knives, whet stones, sharpening - an update and some questions

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by butzy, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. butzy

    butzy

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    I thought it was time for an update.

    I’ve been following all (well, almost all) knife threads with interest, esp LennyD’s one.

    I’ve asked quite some questions of late and been very pleased with the effort people are taking in replying and advising me.

    Anyway, sometime ago I decided to upgrade my knife and was going for the fujiwara FKH gyuto (from JCK).

    Upon ordering I suddenly got cold feet about the stories about the FKH having stinking steel and I pressed some other buttons…..

    I ordered the JCK CarboNext (gotta call it the CN from now, as I can’t stand that name) 240 mm gyuto and the Fuji FKH petty 150 mm. After all, If you don’t try you’ll never know…..

    So now I have a gyuto that’s an inch longer than what I’m used to, of some mystery steel and a carbon petty. Lots of different things in one go!

    And I ordered the 1000/4000 combination stone.

    They have all arrived and I’ll pick them up in about 2 week’s time.

    So in the mean time, I’ve been sharpening knives. First an old carbon Henckels, then a cheapish chef’s knife, then a Victorinox and yesterday I have started on my Globals.

    All of this on some old small whetstone (don’t know the grit). The thing is only about 5 x 15 cm or so.

    I’m using the same method as shown on the chefknivestogo video’s and all knives are getting sharper!

    The only one I’m struggling with is an old cleaver with no edge left.

    And the Global chef (G2), I struggle to get rid of the bur. I got no problem with the small global (gs3)

    Any tips here?

    I thought my globals (and other knives) were still quite sharp, but apparently they were not. They are a heck of a lot sharper now (although I’m quite sure that BDL and company would still call them bluntish).

    I tried checking the angle I’m using and it is somewhere between 10 and 15 degrees for all knives (also the European ones). They seem to hold that angle OK.

    I’m now really looking forward to picking up my decent size stone and my 2 knives.

    Since this is also a new stone I’ll start with sharpening a cheaper knife on it, then the petty and then the gyuto.

    Should I sharpen them at a lower angle? 8-10 degrees or so? Or just follow the angle that is there already (OOTB)?

    On top of this I ordered a couple of cookbooks so I got a lot to look forward to!
     
  2. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Congratulations on the CN!  So far all the response has been very positive.  If we don't know exactly what the steel is, we do know that it's a "high speed tool steel" with enough chromium in it to prevent rust and a very good balance of iron and carbon. 

    For the way most of us sharpen, that you can raise a burr and get rid of it on most of your knives speaks well of your sharpening ability.  Don't worry, it will not only improve with practice but will take a quantum leap when you get your new stones.  Their size alone is going to make things much easier. 

    When you get them (or was it an it?), make sure to level and chamfer before using.

    Part of getting rid of the burr is "chasing" it.  That means turning the knife over and sharpening the other side until the burr moves; and repeating the process until the burr flips with every stroke.  Some knives require still more. I get rid of difficult burrs by steeling the knife a few times (3 times on each side should be enough) to get the burr flipping very easily, then draw the knife through a wine cork, hard felt, cardboard, the end-grain of a small piece of wood, or the corner of a cutting board.  All of these are pretty effective. 

    Hope this helps,

    BDL
     
  3. butzy

    butzy

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    Thanks BDL,

    The bur slips/goes from one side to the other.

    Tried using the ceramic "steel" and instead of cork I use an old piece of pressed wood that got wet and has blown up a bit. Don't know if that describes it very well, but it works on most knives.

    The bur is not very pronounced anymore, but not totally gone.....

    I'm quite sure that I'll manage once I get a better/bigger/finer stone.

    Just gotta keep playing around with it, but I guess that's half the fun :)

    Any advice on sharpening angle for the new knives?

    Is there any sort of "definition" as to how sharp is really sharp?
     
  4. trooper

    trooper

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    I love spending sprees!

    Truth be told, I'll send really damaged knives or dull cleavers out for service. If you need a belt sander to reprofile a knife - just send it out.

        - Then fine-tune stuff on your stones. They are not designed for all that hard work.

    I have an FKH Sujihiki I just use for meat. Have not had the stinky problem with it.

    I've used older carbon knives that have that stinky problem -

    A worn patina seems to mitigate the issue, but that's really an unacceptable quality in any knife.

    If you're using high-end stones on high-end knives then keep the angles if you're happy with them as-is.

    All my working knives are set to whatever the 15-degree? angle is on my SpyderCo SharpMaker.

    That's not any kind of suggestion - it's just what is easier to maintain because of the portability of the SharpMaker kit.
     
  5. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    Butzy, I'm not in favor of flip-flopping the burr from one side to another. Burr formation is relative to 3 factors IMO; the coarseness of your stones, the number of moves/strokes you make on the stones and the pressure/downforce you use on the knife. This also means that you can play around with these factors. Pushing a knife very hard on a coarse stone is not productive at all; soon you will deform the curve of your knive. So, go easy on the number of strokes and downforce, this will cause less burr formation. The moment you've done just one side, drag the entire edge -from heel to tip- gently through a piece of soft wood. Repeat a few times if necessary. Then sharpen the other side and repeat the deburring. When almost done with one stone, make a few strokes with almost no pressure at all and deburr again until it's all gone.

