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please help me choose a knife steel/whetstone

c
chowcook Oct 26, 2011 11:53 AM

Hello,

I'm based in the UK and would really appreciate some help choosing a honing rod for everyday knife maintainance and possibly also a whetstone for sharpening.

I have an 8" Victorinox Chef's knife, a 6" Victorinox Fillet Knife, and an 8" Henckels Twin Pollux Chef's Knife. I'm thinking of getting a better Japanese gyuto or santoku knife at some point in the future when I'm a bit more experienced with knives.

I've read lots of contradictory advice on knife maintenance (including some on this forum) and have also watched a fair amount of youtube videos, and after much deliberation I've come to the conclusion that a fine ceramic rod is probably best for regular honing.

I've been using a 9" Edgeware oval ceramic sharpening rod for this purpose and it seems to do a decent job, except that I've noticed my knives are no longer as sharp as when I first bought them several months ago. The surface on the Edgeware is very smooth and the blurb on the packaging says that "it hones and realigns straight edge knives".

As I live in two different places I need to get another honing rod to keep at my second home and have been looking at these two by Fluegel CSS:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Professional-CERAMIC-SHARPENING-STEEL-Germany/dp/B004FQV08Q/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AXJ1O91VK3X8F&s=generic&qid=1319648365&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Professional-CERAMIC-SHARPENING-STEEL-Germany/dp/B004FQV08Q/ref=pd_cp_kh_1
(not sure if they differ in grit as well as colour

)

There's a bit more information about them on this pdf on Fluegel's website:
http://www.fluegel-css.de/downloads/FLUEGEL_NEWS_E.pdf

The thing that confuses me the most is that they are said to have a "lavish finish" and to be "recommended for very blunt knives". I'm not sure what is meant by 'lavish finish'. The German says: 'Unsere Keramik-Wetzstaehle sind sehr aufwendig verarbeitet'. Does that mean that they are not suitable for everyday maintenance as they remove a lot of steel? In which case should I just get another Edgeware? The main reason I was thinking of going for one of the Fluegel over the Edgeware was that the Edgeware is only 9", which I find slightly short for honing my 8" knives, whereas the Fluegel ones are both 10" long. Also the Edgeware is made in China, whereas the Fluegel ones are made in Germany.

I have a feeling a whetstone would be preferable to a ceramic rod for proper sharpening as I reckon it'd be easier to control the angle. What do you think? I've been looking at the following three options:

Master Class two sided corundum 400 / 1000 grit whetstone with stand

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B003ASDAGU/ref=s9_simh_gw_p79_d2_g79_i4?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=center-3&pf_rd_r=0PCFQQTA6NZKPE9PFYQ5&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=467128473&pf_rd_i=468294

Kai Combination Knife Sharpening Whetstone 400 / 1000 Grit

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000RVDN9C/ref=s9_simh_gw_p79_d2_g79_i1?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=center-3&pf_rd_r=0PCFQQTA6NZKPE9PFYQ5&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=467128473&pf_rd_i=468294

Japanese Sharpening Dual Whetstone for Damascus Knifes, 1000 and 3000 grit:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Japanese-Shar...
(though would this be overkill for entry-level German knives?

)

As a novice, I'm feeling a bit out of my depth on all this, so any help you might be able to give would be greatly appreciated!

  1. Chemicalkinetics Oct 26, 2011 03:52 PM

    "I've read lots of contradictory advice on knife maintenance "

    Unfortunately, you will read a lot of contradictory claims about many things as well.

    "(not sure if they differ in grit as well as colour)"

    As for the stones, I only know the Naniwa stone. It isn't the Naniwa super stone. Since I don't know these stones, I think it is more important for you to figure if you want a 400/1000 grit stone or a 1000/3000 grit stone.

    They are the same rod when I click on it. Exactly the same ASIN number (Amazon Standard Identification Number)

    ""lavish finish" and to be "recommended for very blunt knives""

    I didn't find this part.

    1. cowboyardee Oct 26, 2011 05:45 PM

      The sharpening rod looks more or less fine. I don't know the grit exactly, but any grit aside from the coarsest possible grits should work for routine maintenance.

      It's not a surprise that you've heard contradictory advice. But here's the basic deal - there is nothing wrong with using a ceramic rod on a knife, even a Japanese knife. But it may not be necessary for you. Japanese knives dull more slowly, and their edges don't tend to roll. A ceramic hone is good when you have a knife whose edge is prone to rolling a bit, and also when you want to have a portable, quick method of sharpening as you work. But it's just an abrasive - one that doesn't need water and is in the form of a narrow rod. If you are only cooking at home, you may find that it's redundant when you already have a decent medium or fine grit stone handy for maintenance, especially if your maintenance stone doesn't need a long soak in water. If you're a pro cook or you go with sharpening stones that need long soak times, a ceramic honing rod makes more sense.

      As for sharpening stones - my concern is that the first couple stones you list appear to actually be carborundum stones - oilstones instead of waterstones. These don't grind as fast. They don't feel as nice. They use different grit systems (a 400/1000 carborundum stone would actually be medium and fine, whereas 400/1000 on Japanese waterstones would be coarse and medium). They can tend to get clogged with grit and not work as well as they age. On the upside, they don't need flattening and they cost less.

      The last stone you picked is probably a waterstone - the kind I recommend, especially for Japanese knives. Still, you're picking brands and stones that I'm not personally familiar with, so its hard to guide you.

