Saturday, 20 August 2016

Polishing things up.


     There was a time when I felt the need to put a highly polished edge on every single knife, I mistakenly felt that it meant sharper, it doesn't but I admit that it looks nice and it takes some practice and the right stones.

     On a side note, you may have heard that a highly polished chef knife for example will not be able to bite into a tomato, it will simply slide over the tough skin as there is no bite to the edge. This is not true, not in all cases.
     If the edge is sharpened well enough, where the two sides of the blade are brought precisely together at the Apex and that meeting of the two sides continue along the entire edge, that edge will slice into a tomato like you wouldn't believe, regardless of the finishing stone used. I have tested many many times. As well, I have seen many brand new knives from Japan with an 8K finish that do this easily.

     Back to the polished or mirror edge, it seems like a rite of passage for some sharpeners, something we all need to try. I will do my best to tell you how I do it, not that my edges are perfect mirrors but they are okay and I have learned a few tricks. I have done this freehand and with the Edge Pro but I will admit that using the Edge Pro is easier if you want to create a highly polished edge. The precision it delivers lends itself to truly uniformly polished bevels and edges. I have no experience with the Wicked Edge Precision Sharpener so I am not qualified to talk about. However, I imagine it to have the ability to do a fantastic job on these knives, I'd love to try it someday.

      This is what I do and again, results will vary but there are some key points to remember and I used the EP for the knife in these photos.

     Here is what you need, or at least here is what I used.

*Edge Pro Professional
*Coarse Stone, I used a 320 grit Shapton Pro
*Medium stone, I used 1,000 Chosera
*Fine and Finishing stones.

For this knife I used the following stone progression:

SP 320, Naniwa Chosera 1k, Shapton Glass 2k, Naniwa Chosera 3k, Shapton Pro 5k, Naniwa Chosera 10, Shapton Pro 15k.

By the way, I have done this with the stock stones, the 220, 400, 600, 1,000, 1200 and then the tapes, they did an awesome job. I just don't have any. I cut up my worn down full sized stones to use on the EP.  The Canadian dollar is terrible now so it is less expensive this way but I fully endorse the stones that come with the system. I suppose I could do another article on my impressions with the EP stock stones in comparison to the Chosera stones for example. Suffice it to say that I guarantee that you can get your knives absolutely, incredibly sharp with the stock stones, I never had a problem with them at all. 

     Don't be discouraged if you don't have these, just use what you have, including the EP Stock Stones but you do need something above the 1k grit to get that finish you are reaching for.

   Also, this knife took about an hour, it was in rough shape though but you are in for a bit of a long, patience testing's all good stuff.

      The first step for me was to use the Shapton Pro 320 to set the bevels, get them all uniform and get the knife sharp. This was easily the longest part of the project. Also, I use a lot of water, I am constantly dipping the knife in water and keeping the stones nice and wet. I am trying to remove any grit that may keep scratching the bevels. So my patience was really tested here and I did put it down for a bit. Again, the knife was in rough shape so I had to get everything set up in terms of the bevels so that they would accept this level of refinement. What I mean by that is when you are shooting for a mirror finish, uniformity is important, the removal of the scratches from the stones on the bevels is easier to achieve if everything lines up nicely, if the stone comes in contact with the bevels evenly.

     At 320 grit, you won't get a polished edge but it can look pretty nice and it can be very sharp. Pressure is very very important here, you don't want to be grinding away for this amount of time with heavy pressure, once the burr is formed then ease up, you are refining here, so lots of water and a lot of focus on pressure and keeping it gentle.

    Once you are happy, move up in grit and continue the cycle with very light pressure. Remember, no need to raise a burr here, you are just refining and polishing and you continue with lots of water.

    As I type I realize that I should have taken pictures of the bevels at every grit so the next time, the next folder I get, I will do that. I will say though that every time I do this, the polish really starts to pop out at the 3k grit level. In fact, I have stopped often after that.

    You need patience here on each stone, it's cool to see the bevels become more and more polished but don't jump to the next stone until you have done your best to remove the scratches from the previous stone.

     Again, don't be discouraged if you bevels don't look highly polished. Making the knife sharp is far more important and you may not have all the stones necessary so despite your best efforts you may be limited by your sharpening supplies. Also, don't think that all the pictures you see of mirror finishes are perfect mirrors. Mine are not always, I can see micro scratches in the bevels at times, under certain light.


