I have a chef's choice electric sharpener and I've done all I can do with it. However, the second stage is still very coarse (visible grinding marks). I'm looking for a bench stone that will take the edge that the CC can put on it and make it better. I'm not sure if I'm in soft Arkansas or hard Arkansas territory or even what grit level for silicon stones. If you have specific companies you recommend, link to them too. I'm shopping for good pricing too.
Need a sharpening stone. Recommendations?
Gear mentioned in this thread:
I'll take Chris's question for a $1000, Alex.
Some other questions:
What's your price range?
How old is your CC? Visible grinding marks often mean the stones are worn, dirty, and/or loaded with swarf. Whatever else you decide to do, you should probably service it.
FYI. Between bench stones and a CC, not many people follow up a CC with stones. At least as part of a single sharpening "session," it's one or the other. If you're going to go the trouble of even breaking out one stones, the CC is fair to partly pointless for shaping or fine polishing. It's okay for a quick "touch up" if you can't spare the time to deal with stones, but the edge won't be as good.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/6/10 at 12:21pm
My CC is new. I have the "two-stage" model, which the second stage can get my other chefs knives (cheap stuff, but shouldn't any knife be able to at least get sharp?) to a point just short of how sharp my Forschner was out of the box. I can get them to shaving some hair off my arm, but my Forschner could leave a bald streak with one swipe. Remember, I'm a closet redneck, we test sharpness in odd ways.
Here's my methodology to how I got "here" from "there". Stones work in grits (okay, not Arkansas stones, but work with me). I've seen you and others say that a coarse stone is NOT where you start if you're just starting with stones. I believe it's medium and fine, but leave shaping to someone with experience. Okay, so I'm using my CC for the shaping. I feel like stage 2 is more of a "medium" grit than a fine grit. I'm wanting to take it to the next level of sharpness. I guess I'm trying to polish the edge I have. The idea was to fill in what I don't already have before I backfill to replace the CC.
Budget, up to $50, but really would prefer to stay in the $20-30 range.
It would be nice to be able to see the grind marks on one of your knives after it came out of the CC. Any chance of a couple of close up pictures? Assuming everything is just dandy with it, let's move along.
Your best knives are Forschner?
Two stage CCs make a double bevel. That means in order to chase it with a stone you're going to have to "click in" on a fairly small and fairly obtuse final bevel. It's not ideal, but cerainly doable.
Since money's an object, the first thing to try is stropping on clean mdf, cardboard, newspaper or leather glued to a board. It costs nothing and may give you the results you're looking for. Arm hair is an easy test to pass.
If you need to learn how to strop a kichen knife -- not the same thing as stropping a razor -- no problemo.
Your best bet would probably be a hard Arkansas or black Arkansas. If you're only going to use the stone for the Forschners, the black might be better. For a knife made with a "lesser" alloy, a black is wasted.
Don't get anything smaller than an 8 x 2" bench stone.
If you're buying a black, only buy from Hall's Pro Edge ($53). If you're buying a hard, you might as well buy from Hall's ($36). Order by phone and say "hello" to Dick Hall for me. Hall's makes soft/hard Arkansas ($34) and Norton makes a fine India/translucent Arkansas ($75ish, hard to find) combination stones which are worth a look. I don't like combi Arks as they separate too easily. Babying a rock is too ridiculous.
More generally, a CC is not the best edge for someone willing to go through all the BS necessary to use a stone. If you both have the skill to use stones and can tolerate their high PITA quotient, you can do a much better job. I'd really think about getting a basic four stone set as soon as you can afford it and reserving the CC for your lesser knives and emergencies.
Here's what it might look like: Norton Combinaton India Stone (either IB-8 or IC-8); Hall's soft Arkansas; and Hall's hard Arkansas. Throw in a Norton IM-50 "sharpening station," a honing rod and a wine-cork for deburring, and it's the same oil stone set I use as the first choice for stainless, European and American made knives. It can all be yours my friend for less than $150.
It's pretty good, but not ideal, for European, American, and a great many Japanese made "carbon steel" knives. Unfortunately, it makes a slow and painful job of nearly all of the stainless alloys (a great deal of it is Swedish) used by Japanese manufacturers.
