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Jan 25, 2009 01:00 PM

Help! New knife, but I'm intimidated by honing.

The two good knives in my kitchen are a 10" Messermeister Elite and an 8" Shun classic (chefs.) But I just checked my steel, and it's grooved. So now I'm looking at the cost of a new steel or stone. I'm scared to mess up my edges, though. I'm thinking about returning the new Shun, and buying a Tojiro DP plus a sharpening stone? But I don't know what kind of stones I'll need, and the cost I should expect?

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  1. you have some nice knives. Your choice is the easy route or the more complex route. The easy route is to have them professionally sharpened maybe a couple times a year and hone them on a ceramic rod. The more complex route, and some will say more gratifying, is to learn to use stones to get them really sharp yourself and hone on either a ceramic or smooth rod.

    1. The best advice I can offer is take a look at Norton water stones.

      A 1000/4000 combination stone should be all you need to sharpen you're knives. Use the 1000 grit side to sharpen the edge followed by the 4000 grit side to polish the edge. It will set you back about $50.00.

      You'll also want to get a Norton water stone flattening stone. Water stones wear and become uneven, this tool will allow you to bring the sharpening stone back to true. This will cost about $25.00

      My last bit of advice... By an inexpensive knife at the hardware store or super market, use this knife to develop the skills needed to sharpen your knives before putting an expensive blade to the stone.

      There's allot of information and instruction on sharpening knives on the internet, read as much as you can.

      I have two sets of these stones, one strictly for kitchen cutlery, the other for plane irons, chisels and other wood working tool.

      1. Personally I would dump the Shun, and get the Tojiro and sharpening stone IF budget is your main concern. Otherwise keen the Shun but spend the $50 and get the Norton 1000/4000 stone as mentioned above. Personally, I don't think the flattening stone is necessary...yet.

        Once you get the hang of using the waterstones, just touch up your knives every now and then on the 4000 grit stone and don't use a steel at all. For German knives with softer steels you may find you need to hone or use your stone more often.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Cary

          Steeling your knives before each use will straighten the cutting edge, this insures the edge is in the best possible condition for use, increases the time between sharpening and lengthens the life of the blade.

          1. re: Demented

            There are too many threads about this topic already, but it suffices to say that the necessity and practicality of steeling before every use depend on a LOT of factors.

            In general, for German (or equivalent) soft-steel knives, steeling before every use makes sense.

          2. re: Cary

            LOW BUDGET?

            While shopping around for a new knife I found a nice japanse knife website with good directions on how to sharpen a knife. I decided to give it a shot and save an old but decent knife that needed sharpening that I like the size and feel of. I was surprisingly successful first try EVEN with a cheap old worn crooked stone. Later I used the sidewalk as a flattening stone to hone my old stone flat so next time I get a still better edge.

            I also use one of those pull through "sharpeners" with ceramic honing rods to hone the knife and I haven't resharpened it much since. ...too lazy I guess, plus the knife still works so much better than anything in the house that I've given up on buying a new expensive knife.

            I do advocate a bit of patience and being in the right state of mind to sharpen a knife properly, especially the first time. Following the japanese knife sharpening directions carefully like a good little beginner really worked for me though.

          3. Jay, I hope I don't offend you. It is certainly not my intention to do so.
            You obviously don't know what you are doing and you yourself admitted as much.
            Return the Shun if you can. You don't need two chef's knives at your stage of learning.
            The Messer will do everything the Shun will do and is more forgiving to a beginner.
            Japanese blades are very brittle and will chip easily.
            Steel your Messermeister before each use and you will be fine.

            4 Replies
            1. re: billieboy

              hey, billie. The Messermeister is not mine; it is just in my kitchen. The Shun is mine (though returnable.) The Mssr will leave my kitchen in a few weeks. It might come back in a couple of months and it might not.

              My stages of skill in usage of the knives and in skill of sharpening don't have anything to do with each other, IMO. You might disagree and consider sharpening to be integral to usage. But I think that one can get pretty proficient at knife skills if one always had a magically sharp knife.

              1. re: jaykayen

                I was afraid to say what was on my mind. Please don't take offense. Sorry you can't keep the's a fine knife.

                1. re: jaykayen

                  In that case, let the Messermeister go its way and don't worry about steeling the Shun. The blade is hard enough that you don't need to touch it up every time you use it.

                  But you still need to maintain the edge. I'd recommend buying a sharpening system that will allow you to easily reproduce the factory bevel of each of your knives (or change it if you want, but that's getting up into the advanced classes). Not cheap, but incredibly effective. Here's what I use:


                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    The EdgePro will be money well spent.

                    You will no longer be intimidated with sharpening your knives after the first use.

              2. Is it more about the cutting or the sharpening? You don't have to use stones to have a sharp knife.

                3 Replies
                1. re: chuckl

                  It's about the cutting, so I'll probably do as you suggest (ceramic rod.)

                  I'll never be one of those guys who strop with .01 micron metals.

                  I'm really in love with the way it cuts right now...anyway, I'm pretty young, so I'm sure I'll eventually collect more edge paraphernalia as the years go by.

                  1. re: jaykayen

                    I can reliably guarantee you will. Once you are bitten by the bug to have good knives, you can't easily give it up, even when you don't "need" any more knives. I'm pretty sure I don't need 6 santokus and i doubt I'll get any more of them any time soon, but I can't rule out picking up a good knife if one crosses my path. It's a tool you can really use and enjoy and makes food preparation an absolute pleasure, in my opinion.