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Which whetstones to get for my Global knives?

I'm new to knife sharpening but really want to learn how to do it properly with whetstones. I'd like to be able to keep my Global knives in good shape, but I'd like to keep costs low and don't want to purchase superfluous stones.

I've been looking at the double sided, medium/rough (240 and 1000 grit) Global whetstone. What else would I need? A super fine stone (6000 grit)? Or would a honing rod suffice? The super fine stone is about the same price as the honing rod, so it would be nice to pick just one of them.

Thanks for your help! I also looked at the minosharp sharpening gadget, but don't want to scratch up the sides of my knives. I also just feel like this is a skill I should learn. I have a victorinox chef knife I can practice on before trying the global knives.

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  1. Check out used arkansas stones on Ebay.

    1. Since Global's aren't - relative to true Japanese knives - very hard (in the 56 - 58 HRC range) I'd suggest staying at or above ~3-4 micron in grit size for best performance. This means that I don't think you'd see any benefit from going finer than a 4000 grit JIS stone. Shapton and Chosera/Naniwa are nice choices for relatively worry free stones--no need to soak, you just splash and go.

      4000 grit is still pretty fine, and you will be approaching a mirror finished edge. It's more important to get a good 1000 grit stone.

      Unless you do a lot of bevel setting, I don't really see a need to get a stone below 1000 grit. You can look around for a 1000/4000 grit combination stone or, which I would recommend, get two separate stones. Picking up two Naniwa Super Stones in 1000 and 3000 grit would only be ~$75 and would be all you would really need--unless, that is, you started getting really into the deeper end of sharpening.

      1. <I've been looking at the double sided, medium/rough (240 and 1000 grit) Global whetstone. What else would I need? A super fine stone (6000 grit)? Or would a honing rod suffice? The super fine stone is about the same price as the honing rod, so it would be nice to pick just one of them.>

        A combination stone is good. I am not too into combination stones, but they are fine. I would say that most combination stones are good, and you don't have to buy a Global whetstone -- unless it is on sale. Usually speaking, a whetstone from a knife maker is marketed pricier than it should be.

        I don't think you need a 6000 grit stone now. You can, but it is not required especially you don't want to spent too much.

        I heard this is a good stone:

        http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Profes...

        I used to use this one (below), but the price has jumped up, so I rather not recommend it anymore:

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

        1. I don't know anything about Globals in particular, just giving the advice I would give about any japanese knife. I am assuming that Globals share a similar hardness and bevel angle.

          I would recommend the fine stone over a honing rod, hands down. Anywhere from 4K to 6K grit should be fine.

          1. You don't want to use a course 1000 grit stones because you'll remove too much metal while you're still learning. Stay in the 4000-6000 range.

            The single grit waterstones are usually wider than most of the combination stones. Wider stones will help you make better contact with the knife. Especially, when working 240mm or longer knives.

            I still use my first waterstone, King 4000. The pores will get saturated. But all that gets cleaned out when I flatten it.

            5 Replies
            1. re: unprofessional_chef

              With all due respect, I disagree about starting with a finer stone.

              You're of course correct that a finer stone will remove metal more slowly, and could help a novice sharpener avoid grinding away much excess metal once the bevels of an edge have already met.

              But IME, the bigger problem for novice sharpeners is getting frustrated and second guessing themselves while learning to sharpen. They sharpen for a while, and when the edge doesn't seem sharper, they change their angle, often compounding the problem and making them take even longer (or else sharpening at too obtuse an angle). Very dull knives can take a good while to sharpen with a stone in that range. Additionally, Global knives can exacerbate this problem, because they come with a slightly convex bevel, which generally should be flattened the first time they're sharpened on stones - using a 4k-6k stone, this would be kind of a pain in the ass.

              Anyone who's removed a decent sized chip with a 1000 grit waterstone knows that it takes a LOT of work even at 1k to grind far up into the blade. And coarser stones have the additional advantage that they create a larger, more easily detectable burr more easily, which can be helpful to a beginner.

