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Recommend Japanese waterstones f/ a beginner

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boyardee May 5, 2012 10:18 AM

Hi all. First post. I'm a single guy who likes to cook... simple meals mostly. A couple years ago I was bitten by the "knife bug" and bought 4 good quality Japanese knives. I also bought a Spyderco Sharpmaker and a strop (I got a terrific one, handcrafted in the USA. Check it out at stropman.com... no affiliation, just a satisfied customer)

I'm now at the point where I'd like to learn to sharpen freehand with waterstones. Now to be clear, I'm not looking to chase the forever elusive "perfect edge." I just want some basic bang-for-buck stones that will do a good job of sharpening... Hopefully I could get by with 3 of them... ones that don't require long soak-times. "Splash & go" is enticing, but I'm open to all recommendations. Also, I suppose I'm going to be needing a flattening stone as well, so I'd like your thoughts regarding that.

Thanks!
jc

  1. twyst May 5, 2012 10:38 AM

    Im sure people that know much more than will chime in soon, but I often see this set recommended to beginners.

    http://www.chefknivestogo.com/3pcston...

    Its a Beston 500, a Bester 1200, and a Suehiro Rika 5K.

    1 Reply
    1. re: twyst
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      boyardee May 5, 2012 02:27 PM

      Looks to be a very good recommendation Twyst. Hope to get a couple more reco's for the sake of comparison. Also, I hope someone will recommend a flattening stone. Having to buy a flattening stone turned me off against waterstones when I first considered them.. At that time I was thinking that the DMT stones were a better deal... less "fuss" The fact that the fatteners cost as much as the sharpeners didn't help either. Anyway, I hope others will chime-in as well on this matter.

      Thanks

    2. TraderJoe May 5, 2012 02:27 PM

      I'd opt for a Naniwa SS in 1,000 and 5,000 grit. NOT the thin SS's mounted on bases that some dealers carry. These two stones and a inexpensive flattener (Peacock) will carry you a very long way. Add other stones or stropping supplies in the future as you learn.
      Many seem to like the Shaptons as well but I have no experience with them.
      I don't like the kits offered by many dealers as I think most new sharpeners should stay away from stones coarser than 1,000 until they develop a technique they are comfortable with unless there is a very specific project in mind.

      TJ

      1. cowboyardee May 5, 2012 03:19 PM

        Nice username.

        I really like the bester stones that twyst recommended, but there's one big thing about em - you said you were looking for splash n' go stones, but the besters tend to take a very long soak. They're hard stones (this is especially rare at 500 grit) that dish and wear very slowly, cut quickly, but sacrifice a little bit of feedback. I use the 500 grit stone for any job big enough that it justifies the soaking time, but it's not a stone that I pull out every time I sharpen. For medium and higher grit, I prefer splash and go myself.

        I also use the Naniwa Superstones recommended by Traderjoe. They're excellent - and genuinely splash n go. They tend to be softer and easier to gouge; good feedback; moderate cutting speed; very nice finish. One big BUT though - I'm not a huge fan of their stones in the 1000 grit and below range. They're just a little too soft and slow for coarse and medium/coarse stones IMO.

        I think you should start with a stone in the 800-1200 grit range and then build from there. My favorite stone in that range that doesn't require a long soak and doesn't cost a fortune is actually the king 800 grit. Kings tend to get overlooked compared to the premium brands, but that's a good stone. Coarse enough to remove scratches quickly from a DMT or bester 500. Fine enough to leave a half-decent cutting edge on its own. Requires 5 minutes or less of soaking, along with the occasional splash in use. Medium hardness. Decent cutting speed. Very affordable - you can still find a big king 800 for $30 or less. I recommend avoiding buying it in a combo stone, since it's often sold with a nearly-defective 4000-6000 grit stone on the other side that glazes over immediately in use. Biggest downside is that it doesn't make a super clean jump straight to the 5-6k grit range that a lot of people like to finish at.
        http://www.woodcraft.com/product/2000242/1694/king-brand-deluxe-waterstone-800-grit.aspx

        After that stone, I am a fan of the naniwa SS 2000 grit, but there are other splash n go options. For a higher grit, I haven't tried the suehiro rika 5000 grit, but it invariably gets great reviews and apparently only needs a couple minutes of soaking. The Naniwa SS stones in that range are very good too. There are a lot of great high grit finishing stones (8-12k), but they tend to be expensive, so I suggest trying out stones in the medium range first to see if you even have the urge to go higher - a medium grit along with a good stropping can make for a very sharp edge.