     Now this knife is also exceptionally sharp so keep that in mind folks, sharp first, get that down before you concern yourself with polished edges. I know that they look nice and they do and they are fun to do.

     Bottom line:  uniformity is key, maintaining the angle throughout the process, monitoring and adjusting pressure, being patience and resisting the urge to jump to the next grit before it is time. When you see the scratches in the bevels start to disappear, keep it up until they are gone or close to it and use ridiculously light pressure.

    Thanks for reading and looking.

The photo below is one I had on m Blog earlier, the knife on the right was done on the EP and the one on the left by hand.  Polished bevels on black blades look pretty cool.

Until next time.



Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Pressure Video Redone.

Folks here is my second version of the video I did on Pressure..

Hope it clears up anything that may have been unclear.


Pressure - clarified and since Updated

Under Pressure Video

Hi there,

     I received quite a few emails and comments about the subject of pressure while sharpening as it applies to the video I did which is linked just above. I long ago adopted a four tier pressure technique that I spoke about in the video. I intend to do another video with the hopes of improving the original. I think that there is always room for improvement and since I got some questions on it, I figured I would give it another shot, so that will be up on the Blog soon.

     The purpose of this article is just to state, clarify the technique that I use and I have no doubt that others use it, used it before I did likely. I am not trying to say that I invented something revolutionary,  it is more like I discovered something that was probably being used a long time ago by folks.

    Okay, as you know I used four levels of pressure on the first burr raising stone (only this stone) and then I reduce pressure on the subsequent stone(s). So on the first stone I use 4 levels of pressure and then I use 3 levels of pressure on every stone after that.

    This is the way I sharpen and I have done thousands of knives this way which may be your way too of course, as I said, I take no claim to this, I'm simply sharing information.


    I thought of different ways to demonstrate the amount of pressure that I use and recently used a kitchen scale in attempt to display the pressure. I have decided not to do that but to explain it.  Nobody is going to get a scale to measure the pressure anyway, it is very simple to gauge the amount of pressure to use and it may be slightly different with every single knife anyway. For example, when I did use the scale it measure between five and six pounds of pressure when I was using P4 pressure. However, that is for a very very dull knife, if the knife is not too bad, still dull but not so bad that it looks like a 30 year old edge that has never been sharpened, I would reduce the initial burr forming pressure. So common sense is going to come into play. Suffice it to say that when I want to raise a burr I use heavy pressure, I do not press down as hard as I can of course, I just press down hard enough to get the job done. 

    If the knife you are working on is not actually dull, it just needs a tune up you may not require this amount of pressure. This pressure is only used once during the entire process and that is to form the burr. Basically, it is the amount of pressure that all sharpeners use to initiate the sharpening process. This is nothing new, just press down hard enough to ensure the stone is doing what it is meant to do. You know of course that if you don't press down hard enough, nothing is going to happen so apply the appropriate burr forming pressure and keep applying it until you have successfully raised the burr on both sides, from heel to tip

    If you are just learning and not sure how much pressure you need, start with very little pressure and gradually increase pressure until  you can see, feel and hear the abrasive properties of the stone acting on the edge of the knife. 

   I use this pressure with my coarse stone, if you only have one stone, a 1,000 grit stone for example you can still do the same thing with a dull knife, if your goal is to raise a burr, use whatever pressure is required to do that. However, do not press down to hard, don't use so much pressure that your work is uncomfortable. 

    Strive for consistency, holding your angle, the amount of pressure you use must no interfere with your ability to hold your angle, so less may be more, modulate it as required and you will get the hang of it. 

     Now that you have a burr, the hard work is done and your knife will become sharp. The length of time required using heavy pressure (P4) will vary, depends on your knife, your stone and you. This is the most patience demanding period of knife sharpening. There are often times that I can get a burr raised very quickly on one side of the knife and it seems to take an eternity to get it done on the other side. So patience here, do not move on to another stone or reduce pressure until the burr is formed. Also, you may find that the burr forms on certain areas of knife before, the belly of the blade for example before the tip. So when you get to those areas where the bur IS formed, you should reduce the pressure and then increase once you move past it.


