• Hi, I'm the owner and main administrator of Styleforum. If you find the forum useful and fun, please help support it by buying through the posted links on the forum. Our main, very popular sales thread, where the latest and best sales are listed, are posted HERE

    Purchases made through some of our links earns a commission for the forum and allows us to do the work of maintaining and improving it. Finally, thanks for being a part of this community. We realize that there are many choices today on the internet, and we have all of you to thank for making Styleforum the foremost destination for discussions of menswear and fashion.
  • STYLE. COMMUNITY. GREAT CLOTHING.

    Bored of counting likes on social networks? At Styleforum, you’ll find rousing discussions that go beyond strings of emojis.

    Click Here to join Styleforum's thousands of style enthusiasts today!

Honing Japanese Chef's Knives

KJT

Distinguished Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2008
Messages
1,302
Reaction score
12
OK hopefully the people on this forum can explain to me the best way to hone/sharpen my Shun knives. I have two Shun chef's knives (one 10", one 7") and a Shun paring knife. Both the paring and the 7" need their edge rebuilt somehow - a relative took a wustof steel he found in a drawer to them on Thanksgiving and pretty much dulled the edges beyond belief. Admittedly, they were getting dull on their own after almost 2 years of use and needed some attention, but now they're in horrible shape and are completely unusable. (it also looks like he chipped the 7"'s edge in several places...)

The information online on the matter is completely contradictory - some sites say only use the Shun steel, some stay only use a smooth steel or glass steel, some say only use a ceramic steel, some say don't use a steel at all. For a variety of reasons that aren't worth going into. Most of the discrepancies revolve around the hardness of the Japanese steel, whether or not a steel actually files a knife or just reshapes it, if a steel with teeth with chip a Japanese knife, etc. etc.

I'm sure some of you folks use Japanese knives - what do you use? I know I can send them back to KAI to get sharpened for free, but I'd rather know how to at least maintain them properly at home. Little help?
 

kwilkinson

Having a Ball
Joined
Nov 21, 2007
Messages
33,667
Reaction score
899
Sharpen with waterstones. Start with 800 grit stone (I only use that if the blade is damaged or needs some heavy work), then eventually work my way down to 9,000 grit.

I always use a ceramic steel.

FWIW, I have a 10" Shun Elite chef's and a 6" Shun Elite paring.
 

KJT

Distinguished Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2008
Messages
1,302
Reaction score
12
Originally Posted by kwilkinson
Sharpen with waterstones. Start with 800 grit stone (I only use that if the blade is damaged or needs some heavy work), then eventually work my way down to 9,000 grit.

I always use a ceramic steel.

FWIW, I have a 10" Shun Elite chef's and a 6" Shun Elite paring.


Thanks. Do you know any books/sites/videos that describe the process adequately? The internet can be a very unhelpful place sometimes, with all the misinformation out there.

Also where does one purchase good waterstones and what is a reasonable price? What grits are necessary?

As for the ceramic steel - would this be acceptable? http://www.japaneseknifesharpeningst...ductCode=IDH12 I keep reading that Idahone rods are of the best out there. I'm assuming I want a "fine" grit - is that right?
 

HORNS

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Apr 24, 2008
Messages
16,628
Reaction score
5,170
Kyle, why only a ceramic steel?
 

Dmax

Distinguished Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2006
Messages
1,302
Reaction score
8
I have the ceramic steel linked above and it's good. I plan to get 3 more for people to give to people whom I previously bought Japanese knives for. AFAIK, Manton had the same steel until he dropped it and got a black ceramic one from MAC. Maybe he can comment on which he likes more. I would only use ceramic or smooth steels on Japanese knives. For waterstones, you need something around 1000 grit for general sharpening and something between 4000 to 6000 for polishing/removing scratches from the 1000 grit stone. Some knife nuts take their edges all the way to 15000 grit stones but for most people the two stones above will suffice. A good value is a combination stone, which is basically two stones glued together. Korin has a Togiharu brand 1000/4000 stone for $40 which looks good. All waterstones need to be soaked in cool water for about 5-10 minutes before every use. You may also wish to get a stone fixer, which is a rough grit stone used to keep the surface of your other stones flat. Some people use the rougher grit stones to flatten their other stones. The best book about kitchen cutlery, including how to sharpen, is "An Edge in the Kitchen" by Chad Ward. Before writing the book Chad put together the sharpening article on EGullet that many people refer to. There are a couple of sharpening DVD out there. Korin has one starring their sharpenig master/co-owner Chiharu Sugai. Murray Carter, a well regarded knifemaker, also sells a set of two sharpening DVDs on his website. There are forums dedicated to kitchen knives if anyone is interested in learning more: Knife Forums/ In the Kitchen Fred's Cutlery Forums
 

KJT

Distinguished Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2008
Messages
1,302
Reaction score
12
Wonderful post - thank you!
 

HORNS

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Apr 24, 2008
Messages
16,628
Reaction score
5,170
Originally Posted by KJT
Wonderful post - thank you!

Absolutely.

Still, why exclusively a smooth-surfaced steel for Japanese knives?
 

