As with the proper grip on a on a knife... so to are people's opinions on this subject. I'll stick to the people I know... I've not really gone through much of Murray's stuff, but I both know and respect Bob Kramer and Hattori.
Julienne, chiffonade, emince...? Fancy names. Simple concepts. Find clarity here.
i think this lesson is worth the price of membership alone.
i don't need samurai sword sharpness; i just want a knife that won't bludgeon my tomatoes. having scoured for information elsewhere, this lesson concisely answers most of the questions that i've had. wish i had known some of this sooner before i bought the 1000/6000 grit stone (as was recommended to me from another forum) because it's taking a reeeeeallly long time to sharpen all these knives that have the cutting precision of a ripe banana. most likely will have to go out and buy a coarser grit.
nevertheless, there is a soothing rhythm with every swish of the blade gliding along the whetstone. and then you have a sharper knife at the end. what's not to love? and it's great to see a few women on this forum. and i hope i'm not insulting anybody here when i say this but i'm glad that there is less bloviating he-men behavior and more appreciation for the swishing rhythm of steel against stone.
There are things to remember when you start talking about stones...
In the words of the great Chad Ward:
Synthetic aluminum oxide stones are very, very hard and don’t wear like natural stones. They clean up easily with a scouring pad and are more consistent in their grading systems. Spyderco and Lansky both manufacture synthetic stones in a variety of grits (see discussion of grits below).
Japanese waterstones are considered by many to be the ultimate sharpening tools. Although natural waterstones are extremely expensive and hard to find, reconstituted stones are readily available. These reconstituted Japanese stones are held together by a resin bond, cut very quickly (and wear more quickly as well) and are available in extremely fine grits that will put a high polish on an edge.
Synthetic waterstones, as used by EdgePro systems, are formulated from aluminum oxide specifically for knife sharpening. Like Japanese waterstones, they need to be wet in order to cut effectively.
Diamond “stones” have man-made diamond particles imbedded in or coated on a base metal. They cut very aggressively and should be used with caution. They were formerly available only in very coarse grits, but that is changing rapidly. According to Leonard Lee, monocrystalline diamonds are preferable to polycrystalline diamonds in a diamond stone. They are nearly twice as expensive, but last much longer. EZE-Lap, Lansky and DMT make excellent diamond stones.
There are two other issues related to abrasives that must be considered: grits and lubrication.
You Want Grits with That?
All of these abrasives come in a variety of grits from very coarse to ultra-fine. Grit refers to the size of the individual particles of abrasive in the sharpening stone. A stone with a finer grit has smaller particles, and produces an more polished edge with less prominent micro-serrations. A stone with a coarser grit has larger particles, produces an edge with more prominent micro-serrations, and tends to abrade metal away more quickly. There are several different grit rating systems, and unfortunately it is very difficult to correlate these different systems. For example, Japanese waterstones are graded differently than diamond stones and both have different numbering systems than the codes found on powered grindstones. Steve Bottorff, author of “Sharpening Made Easy” has taken a stab at it here if you’re interested.
What we do know is that you’ll need a coarse to medium stone for shaping the edge and removing the shoulders of over-thick edges. You’ll also need a fine stone for sharpening the final edge. The combination stones found in most hardware stores just won’t do the trick. The coarse side isn’t coarse enough and the fine side isn’t fine enough. Any of the sharpening systems mentioned later will come with appropriate stones.
In very general and imprecise terms, stones rated lower than 300 grit are coarse, 300-400 are medium, 600+ are fine and 1200 and up are extra fine.
Japanese waterstones have their own grit rating system. They cut so quickly that anything below 800x can be considered coarse, although they’ll leave a much more polished edge than a corresponding Western stone. 1000x and 1200x can be considered medium and medium-fine and make an excellent general purpose stones. Waterstones can go up to 8000x, but that’s really overkill for kitchen purposes.
The stones that come with Spyderco’s Sharpmaker are listed as fine (the white stones) and medium (the grey stones). The grey has been compared to an approximately 800x waterstone, the white to a 1200x waterstone in effect.
