Question and advice : Whetstones and Ceramic Honing Steel

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by kickling, Jan 30, 2015.

  1. kickling

    kickling

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    Hi guys,

    I have been looking around these forums for a while and I'm impressed with all the positivity that members are willing to provide, what a great community!

    I've just swapped all my cheap home depot steel knives with Japanese ones over the past few months. All VG10 core, ranging from Tojiro DP to a few Gekko Damascus and Tojiro Flash/Senkou. Now That I have my knife block full, I am looking to learn to sharpen and hone them properly ... so far, being new knives they aren't too bad. I mistakenly convinced myself that buying a Global Minosharp 3 Wheel Ceramic Sharpener was all I needed, but I'm increasingly finding that the edge doesn't hold long ... time to do this properly!

    After much research, I think as a newbie, I will need 3 stones to start with?

    1x low grit (200-300) for fixing chips/nicks/re-doing the edge + use for flattening other higher grit stones

    1x medium grit (1000) for sharpening

    1x high grit (5000-6000) for removing burrs and polishing

    My first question is, do I also need a honing steel (I just bought a ceramic DMT CS2, without really thinking about stones) if I will already own a 6000 grit stone? i.e. does the 6000 grit stone do the honing for me? I'm guessing the ceramic steel is more about accessibility/quick access versus setting up a stone every time?

    Secondly, if anyone could provide opinions on brands/models ... there are just too many reviews out there, but I am after the best value kit for a beginner without breaking the bank. I am thinking something like :

    1x KING 220 Grit

    1x KING 1000 Grit

    1x NANIWA Super Stone 5000 or SHAPTON (KUROMAKU) 5000

    Thirdly, I have seen items like the KING Combi 1000/6000 and SueHiro Combi 1000/3000 ... but am I right is saying that it's probably worth investing in individual stones in terms of life you get out of them? i.e. you will wear down the 1000 grit heaps faster than the high-grit side, leaving you with an odd size/shape "leftover" stone?

    Really happy for any advice. I want to do my new knives some justice!

    Cheers in advance everyone!
     
  2. zefir68

    zefir68

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    Hello,

    Congrats on the new knives!

    As for the sharpening stones - Since the knives are new, if treated well, you won't need a low grit stone for serious re-profiling. Unless you start buying knives on eBay and refurbishing them as a hobby (which happens to way too many people that frequent these forums). I have been using a combo 1000/6000 stone for almost a decade, own about 30+ kitchen knives, plus many more for woodworking. Keeping all of those in working shape, plus sharpening for friends and neighbors and the stone is far from being worn out. I regularly flatten it with the Norton flattening stone for waterstones and I anticipate many more years of use before either side is worn out. Make sure the flattening stone is truly flat when you get it, I got an uneven one at first and exchanged it.

    The honing steel and the fine grit stone do not serve the same function. To hone is to straighten out the microscopic teeth that are part of the cutting edge. This action prolongs the time that a knife is usable between sharpening. When honing is not enough anymore to give you the sharpness that you desire, then sharpening to create a new edge is necessary. If you sharpen every time, I think you will wear out the steel much faster than necessary.

    Enjoy the knives!
     
    jaygermeister likes this.
  3. rick alan

    rick alan

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    I also use an inexpensive 1/6K combi, mines a bit muddy so I don't know as it would last 10+ years as millions uses it.  I have heard the Iminishi is a very good combi.  What are you using Millions?

    The thing with combi stones is most are 7 instead of 8", not a big deal really.  For quality and price in a set you can't beat the Geshin 3 piece set, much the same as you specified for grits, 400/2000/6000 http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/sharpening-supplies/gesshin-stone-set.html   These cut very fast, much better than the typical combi.  They also have a full-sized 1/6K combi, it is pretty thick and would likely last you forever and then some. http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/sharpening-supplies/gesshin-1000-6000-combo-stone.html   I'll disagree with Millions and say that a good course stone will eventually be needed for thinning, so I'd go for the set.

    I haven't gone the route yet, but if you eventually desire an even more refined edge then I think a loaded strop could be considered over a finer stone.  Right now I am using a fine Arkansas, which is probably around 12K for finish.  It's OK for VG-10 and the relatively soft steels I have, I wouldn't recommend going out and buying one though.

    For steels the usual rec is either a 12" Idahone or a polished/packer's steel.  A strop, loaded or not, is another option, a loaded strop arguably being the best, though either not necessarily the most desireable for yourself. I use the rounded edge of a fine Ark, again, I wouldn't recommend going out and buying one special.

    Rick
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2015
  4. kickling

    kickling

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    Thanks guys, lots to think about!

    Just one question on using the honing steel... the DMT Ceramic steel I got says it has about 2000 grit. Does this mean that it will wear away the polish I achieve by using say an 8000 grit stone, the more I use the steel? Or is it such a small amount of wear that it's unnoticeable?