KJT

Distinguished Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2008
Messages
1,302
Reaction score
12
Originally Posted by HORNS
Absolutely.

Still, why exclusively a smooth-surfaced steel for Japanese knives?


I don't believe that the ceramic steels are smooth - they have a grit also, but it is quite fine.

I could be mistaken though - I'm learning man!
 

HORNS

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Apr 24, 2008
Messages
16,628
Reaction score
5,170
Originally Posted by KJT
I don't believe that the ceramic steels are smooth - they have a grit also, but it is quite fine.

I could be mistaken though - I'm learning man!


They are smooth compared to the metal ones that are striated, though. And you are right about the presence of a grit, but it being very fine.
 

Dmax

Distinguished Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2006
Messages
1,302
Reaction score
8
Originally Posted by HORNS
Absolutely. Still, why exclusively a smooth-surfaced steel for Japanese knives?
Japanese knives are made from harder steel than the German ones. One of the drawbacks of harder steel is that it's more brittle. A steeling rod with ridges will create very small contact areas with the knife and if you apply any force while steeling you can create small chips. A smooth steel will gently move the edge back into alignment. A ceramic steel will align the edge and may also remove a tiny bit of weakened metal but not enough to worry about. If you use a white ceramic rod you will notice black streaks left on it from steeling but you can clean them off using a steel wool pad or something similar. Unless the knife is designed for chopping, like some thicker Debas, you shouldn't chop bones or things frozen solid since that can also chip the edge. If dropped on a hard surface, like a stone or marble floor there is a risk of damage to the knife. Tip breakage being the most common. I just had a tip break of on my Misono parer but I'm just going to regrind it into a slightly shorter parer.
 

HORNS

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Apr 24, 2008
Messages
16,628
Reaction score
5,170
Originally Posted by Dmax
Japanese knives are made from harder steel than the German ones. One of the drawbacks of harder steel is that it's more brittle. A steeling rod with ridges will create very small contact areas with the knife and if you apply any force while steeling you can create small chips. A smooth steel will gently move the edge back into alignment. A ceramic steel will align the edge and may also remove a tiny bit of weakened metal but not enough to worry about. If you use a white ceramic rod you will notice black streaks left on it from steeling but you can clean them off using a steel wool pad or something similar.

Unless the knife is designed for chopping, like some thicker Debas, you shouldn't chop bones or things frozen solid since that can also chip the edge. If dropped on a hard surface, like a stone or marble floor there is a risk of damage to the knife. Tip breakage being the most common.

I just had a tip break of on my Misono parer but I'm just going to regrind it into a slightly shorter parer.


This makes sense. Thank you.
 

DNW

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Mar 10, 2006
Messages
10,526
Reaction score
5
Just bought a Spyderco Sharpmaker set to sharpen my knives. From what I've seen, it works well and just about as idiot-proof as can be for a knife sharpener system.
 

retronotmetro

Distinguished Member
Joined
May 5, 2004
Messages
1,645
Reaction score
27
Originally Posted by DarkNWorn
Just bought a Spyderco Sharpmaker set to sharpen my knives. From what I've seen, it works well and just about as idiot-proof as can be for a knife sharpener system.

Those are good, but I prefer the clamp systems like GATCO or Lansky. I find it easier to get the knife tips sharp with clamp systems, whereas a Sharpmaker can round off the tips if you are not careful to keep the distal end of the blade in full contact with the hone. All it takes is a couple of passes on a Sharpmaker with the knife tip rolling off the edge of the hone at the end of the stroke, and it will get rounded off.

I just did a neglected Shun paring knife over the weekend with the GATCO at 15 degrees, with medium and fine diamond hones, an extra fine standard hone, then finished with a ceramic ultra fine hone. Came out factory sharp in just a few minutes.

If you don't have the patience or guts to go with waterstones, clamp systems or a Sharpmaker are great. You can fine tune the process more if you go freehand with waterstones, but you can also get into more trouble.
 

Gradstudent78

Distinguished Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2003
Messages
2,309
Reaction score
18
Originally Posted by DarkNWorn
Just bought a Spyderco Sharpmaker set to sharpen my knives. From what I've seen, it works well and just about as idiot-proof as can be for a knife sharpener system.

That's what I use for my knives. Sometimes I do have to retouch my tips a little, but for the most part it hasn't been a problem. It's a nice tool on keeping your knives sharp, but you'll need something else if you need to reprofile the edge or are trying to get a chip out.
 

HORNS

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Apr 24, 2008
Messages
16,628
Reaction score
5,170
I use the Lansky clamp system, which I've had for 20 years. It's pretty idiot proof, but it takes some time to readjust the blade if you have a larger knife.
 

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by

Featured Sponsor

Favorite knitwear under jackets/sport coats

  • Crewneck sweater

  • Turtleneck sweater

  • Long-sleeve polo

  • Vest

  • I don't like knitwear worn with jackets/sport coats


Results are only viewable after voting.

Related Threads

Forum statistics

Threads
454,445
Messages
9,843,403
Members
205,304
Latest member
casualtropicalwear
Top