You could use an affordable medium or medium-fine finish water stone like a King, or even a Suehiro Rika. But (a) it's really not as good for your current knife kit; and (b) water stones are a whole 'nother thing -- an even bigger PITA, and more expensive to boot.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/7/10 at 7:55am
I do hope you moved your glasses down to the end of your nose and looked down at me while typing that :). Yes, my BEST KNIFE is a Forschner. I've never worked in a kitchen where I didn't use the knives provided.
I didn't realize that the CCs made a double bevel. I assumed they were the same bevel with a different "grit". The manual says stage two is "honing", FWIW (yeah, I know, it's not honing).
Do you know the CC model number? I'll check it out. I'd forgot that Edgecraft (the CC company name) uses floppy wheels which won't lay on a secondary bevel for some of their "honing" stages.
As a practical matter, it won't change how you have to go about doing what you want to do. You're still going to have to "click in" to get the right sharpening angle when you put the knife on the stone; and you're still going to have to rub the knife on the rock.
Oil stones? Yes. Oil? No.
A Forschner?! Not many Forschners? Dude! Get out there and spend!
The chef's knives are wonderful bargains, and the rest of the Forschner Rosewood and Fibrox lines are so very, very good. You just can't beat their meat cutting knives.
Chef's Choice 300 is the model. I would buy MANY Forschners, except some cranky old knife guy gave them 2 1/2 stars. I believe his exact quote was "not made in Japan, made by a mass producer, and the steel used doesn't have enough letters and numbers in it, but good enough for a n00b like gobblygook" :).
I'm looking for a 10" next. I just have to grow a pair and order it. Besides, you're in a different life stage than I am. I'm married (and I think you're not at present). The difference is... a girlfriend doesn't care what you spend your money on, while a wife cares a LOT about what you spend HER money on :).
Oh, and while I'm insulting you, I thought I'd ask about Globe knives. I saw one on a video recently and liked the way the end is way more rounded than the Forschner. I'll have to go do some research, but I have a feeling I'm going to hear "NOOOOOOO" :).
Ah, scratch that. It's a Global and a trip on Amazon shows it's a santoku knife, not a normal "chef" knife. If an 8" is too short, a 7" ain't gonna be any longer (I passed the thurd grade and all).
We have tried every thing to sharpen our knives.Water stones. Oil stones, tri stones diamond stones and yes a rock once. Some with better results than others. We now use a low speed sharpener from grizzly. It is a wet stone that spins at a low speed. It has a water bath that holds a magnet (supplied) that collects the metal shavings. With the accessories you can sharpen a number of cutting devices including kitchen knives. Look them up on line. This has given us the best results of all that we have tried. Well worth the money
Now just hold on there Bobbalouie,
I gave a Forschner chef 2-1/2 stars as a reaction to the super-high ratings, not because they're lousy knives. As I said in the review, if a Forschner chef's is a 4-1/2 or 5 star knife, how many stars does a knife that gets sharper, stays sharper, is more comfortable, is better finished, and you-name-it-better get? My point with the star rating was more a comment on the star system than on the knives themselves, or even on the other reviews.
All Forschners Rosewoods and Fibrox are excellent values, but value is only aspect of "overall." The other qualities have to count for something, don't they?
Forschners are wonderful knives. They get sharper than most stainless, western made knives and stay sharper longer. Well let me quality that. They're made from one of the most popular stainless alloys used by western makers, hardened to the same level, but they act sharper because they're thinner. For most meat cutting knives and small parers, Forschners are at the top of my list.
The chef's knives are limited by their German profile -- which I find limiting. And since I value sharpness so much their sharpness and sharpening limitations are also... well... limiting.
Yesterday, I sharpened five Sabatiers from three makers -- two Sabatier chef's knives, a slicer, a "petty" (really a 6" slicer), and a 4" parer; and two Forschners -- a "wide filleting knife" (we use as a sort of everything knife), and a Forschner "sheep's foot" parer -- all as part of a review I'm working on about stropping with HandAmerican stropping products.
