Very Basic Sharpening Set Request

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by bcycler, Apr 29, 2010.

  1. bcycler

    bcycler

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    I have read threads until my head is swimming in trying to determine the best way to get started on quality sharpening. I got to this point for several reasons, a new stove and cookware along with a freinds son demonstrating the Cutco knives.  I'm not here to debate Cutco but out of the box they are pretty sharp compared to the run of the mill kitchen fare floating about my house.
     
    I've made attempts at sharpening using the Chef's Choice 110 I purchased many years back, along with a Henckles steel and another ceramic "steel" but I've never been very happy with the results. I can get knifes to the point of slicing paper but I know they aren't really sharp and they never stay sharp for long.

    I have one Henckles Friodur 6" and the same in a paring knife, along with Victorinox paring and the general assortment of misc. knives most all of them 30+ years old. After much reading some of the problem in staying sharp relates to my habits and on the sharpening side I've completely missed out on honing which seems to be my biggest mistake.

    Eventually I'll get some new knives but for the moment, using what I have to get started developing honing skills seems like a reasonable path.  So I'm looking for the very basics and here's what I'm thinking, maybe the Norton waterstone set which has everything, DVD, two combo stone 220/1000 4000/800 and the flattening stone.

    Or another way to go would be to buy the Sharpton 120 conditiong stone and the Bester 700 and 2000 stones. I know this wouldn't produce a fine edge but again I just want to get started in the right direction and I don't tink it's going to take a lot to make me happier than the results I've gotten with what I've tried so far.
     

     
     
  2. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Sharpening is a very personal, and very steep slippery slope......


    Generally, there are three things that everyone can agree on:

    1) The Bevel must be consistant

    2) Durability of the edge is proportional to the fineness of the very last stone you've used.

    3) Each system, or choice of abrasives  has it's pros and cons.  There is no perfect system.


    My humble advice is to choose a system that is fairly cheap--the Norton Waterstones are such a system.  Use this system untill you are familiar with it--at least a year or two.  If you don't like it, fair enough, try another one,--but then stick to that system for another year or two before you go on to another one.

    Shaptons are lovely, wonderfull stones--especially in the higher grits, but they are pricey, and if you decide you don't like them, or don't use them enough to warrrant their cost, then you feel  bit put-out.

    Norton and Shapton have very good DVD's and information.  Another source of information is the woodworker's angle:  These people are just as crazy and passionate about sharpening as cooks, and use the same materials, and they have a wealth of information as well. 
     
  3. bcycler

    bcycler

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    A slippery slope indeed when I hear "stick with that system for a year or two", Wax on - Wax Off if you remember the Karate Kid Movie.

    The constant bevel, freehand is what has me concerned the most but I have also read about using guides and the problem existing there in the form off reclamping to the exact same spot for a consistent bevel.

    As to price Amazon has the Norton system for $119.00.

    At EasttoolWest.com  (Just looking for price references) has..
    The Shapton Conditioning stone is $23.00
    The Bester 700 is $40.00
    The Bester 2000 is $65.00   or  Shapton 2000 $70.00

    With the exception of the included DVD the two "sets" aren't terribly different in price. The Norton has the advantage of more grades of while the created set has the appeal of thicker stones for lots of practice and lapping as needed (I have some chisels I'd like to sharpen too). So bearing in mind that I'd still need to pick up enough sharpening information either by buying a DVD or just off the Web, is the 2000 grit fine enough to get a good usable edge.

    As long as a two stone system is OK I guess I'm worried less about a really fine edge because until I get the mechanics down of producing a consistent bevel I don't really have anything good to polish anyway.

    Thanks for the information. It's much appreciated. - Gene  

    ps. either way I'm not giving up cycling for wetsones, well at least not until next winter.
     
  4. foodpump

    foodpump

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    2000 grit is an "inbetween" stone.  Remember, the finer the grit, the longer teh edge retention.  Most woodworkers and knife sharpeners got to a minimum of 4000, and many go to 8000.

