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Thoughts on Stones

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

As my knife roll has expanded significantly recently, I've been thinking a lot more about sharpening and want am hoping for some advice.


Right now I have the following in my roll or rotating into it:


Mac Pro Gyuto

Richmond Addict V2

Moritaka Gyuto

Victorinox Chef's knife

Tojiro DP Nakiri

Tojiro ITK Petty


Misono Swedish Hankotsu

Victorinox Stiff Boning Knife

Vintage Sabatier Lion Cleaver


Tojiro ITK Serrated

Idahone Fine 12"


A yet to be determined Sujihiki is destined for the roll at some point soon too.



I've been using an EP with Chosera stones to keep my blades sharp, but with the recent acquisition of some asymmetrical bevels, I've found the EP cumbersome and inconsistent. I've been thinking about switching back to freehand sharpening. As of right now, my skills need improving, but practice should get me there. Currently, the only stone I have is the Bester 1.2k. I figure two more stones to round out the set. Right now I am considering the Beston 500 and the Suehiro Rika 5000 or the Arashiyama 6000. For the money are there better options and should I stick with the Bester 1.2k? Should I consider adding any strops to this setup, if so what?


Alternatively, if someone has a good technique for switching angles or sharpening asymemtrical/single edge bevels with the EP I'm all ears.


My other question involves maintenance at work. I know many people strop at home, but that seems like a less feasible because it seems to take more space and time. Is the HandAmerican Borosilicate rod going to be more useful than the Idahone fine for my roll? Also, what about keeping a stone around just in case. A quick to use stone seems like it would be a good idea for this. Is it worth while?




Edited by vas38 - 2/17/12 at 12:16pm
post #2 of 15

HA Borosilicate is too fine, too expensive and too fragile for a work roll.  You might want to consider the DMT CS2 (it's ceramic, not diamond) which is cast around a metal rod and is less breakable than the Idahone.


The rap on the CS2 is that it's a very good rod for the dough, but they've had some problems with refactory blow-bock since day one, and you'll probably need to sand it off if you buy one.  I don't see it as much of an issue, but it bothers some people. 


Otherwise, for just regular day to day maintenance on a knife which gets used a lot, it's hard to beat the Idahone. 


I use my glass rod only when the knives are fairly fresh off the stones and still holding a fair amount of polish; and when the knives need a little scuff to stay off the stones, I switch to a coarser (but still very fine) rod.  In other words, it's really part of a two hone system, rather than a standalone.  FWIW, Keith DeGrau (the guy who owns Hand American and makes the rods) does the same thing.  


If you're going to add a Rika or Arashiyama to your kit, you might want to have a borosilicate in your kit to preserve the polish; otherwise it's more rod than you need. 


I've bumped my finest stone from a Naniwa SS 8K to a Gesshin 8K.  The Gesshin is the best single polishing stone I've ever used.  In terms of finish it's as good as the Naniwa Pure White and Kitayama combination; but it's much faster than either -- let alone using them as a pair.  On the other hand, the Gesshin costs about the same as the other two stones combined. 


In your shoes I think I'd pop for the Arashiyama or Takenoko (whichever is the 8 x 3) to max the polish for your knives; I don't think your kit has the scratch hardness for anything finer.  You might also think about something like an aoto or a 3K as the final stone for your "lesser" and hard-duty knives.  You could, if you want to save money, split the difference with a Rika. 


For the little it's worth, my water-stone kit goes Beston 500; Bester 1200; Chosera 3K and Gesshin 8K. 


You've found the weaknesses of the EP.  As far as I know there's no way around those limitations, but I'm hardly an EP expert.  You may want to write to Phaedrus, he knows heap much plenty.



post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

BDL thanks for the information, but it did raise some questions for me.


Will the DMT CS2 work well with the Idahone fine in a two part system as you describe or are you recommending it as a standalone solution? I certainly like the price of the CS2 far more than the HA Borosilicate, especially if it is more robust.


Will there be a big difference between the Rika and Arashiyama? I like the idea of saving a little money with the Rika as an all around finishing knife. Of course, I want to leave some openings for future knife purchases, making sure my stones are useful for pretty much whatever knives I get.


Last question, is the only thing you recommend for at work care a quality hone? Or is it worth while keeping a stone/strop in the roll?

post #4 of 15

DMT CS2 and Idahone Fine are very similar, and would be redundant in terms of a system.  The Idahone is better made, but more fragile.  Why DMT ceramic steels are still sloppy after all these years (if they still are), is anyone's guess.  If you decide to get a DMT and were to order directly from them, you might not only ask "WTF?" but ask for a good one.


An Arashiyama and Rika are different; but you'd probably only want one or the other as a practical matter.  The Rika is a bit more versatile.  It starts out cutting and sharpening like a 3K, but if you "break down the mud," it ends up polishing like a 5K.  The Arashiyama is nominally 6K, but it cuts very fast -- roughly equal to a typical 4 or 5K, and polishes a lot like an 8K.  Indeed, many sellers used to (erroneously) list it as an 8K because of its polishing qualities. 


