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Yet another sharpening question. Specific questions about starter stone sets.

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I've been sharpening my own pocket knives with varying degrees of success with different systems since I was a kid. Though I've grown to like my Lansky 5 stone set, it's not suited very well to the large kitchen knives

 

I've spent time on the 'net and this site trying to gather info, but of course the sheer volume of information can be daunting.

 

If  money were no object, I'd go straight for an Edge Pro system and never look back. However, since I have to deal with reality and a budget, I figure taking the time to master sharpening by free-hand (my weakness)  is certainly worth it in the long run in terms of cost and versatility. The question then becomes what stones to start with.  I know many people recommend water stones, but I have some experience with oil stones and don't mind them. Plus, they're reasonably cheap.

 

My small stable of kitchen knives includes 2 old carbon steel Sabatiers, a few Forschners and various cheep-o grocery store stainless knives that are used for sharpening practice, puncturing tin cans and little else.  In that light, what do you fine folks think of these set-ups as a reasonable starter set given I'm just a home cook who wants sharp everyday knives? They seem to be good "bang for the buck" options.

 

Kit 1:  Unspecified Norton 8x2 Course/Fine India combi-stone and Norton 8x2 Soft/Hard Arkansas Combi/stone plus oil. Both in wooden cases. $59.99 + shipping. Sharpening Supplies   Seems like a great value.

 

Kit 2:  Norton IB8  8x2x3/4, Course/Fine India combi-stone plus a Norton IM50 (SIMCS8 plus sharpening station ) 8x2x3/4 Medium India / Soft Arkansas combi-stone. I believe both stones would fit the plastic sharpening station that also includes a cheap plastic guide and a can of "sharpening oil" (expensive lamp oil).  $79.90, free shipping. Cutlery and More

 

Kit 3:  One of the following individual Norton 8x3x1/2 stones in their own plastic cases, plus a can of that overpriced oil  - Coarse Crysolon, Medium India, Fine India, Soft Arkansas.  $99.99, free shipping. Sharpening Supplies

 

Or is the two combi-stone (220/1000 & 4000/8000 ) Norton water stone + flattening stone kit from Sharpening Supplies enough of a performance jump to be worth it at $134.99?

 

<edit to add> Or what about a Norton IB8 India Course/Fine Plus a Hall's Soft Ark? And what of Norton vs. Halls Arkansas stones?  Heck, now I'm confusing myself. Am I nuts for not starting out with water stones? I planned on trying the water stones wet anyway.  A set of Naniwa Super stones in 220, 1000 and 3000 seem like and admirable start as well.

 

Add to any of the above an Idahone ceramic hone to complete the kit.

 

I'm not brand loyal to Norton in any way, but they do have a known reputation and buying either "kit" from their respective vendors saves a bit on shipping, driving around, etc. I'm open to any suggestions about the above or any other ideas. Just keep in mind that I'm not likely to suddenly buy high end Japanese cutlery any time soon and can't justify spending hundreds of dollars on stones for "Best in budget class" and heirloom carbon knives. I'm quite happy with the stamped steel Forschners and old K-Sabs and will likely expand my kit over time with other high value knives.

 

Thanks,

 

Doug


Edited by Phreon - 1/21/11 at 4:00pm
post #2 of 15

Norton IB-8 coarse/fine India combi

Norton IM-50 sharpening station

Hall's (not Norton!) Soft Arkansas (with the idea of adding a Hall's Surgical Black later) or a Hall's Hard Arkansas.

 

If your budget allows you to choose between a IM50 and a Hall's Black, get the black now and hold off on the sharpening station.  There are a lot of things which cost pennies and work almost as well as the "sharpening station."  

 

You don't need to use "honing oil," but if you decide to do so you can use ordinary mineral oil (from the pharmacy) and thin it down a little with mineral spirits.  You can use ordinary dish detergent, soapy water, plain water or go dry just as well as honing oil.  When I sharpen on oilstones, I almost always sharpen dry.  In any case it's important to keep your stones clean.

 

Not all Arkansas stones are created equal.  The Hall's are better than the Nortons across the board, and less expensive too.  However, I'm not a big fan of any of the hard Arks currently quarried. You can go from a fine India to a hard Ark without any problem, but you'll end up with much better edges if you follow a soft with a black.  As I understand it the problem is the quality of the stones coming out of the ground and not the particular grit level.  

 

You can't beat the Norton India series (India is a Norton trade name for man-made aluminum oxide stones) for efficiency, quality and value.  But you don't need a kit which has all three grit levels.  You can get by with a medium but the pair of coarse and fine are better.  You'll only want to use the coarse for repairs or once a year or so for thinning and reprofiling, but it's nice to have when you want it.  The fine draws a burr very quickly -- and you don't need (or want) anything coarser for ordinary sharpening.

