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Fear of Sharpening Stones and Freehand Sharpening

post #1 of 76
Thread Starter 

See it all the time.

 

A newcomer to J-knives or just higher quality knives seems to be overwhelmed and resistant to the idea of sharpening on stones.

 

I know many of us have had the feeling of "I don't want to mess up my new knife" etc.

 

In response some run to the idea of paying someone and others to finding some gadget or machine to do it.

 

Nothing wrong with it all, but I am honestly more than a little curious to what your fear may be or why you may be looking to avoid using whetstones etc?

 

I was cautious at the idea of scratching up or actually reducing the sharpness on my new knife as well, and later found it was like most worry a waste of time as now I would not do it any other way.

 

The idea here is that if we discuss this in depth in a dedicated thread maybe the next newbie will find it easier or at least less intimidating by us sharing our misery etc :)

 

So lets hear what your concerns were, or are with freehand sharpening on stones.

 

PS. before anyone gets excited I am aware that some people can get a great edge with some of the various machines or systems available, and also that some have put serious amounts of their time into creating and improving them as well. This is not a shot at those systems, but just to try and make things a little easier for anyone looking to maintain a sharp edge 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...

Reply
post #2 of 76

I think this is a great idea for a thread.  It's an open enough topic to invite long essayistic responses on the of those of us who get talkative, though.

 

My fears were: I won't ever "get it" -- I'll just not be able to do it. People who are really good at it talk in quasi-mystical terms, the stones speak to them and such, and I lost most interest in mysticism some years ago. 

 

And: I'll just mess up my knives. I need to buy cheaper knives to practice on, which I don't want to do because I'll be spending money on knives I don't like, and then the steel will be different enough that the cheap knives won't prepare me for the better steel anyway.  Just like taking a low-dose of ... Oops.  I didn't mean to go there.

 

Fear of not learning it, though: I'm interested in good knives, and they will get dull, and they won't be better than crappy knives.  And I'll show off my expensive-crappy knives. Or I won't show them off but I'll look at them and feel un-cool.  Or I'll look at them and despair of my lack of prudence with not sticking with the $12.00/knife guy I know. His knives are just as good, now that everything's gotten dull.  And I'm a fool.

 

Fear of having to send nice knives across the country and be without them, and pay too much for the kinds of sharpening that I might have to do too often.

 

Fear of "messing up" my knife as a beginner.  As you said, scratching, reducing the sharpness of the knife.  Or scratching REAL BAD, even, or doing something to the edge that would take a pro to fix.

 

So fears.   Just posted on HBeing's thread, slightly differently, about these same things. (x-referenced this thread, there, too, btw!)

 

P.S. -- oh yeah, fear of just not being into it after spending money on equipment.  Fear of being INTO it and spending money on it as a hobby (lost in the black hole of having to try different types of stones, more expensive stones, maybe various accessories -- some of which are just not cheap to start, like a good flattening plate).  So fear of not getting into it, and fear of getting into it.

post #3 of 76
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
quasi-mystical

 

I saw that myself as well. Kind of intimidating and intriguing at the same time lol

 

What I really found interesting was like you point out above how when your researching sharpening some make it seem to be so complex and zen like etc that you might think your going to need to invest the time you may think would be needed to learn a martial art of something.

 

Though that may be true to a point in that you can find a "zone" etc I do not think it is encouraging to someone new looking into learning to freehand etc.

 

After reading some of the threads on other sites I even found myself saying "wow is that what I am doing" 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...

Reply
post #4 of 76

I can so relate to what was said in this thread. LOL

 

I purchased a Forshcner (Spelled it wrong I think) 8" chef knife, and then had some issues chopping onions.

People here said it might need sharpened.  Coming from the area of mainly purchasing electronics, the idea of buying something brand new, and then rubbing it on a rough stone just sounded horrible. 

 

I then thought that I should try and buy a cheap FarberWare  knife from Walmart to practice, which I regret doing.

I still can't seem to sharpen FarberWare and Chicago Cutlery knives for some reason, but I can take my Forschner and

get it to a level of sharpness where it can shave the hair off my  arm. 

 

 

I am a beginner in the world of cooking.  If you have any tips, feel free to send them my way.  Advice is always appreciated.

 
 
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I am a beginner in the world of cooking.  If you have any tips, feel free to send them my way.  Advice is always appreciated.

 
 
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post #5 of 76
The Farberware knives are made from an alloy called 420J. As often as not, when you see a knife advertised as "surgical stainless" it's 420J. The Chicago Cutlery are made from the same or worse. Don't blame yourself or your technique. 420J is a very difficult alloy to sharpen, and almost impossible to deburr. It's highest cutlery usages are tableware and dive knives

About the only way to put an edge on it is with a wheel, some sort of carbide sharpener, or a very aggressive steel. If you want to keep the knives, buy one of those $10 carbide sharpeners advertised as good for tackle boxes. An Accusharp is probably as good as any. Keep it away from your good knives, though.

Up until the early seventies Chicago Cutlery mostly made carbon (non-stainless) pro butchers' knives; and they were very good.. Back then a butcher's hardest decision was choosing between Forschner and CC. I own one (CC knife, not a butcher), a late-sixties heavy cleaver, and it's a beauty -- not that it gets used much. The company was sold and reorganized, farmed out their manufacturing, went all stainless, and for awhile their knives were sort of hit or miss. Some lines were good, others horrible. At some point, in the nineties I think, they moved all their manufacturing to Chinese sub-contractors and they stopped making good knives at all. I'm not sure where they have them made now -- wherever labor's cheapest and workers treated like animals. Human decency aside they're the worst sort of company, peddling junk while trading on a once-proud name.

It's a little harder to discuss Farberware knives. Even though they can't really be sharpened, there's some value for money for those who never sharpen their knives anyway.

