Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Jun 17, 2014 12:14 AM

Starting to sharpen and getting a whetstone. What grits? What brand do you recommend?

Knife is getting a little dull (an understatement as it could barely score salmon last night) Do you think I should go the combo route or should I invest in individual stones? I know Chosera is really popular but I recently noticed Gesshin. So far I've been looking at the Gesshin 400 grit as my coarse stone, Gesshin 2000 grit for my medium stone, and the Gesshin 4000 grit for the fine stone. Does this sound like a good setup to start out? Or would a 1000/6000 combo stone suffice? Would it be too risky to jump to 1000 grit without starting off with a coarse stone? Just want to practice sharpening my current cheap knives before I invest in more expensive ones.

btw, has anyone ever used an angle cube or is that just a waste of money? I know some have used small matchboxes as guides for proper sharpening angle.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Look into the edge pro from cktg. I like the one that comes with 3 Shapton glass stones ( I use it and like it.

    You can start on 1000, depends on the condition of your knife. I'd probably start lower though, it's just nice to have a lower stone on hand too.

    400, 2000, 8000 is not a great set either. Since your new and are sharpening to use for cooking I'd stick to 6000 and below. Also going from a 2000 to an 8000 is a big jump I think (somebody correct me if I'm wrong).

    I had a 1k/6k Oishi combo stone before I switched to edge pro, I thought it was solid, I'd recommend it for the price. There are a lot of other good brands too. That 1 combo stone for the job for a while, but I'm glad I have the edge pro now.

    4 Replies
    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

      oops. thanks for pointing that out. Not thinking right as its nearly 4am, haven't slept at all, and wont be sleeping tonight. :(
      Meant to put down 4000 grit. Not 8000. DEFINITELY A BIG JUMP. Edited the post.

      I was actually contemplating getting the Edge Pro before but was thinking it might be gimmicky. You've put that choice back on the table.

      1. re: GOJIRA

        I used to think the edge pro was gimmicky too but I really like it. It used to be unexciting but now that cktg has them with badass stones it makes them worthwhile. They are pricey, and you can achieve great results on regular stones too but my edge pro really eliminates a big part of the learning curve. There's some great info about the edge pro over on the cktg forums too.

        400, 2000, 4000 would work great. Time to sleep now..

        1. re: GOJIRA

          The edge pro isn't gimmicky and it works quite well, creating very sharp edges. There are upsides and downsides to it though.

          - Once you understand how it works, it has less learning curve than learning to sharpen freehand on stones. You don't have to train your hands to hold a consistent angle
          - It will reliably make a knife's edge about as sharp as the grit you're finishing with and the knife itself will allow. Some experienced freehand sharpeners are better at making extremely fine edges than others are. This is not much of an issue with the edge pro.

          - It's expensive. Of course chosera stones are fairly expensive too, but then many sharpeners do excellent work with stones that cost a lot less.
          - It takes longer than freehand sharpening once you're good at freehand sharpening (OTOH, it probably takes less time than freehanding when you're new to sharpening)
          - IIRC, it doesn't do angles below something like 13 degrees. Some knives (not many, but some) have lower angles. Likewise, some knives don't come with angles that low but can support an extremely low angle edge anyway, which can be fun to mess around with. It might be possible to modify an edgepro to work at lower angles, but I couldn't say for sure.
          - For the same reason, you can't use an edgepro to thin a knife above its edge to maintain or improve its performance over time. This is something that many sharpeners don't bother with, or perhaps even don't know to do, so it's not super critical. But it is worth noting.
          - It's not ideal for single bevel knives. Probably not an issue for you, but again, worth noting.
          - There are some situational tricks you can pull off with stones but would have a lot of difficulty doing with an edgepro. Convexing/blending bevels, for example. Or certain kinds of heavy repairs (which are possible to do with an edgepro, but would certainly be a pain in the ass). Fully rounded tips would be tricky, as would knives with extreme curvature. Even in these situations, you could probably figure out some work-around or another, but the edgepro would make the job trickier than freehand sharpening.

          1. re: cowboyardee

            Thanks for that. Guess the edge pro comes with some limitations. I think I would prefer to learn proper sharpening technique using combo of a scale to gauge pressure and an angle cube just to train my hands. While the edge pro seems more fool proof, im willing to learn to use the whetstone.

