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Feb 25, 2011 07:36 PM

Suggestion for a Polishing Stone for Knives

Thanks in advance. This is probably only for a handful of people here, but I think I need some suggestions. I had been debating if I should get a high grit polishing stone, and I have decided that I will. Currently, my highest is a Naniwa Super 5000 grit stone. I am considering:

a) Kitayama 8000:

Like: Great reputation, relatively inexpensive, produces a shiny but slightly haze-like surface.
Concern: the permanent stand

b) Naniwa Super 10 000:

Like: Good reputation, produces an extremely bright shiny mirror finish, softer than Kitayama I read
Concern: Mirror finished bevel does not equal to great performance

c) Imanishi 10 000:

Like: Dave Martell touted about it, not too expensive, a slightly haze-like finish
Concern: Not very well known. The little reputation it has could be inflated.

Natural stones sounds fun too, but I know so little about them that I am sure that I am not ready.


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  1. I have heard they are the ultimate but then i'm only going by what I read, natural that is

    3 Replies
    1. re: Dave5440

      Yeah, not just zknives, but many traditional knife sharpeners believe that. However, there are much more to learn for natural stones and I read and read, but I don't think I am ready for them.

      Dave. What is your highest grit stone (not strop) and what brand is it? Thanks.

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        It's a Naniwa Super 10 000 for EP , I've had some strange results lately with all of my stones, it might be because they are a mix of EP and Naniwa but the 400 cuts probably 10X more aggressive than the 120 EP stone(at least on mc66), but now I'm looking for a free hand stone to see if I can do it the same as EP

        1. re: Dave5440

          Thanks, Dave. By the way, one of the many reasons I am interested in Kitayama is that it produces results semi-similar to a natural stone. Many on the knifeforum have stated similar claims. Zknives also mentioned that:

          "...according to "stone guys" from Japan, the true grit is 8000. However, there's a catch, which by the way, is a good one. Kitayama stone has natural whetstone powder in it, so once you start sharpening, the mud abrasive particles break down and the resulting polish and edge are more like 12000 grit. So, perhaps it'd be correct to say that Kitayama has a range of 8000-12000 grit, just like natural whetstones do...."

          Thus far I am leaning toward a Kitayama. It is inexpensive, great reputation, ... I just wish it is not on a stand.

    2. I just bought a Naniwa SS 10K and I do not like it. I was going up from a Masamoto 8K which I foolishly got rid of. The Naniwa is soft in a way I don't particularly like. It gets gouged easily, like a crayon, but it doesn't make a muddy slurry like I prefer, so the softness doesn't really feel good to me. It is extremely sticky too. If you are sharpening double bevel knives with it you may not notice, but on large single bevel knives there is an unpleasant sticky feeling when you don't have a lot of water on it. Of course all stones are sticky without enough water, but for me that one is especially bad - it goes from smooth to sticky in just a couple strokes when you're working quickly. There's something about the texture of a lot of splash and go stones like this one that I don't really like. I don't know if it's a coincidence or because they're just denser. I'm switching to a Chosera which should come in a couple weeks, so hopefully I like that better. I will say that the finish with the Naniwa Super Stone is beautiful, but I don't think that it made my knives any sharper than the 8K Masamoto. It creates a beautiful contrast on kasumi knives and leaves a near mirror finish on honyaki, so that's a definite plus. Obviously there are a lot of people that love it, which is why I bought it in the first place.

      I would like to hear other opinions from people who use grits higher than about 7,000. Do you really feel that there's that big of a difference? I notice it with my better knives, but it seems to me that the average person has more to lose than gain by going to another polishing stone after something around 5,000-6,000. It's easier for me with single bevels, because I'm not worried about my angles, but with a double beveled knife there's not much room for error if you're taking something that's already scary sharp from a 5K, and moving to a 10 to try and make it even sharper.

      13 Replies
      1. re: la2tokyo

        there must be a difference between the Naniwa stones for EP and the free hand stone , my results are completly opposite , mine is sticky with water gets good when it drys out a bit , but it isn't soft at all

        1. re: Dave5440

          Are you doing single bevel or double beveled knives? I don't notice any stickiness with something thin like a gyuto, but it's horrible when I'm sharpening with a big bevel like an usuba. Like I said, it feels hard in that it doesn't erode or dish at all, but it scratches really easily if I try to polish the backside of a knife with an edge leading stroke (which I almost never do, but the few times I tried the stone shredded like a crayon). My problems probably come from the fact that all my other stones feel completely different than the Naniwa and I've been using the same stuff for fifteen years, so change was a bad idea for me.

