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Replacing my 4k stone

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Here is my current sharpening setup -

Shapton GS 1k
Shapton GS 4k
and, recently added, Naniwa 8k 'Snow White'

I am relatively happy with my Shapton 1k. I'm kicking around the idea of purchasing a Nubatama Ume 'speckled' 1k, but I can get a good edge with my Shapton and I appreciate how fast working it is.

I absolutely love my Naniwa 8k. Super soft, great feedback. It is a joy to use. I might even spend more time on it than necessary with certain knives, getting a more polished edge than I want - it's that fun to use.

But lately I've been feeling unsatisfied with my 4k. To me (as a novice), it feels too hard and does not really give me the feedback I desire.

Right now I'm looking at:

-- Naniwa 2k Green Brick

Based off how much I enjoy the 8k. It is my understanding that depending on the mud it can get up to the 5k range, allowing me to use it between my 1k & 8k

-- Suehiro Rika 5k

and, on the higher end money wise,

-- Gesshin 4k

Splash & go or pre-soak is not an issue for me. I don't normally bring my stones to work so time is not an issue.

I've seen some folks prefer to perma-soak certain stones. Is this a convience issue alone, or does it have an effect on performance as well?

Any help is appreciated
post #2 of 14
Originally Posted by NorthCack View Post

-- Gesshin 4k

Splash & go or pre-soak is not an issue for me. I don't normally bring my stones to work so time is not an issue.

I've seen some folks prefer to perma-soak certain stones. Is this a convience issue alone, or does it have an effect on performance as well?

Any help is appreciated

The perma soak is probably me. It is for convenience because when I am at the farmers market i need the stones ready and if nothing needing waterstones comes in the stones are unaffected by the soak. I don't have time to wait for something to soak up.


I have the same peeves on the 6K Shapton feel and the Gesshin 4K is a dream to use by comparison. It isn't a soft as a Suehiro 1K/3K combo stone which feels like sharpening on a bar of soap but is a far cry from the hard Shapton feel.


I have the 220, 400, 1K/6K combo, 2K and 4K all Gesshin and the 4K is my favorite performer. I toss all these in a 1/2 size Cambro pan for the market days on Friday and don't take them out until Sunday.



post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the response Jim. I have seen multiple people talking about keeping certain stones 'living' in water, so I wasn't sure if it was for convenience only or if it brought out different characteristics in stones.

Truth be told, I will probably buy all of the stones mentioned at some point. But that's because I enjoy geeking out over this sort of thing. I am on a quest to keep my knives stupid sharp fir work, and only really beginning to understand a higher grit does not necessarily mean a better edge. I realize 90% of that will come down to technique, but I'd like to explore my options.

As of right now, I am leaning towards the Naniwa 2k Green Brick + a Nubatama 1k, based off price and just how my setup is currently. But I am always open to opinions. If anyone has some thoughts on the feel/possible edge off a Suehiro Rika 5k versus the Gesshin 4k, please share.

The steel I am currently sharpening are a VG-5, VG-10, AEB-L, and White #2, if that matters to anyone. I am starting to think I prefer softer stones as well.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
I realized I'm talking about my love for softer stones while mentioning buying another, quite hard, 1k. That seems quite sensible to me - I'm looking for that 1k 'nirvana' before moving upwards.

The Gesshin 4k looks like an amazing stone. I definitely want it. Just not sure it'd be the best use for me right now
post #5 of 14

You didn't mention price range.


4K isn't a particularly common grit level -- and besides particular grit levels don't usually mean that much.  There's a lot of variation from manufacturer to manufacturer and even between different lines of a single manufacturer.  So, y'know...


Suehiro Rika is very soft, produces tons of creamy mud, and tons of friendly feedback.  It cuts like a 3K when you first start out, and as a 5K once the mud is fully broken down.  Think of it as a 3/4/5K.  It's a hard stone not to like and very easy to recommend. 


Naniwa SS are also very soft -- but you'll have to choose 3K or 5K as there's no 4K in the line.  Some sharpeners feel that SS feedback is muted, but I disagree.  They're more or less "splash and go," which is always nice.  5K is a good finishing stone for polish but not too much polish; while the 3K is very useful for a lead in to the 8K - 10K range where most of the truly good "high polish" stones reside.  SS 3K -> Gesshin 8K or Naniwa Pure White is excellent.   


