View Full Version : Troubles with cheap german steel?

06-04-2013, 10:29 AM
hey guys trying to sharpen a coworkes knives he has a sysco knife and an old maybe henckel or something parer and a wosthof santoku.

The only one i can get a really good edge on is the santoku.

the other two can barley slice paper.

The parer is a mess i tried thinning it down because he uses those pull throughs but i can get an edge on it period.

The sysco knife will cut but not very well.

My stones of use were diamond plate xxc, gesshing 400, and stropping on gesshin 2k. The santoku i finish on the 4k by stropping.

any suggestions?

06-04-2013, 10:45 AM
I did a lot of this when first trying to understand how to sharpen knives. I found that it takes a really long time to put an edge on these knives. Some combination of the geometry, steel, and wear requires an awful lot of work. I would easily spend 30+ minutes on a coarse stone with some of them...vs <10 minutes to do a 3 stone progression with one of personal knives.

06-04-2013, 11:15 AM
1) Make a big burr on the XXC.
2) Try and remove that burr as much as possible on the stones until you reach your final stone.
3) Microbevel.
4) Strop it HARD on bare leather.

If you are not happy with the edge, go back to the stones and work on burr removal again.
On these steels it is not hard to form an apex. It is hard to make it a tidy apex though.

If you really can't make anything decent, microbevel on the XXC and leave the small burr on. They wont even know :lol2:

06-04-2013, 11:42 AM
I did a lot of this when first trying to understand how to sharpen knives. I found that it takes a really long time to put an edge on these knives. Some combination of the geometry, steel, and wear requires an awful lot of work. I would easily spend 30+ minutes on a coarse stone with some of them...vs <10 minutes to do a 3 stone progression with one of personal knives.

Of course, my ignorance could be a 4th factor here!

06-04-2013, 12:51 PM
ya i always seem to have trouble with the cheap soft steel, will give it a go, got a decent edge on the sysco with a micro bevel thanks for the help!

ya on my knives i can fully sharpen in like 5 minutes with no issues, good steel is way worth the price haha

06-04-2013, 03:08 PM
i wouldnt recommend a microbevel in this case... microbevels are primarily used for steels that are extremely hard or knives that are extremely thin. In this case, its just about proper burr removal and finding the right stones.

06-04-2013, 03:13 PM
I'd stop at 400 if I were you. Occasionally I try to sharpen the house knives in work and I use my Atoma 140 then King 800 and leave it at that. To everyone in work, a toothy edge like that is great and it saves time going higher when they aren't going to appreciate it anyway

06-04-2013, 03:27 PM
i agree with jon. i would stop on a 1000 grit stone and put an agressive edge so the time between sharpening can be offset with a steel. id stop at a max of 1000 grit. just because i wouldnt wanna use my naturals on german steel since i dont have a 800 grit synthetic stone.

06-04-2013, 03:44 PM
I usually do DMT coarse, then 1k (but leave it very toothy), strop on cardboard, for Wusthof and similar. I do a convex edge on these, about 15 behind the edge, 25 edge.

My mother has the Wusthof santoku, which seems to have a better ht than the others, it can handle a 3k edge, lower angle.

06-04-2013, 04:27 PM
A microbevel is needed when the bevel angles are too low. If you are sharpening at 20 deg on a side, a micro is useless. If you sharpen at 10 deg then put a micro to fatten up your edge. I don't bother trying to get a super clean edge on German stainless. The jagged, tenacious burr cuts decently and as you steel it, you're gonna get a jagged edge anyway. That's what they are designed to do. Even a 1k edge is ridiculously fine on German stainless. It has a fair population of huge 100+ micron nuggets in the matrix, for pete's sake. 1k is like 10 microns. It's like taking some sandpaper to abrade a chunk of asphalt. I'm exaggerating a little but not that much really.

06-04-2013, 05:10 PM
This just made me think, I used to use one of those old norton two sided stones (homedepot has them) for my Wusthof knives and got ok edges, and they seemed to respond better than my current set of water stones. I sharpend a few friends Wustoff's lately and the metal is harder to work with, especially in the ikon knives. Might be worth a try.

06-04-2013, 05:40 PM
I agree with the people who recommended stopping at 1k.

I used the same Gesshin 400 and 2000 set up a couple of months ago to sharpen over a dozen Henckels (both forged and stamped) knives for a friend. For the life of me, I couldn't get them to an edge I liked. At one point, I must have sharpened one of the knives on the 2000 for over 15 minutes. At times, I felt like the edge was literally cracking and crumbling as I was sharpening them.

