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View Full Version : Old Knives - New Sharpener - Help!



Edgy Guy
07-30-2011, 01:54 AM
I have the following 20+ year-old set of Four Stars, supposedly high carbon stainless steel.

10" Chef Model 31071-260
8" Chef Model 31071-200
8" Serrated Model 31076-200
6" Utility Model 31070-160 VIER SRTERE ICE HARDENED
7" Utility Model 31070-180
9" Utility Model 31070- 230
4" Parer Model 31071-100
3" Parer/Utility Model 31070-080 VIER SRTERE ICE HARDENED
5 1/2" Flexible Boning Model 31086-140
6" Cleaver Model 31095-150

Printed on all of them: ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS NO STAIN FRIODUR SOLINGEN GERMANY.
Only two of them say, "VIER SRTERE ice hardened".
What does this mean and does it change how I should sharpen those?

Please don't shoot me but for the last 20 or so years I have been "sharpening" them with a Chef's Choice "Sharpener" with those 3 spinning wheels at with the magnet at different angles to help hold the blade in place as you slowly pull it through.
The edges suck very soon after "sharpening".

I've read Dave Martell's thread here about freehand vs. jig and I've decided to get an EdgePro Pro model, Anglecube and Choseras/Shaptons and I have questions.

Should I even care what the original angles were so I can copy them?
I suspect the edges are supposed to be at different angles, especially that thick cleaver vs. that flexible thin boning knife.

What should the angles be for the above knives?
Would you put on one angle, or two or three? (I'd rather get it right the first time even if it takes a long time)
Are these called bevels?

Does anyone make a curved stone that fits on the EP for serrated knives?
Are the stones for the EP Apex and the Pro models the same width?
I hear the Choceras from Jende are twice as thick as those from other vendors. True?

I read here that some vendors are better to support with our dollars than others, ethics and all.
From where should I buy my Choceras and Shaptons?
Is Ben Dale's EdgePro website still the only place to buy the Pro model?

I plan to get the scissor attachment since I need to sharpen chisels too.

Considering my needs (no J-Knives) which grit progression (Shapton and Chocera) do you recommend?
For reflatening the stones should I get the DMT XX coarse plate? or Dale's round glass thingie with the Silicon Carbide powder or something else?

Which of the above knives should a noob start on?

What have I not thought of?

MadMel
07-30-2011, 04:18 AM
Which of the above knives should a noob start on?

What have I not thought of?

20+ degrees for those knives. I sharpen my 5* somewhere at 15ish and it didn't hold up.. gotta go all the way to 20+ degrees. Those numbers are estimates as I don exactly measure the angles..

Start on the shortest knife

Ever thought of just getting a king's combo 1000/6000???

Dave Martell
07-30-2011, 09:31 AM
For your knives I would recommend the stock EP stones and not to polish too highly.

Eamon Burke
07-30-2011, 09:43 AM
THAT is a lot of questions!

Welcome!

First off, "Vier Srtere" means 'four star', and 'ice hardened' means that when they were heat treating the blade, they assisted the cooling by dunking it in ice. This does not mean much of anything.

You had a lot of questions, but most of them do not apply to you, thankfully! You do not need to worry about factory angles, and over 20 degrees is good for your knives. You also do NOT NOT NOT need to drop the cash on polishing stones, it will cause the blade to "run", or skid across some foods before biting in. The thing is, your knives are fairly soft steel, and thickly designed, so giving them the straight-razor spa treatment will not only be a waste, it will perform worse.

You do not need thick stones, you will never wear out a shapton or chosera sharpening just your Henckels set. But you don't need a Shapton or Chosera! Whatever the EP comes with will do great.

Seb
07-30-2011, 09:44 AM
If you've been sharpening them for 20 years with a glorified electric can-opener, how much steel is left in those knives??

Dave Martell
07-30-2011, 09:47 AM
For your knives I would recommend the stock EP stones and not to polish too highly.


I'd maybe also add in a diamond plate option of some kind to do the rough work to fix whatever damage needs fixing.

