As you continue to repeat strokes on the first time, eventually a tiny burr will form on the other side of the blade. To check for it, place the blade on your thumb, and pull it backwards. If the burr has formed, it should catch slightly on your thumb (with really fine grit stones, say 2000 or above, you won't feel this). This may take up to 30 or 40 strokes, and is the indication that you should switch and start sharpening the other side.
Besides ceramic steels, there are also grinding steel that have a layer of diamond. The hard diamond grains ensure that you can quickly regrind your knives. Compared to a ceramic steel, the result slightly less refined. A disadvantage of a diamond steel is that over time the diamond grains may break out or crumble off, which causes the steel to lose it's sharpening quality.
Meanwhile, if you want something that you can use to sharpen a variety of knives and edges, including small and pointed tools, you might want to consider the DMT WM8CX-WB 8-Inch Duo Sharp Plus Bench Stone – Coarse/Extra Coarse with Base. For less than a hundred bucks, you can even use it to repair a damaged edge because of its extra-coarse diamonds.
Budo's sharpening stone is an excellent buy. The 1000 and 4000 grit stone is a good mix for sharpening everyday household knives. The alignment tool also helps a person hold a knife at the proper angle so that they don't inadvertently flatten the edge and dull the blade. The stone has a rubber seat so that it doesn't slide within its bamboo stand. The only negatives are that detailed instructions are not included with the packaging, however, a link is sent to your e-mail address but that doesn't help if it's a gift. Also the tool doesn't work well with short knives like a paring knife. Lastly, the 1000/4000 stone isn't quite suitable for professional level knifeware but Budo does sell higher grit sharpening stones.
I would say they are worth the money. Go for it. I took a blunted Pampered Chef kitchen knife from completely dull to razor sharp in about an hour (of bumbling and repairing mistakes LOL) heavy grinding. If you have a severely damaged blade, grab one of those cheesey two sided stones from Harbor Freight to do your heavy grinding. From there these stones will work very well.
The Brød & Taylor Pocket Knife Sharpener (which is no longer available) uses the same carbide stones as the full-size model noted above, and it sharpens and hones just as well. It would make a solid, pocketable tool for campers, hunters, and anglers. But this compact model is not stable enough for long or heavy kitchen knives, and you can’t engage the spring-loaded arms in order to use a polishing function.
I've always wanted to sharpen knives on water stones, and this set gave me the motivation to finally give it a shot. The price is amazing for the quality and content of the set. It comes with all the grits you need to sharpen anything... I usually start on the 400 grit if the knife is very dull, or directly on the 1000 grit if it's not too dull. The 3000 and 8000 grit stones are softer and ideal after the coarser stones. The online learning section is truly amazing, much better than I expected. A convenient place with instructional videos and many articles about knife sharpening. Only downside is that the knives are now so sharp I need to be very careful using them... but that's a good thing! I feel like I fell in love with knife sharpening again.
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.
All Yoshihiro knives are handcrafted by Artisans with a lineage spanning centuries. The origins of the techniques used to create Yoshihiro knives dates back to medieval Japanese sword smiths who perfected the technique of handling fire, iron, and water. Our selections are far and wide and is a culmination of seven centuries of tradition intertwining with modern innovation inspired from Japanese ingenuity.
Its main disadvantage is cost: At about $120, the flagship stainless steel Professional model sits in an uncomfortable middle ground between our main pick and our upgrade pick. That said, an otherwise identical Classic model made of black plastic is generally closer to the price of our main pick. A lesser point, but an important one, is that this design is not completely foolproof, as our other picks are. You have to pay attention and use a steady hand and pressure to get a straight edge. Not hard—but you may need a little practice to master the process.