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Sharpening Stone Advice

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Inexperienced sharpener here, looking to put a stone set together. Current knives include a Forschner Fibrox 8" Chefs knife and a Winco 8" Chinese cleaver. Also have a Dexter-Russell 8" Chinese cleaver on the way. The first two are recent purchases, used very little, so they are basically OOTB sharp. I do have a few higer end Japanese knives picked out for future purchase, but want to hold off until I get the basics of sharpening down.

 

Seems the following stones are recommended most often, but there are some things that have me looking at other stones. However, if these are the better option, please say so and I will try to get over the (probably silly) things I don't like.


Bester 1200 - Seems like it needs a long soak (2 hours IIRC) to bring out its best. Not really into that, although not necessarily looking for splash and go either.

Suehiro RIka 5k - As stupid as this probably sounds, I just don't care for the attached base.

 

With that said, there are two setups I am looking at. They are the Gesshin 400 and 2000 or the Naniwa SS 400, 1000 and 3000. I understand the Naniwa SS are on the soft side, making them easier to gouge. Should that be viewed as a good learning aspect, or a reason to stay away from them? The Gesshin stones seem well liked, but haven't seen them recommended as first stones. Any reasons for this I may have missed? Is there anything I would be missing by having a single middle stone (Gesshin 2000) vs. the two Naniwa SS stones?

post #2 of 16
Gesshins are GREAT! The only drawback is their price, which is considerable. If you're looking to put together an ultimate sharpening kit, consider the Gesshin 400, 2000 and 8000. Did I mention they're expensive? They're so expensive I have to question whether there's enough value there as a practical purchase.

I have a Gesshin 8000, and it's very fast, polishes out deeper scratches than you'd expect from its nominal grit size, and leaves a very slippery, very refined edge. It's by far the best fine grit stone I've ever used. Is it worth the money compared to a Naniwa Pure White or a "Generic Magnesia" 10K? If you're really into sharpening it probably is. If you sharpen only for results, a very tough call. You want get better results (the closest you can come is probably following a Pure White with a Kitayama); but do you really need results that good?

Even though the same objection apply, you can probably make a stronger case for the Gesshin 400 and 2000. One nice thing about buying those particular Gesshins is that you've bought what's in many ways the functional equivalent of a four or five stone kit, but one which will take less time and effort.

A word about the 400 and all other coarse stones: Coarse stones can have serious consequences if you don't have a very good idea of what profile you're trying to create and if your angle holding isn't very good. I recommend that you hold of on using one until you can use a polishing stone with consistency and confidence. A high grit number will reveal all your errors, but the mistakes are easy to fix.

The Bester 1200 DOES need considerable soaking. It gets adequate in about 30 minutes, better in 45, still better in 90, and really hits its stride after a couple of hours. With the exception, perhaps, of a Sigma Power, it's the best stone for the money anywhere near its grit level. I understand though why you don't want to leave them in the bucket overnight or be forced to put that much foresight into sharpening. I use a Bester 1200 and am in no hurry to replace it. When I do, it will probably be with a Gesshin.

A lot of people don't like integral bases. While I like the Suehiro Rika for a lot of reasons, I don't think it's the best bang for the buck in its range. You might want to consider -- eventually -- a Takenoko.

However... or should I say, HOWEVER?

Your current knife set doesn't need anything like the quality level of stones in which you seem interested. If you're buying for your eventual Japanese upgrades, that's one things. If you're looking to work on your sharpening technique with the knives you now own at the lowest price, there are much cheaper ways to go about it.

BDL
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post #3 of 16

I'm in the same "spent more money on stones than knives" camp that you seem to be heading toward. My knives are the CCK 1303 cleaver, Tojiro ITK 120mm petty, a Henckels Four-Star parer, another carbon cleaver that is heavier-duty, and an 8" carbon Sabatier that came to me in need of some TLC; stones are Beston 500, Bester 1200, and Suehiro Rika 5000, with an Idahone 1200.

