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JNat Beginners Guide to Buying: Stories of Success, Pitfalls, and Fails

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D J

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While searching natural stones on Google awhile ago I came across a site called. Japanese whetstone glossary. I still like to try to find and read different views and opinions about naturals. The whetstone glossary is just one part of the site. There's a menu of different topics from sealing stones, buying stones, nagura and more, It was to me some good insights by the author. And I wished that I had read something like this when first starting out on my jnat journey. I would recommend it to anyone just getting into naturals.
 

D J

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What I meant by "I still like to try to find and read different views and opinions" is. I still like to learn 👨‍🎓 😋
 

kayman67

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I'll probably regret asking this, but what's the benefit to working in a natural stone if you are looking to just sharpen and not get into polishing? And where does the first natural stone fit in your progression?
It's the same as always, but there are some caveats to it.
For example. Naturals have the ability, in theory, to offer a much more aggressive edge while being finer as well. And they do this a lot easier for most levels of sharpening techniques.
On the other hand, not all of them are as straightforward. So, in reality, you have these circles that meet in a rather narrow spot, if you consider all the stones one could just buy without knowing anything about what they do. This is why most people recommend certain stones from reputable retailers. Sure, you can experiment with anything else, but don't expect to start like this and win the lottery every time.
 

Xenif

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It's the same as always, but there are some caveats to it.
For example. Naturals have the ability, in theory, to offer a much more aggressive edge while being finer as well. And they do this a lot easier for most levels of sharpening techniques.
On the other hand, not all of them are as straightforward. So, in reality, you have these circles that meet in a rather narrow spot, if you consider all the stones one could just buy without knowing anything about what they do. This is why most people recommend certain stones from reputable retailers. Sure, you can experiment with anything else, but don't expect to start like this and win the lottery every time.
Well said.
 

Hanmak17

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I'll probably regret asking this, but what's the benefit to working in a natural stone if you are looking to just sharpen and not get into polishing? And where does the first natural stone fit in your progression?
Personally, I'm not sure there is one. I have yet to find a natural stone that I felt was superior to synthetics for any sort of edge work. That is not to say that I don't use my nats for edge work, as I have recently invested significant effort experimenting with mid grits. In general, I prefer the cost, speed, consistency, and breadth of information available on various synthetics. IE: I can read threads, reviews etc. on synthetic stones and have a really good idea of what I am going to get when I buy the stone, + know that the stone I buy is exactly the same as the stone the reviewer wrote about. The other key point is that the logical transition point for progressing from synth to natural is well beyond the effective grit range needed to produce an effective edge.

All that being said, I am investing heavy amounts of time/money in building out my mid grit natural stone collection to augment my synthetic collection. The primary reasoning being that it is easier to clean up and polish a knife that was sharpened at least in the final stages using a natural stone. I also really like the nasty friggin edges I can get with a few of my harder finer natural stones.
 

AFKitchenknivesguy

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In my experience and reading, natural stones shine the best in the finer grit stones i.e. polishing. If you've spent money on jnats, this is where the expensive jnats are, for evident reasons.
 

josemartinlopez

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Some makers use synthetics but use a natural stone finisher as the last stone, to get a refined but still toothy edge the fine grit synthetic cannot produce, right?
 

Honyaki

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I wouldn’t touch JNats @JML negligible difference. You can try JNS’ red aoto matukusuyama, or the morihei synths. those mixed grit synths will give you the “toothy and refined” edge
 
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josemartinlopez

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OK. jnats are so subjective and every single one is different, even more than knives. Still trying to learn.
 
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naader

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Some makers use synthetics but use a natural stone finisher as the last stone, to get a refined but still toothy edge the fine grit synthetic cannot produce, right?
Or as polishers lol. Synthetics leave deeper scratches and generally arent as pleasant to use.
 

Hanmak17

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OK. jnats are so subjective and every single one is different, even more than knives. Still trying to learn.
Everything is subjective, jnats especially so. That being said, once you've had a chance to use a bunch of different stones you get a feel for them and begin to gain some perspective. Per the earlier post, if you want a natural stone for edge work, an Aizu is the best place to start. They are also very effective polishing stones for Kasumi finish, and they are generally pretty consistent.
 

valgard

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To me, if you are not polishing the biggest advantages from Jnats over Synthetics are
1- Feedback
2-Feedback
3-Feedback
4- easier to deburr on jnats as a general rule, especially because you can heavily manipulate their speed with the surface preparation and water management
5- versatility of pretty much having more than one stone in one depending on how you use them
6- stay flat longer (but this one is pretty negligible for edge work only in a single session for most people)

The quality and characteristics of the edges is more up to what you enjoy in my opinion, but I definitely prefer an Aizu edge on my gyutos over the synthetics I have used.
 

milangravier

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I am sharpening on natural stones for 8 years. First was french and belgium stones, then about 1 year ago japaneses. Only talking about sharpening, to me, you will get a good edge anyway either natural or synthetic, if you got enough skills about sharpening. First reason to choose naturals for me is the experience : you got a piece of hardened steel and you need to work with a piece of rock. It is very "natural" and obvious to make them meet. And as two natural elements they should work with each other (abrasion, oxydation, burnishing...). This is super subjective for sure.
Others reasons would be the smoothness and feedback I didn't meet with synthetics, and exactly like valgard the possibility to make them work different ways depending on the preparation of the stone : atoma 140 / 400 / 1200 or nagura (all types of naguras), leaving the mud, washing the stone, adding some water...
Last one would be same as first one : the experience. Because with naturals you can play finding different preparation to get different results, first you're enjoying the process ; second you give a lot of attention to what is happening to catch the differencies and you become a better sharpener at the end !
 

Southpaw

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Hey I got a question, is it okay to flatten my natural with the same flattener I use to flatten my shaptons?
 

JDC

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Hey I got a question, is it okay to flatten my natural with the same flattener I use to flatten my shaptons?
Depends on what flattener you use. Diamond plates (good quality ones) are usually ok as they don't contaminate the JNat by leaving their own abrasives. I've heard that a worn Atoma 400 is the best for JNats.
 

Southpaw

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Depends on what flattener you use. Diamond plates (good quality ones) are usually ok as they don't contaminate the JNat by leaving their own abrasives. I've heard that a worn Atoma 400 is the best for JNats.
I use one of these guys:
059DFFEC-E3BF-4EE6-8FE5-5028926FAE04.jpeg
 

Southpaw

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Do yourself a favor and don’t use this on a jnat. It’s very likely that you will contaminate your stone with coarse synthetic grit and that’s the last thing you want.
Thanks, that’s why I asked.

I have some sandpaper, will that work? And should the stone be wet when I flatten
 

JDC

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Thanks, that’s why I asked.

I have some sandpaper, will that work? And should the stone be wet when I flatten
You need either tomonagura or good diamond plates. Tomo means "same grit," so that it won't be a contamination to the stone.
 
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