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Worth saving these knives?

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 

Hi all,


There seems to be a lot of good information on these forums, so I thought I'd explain my situation and see if I could get some opinions from you.


About me

I'm a total newbie here, though I've been lurking for the past few months.  I just moved out for college, and am starting to put together the things I need for a kitchen.  I'm not a chef - I don't even know the right way to hold a knife yet (pinch the blade, not just hold the handle?).  But I do like food, even if I have to cook it first.


I'm finding that I like things that are slow / old world / craft / artisan.  I bake sourdough bread from scratch every day or two.  I like spending hours smoking meats (not that I can in the university dorms).  I'm learning how to make espresso, hand tamped, properly ground, etc.  I restore vintage cast iron skillets/etc - that's what I'm cooking on now.


In short, I like things that reward you for taking proper care of them.  Now that I've moved out, I think I need some proper kitchen knives.  And since I inherited a few old beat up knives, I'm thinking about getting into sharpening as a hobby.


About the knives


I got a few "LC Germain" knives (made in Japan, despite the name), and one heavy, unmarked knife (the one of the bottom with the wavy machining marks).


I'd also like to fix my mom's Wusthof (not pictured), which was once used by a maid to cut down a tree (!), then "professionally" sharpened such that the belly has a big concave spot that never touches the cutting board.


The LC Germain knives were owned by someone who loved sawing his knives through one of those V sharpener things.  They need some serious work, but I thought they would be good knives to practice sharpening on.  (I think you can click for bigger pictures - check out the super jagged edge in the 2nd photo!)





The other knives aren't any better.  They all seem straight (not bent/warped), but they're sharpened all wobbly and chipped up like this.


As for what I want out of these knives...  I usually buy boneless meat, and I don't chop anything harder than broccoli and celery. I might cut semi-frozen chicken breast sometimes, but I'm thinking that maybe I'll sharpen the fat, brown handled knife for heavy work like that, and I'll do a thinner profile on the LC Germain knife for slicing beef, potatoes, carrots, onions etc. I'm not sure that I care about extreme sharpness/performance, but I'd sure love to feel it some day.  For know, we're "honing" our knives by rubbing them on the backs of other knives, holding them at some arbitrary angle that seems "about right."  I'd really like to graduate from that.


Would I be wasting my time and money buying a $200 stone kit to try to fix knives like this?  Should I just go buy some new knives instead?  My hope is that I can at least practice on these, and have some fun while I'm at it.  But I don't want to waste too much time/money on a lost cause.


As for sharpening kits..Any reason not to buy the chef knives to go "Knife Sharpening Complete 8pc Set?"  Would that be appropriate for this knife, and for my mom's Wusthofs?  I think the edge pro kits and Gesshin / Chosera sets are out of my budget (I am a college student, after all), but I wouldn't mind practicing sharpening by hand on this entry level stuff to wet my feet in the hobby.

post #2 of 55
First I will tell you a secret: all roommates are stupid. Yes, even the ones you like. Dont buy anything nice, exepensive, or requires special care. Cheapo stainless beaters is the way to go.

Top 3 can be made useful with about 2 hours work on stones (or a minute on a belt sander). Your first task is to take out any chips from the v sharpener and even out the bevel. Probably need to take off extra metal to get the heel to catch up. Coarse stones then medium forget finishing on this steel.

Bottom knife is not worth your time trouble or dishing a stone for.
post #3 of 55

But the bottom knife is a great belt sander project if you can manage to get the use of one at the school.


To work out the concavity concentrate on removing more metal toward the tip end than the heel, though you will likely need to take that down a bit also for the Wusty, and grind down the sides of that bolster/finger-guard if it has one.


Actually most German knives as they come are quite well suited to cutting timber.


For $200 you can get the really sweet Geshin 3-stone set, I think another $40 gets you the big Pink Brick (extra course) also.  But for less than a hundred you can get 300 or so and 1000 King brand stones off amazon, plenty good enough to start.


