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Sharpening European knives

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Hi there,

 

I've read and learned a ton from this site and Fred's also, and started acquiring some sharp knives and sharpening gear as of last year.

 

The following is a quote from one of your resident knife experts "BDL"

 

Figure on about $150 for a waterstone kit (stones and flattener) you can live with for a long time.  If you keep your Japanese knives at work, and work doesn't have a good set, you might want to keep something like a 1K/6K combi there for "touch ups." 

 

And, if you're going to continue to use European or American stainless, you'll want a Norton coarse/fine combination India as well. 

 

I have a Japanese waterstone kit, but I also have a bunch of German knives that seem to sharpen up pretty well on the waterstones...or so I thought...

 

What benefit do the India stones have over the Japanese stones?  I had been under the impression that the waterstones were simply superior to the "oilstones" for all knives.  Do I really need both set ups?  I often sharpen knives for friends at work and I like to think I'm doing as good a job for them as possible...Of course none of them have J-knives.  If the results would be better with other stones I would not be against picking up the oilstones, but if there's no real advantage I'd rather not bother.

 

Thanks much 

 

Oh yeah...forgot to mention Wusthof and henckels both sell japanese style water stones...if they're not ideal then what gives?

thanks again


Edited by Kartman35 - 1/12/13 at 8:39am
post #2 of 28

Norton's India series stones are very fast sharpening soft, tough alloys like those used in European knives.  The coarse stone moves a lot of metal, the fine stone raises a burr very quickly, while the medium India does both.  Worth mentioning here that "India" is not "generic" for oil stones, or even synthetic oil stones.  India stones are aluminum oxide synthetics made only by Norton; and while very good quality and excellent value, they are not the best synthetic oil stones by any means.  The best I've tried are the Razor Edge "hones."

 

Arkansas stones leave a more durable edge than Japanese, synthetic water stones. 

 

Are synthetic oil stones faster on tough alloys as water stones?  Not really, about the same.  They are a better lead in for Arkansas stones though, and an Arkansas edge is a very good thing to have -- especially, as already mentioned, for durability. 

 

But both India and Arkansas stones are too slow for the stronger, modern alloys typical of better Japanese and semi-custom western knives. 

 

If you have both types of knives and are only going to maintain one set of stones, a water stone set is a better choice than one made up oil stones.  If you can afford the money and storage space, and don't mind spending extra time (and money) to get the best possible edge it's worth having full kits of both types of stones.  Otherwise, not so much.

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 1/12/13 at 1:51pm
post #3 of 28

I am no expert but in my opinion, Japanese stones are normally more expensive, less durable, and are used for doing different tasks. For instance, on a water stone, your normally working with knives that are single bevel and chisel ground, where your putting more surface area of the knife, on the stone. And then using a the finer grit to polish and microbevel your knife. So your not digging your edge into your stone the entire time your sharpening it. where as with an oil stone, Your normally putting the primary bevel on the knife at 15-22.5 degrees. Western style stones IMO hold up a lot better than water stones. Not saying you couldn't use one for the other and vise verse, But the sharpening tasks for both knife types and the attributes of the stones, is how i choose my stones. I sharpen my Japanese style knives at home with my Japanese stones, and my french style knives, at work with their tri-stone. MY preference, if that helps.

post #4 of 28

And Zwillings Henkels Do make J-style knives. Check their Bob Kramer Line, Its awesome, And Wustof. they pretty much make anything cuttlery related. same with zwillings.

post #5 of 28

My own experience is that Arkansas stones work better on the softer carbon and stainless blades, and our resident knife expert BDL seems to concur.  I can't get a great edge on a stainless Wusthof with my clay-binder based 6k waterstone, but from there a few swipes on a hard Arkansas does the trick.  Waterstones are apparently for harder blades.

post #6 of 28

Oh my, I saw the middle of this post and thought it the beginning, my words above seen as pitifully redundant now.

post #7 of 28

really is uselses to go beyond 2k on softer steel. =D

 

you lose all teeth and just get polish on the side of the blade. 

post #8 of 28

Buy yourself a good  H20  -stone.

CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ED BUCHANAN View Post

Buy yourself a good  H20  -stone.

If you're gonna bother to reply why don't you read the op first...I have water stones thanks much

post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by FranzB69 View Post

really is uselses to go beyond 2k on softer steel. =D

 

you lose all teeth and just get polish on the side of the blade. 