I took those knives as far as I and my equipment could take them, which is as far as they can be taken, or darn near. The Forschners were (and are) certainly sharp enough for shaving.
One of the nice things about Forschners is that they sharpen so easily, ridiculously more easily than a Wusthof Classic or Henckels Pro S; but not any easier than the Sabs. And the Sabs get soooooo much sharper. On top of that, the Sabs take a great deal more polish (makes the edges slippery). Furthermore, based on similar experience, I expect them to hold that extra sharpness (and polish) a great deal longer than the Forschners.
That doesn't make the Forschners bad knives, nor even "bad in comparison..." Just not as good, which is an entirely different kettle of fish.
A 10" chef's is a great choice for a "go-to gyuto." It's so versatile. Global chef's have their good points -- including, I might add, a French profile -- but for most people, there are better knives for similar money. The handles can be problematic, especially over time. That isn't to say everyone has problems, but quite a few people do. They aren't what you'd call thin. And to tell the truth, they don't take the world's best edge or hold it very well either. A little better than your Forschner, but not much.
A 10" Global runs around $150, but and there are a glut of other very nice stainless knives in the $125 - $180 range.
There are also a few incredibly good carbon knives in the same range, for instance the Misono Sweden, Kikuichi Elite, Masamoto CT, and several of the Sabatiers. If you can put up with carbon's "right now" neediness, you get significantly more for your money.
Something else to consider before you get too deeply invested into upgrading your knife is what kind of sharpening kit and skills are required to maintain it. Many Japanese made knives in the price range don't do particlularly well on oil stones. Others do well enough, thank you very much.
While it's still being sold, the Chef's Choice Model 300 isn't current production. If I'm not mistaken the "honing" stage is the same floppy wheel as the used in the current Model 320's combined honing/stropping stage; and that the primary difference between the two machines is the way the knife is guided in the slot. The CC stropping wheel doesn't create a double bevel, but does convex the edge to some extent. You'll have to try and see if you can click in on a stone after stropping. Maybe, maybe not.
PS. I'm married and have to account for my expenses just like you. Knife related stuff probably rates different priority levels in our respective hobby allowances; also I probably get stuff cheaper than you do.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/11/10 at 1:33pm
Ah, I've seen you mention your wife by name, which usually indicates "single". Most people just say "wife" or DH (which I humorously thought was "designated hitter" :) ). So far, I haven't been able to find the Forschner 10" in blue fibrox. Why do I care what color? Well, I dunno. My 8" is blue, and well, I like blue -- reminds me of when I sold cars... the COLOR was a deciding factor. Forget warranty, HP, ratings, etc... gotta have cup holders and be the perfect shade of <whatever>. I guess as I get older, I get more stuck on things. I did find it in a fibrox handle, so I'll probably order it anyway.
Now, help me out with the oil stones... you say use them, but not with oil. Do I soak them in water like a water stone or just use them dry?
I probably wouldn't mind the 8" so much, but I got 15x20 cutting boards, so the knife looks a bit small on them. So far, I've only opened one cutting board. They're extremely hard to wash in a sink that they won't fit in :).
Now, let's say I haven't put my Forschner through the CC yet. Can I buy a stone and just work with the factory edge, just getting it sharper? If so, what should I get?
I wish there were a good fine/extra fine combo stone, but all of the combos seem to be coarse/fine. My understanding is that coarse is not something I should attempt to use yet.
Plenty of medium/fine combos. Or perhaps more properly medium-coarse/medium-fine.
Norton 1000/4000, King 800/6000, and Suehiro 1000/6000 to name a few. Suehiro is the combi-stone de jour, Everybody and his aunt learned on the King -- which is he cheapest. I prefer the Norton. They're all "clay binders." Better still would be a couple or three 10mm Naniwa SS -- excellent resin binder stones, decent prices.
As soon as you get the hang of using anything as fine or finer than 2000#, you'll want a coarse to properly profile your knife -- which can be another way of saying fixing your 1000# screw ups. You do want to at least learn to hold a steady angle before you do though, because errors made on a coarse stone take more work to clean up.
