Kitayama 8000

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Kit Craft
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Kitayama 8000

Post by Kit Craft » Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:13 pm

Kitayama 8000: The controversial conundrum

Background:

First off I want to say that I am not 100% sure who makes this stone. It is normally listed as an Imanishi product but I have heard vendors that I trust say it is made by someone else. Maybe that was just a slip up and they meant another stone, I have no idea. Regardless of who makes it, it is a well known stone.

So what is up with the name, you ask. Well, this seems to be a stone that people either love or they hate and I can totally understand why. Even being planted firmly in the “love it” camp, I can understand why others hate it. This is a very quirky stone, to say the least. Regardless, it is a stone that most everyone has heard of no matter which sharpening subset they belong to and you can not say that about too many “off the wall” stones.

Let us have a look and see if this one may be for you or maybe one you are going to pass on.

Measurements:
Length: 205mm
Width: 75mm
Thickness: 25mm
Weight: 770g

Feedback:

The tactile feedback on this one is actually fairly muted. Not that it is not there and that it is not good but the feedback or tactile sensation is “soft” or less immediate. The stone is soft, very soft and rubbery in feel and this means that the bevel does not “click” into place but rather you will have to feel for the edge of the edge and back off. You can very lightly feel the bevel drop into place as you back off the edge, if you pay attention. However, once in place, even for a soft stone your bevel is not going to wash out. It will stay where you tell it too as long as you do your part.

The feel itself is elastic and rubbery like a dense pencil eraser. Unlike the shapton 2k, which has a similar feel this stone is more fluffy or much softer and more elastic in feel. It is almost as if the stone sucks in the bevel. It is kind of like trying to walk through a mucky swamp. You know, the harder you pull the more the mud wants to suck your boots back in the hole and the more water that fills up in the hole the harder it is to get unstuck. To me, that is the Kitayama in a nutshell.

If you go over your angle you are going to gouge this stone, badly. Don’t do it! If you go under you actually may have a hard time knowing by feel. It is slightly muted and muddy so it feels about the same.

Audible feedback is low pitched and faint. It gives that swoosh noise in use similar to tight canvas slacks when you walk. Nothing to hear when you go over your angle because you dig in and the stone crumbles under the edge. If you go under the sound becomes slightly more hollow. Not the best in this sense, you have to go more by feel on this one or maybe even intuition.

Visual feedback is immediate. This is a fast cutting stone and you can see that from the first stroke. Very fine particles float atop the water if working on narrow bevels, from the first stroke. However, this thing will mud up and that will turn to an ink like puddle soon enough. That is partially because it is fast and partially because it is soft and muddy. Wide bevels are much the same.

Management:

Water management is straightforward but necessary as this stone is porous. This stone is not so dense, in fact it is a very light and hollow feeling stone and it soaks up water, just very slowly. Whereas you can use this as a splash and go, and I do, it will soak in water as you sharpen. If you wet the stone and walk away it takes a few minutes for the water to disappear from the surface but it will remain slightly damp. If you turn the stone over on its side you will see it slowly seep through to the other side, over minutes. Then it takes awhile for it to dry out completely and it does so very unevenly so be careful to dry this stone on a rack so that air can get to all parts or it may crack on you. Back to the point, you will have to add a small splash of water every few passes and more so if you muddy it up.

Mud management is important for this stone. The mud starts out as three parts: Water, swarf and stone slurry. These three things mix together slowly but the slurry from the stone will make up most of the mixture which means that you need to add water to it so it does not thicken and dry out. As you work the mud it will change from black to grey to a greenish brown color like some odd baby food out of a jar. I do not recall the flavor but my nephew loved it...Anyway, as you work the mud it seems to change in properties as well. If you keep the stone clean it will start to mirror polish but if you let the mud build, thicken and breakdown it will add contrast to cladding.

I must say, this stone acts very much like a natural when it comes to mud and water management as well as mud production and the way the mud changes over time.

Speed:

This is a fast cutting stone, very fast. It will remove scratches from much coarser stones around 700-800 grit with some elbow grease and has no trouble at all with 1k+ stones. However, it is still an 8k stone (with a few caveats but I don’t buy into those) and cuts like one. Yes, it removes metal quickly but small amounts of it or finer particles or something like that. The point is that you will not want to try to set a bevel with this stone. That isn’t what it is meant for anyway.