Redoing knives like these is a great intro to the world of performance knives.  You will enjoy it and get attached to them.

post #4 of 55
To restore these knives I'd probably prioritize an x-coarse stone more than a finisher. I use the Gesshin 220 ($45) to work on chipped knives that have been heavily used then messed up by an electric machine or belt sander. Though completely fixing a recurved belly would take a good deal of time. Then Beston 500 and Bester 1200 finishes off soft cheap stainless. Suehiro Cerax 1k is another medium grit option that can be considered depending on which pricing is better. With the repair work these knives will require, having a flattening solution for the stones will be a necessity.
I don't think you're wasting your money spending the money on stones. Whenever you get some new knives you'll have to have stones then anyways.
You seem like the kind of person that would enjoy taking care of carbon steel knives in the future... smile.gif
post #5 of 55

On the bottom knife even if you took it to a belt sander to take out that ridiculous grind, it would still be sub par steel.    Also the handles on the top 3 look really 'blocky' and uncomfortable.


As for your wusthof with a dip in the middle of the profile -  wusthofs are thick and stainless and abrasion resistant.  Flattening that out requires moving a lot of abrasion resistant steel.  It's a LOT of work.

post #6 of 55

Millions is right, these knives are really all power tool jobs.

post #7 of 55
I tend to concur. Had a lot of fun with practising on carbon project knives. With thick soft stainless though you never come through it by hand.
post #8 of 55

Another possibility, especially for a college student, is to get some affordable Arkansas stones. I've used this type of approach for German Stainless as well as Japanes VG-10 and American/French carbon steel with success. The ones I use most are the naturalwhetstone Tri-Hone.. with a surgical black for polishing.





Edited by BrianShaw - 9/15/16 at 10:30am
post #9 of 55
Sure, soft stainless can very well be maintained with Arkansas stones. But only if they're in good shape, which obviously is not the case.
With carbons expect a full day of work to have a fingerguard reduced, profile corrected, blade thinned and sharpened if you don't use powered equipment.
With stainless, just have it done.
post #10 of 55

Sure, but my experience is that it doesn't take quite that long with either stainless or carbon. What I'm doing, of course, is agreeing with you but quibbling the details.   But, sure... it all goes a lot faster with power tools.  :)


One does need to be careful and not too scared of doing enough of the work with the coarse stones. My experience is that many folks have a certain fear of the coarse stone and don't use it enough. Unfortunately that leads to frustration and long periods of time trying to do heavy work with medium and fine stones.


There's always the possibility of ruining a profile (or more) by using a coarse stone... but that can happen even faster with power tools. With care, either power tools or stones (even inexpensive Arks) can do the kind of restoration work the OP is considering.

post #11 of 55
Thread Starter 

Wow!  I'm impressed by how many replies I got so quickly!  Thanks, everyone!  Sorry I've been slow to reply.  I already have my first midterm coming.


It's sad to say, but the sharpest knife I have right now is a 3" freebie my girlfriend got from Sam's Club.  "Surgical stainless," it says (trash?).  If these other knives can get that sharp (probably still a joke to you guys), maybe I'll be happy for now.


On the other hand, I think you guys are right about moving to carbon steel.  Maybe I should just grab something entry level like a Tojiro DP Gyuto for my first Japanese knife before mobing up.  They're so cheap...


I do still want to fix my mom's knife though.  Seems wasteful to get a Gesshin from JKI and have to pay separate shipping.  Could I get away with a Naniwa Traditional 220?


Kinda feel like I want to go with the Japanese water stone set rather than oil/Arkansas at this point, but if there's a good reason I'd consider it.  That 4-stone kit is definitely inexpensive..  Some of these stones on the second link are really pretty too.


I did request access to the machine shop here at school.  Hopefully I'll get access this week.  The grinders in there are in really bad shape, but I can ask the shop foreman about replacing them.


edit- here's my cart at CKtG.  Definitely over budget, but.. I'll splurge if it's really worth it.  I also almost forgot about the recommendation to get King stones from Amazon.  Will piece together a cart tomorrow if I can get some time.