     I reduce my pressure when I have raised the burrs on the knife, (one per side). There is no requirement to raise the burr again on the same knife,  so the reduction in pressure will help here. Your goal now is coarse stone refinement, you now need to remove the burr completely. I reduce my pressure by half at this stage or very close to it. I sharpen at this reduced pressure moving from tip to heel and then back from heel to tip on one side and then repeat for the other side.  I am concentrating on holding my angle and visualising what I am doing. I am using the abrasive properties of the stone to remove the burr that I created, I'm shaving it off and this reduction in pressure will do it. Don't sweat that actual amount of pressure, it is only about 2.5-3 pounds of pressure, as long as it is less than you used to create the burr, it's fine. It is your knowledge that these actions are "cleaning the edge" that will guide you. Naturally you are not going to just keep pressing down as hard as you did before. This stage proceeds a lot faster than your initial burr forming stage. (This is where I changed my technique, before, once the burr was created I moved to a finer stone and then went to work with less pressure. However, I found that doing this on the same coarse stone improved the degree of sharpness, the results have always been better.)

   It is very very important to realise that you do not want to over do the pressure here, you are using a coarse stone, the burr is formed, metal that had to go has gone, so too much pressure at this stage just keeps forming a burr and thus removing metal that you don't want to remove. So limiting pressure here is key to this stage, think cleaning, not grinding. So if you started with a 150 grit stone for example, you may want to move on to a less coarse stone before continuing after the burr formation. I don't, but I am very aware what this coarse stone is capable of so I just reduce the pressure even more.

Update:  A friend asked a question on my P3 pressure, basically asking if I really use P3 pressure on the 1k and above stones, is that much pressure necessary?
It's a good question but I have to emphasize that my P3 pressure is really just half of the pressure I started with, perhaps calling it P2.5 pressure is more accurate.  I think is important not to use enough pressure that will raise a burr and this can be tricky so when I am at this stage, I am constantly checking for a burr and there are times when I can feel the most subtle one forming so at that stage I immediately reduce pressure. Remember that your edge at this stage is very very fine so it will be easy to form another burr. It is not the end of the world of course, as long as you are vigilant and take the necessary steps to ensure that your burr is completely gone when done, you are doing well. 

 (The other thing to note here is that if you did use a 150-220 grit stone for example to start the process, your initial P4 pressure can be a little less than if you started with a 400-500 grit stone. That very coarse stone works more quickly, so less pressure is required.....start lightly and move up in pressure as required.) 

   Now we are getting somewhere, the knife is getting pretty sharp now and it's time to reduce the pressure even further.


        Now I go down to about 1 pound of pressure, it is very light as I continue my efforts to clean the edge and I am still on the first stone. This whole process from P3-P1 only takes a few minutes, I don't make a lot of passes on the coarse stone. I repeat the process of moving the knife over the stone at this very light pressure moving on the right side of the knife from tip to heel and then heel to tip then flipping the knife and starting at the top of the stone moving from heel to tip and tip to heel.  (This is the way I have always sharpened, if you start at the heel that is fine, same thing, I am not suggesting that you change your approach)

    By now I have completely relaxed my pressure and I am basically holding the knife stable and using the least amount of pressure to ensure the edge is moving over the stone properly, as it did in the previous stages, I am just cleaning now, avoiding grinding


   This is simply a stropping motion where I use trailing strokes only, 2-4 passes per side and I am extremely gentle here, I am almost lifting the edge off of the stone but not quite. 

    The work is now done on that first burr forming stone.  Since I always go from a coarse to a medium stone I will add some points here.  

   To be clear, a coarse stone in my mind is one that ranges from 150 to 1, 000. Now I know you can get stones down to 24 grit, for the purpose of my explanation I am starting at 150. Now, what about the 1,000, is that really a coarse stone?   Well, if it is all you have, it is, it is a beautiful blend of coarse and medium stones and you achieve this blend by manipulating pressure with the stone. 

     Now when I move to the next grit, remember, I have absolutely no need to ever use P4 pressure again on the same knife. So I start with P3 and work my way down to P1 pressure and now I am just refining, removing the scratches from the first stone. Since I am often at the 1k or 2k range here, I can increase the number of passes at the P2 and P1 level.  What I do is feel the edge after I have finished a few passes at the P2 level and if it isn't quite sharp enough for me I just do a few more passes.

