The Japanese waterstone manufacturer SHAPTON, from Nabatame, Tochigi Province, makes the hardest stones. In contrast to almost all of the other brands, Shapton stones remain tend to remain flat longer and so must be dressed much less often than the others.
SHAPTON sharpening stones shine when using them to rough-sharpen an edge and for their ability to quickly reach an effective edge. The sharpening process feels very different than working on softer stones. One can feel the relative hardness of the Shapton stones, and it is difficult to avoid repeatedly looking at the stone in use to see if it is really wearing away. But it does, and quickly too!
The 120-grit stone cuts about as quickly as the 240-grit SUN TIGER from Matsunaga, and, as noted above, holds its flat surface much longer. One can make the rougher stones cut still more quickly if one uses a little more pressure than is usual with softer stones.
The 1000-grit SHAPTON stone cuts quicker than the traditional Japanese 1000-grit stones, but when one examines the edge with a microscope, one finds that the edge appears somewhat rougher than after using a traditional 800-grit stone.
In contrast to the traditional, and CERAX, 8000-grit waterstones, the Shapton 8000-grit polishes very little, instead leaving a very fine matt surface. Whether that influences the final practical sharpness cannot as yet be determined, but it is well known that even some of the finest and most expensive Japanese natural stones also do not leave a mirror surface, and the final sharpness that can be achieved with those stones is justly famous.
Do not leave the Shapton stones in water before and between sharpening sessions.
Enlargements and further directions for use. Please read these directions. There one will discover, among many other things, why Shapton Stones should not be left sitting in water any longer than absolutely necessary. Beyond that important point, one can find the answers to many other good questions about these stones.
The manufacturer of these stones provides this advice on the choice of proper grain sizes for the different stages of sharpening various kinds of tools and common steels. But the advice is meant only to provide general guidelines for using the stones. If one has different ideas, or experience with these kinds of stones, or has found different directions from other expert sources, then one should take those things into consideration when choosing which stones to purchase.
Waterstones do wear concave with use and require periodic re-flattening. Our flattening stones will do this job. A flat stone is indispensable for effective sharpening, especially with flat blades like chisels and plane irons.