Need a sharpening stone. Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by gobblygook, Sep 5, 2010.

  1. wagstaff

    wagstaff

    Messages:
    343
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    At home cook
    I didn't exactly say he thought it was dumb...

    It's just easy to make fun of extreme hobbyists -- especially if they're friends.  I think that was in the realm of good-natured ribbing.  And for my benefit as the n00b in the room.  Some of his customers are real sharpening nuts.  And  it is helpful to know certain theoretical limits even if you back off from them for practical purposes.  15k or 20k also for razors, for paper knives, etc.  But you'll notice he specifically doesn't have those stones listed on the website.  There's a video of the 15k Gesshin, but you "have to know".
     
  2. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    You have to know sharpening and the sharpening community to understand what and who (Ken Schwartz) he's talking about, to understand Jon 's comments as Wag reported them. 

    Jon and I agree about a lot of things, and we're very close on appropriate grit levels.  If you like "authority" you can throw Dave Martell and probably Murray Carter in there as well.  The right range for a given knife depends on the work you'll put it to, whether and how you use a steel, the polishing stone(s), and the knife itself -- especially its scratch hardness.  From a practical, cook's standpoint, it's a waste of time to put an ultra-polish on a knife which will lose it in a few minutes of work. 

    Cooks who sharpen to "normal levels" (4000 and less) learn that finer edges hold up better than coarse edges.  But at some point -- say 5000 -- that's no longer true.  Also, at 3000 - 5000, steeling becomes very iffy if you want to preserve the polish -- even with an ultra-fine or polished steel and the softest, most minimal technique. 

    Without delving too deeply into specific grits/stones for specific purposes, let me say there are nuances.  For instance, an 0.25u diamond strop can leave a more efficient edge than a Naniwa SS 8000, even though 0.25u is significantly smaller than the SS 8000's abrasive.  Similarly, a Kitayama 8000 finish goes on, looks and acts very different from the Naniwa's.  But put one over the other -- either way -- and you're approaching an ultimate edge.  Worth the time and money?  Not to me.

    Just for Captainhits -- If you're thinking of 3000 as the Suehiro Rika's true level, you're getting that from me.  Once you get enough expertise to go beyond the basics, working the knife on the stone, creating "mud," then breaking it down with more work, it will polish at the 5000 level.  Aotos -- another recommendation from someone else -- work the same way, although not as fine. 

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2011
  3. captainhits

    captainhits

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    So BDL, If you were in my shoes in terms of noob with confidence in learning quickly, Masahiro MVH's ( MBS-26 stainless steel, 80/20, 58-60), very light usage, money not being a concern (within the $100 each range), starting with 2 stones and adding a third in time, for fine polish; would you go with a 1200 Bester/5000 Suehiro, 1200 Bester/6000 Takenoko, 1000 Chosera/5000 Suehiro, 1000 Chosera/6000 Takenoko, 2000 Chosera/6000 Takenoko? Please circle one (or 2). Whew alot of combinations there
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2011
  4. phaedrus

    phaedrus

    Messages:
    1,600
    Likes Received:
    153
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I can't speak for BDL but if we're spending your money it's gonna be the Choceras./img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif   But I can probably say that since I've bought them all for myself.  Mine are cut for the EP but I also freehand smaller blades on them.  I have every Chocera in the line except the 600, and it's on my to-do list.  The Shapton Professional 1k is also a terrific stone.  I've never used the Suehiro Rika so I can't comment on that one.
     
  5. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Phaedrus wins.  I've only got five Choseras (four cut for the EP).  Across the line, with only a couple of exceptions (on the coarse end), Choseras are excellent stones, very convenient and very consistent.  If you don't care about getting a good deal, they're an excellent choice.   I don't recommend the 400#, though. 

    Speaking of which, you might as well buy a coarse stone now, even though you shouldn't mess with it until you've developed some skills.

    If you absolutely, positively, must have "the best" and most expensive, you probably want to go all Gesshin (from Japanese Knife Imports).  Gesshin is the current trendy everything. 

