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Is MAC SRB-103 a suitable honing rod

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I recently bought a MAC SRB-103 (black ceramic honing rod) and have been trying to figure out the coarseness of the rod but have not been able to find the information anywhere on line so I was wondering if someone knows it off hand (or can at least tell me if the rod is indeed usable for honing and is not meant for sharpening).

Basically I am planning to hone my (soon to be purchased) MAC knives with this rod and wanted to make sure it wasn't a "sharpening" rod (like the MAC SR-85 seems to be)

I'm totally new to all of this expensive knife and sharpening business so please bear with any stupidities I may ask.

Actually while I'm at it, what sharpening solution should I be using for MAC knives?

My current options are Naniwa 1000,3000,8000 superstones or would a simple Naniwa 1000/5000 combination superstone be enough?

Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 12
The MAC Black has a very good reputation as a fine ceramic. The rod is designed to "polish" as well as true edges. While I've never used it I know people who have, and a grit level of around 1000 ANSI is probably pretty close. You can call MAC USA, and I'm sure they'll give you whatever information you want. Chef Knives To Go is also very good at that. Cutlery and More will tell you whatever they know, but they may or may not know very much.

A hone I have used is the Idahone fine 12", which is cheaper and which I recommend very highly. It's longer (good), probably finer (also good), but probably not quite as rugged as the Mac. Under $30.

The Naniwa combination stone is an adequate starter, but... Your three stone combination is a better long term solution. A good sharpening kit has at least one stone for each level of the process: Profile/Repair; Sharpening; and Polishing. Personally, I consider a 4 stone kit to be near ideal. If you were to add the 400# (or is it 500#? I forget), Super Stone that would do it. It might be overkill (okay, it is overkill) for kitchen work but the MAC will hold a 10000# polish about as well as an 8000#. If you're interested in an "ultimate" edge, a 400, 1000, 3000, 5000, 10000 combination might be better.

Whatever combinations you choose, the Naniwa Super Stones are an excellent choice. One thing I really like is that they're very much "splash and go." Another thing is that they have a very good feel, and supply a lot of feedback. If you "listen" to them they'll improve your pressure and angle holding. The downside is that they'll punish bad technique by gouging (soft stone) or flexing (soft stand). They also have a tendency to craze -- no matter how well cared for. So don't worry about it when you see it.

A very trendy, "reasonably priced" kit right now is: Beston 500#; Bester 1200#; Suehiro Rika 5000# or Arashiyama 6000#; and a Kitayama 8000# or Naniwa 10000# Super Stone.

Note: For whatever reason (which may or may not make sense to the manufacturer and Japanese retailers) the Arashiyama is also sold as a "Takenoko," even though they're both the same stone -- except the Takenoko may be had in an extra wide version while the Arashiyama may not; each stone is variously listed at anywhere between 6000# and 8000#, even though 6000# is accurate.

Another "reasonable" (there's a reason "reasonable" is in quotes -- all of these stones are expensive) alternative is to replace any or all of the three higher grits with Sigma Power stones and the Beston with a Naniwa Chosera 400#. But note that if you go straight Sigma Power, the progression will be 1000#, 2000# and on to fine grit polishing, rather than 1200#, 5000# or 6,000# and on to polishing. Note also, that the Kitayama, Sigma Power and Naniwa Super Stone each leaves a very different appearing polish -- but the edge quality is very much equal.

On the (more expensive) other hand, the high priced trend is a full set of Naniwa Chosera. They're excellent stones no doubt, but not so much better as to justify their price to anyone but a hobbyist and/or knive collector.

Bottom line: The Naniwa Super Stones are the best teaching stones, and an excellent choice in their own right. If you're not already a good sharpener get the stones which come glued onto plastic bases -- like those at Tools for Working Wood. The bases will force you to keep a light tough. If it matters to you, those Super Stones replaced Norton waterstones as my number one recommendation for beginners. But, if you're already a good sharpener, you might prefer "baseless" stones.


