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 Post subject: Why no spot at the "Good Stone" table for King?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:00 am 

Joined: Thu Mar 21, 2013 6:44 pm
Posts: 161
Location: Northern Virginia
Hi Guys,

Was sharpening on an EP and now use a King 1k / 6k combo stone.
I have a Bester 1200 / Rika 5K coming to see what thats like, but I have a question.

Why no spot at the "Good Stone" table for King Stones?

When I go through this forum and others, King stones seem to get comments like beginners stone, slow, mid grade, not all that good etc.

This has created an internal dissidence for me and I am hoping you can shed some light on it.

Heres the problem.

Murray Carter uses them pretty much exclusively to finish his knives and I'm not seeing anyone saying Carters knife edges are in anyway substandard. In fact, I see many people saying Murrays edges are pretty much as good as it gets. Further, when Murray entered a blind sharpening contest, he won using a King 1K, 6K, and a newspaper, this was up against a number of seasoned sharpeners, some professional, using a greater progression of what many people consider stones of far greater quality than the Kings.

On top of that, I used an Edge Pro for a while and recently went to hand sharpening on kings and am getting results at least as good if not better then the edge pro, in much less time, and I am a noob, not a seasoned sharpener.

So can you see where the dissonance sneaks in?

Where most "good" stones are treated as more or less equal and only different in how they go about getting the job done, Kings are treated as "less then" and something to move away from as quickly as possible.

Anyone got any thoughts on this?


 Post subject: Re: Why no spot at the "Good Stone" table for King?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:14 am 
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Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 6:29 pm
Posts: 1702
King stones ARE the low grade "hardware store stone" of Japan. They cut slowly and have a low concentration of abrasive in the matrix making them less effective on higher alloy steels.

Murray gets results because his knives are carbon steel and not full of extreme alloy elements that require harder and more concentrated amounts of abrasive in the stone.

The ability for one to make a sharp edge is all in his/her skill level, though that does not mean you need to use the lowest grade stone to prove a point ;)

FYI, his edge had a burr that actually helped improve performance leading to a win. Kinda cheating if you ask me.

 Post subject: Re: Why no spot at the "Good Stone" table for King?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:16 am 
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Joined: Tue May 01, 2012 4:53 pm
Posts: 333
Location: Seattle, WA USA
What counts is that you are getting good results that you find satisfactory. Who cares what other people say about them? If I call you a chair does that make you one?

 Post subject: Re: Why no spot at the "Good Stone" table for King?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:32 am 

Joined: Tue May 01, 2012 3:37 pm
Posts: 595
Location: Pensacola, FL, USA
Choice of stone is strictly personal preference. Use what works for you, and don't be concerned with the "flavor of the day".

Knives work this way, too. Chasing after the "latest and greatest" isn't necessary to have a blade that is an excellent performer.

Of course, if you want to, go right ahead and chase the "holy grail", but do so knowing it is a will'o'the wisp.

 Post subject: Re: Why no spot at the "Good Stone" table for King?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:33 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:36 pm
Posts: 3330
Nothing wrong with King Stones. Carter could certainly sharpen as well on a Chocera as he could on a's just what he's chosen to use.

I find other stones to be better for me and the way I sharpen.

I think I know the contest you mention and I don't think the use of a particular brand of stone had any impact on the outcome.


 Post subject: Re: Why no spot at the "Good Stone" table for King?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:40 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:29 am
Posts: 123
Location: San Francisco
King stones work "just fine" for basic sharpening. For that matter, so does wet-and-dry sandpaper on a hard, flat surface like a granite countertop. I've used both of those approaches to try to get friends' knives into a functional shape for them.

However, if I'm not in an "emergency" situation, I found that the King stones didn't handle the harder metals well, and that the work required at each grade step to remove the "scratches" from the lower grade seemed to be a lot greater with the King than with, for example, the Shapton products I presently use. It my guess that the grit range in a given stone for King is a lot wider than that for a Shapton or other high-quality product. I don't have a microscope or anything like that, just an impression that the King stones tended to leave a few deeper scratches at a given grade than does the Shapton.

Trying to hand sharpen Cowry-X is a challenge, no matter what you are working with, at least for me. The King stones were basically ineffective on it. At least with the Shapton stones I can get the job done.

