Manufacture, Price and Dimension:


Naniwa Super Stone- Manufacture: Naniwa. $82.95 is the price for 210mm x 70mm x 20mm (8 ¼ x 2 ¾ x .78 inches) or for the same grit at half the height size is $59.99.


Kitayama- Manufacture: Imanishi: $74.95 is the price for 205mm x 75mm x 25mm (8 x 3 x 1 inch)

Impressions/Performance for Naniwa SS:

            When I got my SS 8K, it was in an effort to further increase my refinement and polish to my over all edges, and to also help improve my over all technique. While stones at this level are not completely necessary for more German and other softer steel knives, Japanese knives will benefit from the added extra polish they provide.  

This stone comes in either a baseless full size model or a half stone which has a base already on it. A nagura (or stone cleaner) isn’t included. The Naniwa Super Stone is a splash and go polishing stone, which means there is no soaking time, just run or splash with water and go to work.  Problem that I saw when I first got the stone was that it came with a rather annoying sticker right in the middle of the stone. After I peeled it off, there was a good amount of residue still left so I had to take my nagura to it to get rid of the left over. After that, it was ready to go.

The knives I going to be taking to it were a Tojiro Damascus 180mm gyuto, and a Global slicing knife. Both of which were sharpened to about 10 degrees on my normal pre-polish set of the King 1.2, 2k Green Brick and Sanyo 6k finished finally with a loaded leather strop with Chromium Oxide and finally on balsa loaded with .25 micron diamond spray. The result is a highly polished and blazingly sharp edge, will easily push cut paper with a little effort.

 As mentioned before, this stone is a splash and go type, so no need to soak. With each knife it only took no more than 3-4 passes per side to achieve a very nice mirror finish. The 8K is still a rather fast cutting stone but it is on the soft side, so when you are using more force or going tip first into the stone, you run the risk of gouging the stone so you need to pay a little more attention. But this is also a good thing because it will teach you proper control and not to rush.

Since this is a splash and go style, water consumption is very low. I was able to polish up both knives with just running it under water once then adding a small splash on the second knife to finish it up. (which is convenient since you don’t really want to be stopping every two minutes or so to add more water) The only real problem with the stone is that it clogs up really fast. I had to use my nagura on it before I went on to my final knife.

Overall, I would rate the Naniwa 8K Super Stone as an excellent polishing stone. (it should be noted that any stone in this level or higher will not sharpen, only polish the edge and make it smoother, so be sure to do proper bevel setting and maintaining a constant angle) Very quick at giving and exceedingly sharp edge, with minimal water consumption and good cutting speed, with the only problems are the sticker and the faster clogging (both of which can be fixed using a nagura).  So, if you are looking for either a full size stone or just want to experiment with the half size, the Naniwa SS 8K is a great stone which will easily produce a mirror edge and since you really don’t need to do that many passes, flattening shouldn’t be a every time occurrence.



Pros/Cons for Naniwa SS 8K:




  • Comes in two sizes, so you are able to see if it is to your liking or if you aren’t looking to spend a lot of money.
  • Fast cutting stone, only need to use 3 or 4 passes to achieve mirror polish
  • Splash and go style, so very low water consumption
  • Makes you take your time and learn proper angle and control
  • Provides a very nice mirror finish without a lot of work.




  • A nagura isn’t included.
  • Sticker that comes from the factory leaves a lot of residue which needs to be removed before you start.
  • Very soft stone, so you need to be careful when using a lot of pressure or when working on the tip as you can gouge it easily.
  • Clogs up very fast so you will need to clean off the stone after each knife



Impressions/Performance for Kitayama 8-12K:

            This was another stone I’ve been wanting to try out for some time but I wanted to wait until I had a proper grasp on my technique and had the extra stones (see below) and all I can say is that it was more than worth the wait;  that, and the price is very hard to beat.

            Overall the Kitayama is a large polishing stone (once again it should be noted that polishing and sharpening are two different things) it comes on a wooden base and a nagura is included with the stone. It is either a quick soaker, (no more than 15 minutes, being that the stone has magnesium salts and prolong soaking will cause the stone to fail because it will dissolve) or as a splash and go which, is how I use it. The Kitayama is also a hard stone so constant flattening shouldn’t be an issue. This stone will clog up a little but a quick going over with a nagura will fix it.

