How much should I expect to spend to get into sharpening?

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Ceriano

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How much should I expect to spend to get into sharpening? Is an $80 cerax combo 1K/6K good enough for a beginner?
 

Nemo

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Don't start using a fine stone (6k although probably 4k is better for general kitchen use) until you reliably get a sharp edge off a medium stone (circa 1k).

If you will be sharpening Western stainless, use a coarse stone and use a Medium stone only to deburr.

If funds are truly tight, a double sided stone could be a good starting point. But you will likely want to move to individual stones eventually, so it may be a false economy.
 

Steampunk

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Budget at least a good diamond flattening plate (120-400 grit), and a good quality medium grit (800-2K) stone... I'd say about $150-200. A good medium grit stone (3-6K), natural or synthetic, and a good leather strop will take you up to about 250-300. Those latter additions will make your job a bit easier, but aren't strictly necessary...

We talk about fine stones being optional, but that's from the benefit of experience. Many of us started with them, and they made our lives easier, but then we realized we could get pretty great edges on coarser grits once the muscle memory built up, so back-tracked and say the fine ones aren't needed... Really, it's what helped many of us get fine edges early on. Few of us practiced what we preach, and really got shaving sharp results just on medium grit stones alone when we started. It's the benefit of experience that tells you to try to master the coarser (800-1K) stones first.

Sharpening is a deep rabbit hole, though... Every steel, and every type of tool benefits from different stones. The set of stones that works well to thin your knife, are probably different than the ones that actually sharpen it. The ones you like on one blade, you might hate and will make your life harder on another.

A person can theoretically start sharpening for dirt-cheap, but you have to get into it knowing your battle is hard, using primitive means... It actually takes more skill to sharpen on the cheap, than to use quality sharpening stones and accessories. I can sharpen with the stuff I started with better now, than when I was a newbie.

Hope this helps...

Don't start using a fine stone (6k although probably 4k is better for general kitchen use) until you reliably get a sharp edge off a medium stone (circa 1k).

If you will be sharpening Western stainless, use a coarse stone and use a Medium stone only to deburr.

If funds are truly tight, a double sided stone could be a good starting point. But you will likely want to move to individual stones eventually, so it may be a false economy.
Thanking for the Feynman quote. Awesome. :cool:👍

- Steampunk
 

Rangen

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Getting into sharpening: if I were doing that again, it'd be with a Shapton glass 1K and a leather strop (or just your jeans, but the point is that you need to strop).

It could cost a lot more if you find you enjoy it, though. My advice in that case would be to postpone the inevitable fascination with really fine-grit stones, and lay in some lower-grit shaping stones first. Say, a ~200 grit diamond stone and a 500 Shapton glass. You're gonna have knives that need shaping into a proper axis, and a 1000 grit is the long road to that goal. Even a 500 is, if it's far enough off.
 

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Maybe unpopular opinion these days...
Get a King 1k (and flattening stone) and use it till it melts away and needs to be replaced. At this point, move onto other suggestions.

King is clay like and smooth (wobble wont turn to deep scratches), forms a slurry like no other, is super forgiving, and gives a great edge with little effort, and isn't so aggressive that your knives will shrink away.
 

Marcelo Amaral

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For gyutos, i would get something like a JNS 300 (my most used stone by far) and a medium grit stone.
 

M1k3

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I'd say if you're just starting out, get a King 1k and some kind of flattening method. Diamond plate, stone flattener, loose silicon carbide on glass or ceramic tile.

Otherwise replace the King stone with a Shapton Glass 500 double thick.
 

Steampunk

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What’s a good knife to practice sharpening on? morakniv?
Mora's a good choice... Great steel to sharpen (12C27, pretty well HT'd.), but ground for production rather than performance. Will reward your sharpening results, but you'll end up looking elsewhere for good performing grinds.

- Steampunk
 

nexus1935

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When I first wanted to try sharpening, my cheapest path was a ~$15 combo stone on Amazon. I practiced with my older/cheaper knives on it and flattened it on a sidewalk. After I wore that down and my interest in sharpening didn't wane, then my first "real" stone was a Chosera 800.
 