PS. It's interesting to write about the very best stones and not even mention Shapton. Sic transit gloria mundi.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the great info BDL. I'm not looking to get an "ultimate" edge and since I'm a total noob to this whole affair I don't quite want to plop down the cash for 10000# or 12000# stones yet (as I've heard it requires skill to actually be able to polish knives correctly) so I think I will be sticking with my 1000#, 3000#, 8000# initial planning

I figure I will try to keep my knives in relatively good condition so that I won't ever (or rarely) need a 400# or coarser grit stone.

The unfortunate problem is that I have found no store that sells the 3 grits I want at a good price (Chefs knives to go is the only place that stocks the 3 grits but their prices are considerably more expensive than any other place). Tools for wood working doesn't have the 1000# in stock and it doesn't even carry the 3000#. Straight Razor Designs also does not carry the 1000#.

Sharpening supplies only carries 1000#, 2000# and 8000# and I think that is the closest I can get (plus I can get a 10% discount if I buy all three). Would that be enough or will I have to go to multiple stores to get what I need?
post #4 of 12
PMJI, but the stones at Chef Knives to go are approximately twice as thick as those at That's the reason they are more expensive. There's also a 5% discount at Chef Knives to go and free shipping for orders over $60. (No, I don't work there.)
post #5 of 12
hi all,

I own a Global chefs knife and a 240/1000 Japanese whetstone.
I'm fairly confident I know how to use it properly know and want to get a higher grit stone .

should I get a 3000 or 8000 or both?
and if I were to polish my knives everyday with these super high grit stones every day would that hone the knife? making the edge last longer?
post #6 of 12
Even if you end up going with SuperStones or something else, the Chocera 400 should on your list. It's an amazing stone, best coarse I've ever used, and it's really not much more expensive than the SS, especially when you factor in the 30mm thickness.
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
post #7 of 12
Both. Or at least you should get a polishing stone like an 8000, and an interemediate stone between the 1000 and 8000. Most 8000 aren't aggressive enough to deal with the amount of scuff left by a 1000. A 2000, an aoto, a 3000 or 4000 -- all would be good candidates both for "chasing the burr," and getting you to an 8000.

I'm not sure if Global is worth going higher than 8000. Probably not.

It would hone the knife in the sense of keeping the edge true.

Your follow up question depends on some threshold facts which you don't quite seem to understand.

If the knife alloy isn't too strong or the geometry too asymmetrical, most knives true faster/easier on a rod than a stone. Globals definitely fit within the "most knives" group. Your knife will not last longer than one appropriately honed on an appropriate rod hone. Furthermore, it takes more time and effort to hone a knife on a stone than on a rod hone.

More generally, deformation and wear are too different things. No matter how true you keep your knife it will continue to wear and continue to need regular sharpening. On the other hand truing the deformation when possible will help the knife last longer than if you ground the deformation off.

post #8 of 12
any good books ,articles, or videos you can point me to?
post #9 of 12
In order to learn what? If you're talking about putting together a stone set for your Global(s), at risk of immodesty, I'm as good a source as any and better than most.

post #10 of 12
My bad, I didn't specify my question. I want to further understand the type of alloy.All I know is the higher the carbon in the steel it keeps an edge more but is also more sustainable to rust. and vice versa. is that all I need to know?
post #11 of 12

THAT'S a little more like it, but it still doesn't tell the knife story.

I've been meaning to do a blog post on alloys, and even started before getting distracted by other things. Here's a quick introduction.

Steel is, at minimum, an alloy of iron and carbon. Any steel alloy with more than 0.50% carbon by weight is called "high carbon."


Up to a point, the more carbon in the alloy, the stronger the steel can be made. Strength being a term of art which denotes the alloys ability to resist deformation. A more negative way of putting it is that strong steels tend to break (or abrade, or chip, or tear) rather than bending.

Strength is often confused with hardness. Hardness is a good metaphor for strength and vice versa, but they're not exactly the same.