This will get a lot of laughs from purists:
I have been using sharpening stones made out of slate tiles.
I cut a slate tile using a diamond tile cutter, ground the surfaces flat with carbide sand paper, and I got myself many nice size stones. For sure, they are not as good as japanese stones costing hundreds of dollars; they do give me razor sharp edges on my knives.
I don't know what grit a slate tile is, using a microscope, the grind marks on the edges seems finer than a surgical blade that I have, but not as fine as a shaving razor blade.
OK, go laugh. :-)
Enjoying, but not laughing -- or at least not at you. As a matter of fact, I always appreciate and enjoy your insights.
Don't know if I should say this or not, because (a) I don't want to rain on your parade; (b) don't want to invalidate your experience; and (c) certainly don't know everything, but...
Slate is too soft to do much in terms of abrading much old metal off the blade. I think what you're doing is truing, buffing, and getting the same sorts of benefits you'd get from using a "naked" strop (with no abrasive compound). You can probably get as much, if not more benefit, from stropping on newsprint or a manilla folder board pasted onto something flat and reasonably hard. Try it, if you like and see for yourself. I'd certainly love to give one of your slate bench stones a whirl.
Sharpening in the sense of creating a fine, fresh-metal edge requires hard abrasives. Same story , and polishing in the sense of eliminating the scratches from the edge bevels and the micro-serrations left on the edge from sharpening, as opposed to smoothing by bending the scratches' peaks into the valleys. In the materials sense, the abrasives need to be hard enough to overcome the knife alloy's toughness and scratch hardness. They also need to be friable and break in such a way as to have their own sharp edges -- sharp enough to cut the knife alloy. As a materials guy yourself, you already know enough to recognize that this is so.
There's no magic to sharpening. Nobody, as engineers like to say, has repealed the laws of physics. Physicists never say that, but that's a different can of worms.
When it comes to edge quality, "sharp," "good," and "acceptable" are relative terms. Your standards determine what you seek to accomplish. I have no doubt you could make your knives much sharper using mundane sharpening stones than with slate, but you might not think the difference is important. I expect a knife to effortlessly "fall through" an onion or tomato for at least 6 weeks of home kitchen time -- the equivalent of a couple of restaurant shifts -- using nothing but a fine honing rod for maintenance between sharpenings.
While that may seem like a high standard, it's easy to get used to. If my wife is any expample, it takes about 8 weeks to become completely spoilt.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/13/10 at 1:21pm
There are many different kinds of slate tiles, as you know. Actually, this particular one is too hard. I think a softer one may work better.
Again, I don't know what grit it is equivalent to. It puts a very shiny kind of polish on the edge, which is razor sharp. I dipped a magnet in the slurry and it picked up a good amount of iron filing, which means the stone is cutting well.
I didn't set out to make a slate tile into a sharpening stone. I was laying down a slate tile path and decided to give a scrap piece a try.
A typical slate is ~47 on the Shores Scleroscope scale which equates to a Rockwell C hardness of about 35 -- much softer than the softest modern knife steels -- which are typically (the softest mind you) in the high forties or low fifties. Hard, conventional steels go into the low 60s RCH, and more exotic PMs like Cowry X and ZDP189 can be hardend well into the mid sixties,
The screen size of slate particles isn't very important one way or the other. Because the knife is so much harder it will do more to the slate than the slate will do to the knife. Whether the slate particles are large or small -- the action of the knife on them will break them down to very small anyway. That's just how nature works. And yes, sure they'll act on the knife as well -- that's still how nature works. But compared to the options, slate isn't very efficient compared to a clay, resin, ceramic, metallic or magnesia substrate packed or coated with lots of hard abrasive silicon carbide, aluminum oxide, quartz, novaculite, boron carbide, garnet, chromium dioxide, sapphire, or diamond, to name some of the options.
Some slate has a fair bit of quartz, and that may be doing the work for you -- but no slate has enough to be a really efficient sharpener.
Men have carried and used sharpened steel blades for more than a 1500 years in Europe, and twice that long in India. Do you think slate as a sharpening material somehow just got overlooked for the last 15 or 30 centuries?
