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Least worst coarse stone?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I couldn't find a thread dedicated to this topic, so here we are. I only started my foray into freehand sharpening about a month ago, but I know I'll need to bite the bullet sometime and get a coarse stone for at least filing back the finger guard on my chef's knife, if not for wanton reprofiling desires sometime later in the future. I've gleaned from several posts that there really isn't a silver bullet as far as coarse stones go and that each and every one has its own drawbacks. But other than seeing a number of recommendations for the Beston 500 (which I can't seem to find in the EU), I haven't found much information to help steer this decision. 


My chef's knife is a K-Sab and everything else is Forschner at the moment. 


Purchasing within the EU, I've found so far:

Sun Tiger 240

King 300

Cerax 400 and 700

Shapton Pro 120, 220 and 320

Naniwa SS 220 and 400

Chosera 400 and 600

Bester 400 and 700

Sigma Select II 240

Shapton Glass 220 and 500

Norton India Oilstone 220 or IB8 combo (both claim to be prefilled with oil at the factory)

DMT Dia-Sharp from XXC to XXF


Which of those coarse stones are a step above the rest? Cheaper, if possible, really is better on this student's budget. Are all of these going to require tedious flattening on a DMT XXC or will an appropriately coarse flattening stone work nearly as well?


(Additionally, feel free to toss out suggestions not on my list above, as they may help others who come across this thread later and have access to different stones.)

post #2 of 12

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?


Oilstones are great for softer metals but take sooooo loooooong to cut properly on newer harder metals.  They don't dish as bad.


A King 800 grit cuts well but wears faster than a bar of soap, it is cheap though.


Shaptons are beautiful but $%^&*-ing expensive.


Diamond stones are very nice as well, but very expensive.  The best choice for very, very hard steels. 


A course stone is only needed to establish a new edge, to reshape a broken point, or to "sharpen" your Aunities butter-knife-dull kitchen knife.  You do need need one, but probably won't use it alot.


You can flatten easily by getting a piece of glass, and placing course sandpaper on it and flatten it,or by using silicone carbide grit  and water on the glass and flattening it.  Sandpaper is faster and clearer.  Norton does make a flattening stone for watestones, but this wears out too, not the best value for money in my opinion.



My personal opinion?  Go cheap on the course one and spend your money carefully on the finer grit stones which you will be using much more frequently than the course stone.  

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #3 of 12

I use a King 800 as my coarse stone. It serves my purposes well and is inexpensive. I have had my current one for over a year and anticipate a few more years of service before needing to replace it.


I keep it flat using a concrete block, for the same reasons.


I could spend more money on both items, but why?

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
post #4 of 12

I've owned almost half the stones on your list, and used a few more. 


For your current knife kit, a Norton coarse India -- whether in the form as a standalone -- or as the coarse side of an IB8 is certainly adequate.  The upside is no flattening, the downside is that coarse oil stones tend to scratch the face of the knife unless (a) you keep them very clean; and (b) sharpen very carefully.  I've use a coarse India for years on my carbon Sabs and Forschners and currently have an IB8 in my oil stone kit which also includes a Hall's Soft Arkansas and a Hall's Surgical Black Arkansas.


They do indeed come pre-loaded with oil, but if you don't want to use oil it comes out with a ride or two in the dishwasher.  Whether you use oil, soap, soap and water, water, or go dry... you're going to have to use HOT, soapy water to keep the swarf out of the "pores" and keep your oil stones' surfaces clean.


Otherwise, the Naniwa SS 400, Chosera, Sigma Power (if it's the hard one) and Bester 400 and 700 are probably pick of the litter.  Depending on how much serious profiling and repair you do, the 700 might be enough; it's more than adequate for ordinary thinning and functions both as a coarse stone and as a first, "ordinary" sharpening stone.  Besters require a long soak and are rather hard, but still give good feedback.  The Bester 400 and 1200 are a great one-two punch; and so are the Bester 700 and 2000.


You don't need anything nearly as fast as an SS 220 for your knives, it's more appropriate for re-profiling super tough tool steels.  The SS 400 is an excellent stone, soaks very quickly, but has some  maintenance issues of its own.  It needs frequent flattening and careful drying after use.


The hard Sigma Power is an excellent stone, but doesn't provide much feedback; the soft one does, but it dishes too quickly


I think the Chosera is probably the best stone on your list, but is over priced.  Either Bester would be a better choice if you're on a budget.  One of the current new faves among sharpening aficianados is the coarse Gesshin, which you can only get through JKI (in the US) and costs a mint.  


DMT XC and XXC are very expensive and wear very quickly.  As in "very quickly."  Their best use is for flattening other stones, IMO.


I disagree about flattening on sand paper, it's slow and very messy; flattening on dry wall screen (whatever they call it in Europe) is significantly better and just as cheap if not cheaper.  Your best choice from an efficiency standpoint is a coarse diamond plate like the DMT XXC; but tres cher


FWIW the two coarsest Shapton Pro stones are pointed towards either carbon or stainless, but not both.  I'm not sure about the 320.  I've owned five or six Pros, and let me tell you Shapton is prone to weirdness.  Shapton GS (glass stones) are okay, were "flavor of the month" for a couple of years a couple of years ago; and some people still swear by them, but their popularity has waned.  They're very fragile, difficult to flatten, and require a stand.  I think Shaptons of either persuasion function best within a kit of the same type.  Unlike nearly anything else they're not mix and match. 


IMO the King -- a very popular stone -- dishes too fast and is too slow.  Ditto for most of the other low-fired clay binders.  Not bad for the price, though.  Speaking of clay, you don't have a Norton 400 on your list -- too fast, too slow, AND too expensive.  Very consistent thought.