        I personally prefer always to have a coarser stone around, even if I don't use it every sharpening session. But if you are new to hand sharpening, I suggest you practice a bit with stones in the 1k range before messing too much with coarse stones (or big jobs that would call for a coarse stone). On the other hand, you could get a combo stone that has a coarse side as a way to have one around and save a little money. There are a few, though I can attest that this one isn't a bad starter for a beginner -
        http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Professional-Knife-Sharpening-Sharpener/dp/B000UZET0M/ref=cm_cr-mr-title
        A little narrow, the coarse side dishes a little quickly, won't last quite as long as some other stones, but it only soaks for a couple minutes and it works pretty well. Likewise you could consider a combo stone that has a medium and fine side, something like this -
        http://www.amazon.com/Woodstock-Steel...
        I believe chemicalkinetics started out with this one, and basically liked it. The upside of combo stones is they let you learn faster and cheaper, and then once you have some experience, you can buy more expensive stones based on your informed opinion. There are a lot of good stones out there - the trick is in buying stones that work well for how you personally like to sharpen.

        As flattening stones go - you can buy a big DMT xxc (works great but expensive), a 'stone flattener' (still fairly expensive, not quite as good), other DMTs (not as fast as the DMT xxc, a little more affordable) or just something so simple as drywall screen on a flat plate (affordable, a little slower and messier). Depends on your budget.

        35 Replies
        1. re: cowboyardee
          Chemicalkinetics May 5, 2012 05:48 PM

          <I believe chemicalkinetics started out with this one, and basically liked it>

          Yes, I did. It was sold at a lower price of $30. I like it. It is a bit narrow, but it does a good job.

          1. re: cowboyardee
            b
            boyardee May 6, 2012 09:07 AM

            Ha, ha. When I was a youngster, during the out-of-school months of summer, I would crank open a can of Chefboyardee Ravioli for a quick lunch and then get back to my friends pronto for more playtime. Ate it straight out of the can. Hate to admit it, but I usually have a few cans of them in my cupboard for x's when I'm hungry and in a pinch for time. Anyway the irony of the using a username that referenced Chefboyardee, on a forum such as this one, did not escape me. But I see you beat me to the punch ;)

            Moving on... First I want to thank you (and others!) for your valuable input. Is the 800 grit King similar in grind-power to the Sharpmaker's greystone? I have that one and the consensus seems to be that the Sharpmaker is mainly for maintenance of knives that are already sharp. What I'm saying is, wouldn't a 500 grit be a better way to go? (Sure do like the King 800's price tag though!)

            I don't mind the soaking time involved for the Bester as I wouldn't being using it much, compared to the othert stones. Btw, Twyst recommendation referenced only one Bester stone... the 1200. The other stone was a *Beston*... the Beston 500, to be specific.

            At this point I'm thinking: Beston 500, Bester 1200, and a Naniwa SS 2000 (or an SS 3000 instead?) (chemicalkinetics also likes the Naniwa 2000 it seems.... that's reassuring.

            I haven't ruled it out the kit that Twyst mentioned:

            Beston 500
            Bester 1200
            Suehiro Rika 5K
            Deburring Block
            20X Illuminated Loupe

            The inclusion of a loupe for checking scratch pattern and burrs is a nice touch. It already include the Beston and Bester stones. I haven't had time to check out the Suehiro Rika, 5K... (Actually I don't know that I need to go that refined for my purposes.

            Trader Joe, if you happen to be reading this.. thanks for mentioning the Peacock for an inexpensive flattener. Love the price, and it's probably all that I need!

            1. re: boyardee
              Chemicalkinetics May 6, 2012 10:34 AM

              <Is the 800 grit King similar in grind-power to the Sharpmaker's greystone?>

              Maybe, but it is very difficult to compare because the sharpening motion is very different. Your toothbrush may have the same hardness as your kitchen dishwasher brush, but you are not going to use a toothbrush to wash tons of dishes if you know what I mean.