    Only then proceed to another stone with higher grit. The higher the grit (the lower coarseness), the less burr will occur but you still need to deburr. The burr itself becomes smaller and smaller. Just proceed exactly the same way as on the rougher stone. You should be able to produce a very sharp edge with only a 1k grit stone! My advise; stay away from low grits (below 800) if not absolutely necessary.

    On your angles; well, it's my personal opinion of course, but I would never go lower than 15° for Japanese knives and 18-20° for others. In fact, I always sharpen Japanese ones at around 18° and I have a few reasons for doing so;

    - you will scratch up the blade. Going to 8° as you suggest will scratch the sides. Indeed, minor objestion, except when you have a lot of damascus knives.

    - your edges wear very fast with low angles. You will have to sharpen much more often. 

    - your knife will chip very easy. Plain and simple.

    - a question of feedback; every piece of meat will feel the same if you go to very low angles. I want to feel wether a piece of meat is tender or not.

    As I said, this is from my own experience. But then again, to each their own methods and ambitions.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011
  6. butzy

    butzy

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    yeah, shopping spree.... Don't have too many chances on these around here. I would be surprised if I could even find a victorinox or forschters here....

    so taking my chances and hope to not exceed the luggage limit on my way back....

    2 knives, 1 whet stone, 4 books, the books could well become hand luggage :)

    by the way they are:

    Thai street food (was/is on special at amazon.co.uk and they deliver for free to the Netherlands), raw, les halles cook book and ratio.

    Sharpening:

    So far I've mainly been following the existing angle, except on the knives that have no angle left.

    Even managed to find the number 2 cleaver and got it sharp. My conclusion: number 1 cleaver is just too far gone to repair on the stone I got (or am I just finding excuses?)

    As said, I've been using the method as described by chefknivestogo. You gotta start somewhere.

    When I'm in NL I'll be using my new whetstone and compare my method with my dad's and slowly take it from there

    I'm sure I'll be back asking many more questions. Thanks for all tips and advice so far /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif
     
  7. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    Rumor is, Globals hang onto their burrs annoyingly long. So if everything else is going wonderfully, that might the issue instead of you.
     
  8. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    I hear that about Globals too, Chris. Ditto for my very humble Fujiwara FKM's. Best way to work around it, is to reduce the burr formation and to get rid of it asap, just as I described in my own sharpening vision in my previous post. Works perfect on the FKM's..  and all others.
     
  9. butzy

    butzy

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    I'll keep on practising and experimenting.

    Just weird if I can get rid of the bur with the little GS3 global and only with a lot of difficulty with the G2.

    I sharpen in sections, so the size of the knife shouldn't matter?
     
  10. paul palumbo

    paul palumbo

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    Good Thread.

    Congrats on the new knives.  When I was cooking full time I found it difficult to keep an edge on my knives.  One reason is that it is hard, even if  you are practiced and know what you are doing to keep the angle consistent at all times.  One time you might have a 15 degree angle and the next a 17 degree angle.  And it can vary from tip to heel.  There are so many variables that make it difficult to find consistency.  I know there are a lot of people here that probably know way more than I do about this subject, but what I found if you don't mind me throwing my opinion into the arena, is that you need some kind of device that holds the angle consistently through the stroke on the stone.  That being said there are very few options that work well.  I tried Lansky Diamond sharpening system and it is the closest I have come to maintaining a consistent angle on my knives.  I typically keep my knives at the factory angle.  It's a lot of work to change from factory to a custom angle in my opinion.  Back to Lansky.  They do a good job, the stones are ok but not the greatest.  Then I found The Wicked Edge sharpening system and now there is no need to over think the sharpening deal.  Just insert your knife, lock it in place, set the angle for both sides, and go for it.  That simple.  No flip flopping of the knife just maintain the same angle all the way through the sharpening process.  Works like a charm and couldn't be easier.  It's expensive.  That being said, if you're just starting your career, it is an investment that will last a lifetime.  So the cost amortized over a career of just 20 years is well worth it.  Anyway that is just my opinion and you can take it for what it's worth.  Good luck and God Bless, have fun no matter how you work it out.  Life is an adventure, make the most of it.

    Paul

    P. S. If you tell Wicked Edge I sent you they will give you a 20% discount on your purchase so give it a try.
     
    luis j likes this.
  11. butzy

    butzy

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    5 more days.......

    And I'll get to see all the stuff I bought /img/vbsmilies/smilies/bounce.gif

    Thanks all for the extra info

    @Chris and Chris

    Working on that removal of the bur and it's getting better.

    Frequent de-burring seems to help

    @Paul,

    Wicked edge, apex, lansky, spyderco etc are not really featuring in my book.

    I got my mind set on free hand sharpening, so unless I can't get the hang of it, that's the way to go for me.

    From what I've read they do a good job though

    .

    Some reasoning behind this:

    - Where I'm based I won't be able to get any of the above systems incl of parts/stones or anything for them

    - I can always find a whet stone somewhere, so freehand sharpening gives me more options

    - I actually quite like  freehand sharpening, it feels good to get a knife sharper than it was (and one day really razor sharp or something close to it) It almost feels therapeutic (am I beyond help???)

