I spent literally a year looking for the best solution to sharpening cheapos. Mercer, Wusthof, NSF, Forschner, etc. I could not find anything better than the edge off a belt, my favorite being 120grit belt followed by a 1200 grit SiC belt, then 1200 grit rod.
But it had a long list of cons:
2. Easy to make a big mistake(overheat the tip, overgrind the edge on the corner of the platen)
3. People are scared of it because they don't know I'm not a steel-hogging nutjob
4. Belts wore out like every 10 knives, and were not free.
5. Power was a BIG hassle--it would require either an entire VAN or a generator or a complex battery system.
So I was set to figure out how to remove chips and found a solution in the Atoma 140x. The edge off that is too rough, and a 3 stone solution for cheap knives is a waste of time. I need one stone.
I tried about a dozen different 1k-2k stones trying to find one that performed best, picking qualities I needed. I usually used a 1k followed by some edge-trailing on a Shapton Pro 2k, which was not as good as the belt.
Then I got an Aotoshi. It had terrible feedback, was super chalky feeling, and left a comically shiny edge. First knives I tried it on were my Shigefusa and Tojiro DP, the knives I know the best--and the edge just plain SUCKED! Wouldn't be happy with that edge at all, not even for a 2k edge. I was bummed.
But then I tried it on a Dexter stainless, and it was magic! I couldn't believe it. Straight off the stone, this is the best performing, all-around edge I've ever gotten, but only for cheap knives. And it's fast enough to remove 140x finish, and leaves a noobie-friendly shiny edge. The stone is soft enough to gouge easily, which is great, because it means I can work fast on it and not worry so much about rounding edges or the corner of the stone riding high and damaging a knife by accident.
Here's a quick video for you guys to see what I'm talking about. Lots of sniffling and whatnot, it's allergy season.