              For most home cooks, a 800-1000 grit stone is very effective. Now, if you want to do some major reprofile of the knives, then you may want to go to 500 or even lower, but again, for most jobs a 1000 grit stone can handle what I want to do. In fact, I often skip 1000 and just go with 2000 grit, and I suspect that you may do the same in a year or so.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                b
                boyardee May 6, 2012 11:21 AM

                Thanks for your considered response. The King stone seems like a good recommendation after all. (again, I sure like the the price. So now I'm thinking
                that the King 800, the Naniwa SS 2000, and the Peacock flattener is all I need for starters. If you (or anyone else) thinks that these graduations are a bad idea, let me know before I make an order (at the beginning of the week).

                1. re: boyardee
                  Chemicalkinetics May 6, 2012 02:19 PM

                  The combination like a good choice to me.

                  1. re: boyardee
                    TraderJoe May 6, 2012 03:04 PM

                    If your going with a 800 king I'd skip the 2k SS and go to 5k. There is usually no need for going in between 1k and 5k. Once you get your edges where you want them you may not need more than the 5k for regular use. If you don't want to go 5K and least go 800 and 3k.
                    I'd agree totally with the suggestion of a combination stone to start. 1k/3k combo is hard to beat starting out.

                    TJ

                    1. re: TraderJoe
                      b
                      boyardee May 6, 2012 09:05 PM

                      So I'm now considering a combination stone.
                      What do you think about KING for that?
                      http://tinyurl.com/6qdop26

                      PS thanks for hangen-in-there w/ me. I should get this figured out pretty soon.
                      You guys sure have helped me narrow things down and I appreciate that.

                      1. re: boyardee
                        TraderJoe May 7, 2012 04:46 AM

                        The 800/4K King combination looks like a great first stone. No need to spend a bunch starting out.

                        TJ

                        1. re: TraderJoe
                          b
                          boyardee May 7, 2012 06:23 AM

                          All-rightee then! Just for future reference, how big a jump should I consider for a 3rd stone? And, in making that grit-decision, can I assume that the Naniwa SS brands compete well in the category "best bang- for-buck"?

                          1. re: boyardee
                            cowboyardee May 7, 2012 06:27 AM

                            A heads up - I am very happy with the king 800, but I have it as part of that combo, and the 4000 grit side is pretty bad. It feels very 'waxy' for lack of a better term, glazes over extremely quickly in use, and is very slow to polish.

                            Unfortunately, I don't have an ideal alternative recommendation for a combo stone in similar grits.

                            1. re: boyardee
                              TraderJoe May 7, 2012 10:00 AM

                              If the 4K side glazes over just hit it with the peacock. The combination stones will never be ideal on both sides but they are not expensive and they are a really great way to start learning.
                              Koki at JCK has a 1k/4K combination stone but I have no idea if it's a splash and go. You could send him an email and ask. ;)

                              TJ

                              1. re: TraderJoe
                                b
                                boyardee May 7, 2012 01:21 PM

                                Hi Cowboy. I appreciate the heads-up from you regarding the King combo stone. I have no problem reconciling what you say w/ TJ's follow-up. The combo is a starter, nothing more, and as such will serve its purpose. Best thing is probably to forget about it though. I have emailed Koi at JCK as TJ suggested to see if the 1000/4000 stone is a splash & go. Even if it is, though, I suspect that may not be the way to go. There is another consideration that I didn't mention, thinking I could work it out on my own. To my dismay, I have a nice Nakiri that has three tiny nicks... hardly noticeable, but nicks nonetheless. Luckily, it's the cheapest of my Japanese knives ($65)... still it's a shame. I must have done something wrong, although I don't recall doing it.

                                So bottom line is I'm going to try and get the nicks out of Nakiri and, of course, I will do considerable practice on my "beater-knives" --a couple of which also have nicks-- before attempting that repair.

                                I certainly agree that using high-grit stones on my better knives (after first practicing on beaters) is the way to start out. But, again, at some point I going to need a stone that will repair my Nakiri.

                                FYI, I'm not strictly bound to a budget... however I want to be real about this. It's easy to go overboard, so I keep telling myself that once the Nakiri is repaired, I probably won't need a coarse stone again and will be perfectly happy with a 4000 grit polish + a bit more refinement via my coarse / fine polishing strop..

