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Knife sharpening systems

For those of you who sharpen your own kitchen knives: what is the highest grit above which you have found no benefit? 800? 1000? 1600? 2000? More?

I am considering purchasing the Wicked Edge system for its constant sharpening angle (we have both German and Japanese knives, which should be sharpened as different angles, about 23 and 17 degrees, respectively). Does anyone use this system? experience?

Thanks
Ken K

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  1. Hi Ken,

    I don't go to very high grit because (a) I am not as good as some of the knife experts here and (b) my knives are nothing spectacular to warrant a very high grit stone. I am currently topping at 5000 grit. I hope to get a 10,000 grit stone, but I really need to get a good knife to justify a 10,000. I do find a noticeable difference finishing on a 5000 grit stone vs a 2000 grit stone for my knives.

    Now, I have sharpened some Henckels International and KitchenAid knives .. etc for friends, and in my opinion, these knives do not need to be sharpened above 1000 grit, certainly not above 2000 grit. In the beginning I sharpened them up to 5000 grit and then I realize the 5000 grit step makes absolutely no difference. In short, it really depend what knives you have. Not all knives benefit the same way by a high grit stone. So it depends on the knives.

    I don't use the Wicked Edge, but I heard not so great things online, especially on youtube. Things including not holding the knife in place to scratching the knife. In term of knife sharpening system, I think most people consider EdgePro to be one of the best, but it is not cheap.

    16 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Thanks for the valuable input. Greatly appreciated. I will look on youtube for critiques of the wicked edge system.

      1. re: kdkrone

        By the way, the Wicked Edge system may have gotten a lot better now. The criticism videos I watched was 2 years ago, so they may not be meaningful now. Best.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Do you have or know anybody that has one of those microscopes that hooks up to a computer like the one in the wicked edge video?

          1. re: Dave5440

            I don't know, but something like that are on Amazon and as well as in scientific catalogs. I also think many camera stores will sell something like that. Of course, the higher the resolution and magnification you go, the more expensive. Many people buy these for engineering and scientific research, so they are not uncommon.

            http://www.amazon.com/Veho-VMS-001-US...

            http://www.scientificsonline.com/micr...

            http://www.optcorp.com/productList.as...

            This particular one goes up to X2000 magnification:
            http://www.optcorp.com/product.aspx?p...

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Those are more reasonable than I thought, i'll have to start looking for one up here that way I can stop freaking my wife out, she looks at my laptop from time to time and it's always knives or I'm sharpening them says it getting scary

              1. re: Dave5440

                "i'll have to start looking for one up here that way I can stop freaking my wife out"

                How will that stop freaking your wife out? If she thinks normal knives pictures on your computer are scary, you will really scare her with the magnified knife edge photos. By the way, Dave Martell has some digital knife edge photos here. He thinks they are taken at X200 magnification, so you may not have to go way above.

                http://japaneseknifesharpening.blogsp...

                Don't worry, man. I went out for a date once and I told the gal that I like to sharpen knives. She completely freaked out. :D

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  How will that stop freaking your wife out?
                  She can look at pictures of microscopes for awhile, instead of knives

                  Don't worry, man. I went out for a date once and I told the gal that I like to sharpen knives. She completely freaked out. :D

                  I remembered reading that but didn't remember who it was , funny story

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Oh Doctore,rule #1... never mention your knife addiction on your first date.

                    1. re: petek

                      "never mention your knife addiction on your first date."

                      It was really her fault I tell you. She made fun of the fact that I like to cook and teased me being too much of a "housewife" and then asked me if I have other hobbies. By the way, I shouldn't say too much. She is a good person, I believe.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        It was really her fault I tell you. She made fun of the fact that I like to cook and teased me being too much of a "housewife"
                        That's strange she reacted that way, my ability to cook has sealed many a deal for me when I was still on the market

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Chem: Don't worry guy.Most people don't understand our love of "steel" :D

                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        We have a great set up at work to take photos of failed parts. Obviously it's overkill for something like this, but it was about the price of a new small car. This new set up can actually increase the depth of fiels so that more of the surface is in focus. If Woodcraft would have had the water stones on Saturday, I could take before and after pictures, but still no stones yet. I guess I'll have to order some.