 

I can't speak to the Gesshin stones, but I really like both the Bester 1200 and the Suehiro Rika. The Rika has a really great feel to it. Nice, nice, nice. The attached base is only a hassle in that it tends to hold some water, so you have to spend a few extra moments when you're done using it to shake out the extra water than collected in the base. If you're sticking with new-ish knives and factory angles, as you seem to have already figured, you can skip the coarser-grit stones.

John

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys, appreciate the responses. Not so much going for an ultimate kit, but future purchases rank high in my decision. Money is a factor, but more in the sense that I will have to spread the purchases out over time. From the sounds of it, that isn't a bad thing.

 

Not sure if I would need what the Gesshin 8000 offers or not. It seems like the higher grit stone choices are more dependent on what knife you are sharpening, considering the different steels and hardness. Am I on the right track here?

 

What you are saying about Gesshin 400 and 2000 is how I was taking them. In my mind, I am actually paying 'less' because of needing less stones to do the same job.

 

Note taken on the coarse stone. If I am correct, as long as I keep up with the knives now, I shouldn't need this stone for some time? Didn't realize a higher grit stone would reveal errors like that, this changed my thinking on what order to purchase the stones.

 

Is the Takenoko the same as the Arashiyama 6000? If so, it's one of the higher grits I have looked at. Didn't mention it only because I thought it wouldn't be necessary for the knives I have now.

 

As of now, this is what I am leaning towards. Price considerations aside, any reason not to pursue this setup?
Gesshin 2000
Arashiyama 6000
Gesshin 400

 

BDL, could you expand a bit on what you would recommend for doing this cheaper, strictly working on technique? Depending on cost, it may be an option before going after the above setup.

 

I'm sure I would be happy (and get over the things that are keeping me from pursuing this setup) with the Beston 500, Bester 1200 and Suehiro Rika 5k combo, but I'm equally sure I would still want to upgrade at some point. It may just be for peace of mind, but that has to be worth something.

post #5 of 16

Jon doesn't show this on his site but I got this from him when I was there a while back. It is a combo 1000/3000 and a nice setup like he uses.
 

 

2012-04-30_21-49-34_626.jpg

 

He has a a better stone holder with a single screw but my one from Rockler fits just as well.

 

2012-04-30_21-51-04_25.jpg

 

I need to get a few more stones from him next week.

 

Jim

post #6 of 16

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by roadDOG View Post

With that said, there are two setups I am looking at. They are the Gesshin 400 and 2000 or the Naniwa SS 400, 1000 and 3000. I understand the Naniwa SS are on the soft side, making them easier to gouge. Should that be viewed as a good learning aspect, or a reason to stay away from them? Is there anything I would be missing by having a single middle stone (Gesshin 2000) vs. the two Naniwa SS stones?

 

  Before you drop a bunch of $$$ of stones head to YouTube and look for Murray Carter's video sharpening on a cinder block. He talks about the hair splitting attention that stones get. It's well worth watching and it really helps put things in perspective.

I'd avoid any stone under 1K unless you have an immediate need for it.

You can go a long ways with nothing but a 1k and 5k stone or even a single 1k/3-5K combination stone which is where I would head instead of a single 2k stone of any flavor.

The Nainwas SS's are soft  and you can gouge them very easily. Worse yet they are easy to damage or break off corners. You don't want to get them too wet. The upside is that this can be helpful for learning and they are inexpensive. Even with moderate care a Naniwa SS will last the average sharpener many years.

 

Dave

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post #7 of 16
For your current knives, I'd suggest an oil stone kit such as a Norton combi India (IB8), and a soft and a "Surgical Black Arkansas (buy your Arks from Hall's Pro Edge, especially the black). If it matters, those four surfaces are what I use in my oil stone kit (I have more than one kit).

There's a bit of nominal overlap between the "fine" India and the soft Ark; but in practice, the soft Ark does a lot to prep the edge for the black. I find the intermediate step not only makes for a better edge, but actually saves time. I also find that a "natural" edge such as an Arkansas edge tends to outlast synthetic edges. I have some guesses as to why that's so, but they're only guesses.