The Norton 4K is fairly soft, plenty of excellent feedback, but slow compared to modern resin binders (not to mention fast clay binder), and while it sharpens well it shines a little below what you might expect from its grit rating.  It's a "classic," razor guys like it a lot, but it's too expensive for what it is. 



post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply.


I am not completely hung up on a 4k grit level -  more looking for a nice stone to progress from a 1k & possibly finish on, for some knives.


Would there be any sense in owning both the Naniwa 2k Green Brick & the Suehiro Rika 5k? Or would going from 1k -> 2k Brick -> 5k -> (possibly) 8k, just be over kill? For a practical, working edge. Considering both seem to work at a higher grit level depending on the mud.


As far as price, the Gesshin 4000 ($130+) is about the max I would be willing to spend on one stone.


If it doesn't make much sense to have both the 2k & 5k stones, I'd be looking to get another 1k to work on. I've seen you recommend the Bester 1200 multiple times and that is your 1k stone of choice (at least for beginners - which I am). Have you used the Nubatama Ume 1k medium and if so, how do they compare?

post #7 of 14

It doesn't make a lot of sense to go from a 1K to an aoto.  It makes even less sense to go from aoto to a Suehiro Rika, since the Rika cuts like a 3K stone until you break down the mud and will then polish like a 5K.  As long as you keep wetting the Rika and occasionally rinse the old mud away, it will continue to act like a 3K.   


Think about what you're trying to do.  Are you going to stop sharpening some knives at ~4K, or is your eventual plan to finish everything with your finest stone -- which at some point is going to be a Gesshin 8K.


My water stone kit goes 500; 1.2K; Chosera 3K and 8K.  I stop sharpening several of my knives at the 3K level because they're knives which get frequent steeling, or because 3K tooth is better for their tasks than 8K smooth.  So... why a Chosera?  The Chosera came from a friend who had tons of duplications in his set, and the price to me was very inexpensive --  practically a gift.  Had I paid [shudder] retail at the time I was putting the set together, I would have bought a Naniwa SS 3K for its softer feel and because it's truly splash and go (the Chosera really wants a 10 minute soak, and gets scratchy if it gets too little time in the tub, and dries with cracks and crazes if it gets too much). 


Don't get me wrong, the Chosera is an excellent stone in just about every way; just expensive for what it does and a little bit cranky about soaking and drying. 


The Rika is an extremely versatile stone, easy to care for, and with great feel and better for most people than the SS or just about anything else in the medium/medium-fine range.  The reason I wouldn't choose it for myself is that I don't like working with that much mud.  But that's not an issue for most people; especially not those seeking "sharpening Zen."



post #8 of 14

Hey BDL, from what you are saying about Rika.... Does it make sense to use it as a last stone for some knife (similar to your Chosera 3K) and for more polishing move to SS 5K and then 8K?

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the detailed response, BDL. Always informative.

I think there's a little confusion. I do own an 8k stone - the Naniwa 'Snow White' - and I'm extremely happy with it. I've seen it described as creamy and I find that to be very apt. It's really what has gotten me on this search for something beyond the Shapton GS I own.

I find that an 8k polish is a little too refined for my requirements, with maybe the exception of my carbon Gyuto, which I kinda baby at work anyways. On my stainless knives that super sharp, highly polished edge quickly starts to degrade once I put it through the harsh prep rounds. I'm looking for a more toothy edge that can take a beating in a work environment.

I don't own any low grit stones. 1k is my lowest. Down the line I'm sure I will invest in them, but I sharpen my knives at least once a week and there is no serious damage, like chips, or ultra dull edges.

I've been sharpening my knives for about a year and a half, but I've only gotten serious about it in the last six months. Originally I would use other cook's stones, and my technique was wrong & I'd end up removing way more steel than necessary. I started off counting strokes but nowadays am working on chasing the burr instead. I've still got a ways to go re technique, but I do much better as far as holding a steady angle and using less pressure. That's another reason I've held off on the lower grit stones - I didn't want to do more bad than good in case my technique was off.

Do you think going from 400 or 500 grit to say the Rika 5k would be more effective in giving me that edge I'm looking for?

I've seen a video talking about giving their knife a 'covexed edge' (I might be, and probably am, confusing terminology here) - where on your finishing stone, you hit one side at a higher angle to help reinforce the edge. The video said the Japanese favor it instead of constant honing/steeling. I haven't played around with that at all, or done any stropping on newspaper to finish.

It's a deep hole, this sharpening stuff...

