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Dec 4, 2010 01:53 PM

Trying to make sense of the different F.Dick steels

Okay, I'm utterly confused by the different types of honing/sharpening steels that F.Dick makes. Help?

I have a new Shun Bob Kramer knife (hoping to get another for Xmas! :-) ) plus I've just had all my older knives sharpened. I am determined to be conscientious about honing between EVERY use from now on. I initially bought a Chefs Choice diamond steel but now realize after much reading that this is in fact a 'sharpening' tool, not a daily use straighten-the-edge honing tool. For that, especially since I'm a newbie likely to make angle-mistakes, I should instead have either a completely smooth or at most an EXTREMELY finely grooved honing steel. I definitely want either an oval or flat one.

Looking at the F.Dick website I see the following but am not sure what the difference is between, for instance, the:

" Dick 2000: Flat steel, Super Fine Cut"

"Combi: 2 sides fine cut, 2 sides polished; square"

"Fine Cut Oval"

"Poliron: Polished, oval"

I'm assuming (perhaps wrongly??) that "cut" refers to the grooves in the first three steels? and that the polished one(s) have no grooves at all?

Recommendations between these four if any or all of them are what I need/want to have? Differences? pros/cons of each?

Many thanks in advance! The last thing I want to do is to mess up the new knives/newly sharpened edges! :-)

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  1. "I have a new Shun Bob Kramer knife "

    Congratulation. Can you tell us if you have the Williams-Sonoma Meiji version?

    or the Sur La Table Euro versoin?

    I am into flat stone sharpening for knife maintaince. However, I understand you do not wish to go this routine. I would advise not to hone your Shun Bob Kramer knife before and after use. I think this practice does not work for the hard steel Shun knife and will ruin the blade faster than otherwise. Probably hone it only when you feel the knife slightly dull. If I have to recommend one between these four honing steel, I would pick the "Polished". You may also want to look into something like this:

    In the big picture, I prefer "fine stone sharpening", then "ceramic honing steel", then "polish/smooth steel"... then "fine grooved steel"....then "medium grooved steel". Best.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      I have the Sur la Table design; the shape of the W-S Shun Kramer handles just don't feel comfortable to me. :-)

      I see that the ceramic steels (such as the Kyocera linked) are described as "sharpening" steels, and I do want to be careful not to be to aggressive (thanks for the tip about not honing daily... I now see that Shun's website recommends weekly instead!) Also the Kyocera has different surfaces on the one steel, and I would want to risk accidentally using the wrong side.

      I think I will go with the polished F.Dick. Online price for the Poliron seems to be between $60 and $75 depending on the vendor. Neither Sur la T nor W-S carries this one. I see that both InstaOffice and SuiteSupply have free shipping on orders over $50, whereas Instawares has free shipping only over $75 (price $59.49 for the steel at all 3 sites)

      ChefKnivesToGo carries only the Dickoron 12" polished, which is $89.95. Any clue about the difference (other than the 2" length) between the $60 Poliron and the $90 Dickoron?

      1. re: dessert_diva

        No idea. F. Dick offers two major lines of steel. The Dickoron and the Dick Special. The Poliron you mentioned belongs to Dick Special, and it is 10". Needless to say Dickoron Polished belongs to Dickoron, and it exists in 9.5" and 12". There may be something beside the length difference. I read that Dickoron is the premier line, but why it is supposed to be better I have no idea. I would email F. Dick.

    2. DD: Good luck with that. I'm not familiar with those specific models of F.Dick. Mine are old ones I inherited from my dad's slaughterhouse and packing plant.

      You're probably going to get divergent responses here concerning grooved-vs-smooth. Some will say that the grooved ones actually file some bladesteel away, others will say it's just more efficient at straightening the edge because of increased psi. Personally, I've never noticed much difference between the two, even under a microscope.

      I also do not understand how an oval might be superior to a round cross-section, except in a theoretical psi context.

      My personal favorite F.Dick is more paddle-shaped, kind of like a beavertail. But I like it most because it's handle is more like a knife and has a beautiful brass bolster, not because it works any better.

      Here's another tip for a good habit to start: Steel your knives when you take them OUT of the block, not after use.

      Finally, it would be somewhat counterproductive to buy any steel that is softer than your knives. Make sure to get the RC numbers from Dick and Shun to be sure.

      60 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu

        "Personally, I've never noticed much difference between the two, even under a microscope."
        Out of curiosity, what are you referring to - the difference between an edge honed with a smooth steel vs one honed with a grooved steel? If so, what where the knives in question?

        "Some will say that the grooved ones actually file some bladesteel away, others will say it's just more efficient at straightening the edge because of increased psi."
        In my experience either could be happening. Whether a grooved steel files an edge, straightens it, or both depends on the knife in question, and even the technique and pressure used in honing. I wouldn't use a grooved steel on a Shun Kramer, anyway, though in the interest of disclosure, I haven't gotten to play with one.

        1. re: cowboyardee

          Cowboy: Yes, I was referring to the [lack of] perceptible difference in edge effects between honing on grooved and smooth steels. Gee, the knives in question run the gamut from mutts and mongrels, 19thC high carbon, 20thC commercial SS, to my crude and feeble efforts in different steels like D2, VG10, 52100, 5160, 1095, to my 1990s-era Kramer. Can't say I put every single one under the scope. I've remained pretty much blissfully ignorant of Japanese steels, but I know the difference between their ATS34 and ours.

