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Jun 21, 2012 06:26 PM

A steer on a stone

I just recently started breaking into the art of pulling sashimi. For my birthday my dad got me a brand new yanagi (Masahiro-Hamono, 300 mm). I'm pretty depleted of funds but i know i should throw down for some waterstones ASAP if I want the knife to perform. Assuming I can only buy one stone at a time (and that the budget for each stone is about $150) over the next couple of months. Anyone got any suggestions for some clutch brands/grits that I should look out for?

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  1. Congratulations on your new knife! The number of whetstones you will require will depend on how often you sharpen. In kaiseki and sushi restaurants the last task of the day is to sharpen your knife for tomorrow....everyday. If you do this everyday you will not need the lower # whetstones. The higher the # the finer the grain and the more expensive it is. I would recommend a #2000 stone to get you started. #5000 and #12000 are for finishing the edge. You need a #1000 if you start to lose the foundation of the knifes' sharpness.
    Video of technique
    Photos of technique
    Types of stones

    Hope this helps and best of luck!

    ps. if your budget is $150 I would think you can buy 2 types at the very least. the #12000 might be $150 on its own but I don't think you need that yet

    1. Shapton seem to be the best, especially for value. If you maintain your knife, the coarser stones are not needed.

      #2000 grit will put a good edge on most knives but, is still a little "toothy" for raw fish. A #4000 or #5/6000 grit stone will put the "polished" edge on your knife and make it cut raw fish much better.

      4 Replies
        1. re: Sid Post

          Don't know what Shapton stones you're getting or if you're even thinking of getting that brand specifically, but be aware that Shaptons are generally more aggressive, unforgiving stones.

          1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

            I heard they are aggressive and slow dishing, but what do you mean by unforgiving? As in that they sharpened so quickly that any mistakes will be magnified? Or do you mean they are tough stones to learn?

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Yeah, sorry, they're mostly meant for sharpening tool steel. They're super hard and cut really fast so yes any mistakes you make will be magnified especially if you're just learning to sharpen. Definitely not a stone for someone like the OP who is just getting into sharpening with whetstones.

        2. Hi,
          Congrats on the knife. Please forgive me if you are already aware of this, but many j-knives (esp. the traditional single bevels ones) come without the final sharpening steps needed to start using the knife. The manufacturer/maker does so intentionally to allow the owner to “open” the knife or determine the desired final edge. The opening process may include a bunch of things like true-ing the blade, fixing anomalies, etc. and really should be done by someone experienced with single bevel knives. Sharpening a single bevel knife is totally different than a double bevel knife. Starting out with a good / proper working foundation, will make sharpening it in the future much easier.

          I haven't tried enough stones to suggest one over the other, but i rarely go lower than 5k - sans a mishap or premature edge failure. Most of the time i start at 10k... to a loaded strop.

          1. I found a series of quality videos in English that should help you.

            1. Java Bead is correct. In Japan, a lot of traditional knives are sold without completely sharpened, and they can be sold at different stages of the sharpening. For the very least, I hope the back side or flatter side of your blade is hollowed out like this:


              Korin and other places help to do uraoshi sharpening:


              In term of sharpening a yanagiaba, I have heard many sushi chefs can get away with just one good 1000 grit stone. I would suggest that at least finish on a 3000 grit stone.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Thanks everyone for all the input, every single bit is much appreciated. I did have concerns after reading about putting on the real edge and the insert in the box (which I assume holds such information) is in Japanese. The backside of the blade is hollowed but the concave is a little more subtle than the one depicted in the diagram. I'm pretty sure it needs the uraoshi, because mine looks more or less like the "un-uraoshi'd" blade pictured on korin. Thanks everyone for your help again, I am sure my knife sharpening will be much easier with these resources.

                1. re: Tywing

                  <but the concave is a little more subtle than the one depicted in the diagram>

                  That is fine. The diagram is exaggerated.

                  <I'm pretty sure it needs the uraoshi, because mine looks more or less like the "un-uraoshi'd" blade pictured on korin>

                  You may able to do on your own. Jon from JapaneseKnifeImport has a very nice lecture video about the construction of Japanese traditional knife design


                  and another one for actual single knife sharpening and at this particular point, it is about uraoshi-sharpening:


                  If you are uncomfortable doing this by yourself for the first time, then Jon also offers knife sharpening service:


                  1. re: Tywing

                    If you can, try to get a knife sharpening lesson from someone reputable near you. You can watch youtube videos till your eyeballs melt but if you don't have someone who knows what they're doing standing over your shoulder correcting you then you can very easily develop bad habits. I can't tell you how many knives I've seen where the owner seemed to know all about knives, had watched all the youtube videos, could paraphrase Dave Martell, and still brought a blade in with a birds beak.