 

Strictly speaking of some relatively soft stainless blades and Shun 1k/6k waterstone I have, this simply does not put a great edge on these knives.  Finishing with a hard Akanasas (12k+) gives an edge that easily wittles hair, and though it has no "teeth," practically falls thru a tomatoe with just the slightest pull.  It stays sharp noticeably longer too.

post #11 of 28

i guess it's just the stones then.

 

i better get me those arkansas stones then. =D

post #12 of 28

really is uselses to go beyond 2k on softer steel. you lose all teeth and just get polish on the side of the blade.

The best finish depends on the particular alloy/hardening (and not just the hardness).  It's true though that a knife without much "scratch hardness" will lose a polish pretty quickly both through use and by steeling.  Of course, a lot depends on you.  There is no "one size fits all" rule.  I take my Forschners and carbon Sabs higher than 2K and don't regard it as a waste of time even though they're both quite soft (the Sabs in partivcular) and (the Forschners in particular) get scuffed easily. 

 

Also, I'm not sure what "losing teeth" means in this context.


Strictly speaking of some relatively soft stainless blades and Shun 1k/6k waterstone I have, this simply does not put a great edge on these knives.  Finishing with a hard Akanasas (12k+) gives an edge that easily wittles hair, and though it has no "teeth," practically falls thru a tomatoe with just the slightest pull.  It stays sharp noticeably longer too.


I think Rick forgot to type in a decimal point and is comparing a "hard" Ark to some sort of generic 1.2K Japanese synthetic water stone. 

 

In case it wasn't already obvious, I completely agree on the superior quality and durability of Arkansas edges, compared to... compared to... well, there's the problem. 

 

It's a good idea to not rely too heavily on the accuracy of grit numbers -- especially when comparing synthetic stones made with sized abrasives, since the particular, natrural abrasive in Arks -- novaculite crystals -- are all the same size.  With Arks, cutting speed and polish are mostly about the density of the novaculite and the particular qualities of the substrates.  

 

While Rick's comparison is certainly close enough to be apt, don't draw too much from it.  As closest comparisons, a soft Ark is in the same category as King or Norton 1K; and hard Arks compare to Nonpareil and Naniwa synthetic 2K aotos.  When you get into black and translucent Arks it's hard to find good comparisons because the sharp/shine ratios and edge durability qualities are so idiosyncratic to particular stones, whether for the Arks and the synthetic water stones.  And this is soooooooooooooo Inside Baseball, I'm not sure how helpful it is.  But wotthehell, wotthehell.  My Hall's Surgical Black polishes and sharpens better than my (long gone) Norton 4K did, doesn't polish as well as my (long gone) Shapton Pro 5K, but sharpens much better.  My (long gone) Norton translucent polishes better than my Shapton Pro 5K, but doesn't hold a candle to any of my old 8Ks.  On the other hand, the edge quality is about as good as those 8Ks (excluding the current Gesshin 8K) but not significantly better than the black. 

 

If you care. 

 

BDL

post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

 

Also, I'm not sure what "losing teeth" means in this context.


I think Rick forgot to type in a decimal point and is comparing a "hard" Ark to some sort of generic 1.2K Japanese synthetic water stone. 

 

(shortened quote)

 

 

BDL

 

No I'm a little flumoxed now BDL, I assumed since the Ark left a shiny non-toothy edge compared to the 6K that it was much finer than 6K, at least seems a lot finer in what it produces.  Then due to the nature of the matrix Arks I guess shave more than gouge, as some synthetic abrassives  are "shavers."  Maybe this baige colored stone isn't even an Ark but something else.  Anyways it seems I got across the kind of finish it leaves. "shrugs"

 

Anyways FWIW this baige whatever stone finishes even vg10 better than the Shun 6k.  If starting from scratch I would certainly get the 2k and 8k Geshin, which is possibly what I will do.  I've just been using this Ark/whatever for so long I'm reluctant to just push it aside.

 

Rick

post #14 of 28
Quote:

Originally Posted by Rick Alan View Post

 

  Maybe this baige colored stone isn't even an Ark but something else.  Anyways it seems I got across the kind of finish it leaves. "shrugs"

 

Anyways FWIW this baige whatever stone finishes even vg10 better than the Shun 6k. 

