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Help with choosing whetstone please.

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I've a Victorinox 22cm broad chef's knife on the way today. I know BDL prefers the 10" option for chef's knives - but just for now this size will do as a launch point and won't overface some of my smaller plastic chopping boards.

As to sharpening, I'd decided to opt for the whetstone option before selecting the knife. What would now be useful, is to know which choice of whetstone(s) would be the most appropriate and if possible - why?

This supplier offers a few options. I'd appreciate you folks taking a look and making any recommendations, offering caveats etc.

Whetstone Knife Sharpeners - Global, Kasumi, Henckels and Wusthof Whetstone Knife Sharpeners


Edited: My bad, the knife is 22cm not 20cm. (just over 8.5")
post #2 of 21
Actually, the two most frequent recommendations I make are the Norton IB-8, which is an 8" combination coarse and fine India stone. I like this stone alot, alot for anyone who can use and wants an "oil stone." The coarse is fast enough for profiling and the fine is just fine is great, first sharpening stone. "Pulls a wire" like nobody's business. Norton sells a plastic "sharpening station"/holder to go along with it for about the same price. Each is just over $20.

The fine India is a little on the coase side for a final edge, unless all you do are things where a little bite is a good thing -- like red meat and tomatoes. Still you can not only live with it, the fine India is somethong of a food industry standard.

If you like you could add one or two Arkansas stones later, to get some polish on the knife. I follow the Norton fine India with a soft, then surgical black Arkansas. However, you could jump directly to a hard Arkansas to save money and simplify.

In fact, there's a very common gizmo called a "tri-hone" which shows just how popular a three stone system. Hall's ProEdge sells some very good, very affordable tri-hones, while Norton's are somewhat overpriced. Hall's Arkansas stones are as good or better (usually better) than Nortn's, but you can't beat Norton's manmade stones. If it were my money, I'd go for a Hall's commercial tri-hone set up with a medium man made, soft Arkansas, and a black.

However, it's going to take you a little while to build up the skill set to where you can effectively use the soft Arkansas, and quite a bit of time for the black. At about the same point where you can effectively and efficiently sharpen a knife, you can begin to polish. Until then, every stroke on a polishing stone is more likely to dull than polish

So much for a quick trip around the oilstone track.

The whole choice of stones thing depends on so many factors. If you're just starting out in hand sharpening I think it's in most people's best interest to either get a combi waterstone or start their waterstone set with a couple of good stones. The 400 and 1000 Naniwa Superstones (the other most frequent) from Tools for Working Wood.

Speaking of outlets, Norton stones at a lot of places. Good selection, good prices at Sharpening Supplies. Cutlery and More is limited, but they'll have the IB-8 and the station. The Best Things has some interesting choice and prices. Buy by price. For Arkansas stones, you just can't beat Hall's Pro Edge. Japanese Knife Supply has an extremely well selected choice of stones. Japanese Woodworker has some wonderful choices as well. Like Japanese Knife Shapener, Tools for Working Wood has a well edited selection -- and is the best Shapton Superstones with bases.

Probaly falling under the classification of too much information -- you'll eventually grow out of coarse and medium grit waterstones glued to bases, but for the meantime they provide great feedback. If the base flexes, you're pushing too hard.

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Cheers BDL, I'm always grateful for your help. :)

I do order stuff from the USA from time to time, and it may be a useful route to take again. I see that Japanese Super-Stones by Naniwa at Tools for Working Wood has a good online ordering policy and ships overseas.

I don't see a 500 super-stone although there is a 400 on that page in the above link. Are those the stones you meant?

Back on this side of the pond, what do you think of the Global Whetstone here as something to get me started. Is it too much of a leap from 1000 to 240 do you think?

Global Whetstone - Duo Stone G1800s<br>Knife Sharpener<br>Grits 240/1000 - Richmond Cookshop

I actually find this more problematic than choosing a knife.
post #4 of 21
400#, yes. My mistake.

The Global stone is a decent combination stone, but by no means the best. It seems expensive to me at its US prices, and even more at its UK (assuming your link is representative).

I'm not trying to talk you out of the "ceramic" stone -- which is a waterstone by the way -- but be aware that there are prep and maintenance rituals involved with waterstones. They need to be soaked before use, then carefully dried after, and flattened frequently.

As to your question about jumping from 240# to 1000#. It's not too big a jump at all. Even though the Japanese are pretty good about reporting grit honestly and using consistently sized abrasive particles (i.e., well-screened), one shouldn't infer too much from grit numbers alone. There are other factors which determine how far down or up a stone can reach in terms of the next grit in sequence. For instance, an "Arashiyama" will reach down like a 3000# and up like an 8000#. So, no problem preceding it with a 800# - 1200#, and following it with a 12,000# - 30,000#.