So, for the hell of it, I went to my old King 1000 stone and King 1200 stone. I felt like I got a better edge off of these stones; but, I also lessened the amount of pressure I used on these stones. I ended up simply using the 400 to set a bevel and then used either the 1000 or 1200 with light pressure, and stropped on loaded leather (because it was all I had) or untreated hard felt until I felt like I got a relatively toothy edge I was okay with. I wasn't really happy with any of the edges I got, but they were a lot better than where they started. They could at least cut paper with little resistance.

06-04-2013, 08:10 PM
I sharpened a friend's old SS knife (nothing special) with 240 then 1000. Took a long time to get a good edge (it was very blunt) but I got an email a few days later saying it had changed his cooking life!

06-04-2013, 09:17 PM
With soft French and German stainless I sharpen essentially on a Chosera 400, with just a few light stropping strokes on a Chosera 800, which corresponds more or less to J1200. In between perhaps stropping on split leather.
Any higher grid is counterproductive, still don't know why.
With equally soft carbon steel I have the best results with polished edges, J6000 and plain leather + Cr2O3.

06-04-2013, 09:46 PM
I suspect the problem with those fairly soft stainless steel knives is that the burr really just flops back and forth and you never remove it properly (it should be abraded off to leave a smooth, sharp edge) and when it breaks off instead, you get a dull knife that won't come back with a steel. Stainless knife steel is also fairly abrasion resistant due to the carbide structures even if it's not particularly hard, so the edge can stay messy even as you remove large amounts of metal. Very annoying.

The Ikon, on the other hand, is like the Forschner my mother had for decades and never used because it cannot be sharpened on inexpensive oil stone -- skates around like crazy and stays blunt. Did OK with good synthetic watherstones.

For soft stainless, you certainly should not bother with high grit stones, they are intended to be maintained with a steel. I would sharpen to 20 degrees, or 25, with a coarse stone until all nicks and bright spots are gone and a definite burr has developed. Use light pressure, or the burr will become huge. Switch to a finer stone, say 1000 grit and work the burr of very gently, with easy light passes on both sides until it's barely there, then steel and see what you have.

If that doesn't work, draw a burr on the 1000 grit stone again and then strop on cardboard or a 3000 grit stone to abrade the burr off, use light pressure, the last thing you want to do is bend the burr back and forth until it breaks off, as that will leave you with bright spots and a dull edge again.

A good steel is your friend with "soft" stainless. Murder on a very fine edged very hard Japanese knife, but a steel is how you get and keep an edge on soft German Stainless.

And some knives just won't get or stay sharp, even after you grind forever to get the dented, blunted remains of the edge off. Very soft stainless rolls away from the pressure on the stone, I think, so you are just bending a fairly blunt edge back and forth, never actually getting it sharp.

Carbon steel, on the other hand, isn't very abrasion resistant and the burr will remain small and easily removed. Edge wont' last as long, but will wipe back up with a steel easily until enough is flattened or broken off to require abrasive sharpening.


Dave Martell
06-04-2013, 09:51 PM
Peter - :goodpost:

06-04-2013, 10:04 PM
Thanks, Peter!

06-04-2013, 10:10 PM
King 800 is perfect but slow. I do Beston 500 followed by SS 5000 to deburr.

06-05-2013, 09:32 AM
ok so after reading all these i went back and touched both up on the 400, actually a better edge overall on each, so i pulled out my old 1k and just stropped on it a tad, pretty happy with them. Cant compete with what im use to however but im sure he will be happy.

thanks for the help!

06-06-2013, 12:11 AM
Even a mediocre edge beats a dull knife!

Glad we could help out.

My current favorite knife is a really cheap Korean hand forged gyuto. Carbon steel (lemon juice discolored it), but decently made, seems pretty hard, and although fairly rough all round, it didn't take much work to get it decently sharp. Cuts like crazy, it's decently hollow ground so it does things like slice carrots perfectly, and should be easy to maintain. Had to grind a while to get the uneven forging and grinding flattened out along the blade, but once that was done, it sharpened very easily and I finished it on a Naniwa 3000 grit superstone. I have no idea how well the edge will last, but right now it's easier to use than any of my European design chef's knives.


06-06-2013, 03:17 AM
Just went through this with a couple knives for a co worker. I used Bester 1200 for the primary edge. I power stropped to remove any hint of a burr and hit them with a 5K Shapton Pro at a slightly obtuse angle for a quick refinement and hopefully slightly extended life expectancy. Works like a champ but given the steel, I don't expect a terribly long life. These are his home knives which had been previously abused by roommates. He claims they'll be treated well moving forward, but I'm highly skeptical. I give it three to four months before I see them again. LOL.