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 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:45 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:28 pm
Posts: 512
+1 on what Atang said and
+1 on what Mikey's Deli said.

I started sharpening by free handing because I was not aware of the EP and not aware of most topics related to knife sharpening, I just knew there was something in me that I had to pursue. I ended up with the EP Pro and then eventually became enlightened on the beauty of freehand sharpening.
Using the EP made me a better freehand sharpener, it is a wonderful device and one that builds layers of confidence and thrills you with what it can do to a knife edge. (even the EP Stock stones :) )
However, like the other good folks here said, there is nothing more satisfying than sharpening on a water stone, the magic lies behind the fact that in a very short learning time you can have sharp knives but even after many years those knives just keep getting sharper and sharper as you learn, learn on your own and from people who share their knowledge on forums like this.

As atang said, there is just no wrong answer here, no wrong choice. I free hand 90% of the time but there are certain knives, like a birds beak paring knife or some boning knives or an ulu that I find I can do a better job on the EP. Also, hunting and tactical knives are done on my EP.


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 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 11:58 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:17 am
Posts: 4210
I'm a freehand junkie with absolutely no interest in jig systems. It is all about personal preference though.



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 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:29 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:29 pm
Posts: 111
Hello, everyone.

I have just registered and now I am able to post. I am the person whose question appeared in the first post.

First--my deep thanks to all of you who so generously gave your time and brought your experience to the table to help me. You do not know how much you have already given me.

A little on where I am coming from, and where I am trying to go...

The "coming from" part. I have a collection of knives that to the casual observer might make little sense. "Eclectic" would be a kind word. Some came from places I worked (that huge discount drew me to tools I might not have bought on my own) and some came from travels. I have 8" and 10" basic forged SS chef knives from E. Dehillerin in France....Deglon Grand Chef. From old work places I have Shun Classic knives (they no longer sing to me) and Zwilling Cronidur. All the Shun and Zwilling were bought at huge discounts. A few years back I bought a MAC Mighty Gyuto. The thinness surprised me after all the bigger beasts, but this seems to be my new direction. I reach for it more than any.

Because I found a little chippiness with the MAC, I moved to a research project involving cutting boards and got one that I love from Boardsmith. But that took me down a new rabbit hole. I spent a week researching knives (and realized that, despite the post-midnight hours at the internet, I was only at the tip of the knife-knowledge iceberg). Going forward, I still want to edit my knife collection and I will certainly be back here for advice and enabling!

But the surprise path for me involved sharpening. The more I read and the more I thought, the more it seemed that the next direction for me should involve sharpening instead of knife buying. I can indulge myself with more interesting knives in the future, but first I need to consider how to make what I have the best that they can be and then use that learning as I buy my next knife. OK, knives. Plural.

I loved every response. I have to admit to being a sucker for Mike's Deli and the "what is wrong with wanting it all" philosophy.

For now--I would love thoughts on the best freehand starter collection, given the knives that I have at the moment. I still like the Edge Pro. Pluses--using it will be like going to school, and will start me on the learning path that will likely lead to freehand. Cons--it seems a little fussy and my first impression (bolstered, no pun, by a comment here) was that the stones were surprisingly small. I am open to (a) starting with the EdgePro and evolving to freehand, or (b) just jumping to freehand.

After my exhaustive post....if you were me, a few more thoughts on what to buy first? Oh--and what about honing?

Later we can get to knife recommendations!!!! I want to move forward from the MAC Mighty. But as a first step, I am diverting the knife budget to the sharpening items.

More than anything, thanks again for your incredibly generous contribution already!


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 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:55 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 6:20 am
Posts: 1824
Stones can be a very subjective thing. One stone may "feel" great and produce a great edge in one persons hands, and be uncomfortable and ineffectual in another's. That said there are a few things to think about.

