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Right edge for the right job

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Do you put different edges on your knives for different applications? And if so, what do you use?

 

In preparing to have my knives sharpened, I am curious what is the best angle/bevel/finish combination for a knife (Wusthof Classic) used primarily for slicing raw meat/fish?

post #2 of 6

I use my cheaper german knives for tougher meats and anything with bones, which I sharpen fairly obtusely on a 1000 grit japanese stone. For lean meat, cooked proteins, and fish (bone out) I usually use the knives that have thinner, more polished edges.

post #3 of 6

It's more than likely that whoever will sharpen your knife will use a machine of some sort.  If so, your input probably won't matter very much as most machines are set to a particular angle and have limited finish options -- with the finest being none too fine.   In other words, you take what you get.

 

I think Wusthof's current "best" factory sharpening for Classics is a flat bevel, 18* edge angle (36* included), 50/50 symmetry, to a fairly high degree of polish (call it similar to a Japanese 5K).  If something like that is available to you, it's a good choice.  

 

If your sharpener does hand sharpening or uses a tool and jig which allows for a lot of custom options, I think a 20*/15* flat double bevel, with 50/50 symmetry at around a 3K - 5K finish would be optimal.  If I were sharpening your knife, I'd probably finish with a "surgical black" Arkansas because (in my experience) edges from natural stones hold up a little better than edges from synthetics.  My second choice from my own kit would be a (Japanese synthetic) 3K.

 

I certainly would not polish the knife beyond 5K, partly because of the work it does for you, and partly because the knife's "scratch hardness" is so low that it won't hold much polish for very long anyway -- especially if you use a steel for maintenance; and doubly especially if your steel is anything but very fine or polished.

 

Also, for doing a lot of red meat work, I think a bit of tooth is nice.  So there's something to be said for a ~1K edge.  However, those edges are too coarse to hold up for long because those big "teeth" splay very easily.  

 

I'd avoid asymmetry.  The closer to 50/50 the more it will resist going out of true, and the easier to steel back to health when it inevitably (and frequently) does go sideways.

 

Considering the type of blade alloy and the use you describe, your steeling equipment and practice are going to mean a lot more over the long term than "inside-baseball" sharpening nuances.  Your sharpener should have a pretty good idea of how to sharpen a Wusthof Classic without your suggestions, and if he doesn't you should get a new sharpener. 

 

BDL

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post #4 of 6

Is there ever a problem sharpening German knives on Japanese stones?  I thought I read somewhere it was best to use Arkansas stones with honing oil

post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by mano View Post

Is there ever a problem sharpening German knives on Japanese stones?  I thought I read somewhere it was best to use Arkansas stones with honing oil

I do it all the time on japanese stones and there is no harm other than wear and tear on a pricey rock.

 

If I don't have to churn on my Gesshin 400 I won't. OTOH if it is soaked and ready I grab it.

 

Jim

post #6 of 6

Posted by mano View Post

Is there ever a problem sharpening German knives on Japanese stones? 

 

"Ever?"  Well...  I suppose there's some particular combination of German knife and synthetic Japanese water stone which won't work.  But as a general rule "no problemo."  

 

I thought I read somewhere it was best to use Arkansas stones with honing oil

There are a variety of oil stones, natural and synthetic.  Arkansas stones are natural stones mined in a particular area and consist of a novaculite abrasive (a type of chert), held in a sedimentary substrate.  Novaculite crystals are one size, pretty much.  That means that Arks aren't classified according to "grit" or "screen" size.  Rather, the various classifications of Arks depend on the concentration of novaculite within the substrate and the color and density of the substrate.  

 

Because they're natural stones, the quality of any given Arkansas stone depends on the quality of the vein from which it was mined.  Nearly all of the best deposits are either played out or nearly so.  That means picking a good source is very important.  The best names are Hall's Pro Edge, Dan's, and of course Norton. 

 

In my experience, edges sharpened on natural stones tend to outlast those sharpened on synthetic stones.  I believe (but don't know) that has to do with the relative complexity of the scratch pattern.

 

Many modern sharpeners use oil stones without any oil at all.  We either use some sort of substitute like soapy water, straight water, or just sharpen dry.  For fastest, cleanest results dry is best and it's my preferred method.  However, dry stones load up very quickly and need a lot of cleaning.

 

I have a lot of experience with all sorts of oil and water stones, both natural and synthetic.  When it comes to my softer, tougher knives I prefer freehand sharpening with Norton India stones (synthetic, aluminum-oxide, oil stones) for profiling and drawing the first burr, then a Hall's Soft Arkansas followed by a Hall's Surgical Black Arkansas for chasing the burr and polishing.  It's a close call between either of my good, synthetic, Japanese water stone sets. 

 

A lot of words to say:  You pick'em.

 

BDL

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