BDL
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post #6 of 76

I was never worried about it.  I saw someone else sharpen on a stone and then just tried it myself later, trying to ape what I saw.  Turned out I was better at it than most.

 

The only thing that annoyed me was that I tended to scratch up the sides of the knives.  But until I got into higher end stuff I didn't care how the knives looked as much.  They got sharp enough to shave my arm with and that's more than just about any non-artisan food preparation really needs.

 

When I got into the higher end stuff I also got into higher grit stones.  With some advice from people on this and other boards, I can (and regularly do) put edges I can shave my face with on knives.  Overkill, really, but what the hey.  I find the act of sharpening itself relaxing in an almost hypnotic way.  It's a stress buster for me.

 

And I also got a Farberware to check out.  It reminds me a bit of older Germans, but harder to sharpen.  Still, ANYONE can make a dull knife sharper by some distance with hardly any technique.  Even if someone had no idea what a burr even was, could not keep the angle consistent, and used the bottom of a ceramic coffee mug or bowl or brick or concrete, at the very least he'll have put some teeth on an otherwise smooth and dull edge that would only have been useful for crushing through food that can be crushed through, like cucumbers.  So, from a completely utilitarian point of view, ANY sharpening is useful sharpening, unless you were to do it on a 60+ hardness knife and chiop the hell out of it.  So, at most I would say start with a Fujiwara or Tojiro petty or something like that, learn your way around a high(er) hardness knife on J-waterstones or whatever -- even wet and dry sandpaper, or the extra-extra fine DMT for people who don't want any slurry or swarf on their counter -- and it would soon become clear that sharpening is not some weird magical thing that only born wizards can do, but more like tying a tie -- anyone can do at least some of it, but there is an endless variety of things you can learn about it for those who are so inclined.  But ANYONE can learn to tie a sailor knot, and it really doesn't take much to move up to a Windsor, a bowtie, etc.

Then again, some people just prefer to walk around with a clip-on for their whole lives.  It is their right if they so choose.

 

 

 

post #7 of 76

When I started with sharpening stones, I first experimented with cheap soft steel European knives with an old, very coarse stone they used for scytes! I didn't know any better. The metal came off very, very quickly and a coarse wide edge was the result. It cut well, but I didn't have anything to compare with. Today I have a fair idea what sharp knives mean, it's the result of try and error.

 

Then I bought my first Japanese knives and sharpening stones. My fears were how not to scratch the blades, but most of all how to avoid taking off too much metal, like in my first experiments.

Well, as you know after very little experience, an ordinary 1k "standard" stone (1k/6k King in this case) does not eat metal at the same speed as in my first try-outs. Nothing to worry about. Although, I'm still very cautious when sharpening the tip area of my knives. Many times I don't sharpen the tip areas enough, relatively to the rest of the edge. The result is that after many sharpenings the edge in the tip area looks a little straighter than an out-of-the-box new knife. Also, nothing to worry about as long as you keep a nice curve on your knives, never a straight line!

 

I like "damascus" knives. I learned to live with the reality that it's almost impossible to not scratch the blades. You can restore them a bit with erasing some scratches with very worn-out 1200 grit wet sandpaper and performing very gentle superficial wiping without pushing. You can and even re-etch them.

 

My advice to sharpening novices; buy a 1k stone or a combo with a higher grit and get on with it. Don't tell me you don't have an old knife in your drawers to experiment with!

Sharpening is a hands-on thing and it's not rocket science. You'll learn on the fly, just do it.

 

post #8 of 76

A Fujiwara petty would be very nice to learn on.  It's inexpensive, monosteel, and at about 58 hardness, not very brittle.  It would be a great starting place.

 

Tojiros are good too but the sanmai construction might be an issue for some people.

post #9 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Capsaicin View Post

Tojiros are good too but the sanmai construction might be an issue for some people.


Not for many (I'm one of the few), and not at all for sharpening. They sharpen just like every other VG-10 san-mai -- which is pretty much the same as almost any other decent knife. With a few glaring exceptions, good knives are easier to sharpen than bad ones. It's one of the things which makes them good. Knives with lousy edge properties are too obtuse, chip too easily, and/or are difficult to deburr.

There are a lot of nuances to sharpening really well. But they're nuances. Basic sharpening isn't at all difficult. For that matter, neither are the nuances -- there are just a lot of them and people get overwhelmed by their number. If you're free-handing, the easiest, efficient way to learn is the "burr method." That is, raise a burr, chase the burr (on an approximately 1K stone), then deburr. Repeat on a finer stone, raising a finer burr, and chasing it still finer. Once you can sharpen -- and only then -- polish, if desired. If you can polish without dulling the edge, you're ready to profile. As long as you take things when your skills permit, and don't expect too much from your first few hours, it's really pretty easy.

Our learning experiences were probably all fairly similar, but spread out differently.

I first learned to sharpen in the Boy Scouts. Sharpening was a condition of moving up from Tenderfoot or Second-Class, back then (1962, maybe) -- I forget which. You had to be able to sharpen a hatchet and your scout knife. The first couple of times I only made things worse, but then -- wonder of wonders! -- edges happened. I really learned -- in terms of raise, chase and deburr -- during my "apprenticeship" at the Blue Fox, a San Francisco restaurant, a little more than ten years later when I was a working grad-student. ("Apprenticeship" in quotes, because I never wanted a cooking career.)

As 'prenti, and boucher (aka not good enough yet to hold down the grill on the line; skipped garde, thank God), they gave me everyone's knives (Sabatier carbons and Forschner butchers'), a coarse India for repairs, and a Norton 313 with an India and two Arkansas stones to sharpen with. When you're sharpening thirty or forty knives a week somewhere perfection just isn't good enough, it doesn't take too long to [ahem] hone your basic skills.