    I am also considering an electric knife sharpener option (e.g. Chef's Choice 120) but I read that it strips a lot of metal off each time?
     
  5. kickling

    kickling

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    Ok, so after some intense research, I think I have shortened my (new) list ... hoping I could get an opinion on Naniwa Chosera and Shapton Pro and their grits.

    I found this page which is extremely useful in showing grit number versus result. At the end of the day, I basically want to (1) re-bevel/sharpen, (2) clean-up edges, then (3) polish.

    http://www.wickededgeusa.com/grits-comparison-chart-for-the-wicked-edge-sharpener/

    So I am now thinking these three, given the size of the stones and micron ratings :

    - Chosera 800 ... happy to pay a bit more versus the Shapton Pro 1000, you get a 25mm thickness as opposed to 15mm thickness of the Shapton which I think is important since this is my workhorse.

    - Chosera 3000 or Shapton Pro 5000 ... the Chosera is about 40% more expensive??! What would you guys choose considering the Shapton Pro 5000 has a lower micron level but appears to achieve the same result?

    - Shapton Pro 12000 ... it's the same price as the 8000 grit, so I might as well get it assuming the jump isn't too big and assuming I only can choose one or the other... thoughts?

    Thanks so much again guys!
     
  6. rick alan

    rick alan

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    I've never used one of the ceramic steels, but from others comments I am under the impression that the Idahone anyways is smoother in effect than 3K grit.  A polished packers steel or, if you can part with $100 and one becomes available, there if the Hand American borosilicate rod if you do not wish to affect the polish.

    Steeling with what is also my finishing stone takes care of the problem for me.  You can also strop using your 12K stone, which is really the better solution.

    Shaptons Glass stones cut very fast and dish very slow, the only complaint I hear is poor feedback feel, but this doesn't bother many.  I don't know anything of the pro series.  I'd still recommend the Geshin set if they are restocking any time soon and shipping isn't a problem, and add the Shapton 12k, which is likely comparable to the Chocera 10K, you could even go Shapton 15K.

    This Grand Unified Grit Chart is helpful

    http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/856708-The-Grand-Unified-Grit-Chart

    Rick
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015
  7. millionsknives

    millionsknives

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    I have gone through the expensive way of upgrading and I have King 220/1000 and 6000 stones, left at my parents house.  They're smaller, so you can sharpen less of the knife at a time, and they cut slower.  If you're not mindful of your sharpening, you might oversharpen areas or not, but that's true on any stone.  If you have the skills, this set will work fine for gyutos and other double bevel j knives.  Don't even try to sharpen a junk steel on King, you'll go crazy.

    My current total set of stones, all 8"x3" except the gesshin stones slightly longer:

    Suehiro 300 grit dual density (soaker)

    Shapton pro 1000 (splash and go)

    Shapton pro 2000 (splash and go) -maybe unnecessary but it is good pre polisher and cuts as fast as 1k of other brands

    Gesshin 5k (splash and go)

    That's where I stop for most knives.  Save your money on higher grit stones. I don't think your edges will be improved much going past 6k on VG-10 steel double beveled knives.

    I have 8k and 10k Ohishi for yanagiba and straight razors.  The razor also gets natural stone finishing.

    Yeah you need some type of coarse stone.  A good slow dishing coarse stone will save you time and money when you do thinning and repairs.  You'd wear out your other stones doing this stuff.  Additionally, every knife I buy starts on the coarse stone, whether they're previously owned and sharpened by 'experts' or fresh from the factory.  The only exception has been knives from JKI.  The bevels that Jon puts on those are good to go out of the box.  Good, even, crisp, not wavy bevels.

    I don't have a ceramic rod, I just don't like the idea of all that pressure coming in on the side of a knife.  Finishing stones are good for touch ups until they stop working, then you have to do real sharpening.
     
  8. spoiledbroth

    spoiledbroth

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    I dont think home users need steels. 220 is a very low grit for a new sharpener. I would be exceedingly careful using that stone because it will cut quickly. Get something to true your stones as well!
     
  9. kickling

    kickling

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    Thanks guys again, really appreciate it.

    I forgot to mention I did already order a King 220 stone as well. I'll use this to flatten the other stones, and I might also get a diamond plate (or go budget and get some 3M drywall fixture plates)

    So for my vg10 knives there's no point going to a 12K Shapton pro for final polishing?

    If that's the case I might just get the Chosera 800 and Shapton 5000/8000.
     
  10. lennyd

    lennyd

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    Wanted to add that when looking at grit numbers or ratings etc that there are three different standards organizations that may be used when a manufacturer is rating the abrasive or coarseness of their products

    There are sizable difference in the American, European and Japanese systems, and the actual micron size of the abrasives used within similar numbered grits.

