Sharpening talk

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by parallax1, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. parallax1

    parallax1

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Good morning.

    I was recently surprised with a Shun Kaji Fusion chef's knife for my birthday.  I love it so far!

    But here's the thing - I want to keep loving it.  Having browsed these forums often enough, I think I've heard the chorus loud and clear that a knife is only as good as the quality of care that it gets. And I'd really like to give it quality care.

    My particular question is about sharpening.  I've never been particularly adept at this art.  I was wondering if anyone might have any suggestions for some basic resources that can get me over the hump from "sorta nice" to "woah that's sharp"

    One particular thought - I have had some success using the Spyderco Sharpmaker set on much less expensive knives.  I was thinking that the ceramic would be sufficient for the very hard Kaji Fusion, but wanted to solicit some opinions of whether this set was just gadgety nonsense, and something more basic (and hopefully not too expensive) would be better for someone new to this art?

    Thanks in advance for your help!
     
  2. phaedrus

    phaedrus

    Messages:
    1,549
    Likes Received:
    120
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    You can use the Sharpmaker with some success for Japanese knives but you really can't use the corner of the rods.  In the end you'd be better served by picking up some water stones or an Edge Pro.
     
  3. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,551
    Likes Received:
    193
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    It all depends on what you want.  There are severe limits in how good a job a Sharpmaker can do.  It's also extremely slow going with a damaged or very dull knife; and small enough to make angle holding for a regular sized chef's knife or slicer problematic. 

    People frequently write that all they need is a few whacks on a "sharpening steel" and they can keep an edge "razor sharp" and "as good as it came from the factory" for years if not forever. Bless their hearts, they usually ascribe this to the (magic) quality of their knives or by implying the rest of us have absurdly high standards or are are somehow fooling ourselves.

    If they're satisfied with their system, and you're satisfied with the performance you get from a Sharpmaker, who am I to say, "It isn't good enough?"  What I can say is, "If you and they are happy, I'm ecstatic for you.  By my standards though, those things won't make a knife adequately sharp.  So, they're not good enough for me."  And that is what I'm saying to you.

    More specifically, it makes sense to consider a Sharpmaker in the same class as honing rods.  The differences are that the Sharpmaker will do a slightly better of "touching up" knives which are just starting to get dull, but won't true as well, as quickly, or as conveniently.  Unfortunately, neither does a very good job of  sharpening. 

    If you demand a truly sharp edge, there are a very few sharpening set ups which do as good a job as skillful freehanding.  A Sharpmaker is not among them.  The sets are not inexpensive, running $150 - $250.  Ish.  While it seems like a lot, I suggest viewing the cost (and the expense, time and trouble it takes to master freehanding) through the looking glass of sharpening a couple of times a week to actual sharpness.   

    A really sharp knife makes life a lot easier in a professional kitchen.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2010
  4. phaedrus

    phaedrus

    Messages:
    1,549
    Likes Received:
    120
    Exp:
    Professional Chef

    Very true.  A Sharpmaker is handy for keeping an edge, not great for making one.  Even the "coarse" stone isn't really all that coarse and it removes metal very slowly.  My dad has the diamond rods for his and really likes them but I've never tried them.  The SM basically has no real ability to remove chips from an edge.  It's more accessory than actual sharpener.  I used to have one but I sold it maybe a year ago or so.
     
  5. parallax1

    parallax1

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I've been reading some of your other posts, and was wondering if you might be able to give some advice on, let's say, some info for beginners.

    In particular, is there a resource you could suggest on learning technique, and maybe some sources for finding a starter set of stones? 

    Thanks, I'm learning quite a bit!
     
  6. lennyd

    lennyd

    Messages:
    564
    Likes Received:
    17
    Exp:
    Other
    Being new here myself I can not offer the info your looking for etc, but I just started watching these myself, and Mark does a really good job of breaking things down etc http://www.chefknivestogo.com/knife-sharpening-tutorials.html

    Hope it helps
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2010