ISO advice using sharpening stones

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Hardly Core

Assistant Cook
May 19, 2010
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
I came across an older Carbon steel Ontario Knife Company "Old Hickory" knife. It cleaned up pretty well, now I want to sharpen it. I would also like to start practicing on a sharpening stone, and this knife presents me with the perfect opportunity to learn, as I only paid $3 for it. So, what stone should I buy? How fine or course should it be? Should I buy 2 or 3 different stones to start? The knife will need a good amount of work. I would think a courser stone to start would be in order. Also, when I youtube it, I don't see anyone using stone oil. Is it useful?
Help me out oh sharpening gurus.
I always thought using the old stones & oil was best, and thought those ones with carbide & ceramic V wedges were kinda gimmicky. I used to Google anything for 'best of'', 'reviews' and what not of various things, but they were mostly one sites or persons review of said item. I've also looked at CNET & epinions for reviews, but I found them old, very few, inconsistent.

Lately I've been looking at for whatever, and looking at the reviews there. Or I browse categories for the item I want to find, and limit the rating to 4 or more stars & sorted by best selling.

Which let me to many of those carbide & ceramic V wedges..which I have tried afew, and didnt like. So sifting thru the Amazon results I found this good looking candidate: Lansky Deluxe 5-Hone Sharpening System: Kitchen & Dining

and there is a good Youtube video of someone using one:

YouTube - Sharpening Spyderco Tenacious with Lansky Sharpeners
A Spyderco 302 medium and a Spyderco 302 Fine, 8" X 2", ceramic stone should be adequate for most all knife sharpening tasks. They do not require water or oil and can be 'cleaned' using a crepe eraser. Use the medium to profile the blade edge (establish an acute primary bevel) and the fine to do the final or secondary (less acute angled) edge, to maintain the cutting edge (when steeling will not bring it back), and to polish the primary bevel.
The Spyderco 302 ultra fine( I have one) is not worth the money for anything but the sharpening levels required by obsessive compulsive types.
The egullet thread is good, but there are some things I disagree with it about.

Anyways stones fall into three main categories.

1) Grinding. 200-400 grit. These are for removing a lot of metal and are needed to restore an edge to a blunt knife or remove nicks and dents. You should only use these stones on knives that need a lot of work.
2) Sharpening. 600-1000 grit. Puts a cutting edge on a knife.
3) Polishing. 1000+ puts a high performance finish on an edge. Optional extra.

Different manufacturers use different grit ratings so you need to take the published grit rating with a pinch of salt if you're comparing stones from different makers.

Stone type.
A water whetstone is my preferred choice, and IMO Japanese water stones are the best. The only other type I'd consider is a diamond stone. Diamond stones have improved a lot over the last decade and have some advantages in that the stone itself doesn't wear but are more expensive.

There are several techniques you can use. What I would recommend is:
- Try a few and see which is comfortable for you.
- Repeated consistent angles is the goal so don't worry if you're doing it differently to an expert. Worry about the results.
- Your ears and your fingers are more important than your eyes. You will know the stone is working when you hear the edge grinding on the stone and you will feel the resistance. If the edge is just sliding along the top of the stone it isn't sharpening.
- Muscle memory is important. It will take a while to get good habits forming and if you don't sharpen for a long time it will take time to get back into the rhythm.

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