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Natural vs Synthetic Nagura

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knspiracy

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Customer service in a sydney knife shop:

Me: Hey man, I'm interested in switching to a natural nagura - could you please explain to me the differences between a natural nagura and a synthetic nagura?

Guy: Well, a natural nagura is made naturally and a synthetic one is made synthetically. (A little sacrastically, I sense)

Me: Yeah, I mean.... I get that. But what sort of a difference will I see on my knife?

Guy: You don't use a nagura on your knife.

Me: Yeah... I understand that, but, what sort of a slurry am I going to see?

Guy: It depends on your whetstone - the higher the grit you have the more polish you will get from your slurry.

Me: Yep, I fully grasp that. But will I see a different polish if I create slurry from a natural nagura vs a synthetic nagura?

Guy: It depends how good you eyes are...

Me: And if I have good eyes will I see a difference?

Guy: No..

Me:....

Guy:....

Me: *walks out of shop

Zero engagement. Can anyone articulate any further on natural vs synthetic nagura? Or at the end of the day am I just abrading my chosen whetstone no matter what I use?
 

birdsfan

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Dude....I don't have any answers for you, but I feel your pain. I also applaud your patience and tolerance (assuming you didnt slap the simple look off his face before you left the shop)
 

knspiracy

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Dude....I don't have any answers for you, but I feel your pain. I also applaud your patience and tolerance (assuming you didnt slap the simple look off his face before you left the shop)
Lucky I had sparring at the gym layer that night!
 

GBT-Splint

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Interesting thread, will follow this closely.
Looks like the guy in your knife shop really knows his stuff.. I think a lot of people that work in knives shops just don't know the subject as well as real experts. I never could find one in Paris 😓

I bought a synthetic nagura (8k grit) quite a long time ago and played around with it on my kitayama for some extra slurry to begin on the stone, thinking it would be better for the polish not to start on slurryless stone for my single bevel knives but never really seen a significant difference.
Then I bought a few natural naguras from JNS, never used the synthetic after that. I mostly use them on my Jnats or every once in a while for fun on coticules when I try to have an uniformly polished wide bevel all the way through the stone progression.

As for the real difference in finish between synth and nat naguras.. I don't know but I would guess it's the same topic as Jnat finish vs Coticule finish.
 

valgard

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The use of naguras in general is quite complex as it is a synergistic interaction between the main stone, the nagura, and the blade. Depending on relative hardness of the nagura and the benchstone you might be producing the slurry mainly by releasing slurry from the nagura, from the bench stone, or a combination. If you are using a synthetic stone I don't see much point in using a natural nagura unless you want a very hard one that almost strictly makes the benchstone release slurry, in this case the benefits are limited to starting put with a more polished surface on your benchstone which in general will lead to finer results and likely slower speed (compared to just using a worn diamond plate). I only find this mildly interesting for a high grit stone if you're looking to shine the core, but otherwise of little interest to me.
Synthetic nagura on natural benchstone is equally unapealing to me as you most likely just get synthetic slurry on your stone and lose some of the interesting properties of natural stones.

The combinations between a natural benchstone and a nagura are pretty much endless and it really boil down to experimentation because the potential effects are too varied to cover here, but most people see little benefit from using naguras for knives. Let me explain some cases where I personally find value in it:

- Use a hard nagura to smooth out the surface of a stone in order to get a finer and more detailed polish, in this particular case I might actually rinse any slurry away.
-Use different combinations of slurry to slightly change the polishing properties.
-Use a soft nagura to donate slurry to increase the speed of a stone (mostly when honing), or to make the polishing easier.
-In some rare cases some combinations are game changing, Tsuchima on some midgrits is pretty amazing for the edges you get, sometimes getting the hard surface of a stone combined with the high abrasive quality of Tsuchima slurry makes for a great combo.
-For some fine stones I just want to generate slurry but keep it very fine (unlike from a diamond plate), in those cases I use a nagura.

The bottom line is that you need to experiment a lot to find stuff that works for whatever you're trying to do, and for 90% of people in the forum it might be absolutely inconsequential, most of the time you're better off with a worn out atoma plate.
 

knspiracy

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The use of naguras in general is quite complex as it is a synergistic interaction between the main stone, the nagura, and the blade. Depending on relative hardness of the nagura and the benchstone you might be producing the slurry mainly by releasing slurry from the nagura, from the bench stone, or a combination. If you are using a synthetic stone I don't see much point in using a natural nagura unless you want a very hard one that almost strictly makes the benchstone release slurry, in this case the benefits are limited to starting put with a more polished surface on your benchstone which in general will lead to finer results and likely slower speed (compared to just using a worn diamond plate). I only find this mildly interesting for a high grit stone if you're looking to shine the core, but otherwise of little interest to me.
Synthetic nagura on natural benchstone is equally unapealing to me as you most likely just get synthetic slurry on your stone and lose some of the interesting properties of natural stones.