 There is a debate on just what the grit size is for the Kitayama. Half will say 8K and the other 12K. And while it is an 8K stone and will work as such, it is more suited for after 8K + stones (see below)

8K usage:  I wanted to see just how well the stone would perform as a standalone 8K stone, so I picked out a small Global Nakiri and set about giving it a fast touch up on the Green brick and Sanyo and finally with my two strops. I simply ran it under water for a moment then set about polishing. This stone cuts very fast, with only a very few passes with water consumption a little more than the SS, but the overall polish is less than the Naniwa 8K SS. Where the SS was much more mirror, the Kitayama’s was a little more hazy and edge performance was about on par. But I was expecting this out come. So you can use the Kitayama as a final polishing 8K stone but you would really be missing out.


12K usage: After using the Kitayama as an 8K stone, I went about trying it out as a final polishing stone for a blue steel Dojo Nakiri. Since this would be a full sharpening job I started off with my King 1.2, then my natural blue aoto 2-3K, (which since it’s a natural, the more you use it the grit will increase to 5-6K) then moved on to my Jyunsyouhonyama natural which is in the 8-10K range, then I used the Kitayama (which only took a few passes), which was then followed up once again by a loaded Chromium Oxide and .25 micron diamond strop. The final finished product was what I was hoping for. The edge was a mirror finish, this time much better than the Naniwa 8K and the edge was crazy sharp and very refined. (Once again I must note that this is a polishing stone and if you are still wanting to remove material you are using the wrong stone) This range is where this stone is really meant to be used at.



Pros/Cons for Kitayama 8-12K:



  • Very large stone for the price a real steal at under 80$.
  • This stone comes alive when used after 8K or 10K stones, mirror finish and scary sharp edges not a problem.
  • Minimal water consumption as a splash and go or maybe used as a quick soaker.
  • Fast cutter, will only will take a few minutes to achieve a bright mirror polish and great edge.




  • Can be used as a standalone 8K but is much better suited for after 8-10K stones so another stone or two would be needed so increased money spent.
  • If you do soak it for a long time you really risk severely damaging the stone as it contains magnesium salts so it can dissolve.



            Both the Naniwa 8K and Kitayama 8K are both excellent polishing/finishing stones for the price. While the Naniwa performs the role of an 8K stone more admirably than the Kitayama, the Kitayama shines as a final polishing stone after the Naniwa or other 8-10K stones. The fact that with the Naniwa stone a nagura is almost a must have (so you aren’t constantly using your flattening stone on it causing unnecessary ware) for getting ride of the left over residue and also getting it clean seeing how it clogs up quickly. While the Kitayama excels as a finial polishing stone, you either have to have own or purchase other stones to bring this stone to life, so there is added expense if you want to get the full potential out of the Kitayama.

            For the price, (both of which are under $90-60) each stone will easily provide outstanding polish and produce a razor sharp final edge. That being said, if you are looking for an excellent 8K stone, then the Naniwa will fulfill that task. But if you are looking for an over the top mirror shine and sharp edge and already own an 8K or higher stone then look no further than the Kitayama. Each has minimal water consumption and the ability to easily produce mirror finishes. The main difference being that with the Naniwa softness and clogging are an issue while the Kitayama works much better as a 12K stone so more stone would be required. Never the less you really can’t go wrong with either stone.   


I thought I would  start out this series of reviews with what I consider one of the most important and basic stones – the 1000 grit Shapton GlassStone. Of all the stones I’ve ever used, this stone is my most recommended stone. I reccomend it as a first stone, and as a stone that I still use regularly. Why a thousand grit stone and why this stone in particular?

Let’s take the needs of a beginner first. It must be an easy stone to use and it must be a rewarding stone to use. And it must produce good results. Ideally, it should teach you good habits. It must be affordable. If this first step into sharpening is a bad one, it will kill the taste of a potential sharpener and they may decide never to sharpen knives.

