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I bought a sharpening stone

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by Manton, Oct 18, 2008.

  1. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    After declaring several times my fear of learning how to use a stone, I broke down and bought one yesterday. Rationale: I have two really nice knives, and lot of OK knives. I have no problem sharpening the OK ones on an electric. A number of people (including some here) have scared me off of using the electric on the nice ones. If I send them out, I have no control over what happens to them. Odds are, the store will just use the same electric machine that I already own. Other option: send them back to the maker. That seems like a pain, and it will take a long time.

    I recently took a class and the instructors all implored us to learn to use the stone, and to rely only on ourselves. They don't use any angle guides, just their hands. The said, essentially, you will learn the correct angle by feel and by sound.

    So ... any tips? Thomas?

    Feel free to lace any advice with ridicule and taunting, I deserve it.
     


  2. kwilkinson

    kwilkinson Having a Ball

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    Congrats, stones are awesome, and much cheaper than any other way of sharpening!!!

    Depending on how nice your nice knives are, I might be sending them back to the maker. Personally, if I owned a $200 Shun knife, I wouldn't trust myself to do the sharpening. That's just me though.

    Anyway, here's a basic guideline for the sharpening.
    Your instructor was right that you'll learn the correct angle from the sound and the feel. Remember that all knives have their own bevel angle. Paring and filleting knives have a bevel angle at 5-10 degrees. Chef's knives might have 10-15, or maybe more.
    The sharpening angle needs to match the bevel angle for the respective knife. I've seen people insist on always doing it at 20 degrees, always 25 degrees, but to me, it would only make sense to sharpen it at the same angle that the bevel currently exists.

    Lubricate the stone. Oil stones take the sharpening oil, a diamond stone you could lubricate with water/dish soap. Water stones must be soaked in water (preferably overnight) before sharpening, and lubricated with water as needed throughout the sharpening process.

    Sharpen the first side. Set your stone on something sturdy, and make sure it won't shift around during the sharpening process. I just put a wet towel on the table underneath the stone. Just like honing, make sure you get the entire blade against the knife, and with the same pressure, so you don't develop sharper spots. Apply a decent amount of pressure. You should be able to feel the abrasiveness on your blade. Then, repeat on the other side. Once you've done both sides on the coarse side, finish them off on the fine side. FWIW, I normally get 9-12 strokes per blade side on the coarse side, but only 3 or 4 on the fine side.

    Afterward, hone the edge with your steel or ceramic. This is normally done on just a slightly wider angle than the sharpening (bevel) angle.

    Then, I'm sure you know all the sharpness tests, but I like just cutting a paper towel to see how well I've done. [​IMG]
     


  3. nootje

    nootje Senior member

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    I'll be following this with interest.Learned to use a straight razor some time ago, but never managed to sharpen them.. Which defeats the whole purpose[​IMG]
     


  4. Milhouse

    Milhouse Senior member

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    As a certified knife wielding maniac, I am pretty good at sharpening. Here is how I teach people to sharpen using a stone.

    Get a sharpie or other black marker and color the sharpened edge portion of the knife blade.

    Stroke the blade against the stone, and then check the sharpie marked edge. If you see scratches above the blackened spot, you aren't using enough of an angle. If you see the portion of black worn off closest to the edge, but not all the way up the sharpened portion, you are using too much of an angle. Adjust, repeat, check.

    The stuff about stones, lubricants, etc has been covered above.
     


  5. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Thanks. The two knives that I care about are indeed Shuns, and I bought a Shun stone. Sending them back to Japan means living without them for weeks, or possibly months, and I don't want to do that.

    I need to learn this anyway, so I may as well jump in.
     


  6. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    Glad you wised up and got a stone, Manton. I've tried ceramic sticks, diamond laps and some of these other gizmos but have always come back to the flat stone. A few years ago I got an 18-inch Washita stone that makes sharpening a lot easier. I always secure my stones in a vice padded with a rag to protect the stone. I customarily make semi-circular sweeps, first one side then the other. Getting the right angle is sort of a knack that comes with practice. I am not sure I could tell a 15-degree angle from a 20-degree angle without getting down to eye level with the knife and a protractor. After getting the knife fairly sharp, I like to finish up by stropping it on a piece of horsehide. If I can shave the hairs from my arm, I'm satisfied. If I wanted to put a super-sharp edge on something, I have a surgical black Arkansas stone, but I rarely use it.

    Specialized honing oil really isn't necessary. Any good light oil like WD-40 will do.

    I always cringe when I see fine steel applied to one of those awful electronic grindstones. My late father-in-law was guilty of this barbarous practice. Given that he was a metallurgical engineer who had spent his active career working with steel, how he could do such a crude thing was always beyond me!
     