The synthetic waterstones from EdgePro systems also have an idiosyncratic rating system. The coarse stone is listed as 100, the medium as 180, the fine 220, extra fine 320, ultra fine is 600. However a conversation with Ben Dale, owner of EdgePro, revealed that the extra fine stone is equivalent to a 1200x Japanese waterstone and the ultra fine equivalent to a 2000x Japanese stone. The basic system comes with a medium and fine stone, which should be sufficient for most needs, though the coarse stone comes in handy for quickly reshaping bevels.
Oil or Water?
Everyone knows you need to lubricate your sharpening stone with water or oil, right? So the question is which one is better. Neither. The purpose of a sharpening stone is to grind the edge and remove metal. Oil reduces friction and makes the process much slower.
Supposedly oil helps float away metal particles that would otherwise clog the pores of the stone. You can do the same thing by wiping the stone with a damp cloth when you’re done. Steve Bottorff reports that you can clean your Arkansas stones with paint thinner. Synthetic stones clean up with a scouring pad and abrasive cleanser.
According to Joe Talmadge, if you have already used oil on your Arkansas stone, you’ll probably need to keep using oil. But if you have a new Arkansas stone, a diamond stone or a synthetic stone, go ahead and use it without oil or water. It will work much better.
John Juranitch reports that in his company’s work with meat processing plants they discovered that the metal filings suspended in the oil on a stone actually chip and abrade the edge. Although these chips were only visible through a microscope, the meatpackers readily noticed the difference between the knives sharpened on a dry stone and those sharpened on oiled stones.
Waterstones are another matter entirely. Both Japanese and synthetic waterstones require water in order to cut effectively. Japanese waterstones can be damaged if used dry and must be soaked thoroughly before use. Waterstones wear very quickly, revealing new layers of cutting abrasive as the swarf builds up and is washed away. That’s why they are so effective. There is always a new layer of sharp abrasive cutting away at the metal of your edge. By the way, “swarf” is one of those cool terms you get to toss around when you discuss sharpening. Swarf is the slurry of metal filings and stone grit that builds up as you sharpen. Throw that into your next cocktail party conversation and just watch the expressions of awe appear as people realize that you are a sharpening God.
Types of Steels
Knife steels come in a variety of sizes, shapes and flavors. There are round steels, oval steels, grooved steels, smooth steels, diamond steels and ceramic “steels.” If you purchased a set of knives, it probably came with a round, grooved steel. Be very careful with this beast. Kitchen knives are reasonably tough and resist chipping fairly well, but a grooved steel can really put that to the test. The grooves in the steel create tiny points of contact with the edge. A smaller contact area makes for greater pressure on the edge. Used lightly, a grooved steel can realign the edge of your knife, though it does it fairly aggressively. Used with too heavy a hand, however, a grooved steel will act as a file and take microscopic chips out of your edge. Your edge will feel sharp because it is now, in effect, serrated, but it won’t last very long.
Coarse diamond steels fall into the same category, though they’ll generally leave a finer edge than grooved steels. They should still be used with caution and a very light hand.
Smooth steels are several steps above either grooved or diamond steels. A smooth steel will gently push the metal of the edge back into alignment. It will take longer than with a grooved or diamond steel, but you don’t run the risk of damaging your edge. A smooth steel is very easy to use and fairly forgiving of sloppy angles.
A step above even smooth steels are fine grit ceramic and very fine diamond steels. According to Cliff Stamp, “A smooth steel just pushes the edge back into alignment, leaving the weakened metal there, which will actually relax back into being deformed in its own time without any use. The ceramic will remove some of the weakened steel while also aligning the edge. The edge will be more stable and stay sharp for much longer. There is more metal removed with the ceramic and diamond rods, but you are looking at between 100 to 1000 sharpenings to remove one millimeter of metal from the edge of the knife depending on the edge angle and the grit of the ceramic or diamond hone – this is years of constant use. In general, the lifetime of most knives tends to be dominated by the occasional accidental damage that forces heavy honing.”
