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I need a sanity check on this, please

Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:43 pm

This will be a long post but the more info I provide the better, I guess. First, my knife collection:

-- an ancient Henckels Four Star eight inch chef knife I bought in a post-Christmas sale in late 1973 that I nowadays use as a beater and to practice my terrible sharpening technique -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/he4stchkn8.html I have no idea if the steel they used back then is the steel they use today for that line. I just know it's a German stainless.
-- 240 Richmond Artifex Gyuto in AEB-L that I got just over a year ago and paid extra to have it sharpened at CKTG before shipping. I have barely used this knife... too busy to cook much this past year -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/riar24gy.html
-- Tojiro Shirogami Nakiri in White#2 steel that I got at the same time as the Artifex -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/toshna161.html Using this inexpensive, reactive little gem is what led me to take the plunge into the higher quality carbon steels. See below.
-- Shun Classic Asian paring knife 3.5" in VG-10 I got a few years back because it was crazy cheap on Amazon's Black Sunday sale that year -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/shvekn31.html
-- Wusthof Classic Ikon 5" Santoku in X 50 Cr Mo V 15 steel that my wife bought for me as a gift -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/wusthof-i ... -4172.html
-- Forschner/Victorinox 10" Fibrox handled Chef Knife in what I assume is some variant of 420-type soft stainless, again bought as a gift by my wife -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/vifi10chkn.html

Next, my sharpening gear:

-- King 1000 grit water stone (mounted on a base) bought from Lee Valley Tools -- http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.a ... 7175,67177
-- Idahone Fine ceramic rod 12" bought from CKTG along with the Artifex and the Tojiro Shirogami -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/id12cerodwna.html
-- Zwilling-Henckels ceramic rod 9" -- this is much coarser than the Idahone -- http://www.knivesandtools.co.uk/en/pt/- ... -steel.htm
-- Gatco guided sharpening system with extra stones all the way to the finest one they sell -- http://www.amazon.com/Gatco-10005-5-Sto ... cr_pr_pb_t
-- DMT sharpening guide -- http://www.amazon.com/DMT-ABG-Aligner-B ... ning+guide

I have on the way to me a maple-handled Richmond Laser 210 Gyuto in Aogami super steel -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/rilaaosu21gy1.html -- and I will probably break down and order as soon as they are released into stock a 240 Goko Damascus (not hammered Damascus) in 19c27 stainless -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/goko.html -- and after reading the rave reviews (especially from Lunatic) probably in the same order a Takamura Migaki 210 Gyuto in R2 steel -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/takamura.html . Finally, although I can't really afford it, I am seriously looking at something in the Teruyasu Fujiwara Nishiji line just so I can have a steel that hard. I might opt for the Teruyasu 150 petty -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/fujiwara4.html -- since not counting the Henckels and Forschner/Victorinox I will shortly have two 210 gyutos (Richmond Laser AS and Takamura Migaki) and two 240 gyutos (Richmond Artifex and Goko Damascus) -- no need for a fifth. I know, I know... no need really for the third or fourth either, but I've been bitten by the bug. Bad.

The more knowledgeable among you will have noticed my sharpening gear is insufficient to do justice to even the Wusthoff Classic Ikon santoku, let alone the knives I got (and am getting, and plan to get soon) from Mark and Sue. Apart from the Gatco setup (I have no idea what the grit level is on their "extra-fine" and "ultimate finishing" stones), my highest grit is the 1200 Idahone. And I really don't like the Gatco setup. It might be okay for EDC pocket knives and maybe even shorter hunting knives, but I haven't had a lot of success with it on my poor old beater Henckels Four Star or on the Forschner/Victorinox. Those knives are just too long, I guess, even moving the clamp along the blade three or four times (a tedious chore) and the stones scratch the heck out of the knife, as does the clamp, even using tape along the spine.

My best results with sharpening have been on the King 1000, but only if I use the DMT clamp as a guide. No matter how hard I try I can't get anywhere close to holding a consistent angle freehand. I wobble all over the place. Maybe one day I'll improve, but the DMT guide makes a pretty good crutch for now. The problem is that a 1000K edge is not all that impressive. I want to go to at least double that refinement.

My choice then is to get more bench stones or to go with a different guided system, the EdgePro Essential kit -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/edproesset.html -- being the logical starting point for someone who can't hand sharpen to save his life. At first I thought I wanted to go the EdgePro route, but dagnabit I want to be able to hand sharpen! However, if I really really can never learn to hold an angle without the DMT guide and have to cave and buy the Edgepro, I don't want to have wasted too much money on bench stones.