          "[filing or straightening]...either could be happening." Okay. Sorta depends on relative hardness as a starting point.

          Why wouldn't you use a grooved steel on a Shun Kramer?

          1. re: kaleokahu

            "Why wouldn't you use a grooved steel on a Shun Kramer?"
            It's SG2 steel listed at 64-66 HRC, and even for a PM steel, I would expect some brittleness at that hardness, and not too much edge warping. So I'd worry about chipping... or, if the steel had any positive effect in the first place, at least leaving a coarse edge. And not that I have anything against cutting with a coarse edge, but it just seems a bit wrong to me to bother forking out for a Shun Kramer and then not try to keep its edge at a high polish.

            1. re: cowboyardee

              Great discussion, thanks so much! :-)

              I emailed F.Dick last night (Sunday) and hopefully they'll respond fairly quickly. I did mention that I have an SG2 knife as well as various older "softer" ones, so hopefully they'll address the RC issue of the two polished steels in their reply.

              I happened to notice when obtaining their contact info that they're (i.e., the USA distributor) located within a half-hour's drive of where I live, and so if they don't respond to my query I may just go knocking on their door! LOL :-)

              cowboyardee, that's my feeling exactly: The Shun is so beautiful and so sharp, it really inspires me to take the absolute best possible care of it.

              1. re: dessert_diva

                "The Shun is so beautiful and so sharp, it really inspires me to take the absolute best possible care of it."

                Got a nice cutting board to go with it? :)
                A nice cutting board is good for your knives.

                1. re: dessert_diva

                  DD, I agree with Chem, make sure the FD steel you select is harder than the S/K knife. Otherwise, your knife will be polishing your steel instead.

                  It seems to me that, for what you're looking to do, a ceramic hone is going to be the best option. (That would also put me in agreement with Chem's honing rod recommendation. :-) Yikes! ) If you're worried about messing up the edge angles, get something that uses two rods in a base with preset holes. (Lansky (brand) is most common, but reviewers say their quality & customer service are lousy.)

                  I'm guessing the edge angle of the S/K knife the same 15° as the standard Shun knives?

                2. re: cowboyardee

                  cowboy: I get it, but not why anyone would want a knife at 64-66 HRC. I had Bob Kramer heat treat and temper line some of my 52100 blades, and I'm sure we were below 60. Has he switched out the 52100 in his own single-gauge kitchen knives, and/or hardening to 64-66?

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    Probably it is just the Shun thing. Afterall, these are SG-2 powder steel knives. Why make a <61 HRC powder steel knife, right? If you go powder, might as well go very hard. What do you think?

                    Like you two, I don't know if steeling a HRC 64-66 knife work. I really don't know. I know steeling a ceramic knife of HRC >85 makes no sense whatsoever.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Chem: Sintering is a reason to go hard and brittle?

                      I remember back when 440C became widely available in kitchen knives, and everyone was trying to outmarket each other with how hard their steel was treated, as if the higher the Rockwell the better the knife. Isn't this high hardness business just a redup of that?

                      1. re: kaleokahu


                        Not sure if sintering is a reaon to go hard and brittle, but attending hard steel may be a reason to go sintering. In other words, I am not saying harder is better, but if we are going harder than powder steel makes sense.

                        Do you know if it makes sense of honing/steeling a very hard knife like these HRC 64+ knives? Really. I don't know for sure, but I can see steeling can be counterproductive. That is, the chance of chipping the edge may be greater than realigning the edge. I have no idea.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Chem: It's been awhile since I looked at the heat treating books, but I'm pretty sure most, if not all, tool steels, from good 'ole 1095 to these esoteric vacuum-melt and sintered alloys, can be treated to attain 65 Rockwell. But why would you want to do it?

                          I think steeling a >64 knife may be sensible, depending on brittleness. Obviously you'd need a steel/hone harder than the blade if you want to have a life. Hardness and brittleness are interrelated but different. If I understood Bob Kramer's explanations to me correctly, he uses 52100 because its smaller microcrystalline structure takes and holds an edge easier at practical hardnesses, i.e., 56-60 RC. Maybe that's what the metallurgists are after when they sinter and such (Or just maybe the topend makers are quietly casting/pressing their sintered blades as a way of saving $$/time).

                          But you're right, cetaris paribus, generally the harder the Rockwell, the greater the propensity to chip out an edge. So I'd be real light on the licks on the steel on knives >60. Especially the very thin and laminated Japanese and Swedish blades.

                          1. re: kaleokahu


                            Many steels can attain HRC up to or close to 65, but they become very brittle to the point of being impractical. As you have said, for a given steel, there is a tradeoff between strength and toughness. However, my understanding is that the rate of this tradeoff is different across different steels.

                            My guess is that SG-2 not only get to HRC 65, but it can attain so with a reasonable toughness to it, but I am not sure.

                    2. re: kaleokahu

                      As far as I know, Bob Kramer still uses 52100 steel for his knives (and I agree with you about the importance of grain structure, BTW). However, the Shun Kramer knives are just a line of very nice mass-produced knives by Shun whose design Bob Kramer consulted in. Shun has already used SG2 steel for other lines, so it's not a big surprise that their Kramer line uses it too.

