As for the stones, I would say the Gesshin 1k is a best in class stone. It's just like a Beston 1.2k but it's spash n go so it dries and I put it away in a few hours rather than days or having to have a permasoak bucket. I need all my storage space for other knife junk and a bucket just doesn't fit nicely into my equation. The finish is similar but probably a bit finer-looking. I think it feels a little harder but again, that's similar and so is the level of feedback. It is also similar in terms of speed. It is my go-to 1k stone.
Gesshin 5k is also splash n go. It is a really nice stone. I like everthing about it except it's a bit slow. If I'm using it to refine a 1k edge, it's great. If I really want to grind out all the 1k scratches, it takes a bit longer so I've started inserting a 3kSS into the progression. The 20k is superfine and damn hard and probably isn't the best stone for kitchen knives, as much as I hate admitting it. There's just very little bite to that edge and since it's so hard, it's a bit difficult to get it to touch every point along the edge unless you purposefully go for a tiny microbevel.
similarly, I have found over the years that the more time I take getting everything just right at 36grit on the grinder, the easier I can clean it up with 80 grit,
when I'm hand sanding I start at 150grit and work up to 2000, If I take my time at 150 and get everything just right I can get from 150 to 2000 in a matter of 20-30 minutes. If I try and rush the 150 finish it can take significantly longer to get to 2000.
I've learned a lot about sharpening by learning to sharpen different things--cheap steel, high end steel, straight razors, scissors, etc.
It is my firm belief that a tool is properly sharp when you never give a second thought to it. When your tool becomes a part of your day, it is not doing it's job. A tool's job is to disappear into your workspace, and let you focus on the task at hand, whether it is cooking dinner, cutting hair, shaving, opening boxes, or skinning a deer.
Sadly, lately, I've had to re-consider my stance on my three knife rule. I no longer think 1 knife is perfect for 90% of tasks. It's more like 45%, because different food items require different kinds of sharp. I found this out when I sharpened a guy's knife to a hair popping edge, and it just fell through carrots---and smashed a tomato. Then I roughed it up on a 1k stone, and it fell through a tomato, but sawed it's way through the carrot. You need polish for fish, teeth for chicken, etc etc.
Surprise, surprise the Japanese had it right about knives again.
*edit* and on medium stone quality, I learned a lot from straight razor guys that sharpen on 2 stones, and 2 stones only, but they don't go from 1k to 6k until the 1k will shave without effort.
i find that to be strange, the idea that a knife that will slide through a tomato won't slide through a carrot. the knives i have that will push cut tomatoes don't even know the carrots are there.
Maybe the carrot to tomato isn't as good a reference as say, a crispy, charred, grilled tenderloin to a tomato...
The difference between try and triumph is a little "umph"! NO EXCUSES!!!!!!!
i cut crispy, charred, grilled tenderloins with no problems using the same knives. i agree that toothy edges can feel different than slick edges, but i don't find either to really cut much different if they are both prepared similarly. i may have a different definition of toothy, though. white steel, for instance, always feels toothy to me, no matter how much time i put in to making the scratch pattern as uniform and polished as possible.
The thing is, a crispy, grilled tenderloin needs the same toothy edge as a tomato. Unless your tomatoes are bulletproof, straight-outta-the-warehouse, they will benefit from an edge with some bite to it. God knows I cut enough tomatoes at work.
But a carrot needs a polished, push-cutting edge, much like you would want for wood carving.