 

Rick

Rick,

 

There are razor hones that are a beige color and were beyond an AK in fine finish. Post a pic but it could be a Hindostan, or maybe a Belgian coticule

 

http://straightrazorplace.com/hones/77284-hindostan-hone.html

 

I have a Hindostan and a hone from the American Hone co in Monrivia and both are yellowish

 

Jim

post #15 of 28

Once you get down to the molecular level, increasingly finer screen size (higher grit numbers) becomes irrelevant if the size of the abrasive sharpening/polishing particle is larger than the alloy's "grain."  Even then, there are practical limits. 

 

You can't really get a much brighter and smoother polish using bench stones on a kitchen knife than ~10K (JIS).  You can, perhaps, strop a bit finer -- perhaps down to 0.25u if you're using an inherently "gritty" abrasive like diamond.  I can't see or feel any difference on my finest grain knife (an EE SG2 Blazen) between my 8K Gesshin stone and 0.5u CBN (CBN is a little smoother than diamond). 

 

But as I said, numbers don't mean nearly as much as how a given stone acts on a given knife.  I think it's great that you're getting such good results on your Shuns with an oilstone.  Most people prefer water stones for an alloy as fine and hard as the VG-10 Shun uses.  But screwem. 

 

If you don't know the identity of your "beige" stones, we can probably figure it out.  If they're Arkansas stones -- i.e., novaculite -- soft and hard are quite often tan.  But color isn't the surest way to identify the type of stone.  Without knowing anything else, how fast a stone cuts, how quickly it draws a burr on a dull edge, and how effectively it polishes out scratches left by coarser stones usually tells the story better than anything else.  In other words, stones are like a box of chocolates and stupid is as stupid does.

 

What can you tell us about your stone(s)? 

 

BDL

post #16 of 28

I was using water always with the baige stone, till BDL recomended finishing with it dry.  With soft stainless I'll polish out the whole convex profile of the edge using water, it polishes out pretty fast and the water prevents clogging.  Then I'll run it dry to finish off the primary angle.  At first I wasn't getting really good results with finishing off the vg10, but then running it dry with light pressure did the trick.  I'll post picks of the stone tomorrow.  BTW, I slightly rounded out an edge on the bottom side and it actually makes a wonderful steel for truing.

 

Rick

post #17 of 28

 

So here's the baige, and  a representation of the range of knives it sharpens.  Left is a Ken Onion Steak (VG10), and an ancient generic 240mm Japanese stamped stainless CK "project knife" I've been having fun thinning out to something like a lazer.  Sorry for the photo quality, settings are for outdoor scenery I didn't want to go through the rigamarole of changing them at this moment.

post #18 of 28

The picture isn't telling me much.

 

What can you tell me about how you got the stone?  Did you buy it new or used?  How much did you pay (if you don't mind me asking)? Who did you buy it from?  Did it come in a willow (wooden) box?  Is the stone 8x2?

 

Because of the color and because you're managing to move enough metal to thin and getting enough polish to finish, my first -- and very tentative guess -- is that you've got a soft or (more likely and as you suspected) hard Ark, but I'd really like to know a lot more.  The first performance question is how long, how many strokes, and how much pressure it takes you to pull a burr on your Japanese made knives. 

 

If it is a soft or hard Ark it's by the way of a medium stone, and you can get other Arks which either cut faster and polish better; but if you're going to have one do it all, it sounds like this one -- whatever it is -- is doing it for you.

 

BDL

post #19 of 28

Oh my I didn't mean to suggest tat I could ever use this stone for thinning, that would take more than 1 lifetime with this stone!

 

The stone came from a local picker and that is all I know of its origins.  It's 6.5 x 2.2 x 1.1".

 

The back side was apparently never used and is smooth, no graininess visible to the eye.  Not sure if it was that way initially, the sharpening side shows fine pitting and scratches, but I did take a rough diamond file to it once thinking it a fast way to clean it, never again.  A rough aluminum oxide stone just maybe barely made a dent in smoothing those scratches.  The baige did more toward smoothing the AO.

 

For it to polish an edge profile from my 6k stone takes a relatively short time going fast and hard and using water.  You quickly see the grey mist of fine metal particles floating around. To rasie a bur does, I believe, take longer than the waterstone, not sure exactly how much longer.  I really haven't paid much attention to time while sharpening, though I have noticed myself spending more than half an hour from begining with the 1K and ending with the edge I want off the baige.  But that's me and not someone who sharpens daily or weekly.

 

Like Arks there is no abrasive slurry, it does not dish.