You often see "Rockwell" numbers published by knife manufacturers and retailers with the implication that higher is always better. However, Rockwell hardness denotes surface hardness only. Strength is not measured by any well known scale, but it's not just on the surface and goes through and through.

The most common way of making strong steel is by causing carbide crystals to form in the alloy. The smaller and the more evenly distributed the crystals the better.

Steel makers use a variety of strategies to create desirably sized crystals -- the most common of which is adding other elements like molybdenum and vanadium.

Distribution of the carbides is mostly controlled by the type of hardening employed.


On the other hand, toughness denotes an alloy's ability to resist breaking, abrasion, tearing, and abrasion. That is, they tend to bend before breaking.

The edge taking and holding and characteristics, insofar as they're a function of the steel, depend on the absolute strength, toughness, and their balance in the particular alloy.

A tough alloy is very desirable to prevent chipping. Also tough knives can be trued (aka steeled) on a rod hone (aka steel), saving abrasion from sharpening.

Strength and Tougness Balance:

Stronger can be made thinner. Thinner takes a better edge. Stronger (usuall) takes a better edge too. Stronger doesn't deform quickly, and in the sense that deformation seems like dullness, stronger stays sharper longer.

Tougher doesn't wear quickly, and stays sharper longer in that sense. Tougher is easy to maintain.

Corrosion Resistance:

Corrosion is another issue entirely. In modern alloys it's more dependent on the presence of other materials in the alloy -- whether impurities or additions -- than of the iron/carbon proportions.

The most common addition to prevent corrosion is chromium.

Any steel alloy made with more than 13% chromium by weight is called "stainless." Alloys with less chromium can be very corrosion resistant but they need to call themselves by other names -- "stain resistant," for instance.

Your Global:

Your Global is made from an alloy with the proprietary name of CroMoVa 16. It's exact composition isn't published, but it seems to have 16% chromium, and is extremely corrosion resistant -- even by "stainless" standards.

It's not particularly strong or hard for that matter. Global publishes them at 58HrC; but in my opinion, 58 is much wish as fact. 56-58 is probably more like it.

The alloy's balance is tilted towards toughness. Globals don't chip easily, but they do wave and roll. On the other hand, they steel up very easily. They take a decent, but not spectacular edge.

Where Globals really shine is in their ergonomics (that is, if you like them), and in their excellent profiles. They are very agile, their profiles are very "French" and nearly ideal in terms of handling.

Their ergonomics are actually very controversial. Although they are one of the few knives that is actually truly balanced (neutrally balanced at that) a lot of people complain about a perceived lack of balance. Also, a lot of people complain about slippery and uncomfortable handles. In my opinion both sets of complaints are more a function of bad grip technique than any problem with the knife. Be that as it may, a lot of people who use them for any length of time complain that the grip causes hand pain; and that's a serious complaint. For that alone, I will not recommend them.

For the reasons already mentioned in this post, and for a lot of other reasons, they seem to have lost cachet and are no longer the high-end market presence they once were.

Hope this helps,
post #12 of 12
I use three different hones- an 8" Idahone, a DMT CS2 and a Hand America Borosilicate. All three work well but each works a bit differently.

The Idahone imparts a little bit of toothiness to the blade. It does a great job truing an edge, can be useful for deburring and is great for finishing a knife coming off a coarse stone (like a DMT Diasharp). It's a great one to keep in your roll but it's a bit fragile.

The glass one is a thing of beauty and a true wonder. It's the only hone I'll use on J-knives, and for touching them up it excels. If all your knives are 60+ Rockwell C, look no further. Downsides: it's easy to break and I think the price has crept up to around $100.

The DMT is a pretty decent hone. It's aluminum coated with ceramic it's much more durable than a solid ceramic. It seems to be fairly fine and won't take a ton of metal off. It does a pretty reasonable job, and it's useful for Germans & J-knives, both. I don't like it quite as well as the Idahone but it's very practical for a work roll.

Never used, the Global, can't really offer any insight there.
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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