                                1. re: boyardee
                                  cowboyardee May 7, 2012 02:12 PM

                                  You can take nicks out with a 1000 grit stone.
                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiYT3xPNkoE&list=UUi1OKw1BM0Ny4nePaXyE7fg&index=70&feature=plpp_video
                                  (for a good look at the chips he's grinding out, go to 5:10 in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiYT3x...
                                  )In practice, it'll probably take you a while longer to remove big chips like those. It's definitely not my preferred tool for the job, but you can still manage it with a 1k stone and good technique.

                                  That said, if you are certain you want a coarse stone, your best bet that doesn't cost a fortune would probably be to buy one combo stone and one additional stone to back that up. Even though I haven't tried it, I like the recommendation for the 1/4k combo stone from Japanesechefknives.com - the nice thing about that site is he tends to stock good products, so if the price is right and he says it's not a long-soaking stone, that's not a bad risk to take. You could supplement that with a coarser stone and call it a day. Alternatively, you could buy the 240/1000 grit combo (which really isn't a bad stone) I mentioned in my earlier post and then supplement that with a higher grit finishing stone. Either way, you'd have your bases covered and will have an easy time of repairs once you've got some practice under your belt.

                                  1. re: cowboyardee
                                    b
                                    boyardee May 8, 2012 07:55 AM

                                    Thanks cowboy, Chem, and TJ for that additional input. Looks like a 1000/6000 + a flattening stone is what I will be getting... Probably the one on Amazon that you recommended, cowboy.... it's inexpensive and has free shipping. If I get to the point where I'm doing well, I can upgrade to something more permanent. I'll probably, once again, harass and demoralize you guys for assistance when that time comes. Sooooo.... I'll be back! ;-)

                                    Somewhere I heard that a cinder block could be used to flatten stones. Any truth to that? I got a few of those about and they are in good shape (flat!)

                                    1. re: boyardee
                                      TraderJoe May 8, 2012 09:54 AM

                                      "Somewhere I heard that a cinder block could be used to flatten stones. Any truth to that? "
                                      -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Drop the $20 and buy a peacock or some other flattener. They last pretty much for ever and you will always want one. Well worth the $$$.

                                      TJ

                                      1. re: TraderJoe
                                        b
                                        boyardee May 8, 2012 10:58 AM

                                        That's what I will do TJ. FYI (and others who might like to know) Koki f/m
                                        JCK emailed me that his (JCK) Special Combination Whetstone Grit #1000/#4000 is a splash & go. I have little doubt that they are of good quality --I bought knives from him that did not disappoint-- but at $65 I suspect I will pass in favor of the cheaper ones cowboy suggested.

                                        Koki's Super Fine Grit #6000/ #8000 whetstones are also Splash & Go, btw.

                                        1. re: boyardee
                                          petek May 8, 2012 08:30 PM

                                          <but at $65 I suspect I will pass in favor of the cheaper ones cowboy suggested>
                                          Just because you're new to freehand sharpening,doesn't mean you should "cheap out" on stones and accessories.
                                          If I were starting from scratch,based on my experience this is what I'd get.
                                          Stone holder $17.50...Lee Valley.You don't need to spend $30.00+ for a holder(you could even get away with using a wet towel)

                                          Chosera 1k $80.-$95(cktg)). or Gesshin 1k-splash 'n' go..$75.00 JKI

                                          Arashiyama 6k $60-$70. (cktg) or Gesshin 5k $75.00 JKI

                                          Diamond Plate ?? 150 grt $70.00 JKI or DMT xxc 120gt $74.00 Lee Valley
                                          For a grand total of around $240.00,give or take a few bucks and if you skip the 5 or 6k stones(for now) the total goes down to about $162.00

                                          .Sounds like a lot,but in the long run this stuff will last you a long,long time.
                                          CBAD,Chem and TJ have all given you excellent advice,this is just my humble opinion.
                                          I personally own and use the Chosera 1k and the Arashiyama 6k and will probably never use anything else for the rest of my sharpening days...probably... :-D

                                          1. re: petek
                                            Chemicalkinetics May 8, 2012 08:43 PM

                                            Petek,

                                            <Just because you're new to freehand sharpening,doesn't mean you should "cheap out" on stones and accessories.>

                                            Somewhat agreeing with you. In hindsight, I would have definitely bought nicer stones then I did. My earlier diamond stones and waterstone are essentially not used anymore. A stone holder is really for great me too. In a way, the stone holder help me more than any particular stone. It just made sharpening that much more comfortable and cleaner (instead of using a wet towel). I know others did not find stone holders to be as useful as I did.

