7 Comments

  1. Really interesting and well-documented observations, thanks for posting. I use Arkansas oil stones (Soft, Hard, Black) as well as two Japanese stones from So (Tsushima, Ohzuku Asagi Finisher). I mainly use WS#1 for Japanese tools.
    Do you find that the intermediate stones are necessary to efficiently develop the final edge? Your post makes me wonder if adding a medium-finisher (and perhaps a pre-finish finisher) would improve consistency and speed on my finishing stone which I find to be very hard. I’m also curious about your methods and setup – whether you presoak and/or sharpen over the sink (like Kiyoto Tanaka on Youtube). Cheers!

    1. Hi Martin,
      Thanks for the comment! Are you using the Arkansas stones between the Tsushima and the Ohzuku? If you are going from the Tsushima to the Ohzuku then yes likely another stone will help, I used to leap from the Tsushima to the Shinden suita and that was a tough leap, adding the Yaginoshima was a huge help in terms of speed. If your Ohzuku is as fine as my Nakayama then the forth stone is helpful as well, but So would advise you much better than I can since he knows the particulars of how fine each stone is, as you know that is often case specific.
      I’ve been considering a video on sharpening Japanese tools with natural stones, which would clarify alot that is made vague in this context. I dont presoak the stones with exception to the Ikarashi which can be soaked, instead I use a squirt bottle of water and for stones that are helped by it I will let the water settle in for a moment before adding more and proceeding. I sharpen right at the sharpening bench, all of the stones are placed in those bases so that they stay put while I’m working. The bases have impressions of the stone, so while the stone can be lifted out (they’re not fixed into the base), they won’t rock or move while I work.

  2. Really thorough and well-documented observations, thanks for posting. I use Arkansas oil stones (Soft, Hard, Black) as well as two Japanese stones from So (Tsushima, Ohzuku Asagi Finisher). I mainly use WS#1 for Japanese tools.
    Do you find that the intermediate stones are necessary to efficiently develop the final edge? Your post makes me wonder if adding a medium-finisher (and perhaps a pre-finish finisher) would improve consistency and speed on my finishing stone which I find to be very hard. I’m also curious about your methods and setup – whether you presoak and/or sharpen over the sink (like Kiyoto Tanaka on Youtube). Cheers!

  3. Hey Brian,
    Outstanding explanation. Thanks for taking the time. I need to get back to So and have him quote a Tsushima for me. I think that is where I should start, but I am open to suggestions. What is your recommended “starter set” if I am moving from synthetics to naturals, and I am fairly fluent in freehand sharpening? I know it is very subjective, but if maybe in your next blog you could throw in a guideline for we noobs on what to consider for an intro set.

    Again – much appreciated and nice job!

    Joe

    1. Hi Joe,

      Good to hear from you! That is a great question but not an easy one to answer because there are so many variables. My recommendation, start with the finisher, but it’s best to have So recommend you the specifics. The reason is that while I have experience with the stones that I own and use each mine produces stones of varying grades, so the specific strata and so forth can get you close, but it takes a good dealer to get you exactly what you want.

      What I did was hang onto my synthetics and work backwards into them from the finisher. The finish is where natural stones truly shine, and so that is the best place to start in my opinion. My first stone was the Shinden Suita on David Weaver’s recommendation, than I added a Nakayama asagi after that for situations in which I needed a very very fine finish. Than I added an Ikarashi, which turned out to be better suited to curved blades so I added the Tsushima which became my medium stone and finally to bridge the gap I added the Yaginoshima. The Hakka is a finisher for curved blades and the uchigumori are for kasumi finishes so they’re important but not part of the regular lineup for tools.

      Hope this helps!
      Brian

  4. Brian, Thanks for the demonstrations.
    I use Shapton Pro’s on my Ouchi’s and find that the entire bevel becomes shiny (difficult to differentiate between the hard steel and soft iron).
    I see in your example, this is not the case with the synthetic stones you use.
    Do you know if this is common to the Shapton stones?

    Thanks.
    Robert

    1. Hi Robert,

      My pleasure! I haven’t used the Shaptons in this same range, but that is not unusual for most synthetic stones. In fact, in person the 8k synthetic stone that I use makes it very hard to see the difference between the ji and the ha.

      Cheers
      Brian

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