I use a Beston 500 as the coarsest stone for my water stone kit.  You'd think there would be some way to get it to Europe.  But... a lot depends on the rest of your kit since you're going to be using your coarsest stone (when you do use it) as a lead in to your next stone.  


What else do you have? 


What's your current first resort for simple sharpening when you don't need to thin or repair?


Good luck,


Edited by boar_d_laze - 11/22/11 at 9:56am
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice guys! I was worried after reading or watching something that it would be too difficult to flatten a coarse stone on drywall screen, but it sounds like that's not the case. Most of the options I'm looking at now are sub-40 in price, so that's not too bad.


Short answers: King 1k, King 6k, drywall screen, Victorinox microfine hone. I use both the 1k and 6k each time. No thinning or profiling done yet.


My kit is about as basic and as cheap as it comes for the moment: a King 1k and a 6k plus drywall screen and a flat piece of glass. Oh, and a victorinox microfine steel for honing.


I haven't really had the need to sharpen a great deal yet (current restaurant until the end of this week is mostly onions, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers...certainly no more than 1 hour of total knife work in a day). I can't imagine going to the 6k would keep me off of the 1k for long, but I'm just guessing. Would it? I just go 1k then 6k each time. No repairing or thinning done so far.


(So far I've gone to the 1k first, built up a burr with more edge-leading action than spine-leading, switched to only blade-leading strokes until the burr flops sides with each stroke, deburred and then hit the 6k with only edge-leading strokes, alternating sides with a diminishing number of strokes. I then deburr just for heck of it, even though it doesn't feel like I've built one up. I've only sharpened about seven times so far, and that's across a few different knives. Annoyingly, my POS home kitchen knife is the sharpest of the bunch. I think the angle might have been a bit more acute than 15*, but it hasn't crumpled yet.)


I like the sound of either a Bester 400 or 700, with the plan of upgrading my King 1k to a Bester 1.2k or 2k later on. I had sort of planned on that Bester 1.2k being my first stone upgrade anyway. But I also like the price of the Norton. How does the fine side of the Norton IB8 compare to the King 1k? Filing down that K-Sab finger guard is really the most material I have to remove at this point. (Could I even do the bulk of that work with an actual metal file? Or would that go fast enough to generate enough heat to damage the blade's tempering?)


Questions: Could I use an actual metal file to remove material from the finger guard, or is that a no-no? How does a Norton India fine compare to a King 1k in terms of coarseness?


Ramble, ramble,


post #6 of 12

Could I use an actual metal file to remove material from the finger guard?


Only if it's your knife. 


How does a Norton India fine compare to a King 1k in terms of coarseness?


According to Norton a fine India would translate to around 750 JIS (the Japanese standard), but that's not quite how it works practically.  All in all, not a bad for cutting red meats but too toothy for anything else.  You can push the effective polish up with a good, fine (or extra fine, micro-grooved, or polished) steel; you'll not only lose a little bit of tooth, but a fine India edge will hold up pretty well.  I can't think of any comparable water stone. 


When I use my oil stone kit to sharpen a knife from profile to polish, I start with the coarse India to get the bevels and shapes right; then switch to the fine India to get rid of some the coarse stone's scratch as well as draw the first burr.  After deburring, I go to my soft Arkansas -- which is roughly equivalent to 1200 JIS.  I could go higher but I want to change the scratch to the more complex Arkansas finish.  I deburr, then move on to the black to refine and polish.  In my experience most "natural" edges hold up better than edges created on otherwise comparable synthetic stones.


That's not a recommendation, but an orientation and a way of anticipating some questioning down the line.  You won't have much trouble jumping from a synthetic oil stone to a water stone.  Just make very, very sure you don't get any oil on synthetic Japanese (or Japanese style) water stones as it tends to dissolve them.  So, no honing oil as part of the process. 



post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Also, my wallet appreciates these two comments to no end. 



Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

My personal opinion?  Go cheap on the course one and spend your money carefully on the finer grit stones which you will be using much more frequently than the course stone.  



Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post

I could spend more money on both items, but why?


post #8 of 12

All I can say regarding budget, is that quality makes a difference in terms of dishing, speed and quality of scratch.  No matter how you slice the value question, the Besters and Beston are at a very different level of quality from the King.  Yes there's a 20 Euro difference between the Bester 700 and the King 300,  and a 12 Euro difference for the Bester 400, but the Besters are well worth the extra money -- or at least they are if I'm spending my money. 


A coarse India is a different sort of thing than any water stone.  It's fine for your knives, and because it (a) doesn't require any flattening; and (b) can be easily cleaned in a dishwasher, is a better "budget" choice for you than a coarse King. 


Some Kings are very good, the 1K and 6K for example, but their coarse stones are mediocre at best.  You'd be better off with a Naniwa Omura, which itself is less than an ideal choice. 


Good enough is certainly good enough, but better is better. 



post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'll definitely take your word on that coarse King stone. I'm thinking the Norton combo is the right stone for me at this point in time. I've got a dishwasher, so the oil issue and cleaning is solved. I'll worry about profiling harder knives when I actually own them. Thanks for the advice!




post #10 of 12

If you were a craftsman, you wouldn't be whining about sharpening (in general). You have apparently taken a shortcut in everything you do (and probably cooking) - you don't spend the time.  


You are probably of the "me" generation".


Learn, experiment, spend some time, and when you have done so, come back to this forum.




post #11 of 12
I'm not so sure to whom this last contribution is addressed.
post #12 of 12

LOL - ranting about something almost 3 years after the fact on a first post.





"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold





"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold


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