Finesse:

This is a fine stone, some say 10-12k but to me it is an 8k as the name suggests and acts like one. Of course you will get a more refined edge with it if you are coming from a 3-6k stone than if you make a jump from a 800-2000 stone...Or if you spend loads of time polishing on the stone. Again, it is what it is, a finishing stone. However, if you do make a fairly large jump and do not spend too much time on the stone then you can refine the edge while leaving some 1-2k bite in it. If you spend a little more time you can make it act like it has very little bite like from a 4-6k stone, in edge quality. I don’t need to tell you how to sharpen and that is not what I mean to imply. I am just saying that this stone works this way according to my style of sharpening.

Regardless of how you use it, it will shave with easy and comfortably. It should still remain enough bite to deal with tomatoes and peppers yet will give you that nice clean slice on raw fish. Yes, of course you can do all of your paper and tomato slicing tricks at this point. In fact, you should be able to do them before moving onto this stone or you are not done with the last stone…maybe this is better suited to edges that do not see a lot of board contact if you treat it like a finishing stone and use a 3-4 stone progression. If you do a 1k/8k jump and leave some 1k tooth in it, you should be fine.

As for cosmetic finish: if you keep it clean it will make a foggy broken mirror polish on cladding. If you let it “mud up” it will keep some contrast albeit light in color and it is prone to streaking. The core will be mirror like but not quite there upon close inspection. I mean, it will be a mirror finish for all intent purposes but not that “liquid mercury” finish that people are often times looking for. This is not my go to stone for a Kasumi finish. However, if you slightly lift your spine then you can keep your dark kasumi and still get the polishing effects. But edge quality is where it is at with this stone.

Hardness:

This is a soft stone, a very soft stone. If you do not like stones where the bevel melts into the stone like your head on a down pillow then run away as fast as you can. Not only is the stone soft but it is not dense and that makes it feel even softer and kind of elastic or rubber like.

Dishing:

This stone will dish noticeably within a session or two but that is normal for a soft stone. I would practice flattening after every use but you can try to get the most out of the stone as a whole if you prefer. This is a very, very easy stone to flatten and will not challenge you much if you let it valley.

Value:

This is not a cheap nor an expensive stone but average in cost. It cuts all steel types better than a King 6k, for example but I am not sure that for a utility user who uses basic steels that the upgrade in cost would be worth it. It also does not offer the value of the Rika 5k but it is a very, very different stone in many ways and can be manipulated to make a much finer edge so that is not entirely apples to apples. I think the stone is worth what it costs as long as you get a good deal on it. I have seen this stone sell between $66-108 but $70 is average and about what I would pay for it. So, a fair value and a good stone but not a mind blowing deal.

Vanity:

It is a boring yellow stone, what do you want me to say?

Bottom line:

What the hell, Kit, I thought you said you liked this stone and it sure does not sound like it. I know, it sounds like I am very “blah” about this stone but that is not true, I really enjoy this stone for what it is. However, I want to look at it from the perspective of a potential buyer and honestly it is not the end all be all of stones. It just happens to fit my quirky sharpening style and desires.

If you are like me and you like natural stones for their idiosyncrasies then you will love this stone. That is to say if you like soft and muddy natural finishers then you will likely love this stone. If you are more the straightforward type, maybe not so much.

You might enjoy this stone if you own a Yanagiba. I imagine it is great for keeping a single bevel edge in shape to slice raw protein with little structural damage. And while I am not a sushi chef, nor a chef at all, I do know a few who use and love this stone for that purpose.

If you have a lot of high volume board contact, maybe look at something else. Or if you deal with a lot of hard fat or even silver skin. I do a lot of butchery and I like a more bite filled edge than this, even if used directly after a 1k. Unless you simply use it as a strop.

So, it is for you to decide if it fits your needs.It does work really well as a touch up stone for dry stropping though! Aggressive in metal removal and edge quality for that style of use.

Notes: Damn it, I always forget this part. I have tested it with 10xx, White and Blue, Swedish carbon, SK-4 and 5, AUS8, VG10, 13c26 and 19C27. Cuts all of it fine. I don’t know so much about super steels so I couldn’t comment on that.

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Kit Craft
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by Kit Craft » Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:29 pm

Here is a photo of a single pass on each side. It is quite the quick stone. Both to cut and to muddy up!

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After a few more passes.

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This should give you an idea of the mud consistency.

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Just an extra mud shot.

Image

Did you ever have one of those days? Well, I did. As you can see there is some streaking and I said to hell with it, I am not going to fix it. However, you can see the contrast left over from the SP2k. You can also see that this stone can streak if you do not pay attention, it does so easily and I was in a rushed mood. But as you can see the scratches from said SP2k are now removed.

Image

An additional angle to check the contrast from.