Rick's advice about not chasing the latest, greatest thing is a good one. No matter what you own, there is something better. But, like knives, there is a huge step in performance when moving from the mass-market product to even "entry-level professional" product. From there to "the best of the best" there tends to be more subtle improvements, and generally huge price differences.

 Post subject: Re: Why no spot at the "Good Stone" table for King?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:54 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:45 pm
Posts: 2796
Location: Skype k_schwartz
Well I hope this post doesn't raise too much hell :)

First and foremost let me state the utmost respect for Murray Carter and that my comments are not meant to disrespect him in any way.

The particular contest was determined or judged by a sharpener who I have little respect for. He actually gave measurements that rated an edge as better performing AFTER it had been smacked into a board. I don't know of anyone who would suggest that board smacking improves edges :) Even this one obvious error of measurement would have given the contest to the number two contestant who used a whole series of stones (Choceras). Murray's edges were more acute than the edges of other contestants, who were told to not change the edge angle. Of course, the judge didn't even know how to measure edge angles. Murray simply optimized the edge without paying attention to that restriction (a silly restriction IMO). The judging was also designed to strongly discriminate against guided edge sharpening techniques. So edges like Mad Rookie produces would have been strongly downgraded - and IMO he produces SPECTACULAR edges. I could write a long essay on how flawed the contest was. BTW the 'judge also concluded that Murray's edge had a burr or wire edge on it too. I strongly doubt that an experienced sharpener of Murray's skill level would send in an edge to a contest with a wire edge. The judge doesn't know a thin delicate edge from a wire edge or even a burr.

Bottom line - Murray can squeeze a pretty good edge out of a King stone. BUT the final edge wasn't done on a King stone.

It was done on a strop. An edge stropped on newspaper is a very different edge from a final 6k edge, so the final sharpness CANNOT be given credit because of the 6k stone alone.

I have wondered many times just how much better of an edge Murray could have put on a knife with better stones :)

Murray doesn't flatten his stones either, but relies on selectively abrading the high spots to keep things level. I still prefer a flattened stone as do most sharpeners. And a stone inbetween a 1k and a 6k stone too.

A good sharpener can do good work with mediocre tools and a poor sharpener can do poor work with great tools, but a great sharpener with great tools who can squeeze out the performance advantages of better tools trumps either of the two previous options.


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 Post subject: Re: Why no spot at the "Good Stone" table for King?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:14 pm
Posts: 729
Location: San Ramon Ca.
King stones are certainly nothing special. But they are an inexpensive (if you shop around carefully) stone that gets the job done. Obviously there are much better alternatives at retail prices. I have seven Kings that serve me well. I really like the 1200 and the harder 6K and 8K stones. Since I'm on a seriously low budget at the moment they were the prudent choice.

Pete in San Ramon
 Post subject: Re: Why no spot at the "Good Stone" table for King?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:45 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:01 pm
Posts: 258
I'll always have a soft spot for Kings, only because the brand was responsible back in the day for turning my attention from jigs, ceramics and oil stones to Japanese water stones, and I've never looked back. That having been said, I also said goodbye to my Kings (although I keep a 1K beater around) once I learned there were quality alternatives. Ultimately, we all know you can sharpen a blade on a multitude of different mediums, including Kings. However once a person develops a passion for a certain skill set, like sharpening or playing the guitar, etc., it's not difficult to gravitate to higher end gear.

Yes I'm a fan of Murray Carter's product so my view might be a little biased, but I find it doubtful at best that Carter would submit a blade with a wire edge, especially considering that he teaches on this subject regularly. He quite simply has better edge geometry and grain structure in his steel than the majority of western cutlery. Why does Murray favor King? Because he sells them, not because they're superior.

By the way, if you've watched his latest sharpening video you'll discover that he has revised his thinking on the subject of stone flattening. FYI


 Post subject: Re: Why no spot at the "Good Stone" table for King?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:46 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:30 pm
Posts: 112
It sounds like King stones are placed at the "economy stone table" along with Arkansas stones, the Sharpmaker, Ben Dale's Silica carbide (to flatten the stones), and Bark River compounds. This is fine, but the brand name "King" suggests to me Rolls Royce or Mercedes quality, which it is not.

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