How sharp could it be?

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by kalach, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. kalach

    kalach

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    So I've been thinking about getting a new knife for a while now but the budget doesn't allow for it anytime soon and I'm kind of attached to my current knife. It's just a victorinox/forschner (well it doesn't say forschner being bought in australia but I think it's what most people recognise it as) rosewood 10" chefs.
    I'm not the best sharpener in the world but know the basics and usually see improvement every time. So for general use (and I don't use it for cutting anything harder than the occasional pumpkin) any advice on what edge/angle I can put on it and it will be able to hold?
    Also wondering about the lifespan of these, one of the other guys at work has the same knife but his is badly bowed/misshaped, can I expect that happening within a few years or is that more likely because he's always using a grooved steel in a crazed aggressive way?
     
  2. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,551
    Likes Received:
    193
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Kalach,

    There's an awful lot of "it depends" inherent in your questions. We could nail it down a little bit with more specifics, but general answers are probably good enough.

    The knife came out of the box sharpened at around a 20* edge angle on both sides (40* included) with 50/50 symmetry. For light use, it can be sharpened to a 15* edge angle on both sides, and hold it pretty well. The best part about a Forschner chef's is its thinness, and a 15* bevel enhances that tremendously.

    But for working the line, 15* might collapse a little too easily -- even if you're working on wood boards. If you're sharpening with some system that gives you fine control of angles, I'd try 17*; but if you're a freehand sharpener like me, shoot for 15* and see how it goes. If you're working on poly or some other form of synthetic board just stay with 20*.

    There's a limit to how much polish the blade alloy (X50CrMo15) will hold, and it's not much higher than an "ideal" meat cutting grit level. I'd say a typical 5000# JIS is a little on the high side, but 2000# is a little low. But anywhere in that range should work pretty well. If you've got a 1K/6K combination stone, don't bother throwing it away. 6K is nice, but it won't last long.

    On the other hand, using something like a Norton fine India as your finest stone will be okay if you like a knife with a lot of bite.

    Grooves or no grooves, you don't want to take the knife to an aggressive rod-hone (aka "steel'). But you should have a steel in your kit since the Forschner's biggest edge flaw is its tendency to go out of true. Fine, extra-fine, ultra-fine, smooth are okay; and in your situation, I'd probably go for a fine ceramic (I like the Idahone hugely, but don't know about finding it in Oz) or a Forschner "fine". Forget medium, "diamond hone" or anything at all aggressive. You're right about them eating up the knife.

    So will bad steeling technique. If you hear the knife "clang" on the steel, you're doing it wrong; same angle as the one you sharpen at; four or five strokes per side, max.

    If you get more than two years on the line with a Forschner Chef's you're probably not sharpening frequently enough. If you're carrying a typical work load you should be steeling at least three or four times a night, and hitting the stones twice or thrice a week at minimum.

    Good luck,
    BDL
     
  3. kalach

    kalach

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Cool, thanks.
    I'd already changed it to roughly 15deg bevels a while back and it seems to hold up alright. Oh well I guess it's just about at maximum sharpness for a forschner, just gotta keep it that way now ;)
     
  4. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,551
    Likes Received:
    193
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Improved sharpening skills is a great answer to almost every knife question. Heaven knows most of us have plenty of room.

    Out of idle curiousity, what sort of sharpening techniques and kit do you use?

    BDL
     
  5. kalach

    kalach

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    At the moment I've just got a cheap 'coarse/fine' combi stone. Only started trying to sharpen knives about six months ago, I've found the way that seems to work best for me is to slide the knife from heel to tip along the length of the stone with a slight foward/curving motion. If there's a way to get much better results with what I've got to work with for now please let me know :) . Got to agree with you about getting better results from more experience, by 'maximum sharpness for a forschner' I meant the sharpest I think I'll ever be able to get it with my own tools/skills ;) .
     
  6. foodpump

    foodpump

    Messages:
    4,866
    Likes Received:
    438
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    The bowing/misshaping is cused by bad technique (only "sharpening' the middle of the blade), enhanced by very coarse stones, compounded by suing a "dished" or "hollowed" stone and probably using power equipent can be factored in as well.

