Do I have a stone to pick with you!
Often people ask for advice on stones. Most of the guys start out with what they see come up n the forums. Most of us advise what they have tried, what they like or what they think the guy needs. In the end I only have 3 types of synthetic stones I will advise.
To be honest, none of them are cheap. Well there is a reason for that. The stones I discuss are the ones I found to work well every time with every steel I've tried it with. Getting cheaper stones is an option, but if you are passionate about knives and sharpening you know you will upgrade later on and spend the money anyway. So I would advice getting the good ones from the start.
The range of Chosera stones is quite big ranging from 400 grit up to 10k. For a coarser stone I would advice a Shapton or a diamond plate. They need to be soaked 5-10 minutes before use. Especially the 1k needs a longer soak. The rest of the line is pretty much the same. I would advice soaking them all. Start with the 400 after 5 minutes minimum and progress as you usually would to get a good amount of water into the stones.
The stones break down a bit and that makes for a constant release of slurry which helps to cut steel. The stones cut very fast and leave a more polished finish. The slurry helps with that.
The progression I use most of the time on these stones is 400, 1k, 3k, 5k, 10k. You can add a Naniwa 8k Snow White in there too if you want. It's not a Chosera, but works very well in that progression.
There are softer and harder stones in the Chosera range. This way you can choose a progression of stones based on your personal preference. I found that with these stones they all cut well, but for very hard knives, I still prefer a slightly softer stone. This doesn't mean some Choseras are soft. They are softer!
The Shapton Pro series are rapidly becoming my favorite stones. While they are waterstones like the Chosera stones, that where the comparison end in my opinion. These are available in full size, EP size and WEPS size.
There are 3 big differences between these and the Chosera stones:
1. Splash and go
Because of the nature of the binder, these stones don't need to soak. You can literally spray them with water and use them. This makes them fast and less messy than the Chosera stones.
2. Grit range
The Shapton line is impressive to say the least: 220, 320, 1k, 1.5k, 2k, 5k, 8k, 15k, 30k. Needless to say there isn't a grit range you won't find in these stones.
The binder of the stone is completely different from the Chosera stones. That makes them splash and go and makes for a very hard stone. You can argue about the 220 and 320 being hard, but I would definitely say that most other stones in this range are a LOT softer.
These stones are fast, precise, slow wearing and all-round perfect in my opinion. I really love them for razors too. The EP size allows you to hone razors that have messed up spines while still cutting fast. They do glaze a little bit. You can either soak them a bit or use a fine DMT or Atoma plate to build a bit of slurry which speeds up the sharpening too. They don't naturally build a slurry. The cutting action of the Pro is in that regard very different from the Choseras. These stones replace scratches by finer scratches instead of polishing and blending the scratches. You have to be sure to remove all the scratches from the previous grit before you move up to the next one. I have found some 320 scratches at 5k more than once. Make sure you do it right. Then these stones are unstoppable.
Comparing the Shapton Glass stones to the Pro's the main difference people notice is the price. Well there's a reason for that. They aren't as thick. The glass stones use a glass backing, hence the name. This allows Shapton to use thinner stone without the risk of cracking them in use. The grit range is even bigger adding a 120, 500, 3k, 4k, 6k, and 10k to the lineup. There's a 16k stone instead of a 15k in the Pro series, but the difference is marginal. There is a special polishing 8k stone too. I'm not fond of it, but some love it.
Another difference is the binder. These stones are a tad softer and build a slurry more than the Pro series and are in my opinion therefore great for harder steels and very abrasion resistant steel. In fact they were designed for D2 tool steel. If you ever sharpened this steel, you know how abrasive resistant it is. Other than this, I found them quite similar in speed and finish, but they polish a bit more, and dish a bit faster.
They are only available in full size, not for the Edge Pro or WEPS because it's impossible to cut them up because of the glass backing.
These stones are all great. At the moment I like the Shapton Pro stones the most, but I've been impressed with them all. Horses for courses really.