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All the sharpening systems out there work, but I have a favorite: Shapton Pro Series stones in #1,000, #5,000 and #8,000 grits. Shapton Pros cut fast, stay pretty flat and don’t have to be soaked beforehand. As I sharpen three to five times a day, those are important qualities.

Recently there has been turmoil with the supply of Shapton stones to the United States. In the end, the U.S. distributor and the Japanese manufacturer parted ways (I’m not going to detail the drama; I dislike drama). And now Shaptons are being distributed in the United States and Canada by a new supplier:

You can see that company’s Shapton products at via this page.

Now, here’s the good news. The prices have gone down significantly. When I bought my first Shapton #1,000-grit stone, I paid about $75. In 2014, I bought the same stone for $60. Now you can get it for $45. That makes Shaptons cheaper than Norton waterstones in many cases. If you have been put off by the high price of Shaptons, act now.

Note, someone is going to ask me about prices for the Shapton Glasstones. I don’t recommend these stones. I burned through too many to like them – you get little abrasive and they don’t cut better (in my opinion). Skip the Glasstones and get the Pros. They are cheaper and last longer.

Oh, and someone is going to ask me about the Shapton Diamond Lapping Plate, a $380 item. Again, it’s not my favorite. I burned through two of them. I prefer the DMT plates for this. Get the DX88 for $90 or if you are a daily daily daily sharpener, get the DiaFlat for about $200.

Finally, you might also ask me about the Shapton Kuromaku stones sold through Amazon. There are, as best I can tell, gray-market stones that are intended for the Japanese market and not ours. The packaging and instructions are in Japanese. They are otherwise indistinguishable to the U.S. Shapton Pros (I’ve tried a set of the Kuromakus). They are sometimes cheaper than and sometimes not. My inclination is to always support the official distributor because he or she can offer support.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 10 comments
  • Michael

    As a chef I always supported Mark over at Excellent customer service and he’ll do his best to match prices. As a woodworker I’ve ventured out to various different places for supplies. I just happened to purchase the 12,000 grit Shapton Korumaka the day before this was posted. I got mine on amazon. I love it. It is much easier to use than my traditional stones that required soaking. I actually moved all my traditional stones back into the kitchen and went with diamond plates for the shop due to the inconvienece of soaking and flattening. Had these been this affordable 6 months ago I would have skipped the diamond plates.

  • Jason

    Most of my blades are A2 and PM-V11? How well do the Shaptons work on those two steels?

  • DarrenLW

    They’re not the only company selling these stones. Check out SharpeningSupplies.Com as well. FYI, the Professionals are now being called Kuromaku by Shapton. They are the same stone.

  • kocgolf

    I have the 1000 and 6000 stones and they work great. I have considered getting one more polish stone, but I don’t know how far to jump. I was considering a different brand 10,000 stone because I didn’t see a Shapton. Would jumping from 6000 to 12000 be too much, or good choice?

  • bclarkca

    Reading your old posts (2014), you were somewhat negative on the 8000 and positive on the 15000. Have you reverted to the 8000 as your final polish? Thanks much for all of your great articles.

  • Tom64

    You underestimate your effect on the market! I just used the link in your post to check the website and they are all sold out!

    Brother, you have to understand that when you recommend, woodworkers buy!

    I know from experience.


  • nbreidinger

    Maybe I’m missing something but it looks like in the link provided the stones that are 1,000 grit and up are Kuromakus and everything below is Pro Series. I have the Kuromakus myself and am quite pleased and agree with your sentiment that I can’t tell the difference between those and pro series stones I’ve used. Thanks for the heads up, Chris!

  • comboprof

    I have always bought my sharpening supplies from located in Middleton, Wi. They have excellent service. They also sell some Shapton products. Prices seem to be similar. But I never use water stones, I instead use DMT plates and Arkansas stones.

  • tomwoodworker

    Thanks for the heads-up, Chris. These also are the stones I’m most comfortable using though I go from 1,000 directly to 8,000. Thanks again, Tom.

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