The combinations between a natural benchstone and a nagura are pretty much endless and it really boil down to experimentation because the potential effects are too varied to cover here, but most people see little benefit from using naguras for knives. Let me explain some cases where I personally find value in it:

- Use a hard nagura to smooth out the surface of a stone in order to get a finer and more detailed polish, in this particular case I might actually rinse any slurry away.
-Use different combinations of slurry to slightly change the polishing properties.
-Use a soft nagura to donate slurry to increase the speed of a stone (mostly when honing), or to make the polishing easier.
-In some rare cases some combinations are game changing, Tsuchima on some midgrits is pretty amazing for the edges you get, sometimes getting the hard surface of a stone combined with the high abrasive quality of Tsuchima slurry makes for a great combo.
-For some fine stones I just want to generate slurry but keep it very fine (unlike from a diamond plate), in those cases I use a nagura.

The bottom line is that you need to experiment a lot to find stuff that works for whatever you're trying to do, and for 90% of people in the forum it might be absolutely inconsequential, most of the time you're better off with a worn out atoma plate.
Would you like a job in a Sydney knife shop per chance?
 

knspiracy

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Interesting thread, will follow this closely.
Looks like the guy in your knife shop really knows his stuff.. I think a lot of people that work in knives shops just don't know the subject as well as real experts. I never could find one in Paris 😓

I bought a synthetic nagura (8k grit) quite a long time ago and played around with it on my kitayama for some extra slurry to begin on the stone, thinking it would be better for the polish not to start on slurryless stone for my single bevel knives but never really seen a significant difference.
Then I bought a few natural naguras from JNS, never used the synthetic after that. I mostly use them on my Jnats or every once in a while for fun on coticules when I try to have an uniformly polished wide bevel all the way through the stone progression.

As for the real difference in finish between synth and nat naguras.. I don't know but I would guess it's the same topic as Jnat finish vs Coticule finish.
Thanks for the input!
 

valgard

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Would you like a job in a Sydney knife shop per chance?
LMAO I'm a little far, but if it serves as consolation the main location for Knifewear is in my city and they suck for different reasons. They spill the same marketing speech about every knife and knifemaker, most of them don't know jack , and they can't hear you... I had one of those dudes insist on giving me the marketing speech about what honyaki is even after I told him I had several and the guy with me had made them ( Joe from Halcyonforge was in town with me).
 

zizirex

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LMAO I'm a little far, but if it serves as consolation the main location for Knifewear is in my city and they suck for different reasons. They spill the same marketing speech about every knife and knifemaker, most of them don't know jack , and they can't hear you... I had one of those dudes insist on giving me the marketing speech about what honyaki is even after I told him I had several and the guy with me had made them ( Joe from Halcyonforge was in town with me).
Naoto is the only guy you can rely on there I guess.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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LMAO I'm a little far, but if it serves as consolation the main location for Knifewear is in my city and they suck for different reasons. They spill the same marketing speech about every knife and knifemaker, most of them don't know jack , and they can't hear you... I had one of those dudes insist on giving me the marketing speech about what honyaki is even after I told him I had several and the guy with me had made them ( Joe from Halcyonforge was in town with me).
Tuned into their YT stream a couple times and it really is remarkable how much they don't know. Their sphere of knowledge is very isolated to what they sell and once you scratch that surface there isn't much underneath.
 

inferno

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i have the red naniwa pro synth nagura/cleaner. it sucks ass.
it really sticks to almost all stones almost like its glued on there.

i also have a glass stone 7 in 500 grit as nagura/cleaner. and that one is much better. its really usable.

then i have 2 small coticules that i use on my big coticules and other high grit stones to declog them. i guess they work ok on the 8-12k stones and the cotis. but on the lower grits the naguras themself dont do much except wear away.

i dont really see any benefit of using any of them as naguras to be honest. if the stones are good they dont need naguras imo.
 

kayman67

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Naguras can clean, can make slurry, can change the stones behaviour to some extent (in rare instances quite a lot). As stated already, it's not very easy to just talk about them in general terms as far as possible performance would be concerned. You need very specific combinations.
One important point, but also based on some combos, would be the fact that naturals have the tendency or the ability to get finer and finer the longer they are in use (not indefinitely though), while synthetics pretty much keep the same grit (not entirely true either, but they there more or less).
 

