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Thread: SS vs Carbon when sharpening?

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    Zwiefel's Avatar
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    SS vs Carbon when sharpening?

    I spent a good bit of time this weekend sharpening 2 stainless blades and 3 carbon blades (all white, I think they are all #2).

    After spending quite a lot of time on the stainless blades, I found the carbon steel to be vastly easier to work with. I'm not sure how much of the difference was the relative condition of the blades...the SS were in really rough shape, the carbon were all in serviceable to good condition.

    It seemed that what took 20-30ish passes with the stainless was done with 4-5 passes with the carbon.

    Is that your experience? Am I missing something? Is this more related to these being old, stamped steel vs some of the newer SS (like Suisin, or the PM's)?

    TX!
    Remember: You're a unique individual...just like everybody else.

  2. #2
    I found sharpening family members' and friends' cheapie stainless knives to require quite a bit of work. In part this was because I was grinding off a fair bit of steel to cut in new bevels. They were so dull to begin with that they were basically butter knives without any real bevels to speak of.
    Len

  3. #3
    That the reason why I resigned of using stainless. I sold stainless ad now will sell semi stainless.

    They clog stones, the swarf is really messy, they are usually not as hard and the end result is far off from carbon by the cutting feeling.
    It has no attitude towards cutting, and is overally just pain is the arse.

    And I would also say that it takes longer time for stainless to get a similar results to carbon.

  4. #4
    Senior Member DwarvenChef's Avatar
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    I hate it when the families stainless knives get dull, takes at least twice as long to sharpen them. Not to mention my daughters s30v blade, glad she doesn't abuse that knife

  5. #5
    Senior Member Shinob1's Avatar
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    I have a Yoshihiro 210mm Stainless Wa-Gyuto and a Zakuri blue #2 Tosagato bucho. The Zakuri is far easier to sharpen in my opinion, especially as a novice. I have spent more time on the Yoshihiro and while I can get it shaving sharp, it doesn't seem to have the same level of sharpness and the work going into it was far greater.

    I think the trade off could be that if you cut a lot of acidic food with a carbon blade, that the acid will dull the edge quicker than stainless and as a result, you may end up sharpening more often. As a home cook, I don't notice this issue because I cut up a few things a night and that's it. However maybe our pro chefs can comment on the effort of sharpening stainless vs. carbon when cutting acidic food.

  6. #6

    Zwiefel's Avatar
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    RE Edge Retention....the VG steel in my Masamoto yo-Gyuto seemed to hold a good edge for a really long time (yearish) of home use. The (IIRC) 19c27/INOX steel in my Suisin seemed to only last about 4 months. The edge on the White #2 Gengetsu wa-petty seemed to last about 4ish weeks (LOTS of acidic food in that particular case though).

    Competing against those observations is my concurrent growing knowledge and awareness of what a sharp edge really is. Up until the Masamoto, I thought the Rada sharpener kept a good edge on my Henckel's (that was also the point when I acquired water stones).
    Remember: You're a unique individual...just like everybody else.

  7. #7
    Senior Member mpukas's Avatar
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    Yeah, I notice SS is harder to get sharp as carbon. Not like night and day. Maybe more accurately stated is carbon, especially white #2, is SO easy to get SO sharp. I even find AS to be easy to get sharp. The most difficult SS I have is a Blazen SG2, and it takes more passes and concentration & deliberation to get sharp. Also, I find Heiji's semi-stainless f/ Jon to be very easy to sharpen, and get very sharp.

    Last year I visited my folks back east and brought my GS's to sharpen a bunch of mom's SS knives (some Henckels, Whustoff and Shun, and some cheapos even crappier than any of those). Had to cut new bevels on all. Only used 1k & 4k. Took some time, but nothing too difficult. But they would only get so sharp.
    Shibui - simplicity devoid of unnecessary elements

  8. #8
    My experience has been dependent on the type of stainless steel used (obviously).

    I have sharpened AEB-L as well as CPM-154 and they both sharpen as easily as my carbons.

    The extremely abrasion resistance tool steels are a pain, but ultimately this will mean less overall time on the stones so it's not really a bad thing.

    The worst offenders are the soft, mass produced "stainless steels" because they take forever to sharpen and lose their edge very quickly.

    So again, it depends on the steel.

  9. #9

    Zwiefel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by echerub View Post
    I found sharpening family members' and friends' cheapie stainless knives to require quite a bit of work. In part this was because I was grinding off a fair bit of steel to cut in new bevels. They were so dull to begin with that they were basically butter knives without any real bevels to speak of.
    Thanks Len. Definitely this was going on...no edge to speak of on either of the SS...I was hoping to see what other's experience is to try to split this up into "SS are a pain" and "creating all new bevels is a pain" categories

    Maybe I'll end up finding some equally abused carbon, that would be a more apples:apples comparison.

    Next time I'll take some pictures...despite knowing how poor my results are compared to you lot!
    Remember: You're a unique individual...just like everybody else.

  10. #10
    Senior Member stevenStefano's Avatar
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    I'd say carbon is easier to sharpen but it isn't exactly night and day in my opinion. I only really use SS and semi-stainless now but it isn't like I spend forever sharpening. I don't like the edge retention of White #2, my Kono HD and Rottman hold an edge way longer than my Masamoto or Sakai Yusuke for example

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