                        I saw Miyabi ceramic whetstones in the Sur la Table catalogue, the 10,000 grit was on special for $399.95, the 5,000 for half that much, and the 1,000 for half that. You can pay for a lot of professional sharpening for $700, eeeeh gadz!

                        1. re: mikie

                          Mikie,

                          You will always pay a premium for buying the Miyabi whetstones or Shun whetstones, and they are probably not the best sharpening stones neither.

                          "You can pay for a lot of professional sharpening for $700"

                          Yeah, but most (not all) professional sharpening do not achieve a knife edge better than a 1000 grit stone. When you start buying these high grit whetstones, you are trying to achieve a better blade than most professional sharpening service.

                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I would have thought the edge would be finer at 1k than that, pretty rough looking

                          1. re: Dave5440

                            Yeah, you are right. The edge from 1000 appears much rougher than I would expect too. Hmm.

                        3. re: Dave5440

                          "... that way I can stop freaking my wife out ..."

                          These may not help, but they're cool:
                          http://sharpeningtechniques.blogspot....

              2. The highest grit I've gone is 30k which is what my chromium oxide coated strop is. My highest stone is 8k.

                When it comes to systems the EdgePro is by far the best one out there.

                33 Replies
                1. re: scubadoo97

                  Hey scuba,what kind/brand of chromium oxide do you use?

                  1. re: petek

                    I use both a liquid and a dry powder form. I first bought the large crayon like stick but abandoned that quickly. The liquid or powder is so much easier to use. A little goes a long way and there is no waxy residue.

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      scubadoo97: Was it the veritas honing compound that you didn't like?

                      1. re: petek

                        Not sure if it was the same brand as veritas but yes exactly like it.

                  2. re: scubadoo97

                    Actually, that raises the question as to whether stropping is of value for kitchen knives, as we use a steel while we are cooking and I have no idea what that does to a blade other than keep the edge/burr straight...

                    1. re: kdkrone

                      "we use a steel "

                      That brings up a whole new topic all together.

                      1. re: kdkrone

                        Even my European knives benefit from stroping. I don't like to use any steels of any type on my edges. The strop will realign the edge and is much less abusive than a grooved steel and much less aggressive than a ceramic steel.

                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          OK. So let's go here. I have used a steel out of habit. The last time i saw a leather strop was when I was a kid and went to a barber shop in the 50's and 60's. I would have no problem using a stroping leather if there was a convenient one to use. A steel fills that function, as it is always available. How do you use one in the kitchen conveniently?
                          Thanks, Ken K

                          1. re: kdkrone

                            The idea behind honing knives with a steel is to realign the rolled/bent edges. This works well for softer steel German knives, but it is somewhat unnecessary and can be harmful for Japanese hard steel knives. I would not use a honing steel on the Japanese knives. It does more harms than goods.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              Interesting, as the honing steel I purchased for my Shun Kershaw knives is made by Shun. That aside, what should I consider changing my procedure to? Instead of a butcher honing steek, should we attach a leather strop somewhere in the kitchen to use when we are using knives to prep food?

                              1. re: kdkrone

                                Ken,

                                This particular topic has been bought up before. This included cowboyardee and deeznuts both are very knowledgeable about knives and paulfinest who not only knows a lot about knives, but also run a large online knifestore from Canada:

                                http://www.paulsfinest.com

                                Here is the old discussion:

                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/666432

                                As for leather stropping, there are two routines: the basic untreated leather stropping and the charged leather stropping. I only do the untreated, and Scubadoo does both, I think, so I will let him answer it. Either method does not require the same frequency as steel honing. In other words, you don't have to do it before and after every meal preparations.

                                This is not to say you cannot use a steel on Japanese knives. If you really prefer to use a steel, I would recommend a smooth steel, a glass rod or a fine cermanic rod, but not the medium grooved steel, like the Shun steel.

                            2. re: kdkrone

                              I find pulling out a strop to be no more or less convenient than pulling out a steel. Just different end result

                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                So what is the different end result? I read the thread above and will purchase a ceramic honing rod. What is the difference in result with kitchen knives when a strop is used? Also any recommendations for purchasing a strop? Last, with regard to the strop, is it a loose one or a piece of leather mounted to a board?