                      "I get it, but not why anyone would want a knife at 64-66 HRC."
                      Generally speaking, the harder the knife is, the longer it will retain its edge provided it doesn't chip (this is over-simplified, but close to true). Extra hardness also makes applying a polished edge less of a Sisyphean task - on softer knives, higher degrees of polish often don't last long enough to make it worth the extra sharpening effort. It also makes it easier for a knife to hold an especially acute edge, though grain structure is important here too as the angle gets particularly low.

                      So, if a knife can be hardened to 64-66 HRC while still remaining tough enough for its intended uses, there will be a payoff in edge retention. PM steels will often be less brittle than other steels at the same hardness. I haven't tried a Shun Kramer to say how successful it is. But a Blazen made of SG2 hardened to ~63 HRC has killer edge retention and still-quite-good toughness.

                      Also, from Shun's standpoint - advertising high HRC is good marketing because it's a number people can latch onto and compare, ignoring other important but harder to quantify qualities.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        cowboy: I get it that a harder blade can be advantageous in edge retention, but how do we measure that retention? Is it the number of cuts through sisal rope or somesuch? I'm not sure the most cuts wins much, because WHEN the edge dulls, the hard blade usually takes far more effort to bring the edge back up, When I hunted a lot I always included in my camp kit a hard Forschner siding knife and a hard Forschner sheepskinner. My experience with them in the field was: when they dulled, they were done--no amount of steeling or field sharpening was going to set them right until they first did their time on a Hook-Eye, Softer knives might dull a little faster, but I could always DO something to them--right then and there--to keep them working.

                        I'll have to find a Rockwell tester and see how hard my Kramer hunter is. I bet it's under 60.

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          The requirement for a field/hunting knife is different as you noted. I think it is alright to have kitchen knife to be harder than a field knife -- not only for edge retention, but also because field knives require more toughness overall.

                          I think you are correct that powder steel knives are difficult to sharpen. At least that is what many people said. Obviously, many Japanese chefs had been using honyaki knives, like this Mizuno Blue Steel series at HRC 62-63 and this Masamoto HA series at HRC 64-65:



                          and we know Japanese chefs usually sharpen their own knives on a very regular basis instead of sending the knives out for sharpening. As such, it is do-able to sharpen these HRC >62 knives.

                          I read that SG-2 not only hard, but also is wear resistance and this makes SG-2 tough to sharpen.

                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            You seem to be under the impression that i think a harder knife is a better knife. I don't. For the most part, I agree with you - I think it depends on your needs.

                            For example - a sushi chef might want a blade that can keep a supremely polished edge intact for 10 hours. His knife will not be treated roughly at work. He will go home and retouch his knife on waterstones every night. In his case, a hard knife makes sense.

                            On the flip side of that coin, someone working in a meat packing plant would want a knife that can be kept sharp enough to slice cleanly and easily via quick and easy maintenance. His knife will frequently come into contact with bones, be used to scrape them, etc. A softer knife that responds well to a steel and sharpens easily in an electric device makes sense for him.

                            Home cooks can be more like either of the above examples. Personally, I like a fairly hard knife that is still easy and fun to sharpen on stones - my favorite knife is around 61-62 HRC. But there's always a trade-off involved and knives at either extreme end of the spectrum are problematic - the soft, cheap stainless steel knives my mom used while I was growing up held an edge about as well as Playdough, and ultra hard ceramic knives are just too brittle (and too hard to sharpen) for anyone who puts their knife through much serious work.

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              cowboy: All of what you say makes absolute sense. I was coming at this from the angle I did because the OP is a self-described "newbie", and is talking about honing a premium knife on a steel--one that is at best 2 Rockwell points harder than the blade. IME, sharpening and honing a hard blade once it goes even mildly off is MUCH more difficult that restoring a softer blade to use with a steel or crockstick.

                              You obviously take very good care of your knives. I try to. But I see MANY kitchens--even of "knifey" people--where the stage is more like the packing plant end of your spectrum than the sushi chef's. Bamboo and glass cutting boards. Knife drawers. Dishwashers. Crowbars for frozen food. Dropping on tile or stone floors and countertops. Meats carved on platters or (my favorite) cutting shrinkwrap off of glass containers. Sawing through cardboard boxes. Months pass before even NOTICING the edge is going... And then it's too late to accomplish much with a steel (apologies to Eiron).

                              Even if the OP is going to take the time to eventually attain the levels of skill (and, I'll bet, a shop-full of equipment) you obviously have, i.e., the 99th percentile, I think softer and easier to fix is better.

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                I believe you that the overwhelming majority of home cooks aren't willing to devote as much attention to their kitchen knives as I am. But I'm writing exclusively for people who bother to read fairly technical and lengthy knife discussions in a cookware forum. While maybe only 1% of the general population would be willing to do what I do, I'd bet a much higher percentage of those still reading my ridiculous posts might consider it.

                                "Even if the OP is going to... attain...I'll bet, a shop-full of equipment"
                                I sometimes feel like debating this. You don't really need a full shop of equipment to sharpen a knife well.

                                But the truth is I've had a good number of sharpeners, steels, machines, stones and gizmos. And though I can now put quite an edge on a dull knife with two stones and some newspaper, I still prefer using a few extra stones and a strop - and what's more, all that extra crap I bought and never or rarely use was an important part of the learning process for me. So while I still don't think it's strictly necessary, there is a good chance that someone learning to sharpen will end up buying a decent bit of equipment to do so.