      2. Chosera stones are good, but you don't have to have the best natural stones or synethic stones. Unless you have very high end knives, you may not need a very high end stones. For example, a Japanese stone greater (finer) than 1000 grit is probably not very useful for a Dexter-Russell or Victorinox stamp knife. Yes, it will make a difference, but this difference does not last long enough to make it practically useful.

        400 grit stone is good for repair knives or to set new bevel angle. It is also useful for a very dull knife, though you will likely able to get by within it.

        I like my 2000 grit stone. However, I think it is important to have a ~1000 grit stone. Somewhere between 800-1200. Your selection for a 4000 grit is good for a polishing fine stone.

        <Would it be too risky to jump to 1000 grit without starting off with a coarse stone?>

        Unless your knife is damaged (like chipped) or extremely dull, you should be safe to jump straight to 1000 grit.

        <Just want to practice sharpening my current cheap knives before I invest in more expensive ones. >

        If you only have cheap knives, then I would hold off the 4000 grit stone. It will save you money for now. Again, most cheap knives do not benefit much from a 4000 grit stone.

        I don't think angle cube is waste of money. I just don't use it. It is really a measurement device. That's all. I know some people put the device on the knife while sharpening. I don't know if that actually works well.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Thanks. So i think i'll get a 400 grit, 1000 grit, and 2000 grit. I'll leave the 4000 grit for when I finally do upgrade. My primary knife is a Global, so I guess these are sufficient.

          1. re: GOJIRA

            Yes, 2000 grit is sufficient good for Global. Shun changed its website, but Shun old website stated that their knives (most) are finished with a 1000 grit.

            2000 grit is better than factory finish. If you like, you can always get the: 400 grit, 1000 grit, and then a 3000 grit. 2000 grit is good though.

        2. Gesshin gets good reviews from people that have them. In particular, the 8000 was recommended by a sushi chef from another forum. I've been considering picking one up, but can't really justify buying more stones in the same grit just to buy stones to try them.

          It also depends on what kind of knife you are sharpening. Unless you are sharpening an usuba/yanagiba/Japanese single-bevel knife, I'm not sure that going to 8000 or above makes sense grit-wise. You will get a better, and longer lasting, edge by stopping in the 3000 - 6000 grit range for multipurpose knives like a gyuto. A German knife would likely benefit more by stopping around 2000 - 3000. So, depending on what you are sharpening, there wouldn't really be a need to get stones beyond about 4000; despite the fact that I have 8000+ grit range stones, I stop at 4000 for gyutos and nakiris.

          I, too, own an Edge Pro and find the Angle Cube useful. The Edge Pro is a great device, but it is very expensive--almost $200 just for the entry level device without any add-ons. The device itself is expensive, and then all the add-ons to make it function better are also expensive. For extremely thin beveled knives like a laser gyuto, the Edge Pro may not even go to low enough of an angle without some jury-rigging. If need be, you can stack a thin flat piece of wood underneath the knife towards the spine to lower the sharpening angle by raising the angle of the knife against the Edge Pro--though it will mess with measuring precisely with an Angle Cube.

          Furthermore, although you can get waterstones for the Edge Pro, I see Chosera and Shapton stones at ~$40 each for a sliver of a stone! You can get a set of full sized stones (e.g. Shapton 320, 1000, 5000) and a holder for under or around $200. Add in a diamond plate like a DMT Extra Extra Coarse or an Atoma 140 for flattening or serious repairs/re-beveling and you are looking at set-up that will last you many many years for about $300--and you can spend that knowing that you are getting high quality stones that will perform even on powder steels. A similar Chosera set would only be a little more expensive.

          1. I think the answer depends on whether you are interested in knife sharpening as a fun hobby or you just want sharp knives.

            Knife sharpening as a hobby can go as far as you want it to, just like any hobby. Go wild!

            Personally, although I can definitely appreciate the artistry of knife sharpening, I basically just want razor-sharp knives.

            If you have the same attitude as I do, over-complicating the process of knife sharpening will simply mean that you wont sharpen your knives very often after the initial excitement of all your new toys wears off.

            In my case, a Shapton Pro 1000 grit water stone and a homemade leather strop allow me to sharpen my high-quality Japanese knives to sharper than they come from the factory.