 

I suggest staying away from Arkansas combi stones.  They tend to separate. 

 

Hope this helps,

BDL

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post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice!

 

I think I'll grab an IB8 from our local knife dealer (check out Cecil Clark's, if you're ever in SW Ohio) and order a Hall's soft Ark.  It'll take me a while to gain a steady enough hand to really put a black Ark to good use and it's easier to budget anyway. Who wants to be in the position of having to choose between a saute pan or what is essentially an expensive rock?

 

The IB8 is advertised as being pre-oiled. Should I decide to use it dry or with water, should I boil it first?

 

Many thanks,

 

Doug

post #4 of 15
Bumping this thread, as I'm in the same position.

I have a victorinox fibrox chef knife, and cheaper stainless knifes for practice. I want to get my first sharpening stone, and am eyeing the Norton IB8, because of frugality and overall decent reviews.

However, I would like to use soapy water and not oil with the norton. How would I prep the norton? Boil it first or do nothing??

Thanks.
post #5 of 15

Nothing.  Don't worry about the oil unless you're going to follow the India with a water stone.  Even then, it probably doesn't transfer enough oil to the blade to make a difference -- especially if you rinse and wipe the knife after you're done with one surface and ready to move on to another.  And that's something you should always do.

 

The oil will completely disappear after cleaning the stone in the dishwasher.  I can't overemphasize how important it is to keep the stone clean.  I use soap, hot water and a brush after every knife; run it through the dishwasher after every sharpening session; and scour it with scouring powder and a brass (barbecue) brush whenever it looks like it's starting to clog.  If swarf gets in the pores it will not only slow the stone down but tend to leave scratches. 

 

The coarser side of the IB-8 is a "coarse India."  It's very coarse indeed and shouldn't be used until you're a fairly competent sharpener.  As generic advice, I suggest learning on a medium-coarse stone (such as the finer side of the IB-8) then moving on to something finer.  Don't use a coarse stone until you can hold your angles well enough to consistently and reliably sharpen with something fine. 

 

The finest side of the IB-8 is a "fine India" which leaves a finish roughly equivalent to what a 750 - 1000# JIS waterstone would leave.  In other words, it's fairly coarse.  If you can afford it would do better if you added a hard Arkansas stone to your sharpening set. 

 

When using my oil stone set, I follow the fine India with a soft Arkansas and finish with a "Surgical Black" Arkansas.  In one sense, the soft Ark is also a medium-coarse stone and as such isn't meaningfully finer than the fine India, and I don't think it's actually necessary, but it makes the work with the black go much faster. 

 

The black makes for a very fine, long lasting, versatile and fairly well polished edge.  A hard Ark finish isn't quite as good, but the stone is significantly cheaper, faster and easier to master.  A good translucent Ark does the same things as a good black but does them very slightly better.  However, the price jump form good black to good translucent is substantial, and I don't think the slight superiority is worth it. 

 

If you're interested in buying a surgical black Ark, only buy from Hall's Pro Edge.  They've got the only good good quarry for blacks. 

 

BDL

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post #6 of 15
Pretty happy I stumbled across this as in a few weeks my new MAC Pros should be coming and i want to treat these right and properly get into stone use....
post #7 of 15

You want water stones for the MAC, not oil stones. 

 

BDL

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post #8 of 15
Yeah doing a lot of reading up the now.... will probably be burning your ears soon though hopefully ordering my knives this week then the long inpatient wait for them to arrive..... I'll be going down the waterstone route though....
post #9 of 15

Hi,

Thank you for all these posts. I just bought a Hiromoto Aogami Super Gyoto 210 and wonder what I should use to sharpen it with?

I have a Zwilling 9.5 chef; it's too heavy and a chef's choice manual two stage sharpener, a soft arkansas 4x1.5".  So this is a step up, huh (?) and I want to take care of my new knife.

I'm ready for some cooking and willing to do a little work.

 

Two stones:  Maybe 1000 and 5000 or 8000?  Just a guess.  Oil or water???

Ok.  I have no idea what I'm talking about.

 

Thanks.

post #10 of 15

check out the sharpening stone sets from chefknivestogo, or even a double grit stone with a 1k/4k or 1k/6k grit. it'll work on both your knives.

 

and water, only water.

 

=D

 

but if you want, soapy water will do well as well.

post #11 of 15

Thank you!

post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Nothing.  Don't worry about the oil unless you're going to follow the India with a water stone.  Even then, it probably doesn't transfer enough oil to the blade to make a difference -- especially if you rinse and wipe the knife after you're done with one surface and ready to move on to another.  And that's something you should always do.