                                1. re: kdkrone

                                  Ken,

                                  In short, stropping will create an edge much finer than any honing rod or steel.

                                  A fine ceramic honing rod is ~1000 grit size. Most stropping compounds will get you much higher than 10,000 grit. For example, scubadoo97 above wrote: "The highest grit I've gone is 30k which is what my chromium oxide coated strop is."

                                  You can make a strop if you have time, or you can buy one. Here is an excellent site (from the most celebrated knife sharpener expert Dave Martell) if you want to get into the ultimate stropping:

                                  http://www.japaneseknifesharpeningsto...

                                  Conversely, stropping can be a lot more humble. I use a bare (uncharged) leather belt (bought from TJ Maxx or Marshall) for stropping. I tie one end to the oven handle. For leather belt stropping demonstration:

                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=une4Zp...

                                  Scubadoo is very knowledgeable about stropping.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    What CK said, except I am like most everyone else here learning as I go. Stropping is a technique that has served me well in maintaining my kitchen knives

                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                      As the respected guruof stropping here, what works for you in your kitchen with regard to stropping? Do you use a manufactured strop? An old belt? Where is your mounted? The discussion here has provoked a lot of thought, and I see where we could hang a strop on a Metro rack that is near ourprep area. Many thanks.

                                      1. re: kdkrone

                                        I have a homemade strop made from leather I got at Woodcraft. It's HandAmerican bovine leather. I used a cigar box top to mount it using the box as a base. Here is a picture of my strop. About the only thing I use that ceramic rod, that came with the EdgePro, for is to sharpen my vegetable peeler.

                                         
                                  2. re: kdkrone

                                    "Also any recommendations for purchasing a strop?"

                                    I'd buy this:
                                    http://sharper-knives.com/OversizeLS....

                                    1. re: Eiron

                                      That looks a like strop of a sword. ;)

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        LOL, my smaller strop is another 1/3 longer than his Oversized model. I can really pick up some steam running across those babies!

                                        These look really well made to me. I had one on my xmas list but wasn't gifted with it. If I wasn't so cheap as to make my own, this would definitely be my 1st choice in a strop.

                                         
                                        1. re: Eiron

                                          Clearly you are going to collect swords soon -- you just don't know it yet. On the other hand, is there a real reason to strop a sword. Afterall, a sword use function more like a butcher cleaver than a kitchen santoku.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            Well, I agree that I certainly have no sword plans at this point in time....

                                            I think this guy might disagree with your sword stropping conclusion:
                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBNOmc...

                                            1. re: Eiron

                                              Eiron,

                                              I don't know why, but I didn't get to see this youtube video until now. The video is pretty cool. Although it may not as impressive as those "bite the flying bullet" demonstration. Wasn't there a person who can bite a bullet when another person fires a rifle at him? Maybe I am just imagining now.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                That was on Myth Busters, BUSTED! Don't try it at home! Hahahahaha

                                                1. re: mikie

                                                  Which one is on Myth Busters? The "Sword cut through flying arrow" or the "Teeth biting incoming bullet"? I think the former seems a lot more likely than the latter, but I don't know which one was verified on Myth Busters.

                                                  Edited: I did a search and found out that Myth Busters claimed the bullet thing is impossible. I thought so too.

                                                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  It's part of a PBS/NOVA special on Japanese sword-making. Very interesting piece. I think it's titled, "Secrets of the Samurai Sword."

                                  3. re: kdkrone

                                    Ken K: I'm assuming you work in a professional kitchen,yes? You can quickly strop your knife on a rolled up newspaper or an old telephone book(which is also a great place to store knives at work).At home I use an old belt attached to a banister and get great results.

                                    1. re: petek

                                      Actually, no. My wife and I enjoy cooking very much but just for family and friends. I am just a geek who likes to do things "right", so I love good equipment and love to know the "best" way/ways to take care of it, so that I can make an informed choice.

                                      1. re: petek

                                        I have read that the strop needs to be on a flat surface when sharpening 50/50 edges. If the strop can 'float' as it does when held at the ends, the giving during the stroke tends to give the knife a convex edge; similar to that achieved using the mouse pad technique Chad Ward tells about in his book.

