Wednesday, 20 July 2016

My Favourite Picture


Once in awhile, some of my pictures actually turn out pretty good.  I really try to make them a little different than just taking a picture of a knife but it is not as easy as it sounds, for me anyway

However I am pretty proud of this one.

2010 was the 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Navy and knives that are made here in Nova Scotia were made with a logo especially for the events of that year with the major even being the Royal Visit, the Queen came on one of our ships. I was heavily involved with it all as I was the Protocol Officer.

Anyway, I used the EP Pro to sharpen the knife with the following stones:

Shapton Pro 320, Naniwa Chosera 1,000 and 3,000 and Shapton Pro 5,000 to finish it off.

The EP is very good for creating mirror like finishes due to it's precision. I have done this freehanding many times but I do find it more difficult, especially on the left side of the knife. It's impossible to match the precision that the Edge Pro delivers so every now and then I take it out for knives like this.

I'll throw this picture in just for kicks, freehanded this with the same stones....just bigger ones:

If I had to do this over I would have used the EP for this one too, the serrated portion makes it a little tricky and also the original grind of the knife was not that good so I had my work cut out for me.

Thanks for looking.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Shun Repair Shop

Hi folks,

     When I get a batch of knives to sharpen, usually 3-6 knives in a batch, at least one of them is need of some form of edge repair. Often the nicks are minor enough to vanish during normal sharpening but often that is not the case.

     When I do repair work, I will use either a coarse water stone, sometimes two coarse stones that range in grit from 150 to 500. If the knife is an inexpensive one and the damage is clearly from abuse I may use a belt sander to do the majority of the work and then finish off with the stones. Especially if I know the knife will suffer further abuse and sometimes I do.

    When it comes to Shun knives, 5-6 of them are chipped out of 10 and again, sometimes it is very minor and sometimes it is almost catastrophic, like, WTF damage :)


     In this case, after soaking in spectacle I tackle it like any other repair, I know it will just take longer. The problem with this type of work though where the nicks are so deep, the New Primary Edge, i.e. the edge after the repair work is done is further up into the thicker part of the blade so some thinning is usually necessary but that's no big deal.

    In this particular case I used a Naniwa Traditional 220 to do a lot of the work and then I followed up with a Shapton Glass 500 to finish it off. I do the work at about 85 deg and alternate from side to side. I could have done all the work with one coarse stone and if I had only one to choose from it would have been the SG 500.


     You just need a little courage to do this type of work, it isn't that difficult actually and you can keep in mind that anything is an improvement. The actual sharpening of the knife after the edge is capable of taking an edge is quite simple. These VG 10 Shun are easy to sharpen in my opinion. I don't find that the edge retention is very good but they do come up nice and sharp.

Thanks for looking

Monday, 11 July 2016

No Stone unturned. Updated

Hi there,

(A comment left by a loyal reader made me realize that I forgot to mention WHY I like the stones that I mention below, which is pretty important so I have added that to the bottom)

     An email from a nice fella about water stones prompted me to write about the subject (thanks Philippe)  because choosing water stone (brands) and (grits) is something I have agonized over for years. I am now very happy with the products I use and since I don't sell anything, you will get an unbiased opinion.
    Before I go any further however please keep in mind that this IS my opinion, please don't go chucking out anything you use now just because I don't mention it.

     Years ago, I found myself being lured into purchasing certain water stones that were being pushed by people who I found out later to be selling the products and sometimes this didn't work out so well. There are two things to take into consideration, Brand and Grit in terms of the stones themselves. The third thing to consider is what you are sharpening. For me, I sharpen all sorts of knives so I have had to buy stones that work on everything. Basically however,  synthetic stones seem to work on all knife steels anyway so that isn't a big problem, i.e. you don't have to buy a particular brand because all you sharpen is stainless steel knives.

      Here are some mistakes I made:

Random shot...not a mistake I made :)

         Before I became enlightened on the subject of the effects of different grits on different knives, I focused on collecting the highest grit stones I could buy. While I don't regret this now, the purpose of this is to assist folks who may be struggling with the choice of what stones to buy. I have a business so it was easy to justify getting everything and I also have an obsession with them so I was pretty well determined to get them all.  You don't need them all to get your knives sharp and I mean very very sharp. ( Have you ever noticed that some folks call knives sharp but if you felt the edges they feel dull?)

     Let's talk about brands first and again, these are my preferences and there are some stones I have not tried but I would like to, the Suehiro 5,000 grit for example and the Naniwa 8,000 Snow White, clearly great stones. 

I love the following BRANDS:

*Naniwa Chosera and Naniwa Professional;

*Shapton Glass;

*Shapton Professional

*Kityama (8K);

*Arishyama (6K)

*Imanishi (4K)

*Sigma Power Select II (13K)

*Naniwa Atoshi 2K (Green Brick of Joy)

* Yagonishima Asagi Natural Stone.

      I have used the Naniwa Traditional 220, 1,000 and 2,000 from Paul at and I can easily recommend them. I can easily recommend shopping from Paul as well, he is awesome to deal with. 

