Originally Posted by Alter
Hey Thomas, or anyone who knows,
I want to get some Japanese sharpening stones, seeing as I am in Japan and all, but have no idea what I am looking for. Any brands I should look out for? My knives are all Global except for one from Aritsugu. I also want to sharpen up some pocket knives from Opinel and Case.
Hmmm, I'll pare back the throat-clearing and jump in.
My main stone is sold under the King
brand names, and is a combination stone 1000 grit on one side, 6000 grit on the other. It's quite inexpensive and cuts well enough. Norton
, though, is probably the most-used and most-consistent brand - I never hear anything bad about them.
Both the King and Norton are re-constutited stones: they are formed, rather than mined, which explains the low-ish cost. They're also available in combination grits (1000/6000, or 4000/8000), which is good.
A couple of other well-liked brands with single-grit stones are Naniwa
. These, though, are more expensive and tend to be found as single-grit stones, which are great if you're sharpening herds of knives on a weekly basis. Probably impractical for your expected use, though.
In Japan, you're also quite likely to find natural stones, which are mined and flattened and at times quite beautiful, but...I don't think they're so much better to justify the extra cost.
So, what do you need? The basics are a 1000-grit stone (or thereabouts, 800-1200 are in practice similar enough) for a medium grind and establishing the bevel, and a 6000-8000 grit stone for polishing. If you have a lot of metal to grind, you can drop to a 300-grit stone (but I doubt you'll use it much), and if you're trying to get a shave-ready edge, you'll could go with a high-grit stone (10-15k) - although I use a leather strop and green chrome paste. Overkill for knives, though, unless you're cutting sushi.
The other thing you need is a flattening stone. Japanese waterstones cut quickly and dish quickly as a result, so you'll want to flatten your stone periodically. Norton sells a flattening stone, although my preference is a DMT extra-coarse lapping plate. For a long time I used sandpaper and a flat surface to do my lapping, and it worked fine.
These (1000, 6000, flattening stone) should be plenty to handle all your knives, even the Aritsugu. Good luck and holler back if you run into other q's.