Shapton’s “glass” ceramic sharpening stones get a lot of publicity, and rightly so. The Shapton glass stones are thin, light, and are “splash and go” stones that do not require soaking. Shapton glass stones have uniform surfaces that do not dish rapidly, and are fast cutting. They are easy to use and reduce time needed to sharpen a knife. Simply put, they are excellent sharpening stones. Moreover, for most purposes, you can maintain a sharp edge on a knife with only two of the Shapton glass stones: the 1,000 grit and 4,000 grit stones.
The Shapton glass series does have one major drawback. They are glass, and are more prone to breaking if dropped than many other sharpening stones. Therefore, it is simply not practical for a chef or culinary student to carry Shapton glass stones in a knife kit. Shapton offers a solution to this weakness of the Shapton glass stones–Shapton Professional Series sharpening stones.
Shapton Professional Series sharpening stones, sometimes called Shapton “Traditional” stones, differ from other synthetic, and from natural, water stones. Shapton Pro stones are made with a unique high quality cutting medium that wears far more slowly than aluminum oxide and silicon carbide that are found in other synthetic water stones. The Shapton Pro stones are dense “splash and go” stones that do not absorb water and do not need to be soaked.
Shapton Pro stones utilize a unique binding medium which is carefully engineered to reveal sharp new cutting media for efficient stock removal while retaining some of the worn media, which provides a simultaneous polishing effect. This balance results in a sharp high quality edge with less effort than other stones require. Shapton Pro stones range from 120 grit to 30,000 grit. Moreover, unlike natural stones, the grit is constant throughout the stones, and throughout the series. In addition, Shapton Pro stones don’t dish as fast as other stones of similar grit, and therefore don’t need lapping as frequently to maintain a flat surface.
Each Shapton Pro stone is 5/8” thick and has a 8-1/4” x 2-3/4” working surface. Each stone is has a unique color and a matching ventilated plastic box that protects the stone during transport, and which also serve as stone holders for use during sharpening. In short, Shapton Pro stones are light, durable, and easy to transport. Moreover, Shapton Pro stones are competitively priced. Thus, Shapton Pro stones are an ideal addition to any knife kit.
Of course, you don’t want, or need, to carry the entire range of Shapton Pro stones in your kit. Any knife kit is incomplete without a ceramic honing rod, like the Idahone, which should be used regularly to maintain a sharp edge. By adding one or two Shapton Pro stones to your knife kit, you can have an incredibly versatile kit.
The first Shapton Pro stone that you would ordinarily add to your kit would be either the 1,000 grit or the 1,500 grit stones, which are considered medium grit stones. A medium grit Shapton Pro is useful for making minor edge repair and maintaining a high quality edge. This can be a “one stone” solution. The 1,500 grit Shapton Pro seems to work better with carbon steel knives than the 1,000 grit, and the 1,000 grit seems to work better with stainless steel knives than the 1,500 grit. Therefore, if your kit includes at least some stainless steel knives, then your “one stone” will be the Shapton Pro 1,000 grit. If you have only carbon steel knives in your kit, then the 1,500 grit is a better choice for your “one” stone solution.
You can increase the versatility of your kit even further by adding the Shapton Pro 5,000 grit stone, which is considered a fine grit stone. The 5,000 grit stone is normally used as a finishing and pre-polishing stone. Quick repair or sharpening of an edge on a medium grit stone, followed up by finishing on the 5,000 grit Shapton Pro, should be the only sharpening that is needed for your knives over significant periods of time (assuming that the knives in your kit are sharp to begin with).
I have used the Shapton Pro stones quit a bit in recent weeks, and have found them to be an excellent addition to my kit. In fact, I love the Shapton Pro stones. For less than price of most quality knives, you can add the Idahone ceramic honing rod, and two Shapton Pro stones to your kit, and do all but the most serious sharpening “on the go.” You will be happy, and well served, if you add a Shapton Pro “one-two” punch to your knife kit.
For the Idahone Ceramic Honing Rod (get the leather sheath) go to http://www.chefknivestogo.com/id12cerodwna.html
For Shapton Professional Series sharpening stones go to http://www.chefknivestogo.com/shaptonpro.html