I hate to say "Make 2 passes per side" I don't want to get to the point where I am counting, that's boring, I just make "a few passes" and continuously feel the edge and look at my work.  Then,  when I move to the final P1 pressure, I can do the same, at this stage the pressure is so light that I am really just cleaning the edge. (I have a lot of time under my belt at this so if you are having problems with varying the pressure and still maintaining control, don't over do it, don't continue to grind until you can do this  with the absolute minimal amount of pressure).

An axe I played around with, I don't do axes. 

  Remember please that this is just the way I sharpen a knife, it is not the only way of course and I am not, and never will suggest that you stop what you are doing and do this. I am just sharing what I found works for me.  If you are reading this and thinking that I am out to lunch, I really don't care, you keep doing what you do, maybe it is even better than this :)

    Also you can be assured that my opinion is unbiased, I am not trying to sell you anything, use whatever it is you are using now. 

   Thanks for reading and don't hesitate to ask questions if I have missed something or left something less than crystal clear.


Here is the updated version of the pressure video.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Choices - Knives and Whetstones

Hello folks,

     I personally agonized over my choices of Japanese Water Stones years ago, it was fun deciding, there is no denying that but at the end of the day, 10 years later, I could have made smarter choices.
     I also was on the fence for years about hand made Japanese knives, I once thought that they seemed to be more trouble than they were worth, this was before I actually used one.

     Like most other important purchases I have made, I research and read about the products and in the case of water stones I read too much and listened to the wrong people at times. I have learnt not to trust the words of people who sell sharpening accessories, well not everyone of course but in most cases, I feel the opinions are biased.  So the advice I will give is completely unbiased since I don't sell anything to make money from. (FYI- all the knives and stones on my Blog are for sale but I don't own them, I just sell them for others and as such, it matters not to me if they go or not, I just carry them as a favour because I have contact with many people who want these things, I don't make a cent from them.)

     Let's talk about knives first.



    This is not about what we NEED, nobody needs a dream knife like this, we don't need cars and microwaves and iPhones either, this is about items that can enhance our lives, we love having nice things, it's only natural. The question is, is this knife going to enhance your life or is it just another knife with a fancy name and incredible handle?
    Let there be no doubt in your mind, this knife will enhance your life, it will absolutely blow your cooking mind.  As I mentioned, I was on the fence about this type of knife but after using one and seeing it in my hand and feeling the edge, all negative thoughts vanished. The steel is what does it, I can sharpen this knife at 11 or 12 degrees per side and it will stay sharp much longer than our average Henckels or Wusthof. Also, the edge, the level of sharpness is quite startling, so when you use something like this for the first time to slice a tomato you will definitely be thrilled.  Now you don't need a 400 dollar Fujiwara with a custom handle to experience this, you can get a fantastic edge from a Tojiro as well. The point is that these knives will make a difference, how do you choose one?

    If you don't know too much about these knives you can easily find what you need with Google but there are some big names out there that you can trust and I do not claim to know them all but there are so many.  The ones I have used, sharpened and loved are:(No particular order of preference)
*KOTETSU (almost forgot this one, absolutely incredible knife)

  I know that I am forgetting some but these are brands I have seen, felt, used and sharpened. So any of these, and of course there are so many others out there, I just haven't had one in my hands yet.  You can trust these knives, the steel, usually,  Shirogami (White), Aogami (Blue), R2 Powdered Steel and other incredible steels that are used by Mr. Carter and Mr. Kramer is what makes them so special of course.  If you are on the fence, you could just get one of them and the prices are not as high as I used to think. I can get a nice Takamura for under $200.00.
    What makes them better than an average Henckels? Assuming that both knives are sharp to begin with, I had to use my Fujiwara to appreciate the difference in slicing food. Of course, the fact that they are hand made, often with beautiful handles makes them special, but that aside, it is their ability to slice effortlessly and maintain an incredible edge for a longer period of time that in my opinion makes owning at least one, worth the price and again, the price is not always that bad. I have a Takeda here with a custom handle made from 300 year old birch that is $549.00 CDN, so in my opinion, that is not a bad price for a knife of that calibre. As a sharpener, there is an added bonus: They are easy to sharpen, I can very quickly get my Fujiwara back to the beyond razor sharp edge that it came with, that speaks volumes towards the skill involved in it's creation.

