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: chefknivestogo.com.
You can see that company’s Shapton products at chefknivestogo.com 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 chefknivestogo.com and sometimes not. My inclination is to always support the official distributor because he or she can offer support.
— Christopher Schwarz