    In fact, if you haven't purchased your chef's knife yet, you might think about a Gesshin.  FWIW, Gesshin is JKI's house brand; and so far everything sold under the Gesshin name is excellent.  I'd also consider the Richmond Addict 2 (wa-handle and all).  Nothing wrong with a Masahiro, but you can do better.

    Gonna disagree a little with Phaedrus.  I can't recommend any Shapton Pro for a beginner.  The SPs were revolutionary when hit the market, but quite a few great stones have entered it since -- most of which are faster, cheaper and less idiosyncratic.  For a couple of years, three of the four stones in my four stone water stone set, were SPs.  Although not at issue here, the SP 5000 is particularly bizarre.  I loved mine, but very few others felt the same. 

    The CKtG "package deal" of Beston 400, Bester 1200, and Suehiro Rika is a very good set.  It's $135.  I like each stone better than their equivalent Choseras -- especially the 400 -- but there are trade offs at ~1000 and 3000 - 5000.  An all Chosera kit would cost $285 - $300, depending on whether you topped out at 3000 or 5000.  An all Gesshin kit, 400, 1000, 4000, would be faster/better and cost $285.  Whether or not you, as a relative beginner, would see the Gesshin benefit anytime soon is questionable.  But their quality is something you don't have to worry about and comfort level is worth A LOT. 

    In your position -- which includes a fortunate ability to lay out cash -- I'd very strongly consider the Edge Pro Apex/Chosera kit sold by CKtG.  That will run you around $285 as well.  Phaedrus and I are both freehand sharpeners who also use and like EP/Chosera kits.  The biggest benefits are measured in time.  The learning curve is so much flatter than freehanding, it's particularly good for beginners seeking good results with hours -- instead of weeks or months -- of practice.  Also, you can sharpen a lot of knives PDQ with an EP.  QED.

    If you've already purchased or otherwise wedded to the bran, strongly consider re-profiling the Masahiros to less asymmetry ASAP so they can be effectively trued on a rod hone; otherwise you're going to be doing a helluva lot of sharpening just to keep their edges true.  A little out of true might not be the same thing as actually dull, but it sure cuts that way.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2011
  6. captainhits

    captainhits

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Holy S BDL you use an EP? Im surprised but I guess that speaks for the product. I watched a couple of their videos and it looks very nice. Now you got me really considering that. What do you think about the wicked edge? Pros/cons of either?

    If I was to reprofile the edge would I be using the lower grit 200/300/400 stones? Would it look proper or is there some protocol that the 80/20 knives follow that would hinder the reprofiling or the appearance?

    The Masahiros are from bedbathandbeyond so they have a lifetime no question return policy. So I do have the option If I decide on something different, or a 10" chef vs 8".

    Are you saying reprofile because when Im honing if there is 80% on one side it will be difficult to hone the 20% side to keep it true? And sorry to sound stupid but the asymmetry has nothing to do with the angle degree the knifes are sharpened at correct? It's just a larger bevel on one side? I was looking at this page which describes each edge http://zknives.com/knives/articles/knifeedgetypes.shtml  are the Masahiro's asymetrical flat? "The edge tapers on the straight line from both sides, but the angles are uneven. Used for more durable edges, sacrifices sharpness." What edge do you recommend?

    BTW if you want a good magnetic knife bar recommendation I'm the toughist critic and bought this one and love it  Cant scratch the knife, super strong magnets (no odd spots that force the knife crooked), minimalist sleek design, and slides off for cleaning.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2011
  7. phaedrus

    phaedrus

    Messages:
    1,600
    Likes Received:
    153
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Regardless of ones general opinions of the Shapton Pro stones, the SP 1k is exceptional.  A very good stone!  Fast cutting, slow dishing with a very nice finish.  Even a rank amatuer can get good results from the 1k.  The 5k...that one, not so much.  Of course, on the EP all your assumptions about which stones are good may be turned on their ear.  When you have near perfect control and every stroke clears the same plane, you really begin to experience a stone in a new way- you're able to distill the essence of what it's able to do.  If you ever get in to the higher level Shaps I think you'll be dumbfounded by what they're able to do on the EP.

