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Buying Sharpening Stones

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I'm looking to buy a few sharpening stones. I'm a complete newbie when it comes to sharpening knives with a stone. I'm not sure what I should look for in a stone. I don't want to spend too much and I want to be able to sharpen knives freehand.

I found the Messermeister one that looks to be the cheapest for 400 and 1000 grit.
http://www.amazon.ca/Messermeister-ST...

What grit stones should I use to sharpen Damascus-steel knives?

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  1. <I'm looking to buy a few sharpening stones>

    First, what kind of knife do you have?

    If you have German brand or America brand knife, then you can use a waterstone, oil stone or Arkansas stone....If you have a Japanese maker knife, then a waterstone tends to do a better job.

    I looked at the link you have. I have never used this particular stone. Usually speaking, the best stones are from stone makers, and not knife makers. Knife maker stones tend to overpriced. However, this stone (from your link) is being sold at a very reasonable price, and based on what I could find on the internet, it is a waterstone.

    Another stone to look at from Amazon Canada is probably this one. It is a thick 1000 grit stone, which I think should be pretty useful:

    http://www.amazon.ca/Steelex-D1068-Ja...

    The price, although not too expensive, is more than what is being sold in US (~$28)

    <What grit stones should I use to sharpen Damascus-steel knives?>

    Damascus pattern or not, they use the same stone. More specifically, what knives do you have? Usually, the 1000 grit stone is the most useful grit size you will need. 800 or 1200 are fine too.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Thanks for the speedy reply!

      I'm using Kasumi knives (Rockwell Hardness of 59 I think), I'll probably get better stainless steel (higher carbon steel) Japanese knives soon.

      1. re: 1jc19

        Kasumi knives are good knives. Nothing to look down upon. They are somewhere between 59-60 HRC, as you have accurately stated. I think the stone you have asked is good. I have never used it, but I think it should be fine. I know a bit more about the "Steelex/Suehiro" stone. If you can find "King" stones, then they are often considered inexpensive and good quality. Of course, this depends who is one selling the King stones. Try to look for waterstone with the grit size between 800-1200 grit. Have fun.

        If you have money to spare, and are a bit worry about the whole hand-sharpening process, then you can go for the EdgePro option as Eager6 has kindly suggested. It is not cheap -- starting around $225.

        http://www.edgeproinc.com/Apex-Model-...

    2. After 40 years of playing with shapening and sharpeners, I'd recommend just skiping ahead and getting an Edgepro Apex. Not so cheap, but shapens really well, and makes the hard part (holding an exact steady angle) work very well.

      You can even get japanese water stones for it.

      1. Hi. I believe your Kasumi knives are Damascus cladded around a core steel of VG-10 and can be sharpened on any decent water stones.  In general, a 1k grit stone is a good starting point.  It will handle your regular sharpening, minor chip repairs and polishing.  A < 1k grit stones are for removing a lot of metal (big chip repairs, regrinds),  and > 5k stones are for polishing...nice to have, but only consider them if you need them / find your 1k too slow.

         I'm not familiar with the one you linked, but many start out with king stones bc they're inexpensive, soft and not very aggressive == harder to mess up with them. 

        1. I have a couple of Kasumi Damascus myself.
          The King 1k should give you good results(never tried it myself,heard it's a good,inexpensive starter stone)

          1. 1jc19,

            Unfortunately, the Amazon Canada selection is limited and the eBay Canada selection is full of shipping fee. (I surfed a bit on both sites)

            If you live near a major Canadian city, then you should able to get an inexpensive and good quality waterstone for $15-35. Maybe eve less. I got a waterstone (not good quality) for $6. You may want to make another post in one of the Canadian sites on CHOUWHOUND, and see if people nearby you have any suggestion for buying a ~1000 grit waterstone.

            15 Replies
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              http//www.leevalley.com/EN/

              These guys carry a great selection of stones etc...

              Such a great store I heart lee valley :)

              1. re: petek

                Wow, an excellent suggestion. Yes. And it seems Lee Valley is all over Canada

                http://www.leevalley.com/en/home/Stor...

                If the original poster (1jc19) ever wants some slightly more expensive stones or sharpening accessories, I know Paulfinest carries some good one too:

                http://www.paulsfinest.com/Sharpening...

                <Such a great store I heart lee valley :)>

                Don't you also heart Tosho and Knife as well?

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I do heart Tosho and Knife! I'm all about supporting local business!

                  Both Tosho and Knife also carry some great stones,but I'm not sure if the will ship.

                  1. re: petek

                    Pete,

                    You told me before, but I forgot. You live close to Toronto or Montreal?

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I live in the great city of Toronto..born and raised!

                      1. re: petek

                        Oh. Then you must knew that big snow storm when I visited Toronto last Dec (26th to 29th). Heh heh heh. It was really cold for me. I visit that huge mall Eaton Center Mall, Pacific Mall, Royal Museum, Toronto Chinatown, and tried several nice restaurants....etc. :) It was fun. I may come up there later this year and buy some more CCK knives. :P

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Toronto is a great city to visit in the spring,summer or fall,not so much in the winter.....

