a better choice. If and when I go back to waterstones, I'll flatten with screen.

Up until a few months ago, Shapton GS ("glass stones") were the hot choice on the knife boards; but the trend has shifted away from GS in general and towards more conventionally bound stones. GS are generally excellent stones. At every grit, they're very fast AND give a lot of polish. On top of that they're among the easiest stones to maintain. On the other hand, maintenance can be expensive -- especially if you go the Shapton recommended route; they work best in the Shapton holder -- expensive; and they provide lousy feedback.

When it comes to feedback, Shapton Pros are off and on. Some of them are excellent and some lousy. I really like the SP 1500# and 5000# for your situation, but the 5000# is just horrible for feedback. One of the best stones I've ever used for results and one of the worst for feel. Sharpening on the 5000# feels like your running the knife over jello on granite.

Naniwa makes too high end stone series -- Super Stone and Chosera. You can't afford Chosera so just forget it. SS are great for feedback. In fact, maybe too great. Throughout the range, SS not only feel soft, it's easy to cut into them if you're not paying attention or wobble the knife on edge-forward strokes. Attention deficit aside, it's a big problem if you sharpen with a lot of pressure on the knife -- especially if you have a high stroke rate. Considering that you're coming off an 11" tri-hone, it's highly unlikely you do either. But you should know.

There's another problem with the SS 5000# in particular. After it's been used a few times, the surface develops a crazed appearance. It doesn't effect the stone's performance though. After everything's said and done, the SS 5000# is the best choice for most people who want a quality stone at this grit level. Probably your best choice too.

At the 1000ish level, the best choices are Sigma Power 1000#, Bester 700#, 1000#, or 1200#, Shapton GS 1000#, Shapton Pro 1000#, Shapton 1500#, and Naniwa SS 1000#.

If you're considering building a core set of FH or similar stainless knives, an ultimate "mix and match" set would look something like this:

Naniwa Omura (extra coarse)
Sigma Power 1,000
Naniwa Super Stone 5,000 (unmounted)
Sigma Power 8,000
Hand American sharpening kit (including felt pad for deburring and two leather strops -- one for chromium dioxide, the other for diamond)
Idahone 12" fine honing rod.

You'd start with the 1000 and 5000, then add the others as need dictated. The Sigma Power 1000 is sufficiently aggressive to do some thinning and light profiling. Almost as aggressive as a Bester 500.

I called the set "ultimate." Well, maybe ultimate in some senses. If you're seriously into sharpening you'd want a few more stones to fill in the gaps in the grits. However, there's such a thing as too many stones. For one thing they increase the probability of error. And for another, while more stones may mean less time on any given stone, it doesn't make sharpening much (if any) quicker, and it drastically bumps maintenance time. If you're a hobbyist sharpener that might be a pleasure. But for most us -- ugh.

There are more expensive, better stones -- like the Chosera series. There are even a few stones at the same price which might give better results but for one reason or another are a pain to use (like the Shapton Pro 5000#).

There are also stones which work somewhat differently. For instance a manmade aoto (like Nonpareil or Naniwa) is an excellent intermediate stone on the way to a final polish, but isn't a polishing stone itself. It works best by building up a lot of slurry at the stone surface (i.e., "mud"). It's great if that's how you like to sharpen. Some do, but a lot of people don't. The stone also dishes easily considering the grit, and needs a lot of flattening.

If you wanted to achieve the same intermediate effect without the mud and maintenance, you might choose a Sigma Power 2000 instead of a 5000. It would leave you with something very close to a King or Norton 4000 level finish. Good enough to go on to a fine polish -- especially if it were a fast stone like the Sigma Power 8000. But again: The 2000 is not a polishing stone, it will give you a good intermediate finish -- good for butcher work for instance -- but is really more of a stepping stone to a polish.

Some folks just throw up their hands and go with something that appears simple (at least in concept) like the Shapton GS series. Not a bad choice at all. They're excellent stones.

If money's an object, you might want to start with the Naniwa Super Stone series that come glued to their own "sharpening stands." Actually, the stands suck because they flex and can slide. But the stones can be had very reasonably -- as cheaply as Nortons. And if you don't push hard or move the knife too fast, which you really shouldn't with Naniwas anyway, the stands are adequate. You can get a 400, 1,000, and 5,000 for under $100 from Tools for Working Wood -- and my bet is that this makes the most sense for you.

Hope this helps,
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
As always an awesome amount of info! Thanks for your time and thoughts! I will do some research and let u know what I come up with!
post #4 of 18

Good deal. I made a few slight edits. The only important one was that I'd originally written Sigma Power 10000 when I meant Sigma Power 8000. The 10000 is a great stone, but too much of a jump from the 8000. Besides, stropping on compound is a better super polish.

