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Stone Preferences

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I have a few questions as I contemplate purchasing a set of stones for myself. A little background info:

     I purchased a 1000/4000 Norton dual sided stone years ago when I was new to sharpening. I kind of regret this purchase, and prefer to pick and choose between stones belonging to other cooks I work with. Typically I am able to progress through 600/1000/6000 and sometimes 12000 if I'm lucky. I value a sharp knife and can typically push cut paper and pop hairs off my arm when I'm finished. My knife sees a heavy amount of use as well as frequent sharpening, so I think it's time to invest in a set of my own. 

     What would an ideal stone progression be? I was thinking something in the 400-600 range, followed by 1000/4000/8000...thoughts on that? Are higher grit stones and strops heading in to the realm of diminishing return, or is it worth pursuing? I was thinking about getting all Shaptons...I'm not too keen on the differences between brands however, perhaps there are better options out there? Shaptons seem to be reasonably priced and long lasting. I'm curious to some of the differences between the Glass and Pro series as well. 

    I realize a lot of this comes down to personal preference, and that there are many means to the same end. I value many of the opinions on this board and was hoping for a few different points of view. Thanks in advance, and happy birthday to Julia Child.

post #2 of 10

I get great results with 1k to 6k then a strop on balsa loaded with chromium oxide.  After I strop on paper to clean the green off.  I have a Minosharp 1k, a King 6k and the balsa and oxide I got from Mark at

post #3 of 10

What knife will you be sharpening?


There are different thougths on whether or not a line knife benefits much from a high grit polishing stone.

Personally I don't think it's that critical but others may have differing opinions.


Arm hair shaving is not a big deal and can be accomplished with a 1000 grit stone or less.

post #4 of 10

What knives?


Best value for a generic, three stone, synthetic, Japanese waterstone kit:  CKtG's kit which includes a loupe, a felt block for deburring, a Beston 500, Bester 1200, and Suehiro Rika.


My synthetic, Japanese waterstone kit:  Beston 500; Bester 1200, Chosera 3K, Gesshin 8K. 


My stropping compounds on a balsa base, used for polishing:  2u diamond, followed by 0.5u or 0.25u diamond.  I occasionally use an un-loaded horsehide strop on a hard, flat base to true a very hard knife and/or an extremely asymmetic edge.  I don't do basic sharpening on a strop.  I don't do anything on sandpaper anymore.   


Best "cost is no object" synthetic Japanese waterstone kit:  Gesshin 400, Gesshin 2K, Gesshin 8K (Gesshin stones are availible from JKI only).


You might also consider an EP kit. 


Best value EP Kit, Apex Kit 3.


Best cost no object EP Kit:  EP Pro with Chosera stones.


My choice for EP kit:  CKtG's Apex + Chosera kit.


Best cost no object flattener (my choice as well):  DMT XXC.


Best value for flattening:  3M Drywall Screen.


Best cost no object rod hone kit:  Idahone 12" fine ceramic + HA borosilicate.


Best value rod hone kit:  Idahone 12" fine ceramic + nothing.


My choice of rod hones:  Old, worn, fine Henckles + HA borosilicate.


Best choice for deburring:  Felt block, wine cork, and/or a piece of soft wood.


You get the idea.  There are lots and lots of choices.  The best ones for you depend on what you're trying to do, where you're trying to do it, how much you're willing to spend, and all sorts of other contingencies.  Try not to obsess, remember that there is no single best choice, nor probably even a single best choice for a narrow and specific set of circumstances.  So... lots and lots of good choices.  We'll find some things which work well for you.


And, yes... you can do a lot better than Nortons.  They're time is past. 



post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

     The primary knife in question is a Kikuichi TKC gyuto, although I do have designs to pick up a set of Konosuke HDs in the near future. The goal here is to perform regular maintenance on knives that see heavy use in a professional kitchen environment. I can do this fairly well with the resources currently available to me, I'm just ready to make an investment that will provide consistent results. 

     One thing I've always been confused about is the difference between stones of the same grit. What makes a Gesshin 1k better than say a King or Chosera 1k? What sorts of characteristics differ between stones? I've heard people talk about hardness and how fast they does this translate to the performance of the stones?

     All in all, I'm looking to pick up 3-4 stones over a period of time, not likely to spend over $150 on any given stone. I'm thinking of foregoing the strop setup for now as I seems I can achieve the results I want without it. Thanks for the responses 

post #6 of 10

The principle differences between synthetic stones of the same grit are the type of binder, clay, resin, or magnesia; the time, temperature, etc., choices which were made for hardening the stone in the kiln; and the ratio of abrasive to binder. 


Stones with better binders and a high ratio of abrasive tend to be faster, wear better, and require less maintenance.  The operative word is "tend."  Gesshins and Choseras both have a very high abrasive to binder ratio and are both made with high-tech binders.  Choseras are excellent stones but I don't think they're worth the money; Gesshin's are ridiculously expensive, but are enough better that I think they are worth the money.


Hard and soft stones give different types of tactile feedback.  Hard stones tend to give less information than softer, but softer stones tend to dish, crumble and gouge more easily.   The operative word is "tend." 


Norton's and Kings are (by and large) clay binder stones.  King makes a lot of stones, some of them are very good, some okay, and some just marginal.  But, as a rule of thumb (my thumb anyway) with only a few exceptions clay binders are a thing of the past. 


You want stones which don't require a lot of maintenance, don't require a lot of prep before using, do give good feedback, and are fast with a lot of reach.  By reach, I'm talking more about polishing than sharpening and mean that it can cross a big grit size difference and polish out the scratch left by the preceding stone and act as a good lead in to the next stone.  It's a little confusing, but speed and reach are important to basic sharpening.  Speed means fewer strokes, reach means fewer stones, and together they mean less chance of error and a stronger edge


It seems to me that the CKtG three stone kit would serve your needs well.  FWIW, the finest stone in it, the Suehiro Rika, is a clay binder.  The Beston and Bester are both synthetic binders and both require extensive soaking (at least an hour, preferably longer) before using. 


You also have to think about flattening and truing.  FWIW, you can true on your finest stone.  I don't, because it's more trouble to set up a stone than its worth -- but you can. 



post #7 of 10

Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post


...Best choice for deburring:  Felt block, wine cork, and/or a piece of soft wood.



Have you tried cardboard for deburring?

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.



Brot und Wein
(1 photos)

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.



Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

I appreciate all your advice and suggestions. One last question regarding flattening: Do you use the DMT XXC to fix all your stones, or would something so aggressively abrasive be detrimental to the higher grit stones?

post #9 of 10

Me?  I flatten and chamfer all my (synthetic) water stones with the DMT XXC plate.  After flattening , I lap by rubbing the 3K and 1.2K together under running water a few times; then the 8K with the 1.2K followed by the 3K.  FWIW, I do the same sort of thing with my EP Chosera stones. 



post #10 of 10

BDL, I appreciate the breakdown of the waterstone differences. How about differences with aluminum oxide stones? I've seen some budget aluminum oxide stones at Restaurant supply stores.


Edit .. I meant for example comparing Norton India oil stones to other AO oil stones. Is there a a difference among them?


A budget example is Update International (G-0208) - 8" x 2" Aluminum Oxide Sharpening Stone $1.39

Edited by JohnR - 8/18/12 at 6:59pm
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