The reason I suggested Naniwa Superstones is because of the amount of feedback they provide, and because they're so easy to flatten. They're among the best stones for a beginner. On the other hand, while I respect them, they wouldn't be a good choice for me. Of course the 10,000# is an exception... Which should give you an idea of how deep the subject goes.

I'd rate the Naniwa Combi, most of the King combis, and the Norton combi above the Global. I suspect you can find the Norton pretty easily in the UK. Here's a link to a European seller who has a decent selection of waterstones: Japanese Waterstones and other Sharpening Tools

Don't get shy about asking questions,
post #5 of 21
Very true. In fact I often take my Suehiro flattening stone and flatten it on a level section of my driveway. After a rigorous day's sharpening I have to flattened all of my stones.

But there is a reasonable and penny-wise answer to the chef or home food hobbyist.

At the Japanwoodworker they have a stone called "The Shapton Resurfacing Puck." The part number is 02.098.120 and it goes for 24 bucks.

I have used one for years. It wears like iron, cuts anything, and has remained true and level. It has never needed service.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks BDL, that looks to be a really useful link, and I'll be sure to follow up the options you've raised.

Not a chance - you guys are too good to ignore. :)
post #7 of 21
Well yes. In fact, softer, coarse stones often need several flattenings in the couse of repairing a damaged or difficult knife. And with all but the hardest stones, I'd flatten the first wire-pulling grit (usually around 1000#) after every knife.

The puck is good as far as it goes, and so are a number of flattening stones. However, it's easier for most people to get true flattening by working on a larger surface,a as opposed to try and flatten with a tool smaller than the stone to be flattened. The Shapton puck is quite small, so flattening with it requires a lot of referencing for almost everyone.

I recommend drywall screen on a glass floart to flatten and dress coarse and medium stones; and drywall screen plus the preceding stone in your set to flatten and dress fine stones.

Drywall screen doesn't cost much more than regular sandpaper, doesn't clog as easily, and can be easily cleaned and reused for quite a while.

post #8 of 21
As an aside, I'd like to address this.

No question, the guys here at CT know their stuff, I'm impressed everyday. But in addition to that, I also have a point a view.

Gladly, I will help anyone be better--even if that means a spirited debate. But I have to admit something most pros here already know.

I am an unabashed urban mercenary. If I cannot sell it, I don't use it in my line. Like any tradesmen, my clients themselves are a proving ground. They love 'A' but hate 'B' and so all of the 'B' style products are dropped from my line.

If that sounds crass and bitter, it is not. Most of my folks are professionals. Even my Japanese doctor has one of my gyutos. They in turn must make a living, or outfit a staff that must perform to a stellar set of mission statements.

BTW, I apply that set of criteria to my own use and disposable income. I carry a Strider, but I don't sell them. I have my own needs, and they differ from that of my clients.

So if I say the Osaka Whiz-Bang Blowfish Peeler is a good product, it's because it works, the clients make a living with it, and more to the point, it sells.

At the end of year if I have 'leftover inventory,' I blow it out or give it away. Most get used for test mules. And I never buy that item again...
post #9 of 21
Ben Dale also sells a round piece of glass and some grit that looks like finely ground black obsidian glass. The glass is about the size of a small pizza. I utilize it for bigger things.

I also have a flat iron Shapton flattener. It works, but what a mess! Not only is the grit and stone fragments coal black and gooey mess, but the iron rusts if you look at it twice.

BTW, don't sell a flat driveway short. I used that before I bought anything else, and used it for years.
post #10 of 21

I was coming back to edit my previous post, but you responded to it already. Anyway, I didn't mean to criticise your methods, to suggest you should adopt mine, or suggest mine are generally superior. Sometimes, during the compare and contrast it just seems that way.

post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'd expect no less Chico.

The thing that stands out uppermost here for me, is that for a subject on which opinion often seems to be the currency of the moment, honesty is I think the voice that is most easily heard here, and not ego.

Common sense being the reader's responsibility to supply.
post #12 of 21
A flat stone is a must, becasue if you have a dished stone or one plugged up with swarf, you won't get the performance you need from your stone.

All the options have been discussed here about keeping stones flat, I offer two more viariables: Norton make a flattening stone--works great for waterstones, think it's around CDN $25.00

Drywall screens are probably the cheapest and best options, others are coarse sandpaper (80 grit) on a hard flat surface or 90 grit Silicone carbide grit on glass. Beware of this option as the glass will wear itself hollow after a while, and you'll end up with a "crowned" stone

Choice of abrasives is highly personal, no one system is better than the other.

