Splash and go stones: Gesshin vs Shapton Glass vs Shapton Pro vs Naniwa Professional?

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Joined Jun 27, 2020
I'm buying my first whetstones and decided to keep things simple and get splash and go. I'll be realistic and just admit I don't have a lot of patience to wait for stones to soak or dry, and don't have a lot of space to lay out soaking equipment. I want to get just a roughly 1000 and a fine grit stone and be done (and maybe a coarse stone to round out). I anticipate having 1-2 good Western and 1-2 good Japanese knives plus a couple of utility knives in each (I'm sure these are famous last words on this forum).

I don't do heavy duty chopping but I don't mind spending a little on a couple of good stones right away instead of starting on a beginner stone then upgrading. I appreciate the artisanship in the knives and stones so would love to have a few good ones, not necessarily a collection. Researching is confusing as it's easy to find posts about people liking a certain stone, but not posts explaining why exactly and how one stone compares to another.

I was thinking of:

- Gesshin 1500 and 6000 - supposed to be the higher end recommendation with good feedback, available only from Japanese Knife Imports (and I'm not in the USA)

- Shapton Glass 1000 and 6000 - sharpen fast and people say these work even on harder steels, only con is that they have a shorter lifespan (not relevant to me as I don't plan on sharpening 10 knives a month)

- Shapton Pro 1000 and 5000 - also good, thicker than the glass and might last a bit longer?

- Naniwa Professional 1000 and 3000 - also good but understand they are not true splash and go and need to soak a little, plus there are reported issues with cracking

Any advice on how to choose? Also, would it make sense to get a 2000 instead of a 1000 stone, or get 1000 / 3000 / 5000 or 6000 instead of just 1000 / 5000 or 6000?
 
3,015
906
Joined Jul 13, 2012
1k and a 4k, or 6k should do you just fine. The nice thing about the Shapton glass stones is the quick dry time. I use them for touch up work have other stones for heavy duty sharpening. As for Naniwa Pro stones my 3k is splash and go. If it soaks it gets gummy feeling and doesn't cut for crap. It doesn't hurt to have some perma-soakers on hand either. I have a green brick, a Bester and a Gesshin 400 that live in water.
 
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1,685
191
Joined Dec 23, 2004
I haven't tried the Gesshin but I have nearly all the GlassStones, Shap Pro and Naniwa Professional (mine are older back when they were named Chocera but they're the same stone). You'll need to soak the Naniwa stones but that's not a big deal. All of them are great! I prefer the Naniwa stones for the steels they work well on but if you're going to sharpen a lot of R2 or any of the newer breeds of abrasion resistant 'super steel's they may struggle a bit (eg REX45, K390, SG2, HAP40, M4 or even M390- but most of those aren't widely used in kitchen knives).

The GlassStones will work on all steels I know of. The Shapton Pro stones are perhaps a notch below but a bit better than the Naniwa on exotic steels.

It also depends on the "feel" you like. The Naniwa stones are all much softer and muddier; I greatly prefer that. The GlassStones are extremely hard at nearly all grits and while they work very well I dislike the feel of them in use. The Shapton Pros are in between.

I think the Shapton Pro 320 is one of the best aratos around, and it would be my first choice. It's a very fast cutter although it dishes quicker than some and will need to be flattened more frequently. The GlassStones at lower grit have a terrible feel but are also fast. The Naniwa 400 is a superb arato as well.

For a 1k there's nothing on the market [that I know of] as good as the Naniwa. It's faster than you'd expect yet leaves a finish that's good enough for 95% of people after a strop on leather. Really a remarkable Nakato stone. If you could only have one single stone that would be the one.

For a Shiageto the 5k Naniwa is great for most steels. The 5k Shaptons (both lines) are also great. In the higher grits IMO it's all Naniwa. The 10k blue Naniwa and the 8k "Snow White" Naniwa are both fantastic. The 10k is an amazing stone, and it leaves an edge that is both slippery and toothy at the same time although I know that sounds nonsensical. Most folks won't go any higher but Shapton has GlassStones & Pro stones in the 15k and even 30k grits. They're great but overkill.

I like to sharpen my own knives up to 10k for almost all purposes. If I'm doing someone else' knives I normally stop at 5k then strop on kangaroo leather doped with 1/8 micron CBN. Realistically 5k is about the standard for finishing.

The Pro Shaps are thicker than the Glass and theoretically should last longer, but the GlassStones wear very very slowly. It's hard to imagine wearing one out unless you're sharpening for the whole kitchen.
 

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