   There are other non-Japanese knives out there of course that are not hand made that are great, the Miyabi's, the Henckels Twin Cermax for example, beautiful knives but more expensive that many hand made Masakage and Takamura.

   It goes without saying that these knives are only special when they are sharp, so you need to have a sharpening plan if you are going to own one. That may seem very obvious but you would not believe how many of these knives that I see being used that are well beyond being dull. In these cases, they are no better than a sharp $40.00 knife, seriously and it really bothers me when I see this.
    If  you have one of these knives, or another brand and it is dull and you just don't know where to go, please feel free to contact me for information. I feel bad for people who understand that the knife is dull and they want it sharpened but don't have a clue how to get it done. I DO NOT feel bad for people who know better, for people who are within reach of me for example, who choose not to get it sharpened, that to me is just plain stupid.   (If you are afraid of the cost, talk to me, I will make that fear disappear)

     Now as for the steel in a knife, all the information you need on steel is out there and easy to find, enjoy the learning process, if you have an interest in a knife, it is your responsibility to find out what White Steel means.

      Now as for the choice of a particular blade style, you can't go wrong with a chef knife, or Santoku style of blade. Of course it has to feel comfortable in your hand and be of the correct weight. The Takeda's tend to be very light, despite their size and some folks don't like that.  In terms of quality, you won't be disappointed but of course you should should choose a knife that feels right in your hand. If all you slice up is vegetables, then a Nakiri may be best for you.

Takamura, Fujiwara, Kotetsu and Fujiwara (L-R)
The Fujiwara on the far right for example is perfect for just about anything and it is about $500.00 (again not mine and I only mention the price so you have an idea of what these knives cost and the prices go down from there)

    Now what about a knife as a wedding gift. I gave my Niece a set of Tojiro knives for her wedding present. I can honestly say that in 10 years from now, it will likely be the only wedding gift that she received still used on a daily basis, they make fantastic gifts.

    If you are considering one, just do some light research to make you feel better about your choice and remember to purchase it with the knowledge that it will become dull, sooner than you hope.  Why do I say that?  I have a theory about it, when I got my Fujiwara it was accompanied by five ordinary knives, the ones that 95% of people own and use daily. (Nothing wrong with them) So one would think that the Fujiwara would stay sharp 3 times longer than the Wusthof, that is what one would think. However, what happens is that the Fujiwara soon becomes the workhorse, it bears all the pressure and force associate with slicing since it was the only knife being used. It isn't hard to understand, if it is used more, and it will be used more,  it will get dull faster.

(A good maintenance routine will keep it in pristine condition though)


Takeda with hand held Takeda Whetstone.

That is it for knives, if you have a means of keeping the knife sharp then don't hesitate to purchase one if it is in your means, if not, if you can't keep it sharp, don't bother, it will only be a source of frustration.  

(Now the only knife I would never advise to purchase is a ceramic knife.  I see them as gadgets, throw aways, difficult to sharpen, very difficult unless you have the right tools.) 

You can buy these knives in Canada from a few places:

In the US I would use


    This is where I started off on the wrong track but that is because I didn't do my homework. I'm only talking the last 10 years, remember, back in the 70's there was no Google, there was no computers. 

   The only whetstone you should not buy is one of those $7.00 ones from the hardware store, those are garbage. So if you get water stones or oil stones that is fine, I am not here to tell you that water stones are better than oil stones, the purpose of this article is to help anyone who needs help in selecting water stones.

Shapton Professional and Naniwa Chosera Japanese Water Stones

     This is easy.  In a previous post I talked about the water stones I like. 
I recommend you choose your stones based on the knives you sharpen, and believe it or not, a 1,000 grit edge is sufficient for most knives, most stainless knives, the ones we use a lot.  The brand choices are easy, I don't think you can go wrong with any water stones out there.  Naturally there are your premium choices such as Naniwa, Shapton, Suehiro etc. and King water stones are a popular brand and very inexpensive.   I spend every day of the week using three brands:
Shapton Glass, Shapton Pro and Naniwa Chosera (which are no longer around but the Naniwa Professional is just as good) 

    For grit choices I highly recommend a coarse stone, anything from 320 to 800 and you can follow that up with a 1,000-2,000 grit stone, with the 1k stone being the most logical and best choice. That's all you really need unless you are sharpening Japanese steel, the Dream knives mentioned above. In those cases a 3 stone combination is very very nice. I often use a 400, 1k, 5k combination or even a 400, 1k, 5k, 8k Combo on my Fujiwara. 

