Nicest steel to sharpen?

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captaincaed

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I’ve accumulated a fair number of stones. Some are best paired with higher-alloyed/PM steels and leave good edges. Some leave really killer edges, but seem to really only be effective on low alloy carbon steels.

So my question for the group, is there a knife/steel that just seems to take a great edge from whichever stone you throw at it? A steel that really showcases what a stone will do, and what makes it different? A steel that is sort of a perfect blank canvas for showing off any stone’s abilities.

So far my best candidate is Kochi’s V2 steel. Hard, simple. Also pretty damn happy with ShiHan A2, but I tend to like toothy, so not sure how it does over a wide range. I haven’t sharpened AEB-L, but the passarounds I’ve used had some great edges, and it seems fine-grained and nice.

On the far other end of the spectrum are MagnaCut and D2, and every “mystery PM” I’ve used.
 
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Iwasaki tamahagane is the easiest to sharpen of ones I've tried. Feels like soft iron, and split hair easier than anything else, aside from other tamahagane razors. But it's definitely hard like white steel. Other tamahagane razors didn't sharpen as easily or as nice feeling

I also agree with kochi v2, resemble iwasaki tamahagane in quite a few ways. Iwasaki tamahagane is like that but one and half tiers more easy to sharpen and sharp. The used and rusty kamisori are much cheaper than the straight razors.
 
From my very limited experience I find Tanaka B2 takes good response to the stone, another one is CCK 1302, it will become screaming sharp in few swaps, but some times it could be too quick to sharpen. My Shi.Han A2 is still on order, he did tell me he find A2 has a better edge forming quality than 52100, and could have a great edge even on coarser stone.
 
Aogami 2 is my favourite steel to sharpen, though perhaps that's because it's what I do most. And favourite / nicest might be slightly different answer to this bit...

A steel that really showcases what a stone will do, and what makes it different? A steel that is sort of a perfect blank canvas for showing off any stone’s abilities.

Which is a very interesting question, and was something I was thinking about the other day. Obviously there are going to be various factors that influence the level of fidelity with which a particular stone's character translates through to the edge, so interested to hear what others think in regards to steels. I need to play around with it more!
 
usually w1 takes the best edge for me. to be more specific i really like Heiji carbon, anything from TF, watoyama b2, from western makers i would say raquin&yanick both really easy to sharpen and takes a great edge.
 
Any plain iron/carbon alloy, (1095/1084), they're just easy, and they act like they want to be sharp. Then the low alloy steels, 52100, W2, O1 (being possibly the worst), and for stainless my bet is that AEB-L is at the top of the list, 420 is pretty easy to cut, but it just doesn't have quite the same bite to it. That said, my experience is pretty much limited to western made steels.
 
White no 1, and yes toss in 1095 type higher carbons.. especially in the 60-63 hrc range. I dont have loads of experince with PM / higher alloyed steels, as my own preference tends toward the simple and traditional, and my customers tend to own cheap knives, but I will say Ive enjoyed putting an edge on D2, of all things. Can be a bit stubborn but with good stones the acuity and bite thats attainable is really something.
 
Honestly, I think any simple tool steel will work for this. There is so much else to cutting and sharpening feeling besides just steel choice that to really be able to split hairs on the edges from different but similar stones you need to be intimately familiar with the exact knife in hand. For me that’s my Mazaki gyuto and ZKramer 52100
 
It seems like softer/finer carbide structure will probably be able to best “showcase” what a stone can do. You’re just working with a more homogenous material, so grinding it away will reveal exactly what the stone is doing. Also seems like you want it hard, but not too hard.

If you grate cheddar, you’ll see the exact track marks of the grater.

If you grate parmesan, you’ll see the protein crystals protruding.

If you try to grate brie…good luck.

So the question is, which steel is cheddar? White 2 seems like a common choice for a reason, but Blue 2 behaves pretty predictably as well. How do white/blue#1 compare in this sense?
 
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Theoretically, I feel like white #1 would be the ideal stone tester. In practice, I think only the very, very most knowledgeable amongst us could tell the difference between blades identical other than steel choice.

I spend probably a couple hours a week on the stones refurbing, sharpening, polishing, etc. So I have a pretty good feel for what is going on I think. If you gave me 5 blades - Aogami 1/2, Shirogami 1/2, and 52100 - that were identical in every way other than steel, I'd be chuffed to bits if after a few days I correctly identified 2 or 3 out of 5.