So here is what I have decided to piece together. I need you folks to tell me if I can do any better for the money and if I what I list below makes sense for the wide array of steel types I will shortly own -- all the way from HRC 56 on the Forschner to maybe 65 or so on the Teruyasu (and I'll probably get a HAP40 two weeks from now, too, hee-hee-hee)...

$60 -- Strop set (this gives me a stone holder and 140 grit flattening plate as well as the strops) -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/stsetwiunhob.html
$20 -- Diamond plate 400/1000 -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/40grdipl.html -- for raising slurry, chip repair and fast thinning and bevel setting on other people's knives
$20 -- Diamond spray 1 micron -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/1midisp10cah.html
$59 -- Latte 400 grit stone -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/la400grst.html
$56 -- Imanishi two sided 1000/6000 grit stone -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/imtwosi1kst.html

That comes to $215 and gives me a lot of very useful stuff. Just $115 of that total is spent on bench stones of three grits -- 400K, 1K and 6K. Some of you guys might have other ideas where I can save a buck here or there. Please pitch in with suggestions or alterations.

At this point I don't want to spend money on stones higher than 6000 grit. I will go to stropping if I want to refine the edge further. I think for the money it will be tough to do much better than what I put together there, but from what I have read some of the cheaper knives I own won't benefit from the 6K Imanishi, but will benefit from a finishing stone in the 2k or 3k range. As well, many people argue that the jump from 1k to 6k is pretty big, and recommend an intermediate (sometimes two intermediate) stones. Here are the candidates I have been considering --

$55 -- Green Brick of Joy from Naniwa (nominally 2K but many say it really covers 2K-4K). Apparently all my German knives will do well with this as their finishing stone -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/naao2kgrbr.html
$65 -- Blue Aoto 2K -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/blueaoto.html -- this one received some attention a year or so ago and then just dropped off the radar once people got into the Green Brick. Also, it appears there may be no grit from natural stones in it after all, from what I read somewhere. Nonetheless, I'd like someone who has worked with both it and the green brick to render an opion, if you could.
$40 -- Naniwa Super Stone 3K with base -- less of a jump from 3K to 6K, and the least expensive of the ones I am considering -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/superstone2.html
$50 -- Imanishi 4K -- second least expensive, well-regarded, a better match to the Imanishi 1K/6K combo stone, than the other candidates, perhaps? I've been told that can be a real benefit to a noob sharpener -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/im4kst.html

Or should I pay more and go Shapton Glass all the way, i.e. --

$177 -- Shapton Glass Stone set 500/1000/6000 -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/shgl50set.html
$72 -- Shapton Glass 3K or Shapton Glass 4K -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/shglst30gr1.html or http://www.chefknivestogo.com/shgl40gr.html

I realize there are no definitive answers here, but bearing in mind I totally suck at freehand sharpening, what would you pros and semi-pros advise?

On a final note, would there be any place in my new lineup for the King 1000 I currently own, or would the Imanishi combo stone (or Shapton Glass, perhaps) make it obsolete? I thought for a while of using the King as the 1K stone, and getting the $50 Suehiro Rika 5K -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/suri50grst.htm -- but the Imanishi 1K/6K combo stone is just 6 bucks more and is slightly higher grit, and no one ever seems to have a kind word to say about the King 1K stone, so....

Thanks for taking the time to read all this. You guys are the best.

Mark H.
Last edited by Mark H. on Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:05 pm, edited 5 times in total.

Re: I need a sanity check on this, please

Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:58 pm

Well you have a lot of options there but I will speak only to what I have experience with: I have a Rika 5K and love it. I haven't heard much good about the King 1K while I have heard a lot of good stuff about the Imanishi 1k/6k, but if you don't have specific issues with your King might be better served getting the Rika and just using your King for now, replacing it with another 1K later, rather than getting a 2-sided stone. Just my opinion, and someone else might say differently.

Re: I need a sanity check on this, please

Sun Feb 16, 2014 3:54 pm

I agree with estayton, Get the 5k Rika and get the 2k Green Brick for the German stuff. Buy a new 1k later and you'll have a better idea what you want and what to look for if you want to add a higher grit stone and even a lower grit in the 320-500 range. You'll be getting an itch for strops by then too! Don't get to much to fast, you may wined up with a lot of stuff you don't like. It also gives you reason to purchase more later! :D

Re: I need a sanity check on this, please

Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:16 pm

We all want to be purists in our endeavors. But a man's gotta recognize his limitations, and if you're really poor at freehanding, admitting it is the first step. There is no shame in the Edge Pro game. The kit you selected was perfect. (Maybe boost the low end with an Atoma 140 and/or a Nubatama 150.)