    The Chocera 400 is one of the most exceptional aratos I've ever used.  The Shap 320 is in the same general league.  If you're considering the EP then the Chocera kit is almost mandatory.  While I certainly haven't tried every stone out there, nothing I've seen can compare overall to the Choceras.  Now this depends on the type of knives you sharpen and the feel you like.  I prefer a softer, muddier stone and that's the Chocera line (with some exceptions).  You may like something else.  There are individual grits where the Chocera might not be the best choice of all the stones out there, but IMO it gets an 85% or better on everthing.  There's nothing it doesn't do at least pretty well, and many things it does superbly.  I don't know of any synthetic that can match the awe-inspiring Chocera 10k.  The EP is a tremendous tool.  If your knives are double bevel, even if asymmetric, this tool will do a great job.

    If you're dead set on freehand sharpening and don't care about the price, then instead of popping for the Gesshin right away you might want to wait a few weeks if you can.  There's a new line coming out that's pretty interesting.  I can't really say anything about them at the moment except I wouldn't buy any synthetic until these come to market.
     
  8. wagstaff

    wagstaff

    Messages:
    343
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    At home cook
    such a tease, Phaedrus... ! I won't have budget for new stones for a few weeks anyway, I guess.
     
  9. phaedrus

    phaedrus

    Messages:
    1,600
    Likes Received:
    153
    Exp:
    Professional Chef

    I'm eager, too, to see how BDL is liking the EP.  I haven't had a chance yet to try a WEPS (Wicked Edge Precision Sharpener) yet as they've been backordered for awhile.  I can make some general comments based on the feedback of others, plus what admittedly is just "thought experiment" on my part.

    First off, the WEPS is considerably more expensive than the EP Apex.  It costs $250 vs about $155 (depending on vendor) for the Apex.  At this price the WEPS doesn't come with a base, either.  The cheapest base they sell is $45, with the top option being a $75 granite slab.  Of course, you could fashion your own base and save a few bucks.

    Next, the WEPS currently ships with diamond abrasive paddles as the standard.  IMOHO this isn't the idea sharpening medium for Japanese knives.  I will say that Ken will soon be (maybe already is) supplying both Shapton and Choceras cut and mounted for the WEPS.  This will make it a very versatile and powerful platform.  Yet I must point out that since the WEPS has two paddles, you'll need to buy two of each stone- and that can get expensive.  The Chocera 10k runs around $70 each, so you're talking $140 for 2 x 10ks.  $100 for 2 x 5k.  $80 for 2 x 8k.  So on and so forth.  Of course, in theory having two paddles will get the job done twice as fast.

    The main strength, or weakness, of the WEPS is the clamp system.  It clamps your blade by the spine, edge up, allowing both sides of the knife to be worked simultaneously.  I can see a couple possible problems with this.  First, I wonder if the clamp will mar a blade?  If it holds tight enough to keep if from moving it may be tight enough to scratch the spine.  Probably not a big deal.  The main issue is the the clamp limits the size of the blade you can do without reclamping.  IIRC, Clay told me it can accomodate an 11" blade (don't take this as gospel, Clay told me quite a while ago and I may not remember correctly).  That is enough for most kitchen blades, but not all.  I did a 14" chef's knife for my boss on an EP.  I know a guy who did a 38" martial arts sword on an EP!  He had to have a helper hold up one end but it worked.

    Lastly, the current design of the clamp of the WEPS limits how low the angle can go on most knives.  Again, my memory is hazy but I think we're talking about 15 degrees per side.  Not bad but I go quite a bit lower than than on some knives.  Each side's angle is independently set, and while this will be a great boon in dealing with asymmetry, it's a real disadvantage to not be able to go lower than that.  Now I understand that Clay Allison, the creator of the WEPS, is working on a fix that will allow lower angles, but I don't know when it's due out nor whether it can be retrofit to the old machine.

    I do know some folks that weren't able to make the EP work that find the WEPS to be very easy to use.  Also, it's a great tool for those with limited movement or disability.  There's a guy at another forum I frequent that's a paraplegic; he's unable to situate himself in a position to work the EP but has found the WEPS to work for him.  Certainly the ability to do both sides at once speeds things up.  I've seen microscopic images of the WEPS scratch pattern with Shapton stones and the results are impressive.  It will get a knife very sharp.