You quote people very well, but you don't seem to actually be speaking from experience. And, it's hard to take you very seriously on this subject when you are willing to put your trust in people who use grinding wheels.
Silly me; I thought when you posted about having read your past posts and decided you were coming across as a "snobby, elitist, asshole of a cook," you intended to correct this. I guess you just used this to salve your conscience, though, because after that you stayed on the same course. "I don't eat fast food," and my personal favorite, "I don't own a microwave," when no one had even mentioned microwave food.
Regarding your post "Did I miss something?" what you missed, apparently, is that people don't like your elitist and pretentious attitude. You have been vary active on this forum, and you have killed many threads. After you post, people don't often want to admit that they sometimes make macaroni and cheese out of a box. For example, I asked for guilty pleasures and comfort food, and you came back with some elaborate recipes which can't possibly be your actual practical idea of either. Well, unless you have WAY more time on your hands than a position of EC should allow.
You claim to be an EC; if you actually are, you must be a very young/new one, or an old very insecure one. Whichever the case, you seem to feel you are inadequate, and that you need to prove that you are not, and I, for one, am sorely tired of listening to you. Trust me, I am not the only one, I'm just the only one who will actually say so.
Let me give you a bit of advice: while it is certainly possible to be the big dog in a forum, and one who is right all the time, in order to accomplish this, it requires that you actually BE right all the time. This requires considerable intelligence, and years of experience. Oh, sure, you may be able to fool many or even most people by simply doing research, but you won't be able to fool the smart ones who actually know the field. I suspect this is your problem.
My advice to you is to mellow out, and to start treating other people as if they actually have brains. I've already started to stay away from this site because of you. I'm sure other people have as well.
And now, I'm sure I have over-stepped the bounds here. So, I will voluntarily ban myself from this site, and will not come back unless invited.
I have pissed off people many a time on this forum; do not depart either of you. You both have much to contribute and perhaps misinterpret our ability to cut through miscellany and misleading information. Or what Kelly alleges to be ?pompousness? on Matt's behalf. Maybe, just maybe BOTH OF YOU GENTLEMEN SHOULD MELLOW OUT, drink a little less caffine during the day and chill out, kiddies. Stay on the forum and remember we still adore you both.
Matthew, I hope you will remain active in this forum. I came to this site to learn and I have appreciated your input. Forums like this allow people to try to be anything that they want. However, I believe that anyone who reads the posts sooner or later figures out that some people are just not who they say they are, nor do the have the expertise that they claim. Please stay Matthew; I believe that the people in the Roubxe Forum are smart enough to see through the “self proclaimed experts”. Your posts have been insightful and helpful. Thanks for your contributions I hope that they continue.
Also, I would hope when someone copies and pastes from Chad's Ward book, An Edge in the Kitchen: The Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Knives -- How to Buy Them, Keep Them Razor Sharp, and Use Them Like a Pro, that you would give credit to the author and his book, or site the source. Chad Ward's book is an excellent resource on knives for technique and sharpening information and he is due credit when using excerpts from his book (otherwise it is plagiarism).
I believe that quoting others, while trying to appear as the "expert," without giving credit is part of the issue that Kelly was mentioning in a previous post. Again, Kelly, my mistake on my earlier comments (mixing up names). We need your input, so again stay in the forum. I appreciate your remarks.
To Ted: I gave the credit to Chad Ward... hence the opening statement:
"In the words of the great Chad Ward:"
Before you jump to conclusions, perhaps you should read everything posted instead of skimming it because the meat of a post looks familiar.
To Kelly: Even your favorite man, Murray Carter, uses grinding wheels in his sharpening process... self admitted at that. He will finish on a bench stone, but polishing is not sharpening. As a "expert", you should really know that to begin with.
Your opening remark about "guilty foods" was 'nuking a burrito', so yes, -YOU- did make mention a Microwave, yourself. And, if you think wrapping balls of mozzarella in ground, uncased sausage is a 'complicated recipe', you have a lot to learn.
