Wed May 30, 2012 1:08 am
Wow, you were typing your supplemental answer while I was drafting my questions. Your explanation of your use of Nubatama Bamboo stones at lower grits reinforces my suspicion. So you prefer finishing on a natural stone instead of a Nubatama 6k, 8k, or 10k? If you want mud on the higher grit Bamboo series, theres is always a "nagura" stone. As for me, I'm VERY impressed with the Nubatama Bamboo stones, even the finer grits, and produce fine mud with a nagura stone.
Wed May 30, 2012 1:44 am
One more question. Based on the video, I am assuming that the Hakka Tomae is about an LV2.5-3 on a scale of hardness from 1-5. If so, isn't this an EXTREMELY rare stone?
Wed May 30, 2012 6:47 am
"Wow, you were typing your supplemental answer while I was drafting my questions. Your explanation of your use of Nubatama Bamboo stones at lower grits reinforces my suspicion. So you prefer finishing on a natural stone instead of a Nubatama 6k, 8k, or 10k? If you want mud on the higher grit Bamboo series, theres is always a "nagura" stone. As for me, I'm VERY impressed with the Nubatama Bamboo stones, even the finer grits, and produce fine mud with a nagura stone."
No not at all. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify this point. The sequence used depends on the goals of the specific sharpening I am performing. While the range of options in the Nubatama series is quite large - easily the most diverse of any vendor's stone portfolio, I did this hybrid sequence of natural and synthetic stones to demonstrate how well they play together. At the high range, one of the most exciting additions to this series is the introduction of the 15k Nubatama. This is a review I am most interested in doing.
The Nubatama series - both the Ume and Bamboo stones offer a full range of options - most especially in the 800-1500 grit range which I feel is most important, with a wide variety of options designed to meet a diverse set of needs. It is biased towards the knife sharpener, yet has stones that have harder formulations for example the 'spotted' 1 K Ume in three degrees of hardness for applications requiring a hard or even very hard formulation. Ot the soft muddy 1200 Bamboo which was perfect for this application. I know of no other vendor giving the user this level of customization for their stone sequences. This is particularly useful for woodworkers or straight razor users who desire harder formulations. The Nubatama stone series are also quite capable of handling integration with natural stone users, most especially with the 2k Bamboo and the newly added 3k Bamboo.
Could one go the other direction and start out with naturals and finish with synthetics? Yes, that is possible too. Within the mid range there are a number of natural stones that are recently introduced - including the Binsui, Igarashi, Tajima and Kouzuke and soon more Aotos. One could start out with synthetics to define the basic geometry of the edge with synthetics - or even diamond plates and then transition to these mid grit naturals or nakado type stones, which for many applications can serve as a final level of finish.. You have an almost endless number of choices and combinations to customize your sharpening needs most precisely.
I tend to use a hardness scale from -5 to plus five. Within that scale Hakka Tomae are in the range of -2to -3. For a polishing stone this soft it is a fairly rare stone and samples of this quality even moreso. Some of the aoto are even softer. Even for a given type of aoto the stones vary in hardness and are quantified as such by me. Thus, Kouzaki (an Aoto not the nakado mentioned above) will be available in two hardness grades, something you will not see mentioned elsewhere in the English Language sources of stones. Unfortunately the available Hakka stones have become rare enough that I can no longer cut these stones for the EP or WEPS platform. I will be able to obtain some fingerstones of Hakka tomae at this time, but again all of these natural stones have a finite supply. Think of this as a moment in time
Wed May 30, 2012 6:53 am
Regarding the topic of nagura stones on synthetic stones, I ONLY would use a matching stone or tomonagura stone - a small piece of the same stone - if at all. Typically I don't find this necessary at all. The use of cheap synthetic nagura stones is not something that I am a proponent of at all.
Wed May 30, 2012 8:03 am
I just got the 15K Nubatama Bamboo in a few days ago, and I have not had the chance to use it yet. It will be interesting to see if the 15K is as hard, and mud free, as the Bamboo 10K. I look forward to your video (and will await your video on the 3K before deciding whether it has a place between the 2k and 4K. Thanks for your help!
Wed May 30, 2012 10:33 pm
Anytime. I'm hoping to get to the 3k soon ... It should be a formulation very similar to the 2k Bamboo (We have a 2k ume now) - but finer. It should impart that natural stone like finish you see in the 2k bamboo video but finer. I think this may become a favorite. The only reason I didn't use it for this sequence was because I wanted to do a separate out of the box video with it, but it would have been an even finer stone to use as the precursor to the Hakka. Fromn the 1200 it is probably the most reasonable jump before the Hakka.
Wed May 30, 2012 11:00 pm
I agree my experience with naturals including arky's is the edges do last longer it's like haveing an edge that keeps on getting it done. Peace jmbullman
Wed May 30, 2012 11:20 pm
I don't think an edge sharpened on a natural stone lasts longer than the edge resulting from synthetics. Using natural stones is an aesthetic experience. Naturals are fun, and they do a good job. If anyone has objective data from verifiable and repeatable tests that show that an edge sharpened on a natural is better than an edge sharpened on a synthetic, I would like to see the study or studies. You can use a Shapton Pro 30K or Shapton Glass 30K to replace stropping on balsa, leather, or nano cloth on glass down to 0.5 micron, which I have done. This is not to say anything bad about sharpening with natural stones, or stropping with balsa or leather. Until we see scientific data from experiments that are verifiable, I am going to just enjoy the aesthetic appeal of naturals. It is easy to "transcend technique" and enjoy the artless art of sharpening when you are using a stone like the Hakka. In that regard, I will say that there are a number of synthetics that closely mimic naturals. The Nubatama Bamboo 2,000 grit stone, for example, is, as Ken Shwartz states, a "magical" stone. Indeed it is. I have one, and I think it ranks in the "magical" category as well. And it is synthetic.
Thu May 31, 2012 12:28 am
I seem to remember a competitor (I honestly can't remember who it was) that tried arguing that sharpening with naturals made steel harder......
I would gladly take the other side of that bet.
Thu May 31, 2012 12:38 am
Of course, aesthetic appeal has real value. I like custom handles on knives, for example. It is astonishing what a cocobolo custom handle does to a $69.00 Tojiro gyuto. I will take the cocobolo handle every time, and I will take pleasure in the appearance of the knife, and in the feel of the cocobolo in my hand, but the knife cuts the same.... All things aside, the rare Hakka in Ken's video is a natural stone that has mythical status. It is said that sharpening on the Hakka is like sharpening on butter, and that it is an especially good stone for beginners. In that regard, the Hakka is a finishing stone that is as good as it gets, and better than many naturals. Don't sell any more of them, because I want one, and will budget for the one I'm drooling over.....
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