    "sharpening" by L. Lee (of the Lee Valley) is a good book that give a lot of information on basics and mechanics of sharpening, but the section on kitchen knives sucks. CIA (culinary Inst. Amer.) has a good book on knives and knife techniques as well.   Lee valley (www.leevally.com) has a very good selection of abrasives and sharpeing jigs as well.

    And now it's time to fine tune my bike, an all-steel Pinarello with that old school 8 spd gruppo of that Famous Italian mnfctr which is pronounced "Dur-Ache"......
     
  5. bcycler

    bcycler

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    Foodpump I won't go too far off course here. I'm leaning towards the Norton set as I think it offers the best chance for beginner success at a reasonable cost.

    Pinarello makes some fine bikes! I have a steel touring bike (steel is real) but the Klein is a 9 speed aluminum with a little carbon thrown in. Climbing up from Portland to Crown Point and the Vista House at the Western end of the Columbia Rive Gorge is my idea of therapy!

    Sorry for the long link below but it's a nice picture of Crown Point from Sunset magazine if curious.

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl...a=N&rlz=1R1GGGL_en___US313&ndsp=20&tbs=isch:1
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2010
  6. kristopher

    kristopher

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    For controlling angles I have had great success using a protractor to draw 11 degree, 15 degree and 20 degree triangles and then cut them out of cardboard. It only takes a short time and then I use it it check the angle I am holding my knife when I place it on the stone. I have no problem holding the knife at a consistent angle at all only knowing what exact angle I am using by looking. 
     
  7. mrsparkins

    mrsparkins

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    I have to sharpen the knives at school once a week (roughly speaking). We have a FURI sharpener and it makes it a lot quicker than using a stone. I like it for a couple of reasons: a) it's quick and easy to use and I have between 60-80 knives to sharpen a week, b) I don't have to pay a tonne of attention to the angle of the edge c) my year 12s are slowly getting used to being able to use it, and WH&S wise, it's a lot safer than say a steele or the stone. They're pretty cheap, but durable. I've had mine for a few years and I've had no complaints. You can even get them from Amazon these days. www.amazon.com/Furi-Ozitech-Diamond-Fingers-Sharpener/dp/B000F8SIOW
     
  8. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Just don't use a Furi sharpener with good knives.

    BDL
     
  9. bcycler

    bcycler

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    Thanks for all the good informaiton and ideas. I will get a set of stones sometime in the near future but today I got distracted and was out spending money on garden plants instead.

    Mrs. Parkins At 60 to 80 knives a week your interest in time savings is very understantable. I've not run across the Furi sharpener, I'll have to take a look.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2010
  10. mikelm

    mikelm

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    BC-

    You might want to at least take a look at the Scary Sharp system which uses silicon carbide "sandpaper", a sheet of glass, and a small jig to hold your knives at a selected angle.  It's primarily  for woodworkers tools, but works very well for kitchen knives with a knife-holding jig...

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=scary+sharp+system&aq=f&aqi=g1&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

    and

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=scary+sharp+system&aq=f&aqi=g1&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

    It doesn't just work "well" it works like crazy, and the cost is minimal.

    Mike
     
  11. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Most of the people I know (including me) who have sharpened kitchen knives on sandpaper, ala scary sharp, find it problematic -- especially with longer knives.  The biggest issue of all is most papers clog  too fast.  

    Furthermore, sharpening "scary sharp" does nothing in terms of the single aspect of sharpening most beginners find most difficult -- that is, holding a constant angle You can (of course) use an angle holder but they really aren't consistent across knives of different widths nor are they consistent for knives with a lot of belly (arc), and they're very erratic with most tips.  

    On the other hand, "scary sharp" lets you get to extremely fine grits relatively inexpensively.

    Unfortunately, there's no easy, inexpensive, consistent, and efficient way to sharpen that will not mangle your knives.  Nor, for that matter, is there any single best way for everyone.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2010
  12. bcycler

    bcycler

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    I've made a purchase and it's a compromise. I bought the DMT W6FP (fine) and the DMT W6EP (Extra Fine) Diamond whetstones along with a Woodstock 1000/6000 grit watestone.  They just came in today so nothing to report about usage. I know the fine is only suitable for basic profiling of a knife but I have some chisels to sharpen and it's reported to work well for flattening a waterstone.  