      1. Chemicalkinetics Oct 26, 2011 11:07 PM

        I am looking at some UK websites beside amazon as it has a rather limited options there. If you are not scared of eBay, then this waterstone looks ok to me:

        http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Ice-Bear-Japanese-Waterstone-Medium-1200-G-Water-Stone-/180579479488?pt=UK_Hand_Tools_Equipment&hash=item2a0b602fc0

        .....

        I just realize that many of these stones are much more expensive in UK than US.

        By the way, I don't know how expensive it is to buy and ship your product from German, but this website has some good selection:

        http://www.fine-tools.com/scharf.html

        8 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
          c
          chowcook Oct 27, 2011 03:06 PM

          Chemicalkinetics, cowboyardee,

          Thank you both for your replies!

          Chemicalkinetics, sorry. I posted the same link twice. The comparison was between this rod

          http://www.amazon.co.uk/Professional-CERAMIC-SHARPENING-STEEL-Germany/dp/B004FQV08Q/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AXJ1O91VK3X8F&s=generic&qid=1319648365&sr=1-2

          and this one

          http://www.amazon.co.uk/Professional-...

          The description is in in the section of the pdf file entitled Ceramic Sharpening Steels. The white rod has the number 3000-250 whereas the blue rod is numbered 3100.

          Thanks for the ebay link. That Ice Bear Japanese waterstone looks good and it's more reasonably priced than others I've seen in the UK. And yes, they are rather expensive over here. I'll also have a look at that German website to see how prices compare with shipping included.

          cowboyardee,

          I was thinking of getting a smooth rod for quick, on the go honing. And then also a two-sided medium/fine grit stone for sharpening when the knife has become a bit blunt over time. Or at least that was the original idea. As I'm only a domestic cook I think I would tend to use the stone less frequently than the rod, especially if it requires preparation. Or do you reckon I could do both jobs (honing and sharpening) with a ceramic rod?

          Thanks for the tip about oilstones. I'll definitely avoid those. Is there any particular brand/model of stone you'd recommend for a novice like myself, that still gives good results? I might be able to find it in the UK, if I decide to go for that option.

          1. re: chowcook
            cowboyardee Oct 27, 2011 03:31 PM

            "Or do you reckon I could do both jobs (honing and sharpening) with a ceramic rod?"
            _________
            Not exactly. I reckon you could do both jobs with a medium to fine 'splash and go' type waterstone (meaning one that doesn't need much of a soak). Doesn't mean you can't buy a ceramic rod and get use out of it, but if you're looking to save money, there's nothing much a ceramic rod can do for a home cook that a medium or fine waterstone can't.

            It's hard to recommend stones, since I don't know what's available across the pond. I see that Amazon UK sells the King brand 800 grit stone. That's a very good waterstone at a good price, but it's all one grit, and beginners usually prefer 2 sided stones. On the upside, it will last a long time.

            Axminster.co.uk seems to have a few options.
            http://www.axminster.co.uk/japanese-w...

            The Ice Bear stones are well reviewed over at the kitchen knife forums but sometimes expensive, and I haven't tried them. The combination stones (250/1000 and 1000/6000) are pretty affordable, but the maker isn't listed.

            1. re: chowcook
              Chemicalkinetics Oct 27, 2011 05:28 PM

              chowcook,

              Yeah, they look the same except for colors. You can buy a ceramic rod for light maintenance, and use the waterstone for full sharpening at the end of the year. Or you can just use the waterstone to lightly sharpening your knives every month or so. I am using the latter approach. If you like a "splash and go" waterstone (little to no soaking), then Naniwa Superstone is a good choice. Cowboy introduced these stones to me. I search in the UK websites and I found this one:

              http://www.edenwebshops.co.uk/en/ct/naniwa-super-stones-japanse-sharpening-stones.htm

              Shapton Glass stones are also "splash and go"

              http://www.classichandtools.com/acatalog/Shapton_Stones.html

              Here are some nice Suehiro stones (not splash and go

              )

              http://www.heinnie.com/Accessories/Sh...

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                r
                Richard L Oct 27, 2011 07:22 PM

                I really have liked the Shapton Glass stones because of the no-soaking. They have introduced a Pro line that is well reviewed, but I have not used it. I have not used the Naniwa stones, but the availability of a 2-sided no-soak stone is very appealing for travel/second home use.

                1. re: Richard L
                  scubadoo97 Nov 1, 2011 03:13 PM

                  Used my glass stones today. I purchased them for the splash and go nature and slow dishing both of which I find very appealing. I personally find little need for a ceramic rod except to sharpen my peeler

                  1. re: scubadoo97
                    Chemicalkinetics Nov 1, 2011 04:41 PM

                    Thanks to you two, Richard L and scubadoo. I have never used the Shapton Glass stones before.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      r
                      Richard L Nov 1, 2011 08:00 PM

                      I don't know how I ran across this, and I apologize to the spouses of the truly obsessive, but:

                      http://sharpeningstonereviews.wordpre...

                      This is sure to give me hours of entertainment and hundreds of dollars of sharpening stones.

                      1. re: Richard L
                        Chemicalkinetics Nov 1, 2011 08:11 PM

                        "I don't know how I ran across this, and I apologize to the spouses of the truly obsessive"

                        I think we all came across this because we are on Mark's newsletter list. :)

                        I almost wrote a post about this article about "Getting Started Sharpening". Actually, I looked at the figures and photos before reading the article, and let me tell you that I was truly confused when I saw this photo:

                        http://sharpeningstonereviews.files.w...

                        I saw "Bull"

                        I was like... I know wire edge, I know sharp edge. Why do he call a rolled edge "Bull"? You see I wasn't remotely thinking of a burr because I thought it was a rolled edge. Is this an insider terminology? Calling knife as bull and bear just like the stock market.

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