    For some, sharpeining is a Zen, others a slippery slope that has no end, and for others, a task that should only be done when neccesary and only as long as required. Basically, there are as many opinions on sharpening as people.....

    For many people (myself included) the best way to start is with a "jig" or device that either holds the knife at the required bevel or the stone at the required bevel. This ensures a consistant bevel.


    "Freehand" sharpening requires experience, and the best way to start is with a p.o.s. (piece of...) knife. For workhorse knives a 22-25 bevel is perfectly acceptable. For fine, delicate work 12-18 degrees is great, BUT this knife should ONLY be reserved for fine delicate work--no chickens or squashes.


    One of the few rules that everyone can agree on, is that the finer the abrasive you use, the longer your edge will last. (provided it isn't abused)

    Coarse grits (from 250 to 800) are ONLY used to reshape the knife (broken tip, big chips, etc). Ranges from 1000-3000 grit are perfect for re-establishing the bevel, and ranges from 4000 to 30,000 are for polishing.

    The finer the grit, the shallower and fewer scratches the abrasive leaves on the blade, and therfore the edge lasts longer.

    Your choice on abrasives, each type has it's pros and cons.

    Hope this helps
     
  7. kalach

    kalach

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Yep that helps too, thanks FP.
    So it's worth trying to polish the blade as much as possible even on knives that can't hold a fine polish long?
     
  8. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

    Messages:
    818
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    I currently use the Forschners both Fibrox and Rosewood. BDL is spot on about the frequency of steeling, types of steels as well as trips to the stone for a busy kitchen. I carry a combo soft-hard Arkansas 8" stone in my knife roll for work so when I am slow I can touch up my most used edges while getting
    paid for it. The stone you have sounds like one that would be good for profiling and repair but you can still take this soft steel up to a finer edge.
    I use the Norton synthetic stones Course- Fine Crystolon (Carborundum) and there India stone (Aluminum Oxide) in course-fine for re-profiling and repair work
    with the India fine giving you a toothy but very workable edge for the kitchen.
    I myself like a little more polish so I go to a soft-hard Arky or a soft-surgical black one for my finisher. There are many types of stones out there which will get you more polish than your current one with a lot of people here who are very up to date on them.
    Stay sharp, Doug...........
     
  9. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,551
    Likes Received:
    193
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Chefboy -- Dayum! Do we look like one another too? Or just brothers from other mothers? The only thing we come close to disagreeing about is that with my synthetic Nortons I stay away from Crystolon (silicon carbide) and stick with India (aluminum oxide), entirely. If, for some reason, I wanted SiC, I'd spend the stupid extra money (more than double!) for Razor Edge "hones." But IMO, the Indias are better and four oilstones are enough. Know when to say when, as they say.

    I don't have a "hard" Ark, but feel the soft takes a Forschner up to a near optimum finish, while a good surgical black (Hall's) is more than it can hold. Hard should be about perfect.
    _________________________

    Kalach -- No. Or at least mostly no. If, like me, you use a different stroke and pressure for polishing than you do for profiling and sharpening -- then you can get some benefit out of polishing your current knives in the form of practice. Otherwise, it's not worth the trouble.

    You didn't say whether your combi was an oilstone, diamond stone, ceramic, or waterstone. Let us know. Whatever it is, we may be able to help you make it more efficient. Also, which grit levels if you please.

    FWIW, I use what I call a "W" stroke for profiling, repairing and sharpening, but not polishing. It's a slightly modified version of Murray Carter's up and down sectioning stroke; and the "W" should be enough for you to figure out how the knife moves up and down the stone.

    For repairing, profiling and sharpening, try to work at a sufficiently slow rate where you can be very sure of controlling your angles. Use a light to moderate pressure just the tiniest bit more forceful than "letting the weight of the blade do the work."

    In the interests of full disclosure: With the "W" I also use far more speed and a lot more pressure than you should.