Edited by GuySmily - 9/18/16 at 4:14am
post #12 of 55

Arks are very slow cutting stones, you can't even consider them for major metal removal, waterstones are the way to go.


When you say grinders do you mean as in grinding wheels?  These are difficult to use at thinning knives, will take a lot longer than belt sanders, and will require a lot of time pulling out the grinding marks on a course waterstone.  I recommend you don't even try doing this job on grinding wheels.


The Tojiro will be a good start for you, though VG-10 is a little difficult to sharpen there are ways of making it easier.  It would be well worth it if you could spend a few dollars more on something like a Yoshihiro in powdered steel.  Spend less on the sharpening kit, a $30-50 combo stone will suite you for now, I still use one because it is what I bought in the beginning and it still works fine enough.  With that savings there are lots of 240 gyutos you could consider, like the Geshin Ikazuchi.


As to your 3", it may look like crap but believe it or no some Chinese knives have very good steel.  They have cheap equivalents of AUS-10 and 440C and the ability to heat treat them en mass reliably well.  I got a little Ever Sharp brand parer as a supermarket giveaway, it was ground like crap and took some work there, but the steel is actually excellent.

Edited by Rick Alan - 9/18/16 at 6:52am
post #13 of 55
Arks are slower than water stones. That's why the coarsest stone in each one of those sets is silico carbide or similar.

OP, do as your heart directs but if you are really on a student budget there are inexpensive ways to sharpen a knife for cooking. I'd suggest the wider stones in the second link over the 1 inch wide in the first link. After getting a degree and good job there will always be the opportunity to upgrade and become a knife/sharpening geek! What is your Primary goal at this moment?
Edited by BrianShaw - 9/18/16 at 7:44am
post #14 of 55

Note that the Tojiro is stainless



You could consider something like that for a monosteel carbon knife. The metal will abrade more easily than that of the Tojiro. Though, keep it away from people who will be careless with it >.<


The angle guide cards are somewhat of an iffy buy. You'll probably fold or cut at the line to expose the 15/20 degree angle, and the card material is not water resistant. Meaning, don't bother propping it onto a wetted stone.

30-60x loupes can be had for under $5 bucks on Amazon.

Sharpie you should be able to get without difficulty, and you can use cork to deburr.

Note that the 140 grit diamond plate in that 8 pc set says it's not dead flat which could come into play if you ever want to use the diamond plate for reprofiling/heavy metal removal


I might suggest spending an extra $15 for the Gesshin 220 grit stone. It's 2.5x the thickness of the Naniwa traditional. The 220 grit stone will definitely come into play to take out the grind marks from previously crappy V sharpener or similar sharpening disasters. I use mine on a monthly basis on beat up cheap stainless knives (without fingerguard bolsters though, thankfully), followed up with something in the 400-1000 grit range. It looks like you're still wanting to salvage the existing knives, status on having a belt sander to use is still uncertain?...and if you ever get roped in to repairing other people's knives in the future it's a very useful stone to start with.


You could get the JKI Diamond flattening plate and Gesshin 220 to get free shipping on one end, and Beston + Bester (+maybe Suehiro) + Stone Holder on the other.

Keep in mind though that the rest of the stone cost is partly dependent on what you will be sharpening in the near future. For everything you currently have, you won't really gain anything going up to a fine stone, and you won't want to use a fine stone until you sharpening technique is a lot more consistent anyways. So it's $45-50 now that can be saved for at least a few months or used in a different way

Or, depending on how much you are in a rush to get the stones or not, you could consider this http://www.toolsfromjapan.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=335_405_583_585&products_id=2055 for the medium and fine stones about $10 cheaper after shipping than from where you are buying.

post #15 of 55
Thread Starter 
Guys, I can't thank you enough for the detailed advice.

Belt sander might be a no-go, at least for a few months until I get established in the shop. Also, I like the idea of being able to take my sharpening stuff with me, so I think a low grit stone would be a good purchase.