I suggest keeping honing oil away from oil stones. As long as you clean the stones (scour with a wire brush, then run them through the dishwasher), they're faster and finer used dry or with water.

On the other hand, while oil stones do a pretty good job on tougher alloys, they're kind of marginal for the stronger alloys used in nearly all Japanese knives. If you're with an eye towards versatility and want to keep it cheap, a combi water stone like Dave suggested would be just the ticket.

With due props to Carter, John Juranitch used to do demonstrations where one of his little daughters would sharpen an ax on a cinder block and then the other, littler daughter would use the axe to shave him. That doesn't mean that's how you should sharpen.

Or shave.

BDL
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post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 

OK, think I need to take some time to process everything. Want to look over the oil stones BDL mentioned, as well as look at some of the combi stones available. Any in particular that I should look at, or any that I should stay away from? King and Norton seem to be the most common after a quick search.

 

Concerning Naniwa SS stones, would I be better served with the 1k and 3k or the 1k and 5k? Asking this based on using them to learn technique.

post #9 of 16

I'd go with the 1K and 5K SS. I use a very similar combo of 1K SS and 5K Chosera. I've owned the Hall Pro stones and I wasn't a fan. The Surgical black had quartz in one side. I did have one of their special run "pink" medium stones that was nice. Based on your plans for the future I can't see going in that direction.

Any of the combo stones should do fine in appropriate grit combinations.

 

 

Dave

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post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 

After some thought, I've decided on a few things. Even though it doesn't follow what I originally wanted to do, I think it's the best choice for me at this point. If I'm off base on anything, please let me know.

 

I ordered the oil stone kit BDL suggested, minus the Surgical Black for now. Even f i decide not to use them on my current kitchen cutlery, they should be good for some of the old hunting and pocket knives I have. Also picked up the IM50 case, looked to be a good investment for using/storing these stones.

 

I'm going to pick up either the King 800/6000, Norton 1000/4000 or the 1000/3000 from JKI mentioned above to get me started. Believe I can make a more informed decision on better stones once I determine exactly what knives I plan to purchase.

 

Thanks again to everyone.

post #11 of 16
I've had a lot of Naniwa SS and Choseras. Naniwa SS are very soft -- which is a good and bad thing. They're responsive, have a lot of feedback, but gouge very easily. Even though both Chosera and SS are both Naniwa lines, they don't have much in common when it comes to feel and use. I used to recommend SS, especially the 10mm SS, as good for beginners; but not anymore because of how quickly they dish, their tendency to gouge, and because the corners and edges to crumble if not cared for just so.

Choseras are excellent and very straightforward to use and maintain. Good to excellent in every way, but extremely expensive. If I were going to spend Chosera retail money on stones, I'd buy Gesshin. But again, because of their cost, I'm not recommending Gesshins either.

I've had several Hall's Pro-edge stones, know a great many people who have them, have never had a problem, and can't remember even hearing of one until now. I find it hard to believe that Dick Hall wouldn't replace any stone with an obvious flaw unless bought as a "second" and the problem disclosed at the time of purchase. One thing you need to understand about Arkansas stones (or any other natural stone, for that matter) is that the quarry matters a LOT, and maybe more than the designation of Soft, Hard, Black or Translucent. Some quarries offer better stones than others, and because the Hall's quarry is less played out than most others, you usually get better stones -- especially Soft and Black. But not always. Each natural stone is unique; and there is some luck to the draw.

Finishing your knives with a Soft Ark will give you a usable but not well-polished edge. If you're only going to buy one Arkansas stone to follow the fine India, it should probably be a "Hard." The edge will hold up longer, and need less steeling.

I have an IM-50. It's great for my Norton Indias, but the Hall's stones tend to run just a tad smaller and move around a bit in the holder. It works okay, but the Arks' willow boxes (most Arks come in one) feel more secure whether or not they actually work better.

BDL
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post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Finishing your knives with a Soft Ark will give you a usable but not well-polished edge. If you're only going to buy one Arkansas stone to follow the fine India, it should probably be a "Hard." The edge will hold up longer, and need less steeling.

