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knife sharpening

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
unfortunately for my wallet, i stumbled upon the website and became informed of the japanese cutlery which i had some interest in. after reading through many of the threads, i've decided to order the Hiromoto AS gyuto. i read that the Bester 1200 grit is a really good water stone, so i'm leaning towards that. as far as sharpening goes, what else would i need to maintain the edge of the blade? i don't know if i need a flattening stone as i have read, as well as a honing rod. i took a look at the borosilicate rod from handamerican and the website reccommends the idahone ceramic rod as well. what do i actually need to maintain the edge? (i'm just now really getting into cooking, and have been practicing sharpening the dull knives in my family's house on a norton stone i never knew we had)
post #2 of 10
You must keep whatever waterstone(s) you use flat, or you will never be able to sharpen correctly. There are several methods of flattening waterstones, ranging from sandpaper or drywall screen on a thick, heavy piece of glass or granite surface plate, to a DMT D8XX plate, or even a Norton flattening stone.

I've tried the sandpaper/drywall screen and the DMT D8XX, and prefer the latter, although it is the most expensive alternative. The sandpaper/drywall screen worked well, and were much cheaper for initial setup, but the continuing expense of buying drywall screen was going to allow the DMT D8XX to pay for itself in a short time. From what I read, the Norton flattening stone was reported to wear down quickly. YMMV.
post #3 of 10
The Bester 1200 is excellent. But, you'll soon want a coarse stone for repairs, and a finer stone for polishing. I suggest the Beston 500 and the Arashiyama 6000/Takenoko 8000 (the Arashiyama and Takenoko are the same stone, an actual 6000#, sold under two different names), respectively. Both are sold by Japanese Knife Sharpening and Japan Woodworker. You don't want to buy either one until you've become reasonably good at sharpening. When you are, you'll probably want the Arashiyama first. Your knife will be a lot better with more polish than the 1200 can give you.

Pensacola Tiger did an excellent job of covering the best flattening alternatives.

Whether Hiromoto AS is a good candidate for a rod hone is an interesting question. If you sharpen the knife to a highly asymmetric bevel it certainly isn't. The blade core is Hitachi Aogami Super hardend to around 63 HrC which does deform and can be steeled. On the other hand it doesn't deform easily, but does require a very deft hand to use a rod hone effectively.

I owned a few Hiromoto AS knives and steeled them on a HandAmerican borosilicate rod. Although I gave away the Hiromotos, I still have the rod (well, son of rod actually -- the original broke). I can't recommend the borosilicate too highly-- as long as you can afford it. However, it will only deal with deformation and otherwise won't keep the edge going. The glass is grooved just deep enough to make it appear frosted -- the grit level is somewhere above 2000#. I used mine as part of a two rod set. The Idahone 12" fine may be the best all-around hone on the market -- not to mention it's reasonably priced. If you're only going to have one rod hone, or you want a companion to the HA borosilicate -- it's the one to buy.

Hope this helps,
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
thanks for the help. i think i might pick up the Idahone rod and will definitely be ordering the DMT D8XX when it is back in stock.
BDL, did you have another wetstone in mind, rather than having the Bester 1200 to start out with?
post #5 of 10
Not really. I can think of a few stones as good, Sigma Power for instance; and maybe one that's perhaps a bit better but definitely more expenisve -- Naniwa Chosera. But the Bester is a great stone. It's my first choice.

Until you're really good at sharpening keep that DMT XXC for flattening only. It's extremely aggressive and do a lot of damage -- fast.

You'll like the Idahone. If you're not already really good with a steel, let's talk.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
i'm just now learning about the nuances of the cutlery world. the equipment that i'm planning on purchasing is based off of what i have read between this forum and fred's cutlery forum. i'm a newbie to cutlery and wanted to be sure that i wasn't getting anything that i didn't need, but would eventually buy items as needed, when i improve my techniques revolving around cutlery.

i'm guessing we should talk. :lol:
post #7 of 10
There are three "right" ways to hold the steel.

The most common is "up and out." Hold the steel by the handle and point it straight up, or up and angled away from the bottom. The honing stroke starts near the tip of the steel and goes toward the handle.

The new, "safe" method, good for teaching beginners is to put the tip of the steel on a towel, laid on the cutting board, and hold the handle straight over the tip. The honing stroke starts near the handle and goes toward the tip.

A variant, is the "backhand." The steel his held handle-up, point down and away from the body. The honing stroke starts near the handle and goes toward the tip.

Most modern tutorials will give you the safe method. Personally I favor the old fashioned, up and out.

In any case you have to learn these things:

Stroke direction. The heel (or chin) of the blade is laid on the steel. As the edge moves down (or up) the steel it's pulled toward the tip.

Stroke length: Assuming the steel is as long, or slightly longer than your longest knife -- that knife should use more than half, but not more than two-thirds of the steel.

Stroke pressure: Light to moderate. The curve of the hone makes for a very small contact point with the edge. In other words, the geometry generates most of the pressure. As always -- let the tool do the work.

Stroke speed: Not super fast, not super slow.

NO CLANGING: The single most important thing to remember -- especially if you're going "up and out," or "backhand." You often see TV chefs, some of whom can really cook, even Gordon Ramsay (or, especially Gordon Ramsay), steeling very quickly. So quickly they start each stroke by banging the knife against the steel. That destroys the knife's heel, in the case of strong steels, it may even chip them. It also gets the knife bouncing off the steel, so the first part of the stroke won't get a constant or even pressure.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ: Listen to the music the knife plays on the steel. It should be a sussuration. No percussion, ever. No wire hangers either.

Never "sharpen" on a steel: At least not if there's any way around it. A rod-hone coarse enough to move a lot of steel off the knife's edge will leave a very jagged edge, with a lot of scratch on the bevel.

Use your steel to "refresh" the edge. When you notice a slight decrease in sharpness, try the steel. If it doesn't get you back to where you want it to be, time to sharpen. Note: Sharp enough for two onions is not actually sharp -- back to the stones.

Deburr on your steel: Yes. Once you've chased the burr (got it to flip from side to side easily) you can use the steel to deburr as effectively as just about anything else. Just steel in the regular way -- about eight strokes altogether (alternating four per side, one by one) should do it.

Don't oversteel: Five or six strokes per side, alternating sides is the max. If you haven't trued your knife yet, you're not going to.

Hope this helps,
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
that helps immensly. thank you for the tutorial.
post #9 of 10
Ya sure.

post #10 of 10

that was intense.. lol!

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