     For Flattening I can recommend the Atoma 400 Diamond Plate. I have not used the Shapton DGLP but I do know it is very very good. 

    (I do not used oil stones, I am not saying anything against them, I don't use them so I am not qualified to judge them.)

Now as for GRITS:

     This is simply my order of preference, if all my stones were stolen or something, this is how I would re-build my collection now that I am smarter than I used to be when it comes to this topic. (In my mind anyway)


Coarse/Medium/Fine -Basically in that order.

Naniwa Professional 400
Naniwa Professional 600
Shapton Pro 320 
Shapton Glass 500
Naniwa Traditional 220
Naniwa Aramusha 220 , (Knifewear sells this)
Nubatama Bamboo 150


Naniwa Chosera (or Pro) 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000
Shapton Glass, 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000
Shapton Pro, 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000
Naniwa Aotoshi 2,000
Naniwa Traditional 1,000, 2,000


Naniwa Chosera (or Pro) 5,000
Arashyima 6,000
Shapton Glass 4, 000, 6,000
Shapton Pro 5,000
Imanishi 4,000

(Again, I have not used the Suehiro 5k)


Naniwa Chosera 10,000
Kityama 8,000
Shapton Glass 8,000, 10,00, 16,000, 30,000
Shapton Pro 8,000, 15,000, 30,000
Sigma Power Select II 13,000
Yagonishima Asagi 8,000-12,000

      If I could only buy 3 stones I would get a Shapton Glass 500, Naniwa Professional 1,000 and Naniwa Professional 5,000.

     The stones I use most are the Naniwa Chosera 400, Shapton Glass 500,  Naniwa Chosera 1,000 and Naniwa Chosera 2,000.

     If I could only get ONE stone it would be a 1,000 grit.

So build from the bottom up in terms of Grit. The Naniwa Professional 800 is the only one I have not tried in that brand but I hear it is very good.

   You don't need the 10k dream stone to make your knives sharp, you need the 1k-2k range and if you can swing it a coarse stone. Now the 1k is bordering on being coarse but I love my 320-600 grit stones.

     Now a lot of folks talk about the poor feedback related to Shapton Glass stones and in fact it is probably the most common comment I hear when the brand is mentioned. I have been using them for five years and I can honestly say that it never ever bothered me. Now does the 1,000 Shapton Glass have the silky smooth feeling that the Naniwa Chosera 1,000 offers us, NO it doesn't but that should not deter you from purchasing them.

    I get my Shapton Glass stones from Chris at or from Fendrihans Canada. Chris has the Extra Thick 500 SG which I absolutely love.

     In closing, just enjoy using the stones you have and don't feel pressured to go buy the stones everyone seems to NEED. You can't go wrong with any of the stones I have mentioned, I have tried and used them all (Except the 30k stones.....they will be mine)


Why these Japanese Water Stones over others

     When I became very serious about sharpening and thinking of opening a business I was searching forums and checking out YouTube on the subject of sharpening. As one who is interested in anything may do. I was becoming quite obsessed with it so I was trying to make sure I started off on the right foot in terms of what I would use.

   At that time there were a few brands of Japanese Water Stones that kept popping up and it became apparent that these were the top of the line.  Up to now I had tried brands like King and Norton because they were both inexpensive and also readily available from the Lee Valley store nearby.

   NANIWA CHOSERA AND SHAPTON PRO were the stones I chose to be the ones to replace the stones I had purchased from Lee Valley and I have never regretted that.   (I will explain why)

    Also, it was about six years ago that I purchased the Edge Pro Professional and that carries it's own line of stones, so for awhile I was just using them but I don't use it anymore except for some folding knives.  

   So for me at that time it was a bit of a leap of faith because I was not completely aware of why I should choose those, i.e. what I should looking for in a water stone, but I had heard so much about them that it was a no brainer.

When choosing a water stone, you want to have one that has at least one of the following attributes:

* Cuts metal quickly, all metal;
* Does not dish to quickly, i.e. does not wear out in the middle,
* Has relatively good feedback. (Using it provides a sensation that you are actually achieving something and it doesn't feel like you are using something that is tearing your edge apart, basically, it feels good).

The Naniwa Chosera and Shapton Pro stones do all of these things. In fact as far as feedback goes, the Naniwa Chosera 1,000 grit stone is amazing, it feels fantastic when you use it. 

MOST IMPORANTLY of course is that the edges that come off of these stones are very sharp and they have never let me down.  The prices of them are higher than the King stones but that is the cost of doing business. 

Now over time some more brands appeared on my radar. Most notably the Shapton Glass stones.