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  cowboy: Your posts are not ridiculous at all! I've learned a lot from you and others here about knives.

                                  LOL. You and Chem are both right about the NEED for only a few stones. But it sounds like all of our 3 paths have led us to try, buy and own a multitude of expensive stuff to sharpen. Stuff that either didn't work, or frustrated us, or that we just don't use. We're hardly alone, either. Think how many Edge Pros, Burr-Kings, Lansky jigs, pocket guides, paper wheels, etc. are out there gathering dust waiting for the estate sales!

                                  I didn't (and don't) mean to take you to task about having this as a hobby. It was once one of mine, and as hobbies go, it's a good one. Attaining mastery is a wonderful, if ephemeral (and truly inner), thing.

                                  Will you be my Confessor? I do not take my or Bob Kramer's sharpening advice, either. Yes, I sharpen my own. I've put away all the stones, tools and equipment except my Dad's ancient Pittsburgh-Erie "Hook Eye" benchtop belt machine. [Yes, the Horror!] With belts of the same coarse grit in progressive states of wear, I get edges that work for me. There, that's my dirty little knife secret.

                                2. re: kaleokahu


                                  You are correct that a slightly softer knife is easier to maintain for most people. Not too soft -- I say any knife around 56-60 HRC is reasonable for most people.. Any blade below HRC 55 may have its edge roll too easily.

                                  That said, one does not need more than 1 or 2 stones to keep up a good edge. Take Shun knives for example, most Shun knives come out of the factory with an edge sharpened/polished on a 1000 grit stone. Quote from Shun's website:

                                  "Finally, all of the Shun Pro II is hand finished on a flat 6000 grit wet stone. This creates the sharpest edge in the entire Shun line. Regular shun pro is finished on a sharpening machine using 1000 grit, just like the rest of the Shun line."

                                  For most sharpening (not reprofiling), one does not need to go below (coarser than) a 1000 grit stone. One can go above (finer than) 1000 grit if one wants finer edge. However, as mentioned, many Shun knives are finished on a 1000 grit stone and most people are more than happy with that factory edge.

                                  As mentioned in an earlier post about SG-2 powder steel, it simply able to maintain a reasonable toughness at HRC 64-65, whereas other steels will be too brittle. Quote:

                                  "Because of the powderizing and HIP processes, you end up with an alloy that has a much higher density and grain structure with no imperfections or weak points. Just like silk. This allows us to increase the Rockwell hardness to 64, and the edge will still have flexibility so it won't chip, and can be re-sharpened. Even if it is paper thin. "

                  2. re: kaleokahu

                    kaleokahu, I learned that I am very good at creating a nice pile of metal shavings using a grooved steel. I worked on my dad's crap knives this past March, using his grooved steel. It took a LOT of work, but I was able to put a usable edge on 45 yr old ss knives that were as dull as butter knives. I was actually able to scoop up the pile of shavings off of the counter when I was done!

                    1. re: Eiron

                      Eiron: OK, I believe you. I suppose you could theoretically sharpen one knife against another, too, as long as they were equally hard and you started early enough in life!

                      How much pressure were you putting on these knives to sharpen them on a steel?

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        I also did that when I was in college too before I knew what honing is supposed to be. I push the knives and the steel very hard together and intentionally get that "friction" feeling. I really used it as a metal filer. Thanks goodness that is before I have a decent knife.

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          I used a LOT of pressure against that grooved steel. As Chem says, you can feel it start to bite into the metal of the knife. I even turned the steel to find the grooves with the most bite.

                          But, keep in mind that this was for someone who doesn't know anything about the knives they own. The grooved steel my dad owns is not a "nice" steel & doesn't even have a handle any more (that made it extra-fun!). It's the only "knife sharpening tool" he owns. He doesn't live near me & he'd never use any kind of decent sharpener if I bought one for him, so I did what I could with what he had.

                          Besides chewing off enough of the metal to actually have an edge again, it also made the edge "micro-serrated." The result is that my dad says they're sharper than he ever remembers them being, but then again he's lived with them being as dull as tongue depressers for (quite literally) decades.

                          I cleaned out my own drawer full of crap knives around this time last year (see my "$30 Henckel or $130 Shun?" thread), & I also had a whole collection of "knife sharpeners" that I retired at the same time (including a cheap grooved steel that I never used). I do actually like the Fiskars crossed-rod ceramic sharpener for softer 56-58 hRc steel knives using a 22°-23° edge angle. It's got both a "coarse" & a "fine" pair of crossed ceramic rods, so it's a good companion piece for someone who's just getting into knives & isn't ready to jump into J-steel & stones just yet.

                          1. re: Eiron

                            The edge angle on the Bob Kramers is 16°, according to Shun.

                            CK, funny you should mention the cutting board. ;-) I have an older-than-I'll-admit edgegrain maple board that is really showing its age ... one of those things that fall into the "one of these day I really should replace this" category. Plus it's from the Era of My Ex, and thus has bad karma, LOL. Since I'm hoping that after the holidays I will own not one but two Shun Kramers, a new good quality board is definitely on my list. Any suggestions for sources? The place where mine was purchased is long since out of business....