 

Again the edge is shiny, non-toothy and very sharp. You can push-cut or slice through 24lb paper with silence, almost like you were cutting through soft plastic sheet. 

 

Hope this will clear up the mystery of the baige's true identity.

 

(edited)

 

Rick


Edited by Rick Alan - 1/15/13 at 10:46am
post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 

Ok so my soft and surgical black Arkansas stones arrived today,  and before I use them I have a few questions..

 

1.  Oil, water, or dry.  I've read much conflicting advice on this one.  If I use water can I switch to oil next time? I've read that if I use oil once I'm stuck with it.  True?

 

2. Technique, I learned to sharpen mostly from Jon at JKI's videos, and all the videos I've seen for Arkansas type stones use a sweeping motion rather than the push pull method that the Japanese seem to favor.. Can I use the more Japanese method that I know, or do I really need to do the one motion heel to tip sweep type action.

 

3.  I never got the India stones but I am leading up to the soft Ark using my stock edge pro stones (I believe they are aluminum oxide).  How high should I go on the edge pro before switching to the soft Ark?  I'm guessing the 220 or 320 should be good.

 

Thanks alot for any advice

post #21 of 28

Are your Arkansas stones cut for the EP or are they bench stones?

 

Oil, water, or dry.  I've read much conflicting advice on this one. 

Oil floats the swarf more effectively.  Swarf gets pushed off the stones more easily so your knives are less likely to scratch; as long as the stones are fairly clean.  Further, the stones will take longer to clog.  There are a few downsides to oil, though.  Oil sharpens slower, oil doesn't sharpen as fine (don't know why) and once they're dirty oiled stones are a bear to clean. 

 

Dry stones sharpen faster and finer -- that usually makes for better edges.  Dry stones are much easier to clean. 

 

Water and soapy water fall in the middle.

 

When I use oil stones, I usually -- but not always -- sharpen dry.

 

If I use water can I switch to oil next time?

You can switch back and forth from oil to dry, no problem.  It's easy to get the oil of an Arkansas stone by either running them through the dishwasher (which you can do as part of the regular wash); boiling them in a pot with some ordinary dishwashing detergent; or soaking them in mineral spirits then thoroughly rinsing and/or soaking them in plain water.  

 

 

I've read that if I use oil once I'm stuck with it.  True?

Not true. 

 

Technique, I learned to sharpen mostly from Jon at JKI's videos, and all the videos I've seen for Arkansas type stones use a sweeping motion rather than the push pull method that the Japanese seem to favor.. Can I use the more Japanese method that I know, or do I really need to do the one motion heel to tip sweep type action.

You can use whichever motion/action you like. 

 

FWIW, "push pull" is not particularly Japanese, nor is "heel to tip" particularly western. 

 

I never got the India stones but I am leading up to the soft Ark using my stock edge pro stones (I believe they are aluminum oxide).  How high should I go on the edge pro before switching to the soft Ark?  I'm guessing the 220 or 320 should be good.

"India" is Norton's trade name for their synthetic aluminum oxide bench stones.  There's nothing which makes India better or worse than other AlO stones other than that they're very good quality for the price.  FWIW, there are a few better synthetic oil stones on the market which are better than Indias, and a ton which are worse.

 

In the greater scheme of things, Arkansas stones are slow compared to good synthetics.  I prefer to start the first burr with a fine India, and switch to my soft Ark simply as a time saver.  I prefer to use a soft Ark as a lead in to the black as opposed to jumping to it from the fine Inida because it gives me a sharper and more durable edge. 

 

I'm not sure why the black likes the soft Arkansas so much more than a fine India, but it does.  As a rule, I don't usually favor tiny steps between stone grit levels, and as the fine India and soft Ark are both "medium/coarse" stones -- too slow to move enough metal for profiling or repair, too coarse for a finished edge, but perfectly suited to polish out the scratch left by the first stone and pull a burr -- the combination seems especially redundant.  However, experience tells me that using a soft Ark is the right way to get the best finish from a black or translucent Ark, and that its faster to start with a lead in to the soft Arkansas.  So much for theory. 

 

As to which particular EP stone would best precede your soft Ark, I can't really say.  Once you've had some experience with the stones you may not even need or want a synthetic AlO lead in.  Also, the EP grit numbers are very idiosyncratic and I can't decipher them for you.  You can shoot Ben Dale (Mr. Edge Pro) an email and ask him which stone is most like a fine India, but you'll learn more by trying the various permutations yourself.    

