My first knife on Shapton stones

Nearly every knife sharpener I know who owns Shapton stones loves them. It was time I tried them.

I got my Shapton stones for the Wicked Edge from Ken Schwartz. Ken doesn’t have a web site, but he can be reached via email.

First impressions

I had ordered the 1K/2K, the 5K/8K and the 15K/30K Shapton Pro stones. Fortunately the stones were perfectly flat. They were a bit uneven in thickness, but the variations were so small even my angle cube hardly noticed them. And I’ve got Pro Pack II, which makes it a breeze to adjust for differences in stone thickness.

The Shapton stones in virginal form


I wanted to try out the 15K/30K stones first, since these should be even finer than the finest stones I’d ever used, the 5K/10K Choseras and the Wicked Edge Micro Fine ceramics.

So I sharpened a Laguiole knife with 12C27 steel. I love this steel, since it is able to take a very keen edge.

After using the diamond stones, I had to choose which stones to use: the 1200/1600 ceramic stones or the 1K, 2K or even 5K Shaptons. It’s nice to have a choice, but for this purpose I continued with the 1200 and 1600 grit ceramic stones, since I know them well and they work great. Next I used the 5K and 10K Choseras that also I have used a lot.

Then it was time for the 15K Shaptons. These stones are harder than the Choseras and they do not need to be soaked before use. It is “splash and go”. The feedback these stones give is also different from the Choseras. Some people like the feedback the Choseras give better, but this is only a sign the Shaptons polish less and abrade faster than the Choseras. 

I was also able to see with my own eyes something I had only read about before. During sharpening the stones produce a thin black liquid. This is not a slurry, which the Chosera stones produce and that contains broken down stone particles. Instead, the thin black liquid consist of water and metal filings only. It is called a swarf. The swarf on the Shaptons is easily washed off and makes it a breeze to clean them.

The 15K Shaptons had an effect: after sharpening I could comfortably shave my beard.

Then it was time for the 30K Shaptons. I caressed the by now very thin edge of the knife gently in order not to destroy it. And then I took a microscope photograph. The smoothest edge I had ever seen through my microscope…

Edge after 30K Shaptons.

Obviously the knife shaved very comfortably now. Does anyone know of a reliable (repeatable) cutting test to distinguish a 15K edge from a 30K edge? (No, the 30K edge did not pass the extreme forms of the hanging hair test, but this is not a reliable test.)

2 thoughts on “My first knife on Shapton stones

  1. Question for you — could the progression be 1200/1600 –> 8000 Shapton –> 15,000 Shapton — could someone “skip” the 5000/10,000 Chosera layer? — if not, what would you put between the 1200/1600 and the 8000 shapton?

    • Yes, that progression works well. I use it quite often when I want a wickedly sharp 15K edge. If you want to put a stone in between the ceramics and the 8K Shapton, try the 5K Shapton Pro. But that is by no means necessary.

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