But to answer the question, I'd go with a mono-steel 52100, 26c3, or 52100 at 62-63 hrc for my theoretical stone testing blade.
 
If you gave me 5 blades - Aogami 1/2, Shirogami 1/2, and 52100 - that were identical in every way other than steel, I'd be chuffed to bits if after a few days I correctly identified 2 or 3 out of 5.
I think it's the rare, very experienced sharpener who can do better than a roll-of-the-dice on this one! I totally agree. If you have advance knowledge, I think it can help you strategize, but going in blind, I think you're limited to thinking in categories.

I guess what I mean is this - has anyone found a brand where, any time they sharpen it, they go "wow, that came out just how I wanted"?
 
A lot will depend on the Heat Treatment, and which properties that maker wanted to emphasise. That makes sweeping statements of just a relative value. That being said, for stainless I like 14C28. Some come with surprisingly easy sharpening 440C. Difficult carbons are very rare. Some makers manage to make deburring of AS a bit more difficult. Otherwise, Sandvik's 20C, C75W, White#2, Blue#2, AS.
 
If you gave me 5 blades - Aogami 1/2, Shirogami 1/2, and 52100 - that were identical in every way other than steel, I'd be chuffed to bits if after a few days I correctly identified 2 or 3 out of 5.


You think...? I reckon I'd have a decent enough stab (ho ho) at this. Though I'd probably fall down on the differences between 1 and 2 of the paper steels - I haven't sharpened enough Aogami or Shirogami #1s to really know them.

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That tamahagane on the kamisori of yours has got to be right up there with nicest / best steels to sharpen too. Made me feel like a Japanese razor pro straight off the bat!
 
You think...? I reckon I'd have a decent enough stab (ho ho) at this. Though I'd probably fall down on the differences between 1 and 2 of the paper steels - I haven't sharpened enough Aogami or Shirogami #1s to really know them.

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That tamahagane on the kamisori of yours has got to be right up there with nicest / best steels to sharpen too. Made me feel like a Japanese razor pro straight off the bat!
Maybe I am off, I'd love to trial it somehow... But I really do think that all else held equal (it never is tho) any simple tool steel can easily take a keen edge and hold it well. I think I could tell aogami super from white 1 easy enough, but white 2 from blue 2, idk... The more knives I use and sharpen the less I have come to care about the exact steel composition.

That razor is the best edge taking steel I've ever used. I miss it, but it would've just languished forever in a drawer not getting used. I've got a new nakiri that gives it a very close run for its money though - need to get around to fully refinishing that one...
 
Talking about sharpening on Jnats...

I love Shigefusa steel...
Also Toyama B2 works great for me - combination of super sharp edge and how long it holds is so nice... Killer combo is Natsuya and some harder and fine stuff like Nakayama suita both with high preasure. Couple edge leading strops with higher angle on razor Jnat and it s killer.

With westerns I ve very positive experience with Bryans 145SC.
 
I like high carbon low alloy steel the most. Roselli’s UHC steel capable of reaching hardness values up to 66-68 HRC and 1.8 % carbon content is my favorite.
 
I’ll put in a vote for Raquin 145sc too. The least effort to a *** edge on a couple knives I’ve tried.
 
How thin a blade is behind the edge and the kind of grind helps greatly in sharpening it.

Most good makers' carbon blades can be sharpened easily and their bevel can be reset using only naturals if they are thin behind the edge, in my experience. Gesshin Kagekiyo Blue #1 was a bit harder to sharpen despite its thinness behind the edge and its wide bevels. On the other hand, it stays sharp for a long time in my experience. Tesshu white#2 was the easiest to sharpen, but it doesn't really stay sharp for a long time.

As for stainless, aeb-l is the winner for me.
 
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I really like my Watanabe blue #2 and my Yoshikane in white #2. Also, I find Heiji semistainless steel really fun to sharpen. Never sharpened white #1.
 
When I buy a new stone my first test is Takeda (AS) and the second is Mikami (B1) or Shirataka (B1) - the knives look like they are from a shed or a shoemaker's workshop, but steel and HT are first class and are very helpful in assessing the stone.
 
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