Stones that require soaking are a nuisance. Sure people tolerate this inconvenience, but to ask a person new to it all to set aside a tank for their new pet rock is a bit much to ask. Waiting for a stone to soak requires premeditation or planning in advance – also a ‘buzzkill’. With the Shapton GlassStones, you just wet the surface and go to work immediately. Immediate gratification – what could be better? It also dries faster. What newbie wants to look at a wet rock for a few days until it dries?

It must produce good results. Quickly producing a poor result is a deal breaker too. Here the 1k GlassStone ‘shines’ above it’s competition. For a 1k stone it is fast. It works on a wide variety of steels, from very abrasion resistant steels like D2 to stainless steels and yes, even carbon steels. It also produces a finer edge than most all ‘factory edges’, so you get an improved edge from a brand new ‘out of the box’ edge immediately. It far exceeds edges from Bester stones and for many users, it can act as a final stone in a sequence.

It is not SO aggressive that a new sharpener will extensively damage his/her knife. It is ‘just right’.

It doesn’t dish too easily, so it stays flat, something critical to getting extremely sharp edges. It is less expensive than a Shapton Pro stone (another excellent stone) because it is thinner. Thinness makes it easier to carry – in a knife roll for instance. It’s glass backing gives the stone exceptional support, even better than a stone mounted on a wood or plastic mounting.

It is a hard stone. By this I mean that it doesn’t make a lot of mud and it is capable of yielding a very precise edge. Starting out with this stone teaches you to hold your angles very precisely, a skill that is essential to getting optimal edges. If you are off and inconsistent, you get poor results. If you are ‘on’ you get superb results. So you learn to be ‘on’. More forgiving stones teach you to be a sloppy sharpener, handicapping your development. Others will say you should learn to deal with soaking, messing with mud and be allowed to start off sloppy. I disagree. These skills can be developed later on after you start getting good results.

The 1k GlassStone  isn’t a combination stone  I’m not a fan of combo stones. You have grit contamination issues, with the coarser stone contaminating the finer stone. And most of all, there is a tendency especially for a new sharpener to rush to the finer grit without fully developing a precise edge on the coarser side of the stone. This ‘crutch’ results in a poorer sharpener. Perfecting your 1k technique first without distraction is a key first step. Two GlassStones take up less space than many combo stones. Combo stones wear unevenly, so when your coarse side wears out you wind up replacing the whole stone. Separate is better.

For the pro sharpener, the precision and speed of Shaptons are in a class by themselves. Quicker to deploy and use and results are faster too. The GlassStone series is one of the most uniform series available, giving you very consistent results. when used in a sequence. Combined with a 4k GlassStone, it easily exceeds most all combination stones available. Although some say the GlassStones aren’t suitable for single beveled knives, I strongly disagree. More precision and a higher standard of results. With practice, even hamaguri grinds can be produced of high quality. The 1k GlassStone can even be used as a baseline for a natural stone sequence for knives – and even for sword polishers. Also a superb stone for hair shears that need a lot of work. For a less bright finish just don’t rinse the stone off during sharpening as much, just maintaining the wet surface with occasional splashes of water to keep it from glazing. Running it too dry will cause glazing – cured by lapping the stone.

In short, an extremely versatile stone that gets work done quickly without making the sharpener suffer unnecessarily.

Finally a word of warning – use the stone side for sharpening :) The Glass side is for support, not sharpening. You would be surprised how many people make this mistake :)


Stropping Substrates

Posted: October 3, 2011 in Stropping

By:  Michiel Vanhoudt



There are a number of different substrates that are sold through CKTG and most of them can be used for numerous compounds, pastes, powders and sprays. I’ll try and briefly explain the advantages and disadvantages of each substrate. As always, these products are horses for courses and my favorite might not be yours. Some of the pictures used were kindly provided by Ken Schwartz. The products are all made by Hand American, except the paper.

Bovine leather

Perhaps the most used substrate of all. It’s fairly cheap and works well with  bar compounds, powders, pastes and sprays. The grain holds the abrasive particles well and the slight cushioning is good for convex edges. If you want a pure straight V bevel, then this isn’t the substrate for you. Yes, the convexing is marginal and I for one like it, but some don’t.

