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Sharpening Advice

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

First post from a long time, yet intermittent lurker.

 

BDL,

 

I stumbled across a post of yours over a year ago and have checked back periodically to see what you had to say. After reading many of your posts (and other well-informed forum members) I decided it was time to get some "good" knives. I have been using a well-worn set of Henkels that were "well-worn" when handed down to me 10 years ago. I have had them sharpened professionally twice and maintained them with a kinda crappy, but slightly serviceable Edgemaker Cross Stick set. 

 

After too many hours of reading this site, I decided that I wanted a K Sabatier Au Carbone 10' Chef's.  After I ordered it, I spent some time reading about patinas and opted to soak it in vinegar and follow with a windex wash to start the process. I loved the knife so much I ordered an 8' Chef's, an 8" Slicer, a 6' Fillet, and a 4" Parer. They have all had the vinegar/windex treatment as well. 

 

I am a guillotine cutter and much prefer the French profile over the German profile. 

 

I understand that I need to learn how to sharpen properly. I figure that I can practice on the Henkels and then work on the Sabatiers. My well-meaning father gave me a long lecture on water stones, but I am not sure that he really knows what he is talking about. He also gave me the following at the end of the lecture:

 

  • a MAC Black Ceramic Honing Rod
  • a 8"x3"white water stone with Japanese writing on it and an English marking of "S-1500"
  • a 10"x 4" gray-ish stone with no markings that is worn in the center. 

 

He swears that the white stone is 1500 grit (makes sense) and that the gray stone is 5000 grit. The gray stone feels coarse to the touch, while the white one feels smooth and hard. I'm guessing that the gray one is 500 grit, not 5000. 

 

This ends the "brain-dump" portion of my post. 

 

Now here are my questions:

 

  1. Should I ditch his stones and save up for the Bester/Beston/Arashiyama combo that you suggested in the Time to get a new knife - suggestions? thread?
  2. If not, do you think that I am wight in assessing these stones. Should I buy a high grit stone and keep the other two?
  3. The MAC hone is in new-in-box condition. No reason not to use it, right?

 

Thank you for all of your posts and any input you care to give here.

 

David the Sausagemaker

post #2 of 21
Thread Starter 

The lack of replies shows I may have asked the wrong questions. Any advice forum members wish to give is appreciated. 

 

Sausagemaker


Edited by Sausagemaker - 1/20/11 at 4:00pm
post #3 of 21

No, I think BDL is probably just swamped with work and hasn't caught up yet.

 

My advice is very, very limited, but gives you something to do in the meantime.

 

Soak these stones in a basin of water, totally submerged in room-temp water. After about 20-25 minutes, pull out the one you guess is coarse. Set a Henckels paring knife, or something like, on the stone, and tilt until the edge just barely bites down, the normal way. Grind 10 steady, even strokes forward and back. Don't press hard: let the stone do the work. Now feel for a burr.

 

If this is a 500-grit stone, you should have a pretty solid burr, I'd say, albeit admittedly a Henckels can be kind of a b--t-rd to sharpen. If it's 5000, you're not going to have a burr to speak of, with the setup you describe. Betcha you're right, it's 500. Let it dry and flatten it: a badly dished stone is actively destructive.

 

As to the 1500, I'm a little surprised, as I've not heard of a stone rated JIS 1500. Still, you can give it a shot by continuing to sharpen your Henckels on it. Start on the back, where that burr you just put on it is, and do about 25 strokes, then go back to the front and try 15, then the back at 10, and sort of climb down that way. See if you can get the burr to flip back and forth easily, and if you can get it to grind off near the end. Your knife is still a Henckels, no bad thing, but it's now really quite sharp and useful. Further, you know something about your stones. Cool, eh?

 

But BDL will be along one of these days to tell you more: he's the Sab man.

post #4 of 21

        

While you wait for a response, do you already have your own technique for using a bench stone?  I went to youtube to try and get some ideas.    

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_jcRtvOLzo  

 

I cant find the video I liked the most but it was something like the one above. I've seen figure 8's, all different methods of taking one long motion across the entire edge.  For whatever reason I went with something like in the video and its working for me.  