          1. re: la2tokyo

            Now that you mention it it only got sticky once the land was wider than an 1/8 of an inch,

        2. re: la2tokyo


          You have basically confirmed what I suspect/know. I have two Naniwa stones: 2000 and 5000. They are splash-and-go stones, and they are soft and are prone to gouging. The sticky phenomena is less of a problem for double bevel knives due to the smaller contact surface area, but I have recently polished an entire blade of a Chinese cleaver -- just imagine a 4-5 inch wide contact surface lying flat (worse than usuba or yanagiba), so I perfectly understand what you are saying. Because it is a splash-and-go stone, it cannot really "hold" water. As such, water run out very fast. It is not a problem for most double bevel knives, but it is a bigger problem for single bevel knives. When I was polishing my Chinese cleaver, two or three strokes is all it takes to push all the water off from the stone.

          That said, the Naniwa Super stones produce extremely beautiful bevel surfaces -- hardly debatable on that. Then there are many people have stated what you wrote: "a shinier bevel does not equal to a sharper edge"

          Still, I am personally very happy with my two Naniwa Super stones, but I definitely can see that I may want to use a different style of stone at the 8000 - 10000 level.

          Thanks a lot of your respond. It more or less confirms some of my suspicions.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I don't know how I could contact you, but if you figure something out I can mail it to you so you can try it out. I don't think I'm going to use it much more. I only kept it around this long so my friends and I could experiment with it. I doubt I'm going to use it until it wears out.

            1. re: la2tokyo


              You are too generous with your help. I am afraid that I cannot take advantage of you like this. I will ponder which stone I may get and if I am going for the Naniwa 10K, then maybe you will let me buy it from at a reduced price. Man, the Dave Martell story is still hitting me hard. I am disoriented.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Well if you want to keep it, you can pay me for it after you keep it. No use in buying it new and keeping it if you don't like it like I did. It's just a rock, it's not like I'm lending you a Nenoni Honyaki. Besides, I don't think you can gouge it half as many times as I did lol.

                The Dave Martell story exposes a big flaw with knife forums, which is one that tends to keep me away from that site. A lot of the main posters there are giving advice because they are trying to sell stuff, and it's hard to trust someone who's trying to sell you something. The first time I posted I asked about a stone, and at first I got a couple private messages and I thought it was cool, and then I got constantly solicited for business. I didn't know who to believe. Dave was the only one who sharpened for a living, so his advice was the only advice I really trusted. I take everything I read on KF with a grain of salt. It's not surprising to me that 99% of the products touted there are sold by about five vendors. Some of those products are practically unknown in Japan, but you would think from reading most of the posts that those brands are the best in Japan. I think the conflict of interest there really hurts the validity of information.

                1. re: la2tokyo

                  I'm new to knifeforums and have picked up some good tips/advice in the short time I've been on there but I find it a bit "clubby". Some of the answers to new member questions have been quite condescending,like they're doing you a favour by responding and that you should know better. I'm not bashing the forum,lots of useful info there, just a hint of arrogance on the part of some of the senior contributors

                  1. re: petek

                    You noticed that too eh!, but the genuine (for lack of a better word)people on here make up for it.

                    1. re: petek

                      I think a few newcomers to that site have mentioned such things. They wrote that the only time they got kind response is when they want to bring something, then all the vendors respond and PM them, but if they simply have technical questions or another general questions, then they are shunned.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Saltydog posted a brief goodbye message on KF with no mention of Dave or anyone's name -- simply put up a youtube video on boning a chicen and said goodbye. Immediately, it was taken down.


                        I have never imagine things get this bad over there. Talk about information control or information crackdown.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          The flip side of that whole argument is that professionals like Dave have an opportunity to try a lot more products than the rest of us do, so when their reviews are honest and not skewed by financial self-interest (and to be fair, I never got the impression that Dave's recommendations were - that's one of the reasons I cite him often, though there are other vendors and pros whose recs are more dubious), you can get a better idea of the comparative value and function of more products.