    BDL
     
  10. kalach

    kalach

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    BDL, can't remember the brand but it's an oilstone and said '108 silicon carbide', I've heard quite a few people say to use it dry so that's what I'm doing. Um grit levels it didn't say, just 'coarse & fine', you can feel the grit when you use it but just running fingers along it it feels almost completely smooth if that helps.

    Also decided that the budget can probably stretch for a good knife within the next month. After a lot of thought I'm thinking of going with the 27cm Mac pro chef knife, anything else I should know about them BDL? I've seen you mention them highly before, and heard good things from other people too. Was looking at a 'king ice-bear' 1000-6000# water stone to go with it, would that be ok for a while? I haven't had much luck finding many of the brands you guys mention for stones in Oz.
    Thanks, all advice is appreciated :)
     
  11. nick.shu

    nick.shu

    Messages:
    618
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
  12. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,551
    Likes Received:
    193
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Kal,

    I'm a huge fan of the MAC Pro as you probably already know. There are several knives in more or less the same value group when you consider performance and US prices. However, I don't know enough about prices in Oz to make meaningful comparisons.

    Anyway, staying with stainless, in alphabetical order you might want to consider: Masamoto VG, Sakai Takayuki Grand Cheff, and Togiharu G-1. You might want to think about the value leading JCK Kakayugi VG-10 (which I know only by reputation).
    There's lots to like about all of them. We can talk about whatever fits within your budget and needs.

    The thing I like most about the MAC Pro is that the recommendation has never come back to haunt me -- at least not permanently. More than twenty people have bought, at least partly because of conversations with me and all but two have been delighted from the get go. The other two had problems with ill fitting handle scales -- probably caused by humidity and temperature extremes during storage and handling; and MAC USA (not the retailers) took care of that for them. MAC USA even took care of a customer in Denmark who ordered his from an English e-tailer.

    That may or may not be the case in Oz; and that's something you'll have to find about.

    That out of the way, let's talk performance. Just ask.

    BDL
     
  13. kalach

    kalach

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Nick,
    Cool a few bits and pieces from that site caught my interest, living in Cairns though so it's a bit too far to go I think ;) . If you know of any other Australian based online shops please let me know, I've gotten lots of stuff from everten.com.au and they've always been good, but sometimes lack a lot of the more 'higher end' knives and such.

    BDL,
    Hmm lets see, as you know I'm currently using the forschner rosewood 10" chefs, I like pretty much everything about it except the edge is good but not exceptional and the constant honing is getting annoying.
    What I'm looking for is something sharp, roughly the same weight as the forschner, similar geometry (certainly not much more curved, I like straightish edges), no bolster or anything at the heel, wooden handles are a definate plus but could do without if I really had to, and be 10-11".
    Mostly to be used on salad type stuff, more veg than anything else, sometimes meat, fish, poultry, cooked and uncooked, I've also got my Furi FX set aside for heavy jobs so wont need a new knife for all that sort of stuff.
    I've had trouble trying to find certain knives in Oz, I've had nothing but good experiences with Everten (link above) so would like to get something from them if at all possible.
    Um so yeah I'm thinking the Mac sounds like it fits all those critera perfectly.

    Thanks guys, let me know what you think :)

    Oh PS,
    I've also heard some people say hones/steels should be avoided altogether with J-knives, if that's true it doesn't bother me at all having to give it a touch up on a stone once a day instead of steeling, plus it'd save me the cost of getting a more suitable hone, what do you think?
     
  14. goku_knife

    goku_knife

    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Hi all.

    Kalach, with your permission I'll use your thread to ask a similar question about a different knife. thanks ! :thumb:

    So, just like Kalach, my sharpening set is not going to improve in the short term, and I also was wondering what kind of optimum edge I could get on my Global G5.
    Just as a reminder, I've got a #1500 grit stone ( the one from JCK ), and few sharpening skills.

    After a year or so without seeing a stone ( I didn't have one), the knife got less efficient than it was ootb . I actually managed to improve that situation with the new stone I received lately, but to the point where the knife is better , or less bad, than it was before I sharpen it. By no mean I find it impressive anyway.
    So I was wondering if it could get -really- sharp with a #1500 stone ( whenever I got skilled at sharpenig it ) , or if I necessarily need a finer stone in order to get better results.