 

 If you havent searched already I know BDL has recommended Norton India (coarse/fine) and Hall Arkansas (soft/hard) stones for European knives.  I'm using the Norton ib-8 on my Henckels,  they're now the sharpest I've ever been able to get them, and I still need to get a Halls soft, might get a Halls black also.   

 

post #5 of 21

What you need is a flattening stone for your gray stone. If you have a new knife - and the angles are where you want them already - you may never use that gray stone again - but you want to keep your white stone and any others nicely surfaced and angled.

 

That Sabatier is a workhorse knife - it doesn't really need an 8K grit mirror edge unless you just want one. The 1500G will work fine for you until you can afford to get exactly what you want to get. (Never, ever, EVER just buy something that you know is of lessor capability or quality than what you really want. You're better to do without than to buy and re-buy crap.)

 

My suggestion is to keep your ceramic steel for your old knives; Buy a surfacing stone to maintain your 1500G white stone; Only use your new knife on that white stone or a smooth steel.

 

If the gray stone is too worn to resurface - keep it around for re-tipping knives and just for a utility stone for other stuff like fork tines and the lot.

 

Great choice on the knife BTW. I have a love affair with old French-style carbon knives. 

Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 

Chris, et al.,

 

Thank you for the responses. I found the 1500 stone here.

 

I do not have my own technique yet. I have watched the videos over at ChefsKnivesToGo and have practiced on the 1500 with some cheap knives that my wife uses. I still have a way to go before I'll put my good knives it.

 

I have exchanged e-mails with CKTG and am leaning towards the Bester Set described in this post. They have updated the set to include the 1200 instead of the 2000. When I made the decision to invest in the knives I promised myself that I would learn to sharpen them properly. 

 

I am pretty confident that the gray stone is a 500. It is very dished and may be past it's prime. 

 

Thanks again for the advice,

 

David the Sausagemaker

post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 

Update - After exchanging e-mails with Mark at CKTG, I ordered the Bester 500 - 1200 - 6000 set. I have been practicing on my old Henkels with the white 1500 stone. Let's just say I need to work on my technique. The knives are considerably sharper, but I have been unable to raise a discernable burr on them. I am not yet confident enough to try my good knives on my good stones. Sooner or later I'll have to give it a shot. 

 

Additionally, my dad showed up with a Lansky medium diamond stone. From what I have read in other posts, this stone is not recommended for kitchen knives, correct? Can I use it as a flattener for my waterstones?

 

David the Sausagemaker

post #8 of 21

When you say you are unable to raise a discernable burr, you have me very worried.

 

Roughly speaking:

 

how many strokes on a side?

what kind of soaking/lubrication for the stone?

what kind of pressure on the knife?

what's your technique for making sure that your edge is biting?

 

I'm worried, because I'm no Mr. Genius Sharpener, believe you me, but I can raise a burr on a 1k stone with a Henckels or Wusthof reasonably quickly. They're not THAT hard to sharpen on waterstones. There's something amiss here, and we need to figure it out, or at some point you're going to be one remarkably unhappy knife-user....

post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

@Chris

 

OK, Here's what I have done this far:

 

- I take the 1500 stone mentioned above and soak it in warm tapwater for 30-45 min. 

- I use my thumb as a guide (as in the CKTG video) and gently pass the blade over the stone 3-5 times before flipping the knife over and repeating on the other side. 

- The stone is white and fairly wet. After 3-5 strokes, the slurry on top of it is visibly darker. I assume that means it has metal in it. 

- I am not pressing down very hard at all.

- I have not yet tried the marker trick. 

 

I would say that I am most likely erring on the side of caution. I am most concerned about figuring out what constitutes a proper angle and have been very conservative in my approach to this. I have read many posts on this site and watched dozens of YouTube Videos, but still don't feel like I know exactly how to approach this. I think that I am just going to have to keep practicing until I get it. 

 

David the Sausagemaker

post #10 of 21

Oh. Okay, so in that  case there are two likely problems.

 

First of all, use the magic marker trick. If you're not hitting the edge, you can grind for a LOOOONG time and not get a burr. You'd essentially have to keep grinding until you fully reprofiled the edge, and on a 1500 stone, that's going to take forever. Use magic marker and your difficulties there will vanish.