I started posting on this forum per a friend's request. I'll more than happily leave all of you to your own devices. Feel free to drop by the Enigma in Rapid City this Summer or Guy Savoy in LV this Winter for a tasting. Happy cooking.
Matthew, If you look at the title of the my previous post: Give credit to the author RE: Diamond Steels, I was referring to your post on Diamond Steels where you do not give Chad Ward credit for copying his words.
Regarding Murray using a grinding wheel, maybe I am not clear on what your definition is of a "grinding wheel." I have bought 4 of Murray's knives, I have been to his shop in Oregon, and he taught me how to sharpen using whetstones. If you look at this slide show on making a knife, you will see a slide where Murray uses a bench grinder in shaping the blade but uses a slow rotating Japanese water stone when establishing the secondary and primary edges. The link to the slide show is: http://picasaweb.google.com/cartercutlery/TheMakingOfAKuroUchi#
Also, if you would like to see Murray sharpening a knife, you can watch him on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuOlGGl97dI&feature=channel_page, where he uses whetstones.
Or Murray has 2 DVDs on sharpening using whetstones.
So Matthew, help me out, what is your definition of a grinding wheel? And where are you getting your information that Murray does not use bench stones/whetstones for sharpening?
I am here to learn, so I am open to your input. Also, I would hate to see you leave this forum; you have had some good posts.
i feel like i'm intruding in on a family reunion but i just wanted to state that i value both Kelly's and Matthew's participation on the forums...for what it's worth.
Kelly, it would be a great loss to the Rouxbe community to lose your presence. you have a vast store of knowledge and it seems that you understand the patience necessary in guiding those who know less than you. you would be depriving others here of benefiting from it, so i ask that you just extend just a little bit more of your patience and forbearance with Matthew and stick around.
Matthew, you obviously have a lot of passion for cooking and that's perhaps where you and Kelly clash. thank you for the tips on the whetstones by the way...though i have to admit that my minds eye glazed over a bit as that was just a lot of information for my newbie self. you also have much to share with others and your enthusiasm may be a bit overwhelming for some but i think that the forums would be lesser for having lost you.
again, apologies all around for rushing in where angels would fear to tread, but i think that it would be a shame if either Kelly M or Matthew E were to leave the forum.
Hi all, I am new here, having signed up just last night. I have a lot to learn when it comes to cooking, but I have a fair amount of experience when it comes to sharpening knives and maintaining a 'scary sharp' edge.
I will tell you plainly what I use to get and maintain edges on all my knives both culinary, hunting, folding, pocket etc. It's not an oil stone, a whetstone, a cheap plastic thing with angled rods in it etc.
I also don't bother with things like stropping or polishing.
100% of the plain edge knives I own are so sharp that I can, literally, use them to shave with. In fact I don't try slicing up paper to determine if a blade is sharp enough for use, I shave the hair off my arm leaving it baby smooth. That is how sharp all my knives are. A knife with slice right through paper while not yet being sharp enough to smoothly shave arm hair.
So, what do I use to sharpen knives and how many hundreds of dollars does it cost and how much time does it take me to get the long lasting edges this sharp?
It's the Spyderco Sharpmaker as it's around $50. It will sharpen any knife including serrated edges, scissors, nail clippers, fishing hooks etc.
The synthetic material used in the sharpening rods requires no oil or water and can be easily cleaned with an abrasive scrub pad and water.
The technique I use for plain edge blades is the same as is shown in the included instructional DVD other than the last stage I do 100 strokes instead of 40 which is what gives the scary sharp edge to the blade (some knife steels will get scary sharp with fewer strokes, none have taken more than 100 strokes.
I can't recommend this product highly enough. No more oil to mess with, no soaking in water for half an hour, just a few minutes per knife for a blade you can, literally, shave with and the edge lasts.
Realism and Optimism are not mutually exclusive. JMO. And no opinions on this Board would qualify you as being a "wet blanket". Just remember, if you consider yourself so, dry yourself out, or you will get moldy. Hee hee hee. Happy Holidays and a Wonderful 2010!