       I was in a kitchen store in New York City and was going to pick up a 5,000 grit Shapton Pro stone, which is a very nice stone by the way, it will leave an edge on a knife that many folks have never experienced. The store manager introduced me to the SG stones, they are mounted on glass that is why they are called Shapton Glass but they also act and feel differently than the Shapton Pro. They are thinner as well but they are very hard and they will last a long time.  I picked up a few of these and five years later they have become one of my favourite brands. 
    The Shapton Glass coarse stones are my favourite, they work very well on the hardest of kitchen knives, they will cut steel like no other stone. So again, that is a very important attribute to look for and these excel at it. I like the coarse SG stones more than the higher grit ones but I use them all, often and I would replace them all immediately if something happened to them.

   Another line of stones came into being a few years ago called Nubatama Bamboo but I have only hand experience with the 150 grit Bamboo stone which I have just about worn out, it was huge to begin with. It took me a long time to get used to managing the water with this stone but once I figured that out, I really like it. Burr formation is rapid.  I did have the Bamboo 5,000 which was also very good but mine fell apart as a result of improper storage on my part.

    Some stones I just have one of like the Kityama 8,000 and again, I bought that because people I trusted told me to and it is beautiful. It leaves a very polished, refined edge that is exceptionally sharp.

   To sum up, I love my water stones because of how effective they are, the coarse stones are able to form a burr quickly and that is very important for me. They are also available in Canada so that is a bonus.

   Now as for Japanese Natural Stones, I have one beauty and eventually I will have more but I need to see and handle them in person first.

    I hope this clarifies my glaring error of not pointing out why I like the stones that I use.

If anyone reading my Blog is left with a question, please let me know, I love reading comments, constructive criticism is fantastic, I don't take anything personal, it helps me be a better Blog writer.

Kityama 8000 above.

Peter Nowlan



Saturday, 9 July 2016

Sharpening on Television

Sharpening on TV

It is only a couple of minutes but exciting for me, I couldn't pay for this type of advertising.

Me and my Apprentice

Monday, 4 July 2016


Hi folks,
Friday the 8th July at 6 will be the airing of the Global News episode, I am calling it The Game of Stones or Finding Peter :)

Global News

Now during the shooting there was some sit down time with the news anchorman Ron and we discussed sharpening of course and then we went into my Sharpening area where they shot some actual sharpening. I have no idea what to expect in terms of editing, it could be 2 minutes long.

I place another link once the show is completed.

Thanks for looking

Saturday, 25 June 2016

The Cost of doing Business


     Choosing a price for knife sharpening, for me was actually quite difficult and I think that is common thing for folks starting a business. I have adjusted it a few times but have since settled on a price.
     How do I do this:

     The first thing I did was look around at sharpening services in other parts of North America to get a ball park idea.  I can guarantee that my fees are either on par or less and in some cases quite significantly less. I was told by a person, knowledgeable about these things, not to undersell myself. I have been told that a few times and now I don't.
     I am quite proud of what I can do with a knife and the $10.00 fee per knife is quite quite reasonable considering what the return is.

     Also, one of the things that bothers me about some places is that they seem place an emphasis on the finishing stones grit to determine the cost, i.e. a 5,000 grit finish is less than a 10,000 or 12,000 grit finish. This gives the impression to knife owners that if I want the knife sharper I should get it taken all the way to 10k and pay a little more.

 Years ago I fell into this myself and had different edges at different costs, I long ago stopped that since becoming better educated on the effects of sharpening certain knives at different grits.

This method of calculating cost is not suitable in my opinion. 

     Now if you want a knife, any knife sharpened and finished at 16,000 grit just to see what it is like than I will do that but there is no increase in my cost.  If I finish your knife at 1k or 16k the cost is $10.00 for any knife under 8 inches.

    Choosing the finishing grit must be decided upon by knife being sharpened, not because I want to make people think I got it sharper because I went up to the roof in terms of grits.  The fact of the matter is, and I didn't always know this, but increased refinement of many knives can have a negative impact on edge retention. So a 1,000 grit finish is the best finish for so many knives, stainless knives. This in no way means the knife is less sharp, I spend a lot of time working on the knife with a coarse stone to make it sharp and varying pressure to get the edge I need, or rather, the edge you need.

    Don't be lured into thinking that a 10,000 grit edge is the best for my knife. It may be, if it is a Japanese knife with a high carbon content than yes, it can handle a higher level of refinement, it will beg for it :)

     If the cost of knife sharpening is the most important factor in choosing the sharpening service than I think people need to look around, I don't think they will find anyone that charges less anyway but the point is, if all a person cares about is how much it costs, then I may not be the best guy for that person.  Now if the person is worried about the knife and really concerned about how it will be when returned and how it is sharpened, I am definitely the right man:)


Did I thank you for being here?



Thursday, 23 June 2016

Under Pressure Video

     Folks this short video is designed to accompany the article I wrote on the importance of pressure and how you manipulation of pressure on each water stone has the potential to improve your edges.
    This is something I do, it is nothing strange, no trick, it is simply a matter of spending an extra couple of minutes on your stones to ensure your final edge is as clean as you can possibly make it.

     Bottom Line is to create a burr on both sides of the knife on your first stone and then focus on removing that burr (cleaning the edge) on each stone.