                            I'm finding this discussion about RC of knives and steels fascinating. (no reply yet from F.Dick, btw) Since I'm new to the construction intricacies of good knives, this may be a silly or misguided question but: Although the core of the Shun Kramers (SG2) has a RC of approximately 65, they are also "clad" with layers of the Damascus steel which I'm assuming (wrongly??) is "softer" than 65. So when honing these knives, how much of the edge being affected is the extremely hard RC 65 and how much the 'softer' cladding? If the maintenance honing (rather than sharpening which I do understand is a different breed of cat) is done mainly or entirely on the clad surface, doesn't the honing steel only need to be harder than the cladding's rating (not harder than the core's rating)?

                            1. re: dessert_diva

                              You are correct that the cladding is softer than the core steel. The core steel is what makes the edge - you will likely be able to see where the cladding stops and the core steel begins very near to the edge.

                              As for honing - don't worry at all about the cladding. It is done entirely on the exposed core steel. A honing rod would have to be harder than HRC 64-66.

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                Ah, that all makes sense, thank you. :-)

                                I will be sure to find out what the RC of those F.Dick polished rods are, before making a decision.

                                About the ceramic honing rods though: Since ceramic is considered a stone, I'm assuming the hardness of ceramic rods is measured on the Mohs scale (rather than the Rockwell which is for metals). What would be the equivalent of a 65 RC rating for a ceramic rod? Or are all ceramics by default harder than any knife steel? In that case, would the relevant characteristic be the smoothness of a ceramic rod, if trying to approximate most closely the effect of the smooth (but not hard enough) metal one?

                              2. re: dessert_diva

                                Bad karma. Ha ha. Well, Boardsmith makes some very highly respected nd grain cutting boards:


                                That said, I don't think we need the absolute best. I think any end grain cutting board will do a good job. The way I see it is that a good kitchen knife with a good cutting board is a better setup than a great kitchen knife and a bad cutting board. Any end grain wood cutting board should be sufficient.

                                The softer steel cladding makes the overall blade more toughness especially in the side to side motion, also prevent the blade from developing a very deep crack. For honing/steel purpose, the softer steel cladding does not play an important role. It is all about honing the core SG-2 steel.

                                Sometime ago, the single data I saw mentioned a F. DIck steel being HRC 62:


                                You want to check with F. Dick the company to be sure.

                                Now, I suggested to look into a ceramic rod is that a ceramic rod is pretty hard.

                                1. re: dessert_diva

                                  The WokShop (in San Francisco) carries some very simple endgrain cutting boards:

                                  And to add to what the others have said about sharpening & cladding, you'd have to lay the entire side of the knife down against your honing rod in order to hit the cladding. What you'll actually do when honing (or sharpening, if you ever decide to go there) is lift the spine of the knife off the hone by about 1/8". Lower than that & you won't be honing anything of use. :-)

                                  1. re: Eiron


                                    These are very simple endgrain cutting boards, but they can take some practice to get used. I didn't know how to take care of my first one, so I more or less ruin it -- it was probably the best of the three. Then I bought a second one but it was not quite what I expected. In hindsight it was probably fine, and I might have an unrealistic expectation. Tane Chan from Wokshop was very nice and I sent her many emails (10+) about my procedures including photos. Finally I asked to buy another one and she said she would send me one for free because she felt I worked hard. I did.

                                    The third one works great. I learned from all the mistakes. Here are some of the photos of my third chopping block. From left to right, the first photo is when it is out of the box. The second photo is after I sanded it and dried it. The third one is after I put a finishing touch with oil and beesmax. The fourth one is after I used it for more than a year. I don't baby my chopping block anyone. I do delicate cutting on it and I do heavy duty cleaver swinging on it. I emailed Tane Chan with all these pictures and she got a kick out of them.

                                    The shipping cost for the block rivals the price fo the block. Moreover, it is rather heavy, so I won't recommend it to just any one. If you want it cheap, there are cheaper onea. If you want it easy, there are many which require less initial works. If you want it pretty, there are many prettier. I wanted a whole wood chopping block because I want to be cool.

                                    I have also used the Chinese ironwood chopping block when I was younger. It is much thinner and lighter. The problem is that it is made of really hard wood, maybe too hard.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      Does Tane recommend refinishing the blocks as soon as you get them?

                                      Or was that some OCCBRD on your part? :-D

                                      1. re: Eiron


                                        No, she does not. In fact, I didn't sand my first block. These blocks are really as native as they can get. They are not sanded and they are not dry. The blocks were all wet when I got them. Tane Chan does have the drier one, but she and I come to some agreement that she will send me the fresh wet ones.

                                        You want to hear something stupid? I put my first block in the oven to try to speed dry it. I don't think that was a good idea now.

                                        I think sanding the surface help prevent water puddles forming on the block. Of course beeswax and oil are to prevent further oil absorption.

                                        OCCBRD stands for obessive compulsive chinese block refinishing disorder? I am not sure about the "R"

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Wow, CK, that is some impressive block! I hate to ask how much that puppy must weigh. How thick IS it, btw?

                                          Quick update on the F.Dick polished steels, I got a reply from them this morning saying that the only difference between the Poliron and the Dickoron are the handles and the length of the steels (the Dickoron being 2" longer); there is no difference between the type of steel.

                                          Unfortunately they didn't volunteer the hardness, so I've now asked them specifically and will report back on what they say.

                                          1. re: dessert_diva

                                            UPDATE: Just got a reply from F.Dick, saying the the Rockwell hardness of the steels is 66. Perfect!