 

Second, 3-5 strokes, then flip? You're never going to get a burr that way. Try 25 strokes, hitting the edge (see above), and then feel for a burr. Remember, this isn't your super-duper new knife, it's an old semi-beater, so go for it. What's it going to hurt? You're being gentle, you're being careful, don't sweat it. At 1500 JIS, well-soaked, 25 strokes on a side isn't going to take a whole lot off almost any knife. Worst case scenario is you have a perfectly serviceable burr but keep grinding anyway. So what? No big deal. I mean, yes, that's not the most ideal thing in the world, but I can't think of a good knife type that would actually be harmed by such treatment. Now if you were really leaning into it, putting on lots of force, that'd be another story, but you're not.

 

Frankly, I would not be entirely surprised if it took more than 25 strokes to raise a strong burr on this old Henckels. That's because (a) chances are it's reasonably dull; (b) you're not used to this so there will be a fair bit of wasted effort; (c) those knives are tough and don't grind quickly anyway; (d) you're using quite a fine stone; and (e) you're not quite sure what a burr is in the first place and so you may not detect one until it's well on there. If at 25 strokes you don't get one, try another 10-20 strokes. If you're hitting the edge (magic marker) and putting on that much grind, and you STILL don't get a burr, then we're going to have to figure something else out. But I bet you'll have a big "aha" moment quite soon.

post #11 of 21

David, you already got a lot of good info from ChrisLehrer. Please allow me to throw in a few things.

First, I'm under the impression you don't really know what to look for when it comes to burr formation. Mostly it's not very visible, but you can feel it by gently sliding your fingers almost parallel to the blade, along the side of a knife, nearly touching the edge. Do not move the knife when doing this or you will cut yourself; always move only your fingers along the blade, never ever slide the knife along your fingers!! Another much safer trick I use especially when sharpening on high grit stones, is to slide a dry microfibre cleaning cloth along the blade. The tiniest burr will hook in the fibres.

 

Here's a picture of what burr looks like, but then very much exaggerated (look at roughness on the edge). This was not sharpening as such, but "thinning" a blade, which is equally done by rubbing the knife against stones, but this time on a very low angle. This was done with a 220 grit stone, using a lot of pressure and a lot of strokes. The bevel you see is around 8-10 mm. You should have a 1-2 mm bevel when sharpening normally, and the burr would be practically unvisible.

Day2Burr1.jpg

 

You mentioned a gray stone that is very dished. When it hasn't been used with oil, you can easily restore that stone, so you can experiment with it as a waterstone. Simply buy waterproof(!!!) sandpaper from a DIY-store in a 100 grit. Put it under a watertap, lay it on a very flat surface (I use the backside of a cutting board). Make sure the sheet stays very wet all the time. Take the stone and rub the dished face over the sandpaper untill it's flat. You gonna need to flatten your new stones too, so there you go, cheap and easy.

A last warning; please, never ever use these rough stones on your new knives for the time being. Wait untill you're confident enough. These stones can take metal off very quickly and you could easily deform the cutting arc beyond repair! Start sharpening on high grit stones, such as your 1500. Do as ChrisLehrer said; more strokes and use a little downforce. Enjoy!

post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 

@ ChrisL & ChrisB,

 

Thanks for all of the advice. I will try the approach you describe. 

 

Any thoughts on whether or not the medium Lansky diamond stone would be useful as a flattener?

 

David

post #13 of 21

Yeah, should work. I mean, I'm just looking at the descriptions online -- I gather you have one on hand to use?

 

For major flattening, use ChrisBelgium's method, or get a piece of fine drywall screen, lay it on a piece of thick float glass, lay that on a board of some kind, and have at it. Either way. Significant flattening with a second stone tends to be a little awkward: you develop this suction thing where it sticks hard, and sometimes that means the stone is flat, and sometimes it doesn't. If the stone is already close to flat, it works dandy -- people use ski sharpeners for this purpose, for example. But if the stone is well dished, this is not an efficient way to do things.