                                            That being said, there is one good reason not to invest so much up front. The reason is this: not everyone end up enjoying sharpening like cowboy, you and me...etc. There is always a chance that someone will find knife sharpening is just too much work or too difficult. In light of this possibility, it is safer to not spend too much up front.

                                            This is also why I usually like to advise people to just get a decent 1000 grit stone without worrying the lower or higher stones. This way, the person can get a decent 1000 grit to test out, and if the person enjoys sharpening, then he/she can expand without replacing another 1000 grit stone. If not, then it is just one stone.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                              cowboyardee May 8, 2012 10:26 PM

                                              "The reason is this: not everyone end up enjoying sharpening like cowboy, you and me...etc. There is always a chance that someone will find knife sharpening is just too much work or too difficult. In light of this possibility, it is safer to not spend too much up front."
                                              ________
                                              Lameass application of math: we recommend starting with a single $40 stone whereas petek recommends going right on ahead with, say, $160 worth of stones. As such, if the chances are 1 in 4 that the OP will be happy without buying a more premium $160 set in addition to the $40 stone, then our recommendations work out even from a financial perspective. I used to play a lot of poker.

                                              Math aside, I also like starting out with an affordable option for two other reasons. One is that there are some pretty decent affordable options. But the other is that there are a range of options in premium stones and starting off in the shallow end lets you figure out your preferences before spending big money. Examples - I've found that I like to use A LOT of pressure on coarse stones whereas I don't need pristine feedback, and as such the beston 500 is a better option than some other premium coarse stones for me. Likewise, some of my stones spend a lot of time in the trunk of my car, so these stones can't be the type that take many hours or days to dry because I'd worry about em cracking in the winter. Even among premium stones, there are options that take more or less water, that feel harder or softer. And that's putting aside the messy question of what grits you keep in your progression.

                                              All that said, I have several stones I no longer use, and it would've been nice to jump straight to my current picks from the get go. If I had bought choseras or superstones or gesshins right off the bat, I might never have bought others and saved a little money... Maybe.

                                            2. re: petek
                                              TraderJoe May 9, 2012 04:31 AM

                                              I can certainly understand the school of thought that would lead some to spend more upfront. I think that method is probably more practical for those who are switching from another sharpening system and already have at least some sharpening experience.
                                              I use the 1K chosera myself but I just can't see the need to spend that much to start. I'd still suggest the 5K SS over a Gesshin etc for some one just starting out.
                                              RE Flattening on a cinder block or brick.
                                              I have never tried this and to be honest I never would. The very nature of splash and go stones is that they are soft. That could cause a lot of damage to your stone very fast. It's also going to be a pain going out side with water or messy. No need to make things more difficult and no need to spend a bunch on a DMT to start. You could always go to KKF and run an ad looking for a used flattener. ;)
                                              When you start sharpening with a double sided stone a flattener can also double as a nagura stone assuming one doesn't come with your stone.
                                              Stone holders, diamond sprays and strops are nice but there's a lot of ways to save $$$ and still get excellent results
                                              Wet paper towel works just fine under a stone for a holder.
                                              Newsprint works for stropping.
                                              Sure there are better and more expensive options but I think some might be surprised how many still use these methods with some pretty fine knives.

                                              TJ

                                              1. re: TraderJoe
                                                petek May 9, 2012 06:53 AM

                                                Again, you 3 have made excellent points.I was just offering the flip side to boyardee's conundrum.

                                                My first stone set up,having no prior experience at free hand sharpening,was a Sugimoto 1k,stone holder and a inexpensive truing stone.That set me back about a C note.Then I added the 6k Arashiyama,another $70.00

                                                I no longer use the Sugimoto(not a bad stone,but for the extra $20.00 the Chosera blows it out of the water) or the truing stone(don't like the way it feels and it has only one use so I switched to a small DMT xxc which I will replace with a large diamond plate).I was lucky enough to have a great local purveyor who told me to go for the Chosera and the diamond plate(plus he offers a free 1 hr demo class) but I cheaped out,saved myself a few $$ and now have 2 pieces I no longer like or use.

                                                So the moral of the story is............ :-D.
                                                If you buy piece by piece it doesn't sound as bad as one lump sum.