              Instead of relying on only a medium-fine stone, I'd suggest that a beginner is better off with one in the 1000 grit range, and also get a cheap, relatively soft knife that reliably takes a decent edge to practice on - a Victorinox or a Kiwi or a Rada, for example. Once a beginner is proficient, it's easy to avoid removing excess metal. And IMO, it's easier to learn to sharpen with a coarser stone. Even as an experienced sharpener, I rely on my 800 grit stone more than I do my finer ones.

              1. re: cowboyardee

                An important technique is knowing how to angle knife so the primary bevel is completely flat in full contact with the stone. Some people use the magic marker/sharpie trick. But I'm at the point where I know how to feel and listen for it. IME the finer grit stones will give a more noticeable feed back and distinct sound than course stones like a 1000 grit.

                I started with a King 4000 and I'm glad I did. Because one of the first techniques I picked up is if I positioned the knife correctly the primary bevel would almost stick to the stone. Making perfect contact. I was hoping to steer novice sharpeners in this direction.

                I've never sharpened a convex edge so maybe 1000 grit is the way to go.

              2. re: unprofessional_chef

                cowboyardee's post is spot on. Even flattening a convex bevel to a V bevel - without any real thinning - could take 5 - 10 minutes on a 1000 grit stone. A novice sharpener will quickly get frustrated or bored within the first few minutes, and will begin changing angles thinking that they are doing it wrong. This creates a compound bevel along the length of the bevel.

                A stone in the 4000 - 6000 grit range is going to have a grit size in the ~4 - 2.5 micron range. In comparison, most 1000 grit stones are typically in the ~16 - 14 micron range. This means that a sharpening job could take 4 - 6.4 times as long to do. A job that a 1000 grit stone could do in about 10 minutes could take upwards of an hour to do: this is far to long to ask most people to hold a consistent angle when sharpening. This is not even taking into consideration the cutting speed of the stone.

                It is true that novice sharpeners will likely take off too much steel at too steep of an angle, but I don't think that there is any real danger in the 1000 grit range. It's not until you start hitting 25+ micron grit sizes that you can easily take off too much steel.

                Unless the OP is going to pick up some knives with harder heat treatments, I'd still recommend staying at or below 4000 grit JIS. Most Henckels/Wüsthof's that I sharpen (which are hardened to 55 - 57 range) do best with a ~7 micron edge--they don't hold a more refined edge for very long, and so this is the best balance of a fine edge and increased edge retention. The slightly harder Global (56 - 58) would probably be ok in the 6 - 4 micron range, though getting into the 2 - 4 micron range would likely be a little too refined for the blade to hold an edge for very long.

                1. re: unprofessional_chef

                  I think 1000 grit is not a bad start especially for a knife like Global, which is convex. In fact, this is why I thought the original poster's idea of getting a 240/1000 comb stone may not be a bad idea. The 240 can really help to flatten the convex edge. It will take way too long on a 4000-6000 grit stone to flatten the convex. On top of it, Global knife steel is not that special. I don't think it can take advantage of a 4000-6000 grit stone.

                  As for the concern of taking too much metal, this is definitely a valid point. I think this is why it will be good that the original poster starts and practices on a cheaper knife.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Thanks so much for the advice!

                    I'm also getting another knife or two and I am considering going with Mac Pro or Masamoto instead of Global.

                    I have pretty small hands and like the handle and weight of Global. However, I've also heard great things about Mac Pro knives. Not sure if any of you have experience with these knives and have any advice.

                2. I agree that you'll only need either a 1000 or 1200 grit stone to get your Global sharper than it was from the factory. If you want a finer grit for polishing the edge, I'd recommend a 4000 grit. It's a big jump from 1000 to 6000 & just makes things more difficult for someone just starting out with sharpening. I also recommend starting out with single stones rather than combo stones. You'll get 'more for your money' that way.

