First off, I'm sorry for the long letter. CKTG is a great website and I've learned a lot just clicking around, reading and watching your excellent videos. Thanks for putting together such a well made and informative site. I've got a few questions and I'd appreciate your input.
I've been carrying a pocket knife since I was a kid and today I'd feel naked without a one in my pocket. I use my knives almost every day for some semi-harsh things like cutting cardboard, strapping, zip ties, network cables, and the occasional egg roll. I've always owned some "nicer" knives like higher end models from Benchmade, Zero Tolerance, Kershaw, and Spyderco that get very light duty if any at all. My typical daily knife is a low to mid range model from one of those manufacturers such as my current rotation of a Spyderco Manix 2 lightweight (combo blade), Kershaw Cryo, Kershaw Vapor III (combo blade), and an Opinel No. 8 carbon - all knives ranging from $20 to $60. (The steels range from the typical like AUS8, 8CR13MoV to the newer ones like S30V and powdered steel like Elmax, and tool steels like A2 and D2. ) My theory is, or was, that I can beat the crap out of them and if one gets too damaged, I'll toss it and get a new one. Brilliant, right?
Subscribing to that philosophy, I've never delved to deeply into maintenance since my typical edc knife is more or less disposable. That's not to say I don't sharpen them; I do, but I don't do it particularly well. With the purchase of a few more particularly nice knives, I decided that it was pretty pathetic of me, a guy who has stripped a vintage motorcycle down to the frame and has a garage full of tools that I (mostly) know how to use, to NOT know how to keep a tool I use every day in proper working order. I want to improve my skills.
I've been sharpening with a selection of devices. I have a Lansky Professional system, a Lansky med/fine benchstone, and a ceramic rod/diamond rod system. I haven't been very impressed with any of them and I find the Professional System with the clamp and guides to be particularly irritating to use.
A few weeks ago I put all of those aside and ordered a Work Sharp Ken Onion edition. I figured it's fast and easy and it'll do a decent job. And it does. It's a nice unit and I'm already getting pretty good with it; my kitchen knives (primarily mid range Wustofs) haven't been this sharp since I bought them. The Work Sharp puts on a decent edge and does it fairly quickly but I feel as if I'm missing something. I want more than a decent edge on my knives, I want a great edge. I want to know why it's a great edge and how it got there. Plus, I feel like I'd be a better sharpener on any system if I learned how to hand sharpen well first.
So, I need some tools to improve my skills and I've decided that bench-sized stones are the way to go. I don't need an edge that requires an electron microscope to see the tooth on but I'd like to be able to get my pocket knives sharp enough to beat up on cardboard easily and I'd like my kitchen prep knives to be able to thinly slice a tomato cleanly and my meat prep and carving knives to glide through their work. And I definitely want to be able to maintain those edges through post-use maintenance. From what I've gathered on your site, that means I wouldn't need anything finer than 6,000 to 8,000 at most. Maybe 4,000 would be enough to do the job.
I'm generally not one to start off slowly and I think that may be the case in this endeavor as well. I've taken a liking to the Shapton stones but I don't know whether I'm better off with the Glass or Pro line. Would you recommend one over the other for me? If it's neither, I'm open to any suggestions you have. Could I achieve similar results with different stones for less money? Am I asking too many questions?
Again, my apologies for writing such a long note but I didn't just want to write you a "Hi, Mark; what's your best sharpener?" letter. I hope I gave you an understanding of what I have and what I want to achieve so you'll be able to give me targeted advice. By the way, please don't feel obligated to write an equally long reply - I won't be offended at all! I'm certain you get tons of emails like mine and there's only so much time in the day.
All the best,