Back then you saw a 313 in nearly every professional kitchen and woodshop with any sort of claim to quality. And if it's any comfort to you, even then it was a battle to keep people from putting cooking oil on the stones. More than thirty five years later, I still sometimes sharpen my own Sabs and Forschners on the same types of Arks and Indias in the 313. But, of course, no oil -- cooking, honing or otherwise.

When I was a grip, I used to sharpen most of my friends' knives as well as my own. More practice. In the process, I learned more about lousy alloys, bad geometries, and all sorts of bad knives and sharpening tools than anyone should know.

Over the years I found out about Japanese water stones from friends who used them for their woodworking tools and tried King, Norton, and Shapton Pros. I even bought a set of Nortons and then of Shapton Pros when the Nortons were stolen. Surprisingly, they weren't that much of an improvement compared to the Indias and Arks I was using for my then knife set. Anyway, a couple of those woodworking friends were sharpening tool junkies -- more exposure. One of them was also a Japanese knife nut -- who bought at least four chef's knives a year.

Now and then I taught cooking classes (mostly for charity, especially after law school), and I used to bring a few extra knives along and a Chef's Choice electric -- just in case. Nearly all the students were stunned to find out what it was like to use an actually sharp edge, and just as stunned when they could compare decent hand sharpening to a Chef's Choice. So I ended up offering basic sharpening and knife skills classes.

One thing about teaching, you really learn a lot. The lawyers especially used to bring in all the latest, most expensive knives and stones. More exposure.

Now I like knives and sharpening, but am really more interested in cooking. However when I started participating in the cooking boards it seemed like I was one of very few people who knew anything about carbon Sabs and Arkansas stones (obviously there are lots of people who know plenty more than me, but they're just not writing about it). I'd get lots of email and PMs -- and they were more about the hardware than food. I'm as much a sucker for strokes as the next man, so that became more of a focus. As it did, I did more research, bought more stuff, worked harder at learning, and so on.

BDL
Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/4/11 at 10:30am
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post #10 of 76

I first started to play with sharpening because I saw too many kung fu movies with swords in them.  I tried to put an edge on any flat piece of metal I could get my hands on -- and with a little bit of practice, managed to do so on a surprising number of such prison shivs as a wee lad.

 

In grade school, I was never in the scouts but was interested in the outdoorsmen knowledge (this was back in the 80's, when post-nuclear holocaust survival was a big "thing"), and so checked out the scouts handbook from the school library a few times to see what I could learn.  From what I remember it said to sharpen as if I'm cutting into the stone (about 20-30 degrees per side?), but I could never get the edge on it that I wanted -- it was just too soft, and had way too much chromium in it, but I didn't know that at the time.  Then I tried it with the cheap carbon butcher my family used as a cooking knife and...  Managed to get a very nice edge despite the mild steel and coarse 3"x1" stone that came with the scout knife I bought.

 

By high school, I bought myself an actual double sided Chinese synthetic stone from an army/navy surplus place.  Believe it or not some decent stuff used to come out of China before making money became their main goal.  It was about 200/600 and with this stone and stropping on newspaper I got every blade I owned sharp enough for arm hair, though way too rough for my face.

 

Moving out in college, I got a Henckels 6" chef.  It was not a bad knife, but I was always a little disappointed that I wasn't getting a better edge out of it than our old carbon butcher.

 

Time went by and I continued for many years working with just that 6" chef and a chopper because cooking for myself really doesn't require any more than that.  Then I bought a couple of Globals after reading Kitchen Confidential, in which book Bourdain pushed Globals, and found them to be much superior cutters than any bolstered German axe I've used.  I eventually bought a King 1000, and it got my knives sharper, but because I didn't know about flattening, burrs, and angles, I was still getting only a slightly better edge on the Globals than I had on the old carbon butcher (though the cutting power was substantially better because of the thinness behind the edge).

 

Only in the last year or so had I begun to learn about better cutlery and stones, beginning with an interest in straight razor shaving (which, it turned out, my skin is not suitable for) that led me to sites about knives and sharpening like this one.  Once I got through a few YouTube tutorials and bought a Takenoko, I was pretty much hooked.  Then I bought a bunch of different stones and started to sharpen friends' knives for them for practice.  Now I go up to 10K for my harder knives, really just because I wanted to let my mind rest once in a while.

 

I never did use any Arkansas because I have always done well enough with the synthetics, and since I don't own knives that are known to be better with Arks, I never saw the point of buying one to play with.  Maybe one day when I'm tired of living in apartments and move into a place with a large garage or work shed to stash stuff in.

post #11 of 76

BDL, I have a question for ya about honing steels and such.

 

Like I said before, I can get my Victorinox/Forschner knife super sharp;  but I wanted to know if I should own a steel/rod to use after sharpening it on a stone.

I am also using a Norton Oil/Water stone, and it seemed I could get a better edge using the oil for some reason. 

I believe this is the same stone I have: http://www.cutleryandmore.com/norton/coarse-fine-india-combination-oilstone-sharpening-station-p15312

 

Also, what is the reason for needing such high grit stones?  By high I am referring to 1000-8000 Grit.

 

I am a beginner in the world of cooking.  If you have any tips, feel free to send them my way.  Advice is always appreciated.

 
 
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I am a beginner in the world of cooking.  If you have any tips, feel free to send them my way.  Advice is always appreciated.

 
 
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post #12 of 76

 

The first time I read about waterstones was on a webshop where they sold these stones (as well a kitchen knives). The site had some video's where they showed how to use these stones and how you can easily sharpen your own knives.
 
After the guy finished with the last stone he took a piece of paper and cut through like it was butter. I was astonished, as I had never seen a knife that was even remotely as sharp. 
 