1) A lapping plate is nice, but not typically used for sharpening knives, mostly for stone maintenance. The Atomas (typically the 140 grit for most stones) are generally regarded as best, the DMTs (extra-extra-coarse) are less expensive and very good, and there are several off brand plates that can get you by, but it is probably worth saving up for one of the other two. You can flatten on sandpaper, but since you already have a sizable knife collection, it is reasonably to assume you already have the itch and a lapping plate is something you will probably want. I would get the best that feels comfortable to your budget.
2) Shapton Pro and Glass, and Naniwa Chosera are all very highly regarded. The Nubatama range offers more variety and flexibility than pretty much any other range, I own the Ume 1k speckled and Ume 2k speckled and highly recommend them. Other stones like the Naniwa Superstones, Arashiyama, and the Imanishi lineup all have fans and will get your knives sharp. All will get the job done but only some will make you happy to use them.
3) I like to aim for a 2x-3x progression. So 500, 1k, 2k, 4k, 8k or 300, 1k, 3k, 9k etc. I do not like bigger jumps like 1k-6k because it takes time to work the 1k scratches down with the 6k. Right now I am using a 1k, 2k, 6k for knives.
4) The core of a sharpening set up is the 1k-5k range. If an edge is not damaged you can easily start on a 1k stone and finish in the 4k-6k range with an awesomely sharp edge. If you need to repair chips in an edge you will appreciate having the 300-500 grit stone. Higher than 6k in kitchen cutlery is fun, but does not really improve performance much.


So,

I recommend you get a lapping plate, per your budget.

Then I would consider whether you will need a coarser stone to fix any of your current knives. If there are no big chips in your edges, then get a two or three stone progression between 1k and 6k. If there are chips, get a coarse stone too.

As far as brand, it is nice to have a full set as there can be some headache with stones that don't play nice together, but I would risk that and mix and match so that you can learn more about stones and how YOU prefer to use them. So something like: 1k Shapton Pro, 2k Nubatama Ume Speckled, 6k Arashiyama. Or whatever, play around.


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 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:48 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:28 pm
Posts: 512
You'll agonize over the decision for a bit, that's one of the fun parts, what stones to get. You will be safe is you have 3, a coarse, medium and fine stone and Cedarhouse has given some great direction. Keep it simple, a 3 stone setup is enough to produce great edges.
As for honing..... I have a different view thansome others on honing. Instead of purchasing a honing rod, either in steel or ceramic, you could use your finishing stone to maintain your knives. Think of it as a rectangular hone, you can keep the knives deliciously sharp this way. Just a thought but if you do prefer the idea of a hone, go ceramic.

As for the decision about the EP...you could agonize over it for a little while longer but at the end of the day..............go for the stones and a product to keep them flat.


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 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:08 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:00 pm
Posts: 2389
@LaVieestBelle - Just a few additional thoughts.

Background: I started with the EP Apex Essentials set, plus the 2 sided DMT 2x6" diamond plate. I subsequently added some EP strops, an Angle Cube, an Atoma 140 EP plate and a couple other items. I've been acquiring full size stones and learning to free hand sharpen for about 9 months now.

EP Apex (or Pro): The EP shortens the learning curve significantly, but it's no gimme. You will still need to develop skill and the EP and the various stones/strops/compounds available make for a lot of nuances to learn and grow your skill on this guided system. You can quickly create some very sharp edges on your knives and really learn how sharp edges feel and how they perform ITK. There are users here who push the EP system to new frontiers and create some (as Ken Schwartz put it) SPECTACULAR edges on their knives.

The down side to putting together an EP Apex solution like the EP Essentials Set, 2x6 diamond plate, a strop or two, and the Angle Cube is your startup costs will run up to $300 pretty quick.

Stropping and basic touch ups on the EP are not quick, run and gun scenarios. I find stropping on the EP a PITA to setup, set the correct angle, etc. just to strop a knife edge a few times for maintenance. Free hand stropping is a much quicker proposition IMO. Personally, if you do the EP, I would recommend using free hand stropping techniques/tools.

Free Hand: You can start with a good basic stone set, stone holder, basic diamond plate, and strop or two for around $200. IMO you won't need an Angle Cube. You'll have a wider variety of stones available than on the EP. Here is one example of a setup that covers coarse, medium and fine stones.