Eamon Burke
07-30-2011, 11:39 AM
My internet died before I could add this, but you really only need the Apex 1. It comes with a 120 grit and 320 grit stone, which are US grit. 320 grit US being used on a quality jig like that is more than enough refinement for your knives.

I would actually disagree with getting a diamond stone, because you really won't wear out that 120 grit stone by setting the bevels one time(which is all that is needed), and if anything needs repair, and you want it done soon, send it off to someone who knows what they are doing for a little TLC.

Don't forget to deburr!! Jigs are notorious for wire edges, because of their precise nature, so I'd keep a few corks around to slice into after both stones.


The Pro model is great for versatility, and it's very stable, and has a few features that make it easier to manipulate. You really only need 2 stones here, coarse, and medium, so you won't be fiddling with it much. It also comes with a honing rod, which will be better than the one that came with your Henckels.

SpikeC
07-30-2011, 02:17 PM
I sure hope that those who accuse this group of elitism read the responses to this fellows questions! No one is berating him for his kit or his needs, just good practical advise appropriate for his situation!

Edgy Guy
07-30-2011, 02:51 PM
Thanks everyone for the eye-opening input.
I'm surprised, disappointed but educated.
I should not have bought what I bought.
Live and learn.

I've seen videos of knives so sharp they slice a tomato into one-molecule thick slices with almost no effort.
Clearly my knives won't get me there.
Once I become aware of a ultra-high quality level I want it, as long as it's not a yacht or luxury car.

Now I want a Japanese knife or two but don't know where to start.
I have been reading here for days and it is overwhelming reading through all these posts with all these Japanese terms.
The selection of J-knives is overwhelming.

It would be nice if KKF had a video introducing us to the basics of blade shapes, alloys, handle shapes.
I'm not talking about sushi-chef advanced level or for those who are considering their 15th J-Knife - just an intro to make a well-informed first (and hopefully last) purchase.

I'm thinking of an 8" chef, and a paring knife.
I'd like to select them with the intention of them being the only knives I will buy because I notice those are 90% of what I've used in the past.
I am certainly no gourmet sushi chef.
I just want to have an orgasm cutting a paper a tomato into tissue paper-thin slices with no force and minimum movement - just by placing the knife near the tomato.

I don't want to pay for anything custom or a prestigious name or any expensive handle material or design.
How beautiful, cool or impressive the blade looks means nothing to me. (at least NOW I say that! )
I just want superb function, as in a fine sharp blade forged from fine steel, that will stay sharp as long as possible.
I understand they are susceptibility to rust and, even though I'm accustomed to stainless steel knives, I'm willing to care for a high-carbon hard steel knife properly, obsessively even.
I'd be happy to buy a used knife from one of you if it was well cared for - but I'd need help selecting it.

I am totally ignorant about all those shapes of japanese blades and handles.
What are the pluses and minuses of the blades that are beveled only on one side?
I see some 8" chefs that have a curve to the blade like I'm used to and others are straight.
Many handles on even expensive Japanese knives look very non-ergonomic - and just like an uncomfortable straight cylinder.
I don't want to buy one knife and learn I should have bought another.
I also don't want to just buy something similar to what I'm used to; I want to have an open mind.
Do you know of any Youtube tutorials on using these knives or an overview of shapes and types of Japanese knives?

Edgy Guy
07-30-2011, 03:32 PM
I realize I just committed the mortal forum sin, expecting others to do my research for me and answer a question they've been asked a thousand times.
Sorry.

I will search, read and learn - and I'm certainly not informed enough to buy anything used.

Eamon Burke
07-30-2011, 04:08 PM
Well, you can always ask the EP guys if they will work with you on swapping out what you got if its not really what you needed. They aren't a huge company and usually customer service comes with the territory of not pissing off what few customers you have.

That said, there is a questionnaire stickied in the "kitchen knife" section(this one), and it will help to express your needs without requiring that you learn everything. There are links to definitions for some of the terms to clarify, and if you are thorough in your answers, people will guide you to many a great option!

I'd suggest you make a new thread if you want suggestions like that, or else nobody's going to know you are asking in this thread, because of the title.