Generally speaking, waterstones cut faster, but wear much quicker, and oilstones cut a bit slower but last much longer. Diamond is great--if you can afford it, monocrystaline diamonds are preferred as they don't fracture as much as polycrystaline.

The Japanese dote on waterstones because that is what was quarried locally, many Americans dote on oilstones, because they are quarried locally--none is "better" than the other.

Hope this helps
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #13 of 21
Oh, no no. I never took it that way. In fact, I always preface my comments with the idea that all you have to say is, "Chico, I disagree."

And I'm sincere about that. Some folks might disagree with 10% of my treatise. On the subject of carbon Euro knives I'm sure that at least one of the CT members disagrees with everything I type.

A forum should be an area of debate. And you don't always get to win.:lol:
post #14 of 21
Let me disagree with some of that. Most everyone buys, utilizes, eats and works at facilites within their area. I'd love to sample wine from Napa Valley more often. However the reality of the issue is that I drink Prairie Fume' more than anything else.

Same with waterstones. To us it's a 'superior Asian imported resource.' To the early polishers of Edo it was a 'rock from their backyard.'

I would proffer that a waterstone is part of a integral stepped system or process. Many times a sharpener has one oilstone, and they form a singular bur and then pocket the knife.

The idea of a Japanese method is inspection, repair, enhancement, beauty and function. Right now, in my hand is a 13 dollar knife, with a perfect pristine and mirror finished edge I used 45 minutes ago to slice my baloney sandwich.

Not only was the sandwich sliced for a functional use, but there was a visual pleasure in the beauty of a perfect edge and a tactile reward as the edge slipped through the food leaving a perfect crisp cross-section.

Laugh if you will, but "it's the sizzle, not the steak." I didn't gulp down a sandwich, I dined. A chef doesn't toss his signature dish onto the back of a frisbee, he plates with presentation.

I pride myself on the admittedly fractal craft of being a tinker. It is my belief that a sharpened edge that does not raise the dining experience and serve the chef is simply the act of dragging a blade on an oily rock.
post #15 of 21
Uhhh..... I meant that most of the natural Japanese waterstones were quarried locally. Japan was closed off to the Western world for quite some time, so it was only recently that the Japanese watestones became known.

That being said, there are some Belgian waterstones around, but alot natural occuring stones in America are the oil stone type.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #16 of 21
Fortunately we now have a global economy.

I have several pieces of nagura with the stone cutter's marks on one side from the quarry. And even though it traveled halfway around the world, the price is competitive.

In fact, I don't know how they get a multi-layered, hammered and welded knife over here for under 100 bucks.

I have a 69-layer five-inch Yaxell Ran gyuto that I paid 53 bucks for. It sits next to my wife's Hattori. She refers to them as "the short one and the long one." For 53 bucks, that is high praise.
post #17 of 21

flattening stones

On your advice I purchased a sigma power 1000 and a naniwa ss 5000. I'm a total neophyte to knife sharpening, but would like to develop some modest skill at it. I'd appreciate if you could specify the drywall screen method of flattening whetstones. What grit specification should be used for the drywall screen (80, 120)? Does it matter? Do you fasten the screen to the glass float? I'm not of the method involved here. Any tips or links would be appreciated. Thanks.

post #18 of 21
I'm bumping this up.

It's a good question, but I don't flatten on drywall screen so I can't answer -- can someone help?
post #19 of 21

Probably way too late, but... BUMP!

Originally Posted by ChrisLehrer View Post

I'm bumping this up.

It's a good question, but I don't flatten on drywall screen so I can't answer -- can someone help?
post #20 of 21

While I'm new to Japanese steel and better/advanced sharpneing tequniques, I'll throw in my $.02 re: the drywall screen. I think this is a brialliant and cost effective idea! I'm thinking that you'd use it the same way you'd use a sanding puck for auto body that holds sand paper, or a drywall screen frame. I'm thinking of going to a local steel working shop of stone yard that does granite counter tops and getting a peice of thick heavy steel, like 1/2" about 4" x 10" or a peice of granite about the same size. The drywall screen is a peice cut bigger than the flattening stone and wraps up the sides and it just held there w/ your fingers as you grip the flatter.


Much thanks to BDL for the all the great posts, including this one on stone recomendations. I think I'm going w/ Norton 1k, 4k & 8k for starters... Or maybe the Shapton GlassStones... Cheers! mpp

post #21 of 21

You should checkout Whetstonereview.com, very basic site but has some very good reviews

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