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Stone confused - matching stone to knife? - recommendations appreciated

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

All --


It's been a great day of catching up on threads and searching for everything I can read on sharpening stones and recommendations. (That's a nice way of saying "I did use search first.") After going through it all, I'm not entirely sure I have it all sorted out right in my head or really understand which way to go. (That's a nice way of saying "But I'll ask anyway." :) )


So: What stone should I get?


No, really. Let's start with some background info here.

1. I want to sharpen freehand on stones. I've gotten comfortable with my current setup, enough to not mangle the edge and get a knife much sharper than when I start. However, I'm not sure I'm in the right place for where I want to get to next. I don't particularly care to fuss with rigs and setups - there's something very zen about rubbing a knife on a block of stone - but I'm open if y'all want to convince me.

2. Cost isn't a major constraint but it is an object. So, while I'm not necessarily on a shoestring budget, I'm not out to splurge, either. Bang for the buck is key here.


Today, my sharpening regime consists of a DMT DuoSharp ( - 8", with Red (Fine) and Green (Extra Fine) sides. That, and a Idahone Fine rod for honing/steeling between sharpening. While I'm not the best at holding perfect edges yet, I'm getting there.


After all of today's reading, I'm now considering what's the best stone to pair up against my knives. Unfortunately, they cover a wide range:

* Konosuke HD (which has never touched the diamond plates, for fear of totally borking it)

* Sabatier carbon steel chef's (where I seriously rethink bolsters, pain in my ass to sharpen around)

* Forschner chef

* Henckels Four Star (two man, not one man) chef

* Henckels Five Star paring

* Kyocera ceramic santoku (Kidding. I mean, I own one, but don't plan to sharpen it. Unless you folks have tips.)


I'm able to get good-to-great edge on the German knives, great edge on the Firschner, and good edge on the carbon steel.


Unfortunately, after spending the day reading, I'm not entirely sure how to break this down.

A. Coarse stones (<1000 grit, depending on whatever scale you use) are for profiling a knife, removing lots of metal quickly to give a new bevel. Use with caution, but will eventually be necessary (reshouldering, I think it was called).

B. Medium stones (~1000-4000 grit, if you can call that a useful scale here) are good for refining an edge. Cleaning up some of the trauma of a coarse stone, restoring an edge on a dull-but-not-dead knife, so on.

C. Fine stones (~5k and up) are for polishing an edge. Clean up and smooth out the work of the coarser stones. Depending on who you read, this will transition you from a toothy edge great for sawing/drawing motion to a keen mirrored edge great for push cutting, shaving, and impressing your friends.


Some would say start with the coarse and medium, and add fine only after you get good enough that you want to really polish the edge. Others (I'll cite BDL, and see if I'm right) would say to start with the medium and fine stones, because they'll work well and if I'm bad enough to screw up a knife, I'll do it faster and way more severely on a coarse stone.


Also, I've read enough to think now that some stones prefer softer steels used in the German knives, while others excel more with the harder Japanese steels. (Which may really be Swedish. Useful classifier, nationality.) Unfortunately, I have both ends in the mix.


So: Where do I go from here? India, Arkansas? King, Bester, Norton, Halls? Various Japanese stones I can't often pronounce? A "Green Brick Of Joy"?


I've about reached the capacity, I think, for what I'll learn from more forum reading and Youtube-watching. Time to ask the crew here for more direct advice. And, as I've come here off and on over the years, I generally trust (and see the same way) as folks here more than anyplace else.


Help me, Obi-Wans!

post #2 of 6

The four piece, three water stone set from CKtG which includes three good stones and a magnifying loupe.  You can use your coarsest DMT as a flattener for the time being, or add CKtG's generic, $25 diamond plate.  I'd probably buy the plate because, your current diamond stones will wear out pretty quickly when actually used for sharpening, and the generic is just so darn cheap when CKtG carries the shipping.


Since you're getting good results on your Euro knives, there's no hurry to replace those DMTs; and the water stones will do a great job on your Euros  -- better than the DMTs.  But if you also want a really good oil stone kit to maximize the edge quality on the Euros, then a coarse India, fine India, Hall's soft Arkansas, and Hall's surgical black Arkansas is a very effective and cost efficient way to go.


FWIW, you'll reserve the coarsest water stone (Beston 500) and coarsest oil stone (coarse India) for profiling and repair.  In all likelihood that means using them about once a year per knife for thinning.  I know that's an investment in equipment which doesn't get used very often but there you go. 



post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks! Makes sense and is clear. I'll dig into that when I stop work tonight.


One thing - is the oil stone progression redundant, or in sequence, with the water stones you mention? And, even though they are oil stones, are they better used with oil or water? (AFAIK, one can go either way, but can't switch back and forth.)


Will these hold up against harder/different Japanese knives as well? I expect to pick up more K-Sab carbons as well as a couple of Japanese knives (I'm missing a petty in all this, and may swap out some of the other blades). I think they will, and I may be significantly overthinking whether a given stone matches a given steel or not - I only became aware of that viewpoint last night.



post #4 of 6

Keep in mind US and JIS grit sizes differ.


I started with stones>belt sander>back to stones.


I have mostly Euro quality knives and one VG-10 knife. The VG-10 is a Petty which I don't use much so my kit is slanted towards the Euro steel. I have no experience with water stones.


My kit is as follows;

Norton India Course  8x3x1/2 $20~
Norton India Fine   8x3x1/2  $20~ 
Razor Edge Systems Ultra Fine 8x3x1 $40~


Followed by white stropping compound and/or swipes on a fine steel produces a decent working edge.


I use the oil stones dry but clean/wash after each use.


The 8x3 India stones come in plastic cases that double as stone holders.


If I didn't already have the Razor Edge Ultra Fine I would probably have a 8x3x1/2 Halls Hard Arkansas. $47~


In general I follow Chad Ward's sequence of a 20/15 relief/cutting edge.


Some have/do use oil stones on harder steels.

post #5 of 6

The water stones and oil stones are (or should be) separate kits.  In many senses the kits would be redundant, we're talking about differences of a few degrees only.  Quality Arkansas stones are VERY good with "tough," European steels; and quality water stones are better with the sort of "strong," alloys used by most Japanese and a few American makers. 


Even though most of your knives are Euros, I don't think you need to buy an oil stone kit right off the bat.  Quality water stones will be a huge improvement compared to your old DMTs.  After a few months you can think about oil stones.  Initially, you might want to try chasing the Bester 1200 with a Hall's Surgical Black for final sharpening and polishing.  If you like the black's long-lasting, "natural" edge, you can go on and put together a full set of oil stones.  But... no hurry.  Start with the water stones, and learn to maintain and use them before fooling around with oil stones. 



post #6 of 6

I just ordered a Beston 500 after talking with Mark at CKtG to round out my kit.  500, 1000, 6000, balsa w/chrome oxide and a bark tanned strop. 

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