While I don't think either stone is the "best" at this level, "best" (Gesshin) and even "second best" (Chosera) cost considerably more and aren't worth the difference unless sharpening is a hobby in and of itself, or part of your profession.    



post #5 of 15

How about the three stone set plus a Kitayama, with the Rika 5K and a Kitayama 8K as a one-two finishing combo? Would that be practical?

post #6 of 15

I have very definite views about the Kitayama which aren't particularly mainstream.  I think it's best after an 8-10K; and while the Arashiyama is just barely fine enough to precede the Kitayama, a Suehiro Rika is too much of a stretch.  I'm pretty sure most Kitayama users would disagree with that though. 



post #7 of 15

So basically a more "standard" 8K (suggestions?) followed by the Kitayama 8K and taking throrough advantage of its mudding?

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

It sounds like I should pick up the Arashiyama for now and stick with my Idahone. When I finally need to do some serious cutting on a knife, I can get a Beston 500. I guess the Arashiyama might be over kill for my hard-duty knives, but it should still work pretty well, correct?


I'm not too interested in collecting stones and sharpening paraphernalia. I just want a kit that will work well for the money, I can spend the extra money on knives :).



Does anyone have any thoughts on if anything besides a hone is worth while for keeping in the knife roll at work (especially considering the asymmetrical and single bevel knives I have in my roll)?

post #9 of 15
Does anyone have any thoughts on if anything besides a hone is worth while for keeping in the knife roll at work (especially considering the asymmetrical and single bevel knives I have in my roll?

If it works for even one knife, it's worth having with you. Really, what are the alternatives?

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

If it works for even one knife, it's worth having with you. Really, what are the alternatives?

I'm not too sure, that's why I asked. Perhaps, if there is a strop that would work well it is worth sticking in my roll for the occasion I needed it, or a splash and go stone?


My understanding is that honing an asymmetrical knife isn't a good idea. So, what is the appropriate care for them between sharpening?

post #11 of 15
It depends on how asymmetrical your edges are. Just in terms of my own use, I wouldn't go any more asymmetric than 70/30 for my "V" edges, precisely so I could use a steel. Chisel edges are another story, and of course they don't get steeled.

Yes to stropping your more eccentric blades, but I don't think I'd bother packing a strop and would just strop on ordinary shirt board or newspaper laid on the cutting board. Be aware though that stropping will tend to pull a wire. So... just like steeling there are limits to how often you can draw from that particular well before it goes dry.

Edited by boar_d_laze - 2/19/12 at 3:06pm
post #12 of 15

I'm wondering what everyone on here recommends for flattening and maintaining waterstones. I recently got my first stone--a King 800/6000. I also upgraded from my Wüsthof Grand Prix to a Richmond Artifex 210 to practice sharpening before I upgrade to a Mac Pro or a Masamoto VG. I also bought a Naniwa 220 stone fixer.


While I'm making solid progress on my sharpening skills, I'm finding the move from 800 to 6000 a bit difficult. I'm thinking I'd likely benefit from adding a Bester 1.2K to my set before eventually getting a Beston 500 and a Suehiro Rika 5K.


So two questions: 1) Am I right to want to add a Bester 1.2K to transition from the 800 to the 6000, and 2) is my Naniwa 220 fixer sufficient for maintaining the entirety of my (eventual) stone kit (King 800/6000, Beston 500, Bester 1.2K, Suehiro Rika 5K?



Edited by jrgordon13 - 2/22/12 at 6:21pm
post #13 of 15

i think a bester 1200 sounds like a great idea for you. and when youre done wearing out that combo stone maybe you should consider dropping down to maybe a 400-500 grit as well.

post #14 of 15
The best, least expensive way to flatten is with drywall screen.

The best, too expensive way to flatten is with an 8 x 3 DMT XXC. If you're planning on using the diamond plate for coarse profile and repair, DMTs wears too quickly -- Atomas not only wear better but their surfaces can be replaced by the user.

There's a reason King doesn't provide an intermediate surface between the 800 and 6000, it's not necessary. What problems are you having?

A Bester 1200 is a better medium/coarse stone in every way then the King 800. It probably won't make your transition to a King 6000 much easier though. Most people don't quite understand what limitations a large jump in grit screen size imposes; and my guess is that you're not only among them but your problems aren't coming from the progression but from inconsistent angle holding. Medium/fine and fine stones turn any error into dulling rather than sharpening.

It's more likely than not that your problems come from the King 6K itself and not from the gap between it and the 800. It's also fairly likely that you're creating problems with the 800 that the 6K isn't fast enough to repair. The solution lies in bettering your sharpening on the 800, not adding an intermediate. Trying to fix problems created on any given stone with one that's at all finer is a waste of time. They can only be effectively resolved at the same grit at which they were created.

Also be aware that manufacturers' grit numbers are often very unreliable.

For most of us, sharpness comes as a result of raising a burr (or wire, if you prefer), chasing it, and deburring. To some extent, sharpness is a function of how refined the wire is -- and (again) to some extent that is a function of the depth and amount of scratch on the bevel face. But at some point -- after medium/fine (4K - 6K) we're talking more about polish which defines other aspects of edge performance other than absolute sharpness.

Anyway, mastering a medium/fine stone is something of a rite of passage for sharpeners. Once you've got that down, you can get yourself a stone fast and coarse enough for repair and profile.

Something like a Bester 1200 and a Suehiro Rika (5K) or Arashiyama (6K) would probably work better for you than the King 800/6000 combination. The Bester is both faster and finer than the King 800; and the same is true about both the Rika (used properly) and Arashiyama compared to the King 6K. That said, the King is certainly good enough to learn on.

post #15 of 15

Thanks, BDL. Good to know it's a user error and not an equipment problem.



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