                                            And so, since the only difference between the two lines of polished is the length and the handle style, I will save myself the additional $30 and get the 10" Poliron. :-)

                                            1. re: dessert_diva

                                              I don't know how much it weighs now because I let it dried, and I don't have a balance at home. It is slightly less than 5" in thickness. Tane Chan thinks it was about 15-20 lbs when it is new. I put it closer to 20 because it felt much more than a 15 lb dull bell. It was much heavier when it was brand new due to the moisture. It feels lighter now.

                                              Excellent. HRC 66 will work fine then. Thanks for letting us know. If you think you may get a really long knife in the future, then you may want the long honing steel. A longer honing steel is better for a longer knife.

                                              1. re: dessert_diva

                                                DD: I've been thinking of you this afternoon given how technical and esoteric this thread has gotten (as virtually all knife posts here do!), and visited F.Dick's website.

                                                Are you planning to get deeply into sharpening as a hobby? Are you planning to do all of your own sharpening? If you are, great. You'll have plenty of good company and information here. If not, though, I'm wondering if you might not be better served by one of F.Dick's or others' pull-through "steels" or a crockstick "V" that have the angles fixed--and therefore hard to mess up. Provided it and your blade's edge bevels are compatible, it might be an easier and simpler solution.

                                                Steeling on a conventional steel, it is very hard to maintain (and repeat) the perfect angle every stroke. For example, it is next to impossible to hold both R & L sides at the same (nevermind correct) angle due to the fact that you'll be holding your knife with your dominant hand and the curved blade will be moving in at least two directions under the steel at some point. This is less so if you stand your steel on your cutting board, but it still happens--think forehand and backhand.

                                                I am not one of those here who thinks you can actually sharpen a knife on a true steel--at least not well. The best you can expect to do is some minor realignment/straightening. But the WORST you can do, if the angles are too obtuse is break or dull the edge--effectively shortening the interval between professional sharpenings/regrindings.

                                                I'll repeat Bob Kramer's advice: professionally sharpen your knives once a year; use a crockstick about once a month if you use your knife a lot; and steel it only lightly in between uses. Otherwise, welcome to the hobby of knife sharpening.

                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  Sorry for the delay, I've been dealing with a cranky heating system for the past two (very cold!!) days...! :-(

                                                  As for sharpening, I'm lucky to live within a half hour's access of a Master Cutler/Sharpener (thanks again to helpful Chowhound! :-) ) and so as long as he's doing his thing, I will trust my knives only to him from now on. :-)

                                                  In between yearly sharpenings I hope to maintain it by careful honing between uses. Since the Shuns are a 16-degree edge, I would guess that a fixed-angle crockstick would probably be a 22-degree like the majority of knives are? and thus the wrong angle for the Shuns.

                                                  By the way, my new F.Dick smooth steel arrived today. I was surprised to accidentally discover that it is magnetic!! Is that usual for a honing steel? It's definitely magnetic, because I put it down for a moment atop my (not-being-used!) toaster oven and it immediately "clamped" onto it. I then touched it to my refrigerator... same thing. Any clue as to why a honing steel is, or should be magnetized? An inquiring mind would like to know. :-)

                                                  Oh, as for cutting boards, I just ordered one from The Boardsmith. Just a simple maple one, nothing massive (since I don't have the counter space for a treetrunk, LOL) so I don't think I'll be acquiring any alphabetical Disorders QUITE yet. ;-)

                                                  1. re: dessert_diva

                                                    Just make sure you tell your master sharpener that you want the edge angle to be ~16o, many excellent sharpeners are so used to the European knives 20o that they simply assume 20o for every knives coming in their ways.

                                                    The idea of a magnetic steel is to attract metal fibers. Even though honing is supposed to only realign/straighten the rolled edge, the rolled edge can come fall off, especially with a grooved honing steel. A magnetic steel will attract these (very tiny) loose metal bits before they fall off everywhere. Not necessary, but a nice touch.

                                                    I envy you for acquiring a Boardsmith cutting board. These boards are considered the very best. Nah, my wood trunk chopping block is not that big. I wanted to get a real big one, but I don't have the counterspace for it. Mine is onlly 14 inch in diamater, but it is 5 inch thick. Please write a review about the experience you have with your maple board along with your Shun Bob Kramer knife. I am sure many will be interested.

                                                    Don't be so sure that you will not acquiring any alphabetical disorder. My buddy Eiron can diagnose anything.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      Ah, okay -- I didn't imagine that there would be any metal fibers as a result of realigning the edge. :-) I'll be curious to see if anything ever shows up on a post-honing wipedown with a damp paper towel.

                                                      I got the (basic?) 2" x 12" x 18" hard maple butcher block Boardsmith. I don't have the extra counter space to be able to leave it out permanently, so I needed something that will not only fit without my having to shift other things around the counter every time I need to use it, but that I can take in and out of its storage spot without feeling like I'm lifting weights in a gym. :-)

                                                      I will admit to an existing alphabetical disorder, but it's connected with gardening, not cooking. I've had OCMPS (Obsessive Compulsive Musical-Plant Syndrome: continually shifting plants and shrubs around the garden in search of the mythical perfect growing location) for decades. And in about two weeks the postal service will trigger my annual BBPCOA (Budget Busting Plant Catalog Ordering Addiction) because that's when the spring plant and seed catalogs start arriving, with all those pretty photos of plants grown in ideal conditions (in the south of England probably!).

