In another thread started by Kohno, SockPuppetDoug wrote a long post about sharpening stones. The thread is already very confusing, and I didn't want to make it worse so I'm taking the liberty of starting this thread to address Doug's questions.
Since this has evolved into a general thread on knives and sharpening I hope this is still on topic: I decided to take the plunge and buy some water stones in the coming week. All my knives are carbon and I'm committed to being proficient with using stones. I like the EP a lot but I just have this irrational notion that learning how to use stones to keep your knife in condition is an essential skill. I'm not sure if it matters much what type of steel you're using on your stones but since everyone has good things to say about the Naniwa SS I'm thinking about just getting a set of SS straight up to keep it simple. I love the chosera that I've used on my EP but a set of those is about 30% out of my budget.
I was thinking of going with the SS 400, 1k, 3k and 10k
My question is twofold:
For the SS, does anyone think 3k to 10k is too large a jump? I've seen some people who only make jumps of 2-3x and others who make these huge jumps (5x or more). So I'm not sure if they're trying to accomplish the same thing or are achieving similar results. Not knowing how abrasive the 3k is, I'm wondering if I should add a 5k. Adding the 5k might make sense for touching up existing knives with an decent edge anyway.
The second question is whether this is the most appropriate setup or if there's a better combination for the same or roughly the same cost. I know this question has been covered roughly 10,000 times before but I can't find the specific answer on any of the forums so thanks for any input.
One thought, my knives stay fairly sharp so maybe I could get away with 400, 2k, 5k, 10k? Just speculating.
First, take a look at my post to Brisket in his thread. It's got a lot of the background, general information and reasoning you want.
You don't want to a Naniwa SS 10K as one of your first stones. It's very soft and the potential of gouging the stone and doing some serious damage to an expensive stone and your knife is just too high.
Naniwa SS are great stones in their own right, and the best beginner's stone around. The idea of keeping your set down to them only makes more sense that it does with any other line of stones. That's not just theory and research. I've had a a full set each of Nortons and Shapton Pros.
But, as in the post to Brisket, there are better stones for many purposes and many users than Naniwa SS.
Hold off on a true polishing stone for now. If you want to max the polishing potential on a kit you can build on... Beston 500, Bester 1200 and Arashiyama/ Takenoko (same stone whichever name, truly 6K although some dealers list it at 8K).
If you want to build a set with the idea of getting to a sashimi bocho level polish, Beston 500, Bester 1200 and Naniwa SS 3000 with the idea of adding both a Kitayama and a Naniwa SS, Pure White 8K, or SS 10K in the future.
There are, of course, other options.
Just to muddle things a little: Do I think the Beston 500 and Bester 1200 are better than a Naniwa SS 400 and 1000? Not by much. Naniwa SS is a great choice.
It's a measure of how close these questions are and how good the stones that knowledgeable sharpeners in substantial agreement will end up with different kits. You pickem.
Keep on asking,