                                                1. re: petek
                                                  TraderJoe May 9, 2012 07:57 AM

                                                  "I was just offering the flip side to boyardee's conundrum."

                                                  And they are valid points petek. I won't ever say I don't like the Chosera that's fo sho.
                                                  The moral of the story? It's a slippery slope to the knife looney bin.
                                                  I liiiiiike it there!

                                                  MWAHAHAHAHA

                                                  TJ

                                                  1. re: TraderJoe
                                                    petek May 9, 2012 11:46 AM

                                                    <It's a slippery slope to the knife looney bin.>

                                                    It sure is! And it's a fast one.So many things one can get caught up in,stropping leather vs balsa vs felt,natural stones etc etc..It goes on and on like a never ending children's story... :-D.

                                                    1. re: petek
                                                      scubadoo97 May 12, 2012 06:50 AM

                                                      I just wonder who could be rewarded with razor sharp edges and then want to revert back to mediocre edges. It's one of those things where you can't turn back. Maybe if you stopped cooking all together??

                                                      Like who wants to go back to eating spaghettiiOs?

                                                      1. re: scubadoo97
                                                        Chemicalkinetics May 12, 2012 07:10 PM

                                                        <I just wonder who could be rewarded with razor sharp edges and then want to revert back to mediocre edges.>

                                                        I can see that actually. I would phrase it this way. I certainly prefer a refined sharp edge. The finer the better. However, there is a trade off between this edge and the amount of work I am willing to put it. To maintain an extremely refine edge, I would have to sharpen my knives everyday, much like the sushi chefs in Japan do. However, I am happy enough with a relatively sharp edge and lazy enough not to put in a lot of work. So I sharpen my knives about once every week (having to switch between four main knives, I sharpened them all together about once a month).

                                              2. re: petek
                                                b
                                                boyardee May 9, 2012 09:58 AM

                                                Hi petek. I understand your pov - in hindsight I have often thought that I should have spent more and saved in the long run. Even so... it's easy to decide about things with the benefit of knowing the final outcome. Truth is, I might loose interest after a short while and decide that my easy-to-use Sharpmaker is good enough and hassle-free (IMO!) Anyway, I have ordered the 1000/6000 Woodstock sold at Amazon (thanks f/ that reco Cowboy)

                                                As for a flattening stone... the Peacock flattener (about $20 )at ChefKnivestogo is out of stock I don't know of anyone else who sells it .The DMT recommended by Chemicalkinetics is $10 more; I might get that one, but I'm thinking I might be able to hold-off on that; I have a 6"x7" marble slab that ( if my understanding is correct) I could use w/ dry-wet sandpaper until the Peacock flattener is again in stock.

                                                Thanks

                                                1. re: boyardee
                                                  Eiron May 9, 2012 10:07 AM

                                                  Yeah, I went a year before buying a flattener. It's not an immediate need.

                                                  1. re: boyardee
                                                    petek May 9, 2012 11:51 AM

                                                    <Truth is, I might loose interest after a short while>
                                                    Maybe..you never know.
                                                    I don't know why some people find it a chore and some find it fun and stimulating?
                                                    Left lobe right lobe thing???
                                                    Any-who.I hope you enjoy your new stone and it works out for you.

                                                    P.S..I'd get some sort of truing stone/device sooner than later.

                                                    Cheers!

                                                    1. re: petek
                                                      b
                                                      boyardee May 9, 2012 12:27 PM

                                                      > I don't know why some people find it a chore and some find it fun and stimulating? Left lobe right lobe thing???

                                                      I found sharpening with my Sharpmaker kinda relaxing.... therapeutic, even. So, predictably (like most human beings) I want MORE ;-) I'm thinking "hey I'll bet free-hand sharpening will render even better feeling of well-being" So the bug has bitten (may providence help me resist further tempatation!)

                                            3. re: boyardee
                                              cowboyardee May 8, 2012 11:08 AM

                                              I think that's a good strategy. The 1k/6k combo should function well enough to be your only waterstone if you choose. And it's affordable enough to leave your options open for other stones once you develop your own preferences, if you want to try out more stones.