Because the video's showed step-by-step how to sharpen on waterstones I actually wasn't intimidated at all! He showed how to do it and I really believed that I could do it as well. Maybe not as good as he could, but how difficult could it be? He had only rubbed a knife over the stone with a pretty consistent angle, if that's all… I should be able to handle that! After all, he showed it step-by-step, how to hold the knife, how to move it etc.
 
So I ordered a set of stones.
 
When I received the stones I took out a very dull knife that I didn't value as much as my Wusthoff, took another look at the video's and made some notes how he sharpened the knife. I took a bucket of water, soaked the stones and went to work on the 800 stone. With a minute I could feel the difference already! The knife was getting sharp! Within 5 minutes it was already sharper than any knife I had ever helt, and it was only my first try!
 
After this I began sharpening my other knife. I can't consider myself a master sharpener, I actually consider myself to be a sharpening newbie. But I get my knifes sharp enough to cut through tomatoes with ease. So sharp that when I lay a tomato on a cutting board I can cut horizontal slices without touching or moving the tomato, just by slicing with my knife. (See the 'Konosuke HD vs Tomato' on youtube…). (I've only sharpened my chef's knife 4 times now). It really isn't that hard.
 
Anyone considering waterstones I'd really recommend checking out some youtube video's on guys learning how to sharp. There are some *great* resources out there that will really get you on the way very fast! The video's I saw are dutch, but I found some great beginner video's on Chef Knives To Go. You can find them here: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/knife-sharpening-tutorials.html and i'd highly recommend it if your thinking about sharpening or if you think you can learn more. They show you that you shouldn't be intimidated and you can (most likely) do it as well! As Mark from CKTG says: "Stay Sharp!".
post #13 of 76

We always had very sharp knives at home. My dad sharpened them on a regular base.

I had a bit of a go at it as a youngster on a very coarse stone with my pocket knife and it didn't get any sharper. So I just gave up and had my dad sort it (i was 8 or 10 or so at the time).

Later on, when I would go to friends houses I always found their knives incredibly dull and I just sharpened them on the back of an other knife. not very good for the knife, but at least it got them sharp enough to cut through something!

A couple of years ago I bought some Globals (also thanks to Kitchen Confidential) and started to toy with the idea of sharpening them myself. Still didn't do it, but kept them more or less in shape with a ceramic "steel".

Fairly recently I felt like upgrading and after asking several questions on this forum I decided on a Carbonext gyuto (24 cm) and a Fujiwara FKH petty and a 1000/4000 waterstone (all from JCK)

Meanwhile I started practising on a old fairly coarse stone with my cheaper knives. I used the advise given on this forum and the videos on chefsknivestogo.

I felt insecure for a while, but I found sharpening a lot easier than I thought. From my first attempt (using the black marker trick and the method on the video) the knives actually started getting sharper!

So when my knives arrived I sharpened the one that was dullest out of the box (the carbonext) and than one became sharper than the petty, so I sharpened the petty till it was sharper than the other and then I went back to the carbonext to sharpen it till it was about as sharp as the other and I stopped there.

Then I grabbed my dad's knives and sharpened all of them as well. They were pretty sharp, but I still managed to improve on them. Needless to say I was now pretty chuffed with myself lol.gif

The 1000/4000 stone from JCK is good enough for me (at the moment) and some of my old knives are back into my good books as they are now sharp!

 

Bottomline is that I also sort of had to push myself to start using whetstones and then actually found it easier than i thought.

I think I'm fairly competent, but  I would actually  love to be able to compare an identical knife sharpened by me with one sharpened by a good sharpener and see where I actually stand....

 

 

 

 

 

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post #14 of 76
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by OnePiece View Post

BDL, I have a question for ya about honing steels and such.

 

Like I said before, I can get my Victorinox/Forschner knife super sharp;  but I wanted to know if I should own a steel/rod to use after sharpening it on a stone.

I am also using a Norton Oil/Water stone, and it seemed I could get a better edge using the oil for some reason. 

I believe this is the same stone I have: http://www.cutleryandmore.com/norton/coarse-fine-india-combination-oilstone-sharpening-station-p15312

 

Also, what is the reason for needing such high grit stones?  By high I am referring to 1000-8000 Grit.

 

Until BDL replies here are a few thoughts.

 

I think your knife like most softer steel blades needs a decent steel so you can "true" it a bit as the edge rolls over from not being strong enough to hold straight. It is something I have still not gotten used to not doing so much since moving on to J knives as the harder steel just holds the edge much longer, but with the softer steels the edge rolls easier or more often and you get can return the edge easily with a few passes on the steel. I can not recommend any brand etc, but would think any of the less toothy brand name ones should be good.

 

Also a lot of the how often you will need to steel part depends on how much you use the knife, how you use it, and how acute an angle it is sharpened to. When I had tried to take my Henckels to too an acute edge it would fold over so often and easily it was making me nuts, but they were sharper than they had ever been before.

 

 

The stone you describe will work both ways, and better is very subjective as it depends on many things. I would think you may be finding that with the more abrasive India (I have a combo also) the oil may be allowing you to remove slightly less material from the blade due to the oil being a lubricant and that may be making it feel like it is better. I can not be sure but it does make sense.

 

Have you tried a less abrasive stone? Should you? The other side of my India combo is a lighter Washita stone that worked so slow with oil I switched it over to water a while ago. I have seen many recommend and make great claims on the different Arkansas stones for most softer blades. I know they can get pretty high on the numbers scale and produce a much higher polish than my combo can, and some really like the results while others still prefer a more toothy edge like the india will produce.

 

 

Now I am really not the right one to answer your "why such high grit stones" question as I am really finding my way to this answer myself, but IMHO it seems that with the harder steel and more acute edges seen on the various J knives there is a decided advantage to increasing the polish on the edge as it not only can add to the sharpness, but also reduces the amount of sticking when slicing or push cutting.  It also helps to reduce the size of the teeth in the edge which produces a finer cut with less tearing and basically allows the edge to separate whats being cut more than ripping it like what you do to wood with a saw.

