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Sharpening my Gyuto.

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi guys!

 

I found my way to these forums by looking for a source of information regarding Japanese knives, after seeing a friend of mine use his newly purchased blade the other day. I've been reading a lot and found a few knives that are to my liking, but don't worry - this isn't one of those "Help me pick!"-threads.

 

After a few hours of reading it struck me that my friend didn't purchase any means of sharpening his knife. I've come to understand that there's really no point in spending a lot of money on a knife that will not retain its sharpness. Now, I do have a sharpening steel (rod) at home, but it's pretty old and only cost like 20 bucks. It would just feel wrong to use that piece of crap on such a fine blade.

 

So my question is: What method of sharpening do you suggest for a newbie? I've seen that you can spend a lot of money on these things, but my budget is somewhat limited. I want something that's not very hard to use and not very expensive, yet works.

I understand that you get what you pay for, but what kind of item would give me the most bang for my buck?

 

I would very much appreciate any answers!

 

PS. I'm ordering from Chefknivestogo.com, so if you wanna link me some suggestions, please use that site if possible! (Shipping costs to Sweden are sky-high :/)

post #2 of 13

Hi Biktor...

 

If you spend some more time reading this  forum, I'm sure that you're going to find the answers to most of your questions, here's a link of a not so old post where you can start to get an idea on what you're looking for.

Take a look and keep searching thumb.gif

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/70901/getting-started-with-waterstones

 

Regards.

Luis

post #3 of 13

There are some generic water stone recommendations suitable for all Japanese made knives of decent quality or better.  The Bester 1200 is an excellent medium/coarse for raising a burr, and either the Suehiro Rika or Takenoko/Arashiyama are really good choices for edge refinement and polish.  At some point -- usually after a year -- you'll want to add a coarse stone for thinning, other profiling and repair.  I like the Beston 500.

 

The Suehiro Rika is a little easier to use than the Takenoko, but doesn't polish as well.  Whether or not you need or want Takenoko level polish is an open question.  So is whether you want to polish still finer. 

 

Chef Knives to Go sells all of four stones, and I believe they still sell the Beston/Bester/Suehiro combination as a discounted kit.  It's not exactly an ultimate kit, but it's fairly priced and good enough to serve you well for years. There are alternatives and trade-offs.  Your best choices depend on what you want to do, and what you're going to do it on. 

 

I think we're going to end up going through all of the basics before you understand enough to really get started.  Let's begin with a few questions: 

  • Which "gyuto" are we talking about?
  • Do you plan on adding other high quality knives, such as a suji and petty?
  • How much are you willing to spend on a sharpening kit?
  • How much time are you willing to invest learning to sharpen?

 

BDL

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post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

The ones I'm currently looking at are:

 

The Shun Premier because it seems to have a little more belly than most, which makes the transition to japanese knives easier.

The Fujiwara FKM because I've heard it's a great starter knife. Good pricing as well.

The Konosuke HD because of the looks and good reviews.

 

At the moment I'm leaning towards the Shun simply because it seems like the middle ground, and I love the design (yes, that is important to me).

I'm not sure if I'll be buying other knives, simply because cooking is a hobby and I don't feel that I use other models as much when cooking. But who knows, maybe I'll be so impressed by this stuff that I can't possibly use anything else.

 

I'm willing to spend about 50 dollars, and as for the time investment: how long does it take to learn, approximately? If I do something I generally do my best to get the hang of it. Learning a new skill is always good fun. That said, I still want something that isn't overly complicated and most importantly: I want to minimize the risk of ruining the knife.

 

Thanks!


Edited by Biktor - 6/30/12 at 5:26am
post #5 of 13

In what ways do you think "belly" will help? 

 

In terms of overall manufacturing quality and edge taking, the Shun is sort of halfway between the Fujiwara FKM and the Konosuke HD.  There are a couple of things I really dislike about the Shun -- including way too much rocker, too much belly (in the limited, technical sense), too-high tip, lack of feedback, etc. -- any or all of which may or may not apply to you.  If you do like Shun type knives, and want an 8", 8" Premier is a very good value at its sale price.  Otherwise, you pay a very stiff premium for the (tsuchime) finish, and the Premier line is vastly overpriced for VG-10 san-mai.  As a rule, a 10" knife is a better choice than an 8" as long as you're willing to master the (very easy) skills necessary to control the extra length.

 

The Fujiwara is a decent but unspectacular knife at a very good price.  In other words, entry level. 

 

I really like the Kono, probably wrote some of the stuff which influenced your choice, but can't say if it's a particularly good choice for you or not.  Also, if you're interested in a high-end laser and aren't wedded to the idea of semi-stainless, there are a number of other brands as good as Konosuke.