    @all

    As for the angles: I'll initially just go for the angles that came from the factory and take it from there...

    Frequent sharpening won't be a problem so that's no reason to not go for a lower angle

    Chipping obviously would be a problem.

    More to follow (in 5 days /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif)
     
  12. lennyd

    lennyd

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    Every time I see someone post something similar to this I know I must have a smile on my face as it is really good to see others think or feel the same.

    I think it has something to do with the sense of accomplishment of doing it yourself, and the fact that basically though not rocket science it is not easy to sharpen correctly so when you can see the improvement it is a real motivator and a good feeling from a job well done (and yes even when the job was not done totally right either lol).

    Plus it is very interesting as your skills improve your opinion of just what is sharp really does change.

    Oh and yes your very likely beyond help, but your not alone by any means :)
     
  13. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    Goeie reis Butzy!
     
  14. butzy

    butzy

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    Right, got the knives.

    They look great. They are reasonably sharp. The FKH petty more so than the JCK CN.

    Haven't had any time yet to play around with the whet stone. Looks good though with a thicker 1000 grit layer and a thinner 4000 layer.

    there is no extra info with it. I think it is a "splash and go" sort of stone, but I suppose it won't do any harm to soak it for a while....

    I'm going to play around wth a couple of older knives first and then I'll try my hand on the new ones........
     
  15. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Remind me what brand of stone it is, and I can probably tell you how long to soak it.

    BDL
     
  16. butzy

    butzy

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    Thanks BDL

    it's the JCK 1000/4000 combination stone
     
  17. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    Most of these synthetic composite stones need to be soaked. How long? At least until they are saturated with water, which means as long as tiny airbubbles escape from the stones when submerged. Could be 1 minute, could be 5 minutes or longer. A brandnew dry stone always takes a minute longer. I never soak longer than 3-4 minutes.

    Also, more important, keep the stones very wet on the surface when sharpening by plunging them from time to time into the water, and I wipe (just use a hand to rub the surface) and rinse them regularly under water or under a running watertap to get rid of metalparticles during the sharpening.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2011
  18. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Some stones are "splash and go," but most stones require a bit more than five minutes.  Some are very fast, such as the majority of ultra-fine polishers, the Naniwa SS series and Shapton GS; others, like the Beston and Besters require hours; most fall somewhere in the middle.  It depends on the type of binder (clay, resin, magnesia) and other factors as well. 

    You'll want to shoot Koki an E-Mail and check, but I believe the JCK combi gets about 30 minutes in the tub before each use.  After you use the stone make sure you allow it dry completely (out of the sun) before putting it away.  Depending on the climate, that will probably take overnight, at least. 

    Before using it the first time, you'll want to fully soak it, chamfer all eight edges, and flatten both sides. 

    New water stone users often don't realize that new stones aren't ready to go right out of the box, they need a little work. Chamfering the edges will make the stone much stronger and far less likely to crumble along them or at the corners.  Flattening before the first use not only ensures that you're working with a flat surface (very important!), but breaks up the factory "glaze" which forms as a part of firing.  If you don't flatten before the first use, you'll need to do a lot of sharpening before your stone reaches its full potential.

    I don't remember how you've decided to flatten.  Dry wall screen is very effective and inexpensive.  I don't know what they call it in Europe, but I assume it's available under one name or another.  A flattening stone or special plate will also work, but it's a bit more expensive.  When you figure out what you're going to use to flatten, let me know and I'll tell you how to go about it.

    BDL
     
  19. butzy

    butzy

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    Thanks again for all info.

    I used the stone yesterday (well, I had my dad use it first to give his opinion).

    We soaked it first. None or hardly any bubbles were visible. We left it in for a good 15 minutes anyway.

    The stone dried very quickly after sharpening!

    I haven't tried sharpening my new knives yet, but did a couple of cheaper ones (they were sharp, but I got them sharper /img/vbsmilies/smilies/peace.gif)

    I throw water on the stone every now and again and also dunk the knife in water every couple of minutes or so.

    The stone is 3.5 cm thick. The 1000 side is 2 cm, the 4000 side is 1.5 cm. I quite like that!

    I have also figured out that the old stone that I've been using so far is quite coarse. The "fine" side on that one is coarser than 1000 grit (I figure it's a 250/500 grit or so)!

    Anyway, today I bought some drywall screen with some form of holder so will try to do a bit of flattening (the stone looks flat though), then another knife or 2 and then it's time for the 2 new ones.....
     
  20. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    A couple of years ago I learned a fun and useful trick for knowing if a stone is fully soaked or not. Lift it out of the water and turn it on its end, so the water runs off the surface. Now touch the tip of your tongue to the surface of the stone. Your tongue-tip is extremely sensitive. If the stone is not fully impregnated with water, it will adhere to your tongue just a little bit, and you will detect this immediately. If the stone is fully soaked, it won't do this.

    Word of advice: make sure nobody sees you do this unless they understand entirely what you are doing, or you will probably end up incarcerated for psychiatric examination.