 

BDL

post #22 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Are your Arkansas stones cut for the EP or are they bench stones?

 

 

 

Thanks so much for the speedy reply!!

The stones I bought are the 8"x3"x1" Hall's bench stones.

As a general rule I like to use the edge-pro for repairs and coarse stuff, particularly when I'm doing knives for friends and people at work.  I find with bench stones I'm not yet at the point where my bevel looks as even all the way across as when I use the EP, but I'm enjoying the freehanding and as I get better at it I figure I'll be able to sharpen almost as well and in less time.

I also attempted to order the 3 stone Arkansas kit for edge-pro from CKTG, but they're out of the surgical black.  Mark offered to swap in a J-Nat that he recommended as a good substitute, so that is on the way but not here yet.  It's called a "Hideri Namito" ...Any thoughts on that one?

 

I've also asked him to e-mail me when the black arks become available.

 

Thanks a bunch

post #23 of 28

God I feel like such a hick in here. I was going to ask what people thought of the basic poly sharpening steel, but then I saw all the talk about water stone kits etc and realized I'm very out classed here. I tried so many of those "as seen on tv" sharpeners but found none of them worked as well as the sharpening steel that came with my knife set. For a home cook do you guys think that's the best way to go? I can't see paying so much for a water stone kit if I'm not using my knives as often as a professional does.

post #24 of 28

you can get away with either a minosharp 3 pullthrough or a chef choice electric sharpener. ~$80.

post #25 of 28

There are some major problems with using a "steel" as your primary sharpening device.  Good steels are too fine to grind away old metal and don't actually sharpen, they "true" knife edges which have been bent (at the nearly microscopic level) by impact, and sometimes add a little scuff -- which is not quite the same thing as sharpening.  Steels which are coarse enough to actually sharpen are more likely to damage your knives than improve them. 

 

Most knives are best maintained with regular steeling to maintain the edge; occasional sharpening (say four to six times a year for a typical home cook's most used knives) to re-establish a fine, fresh metal edge; and very occasional thinning (once every year or so) because edge angles tend to become increasingly obtuse each time they're sharpened. 

 

Too many home and professional cooks accept knives which are too dull.  A very sharp reduces the onus of prep for the professional and makes cooking more fun for the passionate amateur.   Just as important, sharp knives improve the texture and taste of food (by cutting herbs rather than crushing them, for instance).  There's no good reason to ever use a knife which isn't at least very sharp

 

Things go better if the sharpening tools are appropriately matched to the knives and their user.  It doesn't make sense to buy a very expensive and otherwise wonderful set of stones you'll never use; nor is it a good idea to buy sharpening stuff that will give you a seemingly good edge for a little while but is wrecking your knives. 

 

Why don't you tell us a little bit more about your knives, and what you're willing to do and spend to keep them sharp?

 

BDL

 

PS.  The Minosharp Plus3 is a pretty good sharpener, much better than most manual pull throughs; but it's 15* only.  Most European knives have 20* edge angles.


Edited by boar_d_laze - 1/31/13 at 3:52pm
post #26 of 28

Wow I had no idea I was doing that to my knives. Well, I have a few of those cuisinart knives that seem sharp when I use the steel.I guess it's  better to invest in 

a good sharpening set and not have to replace knives as well as sharpeners. Thanks for the advice.

post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kartman35 View Post

Thanks so much for the speedy reply!!
The stones I bought are the 8"x3"x1" Hall's bench stones.
As a general rule I like to use the edge-pro for repairs and coarse stuff, particularly when I'm doing knives for friends and people at work.  I find with bench stones I'm not yet at the point where my bevel looks as even all the way across as when I use the EP, but I'm enjoying the freehanding and as I get better at it I figure I'll be able to sharpen almost as well and in less time.
I also attempted to order the 3 stone Arkansas kit for edge-pro from CKTG, but they're out of the surgical black.  Mark offered to swap in a J-Nat that he recommended as a good substitute, so that is on the way but not here yet.  It's called a "Hideri Namito" ...Any thoughts on that one?

I've also asked him to e-mail me when the black arks become available.

Thanks a bunch
post #28 of 28
I have the Hideri Namito stone. I use it after 2k or 5k Shaptons. Really nice feel , pretty nice polish. Versatile depending on how you use it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
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