New waterstones, King Deluxe 300 and Bester 700
I've been getting back into woodworking and decided I might as well get my kitchen stuff in order as well (and probably get decent knives, too), and while doing some research I stumbled across the suggestion to try the King Deluxe 300 grit waterstone on a woodworking site. The only source I've found is toolsfromjapan.com (highly recommended, but it takes a while for things to get here). To save money on shipping, I also got a Bester 700 grit waterstone to replace my old King clay binder stones from 20 years ago. I've always found them to be too soft to keep flat enough for plane irons and wide chisels, the things I usually need to sharpen most.
I got the stones a couple days ago after a long wait (shipping by mail from Japan is a bit slow). What a pleasure! Unlike my old King 220 grit green stone, which was so soft it was impossible to flatten anything or grind a square edge (the stone rubbed away even at very light pressure, resulting in trenches), the 300 grit Deluxe is VERY hard. A splash of water and away I went with an old Case chef knife with some divots in the edge. Didn't take long for it to have a new bevel with the edge biting into the stone, maybe 60 or 70 passes on each side.
I was reducing the bevel angle to 15 or so from 20 or so degrees, or it wouldn't have taken so long. The only thing that collected on the surface of the stone was metal powder, I could not feel any grit in the swarf, but it also never seemed to dull or load up. Cuts like crazy. This is a good thing as the knife was never really sharp to start with, and the base of the blade near the bolster was flat, finally had to do some grinding with a small diamond hone there, but it's sharp now.
I then tried the Bester 700 -- like my Bester 1200 white stone, it's very hard, but feels quite sandy. It also cuts very fast, the surface turns black with metal swarf almost instantly, and the sound changes as the scratches from the 300 grit stone vanish. Five or six passes on each side and there is no more improvement in finish, so I moved on to the 1200 grit stone. The Bester stones need to be soaked for a bit rather than having water splashed on them, otherwise they go dry and load up.
These are great stones -- the King is faster than my Naniwa 220 grit Super Stone, and very much cleaner besides. The superstone makes lots of white mud, more if you use anything but very light pressure. I think the King stone cuts much faster, and cleaner too, less visible scratching. No mud, just gray metal powder that rinses off.
The Bester 700 is very fast, and if I weren't grinding out abuse (chips and dents) I'd use it as the coarsest stone if I were re-setting a bevel. I don't expect to have to flatten either of these stones much, if at all for knives. Probably will have to check more often for planes and chisels, as they have to have straight edges, but even then these stones won't wear much in normal use.
One both stones, the edge "bites" into the stone, you don't need to feel for a burr to tell when you have an edge, the feel of the blade moving across the stone changes distinctly. The burr itself is quite small since very little pressure is needed (although the stones will take quite a bit, it's not really necessary), and a few very light passes on each side reduces the burr to almost nothing.