                          I've tried more knives and sharpening products than most home users, but even so, on Chowhound I tend to recommend the same few products often because they're the ones I've tried and I KNOW to be good, not because they're necessarily the best products out there. I suspect the same goes for many chowhound cookware board regulars.

                          That said, there's an openness to inquiry that attracts me to this site, and at the same time a clubby-ness and seeming conflict of interest that keeps me from contributing often to knifeforums, even though there is a great wealth of knowledge and experience there.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            I'm not familiar with the whole situation over there, but it kind of sounds like what happened to the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas. If you haven't heard about that, you should look it up, there is a whole episode of this American life about it. I will mention that it did get violent at one point. Hopefully this won't end up like that.

            2. Hey chem.

              Right off the bat, I haven't tried any of the stones you're considering. Even worse, I've never had a 10k stone. So keep that in mind as you read my advice.

              I didn't get the Naniwa 10k because it is reputed to extremely soft even for the Naniwa stones. As you know, the other stones are fairly soft in their own right.

              I do, however, have the 8k and the 12k Naniwa SS stones. The 12k is a great stone - still soft but not melting away underneath the knives and not so easy to gouge as to be annoying (to me). Great finish, nice mirror shine. That said, I've come to rely on the Naniwa 8k SS more than pretty much any other stone for my own knives (for others', my coarse stones are far more important). The reason for this is I feel the 8k is still aggressive enough to start with it when an edge just starts to turn on me, but also leaves a very fine, useful edge on its own (I'm undecided as to whether the 12k edge provides any real benefit over the 8k after the first 3-5 minutes of cutting with it). Combined with the fact that it is a splash and go stone, it has made it extremely easy to maintain an extremely sharp edge constantly - just pull it out when I notice any significant drop in performance, and it's still aggressive enough to bring the edge back, all in about a minute or two.

              Offhand, I'm betting the Kitayama 8k may well serve the same function. The only factor I'm not sure about is whether it needs a longer soak or not - some sources say just a minute, others say 15. I wouldn't be surprised if it left a better finish than the 8k superstone, while still cutting comparably fast (or faster). It seems to get a lot of love.

              Now, if you're not interested in that kind of super quick, frequent maintenance - if you're still looking to spend a little time sharpening and work up from slightly lower grit, I'd say you should look for something in a higher grit. Cuz you already have a 6k stone right? You could easily hit a 10k or 12k from there.

              The Naniwa 12k is in fact a good stone. I don't know the Imanishi. Price is pretty decent, and if Dave likes it, I consider that fairly high praise - his recommendations haven't failed me so far, though he doesn't seem to take soak times into consideration.

              Also, since you mentioned Dave - have you seen knifeforums in the last few days? Dave seems to have been banned. It's like freaking armageddon over there.

              6 Replies
              1. re: cowboyardee

                Chem: The highest grit stone I have right now is a Arashiyama 6k and I really don't see the need to get anything higher(maybe one day).I personally wouldn't buy any stone with a base,you're loosing a whole surface to work with. As for natural stones,If you got the cash to splurge then by all means go for it,from what I've read there's nothing better.

                cowboy: I recently joined knifeforums and as you mentioned,the Dave vs the" gang" battle is epic. Hope it blows over soon..

                1. re: petek

                  < I personally wouldn't buy any stone with a base, you're losing a whole surface to work with. >

                  I tend to agree with you, as I don't really like the bases, but the one I got is so thin that without a base it wouldn't last more than a year. I still doubt I could get three years out of it - it's only 1 cm thick! Once it gets down to 3-4mm or so you are at a great risk of breaking it and injuring yourself if it doesn't have a base. That makes the thin one kind of a rip off. A thicker one will cost twice as much but last three or four times longer. I bought the thin one because I was scared I wasn't going to like it, which ended up being a good call.

                2. re: cowboyardee

                  Thanks Cowboy,
                  I know Naniwa SS are soft, but I didn’t know 10K is softer than other Naniwa SS. That is odd. I see that you are relying the 8K stone as the sole maintenance and finishing stone. I am currently trying to do the same for my Naniwa 5K, but I often wait too long, so I still have to occasionally go to 2K. Yes, the Kityama 8K seems to get a lot of love and respect. I actually dislike the fact that it is attached to a stand for various reasons, but that shouldn’t be a major problem. The Imanishi stone was touted by Dave Martell as one of the best stones he has ever seen and he even re-branded it under the “JKS”. Then, of course, Dave went through some odd changes in 2010? and decided that he would stop selling items and only focus on knife sharpening. When he came back to sell stones again he only includes Naniwa 10K, but no longer his brand JKS 10K (which is the Imanishi). Talk about some odd behaviors, but that may now makes sense.

