Archive for January, 2010

The Philosophical Debate about Shapton and Chosera Stones for the Edge Pro

January 30, 2010

In the cosmic order of things, there is a balance made up of equal opposites. Newton said, “To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The Asian Yin and Yang are basically two sides of the same coin, so to speak.  Even though I have been very vocal about the fact that no one should dismiss the quality of the stock Edge Pro stones, I can’t help but feel that there is or are some factions of the Edge Pro user world that feel or may feel threatened by the arrival of the Shapton and Chosera stones for the EP.   The following is basically a short stream of consciousness that reveals both sides of the coin from my point of view.  (Just in case you don’t need the philosophy, I’ll conclude  that the Shapton and Chosera EP stones are nothing but good for the Edge Pro.)

The Edge Pro is a great sharpening device, and the EP stock stones have long been the sole choice for it.The arrival of Shapton and Chosera stones creates 2 thoughts – the first is that now EP users will have even more flexibility and options for obtaining great results. The second is that it creates confusion in an otherwise very simple and straight forward (yet very effective) method of sharpening.

It is this second thought that keeps me up at night asking “What if EP users don’t want more options?” After all, as a freehand sharpening stone user, it can be very expensive and time consuming to play around with all of the stones on the market. There is always another possible combo that might work better or faster for a specific knife or tool (that thought keeps me awake, too!) For so long, the Edge Pro has “kept it simple,” offering a single choice of reliable stones and tapes. The idea of opening up the options (or simply having more than 1 option) might cause a loss of stability to long-term users, and confuse or even worse, repel prospective newcomers.

Another issue is the possibility of dividing EP users, since there will inevitably be a “contest” where epic battles will be fought between those with preferences for the different stones. This could also lead to a loss of stability to long-term users, and confuse or even worse, repel prospective newcomers.

However, against these negatives, there are positive possibilities for the arrival of what seems to be direct competition for the stock stones. It hit me that, just like Harley Davidson motorcycles, there is a whole industry of accessories that revolves around the motorcycle itself. You can get custom engines, lights, alarms, luggage, wheels, rims, apparel, etc., that are all for Harleys, but not necessarily made by Harley (I’ve used this argument before). This accessorizing by other companies has not taken away from the appeal of the motorcycle, but has, in fact, added to it. No other motorcycle company has such a large and dedicated “culture” around it.

If you liken the Edge Pro to a Harley, the introduction of the Shapton and Chosera EP stones compliments and raises the status of the Edge Pro. With all due respect to the other sharpening devices out there, no one has deemed it necessary (or more accurately, on one has deemed it cost effective) to actually enhance the functionality of the basic design without changing the device itself (for example, you see lots of usually inferior or altered copies of the original, or DIY projects that boast their inexpensive material costs). In other words, adding or using the Shapton and Chosera EP stones does not change the Edge Pro anymore than adding a chrome kit to your Harley changes it. Much to your satisfaction, you are still purchasing and using the Edge Pro.

To conclude, The Edge Pro has just started it’s own culture, making the negative notions of this endeavor seem petty.

Watch out Harley-Davidson!!! : )

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Which Edge Pro Stones – Stock, Chosera, or Shapton?

January 10, 2010

Since the introduction of the Shapton and Chosera stones for the Edge Pro, people have been asking which ones to get – the Stock, the Choseras, or the Shaptons?

As I’ve stated before, the stock stones are certainly very capable of creating an ultra sharp edge. Since it’s conception, the reputation of the EP and the stock stones has been nothing but stellar and I expect that it will always be that way. For those brand new to sharpening or sharpening with the Edge Pro, I suggest starting with the stock stones until your results consistently meet your expectations if for no other reason than the stock EP stones are cheaper to replace – like all things, there is a learning curve and you will probably mess up a stone or two along the way.

Once you are comfortable and confident using the Edge Pro or are ready for more stone options, you have 2 choices when expanding your EP stone collection. The first is to continue from where the stock EP stones leave off onto the Chosera or Shapton stones, and the second is to change out the stock EP stones for equivalent Chosera or Shapton stones. The best part is that no matter which you choose – EP, Shapton or Chosera, you will be happy – having different stones in your arsenal only makes you and your Edge Pro more versatile.

Before making any recommendations for specific stones, I think it best to first put these stones on a more even playing field since they use different, and often confusing grit measurement standards.  The chart below breaks each stone down into its abrasive particle size in microns. It is based on an existing comprehensive breakdown by others, but is by no means an exact comparison. I based the EP stones on the US ANSI standard, the Shaptons off the glass stone micron markings (probably the most exact), and the Chosera off the New JIS (Japanese) standard. To be thorough, I added the EP polishing tapes, but there seems to be a inconsistency in the math between the EP stones and the polishing tapes on the ANSI chart. (If anyone has more specific numbers for the EP stones and tapes, please let me know).

As you can see, the most common denominator is the EP stock 1k, the Shapton 2K and the Chosera 2K. If you choose to continue for more refinement after the stock 1K, the 2K Shapton or Chosera will pretty much duplicate the stock 1K as far as abrasive size is concerned.

If you choose to go with Shaptons, it is highly recommended to start with the Shapton 2K to really prepare the edge for the 5K Shapton pro. The 5K Shapton will only polish. You can skip from 2K to 8K in the Shaptons, but I personally prefer to use the 5K as the first polishing stone, then go to the 8K or even skip to the 15K.

If you start changing out the coarser EP stock stones for Shapton Professional stones, the #220 is formulated for stainless steel, and the #320 is formulated for carbon. The #120 is a hungry stone, but wears the fastest of the coarse Shaptons. The #220 is the “hardest” of the coarse stones, but any one of these stones will make quick work of profiling and removing chips. The 1K is probably the most mathematically correct intermediate Shapton stone. From there, you can go to 2K or skip to the 5K. the #1,500 stone is a little better at skipping to the 5K than the 1K. If you are going for a more cosmetic finish, 1K to 2K to 5K is best.

If you choose to go with Chosera, the 2K or 3K Chosera will set up the edge for the 5K and 10K Choseras. Since the 3K is not a polishing stone, going from the 1K stock EP to the Chosera 3K is reasonable. Skipping from 2K to 5K and 3K to 10K is also acceptable, although still using the 5K  before the 10K is probably best in the long run. Because of the close proximity of the 2K and 3K, the best option for you will depend on which stone is used before and after.

If you start changing out the coarser EP stones for Chosera stones, the #400 is not as slow as it’s grit number sounds. It can hold its own when changing the profile or removing chips. The #400, #600 and #800 Choseras are probably best for simple maintenance sharpening – the #600 is also very nice for removing coarser scratch marks before the 1K.  Like the Shaptons, the 1K Chosera is a mathematically sound stone before either the 2K or 3K Chosera.

So – What do I recommend? Get them all and find out for yourself which is best for you and your knives!  : )