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Natural stones vs synthetic

Mon Jul 02, 2012 3:50 pm

Is it better to use a combination? A few synthetic stones (e.g. 400 grit/1000/3000/5000 and then a higher grit natural stone as the final finishing stone) and one natural? And is there any reason why one might prefer a natural stone over a synthetic (I'm assuming as a finishing stone)? Does any one use only natural stones to sharpen/polish their JP kitchen knives?

Re: Natural stones vs synthetic

Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:55 pm

It's really hard to generalize with naturals..

Naturals tend to give a hazy finish which some people really like but I don't usually find that naturals perform any better than a good synthetic.

Some people also like naturals because they're interesting, cool looking and well natural. It's fun to sharpen on a stone dug out of a mountain like people have done for thousands of years and have it work. I have a ohira tomae that I use quite a bit from time to time and use it as my final stone before I strop. I like it.

Re: Natural stones vs synthetic

Mon Jul 02, 2012 7:34 pm

For carbons, there isn't in my opinion a better match than naturals, (unless resetting bevels which rates a 400 grit) And since naturals aren't the same throughout the edge is a lot better in my opinion.

Re: Natural stones vs synthetic

Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:30 pm

I guess it's a personal thing in the end. Do you want some haze on your blade or not. Does it matter if you're sharpening/polishing as they did hundreds of years ago...etc.

I suppose being totally new to stones...I'll just start with 3 synthetic and work on my technique. Maybe buy a 400/1000/5000 grit stones. Maybe make a strop. Don't see myself paying $50 for a leather strop.

Thanks guys.

Re: Natural stones vs synthetic

Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:49 am

I think if you're just starting out sharpening synthetics are the way to go. It's only when you really start drinking the kool aid that you will get tempted by the naturals.

Re: Natural stones vs synthetic

Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:19 pm

And that's the other thing. I might not, as you put it, ever "drink the Kool-aid". I don't think I'll want to spend any more time than I have to to get my knives sharp/polished. But you never know...


Re: Natural stones vs synthetic

Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:26 pm

If you get involved with kasumi and or single-bevel knives you'll probably wind up with at least one high-grit natural to bring out the contrast between the hagane and jigane. Nothing else will do.

Re: Natural stones vs synthetic

Tue Jul 10, 2012 6:35 pm

I would have to say that you should also not discredit the strop. I bought the combo balsa and leather strop kit from Mark and just like he said it really finished off the edge!! For me it was completely worth the cost. The base and the magnetic backed balsa and leather makes things very easy.

Sure you can strop on a ton of stuff, but for my $0.02 worth, it was worth the money!!

Re: Natural stones vs synthetic

Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:29 pm

For me I started out on synthetics as do most. They tend to be simpler to understand. But the opposite argument could also be made - after all synthetic stones are a more modern recent addition to the tool set. For most knife owners, especially of carbon steels, you could get by with sharpening on a natural aoto for a pretty wide range of tasks.


Re: Natural stones vs synthetic

Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:16 am

I have personally become a natural convert and would be more so if I could afford them, don't get me wrong I will never get rid of my shaptons, naniwas, choseras, and the like because yes they work extremely well and do cut faster, but I have never made any bones about it I grew up useing arky's and will still use them till the day I die on an old sabatier in my op they can't be beat, but i am a follower of the old path from stones including my j-nats to my arky's to my extensive line of synthetics as mark will attest too. Their is something about taking my haslinger which is exclusively sharpened on j-nats and is razor sharp thing u know I am cutting with a newer style knife and used stones the samauri could have used 1000 yrs ago ain't it cool. But for the harder metals the naturals get out up and the big boys come down no bones about it. Peace jmbullman
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