                                                    2. re: dessert_diva

                                                      DD: Yes, technically the 20- or 22-degree angle preset on the pull-throughs isn't right for your Shun. BUT: (a) It's better to have a wider-angle than narrower-angle error with these things (otherwise you're honing the sides, not the edge); (b) I defy most freehanders to be able to keep the angle at ANY specific angle (let alone exactly 16 degrees)--the 4 or 6 degree difference between your knife and what a mere mortal can maintain is slight when steel and hands and knife are all moving with elan. And (c) The pull-throughs at least have a FIXED angle, from which it takes a klutz to deviate.

                                                      If it were me and I was wedded to exactly 16 degrees for honing, I'd get a machinist or woodworker to drill me a base with holes for crocksticks or toolsteel rods, each 8-degrees off vertical.

                                                      But it sounds like you have it handled. I'd be interested in a follow-up report from you, especially on whether you find any filings stuck to the magnetic steel. My bet is not.

                                                      Have fun.

                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                        "...get a machinist or woodworker to drill me a base with holes for crocksticks or toolsteel rods, each 8-degrees off vertical. "

                                                        No, I believe this Shun Kramer knife has a 16o edge angle, not a 16o included angle.

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          Chem: Am I missing something? 8 degrees each way from vertical is 16, right? Nevermind, I get it. MY BAD 16 degrees each way.

                                              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                I figgerd it was Obsessive-Compulsive Cutting Board Refinishing Disorder, but it's your issue, so you can call it whatever you like! :-)

                                                1. re: Eiron

                                                  It is not that patient's responsibility to name a diease. If you are going to diganose me, then you should name this new found illness. :P

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Hold on thar pardner, I'm not diagnosing, I'm asking! :-P
                                                    Besides, didn't you name your own OCKSD condition??
                                                    It's your second OCD (well, that we know of here on CH). You get the honor of diagnosing yourself. Again.

                                                    Of course, you can always rebuke the question. Just be sure not to protest too much.... :-D

                                                    1. re: Eiron

                                                      Yes, I diagnosed my OCKSD, but you help the OCCBRD, so I want to ask the person who first discovered the illness. :)

                                                      Is there a cure for this diease? I am not rebuking my illness. I just want to treat it. I think the first step toward the recovery is to find out the proper name. :P

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        I've always gone on the assumption that the best cure for anything is chocolate!

                                                        Or any baked goods made with same (preferably either Valrhona or Pernigotti, if I have my 'druthers ;) )

                                                        Eat enough chocolate, and although you'll still have the disorder your serotonin level will be so high that you won't care. ;-)

                                                        1. re: dessert_diva

                                                          Uh oh... I think I may be exhibiting the first signs of OCKD....

                                                          So, since acquiring my Shun and getting all my older knives properly sharpened, this is my new routine for knife care: The moment I stop using it, I rinse it thoroughly if I can't immediately wash it. I wash it by hand with my natural dishwashing liquid, dry it immediately with a paper towel, and lay it carefully aside while I either finish the recipe or the remainder of the washing up. I then check to make sure it is indeed perfectly clean and dry before carefully replacing it in the knife block (with horizontal slits; a replacement for my in-drawer knife holder which had the knives sitting on the blades, eek). I am still dithering over whether to hone before inserting in block, or before use. ;-) So far it's been "before inserting in block" but that may change. All well and good, right?

                                                          Okay, so here's why I think I may be getting an alphabetical knife disorder.

                                                          Last night after going through the routine with my Shun Kramer utility knife, when doing the pre-block check I noticed "Hm, is that a little teeny-tiny spot of something right there in the angle formed by where the blade meets the bolster?" And would you believe that I actually got out the Q-Tips to MAKE SURE THAT AREA WAS INDEED 1001% CLEAN?! If anyone had told me that I'd be cleaning a kitchen knife with a Q-tip, I'd have said that they (and I) must be crazy. The scary part is that it actually seemed like the logical and necessary thing to do.... :-O

                                                          What's your prognosis, guys? Am I doomed?


                                                          1. re: dessert_diva

                                                            DD: Here's a key diagnostic question for OCKD: Read the following link on sharpening straight razors: If you change what you do (before-after) based on what its says there, you have OCKD.

                                                            Doomed? Yes, unless you get OCDD (obsessive compulsive dilettante disorder) and move on to a different obsession, e.g., collecting copper cookware. ;)

                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                              *sigh* I've definitely got it. The whole "growing" thing sadly makes sense. Will hone before using from now on.

                                                              Can I blame the OCKD on the Shun?

                                                              "Honestly doctor, the Shun made me do it."

                                                              1. re: dessert_diva

                                                                "Honestly doctor, the Shun made me do it."

                                                                As long as you don't mention that part where you hear them talking to you, you should be good.

                                                                Or that you've named them.

                                                                Alternatively, you could just blame Richard. :-P

                                                              2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                Ah but IMHO, there is a difference between an alphabetical disorder and a "collecting thing". :-) An alphabetical disorder is acquired, but the causative factor for the other is the notorious Collecting Gene which one apparantly is either born with or not. :-p

                                                                Opinions differ as to whether the Collecting Gene is passed down from one generation to another, or whether it's a genetic mutation that merely stays dormant until triggered. I tend to favor the "non-inherited" theory, based on the fact that neither of my parents, nor the one grandparent I did know, ever collected anything .... in fact my mother was notorious for throwing things out ..... but I definitely have it, although after many years I finallly kicked the habit. Except for books by specific authors and music by specific artists, and movies starring specific actors -- but those don't count, right?

