Hi Captain Hits - I'll leave the explication of Masahiro geometry and its possible problems to someone who knows. I know I've looked at pictures of those knives! (And seem them recommended with some frequency on other forums -- I don't even remember what they look like in pictures, though). On stones - I've got experience with a few things, and I'm no expert but I'm an ok parrot. That said: Ceramic is one way synthetic stones are made, yes. They tend to be splash-and-go stones, to my understanding, however. In addition to ceramic, there are clay bonding, resinoid bonding, magnesia.... there are other materials. Lots of variables go into how a stone will feel and whether it's a "soaker" or a "splash and go" stone. In my (limited) experience with splash-and-go stones, they should be soaked for a couple/few minutes, too. It's not necessary, but they behave better. Soaker stones generally take something like 30-45 minutes. I've seen people recommend 15 minute soaks for some, but I haven't used one that didn't do better with longer than that. I don't know about the particular stones you're pointing out that say 15-minutes. Besides how its bound, the kind of abrasive and its density, the method of hardening (heat or chemical reaction) and if heated in a kiln at what temperature, whether there are other additives beyond the abrasive... all are parts of what make a particular stone so.... particular. Different stones respond to pressure differently, and leave different finishes (cloudy or mirror-polished, f'rinstance) on particular kinds of steel, too. I think what you see recommended for beginners tend to be soakers, which can be soft enough to give good feedback (gouging is bad, mmm'kay?) but not so soft as to wear out and dish too easily. Softer stones tend to work up more "mud" I believe (though harder stones might too with a nagura or some lapping with a diamond plate). Again, in my limited experience, I prefer a soaker to scrape metal against. I like the convenience of the splash-and-go stones, and they dry out more readily for storage. But based on pricing and the haphazard way I originally purchased, I have a small mix of soakers and splash-and-go. (Actually only my coarse stone is a real soaker; this will change as budget allows). Anyway, I'm being SUPER incomplete, maybe very marginally inaccurate. I think these things really don't matter so much at this point in your thinking, it's just good to be aware. There are several threads that recommend stones to beginners for freehand sharpening -- some very recent. Let us know if you need links or pointers -- I'm typing on a tight schedule at the moment so won't just go looking just now. But I have recently, and I know there are recommendations out there. I'd find an explanation of BDL's way of thinking of "four stages" (vs. "three stones") of sharpening. You can get a set or you can build it piecemeal. The first stone you'll be using is something in the 1,000 - 2,000 grit range because that cuts fast enough that you can see what effect you're having but not so fast as to make metal disappear on your knife faster than your learning to hold a steady angle will be good for. You need something to flatten stones and you might want something to de-burr. There are posts here, and there's Chad Ward's e-gullet site which has a chapter from his book, which explain raising and chasing a burr and deburring. (Personally I haven't invested in strops and such yet; I might strop on newspaper, but my main deburring device is a wine cork, or a Chimay ale cork, after chasing burrs fairly tenaciously across stones). Hope this is a start. You've got the knack for reviving threads! (I have no expertise or even adopted prejudices to help with the fillet knife question you asked in another bit of necromantic thread wizardry; sorry... I just noticed you asking for help. I haven't cooked fish in a decade). And the shortest answer is: get yourself a Beston 1200 water stone if you don't absolutely need to have a splash-and-go, and decide on a stone-flattening method. (That's WAY too short an answer... especially if you can deal with getting a set to start with, or if you can afford something still more highfalutin'. OR... if you're ok with something cheaper just to get started because getting started is the name of the game. Before I complexify more, let's see what you're thinking; or let me let someone else point you to more of the "usual suspects". But a quick perusal of recent threads will give lots of info on particular stone recommendations as well as how to think about a "system").