The Combination Whetstone from KAI USA includes two grits for shaping and polishing edges plus a stable wooden stand to prevent marring the surface of kitchen workstations. The latest instruction manual was only in Japanese (with photos), but anyone who has used whetstones before should know the drill. There are only a few critical differences between Japanese sharpening stones and American whetstones, but they are important differences.
Most of us are familiar with carborundum, the favorite workshop whetstone in the U.S.A. — and also with the mess those stones leave behind. Carborundum lubricates best with light petroleum oil or kerosene, and neither of those are good ideas in the kitchen. Japanese waterstones grind with a paste formed from the grit in the stone as it mixes with clean water. Natural stones should be soaked for hours before use.
These artificial stones don’t require the long soaking period — fifteen minutes ought to be enough. Flush the surface with clean water now and then to keep the stone from clogging, and rinse the stones free of grit and steel with running water after use.
For removing a lot of steel, you’d need a coarser grit stone than the 240 grit of this combination whetstone, and it’s possible to get a finer edge than the stone’s 1000 grit side will produce. The two grades here are still good enough for most problems short of major damage and for an occasional tuning up that a sharpening steel won’t quite handle. If you care about the finish on your countertop or kitchen table, put a towel down before you start honing your knives. Honing mud mixed with steel shavings will drop on the cloth for easy cleanup. Don’t rub the work area clean — dab it with a wet cloth to pick up residue without leaving scratches.
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