Also, I've given it some though and was maybe too quick to dismiss combi stones. A good 1000/4000 or 1000/5000 would hold you for awhile. If the FH is your goto gyuto at work, you'll get a few months out of it; and if it's for home cooking, probably more than a year. Not ideal, but thrifty.

The best thing about combi stones is how they help you delay making a decision you might not be ready to make yet. You sound a little more sophisticated than that though. Reading between the lines, it sounds like your ready to start using something better -- like the Naniwa Super Stones (on base), or get into the kind of serious stones you can build a set around. You certainly have the gyuto.


PS. FWIW, I'm currently using a Norton coarse India, Norton fine India, Hall's soft Arkansas, and Hall's surgical black Arkansas.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Any brands I should avoid? Also i have tried to find the sigma power and have had no luck. Do you know a distributor? I beleive I will pick up a few stones just to keep up my knife while I pick up the individual stones I need. I am going to start out with a 400, 1000, 5000, and fill in the blanks later. I know it is not ideal, However neither is the economy. Anything about the Sigma would be great
post #6 of 18
I have no information on where you can buy anything -- I currently live in Japan, so things are somewhat different.


I am currently of the opinion that your stone "set" has two important stones: medium and fine. These are your anchors. Then you need coarse stones and ultra-fine stones. But ultra-fine stones you don't need at all except for some applications, and the very coarse stones you don't need except for fixing things or new knives. So 90% of your work is going to happen on those core two stones.

Those two should be in a numerical relation of roughly 3:1, give or take a fair bit. So if you like a 1k stone, you should get a fine stone on the order of 3k. If you adore a 6k fine stone, you should be using a 2k as your medium. And so on.

If you have no prior opinion, I think a 1k is an excellent starter stone: it works very well by itself, is inexpensive, and by the time you really wear through it, you'll know what you like. From there you need a 400 and something on the order of 3k-5k. If you want polish, you'll go up to 8k from a 3k or 10k from a 5k.

Personally, I have increasingly found that I like a synthetic Arashiyama 6k. That means that I need a 2k for my medium, and an 800 or so for semi-coarse. This entails more work when I've let my knives get dull, but it's much faster for the touch-up. The jump up is 10k, since I currently haven't bothered to look into Chinese 12k naturals.

My point is simply that you have to think of a knife system as having 2 central stones and a bunch of outliers. Those two anchors will determine the whole way you sharpen. This is why I like combo stones for people new to waterstones: you get the hang of how they work, and pretty soon you're ready to make preliminary decisions about how you want to structure your system.
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks Chris, I will keep that in mind.
post #8 of 18
Koki at Japanese Chef's Knife (JCK) sells Sigma Power. If it's not listed onsite, write him an email.

Chris's is 3:1 is too conservative. You can go 5:1 no problem; even 6:1 with an aggressive stone. The nubbin is that if you jump too far, the fine stone won't take out the coarser stone's scratch so much as polish it over. So, a more aggressive higher grit stone compensates for a longer grit jump. What makes a stone aggressive is the type of abrasive, the type of binder and the density of abrasives in the binder. Certain stones are especially aggressive. Without 100% accuracy, the things to look for are "splash and go" instructions and high prices. A non-exclusive listing of brand/lines is Shapton GS, Shapton Professional, Shapton M24, Naniwa Super Stone, Naniway Chosera, Sigma Power, Beston and Bester.

Aotos, manmade or natural, are an excellent choice for the jump to high polish -- if you like polishing with a lot of mud -- which I don't.

For your consideration:

Set 1: Bester 500 or 700, Sigma Power 2000, Sigma Power or Takeonoko 8000.

Set 2: Bester 500 or 700, Naniwa or Nonpareil manmade aoto, Naniwa SuperWhite 10000

Set 3: Sigma Power 1000, Naniwa Super Stone 5000, Kitayama 8000 or Naniwa SuperWhite 10000.

My choice: Shapton Pro 220, Sigma Power 1000, Shapton Pro 5000, Kitayama (carbon) or Sigma Power 10000 (stainless) and/or leather strop with CrO2.

Note: I understand the Shapton Professionals are kind of half-arsed on super strong stainless and near stainless like metallurgical powders and ball bearing steels. No personal experience with those steels on those stones.

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Since I needed these asap, I ordered a Naniwa super stone 220, 1000, 5000.(Happy to read your post about the ratio) I will indeed order a Sigma Power 1000 from Koki. I have read good things about this stone. I will also see about getting the 8000. I will let you know what I think about these super stones when they arrive. As always I thank you for you time and help.
post #10 of 18
1:6 is too big IMO, it works but so does good 700 edge without any further refinement.

no wonder you're not used to my knife and almost took your finger off BDL :p scared me poopyless when you sliced through that onion :p
post #11 of 18
I'll just add that I bought a spread of Shapton GS stones as my first real water stones. They have a few advantages for beginners, and probably the biggest attribute is that they wear very slowly in comparison to others.