Nubatama 150/1200 combo stone - $60: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/nubacost15.html
Suehiro Rika 5K stone - $50: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/suri50grst.html
Stone Holder/Plate/Strop set - $60: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/stsetwiunhob.html
3 micron (about 5-6K grit) Dia-paste compound for the balsa strop - $13: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/didico3.html
OR
1 micron diamond spray for balsa or leather strops - $20: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/1midisp10cah.html


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 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 1:41 am 

Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:57 pm
Posts: 152
I can feel I'm about to get shouted down again, but the Sharpmaker with UF stones is pretty good for day to day maintenance. You're not tied down to the 15/20 degree angles of the holders - flip the base, set the stones on it and it becomes a flat stone. Roughly 8K grit, instant setup, no faffing around with water or oil. They also make freestanding stones from the same abrasive if you're afraid you'll catch redneck gadget cooties from it. Strop on your jeans or some newspaper afterward if you want, or not. I'm not your father.


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 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 1:55 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:24 am
Posts: 328
atang wrote:There isn't a wrong decision here.


I agree with this.

Ask yourself, "What would be more fun for me?" I dont think you can go wrong. If I'm not mistaken, you can free hand on EP stones. Narrow, but functional.

Mowgs


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 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 2:40 am 

Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2013 6:34 pm
Posts: 87
Cool thread! I was asking myself the same question not so long ago. I was initially really attracted to the more zennier path of freehand. The only problem is I also want my knives to be sharp. My first couple of tries actually made my knives duller. So I dropped the $ on an ep. That actually had a little bit of a learning curve too, but I was able to get my knives sharp. I also like that you can set the exact angle with the angle cube, write it down in a notebook and always know where to set it in the future.

Since then I've actually gotten a few freehand knives pop a hair or two. I figure I'll keep at, and hopefully at some point my freehand will surpass the ep knives and I'll sell it or something.


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 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2014 3:54 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:29 pm
Posts: 111
You are all awesome. When I have more than a few moments I will try to respond individually. For the moment, answering the kind poster who said he knows of no knife sharpeners in Japan who use an Edge Pro-like system, let me assure you that I am light years away from that status! I had to smile, since rather than being a professional Japanese sharpener, I am just a not-so-young, klutzy lady in the Midwest who is trying to learn something new. I did enjoy the perspective-giving posts about just having fun....

To all of you who made me smile, laugh, think harder, and at times grow more confused (in good ways)--my thanks. Every one of you has brought great stuff to a complicated table--and I hope you keep adding your thoughts! I have (do not laugh) actually written down every suggestion and started a little Excel sheet. I am copying your comments into another file that I am calling The Sharpening Book. Subtitled Romancing the Stone.

I am at ease with the idea that this is a growth thing and that I will not get it right the first time. Heck, when I started this research my only understanding of stropping came from 1800's cowboy movie scenes in barber shops. Had no idea the practice had not faded into history! Only last night did I learn there was such a thing as diamond sprays for strops...see how far I have come? You have to know that every post here sends me into one more hour of research.

Whichever way I go, please just tell me I can't kill a knife!

The Edge Pro was so attractive initially and it still has great charm (even if it is less zen-like, as one poster said!). I am researching the other ideas--looking at each suggestion so that I can put together a reasonable first kit if I go the freehand route. I have a few weeks to decide--because of come-and-go travel plans it is not a good time to have an order sitting on a doorstep, so I can take a deep breath and digest all your ideas.

Please know that if I am slow to answer it is because every suggestion made here takes me down that long research path. As I get a little further into this, I will post some of my specific ideas and see what you all think. Feel free to keep chiming in, in the meantime.

The one good thing--I have a comfortable budget since I decided to hold off on the purchase of a next knife and focus on learning to sharpen. Goodbye Takeda! Goodbye Konosuke! Hello strops! Knives will be another topic. I was moving away from stainless and from Western handles because I wanted the pleasure of working with something fresh. But stepping back and learning to sharpen makes such good sense.

Again, my thanks for your generous help. What a great group here! Keep talking!


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