 

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!

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...

Reply
post #15 of 76
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by butzy View Post


The 1000/4000 stone from JCK is good enough for me (at the moment) and some of my old knives are back into my good books as they are now sharp!

 

Bottomline is that I also sort of had to push myself to start using whetstones and then actually found it easier than i thought.

I think I'm fairly competent, but  I would actually  love to be able to compare an identical knife sharpened by me with one sharpened by a good sharpener and see where I actually stand....

 

 

 

 

 


That would be great to be able to compare, and to be able to rate your own work.

 

Then again it has been such a trip finding my own improvement and hands on results with using the knife etc that it would be tough to find out it was not at least decent :)

 

Good to see you found your way, and since my story is not that much different than yours I know how great it is to find out just how easy (I use that loosely lol) it is. Now that the initial jitters etc are gone and your getting results you like just remember that the level of improvement and increased sharpness seems to be infinite. Well at least if you accept what the true OCD knife sharpeners say :D

 

 

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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!

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post #16 of 76

OMG, now I'm really confuzzled.  Someone...HELP...PLEASE. 

 

Just when I was getting comfortable with possibly buying a stone and trying to learn how to sharpen my Mac's, I now have even more questions.  

 

So, can't a woman just buy a couple of these waterstones, sharpen her knives and cook immediately thereafter without worrying about raising a burr, chasing a burr, and do I raise the burr with a high grit or not?  Do I then have to also look into buying a "steel" and doing something with it, too?  lol. 

 

Is there anyone that can hold my hand here, and make it so easy a kindergartner can understand, i.e. first step...you buy this, then you do that, then you finish it with this, etc?  hahaha.  Also, once I figure out what all I need, WHERE do I find these tools, i.e. what sort of stores sell them?  I live in the Panhandle of Florida and pickins' are slim here...there's no real metropolitan area for about an hour and 15 minutes, in Pensacola.

 

I admire all of y'alls knowledge and experience, and truly do appreciate any, and all, advice and suggestions you may have.  Thank you.

 

~Yvonne 

 

P.S. Boar, I think I may have asked you something similar on another thread...before I found this thread.  :- )

post #17 of 76

I think the simple answer is to buy a 1000 grit waterstone, watch the video's on chefsknivestogo and start working on your old(er) knives.

After a couple of tries you should get them sharp enough to cut easily through a tomato and only then start worrying about a higher and lower grit stone later on.

The best piece of advice I got about sharpening was to use the magic marker trick and to just go ahead and do it !

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post #18 of 76

Actually the simplest answer would be to buy a good quality Chinese synthetic.

 

I know that most people think of those terms as contradictory, but the fact is one fifth of the world's population uses these stones for their knives.  And from what I've seen, the average Chinese housewife keeps her Chinese chopper much sharper than the average low end pro in the States.

 

There are basically two grades of Chinese synthetics: moderately good quality and absolute crap.  The better ones will last forever unless you drop them, barely wear down even after years of use, and come in two grits, something like 200/600 or thereabouts.  They are cheap (even the big ones are under $20), serviceable for normal kitchen use, and the good ones are extremely durable.

 

The ones that are green in color tend to be good.  Ones in gray and black may or may not be.  The blue ones are all crap from what I have seen.

 

With a minimum of technique, twenty or thirty spine-leading strokes on each side of the edge on these would get your average home cook better results than just about any mechanical sharpener.

post #19 of 76
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gastrorgasmic1 View Post

OMG, now I'm really confuzzled.  Someone...HELP...PLEASE. 

 

Just when I was getting comfortable with possibly buying a stone and trying to learn how to sharpen my Mac's, I now have even more questions.  

 

So, can't a woman just buy a couple of these waterstones, sharpen her knives and cook immediately thereafter without worrying about raising a burr, chasing a burr, and do I raise the burr with a high grit or not?  Do I then have to also look into buying a "steel" and doing something with it, too?  lol. 

 

Is there anyone that can hold my hand here, and make it so easy a kindergartner can understand, i.e. first step...you buy this, then you do that, then you finish it with this, etc?  hahaha.  Also, once I figure out what all I need, WHERE do I find these tools, i.e. what sort of stores sell them?  I live in the Panhandle of Florida and pickins' are slim here...there's no real metropolitan area for about an hour and 15 minutes, in Pensacola.

 

I admire all of y'alls knowledge and experience, and truly do appreciate any, and all, advice and suggestions you may have.  Thank you.

 

~Yvonne 

 

P.S. Boar, I think I may have asked you something similar on another thread...before I found this thread.  :- )


Please do not let any of this overwhelm you like so many of us have done in the past lol

Remember it is little more than rubbing a piece of steel over a stone, and though there is more to getting it right than there is to getting it done you absolutely CAN DO IT!

Watch the videos on CKTG like Butzy and others have recommended to get an idea of what is going on and what your wanting to achieve etc. Mark does a great job of breaking things down into small steps (a great way to conquer anything that may overwhelm you, and also how the youngsters learn lol).

Do not let burrs scare you, but be aware of what one is and remember that the harder the blade steel is the smaller the burr typically, and also the longer it may take to raise one if you holding your angle properly.

Speaking of holding an angle, this likely the most important part. Because if you continue to rub the blade against the stone at the same angle you will produce a sharp edge, and even if it is not 100% the correct angle it will still get sharp.

There are many vids that help to show what a proper J Knife angle looks like against the stone, and there are even small ''cheater'' wedges that you hold the blade against to help fix your angle and get your muscles used to the correct angle that you can buy if you like.

I agree with Butzy that it may be a goos idea to practice on a knife your not to concerned about, but if it is a softer less expensive knife you will find the ones you do after ypu have more confidence to sharpen differently. Thats a good thing though.

