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Ceramic rod vs stones.

Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:04 pm

Hello everybody! I'm new to the obsession. A working line cook/chef of about 18 years now, I always worked in restaurants that had a knife sharpening service, and some pretty lame, but none the less sharp knives, at least on delivery day. Well, at me latest job, they had a bunch of victorinox chef knives for my use, but I had to sharpen myself. I have learned to get a basic decent edge, but am sure I have a lot further to go. I want to buy my own set of working knives, and some stones.

My question for here is, if I buy the idahone ceramic rod listed at 1200 grit, is there any point in buying stones with a higher grit rating, or am I pretty much just gonna be working at the 1200 grit zone day to day. I plan to bring the rod and a knife or two to work with me and leave them in my locker until my weekend when I will bring them home to re-sharpen them.

Thanks for any input!

Re: Ceramic rod vs stones.

Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:21 pm

I used spyderco ceramic benchstones for many years along with various other types of ceramic sharpening tools. They all work but I would not recommend using them too often or at all. Ceramic is very hard which is good for sharpening a high alloy steel but its hardness and rigidity are also its downfall. Being so dense and hard makes it push back on knife steel causing excessive levels of plastic deformation at the apex of the cutting edge. The issues become worse with harder steels where the "pushing back" can cause chipping and fracture of the edge and that's really not good.

I'm not one to really believe in steeling a edge as its affects tend to be much worse than the benefits. (Ceramic rods are abrasive but will perform much like a hardened metal steel)

Re: Ceramic rod vs stones.

Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:29 am

It doesn't take it all the way down to 1200 grit in a few swipes, but it does take it down somewhat(especially stainless). I liked my knives off a 5k stone, no strop at a pro kitchen(unless I was just playing around), because the quality of a stropped edge doesn't last longer than a day, and I wasn't getting paid enough to devote time to sharpening every day.

I think the Shapton Pro 2k is an excellent stone for a pro kitchen--it is fast, hard, and no soaking. It comes with, and stores in, a compact base, and it has holes in it so you don't have to let it dry, just clean it off and put it away. It puts a satisfactorily polish on a knife for a pro kitchen.

A diamond plate would be helpful for both repairing damage, and flattening the stone, but it takes a long time to wear it down.

Anyways, the Idahone rod will eventually take over as far as grit, but not instantly. So I'd say there is definitely no reason to go like "1k>3k>6k>10>strop>strop" if you are going to maintain it on a rod, but don't stop at 1200. That is basically when I sharpened my knives--not when they got dull, but when the edge got down to the grit of my rod!

Re: Ceramic rod vs stones.

Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:19 pm

Thanks for your advice. Burkecutlery, so What you are saying is that the rod will straighten and remove burrs, but not remove the edge with a few strokes? Jason, I'm afraid you are beyond me. I catch the grasp of what you are saying, but after years of steeling a hard steel/carbon knife multiple times daily to keep the edge as shapr as possible until the next "knife day" Its hard for me to understand your point. Its just something I haven't learned much about yet. I hope to.

Re: Ceramic rod vs stones.

Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:59 pm

Back to your original question, using a rod is good for touching up your edge while at work. You can bring back the edge over and over again but after extended use you will notice the edge doesn't come back. That's when it's time to take it to your stones and grind a new edge. A ceramic rod is not a good tool for this.

Many of us use strops instead of rods for quick touch ups but they're not as easy to use in a busy commercial kitchen.

Re: Ceramic rod vs stones.

Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:47 pm

The rod is just for touch up not for a complete sharpening job it uses are limited by the edge that exists already and if the edge is trash the rod might actually make it worse. You might have to learn to sharpen and it is a fun and very good thing to know how to do so you won't be stuck in a situation with a restaurant without a sharpening service. Or you could simply mail the knifes off to a pro for a real edge which has been properly thinned and appiied. Peace jmbullman
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