Bovine leather on its own (without compounds) doesn’t really do much and isn’t an optimal finisher. If you want to finish on bare leather, I would advise horse because of the silicates in it. But more on that later.

Horse leather

This is my personal favorite for a number of reasons. One of them is the slightly stiffer nature of the leather. The leather isn’t as soft as bovine and doesn’t convex as much. If you do want your edge to be a bit convex, you can get away with a bit more pressure here. The second reason why I like this one better than bovine is that it can be used as a plain leather finisher.

Its feedback is better and the leather has more silicates that act as a compound on its own. This isn’t like CBN, or another compound that removes scratches. It blends the scratches of the finest compounds together making the edge slicker.

This is the back of Hand American horse leather:

Split leather

How this leather is processed is explained on the webpage of this product at CKTG. In short, they basically cut the top layer of the leather to expose the rougher layer underneath.  Think of the layer as a cat’s tongue: Rough to the touch and slightly bumpy. This offers some advantages on its own. The grabby little “fingers” are excellent for deburring and give great feedback during deburring. I prefer this leather with sprays and more specifically sprays up to 0.25µ. The leather holds these sprays very well, and buries them into the grain. This will lead to a more polished edge and will cause the particles to not cut as deeply as on another substrate.


This a fairly recent substrate. Keith de’Grau started with this substrate and it’s become one of the most popular substrates around. And rightfully so! The slight velvety feel of Keith’s balsa holds semi pastes perfectly and the grain of the wood will hold sprays as good as any other substrate. It’s the perfect substrate for people that are looking for a precise crisp V-bevel. It has almost no compression so it approximates a stone’s hardness. A 30k Shapton is hardly inexpensive, but a 30k balsa blank is pretty cheap. A 0.5µ spray or paste combined with a balsa blank can get you close to the same results with some patience and some care. You can’t use edge leading strokes however.


Another good option for perfect V-bevels. When glued to glass, it acts as a stone and works well with pretty much every compound. It is however a bit fiddly because paper curls and when you remove it from the glass it tends to roll up. You can glue it to neoprene too so you can have a softer backing for convex edges if you like that. Contamination is very easy too. You really need ziplock bags for this substrate. Ever since balsa came to the show, paper is used less and isn’t discussed as much as it used to be. It’s still a good substrate and it can work wonders on both knives and razors. On its own, it works as a polisher. Newspaper has been used for a long time as a strop and the ink in the paper works as a compound. Paper used for fine fountain pens (like Clairefontaine) work very well.


There’s not much to say about this substrate as it’s more or less the same as paper. It’s flimsy, but flat. It has less of a grain though and therefore makes the compound cut deeper than paper. But when you scratch the mylar, you will scratch the finish. There is no room for error here.


One of the most used substrates for deburring and sprays. It’s best suitable for sprays, but I don’t like it for pastes or dry compounds. Also on the Edge Pro, it’s messy because of the hairs that fall off of the felt. When spraying compound on felt, you can get bumps because the liquid in the spray swells the surface. So spray once, let it dry, and then spray again.

Like split leather, it’s full of small holes that hide the compound making it smoother than some other substrates. The feedback is something you love or hate. For deburring, felt is the number one substrate and used most. CKTG has recently announced special deburring blocks made by Hand American.


Whatever substrate is your favorite, there’s a purpose for using them all. Luckily Mark stocks them all and has the highest quality available. We have Keith de’Grau to thank for that.

Sanyo vs King 6000

Posted: September 28, 2011 in Synthetic Stones

Sanyo vs. King 6000 grit stone.    (by Aaron Gibson)


 Manufacturer, Price and Dimension :


Sanyo- Manufacturer Imanishi. Price- $44.95 210mm x 75mm x 25mm (8 ¼ x 3 x 1 inch)


King- Manufacturer King. Price- $54.95   210mm x 73mm x 22mm (8 ¼ x 2.8 x .86 inches)


Impressions/Performance for Sanyo:


When I first got the Sanyo 6000 grit stone to replace my ageing King 6k. There wasn’t a lot of information out there unlike the King. (which has been around for a while) The first thing that I noticed was that it felt smoother to the touch than the King 6k. The Sanyo is a soaker stone, so you need to soak this stone for about 15 or 20 minutes. I use this stone following a progression of two other stones. The King 1200 stone then the Naniwa Aotoshi 2k “Green Brick”. For stainless steel this is where I stop but for carbon I’ll take it further with the Jyunsyouhonyama 8-10k natural, I will then finish off both stainless and carbon with stropping on leather loaded with Chromium Oxide and finally on balsa loaded with .25 Micron Diamond spray.