                                              As for flattening: truth is I bought a DMT XXC plate fairly early on when I was learning to sharpen. It works well, so I haven't tried out many alternate strategies. I could imagine potential hazards of flattening on a sidewalk or cinder block - possible grit contamination (a good rinse should fix this though); an uneven surface leading to uneven stones (my biggest worry); large grits or pebbles gouging bits out of your stones (#2 biggest worry); unusually slow progress (I have no idea). That said, you never know until you try. So maybe a little later I'll see how the sidewalk works for flattening a stone I don't much care for (the king 4000 stone seems like a good option). If I do, I'll update.

                                              1. re: boyardee
                                                Chemicalkinetics May 8, 2012 05:20 PM

                                                <Somewhere I heard that a cinder block could be used to flatten stones.>

                                                Never tried it myself, but I don't see any reason why not. However, like cowboyardee said, there are potential issues.

                                                For flattening , I original bought this DMT fine stone and it worked. It takes longer, but it worked.

                                                http://www.amazon.com/DMT-W6FP-Diamon...

                                                Later, of course, I bought the large DMT XXC stone. In the beginning, like you, I was testing the water and trying to save some money.

                                                P.S.: Koki is awesome.

                                            4. re: boyardee
                                              Chemicalkinetics May 7, 2012 02:35 PM

                                              a 1000 grit stone is more than sufficient to repair more nicks and chips, especially the tiny ones you mentioned.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                TraderJoe May 7, 2012 02:54 PM

                                                Agree with CBD and Chem that a 1K stone is just fine for small nicks.

                                                TJ

                                                1. re: TraderJoe
                                                  Chemicalkinetics May 7, 2012 04:41 PM

                                                  <Agree with CBD>

                                                  Wow, very close to CBAD (an inside joke).

                              2. re: boyardee
                                cowboyardee May 6, 2012 03:18 PM

                                The beston and bester stones are made by the same company and have basically the same qualities in different grits. I have no idea why they call one bester and the other beston. I always forget which is which, but it doesn't really matter much.

                                Twyst recommended a kickass set, as long as you don't mind the soaking time for the first two stones.

                                Like chem, I'd have a hard time comparing the king 800 to a sharpmaker grit. In practice, I think the king 800 will be faster once you're good at hand sharpening, but that probably has more to do with the stone width and material than grit size. As for whether you'd need both a bester 500 and a king 800... not necessarily as a beginner. I was suggesting the king 800 as a cheaper and shorter-soak alternative to the bester 500 and 1200. That said, I do have both the king 800 and bester 500, and I use them for different purposes. The king is my basic starting stone for most non-touch up jobs. But it doesn't compare to the cutting power of the bester 500 (which compares well to a lot of lower-grit stones), so I use the bester for major reprofiling jobs... which you probably won't be doing too many of yet.

                            2. Chemicalkinetics May 5, 2012 05:40 PM

                              <Hopefully I could get by with 3 of them>

                              You can definitely start with one at ~1000 Japanese waterstone. I have a Bester 1000. It is a good stone, but it does require soaking. Conversely, you can get a Naniwa 1000 Super stone. It is a splash and go stone. I have NOT used a Naniwa 1000, but I owe the Naniwa 2000 and 5000 Super stones. Based on my experience, the Naniwa 1000 super stone can be a bit too slow or too soft for a 1000 stone -- as cowboyardee has mentioned

                              As for a stone flattening stone, you can either go with the diamond stone routine, or the traditional flattening stones.

                              1. sherrib May 7, 2012 05:18 PM

                                Can I ask how you're planning on learning how to sharpen? The reason I ask is that I almost went and bought stones so I could teach myself (via youtube) how to sharpen. I ended up taking a lesson instead. There's no way I could have taught myself everything he taught me. Even though it's really not complicated, it was initially more difficult than I thought it would be and it helped to have someone stand there telling me what I was doing right/wrong. It worked well for me. Especially since I went back after a few weeks and re-learned some things I just wasn't getting. I use a double sided stone. One side is 1000 grit while the other is 6000. But, I don't own any Japanese knives (I'm not sure if that makes any difference.)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: sherrib
                                  b
                                  boyardee May 8, 2012 07:33 AM

                                  I won't have the benefit of having help during the learning process. I' will have to be patient and work and rework my beaters until I get it right. I feel confident that I will be able to correct my mistakes over time, but maybe not ;). I do have a Spyderco Sharpmaker, so it's not like my knives are going to deteriorate into butter knives while I'm learning to freehand. Thanks for your input.

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