Of course you could still practice your freehanding, but the EP might make you not care.



Re: I need a sanity check on this, please

Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:17 pm

King 1k and a 2k Green brick make a great combo. Add a 400ish grit stone for repair work and you would have a good set.

Not holding a consistent angle is simply lack of practice and proper guidance. Trying to fight for too perfect of a angle can make things worse though, we are human not machine so a bit of angle variation will always be there. Learning to work with it instead of against it will make angle control a afterthought instead of your first thought.

Re: I need a sanity check on this, please

Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:33 pm

I agree with the above. I would get the strop set you first linked to, which will give you the flattening plate you will need plus the stone holder and the strops to play with. I would skip the diamond spray. I'm more of a fan of boron carbide, but you can wait on this stuff for a bit. I would also get the green brick and the rika. You can continue to use your king, but you are correct in that it will probably collect dust in the future. The 400 latte would be a good stone in the future and you can go from this to the green brick and skip the king 1000 altogether. Since most of your knives are new you could wait to get this stone for a bit. You've put a lot of thought into what you may want. I would start with what you can afford and not think you've got to get it all at once. If you need to save some money, instead of the strop kit, just get the flattening plate, or go the cheap way in the interim and use wet /dry sandpaper on a piece of glass to flatten until you can afford to upgrade.

Re: I need a sanity check on this, please

Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:05 pm

Id go avainst the grain here.

Buy an EPP , a basic set of upgraded stones , with a flattening plate.

This will leave you with a precise way to learn the basics of sharpening. Learning about burr formation , geometry , finish , scratch removal. You can then use the EPP to teach yourself to precisely freehand. Once you start getting it down freehand then you can upgrade to some fullsize stuff. Or be perfectly content with EP like i am.

Re: I need a sanity check on this, please

Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:18 pm

Watch this video from the master, Jason, to see a good technique.

Re: I need a sanity check on this, please

Sun Feb 16, 2014 10:13 pm

Jason B. wrote:King 1k and a 2k Green brick make a great combo. Add a 400ish grit stone for repair work and you would have a good set.

Not holding a consistent angle is simply lack of practice and proper guidance. Trying to fight for too perfect of a angle can make things worse though, we are human not machine so a bit of angle variation will always be there. Learning to work with it instead of against it will make angle control a afterthought instead of your first thought.

Bingo! Keep it simple to start. Add whatever else you may need going forward.

Re: I need a sanity check on this, please

Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:16 am

The King 1000 is SLOW; I had similar issues with my 1K/6K combo King stone, which was my first stone. I went with the Bester 1200/Rika 5K setup and my edges improved. The faster stones work quicker, and are easier to keep a consistent edge bevel on. The Kings took forever, which led to wobbling more on the stone. They are also fairly soft and gouge easily, too.

Strop set is good for $60, base, flattener, strops to remove burrs, etc. I normally just strop on the bare leather, no slurry's or compounds/pastes. Get the strop set!

Latte 400, Nubatama 1K Ume Medium, Rika 5K is an awesome set for $174:

Alternate set of 3 would be the Bester 500, Bester 1200, Rika 5K, runs around $150 for the 3. The Besters are slightly faster/harder than the Latte/Ume, but the Latte/Ume feel smoother and leave a little nicer finish with less deep scratches. The Besters also stay flatter a touch longer, too since they are a bit harder, but also load up a little more (need more water during sharpening).

Any way you cut it, the Rika 5K/Strop on bare leather edge is AWESOME for general kitchen prep on a wide variety of steels in Japanese knives. Stupidly sharp and clean cutting, with some tooth to the edge for better slicing. Most people won't NEED to go higher in grit than this. Rika is also great for touch ups, too.

So for under $230, you get a set of 3 stones, base, flattener, and strops for deburring. Add in the Green Brick for the German stuff and you are still under $300. Green brick is good for German stuff, but I try to avoid sharpening those if possible :)

Synthetic Blue Aoto is nice, but soft and muddy. Works good for kasumi finishes if that is your goal, but isn't really needed in many sharpening duties. I have 2 real Aoto's and prefer the real thing to the synthetic aoto.

Diamond stones will often leave very deep scratches in the blades, especially the coarser stones, so I try to avoid them except in stone flattening duties or extreme repair duties. Harbor Freight sells a 4 sided diamond block 200, 300, 400, 600 grit for like $15 if you insist on diamonds.

So Strop Set, Green Brick and one of the two 3 stone setups (Latte, Ume, Rika or Bester 500, 1200, Rika 5K) would pretty much take care of any knife that you would need to sharpen.

Get rid of the King, Gatco and the coarser Zwilling ceramic rod; you won't need them anymore :)
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