Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Coarse Stone Courage

      As I work on my article and video on the importance of coarse stones I found myself realizing some things that I was just taking for granted or just assuming it was common knowledge.

     The picture above has 3 of my favourite coarse stones, the Naniwa Chosera (Naniwa Professional is similar, just as good), the Shapton Pro 320 and Shapton Glass 500. I have tried many other coarse stones, as some of my readers have but I now rely solely on these products.
Another great one is the Naniwa 220 but for the purpose of the article for Knifeplanet and the accompanying video, I will keep it at 320-600 grit range to illustrate my point. (I go through three coarse stones a year but for the majority of sharpeners, folks who mostly sharpen their own knives and some friends knives, one of these will last a few years at least).

     (Keep in mind the coarse stones dish more quickly than medium and fine stones, so keep up with the flattening work, don't let them get too dished or your work will be cut out for you when it comes to flattening. It is important to keep your stones flat, it enhances consistency to bevels during sharpening). 

     When I started teaching sharpening,  I used to encourage folks to shy away from using a coarse stone until they were more comfortable with sharpening. I think I did that  because I heard it from a lot of other people, I didn't think through it enough to form an accurate opinon and express that opinion, I now disagree with myself :)  I fully encourage the use of a coarse stone, even from day one.

     I won't copy everything I am going to write about in the Knifeplanet article but suffice it to say that taking a knife from a state of dullness to sharpness and believe me, most knives are dull, that process needs to be done efficiently. We don't want to linger on the stones, we want the abrasive powers of the stones to work quickly and react appropriately to the movement of our hands, to the pressure we apply. That pressure is key, we are not going to ruin a knife on a coarse stone with the correct and appropriate application of pressure. People are smart enough to realize that too much pressure is not conducive to desired results, this goes for anything. How would you ruin a knife on a coarse stone if you are careful with pressure? If you have respect for the stones abrasive properties and the knowledge that "If I push down as hard as I possibly can I am going to make a mistake" If you know this, and you do, than you are going to love what a coarse stone will do. It will set the stage for success and you'll wonder why the hell you listened to me in the first place when I told you to start with a 1, 000 grit
stone :)

This is not a coarse stone by the way:)

   There are several reasons why a coarse stone is crucial to your sharpening success, you will read about them soon, I don't want to steal my own thunder in the Knifeplanet article. Trust me please, the Pro's of having the courage to start sharpening with a coarse stone are truly remarkable.

    I will say this: As I have always stated, there is so much more to knife sharpening than just making knives sharp.  There is much that the process has to offer, don't go to the last page in a good book to read the ending and miss everything the author of that book gave you to enjoy.

   If the only thing I got from sharpening knives was a sharp knife, I would have given up a long time ago, that is just one of the benefits, it is the peak of the mountain but what about all the cool stuff I got to experience on the way up.

( What if you don't have a good coarse stone and just can't find one but you do have a 1k stone, is that still good. Absolutely, you can still create awesome edges without a coarse stone)

I'll talk about those in my article. 

My Fujiwara on our new board

Just a typical day of sharpening, all very cool. 

I always wrap up the knives for my customers.



  1. The Shaptons seem a little more rare here in Australia than some other brands. Luckily there's a local store http://www.chefsarmoury.com/ that stocks Naniwa and Kaiden...though strangely not in the 220 which seems like a big omission given the 'specialist' branding of the store.

    I've been using one of the Eze-lap diamond plates to keep my coarse stones flat after use. Do you see any issues in using a diamond plate as a flattener opposed to a coarser water stone? It's the only use I've found for the diamond after seeing the fractures that diamond puts in the martensite structures of steel under a microscope.

  2. HI Jordan, a diamond plate is the only thing I do use for flattening. I have the Atoma 140 which is nice and quick and if I flatten anything higher than a 5k stone with it, I will go over that particular stone with another finishing stone. I'm aware of Chefs Armoury, I've always wanted to visit it. I grew up in Australia actually, I first lived in town called Frankston in Victoria then Nowra in NSW. I have not tried Kaiden stones. I know that the Shapton stones are not always available everywhere, I am sure the ones you use are just as good. I also find like you that some places that sell stones seem to concentrate on 1k and above where what you really need is a good quality set of coarse stones, 220-600 grit.
    Thanks for reading my Blog :)

    1. Thanks for the reply Peter. I appreciate the advice regarding finishing the higher grit stones after flattening, the idea hadn't occurred to me. Chefs Armoury gear a lot of their sharpening stone advice towards a three-step 400, 1000, 3000 method that ties in with a three-pack of Naniwa Pro stones that they sell.

      To be honest I've not tried the Kaiden either but I'll probably pick up one of their arato stones to try out when I'm next there.

      I'm based in Fitzroy at the moment though I'm from the Blue Mountains. I've been down to Nowra a fair few times rock-climbing near the hospital and Thompsons Point.

      Thanks for writing the blog. It's a pleasure to read.