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
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.