Japanese whetstones (also called water stones) – both natural and synthetic – are known for their quick-working qualities, not only for Japanese blades, but also for their Western equivalents. The small particles that do the cutting are loosely bound together in the stone, and so during sharpening with the whetstone, the surface particles are quickly washed out, allowing new, sharp, particles to start working on the blade. These whetstones must be lubricated only with water! Never use oil or other lubricants!
If you like the satisfaction of sharpening your knives yourself on a whetstone, the Shun Combination Whetstone is an excellent choice. Shun’s Combination Whetstone offers you two grits: a fine 1000-grit side and an even finer 6000-grit side. Since you won’t want to let your Shuns get too dull before sharpening, this stone is a good choice because it lets you put a keen edge on your Shun with the 1000-grit side, then polish it to perfection with the 6000-grit side. The Shun Combination Whetstone is a double-sided Japanese waterstone. You will need to thoroughly soak this whetstone before sharpening.
To use a whetstone you run the knife's blade back and forth across the stone's surface and due to the constant friction with the stone, which acts like a piece of sandpaper, the knife's edge becomes razor sharp and has a brilliant mirror shine. If you are a beginner at using a whetstone it can a take a while to master the sharpening process, so here is a video to help you with your sharpening stone skills.
Beginning on the right side of the knife, move from tip to heel and heel to tip, then flip the knife and repeat. For the left side, it’s opposite—start at the top of the stone to reach the heel area completely. So, you will move from heel to tip and then tip to heel. Remember to apply and release pressure as you did earlier, exactly the same as in Step 2, but with light, refining pressure.
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.
I like the fact that there are two different grits (can be seen as two colors). the black rubber feet stick to the kitchen granite top like glue. The 1000 does a pretty good job of getting a knife roughly there and the 4000 puts on a fine polish for razor a sharp edge. I would go the extra step of stropping the knife after the grinding operation for an extra sharp edge.
Cerax and Suehiro stones from Suehiro are a little harder, and as such do not wear down as quickly as the classic Japanese water stones. The 8000 grit stone will perhaps give you the best cutting edge with a mirror polish on chisels and similar blades. Suehiro also makes a small combination stone for those who do not sharpen tools all that often and are reluctant to spend extra for a Cerax stone.
The newly designed dual-sided combination whetstone from Fallkniven features a super fine white ceramic stone (0, 1 micron) with a grit of 1400 to 2000 and the dark grey ceramic stone is made of synthetic sapphires (1 micron) and has a grit of 800-1000. There is no need to add any oil or water, just lay the blade on the stone, raise the blade's spine and deburr your blade on the grey side until it has a razor-sharp edge and then use the smooth white side to get a nice polished edge.