Though "whetstone" is often mistaken as a reference to the water sometimes used to lubricate such stones, the term is based on the word "whet", which means to sharpen a blade, not on the word "wet". The verb nowadays usually used to describe the process of using a sharpening stone is to sharpen, but the older term to whet is still sometimes used. The term to stone is so rare in this sense that it is no longer mentioned in for example the Oxford Living Dictionaries. One of the most common mistaken idioms in English involves the phrase "to whet your appetite", too often mistakenly written as "to wet". But to "whet" quite appropriately means "to sharpen" one's appetite, not to douse it with water.
Hi Caide, our most popular stone at the moment is our Grunwerg 1000/3000 grit whetstone from speaking to our customers it’s definitely down to the pretty competitive price, but also they have said that the finish on the knife is just as good as some of our more expensive ones, the main difference is it doesn’t seem to last as long. For one that does last and leave a good finish then our Minosharp 1000 grit whetstone is also popular.
This was the first Whetstone that I've ever purchased. After reviewing several 'how-to' videos, I jumped right in to use it. I found the process nearly meditative and the BearMoo stone extremely effective! The first knife I sharpened was very dull with small, jagged edges. The 1000 grit side effectively removed the jagged indentations and created a nice cutting edge. The 4000 grit side made the knife razor sharp. The process took nearly 40-minutes.
The answer to the question of how to choose a single whetstone from among the many is actually one of both purpose and expense. Indeed, as the old adage says: “You get what you pay for” – This is certainly the case with sharpening stones. In fact, as a general rule, a high quality, natural, whetstone is significantly more expensive than a man-made whetstone but, they also tend to produce a noticeably finer edge than man-made stones do. On the other hand, man-made whetstones (with the exception of diamond hones) are very affordable and, just like natural whetstones, they too are available in different grits for different stages in the sharpening process from cutting the initial edge bevel to polishing a finely honed edge.
To take off the fine scratches and the burr left by coarser stones, and polish the surface, one can use stones starting around 2000 grain. Above that there is theoretically no upper limit, but at the same time stones above about #10000 provide no measurable practical improvement in the edge. It is also interesting to note that above #8000 grit, there is no Japanese measurement standard. With all the stones labelled as having a finer grit, one simply has to take the manufacturer’s word for it.
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.