    I have not looked at this in a few years, but remember from a post I did previously that the JIS (Japanese industrial standards organization?) tolerance were requiring more closely sized particles resulting in a more uniform grit across the stone (or paper or whatever abrasive being used etc).

    This was something that used to confuse both the industrial and automotive collision industries and still does because the results from using similar grits that are based on the different systems produce very different results.

    Sure the bonding media and other things greatly effect things as well, and it is not always as easy to determine what system is being used add toy would think, and I have even found it sometimes difficult to get good answers from the mfg on what micron size is actually used as well.

    Also if your like me all the research may be helpful but until you get to use a particular stone and make your own decisions etc it is a lot of fluff and marketing.
     
  11. kickling

    kickling

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    Lenny, yeah I know what you mean! I was set on getting a King 1000, then changed my mind to Shapton pro 1000 then Chosera 800 but until I try it I will have no idea.

    There's so many good and bad reviews you can't seem to just shop and hope for the best. For example I saw heaps of reports to avoid Chosera because they crack easily. But then it also happens to the Shapton because of the magnesia...and because of soaking and drying, almost put me off both brands until i read into it more.
     
  12. kartman35

    kartman35

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    1. Don't use a steel on J-knives



    2.  Be sure to check out the knife sharpening playlist made by Japanese Knife Imports.  Easily the most comprehensive sharpening tutorials you'll find on youtube.  

    3.  If you don't mind spending a small premium for quality stones, the Gesshin line-up from the aforementioned vendor are not only hard to beat, they come with support from a very knowledgeable and super approachable helpful guy.  Here's his 'First stone setup buyer's guide and sharpening product line-up' video.



    I have no affiliation with Jon other than as a satisfied customer.  I have several stones from him and I can tell you that the level of care that goes into packaging your items in itself is worth  a few extra bucks over what you'll find elsewhere.

    My recommendation to start sharpening is a Gesshin 2k, a fat sharpie and a flattening plate.
     
  13. kartman35

    kartman35

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    Absolutely there's no point in going to 12k on your VG10 knives.  You're gonna want some bite on those kitchen knives.  12k is a reasonable stopping point for a straight razor way overkill for a kitchen knife.  8k is going to run all over your tomato skins too.  For most kitchen tasks even 5k is going to be too much polish for some of your knives to still have bite.  At a certain point the more you polish the edge of your knife the less well it's gonna cut.  For me the only time I'm going higher than 5k is to polish the secondary bevel of a knife with a shinogi line(getting the scratches off the blade face after thinning). On most of my knives if I go past my Gesshin 2k the blade doesn't want to dig into bell peppers and starts sliding around and that's including a white steel Sakai Yusuke.  My process now is to raise a burr on both sides with the 2K, and then just a light deburring on my Suehiro Rika 5K.  The only blade that I do a whole polishing on the 5k is a 63HRC semi stainless Heiji.  When I tried the 8K on the Heiji I found it cut less well.

    If your goal is to push cut paper, then have at it and polish away.  If you want to cut food, you'll want a whole different kind of edge for that.

    Have fun shopping and playing with your new toys. 
     
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  14. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Well some of us have different feelings about polished edges.  A polished edge maintains its keenness longer than a toothy one, and is much better for fine slicing.  Whereas the toothy edge will provide some "breadknife effect" which [may] extend useful life of the edge, a home cook certainly does not require this.  The fellow at ZKnives who has done so many excellent reviews always uses an edge polished to the max for his typical 4 hour prep sessions.  And whereas A tomato skin may resist a pushcut from a polished edge after it has seen some use, the most imperceptible pull on the blade will drive it through like nothing.

    Rick
     
  15. kickling

    kickling

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    Wow, thanks again guys. I never even thought to think about the actual application of a super polished knife versus an adequately polished knife (super fine edge vs toothy). Obviously being kitchen knives I want to use them for food prep, but now that I think about it my cutting is usually a slice action apart from my santoku which I use a chop-chop action. Maybe I should sharpen/hone them differently to suit?

    In any case, I'm guessing if I super polish them and it feels like it's not so good at cutting anymore I'll have to hit the lower grit stone and rough it back up a tiny bit.

    Seems like lots of people recommend the Gesshin set, but I'm trying to get a good value kit at mid-range price and reasonable longevity. Being in Australia, shipping a set of Gesshin from JKI is going to be (most likely) a tad expensive, whereas I could order Chosera and Shapton Pro from Japan (330mate) direct for cheaper ... no offense to JKI and everyone's helpful recommendations, I do appreciate it all.

    I guess I'm still torn between 220/800/5000/8000 kit or 220/800/5000/12000 kit... or maybe don't even bother with the 8000 or 12000 stones.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  16. ajb temple

    ajb temple

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    You have already had some great answers.  I will give you a personal perspective.  

    I have a Chefs Pro 15/20 ...and would not dream of using it on my best knives.  Work stuff that others may use, then fine.  

