Is polishing stainless a waist of time?

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Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2011
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Is polishing stainless steel beyond 6k pointless?

The reason why i ask this is because of the complete letdown i felt after i bought and used a superstone 10k for the first time on a stainless blade. From all the talk about the stone, i was expecting a huge, atom splitting performance jump over the arashiyama 6k. What i got was beautifully polished edge, but not much of an increase in performance.:crying:

My feelings soon improved though when i took my carbons to the 10k.

I found the difference in sharpness in jumping from 6k to 10k, alllmost as big as from 1.2k to 6k. My carbon knives really respond to being polished all the way up to 10k.

I think i will stick to carbon or semi stainless in future.

Anyone else feel the same?
i find it to be more difficult to get the best performance out of stainless, as compared to my carbon blades, but i don't think it's a waste of time.
In regards to sharpening different steels this is IME:

The carbon (Sabatier, Dojo aogami, moritaka, misono from my usage) you can "feel" what is going on more, at least that is my experience. Stainless steels (ATS34, Various german CroMo steels, CpmS30v and others) is sort of "I hope I am getting this right" until you actually feel the edge with thumb/arm hair tests, and then realize you need a couple more swipes to get the edge perfect. With carbon, I can tell sort of from feel that it will shave hair easily coming off the stone. If this makes any sense... I am speaking toward the end of your sharpening process, when you are making feather light strokes. I like a very small microbevel on all my kitchen knives, normally I am 12 back-bevel/primary edge, 15 microbevel edge). I do use a strop and various powder (no diamond) compounds (3-1-.5) to polish the bevels, however coming of a DMT 9 micron hone at the end of my process the edge will whittle hair easily and is sticky sharp. I leave my dexter russell carbon fillet/boning knives like this and my smaller 6" sabatier stainless slicer as they come in handy for chickens and general duty dealing with bones.

You will get NO argument from me that CARBON STEEL KNIVES are easier to sharpen, and subsequently strop to a finer edge. However, the stainless edge does not degrade as fast, and polishes up a little easier since it is softer in most steels. I think the higher chromium content leads to more easily flipped burrs (read this someehere) , and burrs (however microscopic they are) that need more care to remove are going to lead to more difficulty in achieving that super sharp hair whittling/popping edge. Also, one or two bad strokes and you ruin 10 minutes or more of work so tread carefully when coming to a close in the process, including the strop if you use one.

If your not getting the edge you want on the stainless, I would suggest lifting your angle from say 10 if your using it, just two degrees to 12, and put a tiny microbevel on BOTH sides. Should be two swipes or so on your stone if your hitting the whole edge (per side) or maybe even 5 per side if your new to it. After this, if it isnt easily popping hair, your either not creating a burr, your not fully removing it. IMO. No shame, sometimes when this happens to me I will hit it on my sharpmaker for two swipes a side and it will be hair whittling so? I attribute this to a burr that isnt fully removed and/or I am using too much or the wrong amount of pressure that day. Results dont lie. Sometimes I am getting mediocre results I will wipe the finishing stone after every other swipe and get the desired result.

Just to make thinks clear. I do stil finish on the 10k, and i do get outstanding hair popping edges, their just not that much better than the 6k results. Certainly not that big a jump in sharpness than what i get with finishing with the superstone 10k on carbon.
Perhaps it is the hardness of the blade that is wanting? Is this with a few different stainless steels?

My post was not meant to assume your skill was lacking, just some observations from my experience with various stainless steels.

you gotta remember too it's like comparing apples to oranges.......ryan
I guess i was just trying to give a generel observation of how stainless seems to get to a medium level of polishing, then any increases in performance when using higher grit stones slow down very quickly.

Carbon however, seems to respond much better higher grit polishing stones where the performance increases are clear.