  7. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Prof. Fabulous Dubiously Honored

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    Feel free to lace any advice with ridicule and taunting, I deserve it.

    Oh, now this is too good to pass up! Sadly, I know absolutely NOTHING about knives OR stones and so have to sit on the sidelines.

    WHy don't you ever post in the fragrance thread, dammit?

    Something like, "After declaring several times my fear of learning how to use fragrances, I broke down and bought Charlie Girl yesterday. Rationale: I have two really nice suits, and lot of OK suits. I have no problem wearing the OK ones with no fragrance. A number of people (including some here) have scared me off of wearing black with the nice ones, but I need something to spritz on when going out."

    I would have been ALL over that...
     


  8. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    FTR, mine is a water stone.
     


  9. grimslade

    grimslade Senior member

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    Just try to stay out of the emergency room, OK?
     


  10. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    Just try to stay out of the emergency room, OK?
    Once we get universal coverage, you will be the one paying for his new fingers.
     


  11. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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  12. Dmax

    Dmax Senior member

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    Anyway, here's a basic guideline for the sharpening. Your instructor was right that you'll learn the correct angle from the sound and the feel. Remember that all knives have their own bevel angle. Paring and filleting knives have a bevel angle at 5-10 degrees. Chef's knives might have 10-15, or maybe more. The sharpening angle needs to match the bevel angle for the respective knife. I've seen people insist on always doing it at 20 degrees, always 25 degrees, but to me, it would only make sense to sharpen it at the same angle that the bevel currently exists.
    Your post has some good info but I wanted to correct some misinformation. The size of the knife has no relation to the bevel angle. German and French kitchen knives have bevels which are usually 20-25 degrees per side. Japanese kitchen knives, including Shun usually have a 15 degrees per side bevel. While Shun Classic series knives have symmetrical bevels the majority of Japanese knives have asymmetrical bevels (70/30, 80/20 or single bevels for traditional knves), sharpening them has to account for that.
    Lubricate the stone. Oil stones take the sharpening oil, a diamond stone you could lubricate with water/dish soap. Water stones must be soaked in water (preferably overnight) before sharpening, and lubricated with water as needed throughout the sharpening process.
    Water stones do not need to soak for longer than 10-15 minutes. Give them a minute or two after you see the last air bubble and you are good to go.
     


  13. Dmax

    Dmax Senior member

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    After declaring several times my fear of learning how to use a stone, I broke down and bought one yesterday. Rationale: I have two really nice knives, and lot of OK knives. I have no problem sharpening the OK ones on an electric. A number of people (including some here) have scared me off of using the electric on the nice ones. If I send them out, I have no control over what happens to them. Odds are, the store will just use the same electric machine that I already own. Other option: send them back to the maker. That seems like a pain, and it will take a long time. I recently took a class and the instructors all implored us to learn to use the stone, and to rely only on ourselves. They don't use any angle guides, just their hands. The said, essentially, you will learn the correct angle by feel and by sound. So ... any tips? Thomas? Feel free to lace any advice with ridicule and taunting, I deserve it.
    I am not Thomas, but I am going to offer my 2 cents anyway. I am not sure what size grit your Shun stone is but the Shun stone I saw was a combination 300/1000 grit. If that's what you have you should almost never use the 300 grit side of it. If it way to rough for regular sharpening and should only be used for major repairs. You may wish to invest in a stone fixer, which is basically a rough stone you slide across your main stone a few times before every use to ensure the surface is level. You may wish to practice on your older knives first. I suspect they are Wusthoff or Henckels and should readily respond to a water stone and are probably in need of a sharpening at this point. On another hand, some really crappy kitchen knives, made from low carbon steel, like a set of Wolfgang Puck knives I came across, may be almost impossible to sharpen at home. If you are interested, the proprietor of Korin, Chiharu Sugai, is a sharpening master. He used to offer sharpening classes, but that may only apply to knives bought at Korin. Korin also sells his sharpening DVD for around $30 and it's pretty good. I can also recommend Chad Ward's book - "An Edge in the Kitchen" which was released a couple of month ago and is the best book of its kind in covering kitchen cutlery, including sharpening and maintenance.
     


  14. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    My stone is 1000/6000. 1000 for the edge, 6000 to polish.

    I realize that my two Shun knives have a 15 degree bevel.

    I practiced with the stone last night on my mother's German knives. Limited success, I think. Nice to have a guinea pig.
     


  15. emptym

    emptym Moderator Moderator

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    How can one tell whether or not a stone should be lubricated w/ water or oil? I have an old knife that belonged to my grandfather and it came w/ a stone.
     


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