HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Discussion

Knife sharpening question

I have 3 original Sabatier knives (filleting, chef's, cleaver) 2 American Knives (chefs, Santuko), 1 German, utility knife, and 1 Japanese paring knife.

The German knife and one of the Sabatier's have heels. I have been using a Chef's Choice electric sharpener for a number of years. It's been great except for the knives with heels. The last 1/2 inch or so does not go through. After a while they have lost their balance because this part of the knife is wider then the rest. It's millimeters, but it makes a very big difference.

So this has brought me to the realization that it is time to learn how to sharpen my knives with a stone. I am looking for a whetstone that is easy to use and not too expensive. Any help would be great. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I'm sure others will give you good advice about whetstones, but I'd like to make another suggestion. Perhaps you could have a professional knife sharpener grind a bit off the heels so they would work with your sharpener.

    6 Replies
    1. re: GH1618

      < Perhaps you could have a professional knife sharpener grind a bit off the heels so they would work with your sharpener.>

      Good idea, but I think more than a bit of the bolster has to be taken off for a Chef's Choice sharpener.

      See how deep the knife is in the Chef's Choice:

      http://youtu.be/d8HtsGy4tmU?t=58s

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I see, but wouldn't it be sufficient just to reduce the blade at the back. It wouldn't go through, but at least you wouldn't have the extra blade depth intervering.

        1. re: GH1618

          Just doing the blade, will eventually create a gap where the heel section of blade can't contact the board. The bottom of the bolster needs to be level or above the edge.

          1. re: JavaBean

            Java,

            I think that is what GH meant. Just reduce the bolster area. Move it up

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Opps, sorry GH.
              Yikes, that's two brainfarts in a row...must be going senile:(

          2. re: GH1618

            <but at least you wouldn't have the extra blade depth intervering.>

            I agree. That may be jefpen2's problem. I am not entirely sure.

      2. <The German knife and one of the Sabatier's have heels>

        I would be very surprised that your American knives (Chef's and Santoku) have no heels. Do you mean bolster?

        Knife heel is this:

        http://www.chefproknives.com/assets/i...

        < I have been using a Chef's Choice electric sharpener for a number of years. It's been great except for the knives with heels.>

        It sounds like you mean bolster.

        <So this has brought me to the realization that it is time to learn how to sharpen my knives with a stone.>

        Knives with a full bolster is also challenging on a whetstone, but a least it is possible. You will need to remove a little bit of the bolster to make sure the knife edge can fully contact the cutting board. If you don't, then bolster will be lower than the rest of the knife, and you will have a gap.

        < I am looking for a whetstone that is easy to use and not too expensive.>

        With your knives, you can pretty much use anything. Arkansas stones should work, so will an inexpensive Japanese waterstone.

        http://www.amazon.com/Lansky-x2-Hard-...

        http://www.amazon.com/Suehiro-D1069-D...

        4 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          this is what I'm refering to. Mine looks like this. I think it would have to be ground down to be even with the blade? Can I do this with a stone?

          http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/kniv...

          1. re: jefpen2

            Yes, you can use stones to grind down the bolster, but it takes a while to do the thick ones on a German knife. A bench grinder or metal file is more effective.

            1. re: jefpen2

              Hi, jefpen2:

              You're going to need to regrind/have reground that heel reinforcement. It's not that big a deal, except--as you've noticed--the reinforcement gets in the way of putting it through/across a "slot" sharpener.

              It's just a progression from chef to slicer to petty to parer, if you think about it...

              If you want to get a jump on the future, have a bladesmith cut a "choil" up into the reinforcement that will give you enough clearance to run through your sharpener. (These reinforcements are largely unnecessary unless you are disjointing large animals).

              Aloha,
              Kaleo

              1. re: jefpen2

                Yes, there are a few ways to do it with a stone. You can grind the bolster from the two sides, which is what you have suggested. You can grind the bolster from the bottom. Regardless, it is probably easier to send it someone to do it for you -- if you want to continue to use your Chef's Choice sharpener.

                If you don't care to use your Chef's Choice sharpener, then I would just move the slightly bolster up from the heel, so it no longer interference your hand sharpening.

            2. I too have used a CC sharpener, perhaps too aggressively on some good German knives all with substantial bolsters. The result which did shorten the effective blade length and balance by taking away the blade profile for the last 1" closest to the bolster. Best decision I made was to locate a professional knife sharpener who was able to bring down the bolster so the effective length and shape of the blades were restored. I think I paid about $5.00 per bolster repair since I had several knives to fix. I also sprung for sharpening service on those knives and they came back like new and sharper than ever. Point being over zealous mechanical sharpeners have consequences but there are cost effective ways back to good knife profiles

              1. Note how the bolster of the Sabatier is angled and the Germans are nearly level withe the edge.

                If I have to drastically reduce a bolster I emulate the Sabatier which F Dick uses a similar angled reduction.

