First off, I should say that the boxes of 2 of them was soggy and kinda moldy when I got them, I think the stones retained some more moisture than the sender expected, and the boxes paid the price! I've got them drying on a cooling rack right now, just because of this.
I got to try these on single bevel, double bevel, carbon, stainless, pm, soft, and hard steels. Really got the gamut--blue steel, spicy white(guess who's), VG-10, 154cm, whatever Randy's got in the dragon slayers, etc.
1k: As is the consensus, this stone is the worst of the bunch. It dishes easily, and leaves a finish that is almost identical to my GS 500. It does cut fast enough, and it is nice and wide. It also does do a LOT better when you work up a good mud on it. Very raggedy edge.
3k: Totally lost in the crowd here. I have no idea why this stone exists, honestly, the finish is not much different from the 1k, and cuts almost as fast. You can skip this and go to a 5k or so and never know the difference. IMO, you should only bridge gaps like 1k to 5k if you are working with a material you REALLY want to be careful with, like straight razors, or finishing a new custom blade. The edge was grabby, and came out a lot better on the VG10 than anything else. Not a suitable stopping point for going to strop though. The feedback was the best of the bunch, though--this stone is like the one guy in the family with red hair.
6k: Things are looking up! This stone left an interesting edge. Imagine a Rika edge, but shinier and slippery. The Rika gives a really hazy finish for a 5k, so it's not surprising that this one is shinier, but it leaves an edge that cuts about the same but has a tendency to run on food. Stainless steels followed up with a diamond strop did well off this one. Not great feedback. It's muddy enough that it resists "faceting", and leaves a more even finish.
10k: This was the most useful stone out of the bunch--hard, fast as heck for a 10k, with terrible feedback. I don't mind bad feedback, I do a lot of my sharpening on Shapton Pros. It puts out a very even, shiny finish, that is polished as a 10k should be. Not suitable for gyutos and chefs, the edge will run like crazy and not bite into the skin of even citrus. But for touchups on sashimi knives, parers, letter-opening pocketknives or other high-polish items, it does really well! I would say that if you wanted a good touch up stone for a yanagiba or whatever, this would be a good choice.
Overall, I would say this is a mixed lot. Nothing screamed "Amazing! Buy me!" to me, but none were really so terrible I wouldn't use them. The 10k is the one that I think performs a job that few, if any, other stones do, but it is a very narrow job(fast, High polish touchups from a soaker).
Thanks for them! There were fun to use, surprising little group of stones. It is hard to tell what they have in common, but that's what made it so fun! It's like a box of chocolates.
Nice writeup Eamon.
Sounds like you really put in some time with these boys...
Are there any other forum members in Hawaii besides Peter who would like to try these stones? Stefan, Darwin? I probably missed some more.
Very useful information there, but still not 'out of the norm' at all.
Just as an observation, there is another, new Select II #1200 stone. I think I mentioned this, nobody said boo about it so I dropped it until I had some more time with it myself.
The only way I can relate how the #1200 works is to offer it up as a comparison against other stones I've used in the #1000 grit range.
Feeling, second only to a Chosera. Silky smooth, tells you what it's doing for the most part but as it's a seriously hard stone, there's only so much it can tell you.
Dish resistance, as good as or better than a Shapton Pro.
Finish, second only to the Naniwa Superstone.
Speed, compares favourably to everything else. Slightly faster than a Shapton Pro, not as fast as the Select II #1000.
Steel hard/tough Capability, no limit. It bites into anything you got. One of the 'biti-est' stones I've ever used, and was a bit of a shock the first time I used it.
Not too shabby, considering that the stones it's compared to in each category are, in my opinion, the best at what they do. To roll all of the good points of several stones into one is no mean feat.
In short, it's the yin to the Select II #1000's yang. Similar in some respects, but completely opposite in others and I dearly wish I could have sent it instead.
Anyway, that's all I got.
(Except for the #3000's yin in a month or three...)
If someone wants to take on the #1200 that's already used the #1000, I'll fire one off next week to Marko.
And on the boxes, yeah, they've been left wet at least once. A note to whoever has the stones from here on out, make sure the stones are dry before boxing them up, please. Stick them somewhere warm/hot, in the sun, near a fan, whatever. These aren't delicate little petals, they'll put up with more than you can throw at them, aside from a hammer.
I let them stand on a wire cooling rack on their sides for 48 hours, so they should be dry by now, but that 1k sure is thirsty!