                  1. Very interesting factoids in this thead. Thanks to all. I am still unsure, however, what the bottom line is. I have OK knives (mostly Wusthof, one Victorinox). I am not on a holy grail mission to achieve the perfect edges. I just want reasonably sharp edges that I can bring up myself with a reasonable effort. Given that I have zero whetstones now, what do I start with, a single 1000 or a combo 240/1000?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: sandiegomike

                      Sometime I like to give a flexible answer -- mostly because there isn't one single good method. However, it can be confusing at times to say too many "maybe" or "up to you" or "it depends" to a new comer.

                      So if it is up to me. I will get a the 240/1000 just on the safer side. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting the 1000.

                      I do want to point out the pros and cons -- just to be clear.

                      Your Global knives have convex edges.

                      http://cdn.cheftalk.com/c/c0/c0eda13e...

                      This means it will take you awhile to get from the convex edge to the V-edge (straight edge) for the very first time.

                      The good thing about getting your 240/1000 combi stone is that your first time sharpening will be quicker with the 240 side. The bad thing about getting the 240/1000 stone is that you won't use the 240 very often after the first time, and you are left with a smaller 1000 stone.

                      ***Edited: I just realize you are not the original poster and you don't have Global knives.

                      In your case, I would get a single 1000 stone.

                      1. re: sandiegomike

                        I would either go for a single 1000 or 1200 grit Japanese waterstone, or the 'medium' grit Spyderco ceramic bench stone.

                        The waterstone is less expensive ($25 vs $35) & will cut a little faster, but requires some prep (soaking) & maintenance (flattening), & will slowly wear down over the years.

                        The ceramic is 'splash & go', requires no maintenance, & will last forever.

                      2. I suppose I'll hear about everything that's wrong with my EdgeMaker sharpening "system", but I've been using it for many years and my set of Ed. Wusthof Dreizackwerk kitchen knives are always sharp and still going strong after 25+ years. They were cheap and are easy to use. So, what's the downside?

                         
                        7 Replies
                        1. re: grampart

                          Those are honing steels; they won't sharpen.

                          I will say that those will likely work better than more people's skill with a hone though.

                          1. re: Cynic2701

                            Well, for something that won't sharpen they keep my knives awfully fucking sharp.

                            1. re: Cynic2701

                              Actually, these things ARE sharpeners (I have a set). The rods are grooved & hardened - on softer steels like most of the popular brands are made of, they can remove quite a bit of metal! I don't care for the results, but they do a pretty quick job & are better than never sharpening.

                              1. re: Eiron

                                Cynic and you are both correct. Design-wise, it is very similar to putting two honing steels at an angle. With enough force, you can use them as sharpening tool -- like a filer.

                                This is actually one of the reasons why people like Chad Ward suggest to use smooth honing rods instead of grooved honing rods. Grooved honing rods, in fact, can in fact remove metal but often time inconsistence compared to the more uniform ceramic rods or fine diamond rods.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Well, yes & no. These are definitely "sharpening" devices, but they do sell a model (the yellow one) as a "polishing/honing" device.

                                  You can find the "complete set" here:
                                  https://secure.edgemaker.com/sections...

                                  To grampart's point, yes, they are intended to be sharpeners & yes, they do, in fact, remove metal.
                                  I have a set myself.

                                  To Cynic's point, no, they are not honers that do not sharpen.

                                  1. re: Eiron

                                    Perhaps I should have looked at the product more carefully. It seems to me that the rods are grooved steels (with various levels of smoothness) which indicates to me honing rod.

                                    The maximum hardness of steel at lower levels of carbon content (i.e. less than ~0.6% carbon content) is typically no higher than around 58 HRC. At the price that those things go far, I find it hard to believe that they are using higher carbon content steels--especially since machining costs quickly balloon as steels increase in hardness and wear resistance.

