The following are my personal favourites and they are all synthetic stones, I do have experience with natural what stones but lets keep it simple, lets stick to synthetic water stones. Believe me, some of the world sharpest knives are sharpened solely on synthetic stones. Here are my personal favourites, I use these water stones every day and the order is not necessarily in priority, they are all good.
You can actually use these stones as finishing stones in their own right however and perhaps for Western knives which typically have a cutting edge similar to a ‘U’ rather than a ‘V’ shaped edge, a #5000 grit stone may well be as far as you need to go.but if you want to go for the #6000 or #8000 super fine stones then go for it! The only bit of advice you should follow is this: If you are using your knife to cut meat, then you can happily stop at #4000 or #6000 grit. If you are only using it for vegetables or fruit go all the way to the #8000. This is because the refinement you get from a # 8000 grit stone is such that your knife edge has the potential to bend whilst cutting through muscle and sinew.So that’s Whetstone grits explained. Hopefully that gives you everything you need to know. We have a selection of whetstones on our website, spanning the whole grit range. Stones require patience to learn and skill to use, but with a little practice you will get there and it will be well worth it.
Push the point you want to sharpen with your fingers. While keeping the angle and pushing the point with your fingers, stroke the blade until it reaches the other edge of the whetstone, then pull the blade back until it reaches the edge of the whetstone. This back and forth is counted as one stroke. Repeat it for about five strokes until you can see or feel some small burrs (edge curvatures) Then move the position of your fingers to where you have not sharpened yet, and repeat this five strokes of sharpening processed from the tip to the base of the blade.
We recommend that customers invest in Kamikoto’s Toishi Sharpening Whetstone to keep handcrafted knives sharp and ready to cut. The Toishi Sharpening Whetstone sits on a beautiful wooden bamboo stand and features two sides – one with a coarse grit to grind away any roughness, and the other with a fine grit that sharpens and polishes the edge. The finer the grit, the finer the edge on your knife. The sturdy wooden stand holds the whetstone safely in place so you can concentrate on gaining the sharpest edge possible.
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.
Conveniently bundled in one affordable set for you, our Sharp Pebble Waterstone (Grit 3000/8000) with Non-Slip Bamboo base. Grit 3000 can quickly sharp the blade while Grit 8000 is used to achieve finely polished mirror finished edge. Flattening Stone is used for leveling of Sharp Pebble Grit 3000/8000 Stone And a Knife Sharpening Guide(eBook) describing how to make the most out of the product.
Be careful: Don’t move your fingers laterally along the edge, you’ll cut yourself. Feel for a rough area running from tip to heel. Again, it takes time to know what to expect because the best burr will be subtle. Just know that the bigger the burr, the more metal you are removing—more than necessary. Don’t worry, you won’t ruin the knife doing this. You’re learning here, and mistakes are part of the sharpening journey. Learn from them.
I am a professional violin maker (luthier) which means that I have to keep all my tools razor sharp all the time in order to work. After using a huge variety of sharpening stones, such as the full line of DMT diamond sharpening stones, the full line of Shapton glass stones, the full line of King stones, and many other various water stones and a few oil stones over the years, here is what you really need to sharpen all your tools for doing fine woodworking:
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.