 

$50 is on the very low side for even a good combi-stone.  "Adequate" as to sharpening, especially if you know what you're doing.  But the stone will have issues in terms of how fast it cuts, how fast it wears, how much flattening it requires, how easily it crumbles on the sides and edges, etc., and may not satisfy you for long. Beginners especially do themselves a large disservice by choosing cheap, hard to use tools, and are better off spending a little more to avoid their disadvantages.

 

Whether or not you're going to want a honing rod (aka "steel") as well as a set of stones depends on which knife you ultimately choose, as well on which knives you already have and/or plan to buy in the future.  Really good rods are relatively inexpensive, the 12" Idahone fine ceramic runs less than $40.  

 

If you take good advice and focus on learning, it will take 6 - 15 edges (three to twelve hours on the stones) before you begin to develop the basic skills of angle holding, drawing a burr, and deburring to the point where you know what you're doing and can consistently sharpen a reasonably good edge.  I've been sharpening for more than forty five years and am still learning and improving.

 

As long as you don't try and learn to sharpen with a coarse grit stone (say lower than 800# JIS) it's unlikely you'll do anything to hurt your knife.  A lot of people like to learn to sharpen on inexpensive knives; and while it isn't a bad idea, I don't think it's that big a deal. 

 

If you do go with an entry-level knife like the Fujiwara or a mid-priced option like the Shun, depending on which other knives you frequently use, you may want to consider some sort of gag -- like a Minosharp3 or a Chef's Choice Electric -- instead of stones.  You'll get good if unspectacular results right off the bat for around $80.  I'm not trying to handicap any particular sharpening solution as "best for you," just letting you know that there are options. 

 

Lots to think about,

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 6/30/12 at 9:41am
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post #6 of 13

The Konosuke HD may not be the right knife for a newbie, and I own a 240 gyuto and a 180 petty.  They're so extremely thin and light a lot of people don't like them. A good entry level gyuto will be a pleasure to use for a lifetime.  Mine was a Carbonext from JCK:  http://japanesechefsknife.com/KAGAYAKICarboNextSeries.html

 

The HD's are terrific, but I'd be perfectly happy with the Carbonext, which may well be lighter than the Shun Premier.  IIRC shipping worldwide is $7 and if you let them know in an email you want a saya it's pretty cheap (approx $17). It has a bit more belly than some gyuto's and is the exact "middle ground" Biktor is looking for.  FWIW, I briefly owned a Shun Premier and while it's a very good knife, IMHO it's over priced.

  

Two-sided stones are a great bargain and perfectly suitable for a home cook.  Don't know shipping, but check these out:

http://www.japaneseknifesharpeningstore.com/category-s/152.htm

 

For good info on sharpening check out videos from Jon Broida.  http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/media

 

 

Becoming an adequate -and I mean simply average- sharpener isn't that difficult, and you'll have a sharper and stronger edge than most pro's.  


Edited by mano - 6/30/12 at 11:31am
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mano View Post

The Konosuke HD may not be the right knife for a newbie, and I own a 240 gyuto and a 180 petty.  They're so extremely thin and light a lot of people don't like them. A good entry level gyuto will be a pleasure to use for a lifetime.  Mine was a Carbonext from JCK:  http://japanesechefsknife.com/KAGAYAKICarboNextSeries.html

 

The HD's are terrific, but I'd be perfectly happy with the Carbonext, which may well be lighter than the Shun Premier.  IIRC shipping worldwide is $7 and if you let them know in an email you want a saya it's pretty cheap (approx $17). It has a bit more belly than some gyuto's and is the exact "middle ground" Biktor is looking for.  FWIW, I briefly owned a Shun Premier and while it's a very good knife, IMHO it's over priced.

  

Two-sided stones are a great bargain and perfectly suitable for a home cook.  Don't know shipping, but check these out:

http://www.japaneseknifesharpeningstore.com/category-s/152.htm

 

For good info on sharpening check out videos from Jon Broida.  http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/media

 

 

Becoming an adequate -and I mean simply average- sharpener isn't that difficult, and you'll have a sharper and stronger edge than most pro's.  

 

I think I've found a suitable stone, but I was just wondering one more thing: When you say that the Shun Premier is overpriced, are you referring to its original price of 225 dollars or the reduced price of 119 dollars at Chef knives to go? I can agree that 225 seems a little steep, and I would've picked the Konosuke HD in a flash if that was the current price. 119 dollars seems like a pretty good deal to me, or am I wrong about this?

 

Thank you both for your input!

post #8 of 13

The 8" Shun Premier is currently priced very attractively -- but only if you want an 8" Shun Premiere.  I urge you not to think of $109 as being a great deal only because the knife is "regularly" $225.  A knife you won't like is a LOUSY PURCHASE at any price.