    The extra fine diamond stone has good reviews on Amazon for general sharpening and as I don't own any really good or great knives it will let me practice without the expense of killing a waterstone.

    When I get a reasonable edge I'll have the 6000 grit portion of the waterstone for finishing. The combo waterstone will let me compare the extra fine diamond stone against the 1000 grit part of the waterstone. Let the games begin :)   
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2010
  13. bcycler

    bcycler

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    Well, after an hour of playing around and not getting very far I found the    WesAtCarterCutlery  video. It's amazing when you are shown something incorrectly how long it can propagate in your life.  After watching the video I found out... you draw the knife to you not push it against the stone and life started to get better. To me it seems to be significantly easier to keep a constant bevel drawing the knife.

    I do like the waterstone better than the diamond stones but the "fine" diamond stone does work very well for lapping the waterstone. I also used the fine stone to profile out the end of a paring knife that used to have a kink in the tip. How much I'll use the extra fine diamond stone remains to be seen but it's still very early on in the process.

    The end of the current evening's activities is I have some sharper knives, maybe not really sharp but I have exfoliated well and the underside of one arm is noticeably lacking in hair. After a slow start I'd call it a reasonable beginning.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2010
  14. prairiechef

    prairiechef

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    There is simply no subsitution for water stones and practice.

    With a good edge at a proper bevel created through proper sharpening, all that is required is a steeling of your knives every time you pick them up.

    Sharpening by hand is an art form, and in my opinion is an essential skill for a cook.

    Back when I was in cooking school, my instructor used to say "sharp knife, sharp student".

    When I was an apprentice, my Chef used to check our knives whenever we used them... if they weren't sharp, we sharpened them until they were acceptable.

    Now? I judge my cooks by the state of their blades.

    No pride in the knife, no pride at the job.

    There are several resources out there for knife sharpening. You can find many just through google.

    There are "systems" that work, but like all things in life, when you do something by hand, your pride grows in relation. This is cooking... one of the basic trades with it's roots in simplicity. Keep it simple. Besides, sharpening my knives is a wonderful Zen experience.

    Final note... sharpening cheap, crappy knives is simply an excercise in frustration.
     
  15. bcycler

    bcycler

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    I didn't take time to mention it last night but I was using a strong magnifying lens to look at the result of the blade after sharpening (it wrong) and could unhappily see the double bevel caused by the inconsistent angle. It gives an appreciation of how fine the point of the blade becomes and with the magnification used it was easy to see how imperfections in the steel of the blade will affect the final outcome. If you don't have good metallurgy you won't get a really sharp knife.

    Regardless, unless you are a person of limitless means life is a series of compromises based in part on need. My needs as a home cook are not as demanding as the professional chef but I am sure over time I will upgrade some of the knives.

    MikeLM thanks for the suggestion even though I didn't read it until after making the purchase. I've had other distractions for the last couple of weeks, including replacing the hard drive on this computer. I appreciate the input but think I would have still went the with buying the stones. From my perspective a jig would allow a nice constant angle for the shaft but for the angle to be consistent the jig would have to be clamped to the same exact spot each time the knife is sharpened (unless you made a jig for a specific knife) and the curve of the tip still has to be dealt with. Developing the art of sharpening seems a better option as it can be applied many places as needed.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2010
  16. prairiechef

    prairiechef

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    Forgive me, I was not trying to say that you have to run out and buy new knives... quite the contrary. I actually suggest practicing sharpening on "lesser" knives first... as long as they're not total garbage "housewife" knives to begin with (with apologies to the very many talented cooking housewives out there... it's simply an expression).

    Once your confidence grows, those beautiful knives you always wanted don't look quite so intimidating.
     
  17. bcycler

    bcycler

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    No need to apologize, I didn't think otherwise. I was just saying that my knives aren't inspiring, the best I have is a couple of Tridents and a couple of Henckels and nothing very upscale in those.

