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First Set of Waterstones

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hi all,


Through the help of this forum, a year or two ago I purchased my first higher end chef's knife, a Mac Pro.  I'm not sure where all of my posts went, I'm assuming the forum upgrade did away with them.  I am looking to purchase my first set of waterstones to sharpen the Mac Pro and a couple of other assorted knives I have.  I'm looking to keep the budget on the lower end, but don't want to purchase a stone for $25 to only want to upgrade to a $50 stone a few months later.


Looking around online, I found a 3 stone set from Chef Knives to Go that includes a Beston 500, a Bester 1.2K, a Suehiro Rika 5K for $130.  What are your thoughts on this kit?  Would be a good starter kit or does someone have any better suggestions?


Thanks in advance for everyone's advice!

post #2 of 4
It's an exceptionally good kit at a fair price.

Presumably you're aware that although the Beston is a very important stone it's not one you'll be using often. If you want to put off buying all three stones at once, that's the one to wait on. Further, coarse stones have consequences, and sometimes they can be darn near permanent. As coarse stones go the Beston is fairly forgiving -- but you still don't want to mess with it until you're consistent with your 1K-ish stone (the Bester at 1.2K is a prime example) and whatever you choose for the next step up.

The Beston and Bester are each parts of my own kit and each are very good indeed. They're both very fast, and both leave a finer scratch than you'd expect for their speed or nominal grit level. Both are very hard, but each has enough tactile and aural feedback to compensate. And both need a lot of soaking before they're wet enough to use. Some people give 30 minutes as an absolute minimum, but an hour is really more like it and overnight isn't too much. That means you're not going to be doing any "spur of the moment" sharpening.

If you do get the kit, at some point you may want to add a fourth stone to play with a higher polish -- or maybe not.

I think of the Suehiro Rika (excellent stone by the way) as more of a stepping stone to a polish than a final destination.

If you would like more polish, you might want to substitute the Takenoko (6K, and aka Arashiyama) as the final stone instead of the Rika.

The Rika polishes more like a 3K than it's nominal 5K rating, while the Takenoko is sometimes referred to as 8K because it punches above its weight. The Takenoko is very fast for such a fine stone, but the Rika is still faster and has the most amazingly wonderful feel.

If you're going to be sharpening a lot of higher end knives, I'd buy the Suehiro with the idea of adding another stone later. If you have a couple of good Japanese knives, and you want to see what a bright polish is all about, perhaps the Taeknoko is the best choice. If your MAC is the best knife in your kit and likely to remain that way for a long time, we're back to the Rika -- but this time as an end point.

If you're totally confused, give Mark at CKTG a call, tell him you've been talking to me, and ask his advice.

Hope this helps,
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

As per usual, thanks for the fantastic and quick response.  I'm not totally confused, but perhaps that's my ignorance coming into play.


A couple of questions/comments...


Whether or not I order the lower grit stone now, I'll be sure to keep my hands off it until I'm capable on the 1.2K.  Thanks for that.


The MAC is likely to be the best knife in my kit for quite some time.  I have a MAC chef knife and paring knife, then a few assorted lower end knives that I let my significant other/guests use (Forschner Fibrox chef knife) and I plan on getting a 6 inch Nogent slicer as a petty, mainly chosen for the historic connection and because I want to play with carbon.  I could see myself wanting to add a Takenoko 6K eventually if the even greater level of polish had a noticeable impact on performance.  Do you think that the MAC would benefit noticeably from the higher polish of the Takenoko 6K or is the Rika 5K at the limit of improving the MAC's performance?

post #4 of 4
Both the Sab and the MAC can make use of the extra polish from the Takenoko. Neither will hold the high polish level for a particularly long time, but the benefits last long enough to be worthwhile. As far as the Sab goes, Takenoko is probably as far as is practically worthwhile, although I've certainly polished mine at much higher grit levels -- and sometimes still do.

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