Nemo

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When I first wanted to try sharpening, my cheapest path was a ~$15 combo stone on Amazon. I practiced with my older/cheaper knives on it and flattened it on a sidewalk. After I wore that down and my interest in sharpening didn't wane, then my first "real" stone was a Chosera 800.
You wore the footpath down? Impressive dedication! 😁
 

tostadas

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Yep, the orange one.

If you only have a couple knives, it will take a long while before you need to think about flattening it. Super budget option is a piece of coarse wet/dry sandpaper taped to a flat $1 tile from home depot. This stone will get you in the door to sharpening, will not break the bank, but at the same time is something that you won't feel like you need to upgrade really quickly.

Kiwi knives are pretty fun cheap knives that you can practice on. Less than $10 a piece and you can try out different profiles. Heck, I still keep mine to use as steak knives... or if I only have one grape and want to cut it.
 

soigne_west

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Maybe unpopular opinion these days...
Get a King 1k (and flattening stone) and use it till it melts away and needs to be replaced. At this point, move onto other suggestions.

King is clay like and smooth (wobble wont turn to deep scratches), forms a slurry like no other, is super forgiving, and gives a great edge with little effort, and isn't so aggressive that your knives will shrink away.
I've been sharpening for years and still love my king 1000
 

soigne_west

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If all my stones broke and i was also broke and had to start over again I would go glass 500 and rika 5000 with a 400 atoma. All in around $150 if you shop around.
 

Nemo

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Just re-read the title.

How much you should expect to spend depends on whether you enter the Jnat rabbit hole. If not, maybe 100 bucks for a basic setup, 500 for de luxe. Maybe replace a stone every few years.

If you do, budget around 10k per annum.

Every now and then, you see someone stagger back out of that rabbit hole.

😁

Only half joking.
 
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LostHighway

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What’s a good knife to practice sharpening on? morakniv?
Almost all the options have gone up in price significantly in the past five to ten years but there are still some not break the bank options.
While there are some stainless steels that aren't painful to sharpen I would stick with simple carbon steels to start with.

You can sometimes find decent, old, usually abused, carbon steel kitchen knives at thrift stores. The French Sabatier knives (there are several different Sabtiers but we'll leave that alone for now) and the American Old Hickory are among the more sought after.

Carbon steel cleavers both Chinese and American often can be good practice knives. The old American bone choppers are typically really thick which is both good and bad, you can wear through quite a bit of stone trying to restore an edge but you should be be able to easily feel the angle The nearly flat profile gives you a temporary reprieve from learning to maintain your angles around curves.

The Tojiro Shirogami knives in <200mm lengths tend to be available for around $40 new. Their nakiri or santoku might be a good beginner choice.

The Tosa area smiths mostly work in Aogami 1 or 2. The knives tend to be a bit rustic but the steel is usually well forged. Murata, Zakuri, Kosuke Muneishi/Yusaku, Kajiwara, and others are among the Tosa workshops/marques. Underrated knives IMO and potentially more than just "practice knives." Generally available new for <$150.

A stripe or two of painter's tape above the edge will spare you some scuffs marks while you're learning.
 

Kawa

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I'm with Steampunk and Rangen (post 6 and 7) on this one...

A much heard tip is that 1k stone is enough for touchups and get your knife really sharp.
I think people who are at this level of sharpening (and knifeknowledge) forget the state their knives are in when they call it dull and what state a 'newbies' knife is in when he first starts on it. I assume a lot here, but most newbies have those really cheap kitchen drawer knives with a lot of flat spots on the edge and a lots of chips out of the edge. You will not get a satisfying result on knives in this state just using a 1k. You will find out that even a lot of brand new knives (cheap and even semi-cheap!) have low/high spots on the edge, or even an uneven bevel on the left and right side, or from heel to tip (for example: the left sides edge seems about 2mm high, while the right side seems 1mm high).

So in my opinion get a coarse (120-320) stone for grinding and a medium (800-2k) stone for refining that coarse edge. In a while and with dedication u will get good enough results with this stones to call your knives 'really sharp', and they are. Years from there you find out they could be a lot sharper back then...