    Were you around when years ago PBS ran a series called Connections which traced the root of something modern back to it's inception.  My current adventure reminds me of that show. I'm here because a friends son came over to demo Cutco knives which renewed my interest in figuring out how to sharpen a knife well which led me Chefs Talk, resulting in buying a waterstone....and eventually a few new knives.

    It's always eye opening when you really start to look into a topic. 

    - Oh and on Mario Batali's Q-A response, I just bought the Splendid Table cookbook. I didn't see that one coming from a Cutco Demo!
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2010
  18. bcycler

    bcycler

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    As I get drawn further into the morass, the urge to get a couple of knives grows. What I don't want to own, at least at this point is something so fragile I'll mess it up or something expensive (that of course being a relative term).

    I'm looking at the Tojiro DP 210mm Gyuto and 120mm Petty knives. I've read some reviews about the DP series being pretty good value oriented knives.

    I'm not looking for a life commitment, just a reasonably, inexpensive place to jump in. I can get both for a little over $120 including shipping. I'm happy to hear any thought on this direction. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  19. bcycler

    bcycler

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    I pulled out the Henckles last night and took another run at sharpening. I bet that newbies like me provide a constant source of entertainment with all the mistakes we make.

    I think I figured out that it doesn't make any difference which direction you stroke the knife as long as you do it well, with a consistent angle. During the several hour process I did have a lot of questions come to mind, i.e.

    Should I drop back to the 1000 grit stone?

    Should I be using more pressure or less pressure?

    How many strokes does it take to bring back a neglected knife?

    Is this really an aerobic exercise?

    Will I have to start wearing shorts or become ambidextrous if I run out of hairs on my left arm?

    At the end of the process, which is not yet complete I'm thinking even though I've managed to shave a few hairs my mind keeps going back to a review I read on the Tojiro DP this is a paraphrase, "I learned to brush food off the blade differently because I quickly found what the Tojiro touches, it cuts".

    So the Henckles is sharper but not even close to sharp yet, how sharp can I actually get it?

    ----

    I did write JCK last night to ask about the Tojiro DP and received an amazingly quick reply from Koki, especially considering the time of day...

    Thank you very much for your inquiry and interest.

    We apologize we don't carry and sell Tojiro items. About 3 or 4 years ago, we had to discontinue Tojiro items.


    Anyone know why JCK stopped carrying Tojiro? Koki did make some other recommendations for knives in the $100 range which I've put in abbreviated form below.

    JCK Original Kagayaki VG-10 Series at
    High Quality Control, practical use,  stainless steel VG-10, famous for sharpness, edge retention and easier to resharpen.

    Basic and classical design, we can also recomend Kagayaki Basic Series   VG-1 High
    Carbon Stainless steel can make great sharpness and edge retention,

     

    Misono's reasonable range Molybdenum Steel Serise

    Amazingly sharpness and cutting performance, practical shape of Kanetsugu
    Pro M Series


    So many choices, so little to spend.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  20. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    BCycler,
    Yes.  You are.
    Right, by and large.  The limitiation is there because there are few, if any, absolutes.
    As a general rule, if you notice a problem, the solution generally lies at least one stone coarser.  Most sharpening errors result from an uneven bevel with high and low spots.  If you aren't already using "the Magic Marker Trick," you should be.  
    Beginning sharpeners should use no more than light to moderate pressure on the coarse stones and no more than light pressure on their finer stones.   Later, you may want to use more pressure and a faster stroke rate.
    Depends on the stones, the sharpener and the knife.  I can take most knives from very dull to very sharp in about fifteen minutes if they're not badly damaged or don't present any other special challenges.  I sharpen very fast, and use short and back and forth strokes for profiling and sharpening.  I'm use slower longer strokes when polishing.  I'm not sure how many strokes that would represent.  
    Much sharper than it came from the box; but there are limits to the edge you can put on German stainless.  Considering that you haven't been sharpening all that long, I doubt you've reached them.

    BDL