            I like the Shapton because it's truly splash-and-go. Put it on the counter, splash some water on it, sharpen, dry it off, and put it away. It also is very long-wearing and durable. I've been using mine for years and there isn't a hint of dishing. After the Shapton, 6-10 strokes on a leather strop charged with chromium dioxide finishes the job.

            The total time required is maybe 2 minutes, and the result is a blade that will easily push-cut paper or allow me to slice ripe tomatoes HORIZONTALLY (with the blade moving from right to left while held parallel to the cutting board). That's definitely sharp enough for me, and since sharpening isn't much of a chore, I don't mind doing it whenever I detect a hint of dullness.

            PS. For a sharpening angle guide, I just made a small wooden wedge cut to an angle of exactly 16 degrees. Just put the wedge on the stone, place your knife on it, carefully check the distance between the back of the blade and the stone, remove the wedge while maintaining the correct distance/angle, and start sharpening. (After you've sharpened the same knife a couple of times, you won't need to use the wedge anymore.)

            PPS. In addition to the Shapton 1000, I also have the 320, 2000, and 5000. I used the 320 once to fix a knife that got a 1-mm chip in the edge after it fell into the sink during an earthquake, and it worked very well for that rare need. The others are just sitting on a shelf.

            Hope you find these comments from a pragmatic knife sharpener helpful.

            5 Replies
            1. re: tanuki soup

              Hi Tanuki Soup,

              Thank you so much for your post - it has been lingering in my mind for a while and I finally decided to take the plunge, ordered the Shapton Pro 1000 and am going to try your method. Could you please answer a couple of questions on your method ?

              1. Does this work best with high carbon or equally well with stainless? All my best knives are stainless - Misono UX10 Gyuto (Swedish Stainless) and a Bob Kramer Essentials stainless santoku (61 rockwell).

              2. Is there a reason you chose the Pro over the Glass stone?


              1. re: me8tball

                Hi Me8tball,

                Hope you enjoy your new stone! To answer your questions, I use my Shapton Pro stones only for stainless steel knives (coincidentally, including a Misono UX10). Still working great, with no dishing or clogging up. Unfortunately, I don't have any experience with the Shapton Glass stones. Sorry I can't be of more help. Have fun!

                Tanuki Soup

                1. re: tanuki soup


                  I had a great time trying my new Shapton Pro 1000 - it has good sharpening sound and feedback; much better than the glass stones on my Edge Pro. It also didn't clog just like you said.

                  I was able to get a paper slicing edge on my cheapo Santoku, but couldn't get any push cutting action.

                  Do you still go straight from the 1000 to the strop? What kind of leather is your strop made with?

                  I have an old leather belt that I hung from a chair and infused with green compound. Maybe it is too rough because it hardly makes much difference in polish. My strop removes all burr and slightly polishes but the finish is still hazy - just like a normal 1000 grit finish.

                  1. re: me8tball

                    Hi again, Me8tball

                    Glad to hear you're enjoying your new stone. I'm definitely no expert, but my method is to push the blade over the wet 1000 stone maybe 5-10 times per side with light, even pressure from heel to tip. That gives me a "slice-cut" edge. Then I pull (of course!) the blade over the leather strop from heel to tip the same number of times with moderate pressure (pushing down probably 3 or 4 times harder than on the stone). This gives me a "push-cut" edge.

                    My strop is just a smooth leather belt that I bought at a discount clothing shop and glued to a piece of wood and added some legs (see pic). I rub a small block of green chromium oxide on it now and then to give it a green tinge.

                    Just a guess, but I wonder whether hanging the belt from a chair prevents you from applying enough pressure, maybe?

                    Hope you find this info helpful. If you're still not getting the results you want, there are many REAL experts here a Chowhound who should be able to set you right. Heck, they even managed to teach ME how to do it ;-) Have fun!


            2. I do agree with others that 1k to 6k could be a bit probably could use something in between.

              In terms of brand, I use Yoshihiro whetstone at home. I love it and have absolutely no complaints and will recommend it to anyone. The only downside is it's on a pricy side. Mine is a set, which you could buy here

              1 Reply
              1. re: milanose

                Surprising its 10,000 grit is not too expensive by comparison, whereas its 1000 grit stone is relatively expensive.