If your want some extra fun aswell, I'd buy a fine stone aswell: you can get your knives 'shaving sharp' more easily, which is always a nice standard finish (satisfaction). Next to that, they give your knife that shiny look. Looks nice, which also contributes to the satisfaction.
No need for the fine stone, but it can add to the fun in your starting hobby.

The step after that is a strop. I suggest you make one yourself. If the sharpening hobby really got you by now, you might want to make your own!
A piece of leather from the shoe repairsman... a piece of waste-wood from the hardware store (? i mean the wood pieces that are to small to sell after cutting for a costumer, they throw that away, but you get a piece for free if you ask nicely)... and a little glue
 
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Bobby2shots

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How much should I expect to spend to get into sharpening? Is an $80 cerax combo 1K/6K good enough for a beginner?
Ceriano, before you start thinking about sharpening (removal of metal), I recommend that you also consider an effective and simple maintenance regimen. A quick inspection of your blade every time you use it, will tell you precisely what condition the knife is in, and a simple honing can have you putting off sharpening for quite some time, especially if you combine that procedure with proper cleaning and storage of your knife. I NEVER put a dulled knife back in the drawer (knife rack, etc), and I NEVER use a knife without first checking to see that it is indeed "sharp".

Let me give you an example;

My most often used knife is a Victorinox 6" utility knife. which many will tell you that it's a "soft" steel, and won't keep an edge. Well, mine is now 20 months old, has never been sharpened,, and is still razor-sharp. That knife "lives" in its' cheap plastic sleeve that came with the knife, and I keep the knife handy in my utensil drawer,,,,, nothing "special" in terms of storage,,, but it is effective.

When I go to use the knife, I remove it from its' sleeve and immediately check the blade edge for "bite" by simply flicking my thumb across the edge in both directions, and do this along the entire length of the edge ; the "bite" should be equal in both directions, right-to-left and left-to-right,,and if it's not, it requires a quick touch-up with a butcher-steel and/or ceramic honing rod. By doing so, you'll prevent the edge from rolling over, which often leads to the need for re-sharpening. This inspection/honing process often takes less than a minute.

When I'm done using the knife, I pass it under the hot-water faucet, and give it a quick wash with a soapy sponge, then dry it thouroughly, checking to see if there are still water-droplets where the blade meets the handle. After drying with a dish-towel, I might allow the handle to air-dry for a few minutes, to remove any humidity in the wooden handle. I re-check the edge again, do a quick re-honing if necessary, and only then do I place it back into its' protective sleeve, and back in the drawer.

For me,,, honing is really a 2-step process. I generally use a good-quality butcher steel to first "feather" the edge, where you're pulling the edge away from the spine,,,not pulling the steel toward the tip. Place the hell of the steel against the heel of the knife at an angle, then draw that steel away using firm but careful pressure,,,, just enough to reset the "teeth" or "bite" of the edge, and do the entire edge on both sides ot the blade, with progressively lighter strokes. Check your progress again with your thumb,,,,equal "bite" on both sides.

Once you've re-constituted that edge with the butcher steel, you "may" need to do a second honing with a fine ceramic honing rod, and that rod WILL actually sharpen the edge. You want to proceed firmly yet gently, at a now steeper angle than you did with the butcher steel. The goal here is to simply work the apex of the edge, not the bevel. Again,,, do NOT apply too much pressure against the bevel of the edge or you'll roll the feathered edge and you'll have to start over.

FWIW, F. Dick has some excellent butcher-steels and honing rods. I use an old Zwilling butcher-steel and it does a great job. I also use a 10" Idahone fine ceramic rod.

Good luck.
 

Tristan

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lots of varying opinions.
To just get started I have passed king 1k stones and king hyper stones to friends.
1k and a 400ish grit (chosera for me) for occasional profile repair work is definitely sufficient to achieve paper/tomato cuts you see often on videos. ($30+50ish)
If you can’t, it’s not the stones. So starting out with just a 1k stone is fine.
Loads of threads comparing 1k stones. Just pick one.

more than this would fall in the nice to have bucket. An atoma at say 400 grit for flattening?
Newspaper is an ok strop. Not essential to get fancier
Honing rods? Definitely unnecessary once you are good on stones you won’t need them in a home prep environment.