Because you can strop a blade on your jeans, a piece of leather, or a piece of newsprint and seriously improve an edge doesn't mean denim, cowhide, or yesterday's Washington Post are the best sharpening stone materials.
There's also the problem with slate flaking. How do you deal with that?
Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/13/10 at 5:36pm
Hey now! I'm a bit overwhelmed with all the choices in stones and a newbie at that so please forgive me if my terminology is off. Im getting some Masahiro MV-H knives (any objections or suggestions welcomed; I read BDL disparaging their geometry, please expound) and would be extremely grateful for some advice on sharpening stone suggestions. My main confusion lies in the types. Some require a 15 minute soaking (natural & synthetic, but not ceramic?), and some only need a bit of water (ceramic?).
From what I understand I'm looking for a medium 1000 or 1200, and a fine 6000 or 8000. I'm leaning toward the Japanese water stones. The stones that caught my eye were the Naniwa Chosera (15 min soaker I believe), Naniwa Superstone (ceramic no soaking?), Minosharp, Masahiro, King.
What do you reccommend? Again the knives are Masahiro MV-H knives. I generally like to buy the best within reason, though I will likely use the stone infrequently enough that it would last me 2 lifetimes. My budget is $50-$100. You knife gurus have great knowledge so thank you in advance for your advice!
Edited by captainhits - 10/5/11 at 12:23am
Hi Captain Hits -
I'll leave the explication of Masahiro geometry and its possible problems to someone who knows. I know I've looked at pictures of those knives! (And seem them recommended with some frequency on other forums -- I don't even remember what they look like in pictures, though).
On stones - I've got experience with a few things, and I'm no expert but I'm an ok parrot. That said: Ceramic is one way synthetic stones are made, yes. They tend to be splash-and-go stones, to my understanding, however. In addition to ceramic, there are clay bonding, resinoid bonding, magnesia.... there are other materials.
Lots of variables go into how a stone will feel and whether it's a "soaker" or a "splash and go" stone. In my (limited) experience with splash-and-go stones, they should be soaked for a couple/few minutes, too. It's not necessary, but they behave better. Soaker stones generally take something like 30-45 minutes. I've seen people recommend 15 minute soaks for some, but I haven't used one that didn't do better with longer than that. I don't know about the particular stones you're pointing out that say 15-minutes.
Besides how its bound, the kind of abrasive and its density, the method of hardening (heat or chemical reaction) and if heated in a kiln at what temperature, whether there are other additives beyond the abrasive... all are parts of what make a particular stone so.... particular.
Different stones respond to pressure differently, and leave different finishes (cloudy or mirror-polished, f'rinstance) on particular kinds of steel, too.
I think what you see recommended for beginners tend to be soakers, which can be soft enough to give good feedback (gouging is bad, mmm'kay?) but not so soft as to wear out and dish too easily. Softer stones tend to work up more "mud" I believe (though harder stones might too with a nagura or some lapping with a diamond plate).
Again, in my limited experience, I prefer a soaker to scrape metal against. I like the convenience of the splash-and-go stones, and they dry out more readily for storage. But based on pricing and the haphazard way I originally purchased, I have a small mix of soakers and splash-and-go. (Actually only my coarse stone is a real soaker; this will change as budget allows).
Anyway, I'm being SUPER incomplete, maybe very marginally inaccurate. I think these things really don't matter so much at this point in your thinking, it's just good to be aware. There are several threads that recommend stones to beginners for freehand sharpening -- some very recent. Let us know if you need links or pointers -- I'm typing on a tight schedule at the moment so won't just go looking just now. But I have recently, and I know there are recommendations out there. I'd find an explanation of BDL's way of thinking of "four stages" (vs. "three stones") of sharpening. You can get a set or you can build it piecemeal. The first stone you'll be using is something in the 1,000 - 2,000 grit range because that cuts fast enough that you can see what effect you're having but not so fast as to make metal disappear on your knife faster than your learning to hold a steady angle will be good for.