 

The oil will completely disappear after cleaning the stone in the dishwasher.  I can't overemphasize how important it is to keep the stone clean.  I use soap, hot water and a brush after every knife; run it through the dishwasher after every sharpening session; and scour it with scouring powder and a brass (barbecue) brush whenever it looks like it's starting to clog.  If swarf gets in the pores it will not only slow the stone down but tend to leave scratches. 

 

The coarser side of the IB-8 is a "coarse India."  It's very coarse indeed and shouldn't be used until you're a fairly competent sharpener.  As generic advice, I suggest learning on a medium-coarse stone (such as the finer side of the IB-8) then moving on to something finer.  Don't use a coarse stone until you can hold your angles well enough to consistently and reliably sharpen with something fine. 

 

The finest side of the IB-8 is a "fine India" which leaves a finish roughly equivalent to what a 750 - 1000# JIS waterstone would leave.  In other words, it's fairly coarse.  If you can afford it would do better if you added a hard Arkansas stone to your sharpening set. 

 

When using my oil stone set, I follow the fine India with a soft Arkansas and finish with a "Surgical Black" Arkansas.  In one sense, the soft Ark is also a medium-coarse stone and as such isn't meaningfully finer than the fine India, and I don't think it's actually necessary, but it makes the work with the black go much faster. 

 

The black makes for a very fine, long lasting, versatile and fairly well polished edge.  A hard Ark finish isn't quite as good, but the stone is significantly cheaper, faster and easier to master.  A good translucent Ark does the same things as a good black but does them very slightly better.  However, the price jump form good black to good translucent is substantial, and I don't think the slight superiority is worth it. 

 

If you're interested in buying a surgical black Ark, only buy from Hall's Pro Edge.  They've got the only good good quarry for blacks. 

 

BDL

 

Okay, returning back to this thread with a little clarifying information, and a few questions.

 

To be clear, Hall's Soft Arkansas stone is considered "medium," Hall's Hard Arkansas is "fine," Hall's Black Arkansas is "extra-fine," and Translucent is also "extra-fine" (though presumably finer, and more expensive, and probably more of a specialty item, since there is limited availability).  For the 8 x 2 x 1 size, soft is $29, hard is $43, and black is $83.

 

BDL, to clarify your suggested progression for a noob:

Start with Norton India fine.  Then follow up with Hard Arkansas.  (Even though you'd follow with soft Arkansas followed by black Arkansas, a route that would be significantly more expensive for someone just starting out.)

 

And this regimen would be appropriate for carbon Sabatiers, Wusthof, Henckels, and Forschners?

 

Many thanks for the guidance and knowledge.

post #13 of 15

There's no consistent terminology, so don't take this too seriously, but.................... 

 

Soft Ark = Medium/coarse, occupying the same slot in an oil stone sharpening kit as a 1K Japanese synthetic does in a water stone kit

 

Hard Ark = Medium, like a synthetic aoto

 

Black = Fine/ultra-fine, which is "more sharp than shine" and includes a tiny bit of tooth. 

 

Translucent = Ultra-fine/polish, lots of shine, and lots of sharp too. 

 

But.................  This is more quibble than anything else, just a way of figuring out who buys which round of drinks. 

 

Bottom line:  You've got the idea and are running with it exactly as you should.

 

BDL

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post #14 of 15

Thanks for the confirmation . . .

 

(Incidentally, the descriptive adjectives and progression came from the Hall's website, http://www.hallsproedge.com/bench2.php

 

I was getting confused by the different names, which were not very intuitive to me.  Connecting to familiar terms like medium, fine, extra-fine helped me keep them straight.  And I have no idea what a synthetic aoto is. . . )

 

I suppose I (and a great many others) owe you at least a drink for the once again helpful advice!

post #15 of 15

Dick (Hall) knows as much about Arkansas stones as anyone in the universe and plenty about sharpening too.  But -- God how I hate that word sometimes -- his context is the context of oil stones and not what's becoming the more general context of synthetic water stones.  Anyway, the names don't matter.  They're just a way of getting different people on the same page as to when and why to use a particular stone. 

 

An aoto is the Japanese name for a "medium" water stone.  They're a good first stone for drawing a burr on a knife which is still pretty sharp and leaves a toothy edge -- just about right for meat work.  They're not fast enough to quickly draw a burr on a knife with a worn edge, or to polish out the scratch left by a coarse stone -- at least not without lots of time and effort.  They leave too much scratch for either a mirror finish or a truly fine edge.  The two best synthetic aotos are the Nonpareil and the Naniwa.  An aoto is a very useful stone in the right kit, but there are better 2Ks -- especially the Ginga which needs less soaking, is significantly faster, has more reach, flattens better, and doesn't dish nearly as easily.

 

Burns night is coming soon.  If you're buying, I'm drinking. 

 

BDL

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