People describe sharpness differently. Check videos and replicate as you go along.
Hope you enjoy the process!
 

Ceriano

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Ceriano, before you start thinking about sharpening (removal of metal), I recommend that you also consider an effective and simple maintenance regimen. A quick inspection of your blade every time you use it, will tell you precisely what condition the knife is in, and a simple honing can have you putting off sharpening for quite some time, especially if you combine that procedure with proper cleaning and storage of your knife. I NEVER put a dulled knife back in the drawer (knife rack, etc), and I NEVER use a knife without first checking to see that it is indeed "sharp".

Let me give you an example;

My most often used knife is a Victorinox 6" utility knife. which many will tell you that it's a "soft" steel, and won't keep an edge. Well, mine is now 20 months old, has never been sharpened,, and is still razor-sharp. That knife "lives" in its' cheap plastic sleeve that came with the knife, and I keep the knife handy in my utensil drawer,,,,, nothing "special" in terms of storage,,, but it is effective.

When I go to use the knife, I remove it from its' sleeve and immediately check the blade edge for "bite" by simply flicking my thumb across the edge in both directions, and do this along the entire length of the edge ; the "bite" should be equal in both directions, right-to-left and left-to-right,,and if it's not, it requires a quick touch-up with a butcher-steel and/or ceramic honing rod. By doing so, you'll prevent the edge from rolling over, which often leads to the need for re-sharpening. This inspection/honing process often takes less than a minute.

When I'm done using the knife, I pass it under the hot-water faucet, and give it a quick wash with a soapy sponge, then dry it thouroughly, checking to see if there are still water-droplets where the blade meets the handle. After drying with a dish-towel, I might allow the handle to air-dry for a few minutes, to remove any humidity in the wooden handle. I re-check the edge again, do a quick re-honing if necessary, and only then do I place it back into its' protective sleeve, and back in the drawer.

For me,,, honing is really a 2-step process. I generally use a good-quality butcher steel to first "feather" the edge, where you're pulling the edge away from the spine,,,not pulling the steel toward the tip. Place the hell of the steel against the heel of the knife at an angle, then draw that steel away using firm but careful pressure,,,, just enough to reset the "teeth" or "bite" of the edge, and do the entire edge on both sides ot the blade, with progressively lighter strokes. Check your progress again with your thumb,,,,equal "bite" on both sides.

Once you've re-constituted that edge with the butcher steel, you "may" need to do a second honing with a fine ceramic honing rod, and that rod WILL actually sharpen the edge. You want to proceed firmly yet gently, at a now steeper angle than you did with the butcher steel. The goal here is to simply work the apex of the edge, not the bevel. Again,,, do NOT apply too much pressure against the bevel of the edge or you'll roll the feathered edge and you'll have to start over.

FWIW, F. Dick has some excellent butcher-steels and honing rods. I use an old Zwilling butcher-steel and it does a great job. I also use a 10" Idahone fine ceramic rod.

Good luck.
I love my honing rod. I use it almost exclusively for my victorinox boning knives when I’m field processing deer. It’s great for getting gunk and blood off the blade.
I have had mixed experience with sharpening stones in the past. I can get a sharp enough edge to cut a piece of paper but not hair popping sharp. Here is an example of kershaw I did awhile ago on diamond stone. You can see how rough the burr is. When I try to get the burr off with finer stone the knife ends up very dull.
I ordered the sharpton 1k. I’ll give it another try see how it goes.
 

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M1k3

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I love my honing rod. I use it almost exclusively for my victorinox boning knives when I’m field processing deer. It’s great for getting gunk and blood off the blade.
I have had mixed experience with sharpening stones in the past. I can get a sharp enough edge to cut a piece of paper but not hair popping sharp. Here is an example of kershaw I did awhile ago on diamond stone. You can see how rough the burr is. When I try to get the burr off with finer stone the knife ends up very dull.
I ordered the sharpton 1k. I’ll give it another try see how it goes.
 