                Rock the Sab back on the edge of the board and see where it sits flat on the bolster grind. Then take that to your abrasive and reduce away. Get the bolster even and then thin the sides.

                Afterwards sharpen the edge.

                I always buzz the bolsters down a bit when sharpening a German knife. If metal comes off the edge an equal amount needs to come of the bolster to keep it on the board.

                I have seen 1/2 the blade not make board contact with a neglected bolster from pull through sharpeners.

                Gottta get medieval on them sculpting the metal with a super coarse abrasive sometimes to get them down then polish them up.

                Any professional sharpener worth their salt knows how to do this. Just ask about a "bolster reduction". If they appear confused find someone else.

                Jim

                1 Reply
                1. re: knifesavers

                  <I always buzz the bolsters down a bit when sharpening a German knife.>

                  That is nice of you.

                2. So what are my choices if I want to learn how to sharpen with a stone?

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: jefpen2

                    You could watch the Richard Blaine videos on knife sharpening which are online. I'm not an expert, though, so I'd like to know what the knife afficianados here think of these.

                    1. re: GH1618

                      I think the Richard Blaine videos are a good start. They will certainly get you to the point that you can get a knife sharper than you've ever thought possible.

                      As far as choosing stones, there are three basic types - Oil stones, which are very inexpensive and have fallen out of favor recently. You can get a complete set for $60 or so. These folks have treated me well - http://www.sharpeningsupplies.com/Oil...

                      Water Stones are what are popular now - I honestly skipped right over these because they have one big issue, IMO, which is that they are very soft and must be kept flat with a lapping stone which adds work and cost.

                      I jumped right from oil stones to diamond plates which are expensive, but will last virtually forever and need no flattening (in fact they are used to flatten water stones). Much more expensive though at $140 for a kit - http://www.sharpeningsupplies.com/DMT...

                      I added a ceramic finishing hone, and my knives can now easily shave newspaper. Well worth the effort.

                      Don't be intimidated. If you can follow a recipe, you can learn to sharpen a knife!

                      1. re: zhenya00

                        <I jumped right from oil stones to diamond plates which are expensive, but will last virtually forever>

                        They actually don't last that long. My DMT diamond stone used for sharpening last shorter than my waterstones. On top of that diamond stones have issues of producing very refine edge.

                        Need no flatterening is true.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Well, you are the first person I have heard say that among many many reports that I've read. I have little doubt that they will last most of my life keeping a half-dozen kitchen knives sharp. The very rough cutting sensation that the plates give when new goes away quite quickly, but that doesn't impede their sharpening ability - it's just part of the break in period. Light pressure is a key part of keeping them in good shape.

                          I agree you need something finer for finishing.

                          1. re: zhenya00

                            I am sure you have read that many people said that they reserve their diamond stones for nothing but for lapping. Why would one need to preserve a diamond stone for lapping. What is behind that statement is that diamond stones can wear away pretty fast.

                            I am also sure that you have heard of the famous atoma diamond which has the advantage of replacement diamond pads. The reason why replacement pads are needed is, in fact, the stones wear out.

                            http://www.japaneseknifesharpeningsto...

                            As for diamond stones wear, it has been discussed here by other posters as well. The break-in period is a nice way to say that a diamond stone gradually loses its cutting power. Its cutting performance changes over time, not just the so call "break in" period. It cuts less and less until it is completely gone. The cutting performance is not consistent throughout its lifetime.

                            Waterstones are designed to wear fast. Because a waterstone sheds its surface fast, it also means that it re-surfaces its cutting surface, thus maintaining a consistent cutting performance from the first day you buy it to the day it dies.

                            Here is a photo of one of my DMT stones. In the corners, the diamond particles are completely gone. The surface is very smooth like a polished stainless steel -- which is exactly what it is.

                            I know a lot of people claim that a diamond stone last a long time because diamond particles are hard and wear slow, but there is a disconnection. While it is true that diamonds are hard and that diamond layer wears slow, it is also true that the diamond layer is very thin. A diamond stone has probably micometers thick of diamond. A waterstone has centimeters thick of abrasive. We are talking about difference of several orders of magnitude in term of materials.

                             
                    2. re: jefpen2

                      <So what are my choices if I want to learn how to sharpen with a stone?>

                      Are you asking options for learning knife sharpening or options for stones. As for stones, I have made a couple of suggestions (see above). As for learning, there are many knife sharpening videos. Mark Richmond has a series knife sharpening video:

                      http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=...

                      Thomas Stuckey also has a nice series of knife sharpening for beginners. In fact, his videos are only the only few good ones on expertvillage (for people who understand the jokes on expertvillage. Heh heh heh:

                      http://www.youtube.com/results?search...