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Next step in sharpening?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hello all,


I am culinary student on the slow track and school just started and it's time to sharpen my knives again for the quarter. I can normally sharpen at the beginning of the quarter and make it all the way through with just steeling. My primary knives that I use in class are an 8" Lamson Sharp chef knife, a 9" Sabatier Nogent, and a 6" Nenohi petty. I sharpen my own knives on a 1000/6000 King water stone. Since it is time to resharpen I was wondering, what is the next step to take my sharpening up another level? I'm interested in building a technique or system around my current King stone, not switching to a different system or sharpening media. Or is my two sided stone good enough and I should just leave well enough alone?


Thanks in advance,



post #2 of 6



If you're only sharpening once a semester, the first thing you should do is re-evaluate your standard of sharpness. 


It does depend on your standards of course, but you should be sharpening after every 12 hours of use at minimum.  You might be able to keep your knives acceptably sharp by "touching up" on the 6K side a couple of times before having to go back down to the 1K.  You can't really have a sharp edge without fresh metal.  If you want sharp, you need to sharpen


A sushi man sharpens daily.  An accomplished cutter in a high-end western kitchen, using knives which can be steeled, might only sharpen twice a week (but that's pushing it). 


It's a good guess that your knives not only need more frequent sharpening, but that your sharpening skills will improve a great deal with practice.  As your knives become sharper, you'll be more critical.  In much the same way necessary expense expands to meet increased income, your standard for sharpness will rise with your competence.  But unlike money, it's a good thing.


That's independent of using a rod hone to true.  "Steeling" is not sharpneing.  You should be steeling the Lamson and Nogent at least every hour of prep.  As to the petty -- I don't even know which Nenox line you're using. Neither the S (Nenosteel)nor even the D (VG-1) need as much steeling as a Euro knife, everything else being equal; but it's never equal.  It all depends on how you use the knife.  Of course you didn't ask about a rod. 


Just let me get my foot out...


The next step is to add a coarse stone to re-profile your knives -- roughly every month.  Regular sharpening tends to cause the edges to become gradually more obtuse and generally gets a few high and low spots going.  Consequently, you have to thin regularly.


For what it's worth, the Nogent can hold a 15* edge bevel very well, and if you're still using the factory set, you can certainly go more acute.  In any case, the edge T-I put on it at the factory was probably also too thick at the heel, randomly asymmetric, and just generally merde.  T-I edges are definite start overs.


The Lamson can go a little more acute than 20* but not much.  Lamson usually does a great job at the factory, and if you just go with their factory set you'll be OK.  Depending on what sort of geometry you favor and how you use the knife, you might want to thin the heel as well.


Even if your Nenox is a D-1, my suggestion is to get something you don't mind sharpening down to a toothpick (losing and/or getting stolen) for school and keep the Nenox for your home kitchen. Nogents are starting to get rare enough that you might also want to think think about coddling yours a little.  It's not a knife I'd take to school, but you're not me.


Considering your knife set and your use, you don't need anything finer than the 6K.  The Lamson won't take or hold any more than that.  It's pretty close to max on the Nogent; and there's seldom a good reason to ever put more polish on a petty. 


Keeping your knives very sharp will make your life in the kitchen easier, and less onerous.  More fun too.  For instance, watching the look on someone's face when they borrow your knife and it drops through whatever they're cutting.  


A little extra time?  Don't sell yourself short.  You're worth it.



post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks, BDL! That helps A LOT! I was thinking I should go finer, but I will consider getting the coarser now. I am sure you are correct with your comment on my standards of sharpness. I've had this same discussion with Mr. Broida. For me, I don't know anything better. I have the sharpest knives in my class so I have nothing to compare to but I will take your advise and sharpen more often. You are correct, the practice will do me good and besides I enjoy it, like therapy. 