   You should concentrate on getting to the point where you can get your knives sharp on the coarse stone, I mean very very sharp and then go to the 1k stone.  

   Choices should be prioritized from the coarse stones up, not from the finishing stones down.  Coarse, Medium and Fine is the way to go, if you can afford the 3 stones. I have a 16k stone but I rarely use it. I think we have a tendency to finish our stones at a higher grit level than necessary. Keep in mind that most stainless knives do not support a finish higher than 1k to 2k. By this I mean, finishing your $50.00 Henckels at 8k is not conducive to edge retention. (Believe me, it took me a long time to understand this, there is not a wealth of information on it)

   Just don't get caught up in the whole "I need every grit possible) thing, which is the way I started. Technique and practice is going to allow you to get every ounce of goodness from the water stones you have.  Yes of course it is nice to have an 8k or 10k stone, I am not saying not to get those, just as long as you are able to get the knife sharp on the lower grit stones. Don't think that "My knives are not getting sharp, I need more stones" :)   

That's it, thanks for reading my article.



Wednesday, 20 July 2016

My Favourite Picture


Once in awhile, some of my pictures actually turn out pretty good.  I really try to make them a little different than just taking a picture of a knife but it is not as easy as it sounds, for me anyway

However I am pretty proud of this one.

2010 was the 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Navy and knives that are made here in Nova Scotia were made with a logo especially for the events of that year with the major even being the Royal Visit, the Queen came on one of our ships. I was heavily involved with it all as I was the Protocol Officer.

Anyway, I used the EP Pro to sharpen the knife with the following stones:

Shapton Pro 320, Naniwa Chosera 1,000 and 3,000 and Shapton Pro 5,000 to finish it off.

The EP is very good for creating mirror like finishes due to it's precision. I have done this freehanding many times but I do find it more difficult, especially on the left side of the knife. It's impossible to match the precision that the Edge Pro delivers so every now and then I take it out for knives like this.

I'll throw this picture in just for kicks, freehanded this with the same stones....just bigger ones:

If I had to do this over I would have used the EP for this one too, the serrated portion makes it a little tricky and also the original grind of the knife was not that good so I had my work cut out for me.

Thanks for looking.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Shun Repair Shop

Hi folks,

     When I get a batch of knives to sharpen, usually 3-6 knives in a batch, at least one of them is need of some form of edge repair. Often the nicks are minor enough to vanish during normal sharpening but often that is not the case.

     When I do repair work, I will use either a coarse water stone, sometimes two coarse stones that range in grit from 150 to 500. If the knife is an inexpensive one and the damage is clearly from abuse I may use a belt sander to do the majority of the work and then finish off with the stones. Especially if I know the knife will suffer further abuse and sometimes I do.

    When it comes to Shun knives, 5-6 of them are chipped out of 10 and again, sometimes it is very minor and sometimes it is almost catastrophic, like, WTF damage :)


     In this case, after soaking in spectacle I tackle it like any other repair, I know it will just take longer. The problem with this type of work though where the nicks are so deep, the New Primary Edge, i.e. the edge after the repair work is done is further up into the thicker part of the blade so some thinning is usually necessary but that's no big deal.

    In this particular case I used a Naniwa Traditional 220 to do a lot of the work and then I followed up with a Shapton Glass 500 to finish it off. I do the work at about 85 deg and alternate from side to side. I could have done all the work with one coarse stone and if I had only one to choose from it would have been the SG 500.


     You just need a little courage to do this type of work, it isn't that difficult actually and you can keep in mind that anything is an improvement. The actual sharpening of the knife after the edge is capable of taking an edge is quite simple. These VG 10 Shun are easy to sharpen in my opinion. I don't find that the edge retention is very good but they do come up nice and sharp.