                          Let me know if and when you plan to visit again.

                          1. re: petek

                            Sure thing. I will again make one of those "Where should I go to eat?" posts.

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Hey chem, what's your take on those steelex stones from amazon and what kind of Waterstones did you find for 6 bucks?

                1. re: JavaBean

                  I have used a different Steelex stone from Amazon:

                  http://www.amazon.com/Woodstock-Steel...

                  It was much cheaper when I bought it. I like it fine. It was very easy to build up mud and ground fast, but it wore fast too. I think it was a good stone to learn from, and its original price ~$29 was reasonable. I don't think I recommend it at its $37 price point. My understanding is that Steelex does not make these stones, they are sourced from Suehiro which offers a lot of stones. I have seen its catalogs. They are awesome.

                  As for the $6 waterstone, I got it from H-Mart (a Korean supermarket chain). I didn't need it, but at $6, it is tough not to buy it just to play around. It is actually from the famous Naniwa company. Here are two photos:

                  http://www.chow.com/photos/777503

                  Like all stone companies, they make high end and low end stones, and I am very sure this is the low end stone. I used it once. It cut, but it did not feel very good. It felt very hard and did not wear much and did not build up mud/slur. It almost felt like one of those cheap oilstones. For $6, I won't complain at all, and it is ok.

                  1. re: JavaBean

                    JavaBean,

                    If you have time, I think you will get a kick of looking through these three catalogs from Suehiro.

                    http://www.suehiro-toishi.com/wp/wp-c...
                    http://www.suehiro-toishi.com/wp/wp-c...
                    http://www.suehiro-toishi.com/wp/wp-c...

                    I think even for many of us who have some knowledge about knives and sharpening stones are very limited in term what these companies truly can offer.

                    Every year they launch something new (almost like McDonald). I think this year they launch the circular stone. I don't think I understand why. I think it is suppose to allow you to sharpen a knife in all direction, but I don't think I will like it. See the 4th video on this page:

                    http://www.suehiro-toishi.com/howto/#...

                    I actually think the 5th video one may be useful for some people who have problem holding the angle.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      A $6 Waterstone that actually sort of works is pretty good.  The inexpensive, grocery store class stones I've tried were a waste of money as they melted away like a warm stick of butter. 

                      I didn't know Steelex were from Suehiro.  Wow, they got a lot of stuff !  I'm not sure what to make of that round stone.  It might be good for those who use a circular sharpening stroke or kinda neat mounted to some sort of turntable like a lapping machine. 

                      It sounds like the Steelex grinds better, but like the King also builds up a lot of mud and wears rather quickly.  I'm thinking about replacing my King 1k / 6k with the Bester 1200 and Rika 5k which are reported to be aggressive, and long lasting, but also leaves a scratchy finish.  Do you have any thoughts on them or know of better 1k or 6k alternatives?

                      1. re: JavaBean

                        Chosera 1k and Arashiyama 6k is what I use and I'm very happy with the results I get

                        1. re: JavaBean

                          <I didn't know Steelex were from Suehiro>

                          Just the stones, not everything else. :)

                          < the Bester 1200 and Rika 5k which are reported to be aggressive, and long lasting, but also leaves a scratchy finish.>

                          I have never used them in person. I have the Bester 1000, not Bester 1200. Assuming they are about same (a likely case), then the Bester 1000 stone is a relatively slow wear and fast cutting stone. It is on the harder side, but not too hard. The Suehiro Rika 5K is highly praised by the knife community. Both stones are highly recommended by Dave Martel, which you probably know already.

                          As for Petek suggestion, Chosera stones are always considered the very top tier. They are expensive, which is their one criticism. I remember people asking "Why do I pay so much for a Chosera stone, when I can buy a natural stone at this price". I don't know much about Arashiyama 6K, but I know there is some confusion about Arashiyama 6K and Takenoko 8000. Both known to be good.

                          http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/sho...

                          As for me, my current setup is the Bester 1000, Naniwa Super 2000, Naniwa Super 5000. I don't know it is better, but it is what I have. Naniwa Super stones are known for: (1) Splash and go, (2) produce some of the best mirror finish, and (3) soft. I like them overall, but they do feel a bit weird with this ever slightly plastic rubber feel to it.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Pete, Chem...Thanks for sharing. I'll put them on my to read up on list along with the bester and rika that I found from Dave Martel.

                            I'm currently working on several knives with tough steel that are eating my stones: a D2 (hate tool grade steels), a Blue # 1 ( a little more wear resistance than Blue #2, but is comming along), and some sort of White that must be petrified or something.

                  2. Check out chefknivestogo.com
                    The guy that ownd it is mark Richmond. Eamil him and he'll amke soemchoices for oyu. He's agreta guy,too.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: redstickboy

                      Unfortunately, Mark does not ship to Canada.

                        1. re: petek

                          Hmmm, maybe I mix him up with someone else then. Let me take that back.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Mark ships to Canada but there are some brands like Mac and Tojiro that ha cannot ship to Canada. I am guessing it is the distributor that prevents him from doing so.

