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Looking to learn to sharpen.

Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:18 am

Howdy folks at CKtG!

I'm looking to learn to sharpen knives, and have a few questions on the bare essentials I would need to start sharpening on my own.

Having gone through all of your introductory videos, it appears that you really like the Shapton Glass 1k stone, at least initially, but your new sets use Bestor/Bestin for stones. Is either one of these better for a newbie, or is it just down to preference? I'm considering getting 1 stone at first to just see if I enjoy sharpening my own knives, and to help maintain edges on my kitchen knives.

That being said, if I was getting just 1 stone to see if I enjoy sharpening, how do you feel about combination stones? You sell a 800/6k King combo stone, and I'm wondering if that would be good for someone looking to get started.

My next question, it appears that you're sold out of the cheaper of the coarse flattening plates, but in one of your earlier videos you suggested that a sheet of 120 or 140 grit sandpaper can also be used to flatten stones. I understand that a plate is going to be the best way to do this, but since I'm working work a minimal budget at first I am not wanting to shell out the $80 for the DMT plate.

Thanks so much for your time, I really appreciate your help!

Re: Looking to learn to sharpen.

Fri Apr 11, 2014 1:19 pm

Hi David,

Combo stones are popular because you get 2 grits for the price of 1 stone. This particular King combo is easy to use and it also comes with a stone holder that works when you sharpen it as well as protecting it when you store it away. I recommend it. http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kingcombostone.html

There are others on the site but at that price it's hard to beat.

Re: Looking to learn to sharpen.

Fri Apr 11, 2014 1:30 pm

That's a good place to start to see if you catch the "fever". Sharpening can be an expensive endeavor, best to now if you have the interest before making the investment.

Re: Looking to learn to sharpen.

Sun Apr 13, 2014 5:51 pm

A combo stone would work perfectly fine, but just to give an alternative perspective...

Stones last a long time. So whatever you buy first, could, in theory, be the only stone most home users would ever NEED (want is a different question :roll:). For that reason, I might not get a combo stone because while they are OK, many times a single grit stone will be a better stone for the money. If your edges are in OK shape, and don't need extensive repair, a 2k stone can do a great job touching up edges and, as a workhorse in most progressions, would give you great feel for freehand sharpening.

As far as what brand, the Shapton Pros and Glass stones are generally well regarded. I use a 1k and 2k Nubatama Ume speckled stone that I like quite well. The Naniwa Aotoshi (Green Brick) is very highly thought of for its reach within a progression and its value for the money.

The coarse sandpaper idea is a good one to keep the initial investment lower. In the long term, a diamond plate would be cheaper than a lot of sandpaper, but you don't need to swallow all the cost at once. You will need to find a flattened surface to mount the paper to to keep the stone face true. I use a block of granite counter top material that I picked up for free from a counter fabricator when one of their work pieces broke.

This is not to dissuade you from a combo stone, just give another approach.

Re: Looking to learn to sharpen.

Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:23 pm

After seeing Ken's recommendation in another thread of only using a 1k as beginner and then reflecting on his wisdom. I have to say that after thinking back to my own journey into sharpening that I'm in total agreement that if you are unsure if sharpening will be for you just get a good 1k stone to start. I have recommended hard splash n go stones for beginners before and I think I may now be even more entrenched. :o I'll try to keep my thought process as concise as possible, but forgive me if I get bit long winded.

I started out, way back when, with a King combo stone and never got the results I was looking for. That's not to say that the King isn't a good stone because it is. However, as a new sharpener I expected it to cut much faster than it did and as a result jumped from the low grit side to the higher grit side way too soon. Having a single stone eliminates the desire to jump ship too early. Another issue with combo stones is cross contamination, i.e. getting coarse grit on the fine grit side is always a potential hazard.

To me the beginner stone is easy to use, produces good results quickly, is budget friendly and teaches good habits. To this end stones requiring soaking FAIL. Sure, once your experienced and looking for certain results soaking is a tolerable inconvenience, but for the beginner anything that takes you out of the moment of is not ideal. Time and desire are fleeting, it is important not to be taken out of the "I want to sharpen" moment by soaking times. Splash and go stones also dry faster so there is less concern about accidently putting a stone away wet and finding it cracked the next time you go to use it. The stone must cut fast, in my mind there isn't a 1k stone that cuts too quickly to recommend to a beginner. New sharpeners are often impatient to see results of their work, I know I was, the faster they get results the better. Producing similar results each time you use the stone is important. Playing in the mud is fun, but mud manipulation is another variable that changes stone characteristics and ultimately distracts complete focus, from where it should be, on proper technique. Soft stones are a bit more forgiving in that you can get away with being a little less perfect in your angle consistency... However, they will have a tendency to gouge if you wobble. A hard stone won't gouge and let you know quickly if your angles are consistent with some shiny and some dull spots along the edge. From someone that learned the hard way, trust me when I say it's easier and less frustrating to learn good technique from the start than to relearn later. If you want to go to softer or muddy stones later on in your own sharpening journey the transition is much easier once you have developed proper technique. Keeping a beginner setup budget friendly is important. A large investment up front can be intimitading and prevent a beginner from ever taking the leap. A lower price tag also leads to the user feeling less pressure to produce results. The higher the cost the more pressure there is to produce. Feeling pressure causes tenseness, which is simply not conducive to sharpening. Sharpening should be relaxing and enjoyable, you will often hear members talk about their own unique "zen state of sharpening". Don't forget sharpening is a journey. Take your time and enjoy the ride!

Now for my stone recommendations:
Shapton 1k glass - fastest cutting 1k(I have tried), works well on every steel, not as much physical feed back as some other stones, but has distinct audible feedback http://www.chefknivestogo.com/shgl10gr.html
Shapton 1.5k pro - Doesn't cut as fast as the glass, but still fast, works well on a most steels, has great physical feedback, better than the 1k glass or 1k pro(imo) http://www.chefknivestogo.com/shaptonpro1.html

Other items that are nice to have up front, but not required:
Stone holder - Some form of stone holder is nice. They keep your stone in place and the extra knuckle clearance is nice to have http://www.chefknivestogo.com/stoneholders.html
flattening plate - You can get by with just sand paper(make sure to wash the stone thoroughly after to avoid particles being left on the stone), but I would recommend putting your e-mail in to be notified when it's back in stock. They are easier to use, provide good results and will save you money in the long run http://www.chefknivestogo.com/140grdistflp.html
Magnifier - Really hard to actually see what is happening to the edge with one of these http://www.chefknivestogo.com/magnifiers.html

Re: Looking to learn to sharpen.

Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:53 pm

Great points Mark!

I will say when I moved from the King Ice Bears to the Nubatama Ume Speckled (a hard, fast cutting stone) I immediately wished I had started there.
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