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And finally, I thought I would show this. The stone after use and how the water slowly and more important how unevenly leaks through to the other side! This is why you should be careful when you dry it!

Image

Bensbites
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by Bensbites » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:15 pm

Great write up.

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Kit Craft
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by Kit Craft » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:56 pm

Bensbites wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:15 pm
Great write up.
Thank you, Ben.

old onion
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by old onion » Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:58 pm

I sure did enjoy that write up.Thanks a bunch for doing it Kit.

milkbaby
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by milkbaby » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:06 pm

That was a really informative review, great job and thanks! :)

jmcnelly85
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by jmcnelly85 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:29 pm

Your stone reviews keep getting better, thank you for all the time you’ve put in.

salemj
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by salemj » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:57 pm

Perhaps the best review that you've done that I've read, Kit, at least in terms of the transparency of your experience, if not in terms of sheer readability and language.

Why? Here are some thoughts:
1) This stone is obviously a pain-in-the ass and only for pros. You convey that without saying either in a very friendly way. :)
2) You describe the texture, feedback, and bevel-setting of this stone with a level of detail that is extremely tactile and quite revealing, and as good or better than any of your other reviews. Kudos.
3) The comments about the resultant edge make it really obvious when this stone shines (i.e., for what applications).
4) I love the vanity portion.

I will never, ever, ever even consider buying this stone. Nonetheless, I feel as if your review makes is very clear who needs to rush out and buy this stone immediately. As quirky and difficult as it obviously is, it is a must-have for certain folk. Nice job in saying all that needs to be said. I've never used the stone and I honestly feel as if I'd learn nothing beyond your review by using it myself...except, perhaps, just maybe, how it handles AS-type alloys differently form pure white steels. But who the hell is using as AS-type alloy for cutting raw protein without cell damage, anyway??!?!?!
~Joe

Comments: I'm short, a home cook, prefer lighter, thinner blades, and own mostly Konosukes but have used over a dozen brands.

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Kit Craft
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by Kit Craft » Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:24 am

Thank you everyone, I am glad the review was helpful. Honestly, some stones are just easier to write about than others and often times it is those stones that are not perfect that are easiest. And I really do not know what I am going to say until it comes out, lol.

I am sure others have a different opinion and experience with this stone. It is interesting, to me, how different people can find the same stone or even knife to be. I know with stones technique and particularly pressure change how the stone works, to an extent. The most I ever use, and that is on a bevel setting stone, is about 4.5-5 pounds of pressure. I use half of that or less on most finishing stones. Just for reference.

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jbart65
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by jbart65 » Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:24 pm

Trying to make my head hurt, Kit? That is an exhausting, though informative, review.

You need to try a Meara at some point. Perhaps Ken might find one kicking around somewhere ...
Jeffry B

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Kit Craft
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by Kit Craft » Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:11 pm

jbart65 wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 12:24 pm
Trying to make my head hurt, Kit? That is an exhausting, though informative, review.

You need to try a Meara at some point. Perhaps Ken might find one kicking around somewhere ...
Nope, making your head hurt was not my intention. :lol:

As for a Meara, I am pretty sure I know how to source one but they are a hard stone and that really isn't my thing. However, I have given it some though. Honestly, I have not bought a J-nat in quite awhile! I have decided to try out other stones from around the globe atm!

cwillett
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by cwillett » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:35 pm

Wow! My Kitayama doesn't throw even a quarter that much mud! And it doesn't take up water as yours does. When did you get yours? I wonder if there was a re-formulation of it, or if there is just gigantic sample variation.

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Kit Craft
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by Kit Craft » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:09 pm

cwillett wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:35 pm
Wow! My Kitayama doesn't throw even a quarter that much mud! And it doesn't take up water as yours does. When did you get yours? I wonder if there was a re-formulation of it, or if there is just gigantic sample variation.
I don't think there is that much of a variation. This is my third one since my woodworking and razor days. So that is three that act the same over about 7 years or so. Note that I am sharpening the entire wide bevel. Anyway this particular stone is less than a year old. My last one had a base and my brother owns it now.

Edit: I do normally note that my photos were taken after sharpening a wide bevel. I may have left that out, sorry!

PS: You may be on to something, to an extent though. I remember Vincent from Korin saying that his masted has favored a few Kitayama over others throughout the years or something like that. It was a story after getting a broken one back as a return and he liked the sliver of stone that was left better than the one he was using previously. However, if there is a variation, my three have been fairly consistent from memory.

cwillett
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by cwillett » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:25 pm

I'll try to post a picture this weekend. It should make for an interesting comparison. I liked the love-hate motif from the review. I totally get it.