You need something to flatten stones and you might want something to de-burr. There are posts here, and there's Chad Ward's e-gullet site which has a chapter from his book, which explain raising and chasing a burr and deburring. (Personally I haven't invested in strops and such yet; I might strop on newspaper, but my main deburring device is a wine cork, or a Chimay ale cork, after chasing burrs fairly tenaciously across stones).
Hope this is a start. You've got the knack for reviving threads! (I have no expertise or even adopted prejudices to help with the fillet knife question you asked in another bit of necromantic thread wizardry; sorry... I just noticed you asking for help. I haven't cooked fish in a decade).
And the shortest answer is: get yourself a Beston 1200 water stone if you don't absolutely need to have a splash-and-go, and decide on a stone-flattening method. (That's WAY too short an answer... especially if you can deal with getting a set to start with, or if you can afford something still more highfalutin'. OR... if you're ok with something cheaper just to get started because getting started is the name of the game. Before I complexify more, let's see what you're thinking; or let me let someone else point you to more of the "usual suspects". But a quick perusal of recent threads will give lots of info on particular stone recommendations as well as how to think about a "system").
Edited by Wagstaff - 10/5/11 at 12:47pm
I don't like different angles on different sides. It's a gimmick which does nothing positive (I'm not actually sure if Masahiro still does that). I'm also not a fan of the 80/20 (4:1) asymmetry which is too steep to steel; too steep for durability, given the knife's medium hardness; but not sufficiently asymmetric to really make a difference in perceived sharpness compared to a more moderate, more easily maintained 2:1.
The spine's edges should have been better eased -- an F&F issue.
The edge geometry is easily improved. Similarly, easing the spine isn't difficult. Otherwise, excellent handle, good F&F for the price, good alloy (very similar to VG-1), mediocre profile. I don't think it's one of the standouts in the price range in the same way the MAC Pro or the Masamoto VG (both VG-1), or even the Sakai Takayuki Grand Cheff (AEB-L). We can go into my reasons if you like.
Bottom line: It's a solid player in a very tough league. If you can sharpen, I wouldn't say "stay away."
Choseras are excellent but very expensive. Waaaaaaaaaaaaay too expensive, in my opinion.
I used to think Naniwa SS were great beginner's stones, because of their feedback, but have re-evaluated; they're very soft, easy to gouge, and a bit of a nightmare to maintain. On the other hand, you can buy the thin, 10mm stones at a very advantageous price, they are fast, easy to flatten, and do provide excellent feedback. Unless you're on a very tight budget, Kings are stones of the past.
I don't know the Minos bench stones very well, but think they're pretty expensive unless they're really special. Masahiros are re-branded, marked-up, and not worth their money.
At a fairly reasonable price, the standout ~1000 is the Bester 1200, and the standout at ~6000 is the Takenoko. I also like the Suehiro Rika 5000 quite a bit, especially for newer sharpeners and also as a lead in to an 8000 polishing stone (if you're interested in that much polish). It's faster than the Takenoko and has better feedback, but doesn't polish nearly as well; in use it's really more 3000 than a 5000, but 3000 ain't bad at all for a chef's knife. CKTG sells a three stone kit including the Beston 400, Bester 1200 and Suehiro Rika for $130ish. Sweet deal.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/5/11 at 6:28pm
Great info gentlemen. Funny, I found a thread from this forum in a goole search http://www.cheftalk.com/t/13110/sharpening-japanese-knives and they say that ceramic will eat up the thinner japanese edges too quickly and the "soakers" are the way to go. I was looking at the Bester but I read it's a ceramic; I may be incorrect but I'm leaning toward the clay based soakers due to them being more forgiving while I learn (so as not to screw up the knife) Any suggestions in a clay based (like the Chosera but maybe a bit less expensive)? For finishing I think I will go with the Takenoko/Arashiyama. Can I go from a 1200 directly to the '6000/8000' Takenoko Arashiyama?
BTW what do you think of these Masahiro's http://japanesechefsknife.com/WhetStonesForSale.html for about $30?