The Sanyo 6k stone in my opinion gives a slightly more smooth edge than the King. You can easily stop at this stone and have great edges for softer steels or keep going for harder Japanese blades. The finish is about the same as a King, giving a hazy somewhat mirror finish. The edge is fully capable of push cutting paper or shaving arm hair. Although I do find that if you work on the stone more, and the following stone is a natural, I find the edge might stick to the stone as the finish is rather smooth but if you don’t fully polish then it really isn’t much of a problem. 

Water consumption is higher than the King so you have to keep splashing water on it or else it dries up. It works up a mud quickly and is darker than the King, but I find that it is the softer of the two stones so it dishes faster so you’ll need to flatten it more often than the King. But over all very impressive stone for the price.    


Pros/Cons for Sanyo.




  • Smoother than King.
  • Good cutting power.
  • Less expensive.
  • Won’t clog up as bad.
  • Works well for both Stainless Steel and Carbon knives.
  • Provides a very good final finish for any knife and also works fine as a progression for further polishing. (If edge isn’t fully polished)




  • Is a little softer than the King 6k.
  • If you do fully polish out the edge and proceed to higher grit stones, the edge might stick especially on a natural I find.
  • Higher water consumption.
  • Dishes faster than King, so needs to be flattened more.



Impressions/Performance for King:


The King 6k stone feels smooth to the touch and gives good feed back. It will also provide a good final finish or a good bridge to further polishing. As with the Sanyo, the King is a soaker stone so it is good to go in about 15 or 20 minutes. I used the same King 1200, Naniwa Aotoshi 2k “Green Brick” before and the Jyunsyouhonyama 8-10k natural for carbon, both of which are followed but with stropping on leather loaded with Chromium Oxide and finally on balsa loaded with .25 Micron Diamond spray.

The over all finish for the King is more “toothy” than the Sanyo and its finish is more of a misty mirror finish, but over all a very good finish for those who want that “toothy” edge. As for a bridge, I find that the less refined edge works a little better when I progress to my natural. Since the finish isn’t as mirrored, the natural has an easier time working then when I use the more polished Sanyo finish. (which tends to stick to the natural if you fully polish the edge) Water consumption is moderate and will produce mud after only a few strokes. I do find that it will clog up fast and I will need to stop and use my nagura to clean it up. But since so many people out there use or have used a King 6k for a beginning or still do that’s because they work so well. So if it isn’t broke don’t fix it.  




Pros/Cons for King.




  • Harder than the Sanyo so won’t dish as fast and won’t gouge as easy.
  • Provides slightly more aggressive edge and easier to go to higher grit stones as the finish isn’t that fine.
  • Water consumption isn’t that high.
  • Works well for both Stainless Steel and Carbon knives.
  • Provides a very good final finish for any knife and also works fine as a progression for further polishing.




  • Feels rougher and not as refined finish.
  • Tends to clog up faster so you’ll have to clean it off more.
  • More expensive of the two stones.





Both the Sanyo and King 6000 stones perform very well. If you are looking to stop at this range, each will provide a very good “toothy” edge while still being able to push cut paper. Which both are able to accomplish. While both work very well as a bridge to further polishing stones, both natural and synthetic. The Sanyo’s finish is I feel is a little smoother, which might be a little difficult if you are using a natural finishing stone, as it might stick some while the finish that the King gives is very respectable and less polished.

For the price, each is a great value. If you want a little more polished finished edge, then I would say that the Sanyo is the way to go, but at the cost of having to flatten it more and higher water consumption. While the King will give a slightly less polished edge it is harder so it won’t dish as fast but I find clogs up faster. Both are very respectable for a final stone or as a progression to higher, over all finish and dishing are the main difference between the two but for the price you really can’t go wrong.