    Now in the EP's favor:  It's cheaper to buy, stones are cheaper since you only need one, and it's more versatile (lower angles and the ability to sharpen a knife regardless of length).  It folds compactly and requires no base to sit one.  There are more stones available for it and it can be made to accomodate larger stones, too.  I personally have 7 DMT plates in the 2" x 6" size mounted to blanks for EP use.  I've used Japanese natural stones, dressed and mounted myself, that are 1/2" thick and 3" x 5" (W/L).  Stone blanks are pretty cheap and are reusable.  1" x 6" is a somewhat standard size of stones; Boride, the supplier of the OEM EP stones, makes a very large assortment of them.  I bought a Boride recently that was 1 x 6 and a half inch thick for $8 + shipping.

    Both are great tools.  It just depends on what you're looking for.
     
  10. captainhits

    captainhits

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    I have decided on the EP Chosera set. I think it fit's my niche perfectly. There's so many good things I am reading about it and so much positive feedback about it. With that said...
     
     
  11. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    EP:  I've only done a few knifes and my EP technique is still climbing the curve.  Along the lines of "early days:"

    It's great for me when I'm doing lots of knifes.  I thought set up and take down would be more annoying than they are.  Because my coarser two water stones are long soakers (preferably overnight), it takes a lot less time to get ready.  Call overall convenience vis a vis benchstones a push.

    In terms of taking a lot of time and care to do one or two knifes, I can do better freehanding with my other kits -- especially if I add stropping on top of one of the stone kits.  However, "better" here is more academic than real.  An 0.25u diamond finish is only going to last so long under the best of circumstances; and with all of the deburring it's a helluva PITA to get there.  

    Some sort of tool and jig is the only choice if you want a very precise micro-bevel on top of a fairly precise back bevel; I'm told the EP does this well but haven't tried it yet. I mean to do it on all of the Sabatiers as soon as I'm really confident I'm making the best flat bevel the kit can do.

    The Chosera stones cut for the EP are more pleasant in use than the EP made stones and tapes; and seem to cut finer/faster than their nominal EP equivalents. 

    Looking at the various EP Apex prices and options, I think Kit 1 and the Chosera kits are the only kits which make sense.   

    BDL

    PS.  My other kits are (1) Oil stone - Coarse and Fine Norton Indias; Soft Hall's Arkansas;  and Surgical Black Arkansas.  (2)  Water stone - DMT XXC (flattener only); Beston 400; Bester 1200; Chosera 3000; and Naniwa SS 8000 (soon to be replaced).  And (3)  Strop set -- 2u on balsa; 1u boron on balsa; 0.5u CrO2 on balsa; 0.25u diamond on balsa; unloaded horsehide; and unloaded felt.  In addition I also have a worn "fine" Henckels 12" rod hone; and a HandAmerican 12" borosilicate glass rod hone.  Safe to say any problems aren't for lack of equipment. 
     
  12. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    All Chosera is a very good set indeed.

    BDL
     
  13. lennyd

    lennyd

    Messages:
    564
    Likes Received:
    17
    Exp:
    Other
    IMHO as a now ''experienced noob'' lol you, me, and most others new to all this just simply over think and complicate things way toooo much.

    I am finding that it is in part from each individuals personality etc, but also a result of attempting to find the best answer to this exclusively from opinion and review on the net

    Trying to compare stones, their performance, and all the little differences without ever using one is tough if not impossible, but also impracticle with nothing to compare with personally.

    Trust that most everything the guys here suggest is good advice (it really is) but know you really have to jump in to know what the water is like, and until you do it is all just second hand info, and not your own experience

    So pick a set out (all the stones discussed have more potential than you will likely be able to fully utilize for a while) and then get busy! After a couple times around your set you will be much better preparred to discuss any additions since you will have a base to compare with

    Also I really like my 6k arashiyama/tekano sp? For all kinds of reasons you will understand soon after using any of these stones lol.

    Just do it!
     
  14. joostbaksteen

    joostbaksteen

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Home Chef
    If your still looking for a beautiful magnetic bar, the Mag Block might be something for you.