    Having had a couple of combi stones used on my mass produced "Japanese" knives, I recently bought Naniwa Professional 400/2000/5000/10,000.  I use these (and a leather strop on my best knives, which I bought personally in Japan.  Most of these knives are single bevel blue steel rather than VG10 or stainless.  However I also have a couple of Misono UX10 (Swedish steel, made in Japan).  

    I intended to buy a white Naniwa 8000 but as I live in the UK and had to import from Germany, stock problems prevented this purchase for now.

    My experience is the low grit very rarely needs to be used, but is helpful at times.  The 10,000 is absolutely great for getting a fine polished edge and makes a huge difference on the single bevel blue or white steel knives.  Essential.  Not sure I need go finer than this as I can easily shave the hairs off my arm with these.  

    Interestingly, on the Misono and similar knives (stainless basically) I find the 10,000 stone exceptionally hard work (it takes ages) and I find it hard to persuade myself that it noticeably improves the edge.  I also have a 6000 grit from another brand (can't recall - King I think) but find the 5000 naniwa pro is superior.  

    The naniwa stones are basically wet and use: no soaking.  I use a stone holding clamp, but they are fine on just a damp cloth on a board or piece of granite (whatever).  Personally I find the combination stones a bit of a pain to use and for a serious knife guy and long term use, I would just get decent single grit stones on day 1.  

    A leather strop is cheap and makes a difference.  

    I have a plain steel honing rod to reset the edge.  Rarely do I use it on good knives as it is so quick to wet a stone and give it a couple of strokes, that I tend to do that.  

    I have also used ceramic rods in the past.  These will take metal off (as you will see by the marks on them) and I think they give more of an illusion of a doing something useful than anything else.  If you put a medium (5000/ 6000) and fine (8000/ 10000) out and give the blades a quick run over quite frequently, you will never have a dull edge again.  For perfection (paper cutting displays or whatever) a stop and paste is a good finishing routine.  

    You don't need to worry about it much for stainless, but with carbon drying the knives is a key part of the routine as well.  Good luck.  

    AJ
     
  17. duckfat

    duckfat

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    Frankly that's all you may ever really need. Unless you intend to do a lot of re-profiling you will not need a coarser stone. I can't imagine being with out either a Chosera 800 or 1k.

    You will need to soak the Chosera. It' is not a splash and go stone like the Naniwa SS. Based on what you've posted I think you could go for years and be very happy with just the 800 Chosera and a 5K Naniwa SS.
     
  18. lennyd

    lennyd

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    I totally understand, and i dint think anyone made stone choice more complicated than I did (just look at my threads here lol).

    Only other suggestion I can think to add is that going from 800 to 5-6k can be a large gap and force a lot of extra time on the finer stone due to having to remove the deeper scratches etc.

    I have found that though sometimes it is more than others depending on the steel and actual size of the scratches being removed but I have found reducing the gap by having another stone in between grits indispensable.

    Plus in my case the 2k Shapton glass is also great on pocket knives and others that don't really benefit from going higher.

    An example is the VG10 spyderco
     
  19. kartman35

    kartman35

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    I think it's a compromise between toothy and polished, and it's important to realize that for general kitchen use (and I'm excluding yanagiba here) there is a definite point of diminishing returns when it comes to fine grit polishing.

    Be very careful with that polished knife.  It will go through your skin like butter, and may slide right off your bell pepper/onion/tomato and into your finger.

    When I first got my sharpening kit after reading up online I bought a Bester 1k, Rika 5k, and a Gesshin 8k.  Off the 8k the bevel looked gorgeous and push cut paper great and shaved my arm better than I expected.  Couldn't figure out why I had so much trouble cutting up vegetables.  I bought balsa strops and loaded them with diamond spray, and the paper cutting improved and the food cutting worsened.  This was a Sakai Takayuki AEB-L gyuto.

    Since that time I replaced the Bester 1k with a Gesshin 2k and find that on most of my knives my overall cutting performance for general use are plenty polished enough while leaving enough tooth.  For a dedicated slicer and my super hard Heiji, the Rika 5k does the job.  In my opinion, if you're trying to save money, skipping the 8k stone altogether is worth considering.  If you must buy a fourth stone, I would consider getting something in between the 800 and the 5k, not as a stepping stone, but you may want to not even go to 5k on some of those knives in the OP.

    More video fun

     
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  20. duckfat

    duckfat

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    You do indeed need to soak the 800/1k Chosera if you want it to perform it's best. It's not a splash and go stone. The only thing you do not want to do with a chosera is leave it on an extended soak.  They are not intended to be permanent soak stones.

    I find about 20 minutes is about right for the 1k. If you want splash and go stones from Naniwa then you want the SS's.

    The only Chosera's you really need to be careful soaking are 5K +.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015