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Recommendations on stone grit progression and brands

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I was wondering if you guys could let me know what you think might be a good set of grit levels?  I don't think I want to buy fifteen stones going from 120 through 12,000, so I was wondering which three or four would be the best set?

 

While you're at it, could you also recommend particular brands -- there are so many out there, and the price difference is huge: the Chosera 1000x costs more than three times as much as the King 1000x.

 

I understand that a big part of this question will be about personal preferences, so maybe if you could just mention what brands you prefer and why, it would be very helpful.

post #2 of 5

How many stones work best for you depends on your knife set and what edges you want.  There's no universal best sharpening kit.  Even as basic a difference as "oil or water stones?" depends on what kinds of alloys you're sharpening.

 

I'm not suggesting you do what I do, but by way of an example I prefer four stone sets with the idea that the coarsest stone will be very coarse and used for occasional profiling and repair; and the finest stone will be very fine and used for polishing those knives which can use it.  The other two medium grit stones are for "raising a burr" (aka "pulling a wire") which is the actual sharpening process of creating a true, fine, fresh metal edge.  However, if you're not looking for a great deal of polish you can certainly make the medium/fine do double duty.

 

I have a complete oil stone set and a complete water stone set -- some knives sharpen equally well on the different sets.  With stainless at least, the difference seems to lie somewhere in the difference between toughness and strength.  That is, stronger, harder knives do better on water stones.

 

You're going to have to make some decision about what level of polish you're willing to sharpen and maintain -- and that will determine your final stone.

 

On Choseras specifically:  They're great stones, I have no complaint about their performance whatsoever, but they aren't worth the price.  There are other stones which perform just as well and are also considerably less expensive.

 

Don't buy bench stones less than 8" long.  For kitchen knives anyway, small stones are a false economy which make sharpening a lot more difficult than it should be.  The savings are a classic false economy 

 

If you're not looking for an ultra bargain or beginner set, I recommend the following kits:

 

Oil stones: 

1 and 2. Norton India coarse and fine or the Norton India coarse and fine combi stone (IB-8, or IC-8).  Indias are almost as fast as Crystolons with much less tendency to scratch.  They're also more chip and crack resistant. 

 

3.  Hall's Soft Arkansas.  Hall's not Norton or Dan's.  The quarry makes a difference.  We can get into this in another post if you like, but I've already written a lot about it here and there.

 

4.  Hall's Surgical Black Arkansas

 

Water stones:

1.  Beston 500.  All coarse stones suck.  This is the least sucky of all.

 

2.  Bester 1200.  Fantastic stone.  Unlike the Chosera 1000, it has a few idiosyncracies -- for instance it requires a long soak and it's quite hard -- but it's a better sharpener and lends itself to a big jump to the next grit level.  And it's not much more than half the price of the Chosera.

 

3.  Probably an Arashiyama (aka Takenoko).  It's actually a 6K, but some sellers rate it at 7K or 8K because the polish is so bright and smooth.  I like this stone as a final stone for most kitchen knives a lot.  A helluva lot, actually.  It's a very fast stone, very easy to learn and use, very easy to maintain, and very reasonably priced.  If you're looking for more polish for some of your knives (say going to the 8K, 10K or some even higher level) you're probably looking for less polish for some of the others; and that would mean a complete rethink.  But unless that's the case, it's not worth discussing.

 

Flattening is a big issue with water stones.  I suggest you pick up some fairly coarse drywall screen, put it in a sheet pan, soaking your stones, wetting the screen thoroughly, and start flattening (and chamfering) by moving the stones across the screen.  You'll need to rinse the screen clean frequently to keep it from clogging.  This is a somewhat messy and slow process but it's very effective, easy to learn and cheap as can be.  A life time supply of drywall screen will run you less than $15.  After you've been sharpening for a few years, take stock of the inconvenience and consider investing the $80+ in a DMT XXC. 

 

A few final words... Stones can be fairly trendy and my recommendations are definitely in the current mainstream.  That said, the oil stones are my current kit (it appears I'm one of the trend makers) I've been using for some years.  As it happens I got on the Beston/Bester bandwagon at the same time everyone else did.  I don't own a Takenoko, but would if I wanted a 6K edge. 

 

Also, we "experts" certainly have our favorites and stones we don't like and the differences are often irrational.  There are a lot of right ways to sharpen and a lot of great stones.  The best way to take my advice is to remember that it's a post on a board and not chiseled on stone tablets. 

 

Hope this helps,

BDL

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post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Okay right now I have a cheap two sided stone (supposedly medium-fine but both sides are definitely in the hundreds), a King 1000, and a natural Aoto stone of indeterminate grit, though I understand these have been known to run from 2000 to 5000.  I ordered another Aoto stone to try the "self-flattening" thing I wondered about, and also just ordered a Takenoko that is labeled as 8K, though as you point out it may really be a 6K.  It sounds like this would be plenty for the moment, until I bought some knives for which the look would be a big concern -- like a folded steel knife or something.