4wa1l

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Is there any issue trying out the synthetic dressing stones/naguras that come with Choseras or Kitayama on a jnat to get some slurry going? Much difference between using either of these vs a diamond plate?
 

kayman67

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No real risk. Very hard to predict behaviour unless both would be known to us. It might do nothing or something, good or bad, hard to predict what exactly. It would be much easier to try it.
 

LostHighway

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Is there any issue trying out the synthetic dressing stones/naguras that come with Choseras or Kitayama on a jnat to get some slurry going? Much difference between using either of these vs a diamond plate?
I think if the synthetic nagura is coarser than the JNAT in question some left behind particles could result in unwelcome scratches.
 

4wa1l

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I think if the synthetic nagura is coarser than the JNAT in question some left behind particles could result in unwelcome scratches.
Maybe not the best idea then. I was thinking about contamination of the stone in terms of the surface itself but of course there would be coarse particles in the slurry. I guess that's why people often aim for a tomo-nagura for this purpose.

The main reason I was asking is because I got a very small 400 diamond plate for the purpose of kicking up some slurry on the jnat. Unfortunately it seems to have embedded some diamonds into the stone. I'm sure they'll come out as it wears but a bit annoying. Keen to try a natural nagura one day though. Anyway a bit off topic.

Edit: Misunderstood what tomo-nagura refers to. Thought it meant a nagura very similar to the base stone. Seems like it isn't necessarily the case.
 
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kayman67

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With diamond plates, it's a good idea to use them with some harder stones before, like a hard arkansas or some other novaculite. But those particles will eventually go away.
With coarser naguras, these would need to be porous enough to give some grit themselves. Mostly doesn't happen. And even if it does, it's not a real risk of permanently changing the stone. I use a variety of naguras, never had an issue all these years. It's all a trial and error exercise anyway.
 

captaincaed

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As a single case study, Belgian coticules are often rubbed together for razor honing. A thick slurry to grind, then you thin it out with water to refine, then rinse all the slurry off and use stone and water alone for final polish. Over simplified, but you get the idea.

Some industrial abrasives are grit in a slurry or oily mixture. This circulates at pressure to produce a smooth, fast grind.

If you oil a bike chain without cleaning the grit out first, you can often accelerate chain wear by allowing the grit to circulate more freely. I think a similar idea applies to stones, slurry and knives.

As far as combinations, I'm stumped. Valgard is the terminal case. I think you need to part with $5k experimenting, which is why I don't know.
 

Luftmensch

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Customer service in a sydney knife shop
Not naming names... but that would happen to be in a suburb that rhymes with Blanmore??

Can anyone articulate any further on natural vs synthetic nagura?
It is easy to skip past what @inferno said:

red naniwa pro synth nagura/cleaner
[emphasis mine]

The 'default' Naniwa nagura is about 600 grit and it is really for cleaning/dressing the stone. It is not really used in the same way as a natural nagura. I think it is unfortunate the term Nagura is used.

That said you can get synthetic 'nagura' that are the same abrassive/binder as the bench stones. You can use these for generating slurry if you want to match the abrasives perfectly. I don't see much point. Perhaps on higher grit stones (or resinoid) that clog really easily.

Bottom line for me: synthetic dressing stones can be used to help maintain the surface of a (synthetic) whetstone if a diamond plate is not possible (or you find the nagura more convenient). I wouldn't recommend a synthetic nagura for use within the actual slurry when polishing. If you don't care about aesthetics it probably wont hurt your edge too much. But again... I wouldnt recommend it (think 600 grit particles suspended in your 3000 grit slurry).

Natural naguras are a whole other thing. @valgard gave you a pretty solid answer there!
 
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Luftmensch

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i have the red naniwa pro synth nagura/cleaner. it sucks ass.
it really sticks to almost all stones almost like its glued on there.
This. I am glad that you mention this. My experience exactly but I thought it was me.
I have way too many of these... buy a Chosera and you end up with yet another useless 'nagura' :mad:. The only use they have is that the box length was designed for both the stone and the nagura. The only use the boxes have is making it easier to stack the stones neatly in a cupboard - the plastic bases make it awkward.

I think the problem is that the Naniwa dressing stone is essentially a soaking stone. This is problematic because the chosera and superstones are splash and go. So it is a bad pairing. From memory, the dressing stone tended towards sticky when there was only a splash of water on the stone and the 'nagura' had not been soaked. When soaked and used with liberal amounts of (running) water, it was ok for cleaning/dressing. But again, in my experience, they are pretty much useless - particularly when better methods of refreshing the stone surface are available (e.g. flattening plate).

