Thanks again Jim, I appreciate you taking the time to pass on some of your knowledge! I started down the path of honing guide but think I need to just get on with free hand sharpening. while there maybe a steeper learning curve in the beginning, I think it will be a bigger benefit in the long run. I will check out some of the Paul Sellers tutorials.
I've got a 'fine' hard Arkansas and a Translucent Washita. I sharpen freehand the way we were taught by Paul Sellers to make a convex bevel.
I strop with some green Chromium oxide at the end. I think stropping makes more difference than anything else.
I think the first 'grind' step makes or breaks an edge, if you're not raising a burr in the first step - all the others will take too long.
Please excuse the PM, I now longer post on the public forum. I use a coarse diamond stone with my two oil stones, because I already owned one. The same can be achieved with a coarse synthetic oil stone, from Norton.
You MUST raise a burr, at each grit, every time to maintain the desired cutting angle.
Forming the wire burr illustrates that you've moved a layer of steel to a fine point.
I follow Paul Sellers' method, but any repeatable process will work.
Lastly, I found that the stones need to be at the height of my belt, or the cutting angle is too shallow.