 

It seems that only certain types of cutting is helped by sharpening beyond even 2000-3000 -- sashimi, for example.  So for me the 6-8K would really already be an aesthetic thing until I start learning to make some Japanese dishes or at least incorporate Japanese cutting techniques in my cooking (glass-smooth London broil?).

 

Ever since I bought the King 1000 stone I've been reshaping directly on it, and it works fine, though I find that it wears down very quickly.  I haven't even used the cheap rough stone since I bought the King.  I might though if I bought a new knife -- all of my existing knives were already at about 20 degrees or so and so the reshaping was not radical.

 

Technique wise, I wonder about the one stroke versus two stroke sharpening -- I used to always sharpen in one direction only, pulling the knife in the direction of the spin and trying to run the whole edge diagonally so that each stroke covered the entire edge on the stone, but the water stone videos I see seem to mostly run only a part of the knife back and forth on the stone, moving up and down the blade.  I have been trying that but it seems to give me less control, resulting in more variance on the bevel width along the knife.

 

Will put up some photos once I get everything in the mail and run a knife through the set.

post #4 of 5

All things considered, I'd say that you really don't need anything but what you've got -- the King and the aoto. There aren't all that many knives that really gain much from polish beyond what a decent natural aoto can do with reasonable technique. I agree with you 100% about the King 1k: it's remarkable just how aggressive that thing can be when you have to do some serious metal-removal, but it's not so aggressive that it will eat a knife that just needs a touchup. It's cheap, too. You find that it wears fast, I think, because you use it for things like reprofiling. Once you're done with that kind of thing -- or get a 500 like BDL suggests, you'll find that it's not especially fast-wearing.

 

I would also recommend the Arashiyama/Takenoko, which is indeed about 6k. In my experience, which doesn't seem to be matched by everyone -- I bought the thing in Japan and there may be slight manufacturing differences -- you've got to soak the heck out of that thing. I just drop it in water and wait 2+ hours. If I don't do this, it doesn't raise mud significantly, and then it does a mediocre job.

 

I have a considerable set of Choceras -- 400, 800, and 2k -- and I agree with BDL. They're fabulous, but not worth the money. I got them for WAY less than you could, because I got them in Japan, on deep discount, before the yen/dollar rate tanked. They still weren't so cheap.

post #5 of 5


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capsaicin View Post

 

Technique wise, I wonder about the one stroke versus two stroke sharpening -- I used to always sharpen in one direction only, pulling the knife in the direction of the spin and trying to run the whole edge diagonally so that each stroke covered the entire edge on the stone, but the water stone videos I see seem to mostly run only a part of the knife back and forth on the stone, moving up and down the blade.  I have been trying that but it seems to give me less control, resulting in more variance on the bevel width along the knife.

 

Will put up some photos once I get everything in the mail and run a knife through the set.


FWIW I have found messing around or testing different styles of sharpening very enlightening.

 

Being that the majority of the knives I had sharpened for many years were folders and hunting with only 2-5 inch blades (except for an occasional attempt at a machete) and just started about a year ago with longer blades being the ones sharpened most when I started messing with re profiling my old Henckels and Mundials etc I had also used the diagonal full length of the stone method often as well. I was very comfortable with it, and got reasonably acceptable results, but like yourself started attempting "sectioning" more after seeing so many videos online.

 

I know everyone has different feelings on this, but it seems both work well, and for me at least which one is better depends on the knife in question, and even the length and blade shape, and even possibly my mood lol.

 

Maybe on longer knives the sectioning style can actually relate to more even bevels or angles, but on curves like you find towards the tip I find I get better results and more even especially from diagonally sharpening. To be honest though I have found that somehow when pushing and pulling the blade diagonally it is easy to over finese it a bit and actually start messing up an otherwise really good even bevel. Could just be me but I find that does not happen with sectioning.

 

Also since Chris had recommended me to really soak the 6K good and long it has performed much better, and was a whole lot easier and even just felt better than when I had soaked it for only 10-15 min when first using it. And I have not even had it in over an hour yet so I am expecting it to get even better.

 

I am far from the pro on waterstones etc, but I really think you need to spend some time trying different stones, and styles and see what works best for you with different stones and knives etc. and just from my short time getting used to these type of stones I have found myself doing things very differently than I had on the oil stones and wet papers I had used in the past, and also that there are more than a few of those "aha" moments :)  when you find something really works.

 

Cant wait to see those pics!

 

"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...

Reply
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