                  Thanks for bring this to my attention. I don’t regular on knifeforum at all, so I didn’t know Dave has been or will be banned. That is just crazy. Now that you mentioned it, I wonder some of the odd things I have seen starting to make sense “in hindsight”. I cannot imagine their arguments have to do with any knife sharpening technique or any general knife debate. In other words, you and I can argue about VG-10 vs Aogami till our faces are red and to the point that we stop talking to each others, but that will still fall far from trying to kick a person off. It must have to do with business. I still do not know exactly the reasons are, but I know what they are not.

                  I must say Dave has contributed significantly on the knifeforum and he has helped many people tremendously. Even for someone like me who rarely goes on knifeforum, googling knife sharpening has always brings me to one of his helpful posts. Dave has always been a gentleman in the posts I have read. Do I follow Dave's sharpening stone suggestion? Do I sharpen my knives the exactly the same way as Dave does? Do I even chat with Dave? No, no and no, but I have come to respect Dave more than probably anyone over there. Dave is a great craftsman, artist and teacher. Now, I am suddenly not in the mood to buy any stone. Well, knifeforum is not the beginning and end for everything, so Dave is not losing everything, but I think this incident has taught all of us something in life.


                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I like my Minosharp #472. 1000 / 8000 grit stone. Comes with a nice storage box/ holder. I'm only sharpening my Globals on it so I doesnt have to be super crazy about it . I have also used Kasumi brand whetstones in a 8000 grit and didnt like the results of the stone sharpening friends Shuns and Globals on those stones.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I just had to respond , I visited the link you posted , The first line that came up
                      <KNIFEFORUMS>Intellegent discussion for the knife enthusiast, made me laugh my ass off, but it is sad but that kind of crap goes on , on every forum i've ever been on

                      1. re: Dave5440

                        Money, money and money. I know there are few people on this site wonder why they cannot freely "sell" or "advertise" their business and products on CHOWHOUND. A very tiny bit is probably ok, but any real business dealing will cause serious harms in the long run for "knowledge/opinion-based" sites, like CHOWHOUND. Money is a real serious business. It can cause friendship and it can definitely bring in conflict of interest. Distinction between opinions and advertisements become fussy. Trust gets lost. There are real honest vendors on this site, and I have the pleasure to say PaulFinest is such a man. He has no problem mildly criticizing even the products he sells. Whereas most vendors will pretty much say every products they carry are awesome. Well, that is business and there is nothing wrong with it from a business point of view, but then opinions start to merge with advertisements.

                  2. Chem- I wanted to mention While Chefknivestogo has a wider range of available stones, SRD has some that they don't including a Naniwa 12k super stone for $72. In general I have noticed that their prices are a little lower for the same items than at CKTG. They are focused mostly on straight razors and sharpening them, but they are very knowledgeable about the stuff they sell. I haven't bought anything from them (nor am I affiliated), but I am also planning on getting a few more stones soon and I might get some from cktg and some from them. About this time last year I was getting into shaving with straight razors (a goal I am still pursuing) and I spent about an hour on the phone with Lynn Abrams, one of the two guys who runs the company and he was extremely helpful, I'm sure he would be happy to give you a recommendation. They use all of the stones they sell to sharpen razors so they are pretty familiar with polish level and stone softness, etc.. He also runs, which is a forum whose topic is obvious, and on said forum they have a pretty good honing section. Just thinking you might want to look around there for stone recommendations. I would definitely appreciate it if you would post some feedback on whatever stone you end up getting for those of us who are still considering.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: motownbrowne

                      Thanks Motownbrowne,

                      I actually have been on that website, but never paid close attention to it. As for the pricing, they are about the same as CKTG. That said, price alone is not the only consideration. I think it is important (to me) to buy from knowledgeable and decent merchants. Thanks again for your suggestions.

                    2. I use a natural whetstone I've had for 40 years!