Now holding hands is a totally diff subject lol, but I do agree it would have been helpful if there had been someone local to help out in the early stages.

Anyhow there comes a time when you have to stop thinking and just do it. I think that is really the first step.

Have fun smile.gif

 

"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 #20 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by gastrorgasmic1 View Post

OMG, now I'm really confuzzled.  Someone...HELP...PLEASE. 

 

Just when I was getting comfortable with possibly buying a stone and trying to learn how to sharpen my Mac's, I now have even more questions.  

 

So, can't a woman just buy a couple of these waterstones, sharpen her knives and cook immediately thereafter without worrying about raising a burr, chasing a burr, and do I raise the burr with a high grit or not?  Do I then have to also look into buying a "steel" and doing something with it, too?  lol. 

 

Is there anyone that can hold my hand here, and make it so easy a kindergartner can understand, i.e. first step...you buy this, then you do that, then you finish it with this, etc?  hahaha.  Also, once I figure out what all I need, WHERE do I find these tools, i.e. what sort of stores sell them?  I live in the Panhandle of Florida and pickins' are slim here...there's no real metropolitan area for about an hour and 15 minutes, in Pensacola.

 

I admire all of y'alls knowledge and experience, and truly do appreciate any, and all, advice and suggestions you may have.  Thank you.

 

~Yvonne 

 

P.S. Boar, I think I may have asked you something similar on another thread...before I found this thread.  :- )


Hi Yvonne,

Almost everyone "raises a burr" when they sharpen whether they know it or not. When I talk about the process of raising a burr, chasing it, deburring, and so on, I'm talking about ways of getting to an effective and consistent technique. I'll be happy more than to hold your hand through the learning process.

Good sharpening stones are available online from any number of stores. The trick -- not a very difficult one thankfully -- is finding the right stones for your knives. Pretty easy, since all you have to do is tell me what you're trying to sharpen.

Before you warm up your credit card and me starting on a detailed, woman-friendly tutorial it's a good idea to remember that freehand sharpening on bench stones isn't the only way to sharpen, nor is it the best method for everyone. So, let's start with what knives you have, what new knives you're planning to buy (if any), how much time you're willing to invest in learning and doing, and how much money.

BDL
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post #21 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Capsaicin View Post

Actually the simplest answer would be to buy a good quality Chinese synthetic.

 

I know that most people think of those terms as contradictory, but the fact is one fifth of the world's population uses these stones for their knives.  And from what I've seen, the average Chinese housewife keeps her Chinese chopper much sharper than the average low end pro in the States.

 

There are basically two grades of Chinese synthetics: moderately good quality and absolute crap.  The better ones will last forever unless you drop them, barely wear down even after years of use, and come in two grits, something like 200/600 or thereabouts.  They are cheap (even the big ones are under $20), serviceable for normal kitchen use, and the good ones are extremely durable.

 

The ones that are green in color tend to be good.  Ones in gray and black may or may not be.  The blue ones are all crap from what I have seen.

 

With a minimum of technique, twenty or thirty spine-leading strokes on each side of the edge on these would get your average home cook better results than just about any mechanical sharpener.


Forgive me, but I must disagree with your main points.

I. Chinese Synthetics:
Unless you know what you're buying going in, Chinese synthetic oil stones are very iffy. Conisdering that a Norton Combination India is only a couple of bucks more expensive, and extremely high quality, it doesn't make a lot of economic sense to buy anything less certain.

II. Suitability of a coarse combination stone as the only stone:
Whether or not this type of stone -- Chinese, Norton, or anything as coarse -- is appropriate as your only stone depends on your knives and sharpening skills. Both sides are relatively coarse.

The "coarse" side is suitable for profiling and repair ONLY if you're a very skilled sharpener, and/or you're dealing with cheap knives. They are very fast for softer steels, slow for hard steels, but irregardless of whether the alloy is hard or soft, the stone will badly scratch it unless the sharpener keeps it very clean and uses a lot of care.

The "fine" side isn't very fine, and leaves too much tooth on the edge for fine cutting OR much durability. I like more polish, and consider the grit level marginal even for "housewife" or butchering use. A 1000# (JIS) Japanese water stone is considerably finer, and still on the coarse side of barely acceptable.

On the other hand, even at 600# or so, a skillfully sharpened fresh edge will outperform any dull knife. But if you have the skills, why let your stone limit you?

I have several different sharpening kits, one of which is oil-stones based. It includes a Norton IB-8 (the high quality, American, slightly finer version of the Chinese combination stones). The Norton is an integral part of my oil-stone kit. I love it, wouldn't trade it, but only very seldom use the coarse side -- repair or major profiling only; and then approach it with a lot of respect. Also, I never finish with the fine side. Take it for what it's worth.

III. Spine leading strokes:
Sharpening in an edge trailing/spine leading direction is also called "stropping." Sometimes I write about "strop strokes" to distinguish the stroke itself from strop surfaces like loaded leather. Terminology aside, stropping raises really large burrs. If you strop (on anything but the finest surface using anymore than the slightest pressure) and fail to thoroughly deburr, you're guaranteed a big "wire edge." It's not a good thing at all, and something all good sharpeners try to avoid.

BDL
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post #22 of 76

I opted for an Edge Pro kit over freehand whetstones for a simple reason.  I have about six knives that want regular sharpening, and they need it maybe every two months -- I'm mainly chopping veg and I use a pretty soft board.  Six knives every two months is scant practice.  Edge Pro eliminates the need to judge angles, though you do need to learn to feel burrs.  It's easy.  I like easy.

 

I roast my own coffee because I'm peculiar that way, and was ready to invest time and energy learning how.  But it doesn't follow that all you non-roasters suffer some irrational fear of roasting.  We make choices about what to pursue.

