View Full Version : How the heck do I sharpen this thing?

02-09-2012, 11:07 AM
I have been on several forums in the past on a variety of subjects, and having done that I know what it can be like when a noob drops by and asks a huge question that (a) has an answer that is too big and intricate to dump in one post or (b) has been rehashed a thousand times before if one would only look.

However, I've never dropped into a place as daunting or expansive as knife sharpening. I've been interested in it for a while. I've read Leonard Lee's Complete Guide to Sharpening and digested minute parts of it. I've got an Edgepro and have been sharpening my own knives for a while, but good gracious you guys have taken this to a whole other level! :eek2: I'm impressed!

On to my question. I've had a Forschner 8" Chef's for about 3 years and haven't really worried that much about experimenting on it because I got it for $15 on Amazon. The reason I wanted to upgrade, however, is that no matter what I did, the edge retention was awful. I would get it sharp enough that I enjoyed using it, but it would lose the edge in less than a week of casual home use with regular strokes on a honing steel. Anyway, I got a Miyabi Kaizen 8" Gyutou for Christmas. Much better feel, edge, and weight than the Forschner. But now how in the world do I care for it?

Basic questions:
(1) The only sharpening equipment I have is the Edgepro Apex system with the 220 and 320 stones and the ceramic hone. Is this going to work to sharpen the Miyabi? Any guidance as to a good place to start reading or given in the post would be most appreciated.

(2)What'd I do wrong with the Forschner?

02-09-2012, 12:26 PM
I think the answer to your question #2 is that Forschner is a piece of junk knife, which is also why it was only $15. The steel is just too soft to hold good edge for long.
To #1 I am not familiar with the system, but for me hand sharpening > gizmo sharpening any day. If you want to learn hand sharpening grab a 1/6k King combo and learn on it , in the mean time educate yourself about various stones and what is most commonly used progression and when you are ready start upgrading if you want.

02-09-2012, 01:01 PM
Thanks for the reply!

Buying any stones right now is not an option. We're on a very aggressive budget (read: don't spend anything!) and so the only option I have for the immediate future is what I already have on hand.

Prior to posting, I found this article:

which answers a lot of questions. But how do I know the properties of my knife? Is there a back bevel? Is it asymmetrical? Where do you find this info?

02-09-2012, 01:58 PM
hi, i have the same knife...the miyabi. I sharpen mine on a 1000/6000 combo stone and strop the edge. From what i've seen the edge pro is pretty good but with your knife you would be better getting some higher grit stones for it as the miyabi can take a much better edge then your forschner.

The Edge
02-09-2012, 04:01 PM
Since I'm forced to read "don't spend anything", my only recommendation would be to look through your cupboards for a ceramic coffee mug. Use the unfinished ring on the bottom of the cup as a sharpening surface. Your main problem is that your grits for your sharpening system are too low. Even with the Forschner, you can go up to around 1k, and with the better steel on the Kaizen, you can go up a lot further. In the future, if you have a little money to splurge, the cheap option is the king 1k/6k combo stone already mentioned. You can just strop on newspaper at that point as well.
On a side note, I've yet to actually try to bottom of a coffee mug, but Murray Carter talks about it and I'm sure it has a finer grit than the other two stones you're using at the moment.

02-09-2012, 04:09 PM
!!Warning!! Noob question...what does going up in the grit of the stone do for the finished product?

The Edge
02-09-2012, 04:38 PM
The higher you go up in grit, the more refined your edge is going to be. The courser the grit, the more "toothy" that edge is going to be, and the finer the grit, the more "polished" that edge will be. The toothier an edge is, the weaker it is going to be. If you think of the edge of your knife as a mountain range, the lower grit is going to have large peaks and valleys. These large peaks won't have a ton of material around them to support them during cutting, and can bend causing a dull knife. As you go up in grit, these peaks and valleys aren't as pronounced, and actually start to support each other to add strength to the edge. IMO, the final grit that you sharpen a knife on, will depend on what the purpose of that knife is, and will fall between 1k and 8k for kitchen knives. I like a toothier edge for slicing, and a more refined edge for chopping, but what works best for you will come down to experimenting with each finish.

02-09-2012, 04:51 PM
That's the first time I've ever heard an answer to that question that made sense to me.

So what stones should I look to buy in the future? I have heard the King combo stone thrown around a lot, but it also seems to be derided often in favor of more expensive stones. And can the edge pro do the job if finer grit stones are used?

