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Honing Rods

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

This has probably been addressed before, so I apologize in advance for redundancy.  I've been using a grooved steel and realize it is not the best option and probably does more harm than good, so I want to upgrade.  I have a Misono Swedish gyuto and Kikuichi Carbon Elite suji as well as some Forschners.  I sharpen my most used knives (gyuto and suji) 1-2 times a week on 1000, 4000, and 8000 grit stones.  I have worked mostly with fish, but will be working with meat on a fairly regular basis as well.  From what I understand, a higher polished edge is preferred for fish/veg, while a coarse edge is better for meat.  Anyway, deciding between a smooth/polished steel or a ceramic rod (either Idahone or Messer 1200grit).  Is a 1200grit ceramic rod the same as a 1200 grit whetstone?  If so, then by using that am I taking a nicely polished edge and roughing it up?  Also, I know diamond rods are frowned upon because they remove a lot of metal, but don't ceramic rods remove metal as well, or is not quite the same? Thanks.

post #2 of 6

Grit numbers don't mean anything unless they're from the same scale; and even then.  The Idahone "1200" is roughly equivalent to JIS 2500.  It's somewhere between fine and very fine. 


Anything in the fine / very-fine / and smooth range will work about the same. 


All rod hones, even "polished" aka "packers" will scuff a finely polished edge.  That's not an entirely bad thing for two reasons.  Scuff reveals "fresh metal," and creates "micro-serration."  Both go some way to keeping your knife off the stones for awhile. 


However, too much scuff is not a good thing.  Scuff on the bevel means tooth on the edge; and too much tooth gives the edge an unpleasant feel and weakens the edge.  Furthermore, any steel aggressive enough to make too much scuff is also aggressive enough to damage the knife by creating "high spots," which will have to be fixed on the stones, and will result in wear; as well as wearing the knife itself.  Any "medium" or coarser cut or grooved hone is too aggressive.  Diamond hones are more aggressive still. 


If you want to keep your edges polished, you'll have to forgo a steel in favor of stropping or "touching up."  Only your Misono Sweden will hold much in the way of polish.  The Kikuichi Carbon Elite doesn't have much in the way "scratch hardness" (a materials term of art), and the Forschners have substantially less; I wouldn't worry about steeling either one with an appropriate rod and appropriate technique. 


If you haven't read Steeling Away yet, you should. 



post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Got the Messer, it broke.  To be honest, I didn't really like it so much.  I'm going to try the F. Dick polished packing steel.  It's cheap and much less likely to break.  I'm also gonna pick up a strop to try out, although I'll still need a steel at work.

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm not really sure why I didn't like the ceramic rod, but it just felt weird using it, and also left my knives feeling a bit rough.  I'm not sure if maybe the Idahone would be better, or I'm just used to the feel of a more polished edge.  But to be fair, I had barely used it before it broke, I would have like to give it some more time to get a good idea of what is does.  I used the strop (unloaded leather) to deburr after sharpening, and it seemed to work quite nicely, although it wasn't the best sharpening job (i was rushed), I'd like to see what it does after a more complete session.


Haven't really used the polished steel yet, but I will have plenty of time over the next couple days.  Also, I've read about people using sand paper on polished rods.  Does anyone have any experience with this?  What's the purpose of doing this and is it any better than using a coarser steel?  Could you make it just like a very very fine grit rod, almost like a very fine ceramic?  


I probably don't need an 8k stone, strop, and a smooth steel, but I've just been trying to mess around with different sharpening/maintenance methods to try and get my edges sharper and last longer between sharpening.  I'm open to other suggestions to try as well.  I may also pick up another ceramic rod to try, haha.

Edited by GreenGuy - 6/2/13 at 2:29am
post #5 of 6

I don't know anything about the Messermeiser ceramic. 


The Idahone "fine" (aka "1200") is actually very fine.  A polished rod won't give much finer results.  The act of steeling will always produce some scuffing. 


You can strop on a fine stone, a fine stone loaded with compound, a charged strop, an uncharged strop, or on paper... Stropping trues and can also touch up and/or polish.  On the other hand it is nowhere near as fast or convenient as steeling.      


A smooth steel and an 8K stone have very little in common.  It's fair to say that if you've got a knife with enough scratch hardness and other good edge qualities to bother polishing out to 8K, you're probably not going to want to use a steel on it.  I do, occasionally; but -- trust me -- I'm a horrible example. 



post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

The Messermeister is also listed at "1200" but like you said, it doesn't mean it's the same as Idahone's 1200, which is probably finer.  I still have half of it attached to the handle, maybe I can still use it on my petty, haha.


Out of my better knives (Misono sweden, Kikuichi Carbon Elite suji, and Misono 440 petty) which would you say are actually worth taking up to 8k?  Right now, I finish all of these on my 8k.  Would some of them be better off stoping at 4k, then possibly finish/deburr by stropping on uncharged leather?


Also, are these knives generally soft enough to steel?  I think the hardest one is no more than 60hrc so I don't think it's a problem, and it's very rare I'll find a visible chip in the edge, but I don't know what's happening at the very edge that I cannot see with the naked eye.


Honestly, I'll probably always have to use a steel.  Strops are nice before or after a shift, but not so much during a shift.  So far, the polished steel seemed to work well and keep my edges feeling finer.  I'm curious to see how long it will make my edge last.


Forgot to add:  What are the pros/cons of a polished or toothy edge?  When is one preferable to the other?  From what I have read polish is better for push cutting and toothy for slicing and polished for fish and toothy for meat.  I don't know if there is any truth to this.


One more question.  I got a new forschner straight stiff boning knife used mostly for chicken/duck. I have not given it a proper sharpening yet, what is the best way to sharpen it as far as angles and final grit?  I have 220, 1k, 4k, and 8k stones.  I was thinking just the 1k will suffice.  After sharpening, will the smooth steel work just fine on it, or would a coarser steel actually be beneficial? My thought is that if left with an already toothy edge, and being a soft steel, the smooth steel will just push the edge/teeth back and it will not really need any more scruff from a coarser steel.  But, I don't really know, which is why I am asking, haha.


Thanks again for your help.

Edited by GreenGuy - 6/3/13 at 1:03am
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