Edited by captainhits - 10/5/11 at 11:16pm
On that first thread you linked, it seems the distinction they're making is between "ceramic stones" vs. "water stones". So I'm not sure what they're up to, since ceramic stones can be water stones. I think it's a vocabulary issue. Anway, splash-and-go stones are used on super thin Japanese knives all the time, there's not a rule that says they cut too fast. They may cut faster or slower than a soaker, stone-to-stone. But you're looking at soakers for other very good reasons anyway.
1,200 to 8,000 *sounds* like a big jump to me, but I'm not familiar with the Takenoko. Particular stones may be ok with bigger jumps. [You didn't ask, but: my current highest-grit stone is a 5,000 which I'm told is more "like a 5,000 - 6,000". I'll grab an 8,000 eventually, but I'm not sure I can even use the polish so much as am just curious/desirous, and at this point I'm not sure I'm consistently steady enough to make very good use of it. Hopefully I'll practice some this weekend and maybe learn something.
Edited by Wagstaff - 10/5/11 at 9:29pm
Don't get hung up on "ceramic" v. "water stones." Either Anneke didn't know what she was talking about, or expressed herself incorrectly. Most synthetic water stones are one type of ceramic or another. The distinction is meaningless. If you make anything out of it at all, that's way too much.
A Bester 1200 isn't perfect, but the problems are that it's hard and takes a long soak to get ready -- which aren't much in the way of problems. Otherwise, it's very fast -- so fast that it can do small repairs -- and cuts very fine. It will give most 2000s a run for their money. It won't hurt your knife, honest. I use a Bester 1200 in my water stone kit as the first true sharpening stone, and am very happy with it. There's some competition, but the other stones are either very expensive or difficult to get in the US.
The Takenoko is actually and in fact 6000. It is not 8000. Some retailers advertise it as 8,000 because it polishes so well, but it's actually 6000, and no mistake. It's an extremely fast 6000, but still leaves as fine a polish as most of the old 8000s like King and Norton. It's an excellent stone.
The Arashiyama is the same, exact stone as the Takenoko only wider.
The jump from Bester 1200 to Takenoko 6000 is large but not too large; it's a well proven combination. If you want a Takenoko finish, you don't really need an intermediate stone. To give it some context, 5:1 is a very common combi-stone jump from one side to another. Nothing to be afraid of, especially considering how the 1200's fine scratch and the Takenoko's speed.
If you want to go finer than a Takenoko, you probably do want something between your 1200 and whatever your polishing stone will be. I use a Chosera 3000 in front of my (soon to be replaced) Naniwa SS 8000, but got the Chosera at a huge discount. If paying real prices, I'd buy a Suehiro Rika.
Stone choices at JCK are just OK, and their prices are not the best. CKtG does much, much better. There are some other retailers to look at if you want specific stones, but it's hard to beat CKtG for competitively priced enthusiasts' favorites.
Thanks. Would a softer stone be more forgiving in terms of cutting speed to accomodate a learning curve and possible improper technique? If so what are some recommendations in a slightly softer 1200?
Although I'm not looking to splurge on a $300 natural stone I'm a perfectionist and if I don't get the right stones/ grit jumps to start I will end up getting them. Id like to avoid buying something that I will not be totally satisfied with.
BTW if I decided to add a third stone for the mirror finish would I add a 3000 or so between the 1200 and 6000? Or would I want something like 1200 - 3000 -8000?
Soft stones are "velvety" and feel great, but they're easy to gouge. Some would say that teaches you technique in the "harden the F*CK UP!" school of thought. I dunno, it's horses for coarses. It's like recommending a Chinese meal to someone who's never tasted Chinese food before. Hard to know what you'll like, quality aside.
Ok I cant be satisfied without the best; or as close as I can come. I have good knives now and I have no plans to stop cutting food so I'm assuming I will have these for the rest of my life. I've decided on the chosera 1000 and the arashiyama 6000. With the seemingly iconic status and flawless reputation of the chosera on every level, for the extra $35 over the Bester I just can't see passing it up. Thanks a million for your suggestions.
BTW, would you suggest the 1000 or 2000 chosera as my medium (to go with the 6000 arashiyama)? Masahiro MVH knives that will be used lightly.
