For someone who sharpens blades only occasionally, and knows that they will not need to grind out a chip in the edge of the blade, for instance, a combination stone will suffice. The size that one chooses depends mostly on a trade off between cost and speed. The bigger the stone, the faster one can work. The smaller stones work just as well, they just take a little more time.
The 8,000 grit Kitayama is definitely a popular 8K stone, it is my favourite, and the feedback has much to do with that. It is silky smooth and feels creamy when you use it. When reaching refinement levels of 6k and above, polished bevels/edge are inevitable, and often sought after. The level of polish from this particular stone is very beautiful, assuming that you have done some refinement prior to this but it is a wonderful 8,000 grit stone.
However, due to limited natural deposits and extensive quarrying over the centuries, true, high quality, Japanese water stones are now few and far between and are very expensive. Thus, various companies are now producing synthetic Japanese Water Stones which generally have a more consistent composition and grit size than natural stones as well as often begin somewhat harder and thus, lasting a bit longer; not to mention being cheaper to purchase.
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I really appreciate that it comes with the rubber bases! I am beginning my own woodworking shop after graduating from woodworking school and having sharpening stones is important as a first step. These are not the highest quality stones out there, but they are great value - reasonably high quality for a good price. In addition to this 3000/8000 stone I have a 250/1000 stone from Lee Valley. Together with these I've sharpened all the plain-edged knives in the house and will soon be moving on to the chisels and plane blades after I put a hollow grind on them with the bench grinder.
The diamond on top of the stone ensures that the surface is very hard. As such a diamond sharpening stone remains flat and will not become hollow like a water stone. For this reason diamond sharpening stones will last a very long time and help you to quickly sharpen your knives: a blunt blade will be razor-sharp in no time, even when you are sharpening hard types of steel.
All sharpening stones can be placed into two categories. Either natural, having been quarried from the ground, or synthetic, having been been manufactured. Before the industrial age, all sharpening stones were natural by default. Simply picking up a piece of common sandstone and stroking it along a sword blade may have been enough to produce an edge. This would at least remove some of the worst nicks and gouges produced by the clash of steel.
I would recommend getting a stone with a lower grit (less than 800) after you get a polishing stone, as the main uses of a lower grit stone would be to take off a lot of metal very quickly (removing chips). Its better to get a bit of experience on something a bit slower (1000 grit) and learn to hold a steady angle before diving deep into lower grits. The only time I could have used a stone lower than 800 grit (I used a 500 grit) was when I was completely changing the edge on a Kasumi (59-60HRC) knife.

Ceramic whetstones are meant to be used without water or oil, which means they can be used almost anywhere and are ideal for chefs or cooks who have limited working spaces. They will give you a very sharp blade and as their surface is very hard they will maintain their flat surfaces over the long-term, but as they have a fine grit, they can break if you drop the stone.

Different knives are sharpened differently according to grind (edge geometry) and application. For example, surgical scalpels are extremely sharp but fragile, and are generally disposed of, rather than sharpened, after use. Straight razors used for shaving must cut with minimal pressure, and thus must be very sharp with a small angle and often a hollow grind. Typically these are stropped daily or more often. Kitchen knives are less sharp, and generally cut by slicing rather than just pressing, and are steeled daily. At the other extreme, an axe for chopping wood will be less sharp still, and is primarily used to split wood by chopping, not by slicing, and may be reground but will not be sharpened daily. In general, but not always, the harder the material to be cut, the higher (duller) the angle of the edge.