    Thanks in advance,
    GK
     
  15. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,551
    Likes Received:
    193
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Kalach -- Some Japanese knives are too hard or too asymmetric to benefit from honing on a steel. MAC Pro are not among them. A Pro shouldn't need honing as frequently as a Wusthof or Forschner (or carbon Sabatier for that matter), but will need and benefit from a rod-hone now and then.

    You want something which is pretty fine and won't scuff up the edge too much. An Idahone fine ceramic is a very good choice. The MAC black is too, but at a significantly higher price.

    Goku -- A Global can be polished to good effect up to about 6000#. Neither the alloy Global uses ("CroMoVa"), nor its construction makes a Global particularly good at keeping an edge. Still it will hold it long enough to make it worth taking all the way up to 6000#, unless the knife is reserved for uses which go better with a toothier edge. IIRC, your G5 is a "vegetable knife," a nakiri but with an arced edge, and should get the full polish.

    A Takenoko (also called Arashiyama, but it's the same stone) would be an exceptionally good choice as the final stone. Depending on who's selling it, they'll have it listed variously as 6K, 7K or 8K -- but it's 6K right enough. A regular old King 6K would do almost as good a job for a lot less money. There are quite a few good choices in the high-medium 4K - 6K range. Offhand, I forget what Koki (JCK) has.

    Learning to use a polishing stone (or an almost-polishing stone) takes some practice. It's not quite as bad as starting from scratch; but you'll be dulling more than sharpening when you first step up to the higher grit as a result of inconsistent angle holding on a less forgiving stone. Make sure you're coming off your 1500# with a very flat bevel, and "practice, practice, practice." If you do dull your knife as you polish -- stop polishing and go back down to the 1500. There are few problems which can be fixed on a high grit stone.

    Good luck,
    BDL
     
  16. kalach

    kalach

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Goku,
    You certainly get permission to use the thread, that's another bit of good info I got there :)

    BDL (or anyone else in the know),
    What do you think of the DMT ceramic rod hone, any experience? It says it has a "fine 2200# mesh", is that equal to a grit level on a stone or something different? Just asking because it seems the most available suitable (or maybe not?) hone I can get locally. Haven't looked for the Idahone yet but will try to find one if it's more suitable.
    Ps,
    Is jumping strait from a 800# stone to a 6000# too much? Would using the fine side of my oilstone in between be useful or not do a lot? Or if I'm just doing a touch-up can I use just the 6k?
     
  17. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,551
    Likes Received:
    193
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Hey Kal,

    You wrote I'm not a fan of diamond rod hones. No matter how fine the diamonds are, they're too aggressive for the task -- at least to my taste. "2200# mesh," refers to the size of the diamond particles. Darn small.

    Overall, used with a light touch, not my choice but OK.

    Different stuff in Oz and the US. I'm afraid I not only don't know what's available in Oz, but also don't know who will ship from Japan or the US at a reasonable price.

    For your Forschner, a Forschner fine "steel" would be an excellent choice. Probably less harmful and certainly less expensive than the DMT, and a lot easier to find than an Idahone.

    I think it's a lot of jump. Just a lot or too much is an open question. For the way I like to sharpen, it's too much. For a kit going up to 5000# or higher, I strongly favor a three or four stones (or surfaces). On the other hand, I have a couple of friends who are fantastic sharpeners and wouldn't have any problems recommending the 800/6000 combi as a two-surface, single stone, overall solution. Not a very definite answer, is it?

    Remember that you're not really sharpening with the 6000, you're polishing out the scratches left by the 800. Use a light touch. Also, you'll want to thoroughly deburr after the 800 and raise as little burr as possible on the 6000.

    You're going to use up the 800 side pretty quickly while you're learning to sharpen. Don't worry too much about better and best equipment for now. Once you've learned to sharpen well enough that you're confident about getting a sharp, reasonably well polished edge, every time you approach the stone, it will be time to revisit the question -- and the 800 will be about gone, too.