Thanks for looking

Monday, 11 July 2016

No Stone unturned. Updated

Hi there,

(A comment left by a loyal reader made me realize that I forgot to mention WHY I like the stones that I mention below, which is pretty important so I have added that to the bottom)

     An email from a nice fella about water stones prompted me to write about the subject (thanks Philippe)  because choosing water stone (brands) and (grits) is something I have agonized over for years. I am now very happy with the products I use and since I don't sell anything, you will get an unbiased opinion.
    Before I go any further however please keep in mind that this IS my opinion, please don't go chucking out anything you use now just because I don't mention it.

     Years ago, I found myself being lured into purchasing certain water stones that were being pushed by people who I found out later to be selling the products and sometimes this didn't work out so well. There are two things to take into consideration, Brand and Grit in terms of the stones themselves. The third thing to consider is what you are sharpening. For me, I sharpen all sorts of knives so I have had to buy stones that work on everything. Basically however,  synthetic stones seem to work on all knife steels anyway so that isn't a big problem, i.e. you don't have to buy a particular brand because all you sharpen is stainless steel knives.

      Here are some mistakes I made:

Random shot...not a mistake I made :)

         Before I became enlightened on the subject of the effects of different grits on different knives, I focused on collecting the highest grit stones I could buy. While I don't regret this now, the purpose of this is to assist folks who may be struggling with the choice of what stones to buy. I have a business so it was easy to justify getting everything and I also have an obsession with them so I was pretty well determined to get them all.  You don't need them all to get your knives sharp and I mean very very sharp. ( Have you ever noticed that some folks call knives sharp but if you felt the edges they feel dull?)

     Let's talk about brands first and again, these are my preferences and there are some stones I have not tried but I would like to, the Suehiro 5,000 grit for example and the Naniwa 8,000 Snow White, clearly great stones. 

I love the following BRANDS:

*Naniwa Chosera and Naniwa Professional;

*Shapton Glass;

*Shapton Professional

*Kityama (8K);

*Arishyama (6K)

*Imanishi (4K)

*Sigma Power Select II (13K)

*Naniwa Atoshi 2K (Green Brick of Joy)

* Yagonishima Asagi Natural Stone.

      I have used the Naniwa Traditional 220, 1,000 and 2,000 from Paul at and I can easily recommend them. I can easily recommend shopping from Paul as well, he is awesome to deal with. 

     For Flattening I can recommend the Atoma 400 Diamond Plate. I have not used the Shapton DGLP but I do know it is very very good. 

    (I do not used oil stones, I am not saying anything against them, I don't use them so I am not qualified to judge them.)

Now as for GRITS:

     This is simply my order of preference, if all my stones were stolen or something, this is how I would re-build my collection now that I am smarter than I used to be when it comes to this topic. (In my mind anyway)


Coarse/Medium/Fine -Basically in that order.

Naniwa Professional 400
Naniwa Professional 600
Shapton Pro 320 
Shapton Glass 500
Naniwa Traditional 220
Naniwa Aramusha 220 , (Knifewear sells this)
Nubatama Bamboo 150


Naniwa Chosera (or Pro) 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000
Shapton Glass, 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000
Shapton Pro, 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000
Naniwa Aotoshi 2,000
Naniwa Traditional 1,000, 2,000


Naniwa Chosera (or Pro) 5,000
Arashyima 6,000
Shapton Glass 4, 000, 6,000
Shapton Pro 5,000
Imanishi 4,000

(Again, I have not used the Suehiro 5k)


Naniwa Chosera 10,000
Kityama 8,000
Shapton Glass 8,000, 10,00, 16,000, 30,000
Shapton Pro 8,000, 15,000, 30,000
Sigma Power Select II 13,000
Yagonishima Asagi 8,000-12,000

      If I could only buy 3 stones I would get a Shapton Glass 500, Naniwa Professional 1,000 and Naniwa Professional 5,000.

     The stones I use most are the Naniwa Chosera 400, Shapton Glass 500,  Naniwa Chosera 1,000 and Naniwa Chosera 2,000.

     If I could only get ONE stone it would be a 1,000 grit.

So build from the bottom up in terms of Grit. The Naniwa Professional 800 is the only one I have not tried in that brand but I hear it is very good.

   You don't need the 10k dream stone to make your knives sharp, you need the 1k-2k range and if you can swing it a coarse stone. Now the 1k is bordering on being coarse but I love my 320-600 grit stones.