 

 

post #23 of 76
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin View Post

I opted for an Edge Pro kit over freehand whetstones for a simple reason.  I have about six knives that want regular sharpening, and they need it maybe every two months -- I'm mainly chopping veg and I use a pretty soft board.  Six knives every two months is scant practice.  Edge Pro eliminates the need to judge angles, though you do need to learn to feel burrs.  It's easy.  I like easy.

 

I roast my own coffee because I'm peculiar that way, and was ready to invest time and energy learning how.  But it doesn't follow that all you non-roasters suffer some irrational fear of roasting.  We make choices about what to pursue.

 

 

I like the way you worded the last sentence.

 

It brings out the point that the same methods are not going to be the better or best for everyone.

 

Sort of in line with how BDL preaches that using a machine that may not produce the best result compared to freehand etc is still years ahead of using a dull knife.

 

Long before finding my way here or owning any J knives or learning there were already variously similar sharpening products being sold I had made up some basic notes on two different ideas I had for making a jig type machine to make sharpening easier. I do not think I saved the sketches, but basically one was holding a moving blade to a stationary stone and the other just the opposite. The whole idea was to keep the angles constant so it would be more difficult to screw up (pretty much like the ones out there now do lol).

 

Point is what ever floats your boat, as long as it floats etc. Its all good as long as your happy with the results, right.

 


 

 

 

"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!

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post #24 of 76

Hi BDL,

 

Thank you for the refinement and additional information about my post.  I actually came to many of those same conclusions myself as I learned more about sharpening.  But before I did, I learned a lot about sharpening just on such stones, simply because I did not know what else to use for many years.  With a few technique pointers, those stones are very serviceable or even desirable in many ways, the most important being the durability of the stones obviating the need for flattening for several years, longer than enough to allow someone to find out if freehand sharpening is for them at all.  If they decide to go with a jig after that, there is little investment lost.  If they go deeper into freehanding, they will appreciate the difference between such a stone and even the lowly King 1000 the second they feel the edge coming off of even just a serviceable waterstone.

 

The spine-leading or stropping strokes does raise very large burrs.  I dealt with this by using gradually decreasing pressure and finishing the blade by stropping on corrugated cardboard.

 

At this moment I only ever use my Chinese rough stone for repairs or for thinning.  When I sharpen I start at 1000 or 1200.  But I am someone who already has a sizeable collection of stones and a diamond flattening plate.  I was just trying to point a newcomer to the most economical way to toe the water on freehand sharpening.  Yes, a Norton India would be just a few dollars more than the big Chinese synthetics, but when I say big, I mean BIG -- like a foot and a half long and four inches wide.  I suspect they are really meant for butcher use.  8"x2"x1" Chinese synthetics tend to run about $10-12 or so, and 6" ones can be as low as $3-5 in some stores.

 

I do agree that there is a consistency issue with them though.  The race to capitalism in the past 20 years has actually made Chinese stuff WORSE in many ways.  But from my experience, the green ones have a very good batting average.

 

The thing about the Norton India or a King 1000 is that one would have to start learning about flattening the second one starts to learn about sharpening.  That's a kind of additional step and expense that a novice may not want to invest from the get-go.

 

Alternatively, a fine or extra-fine diamond plate or an abrasive rod may also be a reliable standalone sharpening implement if one desired to minimize expenses/space/effort invested in sharpening.  The problem with an abrasive rod as the only thing one sharpens on, as I see it, is that the skill for using such an implement does not translate to sharpening on stones well enough to allow one to find out if they would like to go further into freehanding.  A diamond plate -- well, it's quite a lot more as an entry level sharpener.

post #25 of 76
Can't have too much sharpening stuff, I just bought an Edge Pro Apex with Choseras as a self-birthday present. I blame all you guys for forcing it on me as a hobby. Sharpening used to just be something I did. I was happy then. Anyway, we'll see how it goes.

Cap -- I completely understand where you're coming from. To the extent we have different styles, they're just styles and happen to be pretty darn close. One minor quibble though: A Norton India needs flattening every three or four years if you use the hell out of it. I think you've confused Norton India stones with Norton water stones.
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post #26 of 76

Thank you all very much for the advice and encouragement.  And, yes, LennyD, I completely agree with you when you say, "...there comes a time when you have to stop thinking and just do it. I think that is really the first step."  That is my problem, I've been paralyzed with fear of ruining my expensive knife and have therefore gone several months without even using it because it's too dull.  sigh.  I am going to accept BDL kind offer to hold my hand through this, and look forward to when I finally sharpen my knife...hopefully to the point where one can cut hair off their arm with it. lol.

 

You all are immensely helpful...and very nice.  What a pleasure it is to have somehow found you all and this site.

 

Thanks,

 

Yvonne

 

post #27 of 76

BDL,

 

I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind offer of help, and then to hold my hand through it, too...what else could a woman wish for.  <bats her eyes at BDL>

 

So, to the first order of business...my knives.  The best knives I currently own are as follows: 

 

Mac PKF-30 Paring knife

Mac "Mighty" MTH-80  Chef Knife

Mac BS Serrated Bread Knife made of molybdenum steel

 

The serrated bread knife has been the best one, out of all three, to retain its sharpness and ability to slice tomatoes thinly.  Am I correct to think that a serrated knife is never sharpened?

 

The old knives I plan to practice on are the newer Chicago Cutlery.  I had wondered if my mind was playing tricks on me, as I too remember Chicago Cutlery making excellent knives long ago.  Thanks to y'all here, I now know that the quality of their knives have, in fact, deteriorated. 

 

With regard to which new knives I'm planning on purchasing...I'd love your, and others' here, suggestions.  I purchased the three above-mentioned knives figuring that they would cover the majority of a home cook's needs, however, when the Mac Chef knife didn't hold it's edge very long, I was immediately disappointed and so have lost 'the love,' if you will, for my Mac's.  Perhaps with your help I'll regain that love once again, but if you feel there is a superior knife to the Mac I most definitely want to hear about it and why you like it so.