If you decide to upgrade your knives and purchase something more high-performance, the basic EP Apex 1 won't cut it anymore(there's the rub!). So you can either see about downgrading your purchase and sharpen up the knives you know well(good option), or you can throw good money after good money and get knives that will appreciate an EP Pro with choseras(which is common advice around here. We're here to enable, not help :P )

I'd suggest you sharpen yours. The difference between a dull knife and a well sharpened one is bigger than the difference between a mass-produced Japanese knife and a mass-produced German one.

Edgy Guy
07-30-2011, 05:34 PM
If you decide to upgrade your knives and purchase something more high-performance, the basic EP Apex 1 won't cut it anymore(there's the rub!). So you can either see about downgrading your purchase and sharpen up the knives you know well(good option), or you can throw good money after good money and get knives that will appreciate an EP Pro with choseras(which is common advice around here. We're here to enable, not help :P )


I'm in learning mode here so, enable away. :)

If I want to, as you say, "get knives that will appreciate an EP Pro with choseras" what kind of dollar threshold are we talking about?

I realize the sky is the limit, but for one new 8" chef size what is the price range of the least expensive Japanese knives that will "appreciate an EP Pro with choseras"?
Will this be hand made or mass produced? or is that question a can of worms too?
$300?
$500?
$800?
$1500?
$2500?
More?

SpikeC
07-30-2011, 05:47 PM
Well, you could of got a Kramer for $51,000.

MadMel
07-31-2011, 12:32 AM
Well, you could of got a Kramer for $51,000.

LOL!!!

Hand made will cost you upwards of $800 I think..

Benuser
07-31-2011, 01:12 AM
I'm in learning mode here so, enable away. :)

If I want to, as you say, "get knives that will appreciate an EP Pro with choseras" what kind of dollar threshold are we talking about?

I realize the sky is the limit, but for one new 8" chef size what is the price range of the least expensive Japanese knives that will "appreciate an EP Pro with choseras"?

$121.55 will do, Hiromoto AS with JCK. Or even less: Carbonext
$105.00

tk59
07-31-2011, 10:05 AM
...Carbonext $105.00 +1 or a TKC (maybe the same thing).

Cadillac J
07-31-2011, 11:16 AM
If I want to, as you say, "get knives that will appreciate an EP Pro with choseras" what kind of dollar threshold are we talking about??

You will realize that you don't have to spend a lot in order to get some amazing performing knives. For under $150 there are a plethora of gyutos that will make your jaw drop if sharpened properly...you don't need a +$1,000 custom to do this. In fact, as you learn more by sticking around here, you'll often here people say the performance difference between a $250 'mass-produced' j-knife and a $2,000 custom is very small--it is more in the aesthetics and what the knife represents that make it worth spending more.

Based on the depth of your questions, I can already predict you are going to turn into a true knife knut...welcome aboard!

Avishar
07-31-2011, 11:47 AM
Welcome to the forum!
Firstly, I would recommend telling any significant others or family members that your bank account may be subject to random large drops in finances; just remind them that its okay, its just an addiction! Secondly, I would recommend Chad Ward's book, An Edge in the Kitchen. Thirdly, when you start to get into freehand sharpening (stick around here long enough and it will happen!), check out Jon's videos at http://www.youtube.com/jknifeimports . Between these three you will have a solid foundation on how to start your foray into the wild world of sharpening.

I also own an EP Apex, and I went with all the stock stones (Mine came with the 800 as well, which I don't think exists anymore but was replaced with a 1000) and polishing tapes, and then picked up the 1200 from Ben (experimental at the time), and a couple glass plates which I put medical tape with polishing compound (Mother's Mag) on. I picked up a couple extra 120s because at the time there were no better options for coarse grinding.

When the new stones came out I picked up the DMT XC as well as the Shapton 5k, 8k, and 15k; I did this because the stock EP stones translate to Japanese grits that are covered until those above. I recommend the DMT because it cuts quick, but also can double as a competent flattener for your stones. I also chose Shaptons over Choseras because I feel that Shaptons work better in splash and go applications, which is what I find to work best with the EP situations.