🤷‍♂️
 

kayman67

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Not naming names... but that would happen to be in a suburb that rhymes with Blanmore??



It is easy to skip past what @inferno said:


[emphasis mine]

The 'default' Naniwa nagura is about 600 grit and it is really for cleaning/dressing the stone. It is not really used in the same way as a natural nagura. I think it is unfortunate the term Nagura is used.

That said you can get synthetic 'nagura' that are the same abrassive/binder as the bench stones. You can use these for generating slurry if you want to match the abrasives perfectly. I don't see much point. Perhaps on higher grit stones (or resinoid) that clog really easily.

Bottom line for me: synthetic dressing stones can be used to help maintain the surface of a (synthetic) whetstone if a diamond plate is not possible (or you find the nagura more convenient). I wouldn't recommend a synthetic nagura for use within the actual slurry when polishing. If you don't care about aesthetics it probably wont hurt your edge too much. But again... I wouldnt recommend it (think 600 grit particles suspended in your 3000 grit slurry).

Natural naguras are a whole other thing. @valgard gave you a pretty solid answer there!
It can be done. Many razor guys use the King 8000 nagura for slurry and honing with what that nagura has to provide and get very good results for the given stage.

Also, I don't ever remember having any kind of grit from the Naniwa cleaning stone into Chosera 3000. Always clean and smooth. When I get the opportunity, I will try to see in what kind of scenario this is happening.
 

knspiracy

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Not naming names... but that would happen to be in a suburb that rhymes with Blanmore??
It could be that exact one. I may have had a few unpleasant visits to blanmore. I hear the owner is great though.
 

knspiracy

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i have the red naniwa pro synth nagura/cleaner. it sucks ass.
it really sticks to almost all stones almost like its glued on there.
This. I am glad that you mention this. My experience exactly but I thought it was me.
Me too! It needs to be really well soaked and even then it's sticky. It's the reason I was asking about natural in the first place.
 

Luftmensch

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It can be done. Many razor guys use the King 8000 nagura for slurry and honing with what that nagura has to provide and get very good results for the given stage.
True! I know you are a razor guy ;). Thats why I had this caveat:

That said you can get synthetic 'nagura' that are the same abrassive/binder as the bench stones. You can use these for generating slurry if you want to match the abrasives perfectly.
Naniwa make nagura out of their superstone material. They also make smaller stones out of the chosera material - probably for smaller knives and other tools. But you definitely could use them as nagura!


Also, I don't ever remember having any kind of grit from the Naniwa cleaning stone into Chosera 3000. Always clean and smooth. When I get the opportunity, I will try to see in what kind of scenario this is happening.
Yeah... honestly. I think grit contamination is an overblown issue for sharpening kitchen knives. In practical use you arent going to notice the effect of a few rogue coarse particles on a thin edge. I wouldnt fret about it.

Polishing is a completely different story. If you are aiming for a perfect, high grit finish on large surface areas (e.g. wide bevel), one rogue coarse particle could ruin your day.... or at least cause you more work than you bargained for.
 

Luftmensch

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It could be that exact one. I may have had a few unpleasant visits to blanmore. I hear the owner is great though.
Haha.... yeah. Thought so. :) The owner is nice. He was pretty fun to talk to when I met him. I have never purchased a knife there. Only cookware. I have heard some unflattering knife sharpening stories from that particular business - it sounds hit and miss. If you get a junior you could be disappointed by the results.

You seem pretty cluey so no doubt you know about Knives and Stones (St. Peters). KKF's @pkjames is the owner. James is a cool dude.

There is also ProTooling (Camperdown). I have never made a purchase there so I can't speak about their customer service from experience - but anecdotally I hear the owner is also a good guy (I don't think he is on KKF??).
 

knspiracy

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Haha.... yeah. Thought so. :) The owner is nice. He was pretty fun to talk to when I met him. I have never purchased a knife there. Only cookware. I have heard some unflattering knife sharpening stories from that particular business - it sounds hit and miss. If you get a junior you could be disappointed by the results.

You seem pretty cluey so no doubt you know about Knives and Stones (St. Peters). KKF's @pkjames is the owner. James is a cool dude.

There is also ProTooling (Camperdown). I have never made a purchase there so I can't speak about their customer service from experience - but anecdotally I hear the owner is also a good guy (I don't think he is on KKF??).
Yeah James is great! And ProTooling is great too. Paul is the owner. Not in Kkf. Good service there though.
 
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