So what are your favorite sharpening stones, the ones that you just can't live without, the ones that would get replaced immediately if something were to happen to them? I'd like to hear your thoughts on what you love & why you love them so much, what they're used for, etc.
I was just cleaning & flattening my stones and the thought came to me how a few of these are irreplaceable for one reason or another. Here's my favs....
I have to start off with what I consider to be the Holy Trinity of double bevel Japanese knife sharpening. I simply can't imagine not having this to use as a set.
Beston 500x - best all around coarse stone to start off almost every sharpening session with. A must have for AS steel
Bester 1200x - I simply can't make a more crisper near perfect bevel if I don't roll through this stone on my way up the ladder. This one also serves as my ura (back side) single bevel flattening stone, it's white color greatly helps here.
Suehiro Rika 5k - I could love this stone for no other reason than it's feel, what a joy to use. Good thing that it also aids greatly in the making that all around toothy edge serving as the last stone needed for the gyuto & nakiri.
Now I'll mention the must have coarse stones I keep on hand always.
Gesshin 400x - One of the few stones that went into my bucket and never came out. I find this stone is a must have for single bevel, it makes quick work of cladding prep on blade roads. I'm at about 3/8" on my current stone so Jon's got an order coming soon from me.
Pink Brick 220x - I can't say it's all love here because I also sort of hate this stone, or I hate that I need it, but it's one that I always re-order over and over again. I like to think of this as my "use in case of emergency" stone. It's just a serious steel hogger - well that is if you keep it flat while using it. Get the point of why I hate it?
Then there's this stone that came to me and I fell in so lust for right away. I'd re-order it again if I had to.
Takashima Awasedo (large) - I can't really describe what exactly I use this stone for but I love it anyway. It's a stone that feels great to use, smells earthy, is nice and soft, super muddy, and one that I think about all the time. Yeah like I said, I lust over this stone.
Now for my long term deep love affairs....
King 800x XL - This is one of my most used stones - great feel, lots of mud, and essential to aesthetics. I use this to blend bevels during a hamguriba grind single bevels and wide blade doubles like Takeda, etc. and I use it to create the base for a misty bevel look. I went through maybe 5 normal sized stones before buying my current XL version and I re-fell in love with this stone after getting the big boy size because it's so much more effective and it wears so much slower. I don;t think that I could professionally sharpen Japanese knives if I could not have this stone anymore.
King 1200x - My 2nd favorite 1k(ish) stone. This is IMO soooo much better of a stone than most everything out there. It allows for perfect feedback for locking up on the bevel, cuts super quick, and provides excellent pre-polish for jumping to 5-6k. Considering the cost it's highly recommended from me. Beware though - this isn't the crappy King 1k found everywhere, it's hard to imagine they're made by the same company.
Synthetic Aoto XL - I'm starting to tear up here, my old aoto is getting REAL thin and needing replacement soon and I can't hardly stand the thought of putting this old gal out to pasture but I will. I love this stone for it's size, it's feel, it's burr reduction capability, it's polishing, mud making, and ability to push the quality of a single bevels' edge to really high levels. I've been lucky with my stone (whereas many haven't been) as it's still in one piece and has been living in my bucket since day #1 which was probably 5-6 yrs ago. Yup my aoto is old, delicate, and really thin but one that I need to replace soon.
Kitayama - I saved the best for last. This is a controversial stone - a love it or hate it stone - but one that I figured out early on and has come back to help me push my edges to the highest levels over and over again. I find this stone to be absolutely 100% necessary to providing the level of edge quality that I've come to give for single bevel Japanese knife sharpening. This stone takes the edge quality left from any previous stone (even 10, 12, 15, & 30k) and pumps it up to make it even better while also providing the ultimate pre-strop ready edge. I've had my Kitayama since I started hand sharpening at the very beginning, it's getting real thin but it's slow wearer that still has lots of life in it. Boy if this stone could talk, it's tell some sharpening stories, it's got a ton of miles on it - mucho grande! Yup I'll replace this one day but not until I've sharpened another thousand knives or so.
So what are your loves?