Okay, let's start from scratch here. The concept was to try to answer the question "Why Waterstones?". I described the knife and the steel previously as well as my methodology. To recap, I had sharpened this knife before by going through all of the Diamond stones to 1000 (I did not use the 50 and 80 grit, started with the 100 grit plates). Then I ran through the four ceramic stones and stropped with 1 micron on WEPS leather. I liked the edge just fine, but as I will be displaying this knife I wanted a very reflective edge. I went back to the 600 grit diamonds with 50 stroke and up through the 1000 grit diamonds. Then I started with the ceramics. I did about 75 strokes trailing edge, 50 or so leading edge, and finished with about 25 or so trailing edge strokes at each grade.
(Edit: I did run the Ceramics wet per Clay's suggestion. They "feel" better that way. Rather than the sponge idea, I just lightly spritzed them every 25 strokes or so)
I stopped and took 3 or four photos after the ceramics trying to cover the entire blade. I did this after each grit. After the ceramics, I went back to the 1000 grit Chosera stones, then 2K, 3K, 5K, 10K and finally the 12K Naniwa Superstones. I tried to do the same number of strokes at each grit. I then went to strops at 1 micron and 0.5 microns on leather, 0.125 CBN and 0.1 diamond on kangaroo and finally 0.050 and 0.025 on nanocloth. I actually must have some contamination on my strops. There were more scratches after the 1 and 0.5 micron on leather than after the 12K stone. Somewhere along the line I got some bigger scratches while using the 'roo and nanocloth. I am not even going to post those photos because they have nothing to do with waterstones.
Now, I know that these are not perfect. I definitely need to work on the camera work. Any and all comments to help me get better are welcome.
I think it is pretty clear, even with the rough camera work and magnification levels that there is a definite difference in the visible scratches after running through the waterstone progression. What is not apparent from these photos is the huge difference in the reflectivity of the bevel. I tried to take pics, but the camera has a hard time teasing out the differences, at least at my skill level. I could take a photo after the ceramics that showed phone book text pretty clearly reflected from the edge. After 12K the difference is pretty amazing to the eye, now you start to see the irregularities in the text. I could not make the camera show this. Also, with the knife in the vice, I would turn the light on overhead, and the eyes were immediately drawn to the edge due to the glinting and multiple reflections.
You need to see it to believe it. If you do, you will start to question it when some talk about using their Lansky with a rough 2K grit to make a real mirror edge.. or at least try to get some kind of definition of what that means to them... or how to measure it.
Anyway, enjoy and comment away.
After the Diamonds and Ceramics
There has been some claims that the Waterstones are messy in use. I suppose that this is relative. Compared to the diamonds or Ceramics, perhaps that is true. But maybe it is just a different kind of mess. I get quite a bit of metal dust/shavings when using the Diamonds this has to be cleaned up and the arm joints protected from its abrasiveness. The ceramics take regular cleaning if you want them to look and work as new. This involves significant time, scrub brushes and abrasive cleaners.
With the Choseras, SuperStones or Shaptons, I do use water. The Choseras get a 10 minute soak at least. The SS I usually do the same, even though they are listed as splash and go. I just like the way the feel better after a soak. I spritz the shaptons ever 15 strokes or so and wipe them off to keep them as cleans as possible. This maintains their precision. g I spritz the Choseras and SS about every 25 strokes and spread the mud produced evenly over the stone. I find this maximizes their polishing properties. On the coarser Choseras, say up to 1K, when I pull them out of their soak, I rub them against each other until I develop some decent amount of slurry.
Anyway, the picture below is right after I used the 2K Choseras for around 150 strokes per side. You can see the "mess" produced. I don't find it much worse than the steel dust and deal with it in the same way, a quick wipe with a damp sponge, and everything is as good as new...
Area "mess" after 2K Chosera
So, using the water stones involves a bit more work. I don't use them for every knife. Probably only 20% of the knives that I sharpen. At this level I am sharpening for fun and to tease that final bit of reflectivity out of each edge. I don't have anything else that will do what my water stones will, so to me, in these situations, it is more than worth the small amount of extra effort to get there.
This is all done in the pursuit of the perfect edge, after all.