                                    I'm also biased because I tend to use knives with HRC values in the 62+ range--ZDP-189 and CPM-M4, for example, regularly hit 66 HRC as a nominal hardness value.

                                    Since sets of hardness testing files typically top out at 65 HRC, this would indicate to me that it is unlikely that the steel contained in that device has an HRC value any higher than ~60 HRC. For harder steels (e.g. Aogami Super at 63-65 HRC, White #1 at 64+ HRC, ZDP-189 at 66+ HRC, or the crazy stuff like YX-7 or CPM-121 Rex at 68+ HRC) these kind of devices will be too soft to work at all.

                                    Since the HRC scale is logarithmic, even seemingly small differences in HRC values are actually quite significant.

                                    On a knife with a soft steel (HRC ~53-56) these devices would, actually, probably sharpen the steel by removing the softer metal of the blade. We'd need a high resolution microscope to check, but I'd argue that it is actually probably causing plastic deformation in the blade.

                                    On the other hand, if they coat those rods with a coating of carbides or diamonds, then they are sharpeners that would be capable of sharpening (though I'd still contend that they wouldn't do a very good job) harder kitchen knife steels.

                                    Anyways, long rambling post later, I'll admit that perhaps I am wrong about those devices.

                                    1. re: Cynic2701

                                      <On a knife with a soft steel (HRC ~53-56) these devices would, actually, probably sharpen the steel by removing the softer metal of the blade. We'd need a high resolution microscope to check, but I'd argue that it is actually probably causing plastic deformation in the blade.>

                                      That is a possibility. I used to use my honing steel to "sharpen" my knives, like really pushing hard one on the other. This did clearly form big burr and somewhat an edge. However, you may be correct that this edge is really more of deformation of the steel (e.g. the formation of the burr) instead of actual steel removal.

                                      <if they coat those rods with a coating of carbides or diamonds,>

                                      I was thinking about, but I see no indication of any form of abrasive coating.

                          2. One of the great charms of Global for me is that their product range can effectively be a walled garden - I have one of their ceramic medium-grit stones, plus the Minosharp sharpening guards (they come in 2 sizes per packet), plus there are plenty of YouTube videos of the charming Tsuchida-san showing how the sharpening is done, and these have been all I need to keep my bunch of knives in shape for years now.

                            1. Check out the website Chefknivestogo.com
                              Send an email to the guy that runs it, Mark Richmond. He's a really nice guy and will give you some good advice about buying wet stones.

                              1. I use a cheap oxide stone I found at Asia Mart, but then again i have cheap knives. Your question has me wondering: is there any reason to stay away from the these stones for higher end knives? Are they just too abrasive or what?

                                A friend of mine has much nicer knives than I do ( Tan Ren I believe) and he seems to do OK with the same kind of Chinatown special blue-grey oxide stone I use. Should he switch to something better?

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                  In truth, I'm not sure exactly which kind of stones you're referring to, so I can't give you a good answer.

                                  Synthetic waterstones are made of aluminum oxide, and designed to slowly wear away while sharpening to reveal new abrasive - this makes for an excellent renewing sharpening surface, but waterstones do wear down and dish from use.

                                  A carborundum stone (also often called an 'oilstone') is made of silcon carbide, and is generally cheaper than a waterstone. Because the abrasive surface doesn't renew itself, it tends to work less well as it ages. It's not an ideal choice for knives made of very hard steel like some expensive knives, since it doesn't quite have as much abrasive power as a waterstone in a comparable grit. But it doesn't dish.

                                  I can't tell from your post whether you've found a cheap source of waterstones, a carborundum stone, or something else entirely. And I'm not sure what you mean by 'too abrasive' - that sounds more like a very coarse, low grit stone, regardless of what kind.

                                  Whether you should switch... that depends on the results you're getting. Sharpening well is more about technique than about equipment, but there are definitely some stones and some knives that make the job easier than others.