    Is this your oilstone? BEAR SILICON CARBIDE COMBINATION STONE - MODEL KS108 - CUTLERY - SHARPENING - The Best - Camping Gear | Tactical Equipment | Police Gear Security | Military | Survival | Combat Clothing | Backpacks | Navigation | Army Surplus | Boots | Knives | Austr. Well, it seems to be a good day for "Stump BDL," because I don't know enough about your stone to guess how fine the "fine side" is. It may not be any finer than your 800# waterstone surface.

    More generally, if you use oil or even soap when sharpening on an oilstone, it's not a good idea to move to a waterstone, as contaminants carried to the waterstone can clog it, and/or shorten its life considerably.

    BDL
     
  18. kalach

    kalach

    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Yep that's the oilstone I have at the moment.
    The DMT hone I mentioned claims to be ceramic not diamond if that helps, see link http://www.everten.com.au/product/DMT-Ceramic-Steel-Fine-300.html
    Haven't searched for the idahone yet, getting late, I'll get on to that tomorrow night.
    I use the oilstone dry so cross-contamination shouldn't be an issue, guess I'll have to wait for the new stones to arrive before I see if the old one gives me any middle-ground between them.
    Oh, most of my recent questions were refering to the new mac i'll be getting rather that the forschner if that changes anything.
    And lastly as I said would I be able to use the 6k stone to touch up the edge between real sharpenings, or would it just slightly polish a dulling edge?
    Thanks :)
     
  19. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,551
    Likes Received:
    193
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    The DMT rod you linked me to certainly looks good; and the description says all the right things. I like the "unbreakable" part a lot. Worth a try, I guess.

    Whether or not it's the right grit, and whether or not you sharpen dry (as I do too when using oilstones) your SiC stone is probably too slow to be worthwhile on the MAC. Try it of course; but I'd be surprised if it's much of a help. Let me know.

    6K is probably too sharp to touch up anything other than an already sharp edge. It doesn't cut fast enough to put a fresh edge on a dulling blade with light pressure -- but increase the pressure even a little bit and you'll create a burr. What you want for touching up is a mid-grit stone in the 3K area, or a fine steel.

    The stone will reveal fresh metal when used with a light touch, and is also a good grit to pull a fresh wire, chase it, then deburr it.

    The steel will scuff up the blade a little and create micro-serrations. The knife will cut effectively, but with more "bite." The edge won't actually be sharper, just act that way -- which is usually enough. That DMT description reads like it should be just the ticket.

    Also, you can use a few strokes on a fine honing-rod like the Idahone (and presumably the DMT) between the 800 as a sort of transition, and to make sure the wire is well and truly chased (flips easily from side to side) before deburring. If I were using an 800/6000 combi, I'd completely deburr with a steel and wine cork, steel and endgrain, or steel and felt block, between the 800 and 6000 surfaces. Then, try not to pull a burr on the 6000; but deburr anyway, this time either without the honing rod.

    For the little it's worth, I use two honing rods. One is a HandAmerican (ultra fine) borosilcate rod for deburring and for truing a sharp, polished edge. It's an incredibly good tool. But it's too expensive, and at the moment seems impossible to find even in the US. The other is a very old Henckels which started "fine," and has worn down since to extra-fine. I use it for edges which have worn enough that a simple truing is insufficient.

    BDL
     
  20. phaedrus

    phaedrus

    Messages:
    1,540
    Likes Received:
    118
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    The DMT CS2 is a terrific hone! I've used one for quite a while. Funny, I recently sold mine, though. My work kit contained a glass hone and two ceramics (don't ask...:lol:)- one day I used it to demonstrate the proper method of honing a coworkers Shun and he offered to buy it on the spot. It really wasn't for sale, but then again everything is for sale at a price. I'd been thinking of swapping out it out for an Idahone anyway, just to save space (I mean the little 8" one with the plastic sleeve).

    The DMT does need "broken in" or whatever you want to call it. The instructions allude to this. You get a bit of "smoke" looking residue until it's been used a bit. I simply used some fine grit sandpaper on it. It's ceramic-over-aluminum, making it really sturdy- you're not gonna hurt it by dropping it. Probably can't say that about my Hand America Glass Hone.