As others have talked about on this thread, your going to need to buy at least two stones. A sharpening stone, and one to keep it flat. All in all Shapton is a pretty decent choice for a starting stone, but if your anything like me, it'll leave you wanting more.
post #12 of 18
I don't actually sharpen 6:1, but I could with the right stones. There are several 1000/6000 combis, including a King and an 800/5000 Naniwa SS. Furthermore, I know for a fact that Curtis goes from below 800 to above 8000, and that you used to do a 2000 to 10000 jump.

Your knife, freshly sharpened, was definitely sharper than my knife freshly sharpened. That was a shock, I'm not used to ever picking up a knife sharper than mine. For example, Memo's certainly weren't. I knew yours was sharp because I'd thumb dragged the edge, but didn't realize how truly sharp it was. Really surprised me. I meant to say something on the way home, but forgot about it with all the whining we got up to. Anyway, I promise to pay attention next time the knives go to the stones, and see what I can do.

Wen I tried counting them the next morning I still had 10 iddle piddies.

post #13 of 18
i'm glad you didn't lose any fingers :p i just thought it was funny when you made that cut and the knife sliced the whole onion off :D but yeh, next time we can do more vegetable cutting ;) fish is fun but vegetable cutting is a whole other art form.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
So I got my new stones. I purchased a 220, 1000, and 5000 super stone. I am amazed at how quickly I can bring a nice edge to my knives. I have been using a tri hone for the past 10 years. So I was a little concerned about all the new sharpening info I was finding here. However all that has been put to rest. Even my old henkels have been sharpened to a razor edge. I can't beleive I waited this long to switch to a waterstone. Not that my knives were dull by any means, but they were not this sharp either. So thanks to everyone for their thoughts. Also I wanna pick up a sigma 8000 and I was wondering if this enough to keep my hattori nicely polished? Or should I pick a 400 or a 3000 to close the gaps?

P.s The Hattori is an amazing knife after a little work on the edge. Nice out of the box, but nothing to what you do yourself with these stones.
post #15 of 18
Good stones are fun, huh? :look:

I personally would suggest something between 220 and 1000, but it may not make a lot of difference if you're not doing much heavy work.

As to the high-grit stone, dig deep and get a Naniwa Super Stone 10k. 8k is very nice indeed, but that 10k is beautiful. 'Course if you're rich, get a Chocera 10k, but the Naniwa will do very nicely, thank you.
post #16 of 18
I haven't used either the SS 10K or the Sigma Power 10K. I have used the Naniwa Superwhite, which is supposedly the same stone as the SS 10K, but with different base options.

The word on the SS 10K is that it's better than the Chosera, lower price notwithstanding.

The word on the Sigma Power v SS 10K is that they're slightly different but equal. I wouldn't hesitate to buy either one, and would make my choice on non-performance related criteria such as price, size, appearance, etc.

The choice between an 8K and 10K is a different thing altogether. The quality of the edge is the difference between "mirror," and "bright mirror." In other words, 8K is a more refined version of 5K, while 10K is a different level. Yet, the line between thim is fine. By the way, those mirror things are technical terms relating to the depth and frequency of the scratch and not the apearance of the finish -- although they closely track one another. If your knives can hold the extra polish of a 10K and it's worth the work to you (probably about 50% more strokes coming off a 5K you should go 10K. If you're going on to a loaded strop for a true bright mirror, I'm not sure it makes much difference.

All things considered, your stone set with its 5K SS is set up to make the jump to 10K pretty easily, and there's no good reason not to.

Also, other than at the highest polish level, there really aren't any gaps in your set. The only reason to fill them in is if you want to get into sharpening as its own hobby.

After the 10K the next step is something like a Hand American sharpening kit, with its felt pad for deburring and its leather pad and compound for hard stropping an ultimate polish. That's a lot of refinement -- an HA kit goes well beyond "necessary."

No need for anything more aggressive than 220 unless and until you start repairing horrendously damaged knives, or need to do heavy-duty profiling on a regular basis or for some particularly difficult project.

post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
No I am not a rich man and indeed my knives do get a lot of work! I thought about ordering the 400 super stone in the first place. As money was an issue I decided to pick up these to put a new edge on my new knife. This was the first knife I have purchased in years and I want to make sure it has the best possible start for the years of work ahead of it.

I guess 10000 does make sense from 5000 doesn't it.

I like the super stones. Is their any other brands I should look into at the 10000 level? or will a super stone at this level be just fine?
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks Bdl, You answered my question before I even got it posted. I will be getting a 10000 when I can. It probably already is a hobby with keeping my knives sharp and keeping up the collection of knives at work for my cooks. It's kinda work but really it is the least stressful thing I do all day next to taking of my coat.
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