 

My basic reply to the whooole question: you're worrying. Stop it. If you can actually screw up a Henckels, not pushing super-hard or being crazy, on a 1500 JIS stone, my hat is off to you, because I can't imagine how you'll do it. Stop worrying and put steel to stone in a serious way.

 

A hint: One of the big first things about sharpening is that everyone gets super-precise and ultra-careful. That's sort of good, but sort of bad. Have you ever seen someone try to shred cheese on a box grater in this way? You just want to grab the cheese and say, "out of the way, let me do it, just slam into the darn thing." But really, it's not force, it's not being scared of the process. Same thing with searing things in a skillet: if you know how, you look at someone trying to turn each thing one by one with a pair of tongs, cooking over medium heat, and you want to crank the heat and just toss the darn pan properly. Same thing.

 

Let's say you buy the ultra-super-duper-double-plus-good knife, for like, I don't know, $750. You actually, somehow, damage it. Can you fix it? Yes. Then you screw it up again, and fix it, and so on. Assuming you're really and truly dumb, eventually you buy a new knife. You know what? It's $750, not the end of the world.

 

Now let's get back to the real world. You buy a nice knife for $200 or so. You've been messing around with a Henckels. You're trying to be good. Odds of mucking up the nice knife? Low. If you do? You'll do better next time, because of the whole "once burned, twice shy" thing. It really does work that way: you screw up, and instantly you think, "oh, darn!" It's not like later on you figure it out -- you know. If by some miracle you eventually get to the point that the $200 knife is actually damaged beyond reasonable repair, you'll be much, much better at what you're doing and will ace the next knife, so what's the worry? $200 won't kill you -- and if it will, you shouldn't be buying this thing anyway.

 

Don't panic: sharpening is easy. Grind yourself a hot little burr on that Henckels, don't sweat the stone too much, and when you know what a burr really is -- follow ChrisBelgium's advice for feeling the thing -- you'll go, "ooooooh, I get it, that's so easy, I thought this was a big deal." It isn't. You're not dumb, you can do this. Promise. But put that knife on that stone and grind or you'll never get anywhere.

post #14 of 21

Was reading through the thread and one thing caught my attention that I think may be causing a problem raising a burr.

 

If you have reviewed the vids at CKTG and even some of the many others on you tube showing how to sharpen etc you have to be aware that many are sharpening Japanese knives, and with a much lower angle than the Henckels has.

 

It is just my opinion but from my experience with sharpening them you will want to be holding the blade at a much higher angle than what your seeing in the vids. If you use a similar angle as Mark does in his vids you will basically be back beveling or thinning the blade and not actually sharpening it. From what I have read the comparison is approx 12-15deg v/s 22-30deg and that is a lot of difference.

 

Since I was spending a whole lot of time sharpening my own Henckels not too long ago and did thin them all a fairly good amount before sharpening (only to later find out they can not hold anywhere near that acute of an angle anyhow lol) in an attempt to get them sharper etc I have to recommend using a more coarse stone. They actually grind away kind of quickly on a coarse india stone as I found out, but that is far from  a 1500 JIS stone.

 

There has been lots of very good advice already and just wanted to point out that fact about copying to acute an angle maybe being the real cause of the problem raising a burr.

 

Hope that helps!

 

"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

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"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

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post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 

Message received!

 

I worked for a seafood wholesaler in college. When cleaning and portioning a whole tuna, you have to dive in and make assertive cuts. Being timid = failure. Sharp knives help too (we used white-handled Dexter-Russells on Diamond hones back then. Diamond hones can wear a knife out in short order). I am guessing that sharpening is like portioning yellowfin. 

 

I intend to use these knives, I picked the K-Sabatiers because I wanted good, affordable knives and everyone gave me money for my birthday. I was able to buy a core set for a couple hundred. I wanted knives that I would actually use. If I had dropped $300+ on an chef's knife, I probably would have stored it in a glass case with a laser shield and never used it. K-Sabs seemed the best balance of cost and quality to me, 

 

David

post #16 of 21

Lenny,

Quote:
Originally Posted by LennyD View Post

Since I was spending a whole lot of time sharpening my own Henckels not too long ago and did thin them all a fairly good amount before sharpening (only to later find out they can not hold anywhere near that acute of an angle anyhow lol) in an attempt to get them sharper etc I have to recommend using a more coarse stone. They actually grind away kind of quickly on a coarse india stone as I found out, but that is far from  a 1500 JIS stone.