                            I agree with Pete that Toronto is not so great in the winter - wet, slushy damp cold that goes right through your bones, even though the absolute temperature is not really that low..

                            1. re: BruceMcK

                              Thanks for the clarification and information, Bruce. Much appreciated.

                    2. Thanks for the great replies everyone! I made a list out of all the stones mentioned (probably the weirdest thing I've done), and I think I'm going to buy the Messermeister one as an entry-level stone to learn sharpening technique and invest into one/a few of the nicer stoners you guys mentioned.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: 1jc19

                        Jon at Japanese Knife Imports does international shipping and has outstanding stones.

                        http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/i...

                        Jim

                      2. So I just decided on the 1000 grit Naniwa from Paulsfinest after some research on these forums.

                        http://www.paulsfinest.com/Naniwa-Sup...

                        I also looked at the Bester 1000 & 1200, but I don't think I'll be able to get them in Canada for less than $100

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: 1jc19

                          I have the Naniwa Super 2000 and 5000, and I like them. Naniwa Super stones were introduced to me by cowboyardee and others. I know people who have Naniwa Super 1000, and they seem to like it too. (but I don't have Naniwa Super 1000)

                          There are some pros and cons, like most stones. What I like about Naniwa Super is that (1) it is "splash and go", so you can start using it right away without soaking. (2) they are relatively large stone. (3) Naniwa Super is renounced for its ability to give mirror shine finish.
                          On the other hand, the stone is very easy to gouge. So be careful. It does not cut really fast, but not too slow. It has a gummy smooth feel to them, so it will take a little to get used to.
                          I have a Bester 1000 stone. It is very different. It cuts fast and wears slow, but it does not give a very good polishing finish.

                          In my opinion, the Naniwa Super 1000 is a better stone if you are going to use it as a finishing stone. The Bester 1000 is better if you want to change the edge angle or fix chips and nicks. Good luck.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Adding to what Chem said about the SS being soft I'd suggest rounding the edges. From Naniwa I use a 1K Chosera and a 5K SS. Both very nice stones.

                        2. I hope I am not too late and you have not already bought a stone. Until you take a skills class on knives and sharpeners you can do more damage than good. The angles on the blades Western (European or American) are different than those of Asian knives. If you are unskilled an expensive knife can be damaged easily. I sell knives of several types and brands. What I would suggest you do is buy a Chef's Choice 15/20 electric sharpener, BTW it can sharpen serrated knives too. I do sharpen knives, mainly for friends. A simple hone is great for day to day. I have one for Asian knives and one for western, they are simple pull through devices and do a great job. Knives do not need a new edge put on them with any regularity. Having a good hone to align the edges is what is needed most frequently. Both Henckles and Chef's Choice make them and they won't break the bank. I am known in the kitchen store i work in as "the knife lady."

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Candy

                            i actually see more damage caused by electric sharpeners like the chefs choice than i do from people trying on stones (i run a knife specialty store and do sharpening here so i see a lot of knives)

                            1. re: JBroida

                              Well so do I and people who are clueless about stones and angles have screwed up more knives than I care to comment on. Chef's Choice, used properly does an excellent job. Before sharpening I steel the knives and then restore the edge.

                              1. re: Candy

                                the chefs choice has no ability to thin behind the edge (an important part of sharpening), leaves less of a finish, can grind such that the edge looses its shape over time, cant sharpen any traditional single bevel knives, cant sharpen super hard and/or wear resistant steels well, cant maintain angle asymmetry, cant microbevel, and cant adjust based on preference. Stones can, and having taught a bunch of people how to sharpen on stones, i am a firm believer than anyone can learn to do a decent or better job at it.

                                1. re: JBroida

                                  I agree with Jon here. The Chef's Choice is not really a viable option for truly sharp knives and is not an option at all (IMO) on J-knives. I've seen a lot of knives messed up beyond what it would be worth to repair them from people using grinders like CC but very few by hand. Most users tend to be far more cautious sharpening by hand. Hand sharpening is not that complex. Even a fairly new sharpener will be getting far better results that a CC pretty darn quick.

                                  1. re: TraderJoe

                                    I agree that Chef's Choice is not an option for J-knives. It seems very likely to chip the knife. Even if it doesn't chip it, it will destroy the sharp edge which is the whole purpose of buying a J-knife.

                                    Learning to hand sharpen isn't that hard. I've done it, and seen others do it. Plenty of good videos available on youtube. Find an expendable knife or two to learn on -- if you don't have one around the house, your local Goodwill has several.

                                2. re: Candy

                                  Anything used improperly will make a mess of an edge. Worst things I see are from power equipment, carbide pull though gadgets, and anything that doesn't reach the bolster or heel of a bolsterless blade.

                                  That leaves quite a swale in the blade and can be a PITA to totally reshape. Last week I spent about 45 minutes with a belt sander reshaping, thinning, and resharpening one horrible blade. Not really worth it but sometimes it is the principle.

                                  Jon covered all the other shortcomings of a CC type device and Joe is right about people are more cautious on stones and will muck them up far less.

                                  Jim