I have been slowly working the Lamson and the Nogent to be slightly more acute, just as you said. The Nenohi petty is a G-type, I have no idea what that means. Currently I use an F.Dick flat multi-cut hone but am contemplating moving to a ceramic rod. I have had no problems with the F. Dick and I love the results, but I am told it may be more damaging than helpful with the Nenohi.


Sharpening once per quarter may sound like a long time but really isn't. It's ten hours max per week for ten weeks and I certainly don't prep even half of that in my busiest most intense class. I think that any knife has only 20-30 hours on it by the end of the quarter. Fairly warned on taking the knives to class. My school is small and my knives never leave my line of sight, but your caution is duly noted and respected.


Thanks again for the great response!



Edited by FB User (Private) - 10/24/10 at 7:48pm
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Just got a Naniwa Chosera 400 water stone. Not sure how that stacks up. Is that coarse enough? It's definitely hogging metal off but I don't feel like I am getting any burr using it. Am I supposed to or does the burr really develop at the 1000 level. Also, after talking with Jon, I am retiring the F Dick multicut oval steel for a ceramic rod. I already have a ceramic rod at home that I wrongly assumed it was inferior to the F Dick, and maybe this particular unmarked one is. When I have some extra cash I spring for the borosilicate rod.



post #5 of 6



A Chosera 400 is fast enough for any task you're likely to ask of it.  Since you're going to ask, it won't mow through moving and shaping tons of metal -- remodeling an Aritsugu A, or putting a new tip on a Henckels, for instance.  But otherwise...


Don't worry about getting a burr with a stone that coarse.  You actually probably are pulling one, and just don't know how to feel it yet. But it's not the point of using a coarse stone in your regular rotation, or of sharpening to a burr either.  The idea of a coarse stone is to create a flat bevel.  If you're unsure about whether you're sharpening properly, do use the Magic Marker trick to make sure the bevel is a consistent width (which means it's flat) for the length of the edge, and that you're grinding all the way to the edge.


You should probably be sharpening once a week, and using the coarse stone about every fourth time.


Retiring the F. Dick oval is a good idea.  They're good -- even great steels -- but it's a question of "good for what."  Once you've gone beyond a certain level of sharpness and polish, they're either counter-productive.  I'd try using your current ceramic rod to see if you get any joy from it.  The idea is to true your knives with very few strokes -- three per side is about right -- without scuffing up the edge or the bevels too much.  If the hone isn't fine enough you'll feel it as "bite," when you use your freshly honed knives.


Your Nogent won't go much more acute than 15*, the Lamson will be at that angle and require a fair bit of steeling, while it's conservative for a Nenox G.  I suggest learning to sharpen one angle consistently -- and 15* seems pretty reasonable all things considered -- until it's totally locked into your wrist.  If it's too acute for the Lamson, sharpen it 15* anyway, then do a half dozen passes on the 1K at 22.5* (half of a 45* angle), followed by a dozen on the 6K.  That will create a "micro-bevel," which should act as sharp and hold up substantially better.


Waiting to buy the borosilicate until you've got a better knife kit and have settled on your maximum polish, seems like a good idea.  


Jon is a great guy isn't he?


And of course... I'm glad to have helped in any way.



Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/25/10 at 8:06am
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

You have been tremendous help BDL.


Last night I was working the new 400 stone. I did use the magic marker and the line zipped off quickly, easily and evenly.  I finished off this morning with the 1000/6000 stone and my ceramic rod. I feel like the edges are better which I attribute to your recommendation of needing the coarse stone every so often to reshape. I'll have to practice with the rod as it feels completely different than the steel oval to my hand. 


The hard part is learning this without demonstration. Everything I am doing is by reading. I find videos on the internet to not be of a lot of help. I'm one of those that does best by watching someone show me how to do it and then to do the same task for them and receive (constructive) criticism immediately. I wish I could take a class on this. I have my doubts as to my technique and quality, but on the positive side, I'm confident I am not making things worse. 


Thanks again!



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