Do you know about the magic marker trick? This should not be happening to you: it means you're guessing at angles and grinding. Coat the edge of the knife with sharpie permanent marker and grind a few strokes. What is hitting the stone will not be inked any more. If you're grinding too acute, you're going to have ink all along the edge, because you're not hitting that edge. If you're just getting into sharpening, you MUST do this, if you ask me, to prevent the learning curve from being unbearably steep.

post #17 of 21

Chris been using the marker trick for a long time as I was always concerned with not screwing up something I was trying to fix, and figured the knife maker knew what angle to use on their knife. Well I guess that was true until I ran into all you guys and started seeing all the really sharp edges you all were putting on your knives, and that is where things started going down hill with the Henckels

 

I was basically attempting to put more acute edges on the Henckels (yes intentionally lol) prior to starting my internet searches on what was wrong and after finding the more popular forums actually lowered the angles initially before figuring out that the problem was not as much to do with my sharpening (which could always be improved imho) as it was the steel that was being sharpened and the angles I was attempting to bring them too.

 

Had even used the marker to create a wider bevel so I could see how things were progressing towards the edge while thinning etc.

 

Even used the trick again when first sharpening the new J knives initially before deciding to thin them some as well. Thankfully it worked out much better on the J knives than the germans lol.

 

I guess I just found that it was taking too much time to raise a burr when I was being careful and using the washita side of my combo stone to thin and that sounded similar to the problem sausage was having, and wanted to share etc.

 

"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

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"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

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post #18 of 21

Because I use my SpyderCo, everything has a 15-17deg double bevel on it. If I have to reprofile stuff I'll do it in a stone, then sharpen with the SpyderCo. It's nothing more than a utility thing for me - it takes less time, mess, water, space, etc... to use the sharpmaker over a stone. I'm talking about chef/gyuto/pairing/other common knives however. I still do my cleavers, "sushi" knives and a few others on the stone.

 

the point I'm getting to is that my old Wusthof and Heinkles knives went from 20deg to 15deg and are perfectly happy there. I wouldn't go less however. And a tuned 15deg double-bevel is just fine for the stuff I do, even if a J-knife could go less. If a knife can't deal with a 30deg included angle then it goes to the church kitchen, the goodwill or the garbage.

Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 

Update:

 

Ok, I tried the marker trick last night. LennyD was spot on- I was trying to sharpen at too acute of an angle. I wore off all of the marker at the top of the bevel and never touched the edge. I dried the knife and started over. I was able to raise a burr on the front half (tip) of the knife. You were right, you know when it is there! I was not able to get one on the back half. On closer inspection, I think that this knife needs to go back to a 500 grit for re profiling. It is very worn. Overall I feel like I am getting the gist of it though. Technique will come with time. I'll keep practicing. 

 

Thanks again for all of the advice,

 

David

post #20 of 21

Hooray! Keep us posted: now that you know what you're trying to hit, let us know how you get along now that you're hitting it.

post #21 of 21


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sausagemaker View Post

Update:

 

Ok, I tried the marker trick last night. LennyD was spot on- I was trying to sharpen at too acute of an angle. I wore off all of the marker at the top of the bevel and never touched the edge. I dried the knife and started over. I was able to raise a burr on the front half (tip) of the knife. You were right, you know when it is there! I was not able to get one on the back half. On closer inspection, I think that this knife needs to go back to a 500 grit for re profiling. It is very worn. Overall I feel like I am getting the gist of it though. Technique will come with time. I'll keep practicing. 

 

Thanks again for all of the advice,

 

David



How did you make out with your re profiling?

 

Not too long after the above I started to consider if my petty was at too acute an angle as it seems these J knives somehow push you to push the limits on them and we or at least I may have been lowering it just a bit too much as though hair shaving sharp it seems to not hold up as long as the others. My guess is that I got carried away and pushed it past it's limits, but that is seeming to be what it is all about now isnt it lol.

 

"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

Reply

 

"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

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