                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                    Hm, I may have spoken too soon when I called it an oxide stone. The label was all in Chinese so I couldn't tell for sure. It's blue grey with a lighter side and a darker side. Lighter is rougher and darker is smoother. It's starting to "bite" less aggressively as it gets older so it may be the carborundum you're talking about. Maybe it's time to try out some nicer stones to see if there's a difference.

                                    1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                      Usually speaking, the ones you get from the Chinese oilstone are harder and do not resurface. This is good if you want a stone which last you a very long time. Yet, because they do not resurface they do not cut consistently. They will cut less aggressive overtime.

                                      http://img148.imageshack.us/img148/28...

                                      http://www.kwongwing.com.hk/uploads/1...

                                      In my opinion, they are sufficient for many knives, but they are a bit too inconsistent and too rough for finer knife. Get yourself a waterstone when you have a chance. :)

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        That's it in the first link! Thanks for the advice. I think it's time to try out some nicer stones just for fun.

                                        1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                          By the way, what kind of knives do you have? Do you mind to share?

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            For 90% of food prep I use a thin-bladed Chinese cleaver I bought in Beijing. Will check the brand when I go home. To smash bones I have a very dull IKEA brand heavy cleaver that I don't bother sharpening. I also bought a Victorinox 8" chef knife which works well, but most of the time I end up using the Chinese cleaver instead.

                                            1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                              I see. Well, I have some Chinese cleavers too. Many of them are thin blades. Just look at the cleavers I bought from my two Toronto trips:

                                              2012:
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8830...

                                              2013:
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8830...

                                              Anyway, the reason I asked is that I want to estimate if a high quality stone will make a difference for your knives.

                                              A waterstone will likely improve your Victorinox knife, but not your IKEA heavy cleaver. As for your Chinese thin blade cleaver, it depends on the quality -- which I don't know. For my Chan Chi Kee Chinese cleavers, the improvement is definitely there. These are good quality cleavers. :P

                                              Is your Chinese cleaver made of stainless steel or carbon steel?

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                It is a stainless steel Shi ba zi brand. (Ten eight zi)

                                                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                  Yes, I have heard of Shi Ba Zi. It is a new comer in the Chinese cutlery and is growing very quick -- only started in 1999. My impression is that the stainless steel is on the softer side, but the geometry is good. Many of their stainless steel knives are made of 4Cr13

                                                  http://www.shibazi.com/cn/product_cla...

                                                  I noticed that you live in Chicago. If you ever in the mood to get another Chinese knife, then go to Chicago Chinatown, get yourself a Chan Chi Kee (CCK or 陳枝記) knife. CCK knives are more expensive, but you will like them. A typical ShiBaZi knife here is about $15-25. A typical CCK knife is about $45-70. Either the carbon steel or a stainless steel knives are fine. I looked up a good location: Woks N' Things. It should carries them.

                                                  "Across the street at Woks ’N’ Things (2234 S Wentworth Ave, 312-842-0701), ... When it comes to cleavers, he swears by the ultra light and sharp blades made by Chan Chi Kee, which he can find in Chicago only at this shop. “Every Chinese chef knows this brand,” he says."

                                                  http://www.timeoutchicago.com/restaur...

                                                  "Then I went to Woks N Things and got myself one of the Chan Chi Kee Cleavers"

                                                  http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?...

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Thanks for the rec. That store is actually where I got my carbon steel wok and stovetop wok ring. Well worth a visit if you're ever in Chicago (also if you're ever here, we'll have a drink and talk cookware together)

                                                    1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                      <also if you're ever here, we'll have a drink>

                                                      :) I will take you up on your offer if I ever visit Chicago.

                                                      By the way, here is my recommendation if you ever get to that store.

                                                      KF130X series for carbon steel thin small cleavers
                                                      KF191X series for stainless steel thin small cleavers

                                                      http://www.chanchikee.com/ChineseKniv...