Honestly, the stone the 1k reminds me of the most, is the Naniwa 150 grit Omura. Large, thirsty, muddy, aggressive, noisy. Should have said that to give a reference.
If you have a stone that's 1200 grit, faster than a a Shapton Pro, Harder than a Shapton pro, with an even finish, I'd be MAJORLY interested in that. No kidding. I like my stones hard as hell, and fast as possible, with good resistance to loading(who likes lapping ultra hard stones? Not me!).
I have to say that after several days, the pocket knife I finished the edge on with the 10k stone has held up really well. It's sharper(cuts better but still holds up) than it gets off a high grit belt, which is saying something.
Stu, are these stones seriously binder-free? If so, why aren't they totally uniform in appearance?
The 1K, I canned it basically, so they made the #1200. I was diplomatic about it, but I still explained that it was just too soft. Some folks seem to like it, but the #700 is similar but has a binder, so holds up better and is even faster. Oh well...
There's a dye to colour the higher grit stones, but any binder used to make them is burned out when they're fired. I just looked at a 6K and 10K, and the spots are likely stains from the binder, bits of steel or just random junk. Translate that as "I don't know what the heck they are, and they won't tell me!" But the 4 stones sent that have Select II on the box are binder free.
Of the 4 other stones with the Select II on the box, there's the #240, which is the same as the SiC/sintered stones you've got now. Quite soft, but fast, fast, fast. Great if you can live with it like that. The #400 which is a AlOx stone with binder (can't sinter AlOx) and I won't call it a proper Select II. The #1200 which is again AlOx but is like the old ceramic cranked up to 11. More abrasive, different tougher binder, tighter grit size tolerance and finer abrasive. And the 13K which has been around for a long time, but they relabeled it Select II so they could get folks overseas to sell it with a common label.
(Seeing the #400 and #1200 available in Germany grates on me. Especially the #400 since I have the prototype and the "one that didn't make it" sitting on my fridge...)
The #1200 is very, very good. The first time I used it, I sharpened my knuckles. The blade stuck to the stone from pure 'bite', not stiction. Never had that before. I tested it side by side with the Shapton Pro, and found it to stay just as flat or flatter in every circumstance I tried and was 10-20% faster to get the same amount of work done. It's only something you'd notice if you kept track of things and did it side by side, but it's there and measurable. For finish, I compared it side by side with a Chosera 1K and various other things. Finer scratches, very even and a better finish (by eye) than everything aside from the polish a Superstone gives. But the 1200 kicks the living snot out of the Superstone in very other regard you might mention. It nearly starts polishing, which is unusual and yet, it's still working hard. Refuses to clog, but it will load very heavily. Can be blacker than black, but it's still working. There's virtually no mud created with a blade only, but if you get a mud worked up with a diamond plate, then it will tend to create a little more mud slowly.
Lapping is easily done with an iWood or Atoma plate, but a DMT #320 has some trouble. After sorting out the sides of my solid gyuto and then putting a completely fresh edge on the knife, there was some dishing, but not much. Atoma sorted it out in about 10-15 strokes, and the bulk of the stone was flat after a few swipes of the Atoma. Just getting the hard worked middle was where the effort was needed. Seems to not like soft clad knives so much though. Need to work that out. I think that perhaps the soft cladding tends to pick up random particles, and make a mess of things. The stone is intended for HSS, so soft metal isn't what it was made for. Seems to be ok, but not as nice as it could be in that regard.
It does need soaking, but once it's done, it's not thirsty.
And at the rate it wears at, dang thing will last forever. It's eye opening, and my go to stone now.
But folks who like mud? Don't touch it.
Just had a good old crack at my cheap yanagi, and after plenty of work, it's still very, very flat and fixing up what the Sigma hard and Shapton Pro etc. have done to that knife. The soft metal is starting to take a polish (no loose grit at all) and the 'mud' looks more like dirty mercury than slurry.
That's about all I've got on it right now. I keep putting it to the test, and it keeps on doing well. There's bound to be something it sucks at, but I haven't found it yet (aside from being completely useless at kasumi, unless you load it up with something else first.)
I'm interested in trying out the 1.2k.
Folks in Hawaii -
is there more interest to try Sigma II than one person? For logistical reasons, it would make sense to send a package half-around the world, if there are more than one person interested.
I would love the chance to try the 1200!
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