When it comes to spending, I'd say overall cost is less important to me than overall value. I can't spend $1000 today, but I'm definitely willing to spend extra money for a higher quality product that will last longer / work better / make me happier / probably save me money in the long run. That Gesshin 220 is a good example - I didn't realize that it was so much bigger, and that diamond plate at JKI sounds like it's worth the extra cost as well. Coupled with the free shipping, I think that's definitely a win.

As for goals, well.. assuming you're talking about life/school (and not my knife collection).. Let's just say that I'm not THAT broke, so I'm okay with spending a few hundred here and there - and a little time as well. I'm pretty confident that I have all my ducks in a row for after graduation.

If you were talking about knives, then.. I have absolutely no idea what my goals are. I want to learn to sharpen well, and I want some nice knives some day. Maybe I'll buy my first knife next year. That gives me time to do more research. And in the mean time, I figure I can practice on these freebies and maybe enjoy some better performance from them. My hope is that I'll be ready for a good knife after a year of practice sharpening a few knives a few times.

But yeah, school is first priority. Which is why I've been so slow to reply here.

Anyway, here's the present shopping list (no more knife):
$45 Gesshin 220 Grit Stone
$65 Diamond Flattening Plate
$110 total, free shipping (tax?)

$46 Beston 500x
$45 Suehiro Cerax 1k (or $49 Bester 1200)
$50 Suehiro Rika 5k
$30 Stone holder (is this that much better than, say, a terry cloth under the stone?)
$171-$176 total (+tax)

~$281 grand total (+tax)

$180 Ikazuchi 210mm gyuto (or other knife? I really need to hold a wa handle)
+ ?? stones (just a couple?)
Also around $300 total, but doesn't let me fix existing knives - like my mom's. Also, I don't feel ready to talk about / purchase a knife yet. The previously mentioned Masahiro is certainly affordable..

$53 8x3x1 Dual 400/1200 Grit Arkansas (but no silicon carbide) incl $3 oil bottle.
or $47 10x1.625x.5 Tri-Hone (Silicon-Carbide + med + fine + oil) (not the same fine as black?)
Still only $100 even if I bought both. Leaves money for knives. Also, I really don't want to use oil.

Why is the silicon carbide (Or sometimes aluminum oxide) only available in that small size? Actually curious now - how would that differ from 220 grit aluminum oxide wet/dry sandpaper? I've actually been wondering if I can do this on sandpaper - I'm assuming I'd blow through a few sheets in no time. But I've got up to 10000 grit paper (feels like a rubber sheet but yields crystal clear optics).

Okay, I feel like my writing abilities are rapidly declinng as I get more and more sleepy, but I really wanted to post something since I'm enjoying putting shopping lists together. Will check in again soon.
post #16 of 55

Just a quick one here Guy, forget about silicon carbide stones, especially forget about cheap Arks.

post #17 of 55
Originally Posted by Rick Alan View Post

Arks are very slow cutting stones, you can't even consider them for major metal removal, waterstones are the way to go...............



Any stone finer than a fine India stone is meant for one thing only, polishing.  And Arkansas stones are NOT meant for cutting, only for polishing to various degrees.  One step beyond a translucent Arkansas is the Surgical Stone which is usually dyed black.  It's actually a super super duper finely grained Arkansas stone that will cost your first born in order to acquire.


And Arkansas is therefore not meant for rebeveling nor for chip removal.  Those are jobs that are left best for carbide and India stones.  They work their magic well on the European blades that have been around for over the past several decades until the Japanese stainlesses made their appearance..

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 #18 of 55

Fwiw I paid over $150 for a combination bench stone: a soft arkansas and a black surgical stone measuring over 11 inches by 3 inches.  They're not cheap if well made and from a reputable source.  An they're both meant to have the edge dragged in reverse over the surface instead of having the edge pushed into it in order to acquire a finely honed edge.