 

What I hope to achieve with my knives.  Well, after reading your post that you could cut your arm hairs with your knives...I definitely like that idea, not that I have arm hair to cut, mind you.  lol. 

I very much enjoy cooking up a storm in my kitchen, however, I like to have tools which are in prime working condition.  And, obviously, my Mac's are not there right now.  I like being able to cut a tomato very thinly, though to be honest, I don't think I could do that even when my Mac's were brand new.  sigh.  THAT is what I truly seek and desire to be able to do with my knives.

 

I'm willing to invest as much time as necessary learning how to sharpen my knives properly.  Being old school, I know that anything worth having is worth waiting for, and as such am not looking for the "quick fix."  With regard to how much I'm willing to spend....I'd like to spend a reasonable amount, though not break the bank, to achieve the results worthy of a good set of knives to begin with.  In other words, I wouldn't take my Ferrari to Jiffy Lube for an oil change.

 

All that said, I believe Lenny mentioned something about the hardness of the blade steel with regard to the size of the burr.  Honestly, I have no idea how hard the blade steel is on any of my knives.  How do I go about figuring that out?

 

I think that covers all of the preliminary questions you had for me, BDL. 

 

Please know that I truly appreciate your help, and look forward to learning more from you and all the very nice folks here at this site.

 

~Yvonne

post #28 of 76

Hi BDL - You're right.  I actually thought Norton India was the same as their waterstones.  My mistake, and thank you for the information.  A lot of what I learned beyond the cheapo stones has been from such corrections and advice from you and other guys on the site.

post #29 of 76
Thread Starter 

Gastrorgasmic1

 

I think you may want to break things down into smaller pieces (how to sharpen, which stones, what type knife, style, design, material etc) so you do not make this overwhelming. I did not do that at first and it was a whole lot to research and take in all at once, and quickly found it was so much easier taking one step at a time.

 

I had also bumped up the old thread from when I was first learning about J knives in the forum so others could benefit from my experience (and some of the other members pain lol) It is titled Tojiro DP a good entry to J knives"

 

It is a bit lengthy but lots of info and points to ponder.

 

A couple thoughts on your last post. I think most find serrated edges to stay sharp longer or be better because of their design, and how they are used just makes them feel that way. Any edge will dull over time, and though you can sharpen anything it is really tough to do this style and some look nearly impossible. I have a bread and 6" util from Mundial that I picked up years ago at insane low prices that I have held onto for the occasional tough job or visitor to use that I have attempted to maintain and sharpen with mixed results.

 

Since these are fairly tough blades that are made from softer steel it seems it is not so much to actually sharpen them (attempts at this failed miserably lol) but more to just straighten out where the steel has rolled over at the edge. I know this is very different material than your Mac or anything I know use regularly but best I was able to do was to steel the scallops on the bread knife (both a smooth steel, and ceramic rod) and the smaller util was even tougher due to smaller ridges or scallops and ended up using an old worn down mini file that was in my tool box. Did it work, well sort of since they were improved somewhat, would I be happy with the results if these were my every day knives, well absolutely not.

 

Maybe one of the other members has better advice that we both can learn from .

 

 

Sharpening IMHO is something that most all (myself included) allow to get overly complicated. Not that it is not an a skill that has it's learning curve and good amount of "tricks" because it is, but more that when you break it down into small steps it is just something that pretty much anyone can conquer and see acceptable results. In acceptable I mean with a little learning and practice you should very well be able to get your now dull knives sharp again, and though maybe not as sharp as someone who has been doing it for years, but sharp enough that you will enjoy using them again as well as be motivated to improve your skills and knowledge on sharpening.

 

Look over all the videos often suggested here (do not get discouraged by some of the more complicated and different styles you will end up seeing on you tube while searching around) take in all the good suggestions on stone selection and basically jump in and just do it :)

 

Though I did not go with my first impression on stones (that was the king 1k 6k combo) I think in retrospect that actually would have been a great decision. Not everyone likes them as they are apparently not the best out there, but from everything I have seen it is a economical introduction that will allow you to get a feel for whetstones without a large investment, but will also allow you to get your edges sharp and the 6K will give a reasonably good polish. Again this is from reading between the lines of many other posts and reviews and not from direct personal experience.

 

I ended up going a different route due to a couple reasons. One was I allowed myself to become overly concerned with being new and goughing or cutting up softer stones by so many posts on various forums, and found my way into a glass stone that is not prone to that problem. Not that the glass stone is a bad one or anything and I am actually glad I had it for comparison but it is just very different from the normal ones, and I ended up with a grit that will not see as much use in the long run as it could have if I planned things out better. Still it gets used every time I sharpen, and being a 2K it is what I finish at for most all of my non kitchen knives so it does get a workout outside the kitchen.

 

I am sure some of the others with more experience will chime in on the selection process, but the most important thing is to just not over complicate it so you do not get started doing it.

 

Oh on a side note sharpening can be very relaxing, and also very satisfying.

 

"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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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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post #30 of 76
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Can't have too much sharpening stuff, I just bought an Edge Pro Apex with Choseras as a self-birthday present. I blame all you guys for forcing it on me as a hobby. Sharpening used to just be something I did. I was happy then. Anyway, we'll see how it goes.

Cap -- I completely understand where you're coming from. To the extent we have different styles, they're just styles and happen to be pretty darn close. One minor quibble though: A Norton India needs flattening every three or four years if you use the hell out of it. I think you've confused Norton India stones with Norton water stones.
 


Have to love those self b day presents biggrin.gif

 

Be sure to let us know "how it goes".

 

 

"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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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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