 

Oops, ordered the Soft Ark from Hall's already. No problem though, I will move the Surgical Black up in my priority list.

 

Out of curiosity, could one of the water stones that were discussed be used in place of the Surgical Black? I'm thinking either the King 6000 side or possibly the Takenoko. I plan to try your suggesion of using the oil stones dry.

 

Little update on future knives. The Konosuke HD 240mm Wa-Gyuto, Konosuke HD Wa-Petty and the Suien VC Cleaver are tops on my list. It will take some time, still want to be proficient at sharpening before I get into any of these.

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by roadDOG View Post

I plan to try your suggesion of using the oil stones dry.

 

That's a less than optimal solution IMO.

  I just don't see the logic in it considering your future plans unless you already own those stones and are trying to get some use out of them or find them dirt cheap used. I tried that method before I sold my Halls stones and it's not a method I'd suggest to a new sharpener.

 Natural stones can have imperfections and I'd never gamble with seconds even if they did sell them. When you buy synthetic stones that's one less thing to worry about.

My 5K SS is over three years old and gets a lot of use. It's still in good shape but the crumbling edges are a draw back. The same things that are it's weakness of the SS's will be the very thing that helps a new sharpener learn.

If you've already ordered a Halls then consider a combination stone next so you can work with both methods. This will give you the benefit of hands on experience before you decide which direction to go with future purchases.

 

Dave

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post #14 of 16
If you're going to put up with all of the water stone BS to go with a Takenoko, you might as well buy a medium/coarse water stone such as a Bester 1200 for basic sharpening. There are other very good 1K choices, but the Bester is the cream of the crop at or near a semi-reasonable price. Bester 1200/Takenoko is an awesome combination for the heart of a water stone kit. Add a Beston 500 and a Kitayama, and you've got something good enough to compete with any kit, no matter how expensive.

In terms of what I'm using now, I've still got plenty of use left on my Beston 500, Bester 1200, and Chosera 3K; and I just replaced my Naniwa SS 8K with a Gesshin 8K. If I were choosing an ultimate water stone kit for me, it would be just three stones: Gesshin 400, 2K and 8K. That's a very easy set to use and very fast; but too expensive for anyone who doesn't see sharpening as a sort of hobby and end in itself. Just because I obsess, doesn't mean you should.

If it seems like Duckfat and I are disagreeing, that may be misleading. We're very close on just about everything with some minor differences around the edges. As I said, I've used a lot of SS stones and used to recommend them as excellent beginner stones. I've changed my opinion but not by much; and that's pretty much true for the other things that Dave's said. The exception is with Arkansas stones in general and Hall's stones in particular. I'm not disputing Dave's experience, but my own experience is quite different.

BDL
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post #15 of 16

If I could offer a little perspective, I dont often have the 1-2 hours required for soaking a stone. My recommendation would be to look at the shapton glass stones, no soaking required just splash and go. Will work fine with your current knives as well as future purchase. While its not as responsive as soft natural stones it still does give feed back.

 

Learning to sharpen is as much about careful attention to the details ie flattening your stones, maintaining consistent angles, etc

 

currently I own the 220, 1k and 4k, I have no need to get any sharper than 4k. There's not much of an advantage in a practical working environment.In fact I dont take boning knives above 1k because I like the toothy texture. The 220 is reserved for flattening, re profiling and repairs. Make an coarse stone a much later purchase, many a good edge have been ruined by coarse stones.

 

Hope this help.

 

Stay sharp my friend

V Lou Tay

post #16 of 16

I sharpen once in a while. Own SS 1k and 5k, Bestone 500, Bester 1200 and some local naturals. When i face a ridiculous unsharpened knife i may use the Bestone 500 to reprofile bevels and edge. For the rest of my home cook sharpening needs, i use the Bester 1200. Eventually, strop just for the fun of it. These days i'm more on the coocking and less on the sharpening, so the Bester 1200-strop combo is all i need. The 5k SS is there, unused since months.

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