Edited by kokopuffs - 9/19/16 at 10:40am

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 #19 of 55
GuySmiley, not intending to give you more homework but you may find it instructive to read a bit about sharpening in the woodworking sites. Chisels need to be as sharp or sharper than kitchen knives. Many woodworkers use oil stones and even sheet abrasives, as you suggested. Similar with straight razors for shaving. There are many ways to get to the same end.

Speaking here just about the knives you are thinking about refurbishing, not Japanese knives when the intent is to maintain strictly Japanese ways and means.
Edited by BrianShaw - 9/20/16 at 5:42am
post #20 of 55
On thinning- you can use sandpaper, but edge trailing strokes only (as opposed to push/pull). For the heavy lifting you'll be doing you would probably be starting somewhere in the 80-240 grit range and staying in the hundreds (leave that 10k grit for another occasion). I think @Benuser might use coarse sandpaper for thinning knives or relieving bolsters on knives on a semi-regular basis- I've only messed with it for blade refinishing.
post #21 of 55

Actually most woodworkers use waterstones these days, aluminum oxide and diamond varieties, along with rotary laps, sharpening jigs, etc.  They tend to spend more than kitchen jockeys on their sharpening tools.  Aside from pristine pricey Arks (for some) these is absolutely no good reason to use oil stones for kitchen knives, unless that is just what you have on hand at the moment.


Again, the restore project is not going to be at all practical without power tools, and those heavy Germans will run through more belts and/or sandpaper than their worth.  It took me 10 hours work easy, probably more like 15, doing just one 9" chefs of similar girth with a bench grinder and course stone.  You won't wear out a grinding wheel on this, but they are very difficult to use here, and dangerous for the inexperienced.


Your rubberized/mylar abrasive sheet can be used for stopping, but those sheets are very expensive and wear rather quick, but if the supply is free go right ahead.

post #22 of 55
Rick, would the fact that the OP's knives are Japanese made in the German style possibly mean that they are thinner than modern German knives? I sharpen cheap stamped stainless (but not super thick stuff) using waterstones without too much time if it's just chip repair/undoing electric sharpener grind marks/very minor reprofiling. Particularly, the 2nd and 3rd knives looked manageable, though I would probably not bother with the 4th without power tools
post #23 of 55

That looks like 3+mm stock on the knife second from the top, and I'll bet there is very little taper there.  Even the second from bottom would be no picnic I'd bet.  The bottom one is probably 2.5mm stock, unlikely a taper at all aside from the bit at the edge, similar to the one I spent 10-15 hours on.  The ham slicer even looks unattractively thick. From what I'm seeing I have to say hands down the whole bunch, unless Guy can reveal a legitimate defense.

post #24 of 55
Thread Starter 

Whew.  Busy week.  Already had my first midterm of the semester.  Haven't done any more shopping, but I did take some measurements of the one chef knife that might be worth saving.


Weight (175g):



Spine (2.3mm to 0.8mm tip):








At the 1cm away from the edge, the metal is 1.0mm thick.


Right before the bevel (is that the right term for the first angle of the knife edge?), the metal is 0.55mm thick +/- 0.1mm:



post #25 of 55
Standard figures I like: @1cm 1mm; @5mm 0.5mm; above the edge 0.2mm
Sorry for those used to the Imperial system.
post #26 of 55
Thread Starter 


@5mm 0.75mm +/- 0.05mm, so slightly thicker there, and much thicker above the edge.


Blade length from heel to tip is about 205mm, btw

post #27 of 55
Reduce above the edge, but start with the shoulders. When these are thin, you may apply very conservative edges, it will cut like crazy.
post #28 of 55
Thread Starter 

Bonus photo - concavity to be repaired:

post #29 of 55
Recurve belly due to a protruding heel. Cut the heel first @80 degree on both sides, then check the entire profile for gaps. Breading on a stone it is called to remediate. Will involve a lot of thinning afterwards before you have a decent edge again.
post #30 of 55
Heel area is often a bit thicker than others and needs longer sharpening. Neglect, perhaps by use of a jig system. No real burr raised with previous sharpenings.
Often seen as well with soft steels that have been steeled.
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