My procedure with the EP is to use each stone to raise a burr on the knife, then do a long pull stroke across the entire length of the blade, then if on a lower grit use a ceramic rod with a featherlight two swipes to ensure the burr is aligned, then to pull the edge across a cork or the corner of a cutting board to really make sure its all gone. Everyone seems to have their own way to do it, this is just what worked for me

For your specific knives, I would recommend setting a 15 degree bevel and going up to the stock 1000 and perhaps polishing with the tapes if you can. I am aware that this is not the best for German knives, but when you do this and witness yourself what it looks like for an to edge start to lose its keenness you can really understand what people here are talking about when they tell you that about German steel limitations. This experience is better seen and experienced firsthand, than just believed by us crazies on the forum.

After this happens, you can easily put on a microbevel at 18-20 degrees up to 600 grit and congratulate yourself because you've just technically went through the process of thinning behind the edge and also creating a compound bevel, and in the process learned and understood more than the majority of people out there will know about knife sharpening! The only thing I would be concerned about is the thickness of your blades right now, if you've put it through the Chef's choice for 20 years it might still be likely to wedge a substantial amount, which is when your edge will be sharp but you will curse at root vegetables and potatoes and butternut squash for preventing your knife from going through without excessive force!

Finally, I would recommend that you become proficient with the stock stones before progressing onto all the fancy aftermarket stones. Mastering the 220 and 320 will go a long ways in helping you understand the true potential of each stone, don't push too hard or use too much downward pressure, end with feather-light swipes, and keep the stones flat (especially the 120)!

Disclaimer: This is just the way I do it, thus it has no scientific or empirical evidence stating that it is the best, and by no means is the only way. Follow my advice at your own risk :wink:

PS Talk to Jon Broida (Japaneseknifeimports.com) on here if you want to find some Japanese knives that can handle your stones, Dr. Naka can also help you out with finding some J-knives as well. If you want to buy American, see the kitchen knifemakers section below on the main forum page and prepare to be blown away!

Edgy Guy
07-31-2011, 01:19 PM
Thanks so much guys, and maybe gals.
I really appreciate you taking the time to help a new guy.
Yes, I'm a geeky, OCD nerd and obsessing over some obscure thing that few people know exists is my forte.

I'm sure I wanna jump in and buy one or two good knives, a 200 to 250mm and a 75 to 100mm.
I'm glad to know I don't have to spend too much to get decent obedient metal that will let me play with the big boys. :hula:
I just have to begin the process of learning about the different knives.
I want to find out what you get for your money at various price points between $100 to $1000.

I wonder if knives are like wines.
Anyone can just plop down $50 on a bottle wine assuming it's better than a $30 wine but not as good as a $100 wine - but there is not a direct ratio of price to quality - PLUS that doesn't even take into account personal taste and preference.

Naturally I want the most knife for my money; I suspect some are overpriced and others excellent values.
If I perceive an $800 knife competes with knives in the $1500 range (even though my knowledge has not grown into it yet) I'll buy it.
I hate buying what I will later upgrade (Henckles GRRR!.)

I suspect large price differences, like say $100 to $700, DO translate into a indisputably better knife, perhaps not 7x as good though.
Many product are like this where once you get up into the higher end stuff you have to spend larger amounts to get smaller improvements.
That $51,000 Kramer IS worth every penny to someone.

Looks like Jon has some great Youtube vids of his knives which are a great introduction.

BTW, anyone know the gender breakdown here? 80% male? 90%? 100%?
I doubt it's 50%.

James
07-31-2011, 01:51 PM
I agree with the TKC/carbonext; also go for the 240 mm rather than the 210. The 240 will weigh significantly less than its German counterpart and the extra length is extremely helpful once you get used to it

toek
08-03-2011, 04:15 AM
+1 on Carbonext.

stevenStefano
08-03-2011, 07:31 AM
I have an EP and I don't use it so much now, but one thing I will say is that there is a definite learning curve to using it. It is very important to be very light with it, something I find very difficult. Just keep at it and you should find your technique improves pretty quickly. Make sure you lap the stones as well, and deburr properly. These are the 2 things that are probably the most important part of using the EP. There are a few vendors that sell custom stones, and I have the Choseras which are very good. Yeah and get a Carbonext