Kawa

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I love my honing rod. I use it almost exclusively for my victorinox boning knives when I’m field processing deer. It’s great for getting gunk and blood off the blade.
I have had mixed experience with sharpening stones in the past. I can get a sharp enough edge to cut a piece of paper but not hair popping sharp. Here is an example of kershaw I did awhile ago on diamond stone. You can see how rough the burr is. When I try to get the burr off with finer stone the knife ends up very dull.
I ordered the sharpton 1k. I’ll give it another try see how it goes.
To my little knowledge, your edge in the picture is not nearly enough ground. If it is right what Im seeing, the right side of the edge (right side in the picture) still has the factory finish visible: the vertical lines. The further you go right in the picture, the more clear it becomes.
While the tip, especially just left of the part hitting the board, is more heavily ground. Even this look like you stopped too soon: the scratches havent made the factory finish completely go away, just a few very coarse scratces over it.

Getting the factory finish away isnt a goal per se, but the first time with a knife I have found it to be nice to get the edge straight (no lower/higher spots from heel to tip vissible). You probably take a little too much metal away (I asume I do, since i do the same. Certainly with cheaper knives. They have lots of irregularities)
When from heel to tip al the scrathes look evened out, a kind of the same 'scratchcoarses' all over the edge, you are good. Im not saying scratchpatern, because the way you sharpen the flat/long part (how you call this?) of your knife and how you transition to the belly determines how the patern looks on coarse gritts. This does say nothing about hitting the apex or not! For instance, you could grind too flat.

I guess (really guess) when a honing rod makes a blunt knife feel sharp again, is when you hit the knife a little too steep. A coarse rod, which most normal steels are, is very rough, about 100-200 gritt (correct me if wrong). You tend to make a small microbevel on your edges that way very fast. You should be able to see that with the naked eye: a very tiny extra edge on the apex, about a hair wide.
I might be talking BS aswell here 😅
 

kayman67

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There are different ways to tackle this.

First and most important is to ask yourself how well you want to learn and if you can make an effort for it. There is no free lunch, no matter what you read. The more you do this, the more you understand what you want, but you got to start somewhere and how you start makes a difference. There's a lot of debate over this. Now, some guys might be prone to completely disregard how their choices along the way defined their present level of knowledge, but even this will offer you a great perspective on things.

But let's assume you really need that one stone to be as good as possible with a low budget and nothing else.
JCK 1000/4000 could be that stone. Plus some 40/60 and 180/240 grit sandpaper to keep it flat along the way. It's a great performer on a budget. The answer being that it doesn't have to be an expensive hobby and still enjoy good stones and results. There are scenarios when things pile up fast, just based on needs alone, but doesn't seem to be so now.
 

coffeelover191919

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the 4k 5k 6k stones dont provide a good edge for kitchen knives. They're almost too smooth and have no bite.

i dont let my knives get too dull and sharpen on the shapton 1k, then shapton 2k. i strop with a leather strop. and i maintain by going straight to the shapton 2k. perfect edge for all kitchen knife duties.
 

M1k3

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the 4k 5k 6k stones dont provide a good edge for kitchen knives. They're almost too smooth and have no bite.

i dont let my knives get too dull and sharpen on the shapton 1k, then shapton 2k. i strop with a leather strop. and i maintain by going straight to the shapton 2k. perfect edge for all kitchen knife duties.
In my experience, depends on what you're cutting and the knife. I find a 4k edge good all around. If I'm feeling fancy or whatever 6k 🤷‍♂️

Anywhere from 500ish-4kish works though.
 

coffeelover191919

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In my experience, depends on what you're cutting and the knife. I find a 4k edge good all around. If I'm feeling fancy or whatever 6k 🤷‍♂️

Anywhere from 500ish-4kish works though.
i have a Shapton 5k and when i finish on it..the edge is sharp, and very smooth. but i doesn't bite, it doesn't feel as sharp on food as when i finish on the 2k. I think its the toothy edge that helps on food.
 
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