Edit: You do have me pretty sold on the Rika 5k. Everything I've read about it sounds great. The price is awesome too, especially on a cook's budget. I'm thinking of getting that and another 1k to play on. Ears are always open though.
Edited by NorthCack - 7/12/13 at 9:01pm
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
To give an idea of my workload - I cut a high volume of herbs & veg daily. I often will clean and portion 12 to 20 hanger steaks a day, one or two ribeyes & NY strip steaks, portion pork chops, and break down chickens (I lop off the knuckles with a kitchen knife). If I'm lucky I'll get a chance to break down and portion whole fish. I spread it out between an 8in chef, 150mm utility, 270mm slicer & 240mm Gyuto, but these knives definitely take a beating.
post #11 of 14

i can speak from experience that Gesshin stones are some of the best out there!


considering you have a 1k, and 8k you like but the 8k is too refined... 


i would look into using a 400/ 4k setup with gesshin stones. or 600/4k gesshin depending on which appeal most to you. 


the 4k leaves a refined yet toothy edge thats sharp enough for most tasks and its my final stone for gyutos. 


the 400 cuts extremely fast, good for setting bevels and quick removal of fatigued metal. 


the 400 or 600 with leave a toothy edge and you can refine it with the 4k. 


Honestly though the 4k cuts so fast you wont need to hit the coarse stone until the metal becomes fatigued. 


Also concentrate on technique, start on one side, raise a burr on the entire length of blade that is even along the blade. Then flip knife and flip burr to other side, once done now your trying to remove the burr, use lighter pressure which will make a smaller burr. once almost gone use light pressure and strop on the stone. then deburr by using wood, felt, cork etc. 


then on to next stone. repeat. If you can get a loupe you can check your work, helps with beginners who cannot tell with feel.


Also what your reffering to is called a micro bevel- explained here


they can strengthen your edge, and make is last longer. but it will suffer sharpness just a tad. 


Also jon at japanese knife imports is great guy to work with, for stones Maxim at japanese natural stones is also a great guy to get advice from. 


for more stone recommendations list your knives as well. 


hope this helps

post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
A little update in case anyone else is in a situation similar to mine -

I ended up buying a Nubatama 1k 'medium' stone & a Suehiro Rika 5k. Used them earlier today for the first time. I'm very happy with the Rika 5k. Really good feeling stone & it gave me a great finishing edge.

That said....

The Nubatama 1k is fricking AWESOME!

It's hard for me to describe just how much I like this stone. It's much larger than I expected. About twice as deep as the Rika. I can't speak on how quickly it'll dish but I expect to get a lot of use outta this puppy. To me, it is the perfect balance of soft/hard. It gives great feedback & is a real joy to use, but removes metal fast & I raised burrs on all my knives in an extremely short period of time. I hit it with a diamond stone before sharpening, so I had some to start, but it gave me a really nice amount of mud. More so than the Rika. Coming from Shapton GS, which give you no mud, I found that very effective & fun to work with. I am a very happy man when it comes to this stone.

I've noticed there are some rather silly beefs between grown men in the knife sharpening forum world, and on a certain forum the word Nubatama is even censored. I have zero involvement in any of that, so there is no bias here. ... but you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't keep an open mind. Out all my stones, which IMO are all very high quality in their own right, this Nubatama is the best feeling to me
Edited by NorthCack - 7/19/13 at 9:53pm
post #13 of 14

Are you replacing your Shapton 1k with the Nubatama?

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by harlock0083 View Post

Are you replacing your Shapton 1k with the Nubatama?

Yes. I'm much more of a fan (for my knives) of the Nubatama + Rika combo instead of the Shapton GS 1k & 4k.


That said, I actually really think highly of the Shapton 1k GS. I wouldn't talk anyone out of buying it. I think the Shapton 1k might remove steel at a slightly faster rate than the Nubatama, but I can raise a burr just as quick, if not quicker, on the Nubatama. And I really, really enjoy the feel of the Nubatama. It's a lot of fun to work on. I have no plans to get rid of my Shaptons though, the more the merrier as far as I'm concerned when it comes to my little family of stones. The Shaptons have been extremely effective in putting a new edge on house knives that my family members have just trashed & dulled to extreme levels. The 1k even takes out small chips without too much elbow grease. I'm thinking that will be their primary function from now on.


I'm really starting to like the Rika 5k a lot too. I'm getting more of a feel for playing with its mud & it's giving me a nice toothy, durable edge that will hold up to multiple shifts.


Awesome stones!

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