                                        Any thoughts on this?

                                        1. re: columa

                                          I guess it depends on whether or not you WANT a convex edge, no?
                                          (e.g., Globals)

                                2. re: scubadoo97

                                  All:

                                  I am wondering if people are comparing apples and oranges with regard to grit. I found this thread this AM which refers to Japanese and US grit:

                                  http://www.discusscooking.com/forums/...

                                  Is this a relative accurate comparison of the two grading systems? Thanks, KK

                                  1. re: kdkrone

                                    Ken, this is a "relatively accurate" comparison, but there are some differences posted in various spots around the web. As a cheat-sheet, I think this is as good a reference as any.

                                    Keep in mind that folks who've used stones sized to the same Japanese grits, but from different manufacturers, have observed different sharpening results (cutting speeds & "feel"). That is to say, even within the same grit nomenclature, there are variances.

                                    1. re: kdkrone

                                      I believe the OP was speaking in terms of US grits (he/she probably uses wet dry sandpaper, maybe oil stones). Most of the responses have been in terms of Japanese grits (responders who use waterstones).

                                      That link, though debated a bit at times, is very useful.

                                  2. I sharpen all my knives to 4,000 and the good ones to 8K or 10K. That said, to give you a general idea, I don't think I have any knife that benefits from above 5,000 that cost me less than $300. I can't say for sure, but I would guess that my experience with my own knives is telling me above 5,000 grit is not helping me for knives under an HRC of about 61 or 62. I should add that the cheapest knife I use is a Masamoto gyuto, so if I had something softer than that, I might be stopping well below 4,000. Even though I have the higher grits, I still think I could accomplish 90% of the same thing with just a 1K and a 4K.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: la2tokyo

                                      I should add one other point: I know many professional sushi chefs who never go higher than 1000. If you know what you're doing, you can get a good knife very, very sharp with only a 1,000 grit stone.

                                    2. the site below has a nice summary of the Japanese and American stones. It also suggests what grid stones to purchase. I have Japanese and German knives. I use a 1000 grid stone for general work and a 3000 grid stone for polishing. If the knife is nick or needs alot of work, I use a chef choice asian sharpener.

                                      https://home.comcast.net/~rexmill/sha...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: bgazindad

                                        The way you sharpen a knife is best suited to the way you use that knife IMO. A rough stone makes an edge that loves to fall through tomatoes but because of the "feathers" left standing on that edge they will need to be honed/sharpened more often. And for the same reason will have a shorter life.

                                        The finer the hone, the longer the edge as well as the knife will last. There is less damage if something hard like bone or a ceramic sink is hit with it. And it will stay sharp far longer than the wire edged knife because tallow and tissue can't find as many gaps to fill.

                                        I have a few "Good" german steel knives but I can't help but wonder why people can't put forth the little effort to keep "old hickory" brand knives. They are carbon steel and will rust and tarnish but they hold a great edge and the price is about 1/10th what I paid per German knife.

                                        The sharpening system I use is found at the following link. Same place carries the Old Hickory knives I believe.

                                        http://www.smkw.com/webapp/eCommerce/...

                                      2. Hi Ken K,

                                        I just got my Wicked Edge and love it, I've never been able to get a knife sharp till I tried Japanese Waterstones and now this WEPS. I got the extra 1200 / 1600 grit ceramic stones and a set of leather strops to go with it.

                                        After 40 or so years of messing around in a kitchen it's amazing how many (mostly poor quality) knives one accumulates. I've sharpened about all of them with the WEPS. It is faster than waterstones though I still use them on my really high hrc knives, 64-66 .

                                        The WE is also useful for determining unknown blade angles using the 'magic marker' method Chad Ward talks about in his book, "An Edge in the Kitchen".

                                        Best
                                        Charlie

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: columa

                                          Well, after I emailed and asked when the backordered shipments were expected to depart, I received notice of UPS shipment (squeaky wheel, I guess) last week with arrival today. I hope to play with it this weekend. Frankly, I can't remember if I ordered the finer grit stones--I don't think I ordered the strops.

                                          Looking forward to seeing how well it works...