The Edge
02-09-2012, 05:24 PM
The King combo stone is recommended to first time sharpeners because it is cheap. This does not make it a bad stone, but there are better options out there for more money. But, as with knives, it's better to get started on something inexpensive, before blowing a lot of money on something that you have no experience using. This way, you get first hand experience, and if it is "right" for you, and you want to invest more money, you'll be able to ask better questions to get what "you" want. Examples of these questions may be, "how is the feedback", "does it work up a lot of mud", "what kind of finish does it produce", and so forth.
As far as the edge pro goes, it can do the job if finer grit stones are used for sure. The grits you have now would mainly be used in fixing chipped blades, or setting new bevels, as they take off a lot of metal. For just touching up an edge, you could just start at the 1k grit stone, and work up from there. If you're interested in sharpening free hand, I've got an old Norton 4k/8k that's just collecting dust that I wouldn't mind sending to you for free. PM me if interested.

02-09-2012, 05:50 PM
If you are on a budget you could buy a pice of brass that you could use as a edge pro blank, than you have to flatten it in a pice of marble with some sandpaper. And you could use ti to attach wet sandpaper on it. Its not perfect but could be a temporary fix that is quite cheap.

02-10-2012, 01:04 AM
The edgepro grit numbers are not directly comparable to typical japanese waterstones iirc. e.g. the "320 grit" is a medium grit stone, c. 1000-2000 JIS.

02-10-2012, 04:52 AM
Here is a grit of a edge pro compered to JIS: http://jendeindustries.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/ep-shapton-chosera-micron-comparison4.jpg

02-10-2012, 10:35 AM
Wow. Would there be a noticeable difference in finishing a knife at a .5 micron stone rather than a 10 or 15 micron stone?

Also I'm reading a lot about stropping, but haven't really been able to pick up what it actually does. What is it's advantage?

02-10-2012, 11:55 AM
I think that for kitchen knives a finish around 3 microns-Jis 5000 is all you need. It gives you the best balance betwean a refined edge and it still has some teeth,which comes handy when you cut some meat. If you go to 0.5 microns the edge become to much refined (dosnt have that bite ht you need) and less durable.
At least this is my experience.

Eamon Burke
02-10-2012, 03:20 PM
Answer to #2:
The Forschner is designed to be sharpened on a belt. It just won't be as good otherwise. It will never be great.

02-10-2012, 03:24 PM
When you sharpen a knife for the first time, how many stones do you use?

What properties of a knife would lend it to needing sharpening on a belt?

02-10-2012, 04:00 PM
It depends :) If i want to reprofile the bevel than i will start with the 120 than 220, 320, 600, 1000 and 5 or 1 micron tape for finish, but if i do just touch up than a 5000 grit stone(jis) may be adecuate (if the stone doesnt create a burr quickly i switch to a lower grit stone). You could easily do it just with a 1/5k King stone or with sandpaper but it will take more time.

i am talking about japanese knives not german :)

02-29-2012, 03:13 PM
I want to play around with the Norton stones I got on the Forschner Chef's before I do anything to the Miyabi. Is it feasible to go from a 320 grit stone to a 4000 grit?

03-01-2012, 06:36 PM
I've had Forschner rosewoods for close to 25 years, and I've used a lot of different methods to sharpen them, just never a belt. I also do not have the edge retention issue you are talking about. The Forschners have been the beaters for 'her' and the kids for the las 15 years, and for rough work, amd I just don't have problems. But you cannot sharpen at the same acute angles as a j-knife. I bring min down to maybe15-17 degrees per side (down from 20 - 25) and it get sharp enuf. and holds the edge pretty well.
I would say that the EP 2320 to a norton 4k is a pretty big jump - doable, but still a big jump.

The Edge
03-01-2012, 08:11 PM
Going from the EP 320 to the Norton 4k is probably a good thing since you are just starting out sharpening free hand. It is going to take longer, but it will help your muscle memory keeping a consistent angle. I learned to sharpen on that very same stone using my friends globals as the guinea pigs. Just don't feel you have to rush through. Take your time, go slow at first, and stop every so often to inspect how you're doing. Hope this helps.

03-03-2012, 06:06 PM
Forschner's lousy chef knife profile is a much bigger problem than their mediocre edge holding. Forschners are made of decent steel and, while there are some limitations in terms of their edge taking, once sharpened they hold the edge for a long time -- as long as they're steeled properly; and that leads to the deduction that you're not doing a great job of either sharpening or steeling. My guess is that you're not actually deburring, and are using your steel with too many strokes and too much force. That means you start with a weak edge and make it worse.

My suggestion is to address sharpening and steeling before worrying too much about "best knife" or "best stone."

King stones aren't bad, but they're slow. Combination stones are convenient but they're fragile (they break at the glue line), and the sides wear unevenly -- which makes them something of a false economy.

Neither of your chef's knives has particularly good "scratch hardness," which means that if you polish much beyond 3K (JIS), it probably won't go beyond a single use. The Edge Pro 1000 stone is probably a good final stone for both knives.

Hope this helps,