     Now a lot of folks talk about the poor feedback related to Shapton Glass stones and in fact it is probably the most common comment I hear when the brand is mentioned. I have been using them for five years and I can honestly say that it never ever bothered me. Now does the 1,000 Shapton Glass have the silky smooth feeling that the Naniwa Chosera 1,000 offers us, NO it doesn't but that should not deter you from purchasing them.

    I get my Shapton Glass stones from Chris at or from Fendrihans Canada. Chris has the Extra Thick 500 SG which I absolutely love.

     In closing, just enjoy using the stones you have and don't feel pressured to go buy the stones everyone seems to NEED. You can't go wrong with any of the stones I have mentioned, I have tried and used them all (Except the 30k stones.....they will be mine)


Why these Japanese Water Stones over others

     When I became very serious about sharpening and thinking of opening a business I was searching forums and checking out YouTube on the subject of sharpening. As one who is interested in anything may do. I was becoming quite obsessed with it so I was trying to make sure I started off on the right foot in terms of what I would use.

   At that time there were a few brands of Japanese Water Stones that kept popping up and it became apparent that these were the top of the line.  Up to now I had tried brands like King and Norton because they were both inexpensive and also readily available from the Lee Valley store nearby.

   NANIWA CHOSERA AND SHAPTON PRO were the stones I chose to be the ones to replace the stones I had purchased from Lee Valley and I have never regretted that.   (I will explain why)

    Also, it was about six years ago that I purchased the Edge Pro Professional and that carries it's own line of stones, so for awhile I was just using them but I don't use it anymore except for some folding knives.  

   So for me at that time it was a bit of a leap of faith because I was not completely aware of why I should choose those, i.e. what I should looking for in a water stone, but I had heard so much about them that it was a no brainer.

When choosing a water stone, you want to have one that has at least one of the following attributes:

* Cuts metal quickly, all metal;
* Does not dish to quickly, i.e. does not wear out in the middle,
* Has relatively good feedback. (Using it provides a sensation that you are actually achieving something and it doesn't feel like you are using something that is tearing your edge apart, basically, it feels good).

The Naniwa Chosera and Shapton Pro stones do all of these things. In fact as far as feedback goes, the Naniwa Chosera 1,000 grit stone is amazing, it feels fantastic when you use it. 

MOST IMPORANTLY of course is that the edges that come off of these stones are very sharp and they have never let me down.  The prices of them are higher than the King stones but that is the cost of doing business. 

Now over time some more brands appeared on my radar. Most notably the Shapton Glass stones.

       I was in a kitchen store in New York City and was going to pick up a 5,000 grit Shapton Pro stone, which is a very nice stone by the way, it will leave an edge on a knife that many folks have never experienced. The store manager introduced me to the SG stones, they are mounted on glass that is why they are called Shapton Glass but they also act and feel differently than the Shapton Pro. They are thinner as well but they are very hard and they will last a long time.  I picked up a few of these and five years later they have become one of my favourite brands. 
    The Shapton Glass coarse stones are my favourite, they work very well on the hardest of kitchen knives, they will cut steel like no other stone. So again, that is a very important attribute to look for and these excel at it. I like the coarse SG stones more than the higher grit ones but I use them all, often and I would replace them all immediately if something happened to them.

   Another line of stones came into being a few years ago called Nubatama Bamboo but I have only hand experience with the 150 grit Bamboo stone which I have just about worn out, it was huge to begin with. It took me a long time to get used to managing the water with this stone but once I figured that out, I really like it. Burr formation is rapid.  I did have the Bamboo 5,000 which was also very good but mine fell apart as a result of improper storage on my part.

    Some stones I just have one of like the Kityama 8,000 and again, I bought that because people I trusted told me to and it is beautiful. It leaves a very polished, refined edge that is exceptionally sharp.

   To sum up, I love my water stones because of how effective they are, the coarse stones are able to form a burr quickly and that is very important for me. They are also available in Canada so that is a bonus.

   Now as for Japanese Natural Stones, I have one beauty and eventually I will have more but I need to see and handle them in person first.

    I hope this clarifies my glaring error of not pointing out why I like the stones that I use.

If anyone reading my Blog is left with a question, please let me know, I love reading comments, constructive criticism is fantastic, I don't take anything personal, it helps me be a better Blog writer.

Kityama 8000 above.

Peter Nowlan