 

An 8" Shun Premier and 240mm Konosuke HD don't have much in common.  It's easy to predict that you'll fine one considerably more suitable for your purposes than the other,  but not at all easy to predict which you'd like best without knowing considerably more about you.

 

Also, while I heartily recommend CKtG (Mark rocks!), you should be aware that the $109 price is available pretty much everywhere Shuns are sold; including your local Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table.  

 

Two sided stones may be "perfectly suitable," but do have issues, aren't as good as two separate stones, and don't save the buyer anything in the long run. 

 

Good luck,

BDL

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post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

The 8" Shun Premier is currently priced very attractively -- but only if you want an 8" Shun Premiere.  I urge you not to think of $109 as being a great deal only because the knife is "regularly" $225.  A knife you won't like is a LOUSY PURCHASE at any price.

 

An 8" Shun Premier and 240mm Konosuke HD don't have much in common.  It's easy to predict that you'll fine one considerably more suitable for your purposes than the other,  but not at all easy to predict which you'd like best without knowing considerably more about you.

 

Also, while I heartily recommend CKtG (Mark rocks!), you should be aware that the $109 price is available pretty much everywhere Shuns are sold; including your local Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table.  

 

Two sided stones may be "perfectly suitable," but do have issues, aren't as good as two separate stones, and don't save the buyer anything in the long run. 

 

Good luck,

BDL

 

What are the issues with two sided stones, especially for home cooks who don't sharpen that often?  They appear to be a bargain, to me at least.

 

I agree CKtG is terrific, having purchased from them.  Excellent customer services, great prices and selection, too.  

 

The Shun Premier are not the knives I owned.  Forgot the name -Elite?- but they were a higher-end line that's now discontinued.

post #10 of 13
What are the issues with two sided stones, especially for home cooks who don't sharpen that often?  They appear to be a bargain, to me at least.

 

Don't get me wrong. I don't HATE combi-stones, but do think there are enough negatives that separates are a better choice for most people under most circumstances.  Here's a partial list of the reasons: 

  • Both sides need frequent flattening, you'll probably have to flatten every couple of edges at minimum.  Lots of flattening = Big PITA;
  • The sides don't wear evenly, which means you'll wear one side out when the other is still usable;
  • The stones are different hardness/density etc., and don't abrade at the same rate -- which means the corners don't chamfer easily and are prone to crumbling;
  • Combi stones are two, thin, single stones glued together.  Sometimes they separate;
  • Because the combi-stone component stones wear at the same rate as their thicker, single-stone equivalents, you go through combi-stones quickly and they don't represent any actual cost saving; and
  • Combi-stones have two surfaces, but most good sharpening kits should have three or four. 

 

BDL

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post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

As I pointed out earlier, I know absolutely nothing about sharpening blades on a water stone. I will probably place my order later today, and thought I had found a combi-stone at a reasonable price: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kingcombostone.html

 

I probably can't afford two separate stones at the moment (I'm a poor student), but would it be better to buy a low quality combi-stone like that or buy one higher quality single stone. I do of course plan to do a lot more research on this subject later next week when I have the time, as of right now I don't even know what 800/6000 means in practice. Would it work to buy, say, a higher quality 3000 stone?

Sorry about my ignorance and thank you for your answers! smile.gif
 

post #12 of 13

The King 800/6000 is an okay stone.  I don't want to make you feel worse by nit-picking its many but relatively minor faults.  It's certainly good enough to learn on and keep your knife sharp for a couple of years.

 

Don't forget you're going to need some method for flattening; and you must flatten your new stone and chamfer the corners and edges before using it for the first time.  Since you're on a budget, I suggest 3M Drywall Screen, rather than buying a flattening stone from a knife shop.  It will put you on the hook for a great deal less than $20.  Note, drywall screen and sandpaper are not the same thing; and if I were recommending sandpaper I would have said so. 

 

You decided on the 8" Shun?

 

BDL

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post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I just placed my order!

I originally thought that 119 dollars + shipping was a little expensive for me, and now the total sum ended up being 271 dollars!

I didn't know you needed all these accessories, but I probably would have been unhappy with my purchase if the knife had not performed as well as it will now.

I also probably would not have known that it was my fault, so I thank all of you for helping me out with this!

 

Special thanks to BDL, not only because of your answers in this thread but also because your activity on these forums helped me understand a few things a little better.

You should write a book man, I know I would totally buy it! (Along with everyone who has ever visited these forums!)

 

Now I just have to wait patiently from my order, which was very smooth thanks to excellent support from Mark over at Chef Knives to Go.

 

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