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Kit Craft
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by Kit Craft » Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:20 am

cwillett wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:25 pm
I'll try to post a picture this weekend. It should make for an interesting comparison. I liked the love-hate motif from the review. I totally get it.
Thank you. I look forward to it. Maybe I need to do a comparison picture with a narrow bevel and wide bevel rather than just explaining it in text too. I mean, for me, it is still a muddy stone on narrow bevels but not NEAR as much. However, I find that true with every stone I have ever used. Part of that mud mix is the soft iron cladding and there is more surface area being used at once so it kicks up more stone slurry as well.

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Kit Craft
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by Kit Craft » Sat Jan 13, 2018 1:35 pm

Okay an addendum to the other photos. I figured that I should add some shots of sharpening after using a narrow bevel. Normally I just do that first to get a feel and then take photos after the wide bevel but maybe going both routes individually would be more helpful!

As you can see, it is still a fairly muddy stone even on such a small bevel but it is grainy swarf with little mud at this point. You can still work it more and more until you have fine mud but it takes longer with less steel making contact with the stone!

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A closer shot so you can see the texture or graininess. It is more swarf than mud at this point.

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As you can see, water still made it all the way through the stone in one polishing session.

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As you can see there is a shinny edge left on a narrow bevel. It is mirror(ish) but I could not get a good picture as the sides of the blade are also mirror polished and you can not tell which belongs to what on top of newsprint...

Image

Maybe these images will add to the review. I can always do this with my new reviews going forward as well. Narrow bevel vs wide bevel photos that is!

cwillett
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by cwillett » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:35 pm

This afternoon both kids went down for a nap and I started a batch of homebrew and decided to do some sharpening. I had five knives that were in need of some attention. The knife in all of the below photos is a Masakage Yuki petty (white 2). In each case the Yuki was the first knife on the relevant stone. All were soaked.

Here is after two passes (each pass is a back and forth per side) on a Cerax 1000; moderate pressure for the first pass and moderate-light on the second.
photo 1.JPG
You can see a fair amount of mud especially considering that this is under 5 minutes on the stone.

I then moved on to a Rika 5k. Two passes as well, though each pass is a bit shorter. Pressure is moderate-light on the first pass and light on the second.
photo 2.JPG
Also a fair amount of mud. The knife was on the Rika 5k for less time than the 1k. I then moved to the Kitayama 8k. This had been in the water for almost an hour at this point (sat in the water while I worked on other knives, tended to the mash, etc). I normally don't soak the Kitayama this much but wanted to try to get as much water in there as possible so that it might throw a lot of mud. Here is the Kitayama before I started:
photo 3.JPG
I know, I know. I decided not to run the Atoma 140 over it before hand, but did after I was all done. Here is the result of 2 passes, both with very light pressure:
photo 4.JPG
I think that Kit and I have quite different techniques on the stone, or we have differently composed stones. From his comments earlier, it doesn't sound like this second option is too likely. Thoughts?

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Kit Craft
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by Kit Craft » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:44 pm

I do not soak mine at all, splash and go.

I think it is a technique difference. I start out with fairly heavy pressure and work my way down. And I always start a bit behind the edge. But who knows, maybe there is some stone variance! However, that is why I always say that this is how things turn out for me based on my pressure etc. It seems that the way a stone is used can change how it works, significantly. If you Watch Jon B. sharpen on a few Monzen-to and then have Chef Hiro and a few other fellows step in the difference in the mud production is crazy. Jon makes it ooze mud, the others not so much.

As an aside, I've not done a side by side with my old Kitayama that my brother has and am just going off of memory but I had it in my possession less than a year ago. I recall it being the same.

Thank you for doing a comparison! It is nice to show different sides of the same stone, so to speak.

gladius
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by gladius » Sat Jan 13, 2018 7:32 pm

Okay, this piqued my interest, I don't remember this much slurry...
I sharpened a Heiji Carbon gyuto on the Kitayama for three passes (four scrubbing strokes each section, each pass, each side), edge trailing, medium pressure, deburred using a few sweeping strokes each side.

Note: no soaking, just added water & sharpened; mostly swarf with little slurry from stone...

Image Image

Then on to finish off a Ohira Tomae, the edge brightens and crispens:

Image

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Kit Craft
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Re: Kitayama 8000

Post by Kit Craft » Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:11 pm

Interesting! Seems I am the weirdo here, lol. That is NOTHING new.

A pass to me is about 10 scrubbing motions from working my way from tip to heel and then back. I think I am spending significantly more time on the stone.

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