Look into the Gesshin 2000 too. Phaedrus is right about "it's like Chinese food"... without the chance of trying various stones it's going to be tough. But you've moved from budget considerations to "best of the best" considerations, and I think the Gesshin 2000 (and the 4000 ... and eventually 8000 for polish and the 400 for coarse) should be considered.
The 2000 cuts fast, no worries about that in place of the 1200 Bester. (And I don't have all of these because of budgetary considerations, but I've used them. The 1000 and 5000 are great splash-and-go stones; the others soakers. Perhaps better, definitely more spendy.
$80 for your ~1,000 stone is way too much. Unless you're a hobbyist sharpener and/or knife collector, you just won't get the difference. The Chosera is a more convenient stone than the Bester or Sigma Power but no better.
The Gesshin is a different beast, and unless pulling that first wire quickly is not a high priority, not a great choice to occupy the "first sharpening stone" niche. By and large if you want to make a fast 2000 cut anywhere near as fast as a fast 1000, you need to (a) apply a lot of pressure, and (b) understand "mud" and how its breakdown effects speed and polish. I've seen this scenario play out with other "flavor of the month" 2000s, and I think it's a good idea to start a little more standard.
If you're going to stop polishing at the medium/fine border -- it's hard to beat the Takenoko. Your ultimate kit might be: Beston 400, Bester 1200, Takenoko 6000.
If you're just looking for an efficient, "fine enough" edge -- you can stop at the Suehiro Rika (a really easy to use, versatile, stone). Your kit would be: 400, 1200, Suehiro Rika 5000. CKtG sells this kit, Beston, Bester, Suehrio, for $135; and that's a really good way to go.
If you want to polish higher, say to 8000 or 10000, it goes faster and easier to have an intermediate between the ~1000 and the final stone. My kit is Beston 400, Bester 1200, Chosera 3000, and Naniwa SS 8000.
I use but don't recommend the Chosera 3000, and you can take that as a judgment on Choseras in general. They're very good, but don't do a better job than stones which cost less. I don't want to minimize their excellence, but think they're sort of a trap for people who want and are willing to pay for "the best." There is no best. If the extra $35 buys you some peace of minde, it's worth it; but it won't buy you a better stone.
When we talk about very soft stones, we're often talking about Naniwa SS. I've owned and used all of them at one time or another, and like them quite a bit. I used to recommend them as great beginner's stones because of their excellent feedback and bargain basement price for the 10mm versions. But have re-evaluated because part of the feedback includes a tendency to gouge with angle wobbling; they require very careful drying out, and micro-fracture anyway, which means flattening EVERY time. If you play golf, you might think "game improvement", offset hosel, cavity-backs vs blades -- for beginners.
There are other soft stones with excellent feedback which aren't as cranky as the SS. Kings, Nortons, and Suehiros for instance. A few of the Suehiros are very good, but the time for Nortons and Kings, for all their feedback has passed. With a few exceptions, stones in this class are comparatively both too slow, and cut too coarse.
Getting back to the Beston/Bester stones -- they're chief drawback is inconvenience. If you notice your knife is dull in the middle of prep, you can't simply pull out your Bester, then splash and go. They take at least 30 minutes of soak time, and two hours is better. A lot of people leave theirs in the bucket overnight and sharpen early. People who do a lot of sharpening often leave them in the bucket full time. (You can't do that with most stones, btw.) But the need to sharpen is predictable, I don't regard that as much of a problem. True, they are both "hard," and without being unpleasant aren't quite as pleasant to use as some other stones; but again -- that's not much of a drawback.
Maybe we should get back to basics before warming up the credit card.
How do you sharpen? Do you use the "burr method" (pull the burr; chase the burr; deburr if necessary; and repeat for each stone)? Count strokes? Something else?
How do you deburr?
Do you use a steel? How often? How fine?
Do you think you'll ultimately want a four stone kit (fine polish), or a three stone kit (working finish)?
Do you have a lot of special purpose knives? For instance, butchering knives? Do you do a lot of meat work? Fish work?