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  1. #1

    Help pick my stones

    Last night came the topic of Christmas gifts and my wife asked what I wanted, my first reaction was "a set of stones" She understands that I want some input into the specifics, so now I am reaching out to you guys for some knowledge. What do you suggest for a setup?

    What I have:
    - No sharpening stones (I am sure someone was waiting for me to say no stones alone, so I added clarity)
    - MAC Black Ceramic Honing Rod

    - A couple of Shun Fuji, SG2 knives. 10" Chef, 3.5 Pairing
    - Pierre Rodriguez 240mm "mid-tech" gyuto - Only a few uses so far, my first gyuto
    - In on the HHH Preorder for the 240 gyuto
    - A few Forgies (cleaver, slicer that are in great shape) and a few Forgies ( slicer, pairing) that are definately used
    - Chicago Cutlery Insignia 2 Set- (All I know is that it says high-carbon stainless steel blades) I have noticed some chips in the Santoku now that I am paying more attention to the edges.

    That being said, I am new to sharpening, so lets cross off the $300 stones. What brand/grit stones do you suggest?
    I listed the Chicago Cutlery set as that would be the set I would like to use on the learning curve. I have been told they may gum up stones a bit.
    If that is the case, would practicing on a few of the more beat up forgies be better? Ideally the ones that are in great shape are going to be in my "normal use" category, so I would like to start somewhere else before practicing on those.

    Between the Pierre and Shuns, they should be fine on the same setup of stones right? I have watched almost all of the vids (marker technique, etc) from JKI.

    That being said, in an earlier post, someone had suggested this combo: Here Is that a good starting place/set to grow into, add in a holder and call it good?

    The Shuns come with their lifetime sharpening (pay to ship back and forth) but now that I have some others in the block, I would prefer to learn to do own my own for those others especially.

    Anyone have any insight as to why I feel the Fuji chef is giving me better performance than the Pierre? Especially when makign horizontal cuts in an onion, I find the Pierre has a harder time going through (a lot more pressing required) Could it be that some thinning behind the edge would improve it?

    Thanks in advance for all the knowledge!

  2. #2
    That core set of stones is all you'll ever need as far as stones go, but you'll need something to flatten them. You can use drywall screen on a flat surface (like a tile) or if your budget allows an extra extra coarse diamond plate is the easiest way.

    Also just know that the Bester stones need a long soak at least half an hour and longer is better. I keep mine soaking all the time so they're always ready to go. As long as that doesn't bother you they're great stones. If you prefer not having to soak there are some splash and go stones available as well as soakers that don't need as long in the water before use.

  3. #3
    Yep, I agree that this is a great set and will cover your needs.

    There are *some* knives that I will use a different coarse stone on, but most of the time if I need a coarse stone I use my Beston 500. This thing is a water hog and you'll want to soak it for a good while (yeah, half an hour is about right) before using it. Then keep it moist while using it

    The Bester 1k is a really nice stone, and the Rika 5k is a smooooooth stone.

    I use the Bester 1k and the JNS 1k as my favorite two options there. Beyond that though, I've got too many options to really stay faithful to any one stone. The Rika 5k is a really nice stone and you won't need anything finer than that for most purposes. You may *want* others, but this set will meet your *need* and do so very nicely.

    The JNS 1k & 6k are also worth considering. Very very different feel though. I happen to like the harder feel from them compared to the Bester 1k and Rika 5k, which feel softer and silkier.

    I don't know if that makes any difference in terms of the learning curve beyond saying that I learned a lot on the Bester+Rika combo. I may like the harder stones right now, but I honestly don't know how that factors in to the learning process when just starting out.
    Len

  4. #4
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    + 1 on Dave's core set.

  5. #5
    + 2 on Dave's core set; it's what I use. You'll probably find your Forgecrafts the best thing to practice on. The cheapo stainless just isn't much fun to sharpen, whereas basic carbon can be very satisfying- you'll get a lot of feedback and have a nice sharp edge before you know it.

  6. #6
    Thanks everyone so much for the feedback, such a blessing to have a group who (outside of the knucklehead thread) are not out to be big bad internet personalities. In their defense... that is why it is called natural selection... some people you can only just look and shake your head.

    It sounds like the core set with the forgies is my best starting point, and stretch out when I need to sharpen the others until I have some more comfort using them.

    That being said What angles are the forgies at?

    What is the stance on using a honing rod with a gyuto etc? Also what interval are people finding they are sharpening their home daily use gyuto roughly?

  7. #7
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    I do my old carbon at about 20 degrees per side. Sometimes a little more acute with a microbevel. Depends on the knife and the intended use. I only go to 1k on the forgies. The bester 1200 should do fine.

  8. #8
    Honestly there are plenty of worthy stones out there. I can say with confidence other than jnats I would only buy one line and that's gesshin. They cut fast and leave great edges. And look at it this way you won't have to waste money to upgrade later on, use that money towards knives and natural stones.

    Seriously though if I could do it again that's the route I'd take.

    Either 400. 4k minimalist

    400, 2k, 4k, 8k or takashima complete set

    Or 1k/6k or 600/6k combo good starting set

  9. #9
    I don't think 400 or other coarse stones are the best choice because you can do more damage than good with them - so if you're starting out & still working on your technique, not the best choice IMO.

    Not to say having the Bester 500 in that set is a bad thing - if your knives are severely dull/damaged, or if you want to play with thinning some of your knives, it's a good option to have.

    I can't speak on the Beston 1200 because I don't own it, but a LOT of folks seem to love the stone.

    I do own a Rika 5k though and it's probably my most used and favorite stone. Great feeling, especially if you permasoak it, and if you care for you knives, it is quick to put on a solid edge. I touch up most of my knives on the Rika alone daily (I work in a kitchen though) and don't feel a need to go higher - or lower, except for once a week or so.

    That said, for the Rika, having a diamond plate or other flattener is a must. Not that it dishes quickly, but more than any other stone I own, it tends to 'clog' quickly. After a knife or two it will start to feel scratchy and just doesn't seem as effective and smooth once it gains some color. You don't have to remove a lot of material - the stone makes it obvious when it's 'clean'. I flatten mine between every knife and still feel like I have plenty of life left in it.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by JDA_NC View Post
    I don't think 400 or other coarse stones are the best choice because you can do more damage than good with them - so if you're starting out & still working on your technique, not the best choice IMO.


    If you do end up with the core set, put the 500 away immediately and don't touch it until you're very comfy with the other 2 stones. In fact, you should probably just start out with the 1200 and practice with that until you feel confident you're holding a consistent angle and creating an even burr and deburring properly giving you a sharp knife every time.

    A 1200 grit stone will give you a very workable edge that is actually as fine as you probably want to go on your Chicago's.

    Bust out the Rika when you're confident with the 1200 and you find you want more polish on your harder knives. Only once you've mastered those two stones should you be trying too use the 500 as you can do damage with such a coarse stone. You'll only really need it when thinning behind the edge or repairing significant chips or other such damage anyhow.

    Go through Jon's playlist...he has a video on buying stone sets, and another one regarding honing rods and Japanese knives specifically.

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