                                                                On the other hand, both my children were rampant collectors which lends credence to the "heritability theory". They've improved a bit in adulthood though (causative factor? That they have to pay for the stuff themselves now, rather than their parent(s) footing the bill, LOL). Nevertheless, my attic is still stuffed with uncounted boxes of Barbie, My Little Pony, Beanie Babies, sports collector cards, comic books, and action figures of every commercial description. I hope they plan to rent a storage unit for the stuff when I relocate!

                                                                I have been told by my offspring that buying things that are USEFUL (such as the latest hockey equipment or out-of-print sheet music) are "not technically collecting, because those are 'tools of the trade'". Sounds like a plausible justification for knives, copper cookware, and such. ;-)

                                                              3. re: dessert_diva

                                                                For your typical German/French stainless steel knife, you will hone it before or after every use. For your Shun knife, I won't hone it as often. Maybe once a week or even longer.

                                                                As for honing before or after each use, there are arguments to be made for either. Some argue that "honing before use" is better because this ensures the knives to be as sharp as possible. Some argue that "honing after use" is better because this streamline the workflow. The difference is so small, I think you should just do what you think is the easiest. For instance, Japanese sushi chefs sharpen and stone hone their knives after use.

                                                                You are not doomed yet, but we will see how far you will fall. :)

                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                  Compromise for the Shun: Hone before use every Monday? ;-)

                                                                  But for the older Sabatiers and the Wusthof paring knife: every use.

                                                                  Remember I'm only using the smooth honing steel, not a diamond, ceramic, or grooved kind anymore. :-)

                                                                  1. re: dessert_diva


                                                                    I modified the previous post probably after your last post. I think you can hone it before or after. It is really up to you. I can find good examples to support one over the other. Yes, I would still hone the Shun knife less often. The reason is that your Shun SG-2 knife is very hard and the benefit of having a very hard knife is its edge does not get easily rolled/blended, so honing become less beneficial.

                                                                2. re: dessert_diva

                                                                  "... this is my new routine for knife care: The moment I stop using it, I rinse it thoroughly if I can't immediately wash it. I wash it by hand with my natural dishwashing liquid, dry it immediately with a paper towel, and lay it carefully aside while I either finish the recipe or the remainder of the washing up. ..."

                                                                  I 'd suggest you change from drying with a generic "paper towel" to something that will work harmoniously with your natural soap. Raw silk kerchiefs are best, of course, but any natural, unbleached fiber will not "fight the steel" of your S/K knives.
                                                                  Also, be sure that when you "lay it carefully aside" that you place it on a natural, non-edge-dulling surface. Hand-harvested cork from trees grown at least 20 miles away from all pollution sources is, of course, best. I know I don't need to tell you that! But you can also use organically-grown Balsa Wood or Japanese Kaya soft wood. In a pinch, American Pine can by used, but sparingly!
                                                                  Don't forget to place your knife so that it is positioned on a level above (higher than) all of the others.

                                                                  1. re: Eiron

                                                                    (ROTFL) :-)

                                                                    Wait... you mean I don't have to place the block on the counter according to the principles of feng shui? What about the risk of having the edge affected by bad chi? (Shuns are prone to that, ya know) :-p

                                                                    1. re: dessert_diva

                                                                      DD: You and your knives will follow The Way That Can Be Followed only if you also have the following quote from Chuang Tzu prominently displayed (in philosophical Chinese characters) above your block:

                                                                      "Cook Ting was cutting up an ox for Lord Wen-hui. At every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee — zip! zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to tile Ching-shou Music."

                                                                      “Ah, this is marvelous!” said Lord Yen-hui. “Imagine skill reaching such heights!”

                                                                      "Cook Ting laid down his knife and replied, “What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill. When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself. After three years I no longer saw the whole ox. And now I go at it by spirit and don’t look with my eyes. Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, guide the knife through the big openings, and follow things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less a main joint."

                                                                      “A good cook changes his knife once a year — because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a month — because he hacks. I’ve had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I’ve cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there’s plenty of room, more than enough for the blade to play about it. That’s why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone."

                                                                      Translated by Burton Watson {although I was once made to mangle the translation myself}

                                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                        "However, whenever I come to a complicated place, I size up the difficulties, tell myself to watch out and be careful, keep my eyes on what I am doing, work very slowly, and move the knife with the greatest subtlety............
                                                                        ..... and then I wipe off the knife and put it away."
                                                                        'Excellent!" said Lord Wen-hui. "I have heard the words of Cook Ting and learned how to care for life!"


                                                                        (just call me Grasshopper, LOL)

                                                                3. re: dessert_diva

                                                                  "I've always gone on the assumption that the best cure for anything is chocolate!"

                                                                  I would ammend this to include red wine or a breve latte to be consumed at each application of any "minimum 72% solids" chocolate item, until symptoms subside.

                                      2. I would get the f dick Multicut it will do all the above you can turn it sidways to get an even finer eage this way it will sharpen and hone your steel it is supposed to be 7 steels in one the harder you push down on it the more it grinds the lighter you go the more it hones turn it side ways and you get a finer eage I have used it in the packing house or slater house love it is something you have to get used to