Aluminum-Oxide oil stones are very popular man-made sharpening stones produced by an abrasives company called Norton and which are commonly called India Stones. Generally less expensive than Arkansas stones (aka Novaculite), these stones are graded coarse, medium, and fine and are designed for fast cutting. Yet, when the fine grit is used, they can also produce a relatively fine edge. Also, because India Oil Stones are both softer and coarser than Arkansas Stones, they are commonly used in conjunction with Novaculite to cut the initial edge bevels or, repair extremely dull or damaged edges before refining and polishing the bevel with an Arkansas Stone.
Very interesting. If you work flat, 45 degree is what I was taught. Love the wet stones, especially the oiled ones. The nice thing about the leather part, is the mirror finish on a razor sharp blade which is a must if doing fine wood working, carving etc. A rough blade simply does not have the fine detailed dexterity. I find that the oiled sandpaper can work great as well, but found that the refined clay bars (white refined fired clay rounds and flats etc) does a wonderful job of keeping those razor edges refined, smooth as possible and then one can high polish them for smooth cutting. Believe me, when working wood for a flute, one wants that refined edge.! Learning how to hone a blade on a flat surface teaches one to work outside without a table/wall handy too...:) But we all have to start somewhere!:) Anyway, great stuff and a great start for those who want more from their tools!:) Cheers!
Naniwa also makes the Naniwa Traditional line of stones, these are less expensive than the Professional lineup and I believe were created to compete in terms of cost with some other brands such as King that are less expensive, more attractive to some who are just starting and may not want to invest a lot of money. I have tried the Naniwa Traditional 220, 1,000 and 2,000 grit stones and I thoroughly enjoyed them, so if you are considering a less expensive brand to get started, these are also good. I do not like them as much as the Professional line but I do like them, they work, they make the knives sharp.
Now, that is super cool of you to do. I think I’ve got half a dozen different links to different types of abrasives and their equivalencies to other abrasives or their micron size, but none I’ve found have the assortment of different abrasives listed. I could get two or three windows open at once, comparing from one to another and getting more mired down in confusion all of the time. Who woulda thought that 4F pumice was courser than 1500 grit wet/dry CAMI?
Natural stones are quarried from deposits of a mineral called novaculite. The most available are called Arkansas Stones, and come in soft and hard grades, but Washita (coarser than soft Arkansas) and Queer Creek Blue (variable, but around hard white Arkansas) are also available. Novaculite has a mohs hardness of 6.5, equivalent to Rockwell Rc 69. Most knife blades are around 5.5 (Rc 59).

Removing the burr is fairly simple. You'll need a leather strop or block (this sort of thing), which is designed to catch the metal fibres from the knife. You could do it with a fibrous tea towel or some newspaper if you like, but I'd suggest going with leather to begin with. The motion is fairly similar to sharpening. Draw the knife over the leather, going away from the edge at roughly the same angle as when you sharpened. 
I am no expert on sharpening, I learned how back in boy scouts many years ago but haven't looked back into it since. I got this stone in the mail yesterday, soaked it for 20 minutes in water and began working on the dullest knife in my butcher block. This knife showed lots of signs of nicks and general dullness when held in the light to examine the edge. After 30 minutes with just this product, limited knowledge, and lots of water, I was able to restore that knife. It is now sharper than when I bought it (keep in mind this was a $12-$18 kitchen knife off the shelf)

Aluminum Oxide stones range from 150 grit to 280 grit and cut aggressively but not quite so much as Silicon Carbide. The medium (240 grit) would be considered "coarse" for sharpening kitchen knives, and the fine would be considered "medium". They are considered an "oil stone" but work just fine with water, Unfortunately Norton's stones come pre-oiled so I'd scrub it well with a strong kitchen cleanser before each use until the oil is mostly gone.


1. Diamond Stones. I’ve used two, many years ago, to sharpen steel knives & found that the diamond coating wore away. They did work well at first, but then I was sharpening on the backing material. This puzzled me, because diamond is harder than steel, but have only recently read that the diamond particles are torn off the backing material because they stick to the softer steel. Diamond stones are recommended for sharpening ceramic knives only. This info about diamond stones & steel knives I got from an Edge-Pro article.
It is important to know that a diamond sharpening stone needs to be ‘prepared’. After all, only after sharpening a couple of knives the stone will reach its actual potential. The stone is not that great when you are looking for a mirrored blade, simply because the diamond sharpening stone cannot be made with a finer grain. However, for this task a strop will be perfect.
Very interesting. If you work flat, 45 degree is what I was taught. Love the wet stones, especially the oiled ones. The nice thing about the leather part, is the mirror finish on a razor sharp blade which is a must if doing fine wood working, carving etc. A rough blade simply does not have the fine detailed dexterity. I find that the oiled sandpaper can work great as well, but found that the refined clay bars (white refined fired clay rounds and flats etc) does a wonderful job of keeping those razor edges refined, smooth as possible and then one can high polish them for smooth cutting. Believe me, when working wood for a flute, one wants that refined edge.! Learning how to hone a blade on a flat surface teaches one to work outside without a table/wall handy too...:) But we all have to start somewhere!:) Anyway, great stuff and a great start for those who want more from their tools!:) Cheers!
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Natural stones are quarried from deposits of a mineral called novaculite. The most available are called Arkansas Stones, and come in soft and hard grades, but Washita (coarser than soft Arkansas) and Queer Creek Blue (variable, but around hard white Arkansas) are also available. Novaculite has a mohs hardness of 6.5, equivalent to Rockwell Rc 69. Most knife blades are around 5.5 (Rc 59).
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