If I'm reading this right the Sigma II would be excellent for all steels although they might be overkill for 01 and A2 with only a marginal improvement over Bester/Imanishi etc. Lee Valley suggests soaking the Sigma IIs for a few minutes but doesn't say whether they can be left in water all the time. They suggest spritzing the Imanishi 8000 (like the Shaptons) As I'm in Southern California leaving stones in water is fine -- no real frost! I'm more confused than ever with the choices out there. What to do.....????
I think the Select II are overkill for plain steels, but they're not "just a little faster" on those same, plain steels. Depending on the steel, and how much of it there is, twice as fast? LV have overhyped the Imanishi, understated the Select II just to cover themselves.
ALL Sigma Power stones can be left in water. The Select II shouldn't be left to freeze (until I learn otherwise) but the ceramics (LV doesn't sell them, I do) aren't harmed by hard freezing as far as I have found.
Sigma Power stones do require soaking below #4000 grit, but above that (#6000 and above) do not require soaking at all.
Of course, LV don't actually sell any Sigma Power #6000 stones, but Sigma Power make 4 different types in that grit range alone. As well as a few #8000, a smattering of #10000 (LV carries only one) and a #13000...
Kind of odd, the Sigma Power are easy to find in Japan, but I find myself still being the only seller of most of their line up.
The Imanishi are easy to find outside Japan, but almost non-existent inside Japan. I can't find them, and that makes them almost the waterstone equivalent of Matsumura chisels.
i'm surprised JWW doesn't sell them, given their clown car of offerings from other places.
They do sell the stone that is a really nice stone (well, they market it as a "takenoko" 7000, but I see it's actually a 6000 stone). However, as with many things, it doesn't take much time to find it for less.
But the dizzying array of 4000-8000 stones they have, as well as the bunch of 200 grit range stones leaves me spinning. Most of the explanations do nothing to decipher what works with what.
Otherwise, most places here have one or two selections of artificial stones, and they mix in a bunch of things other than waterstones.
one aside, though, I have not used the coarse stones of the bester type, but the medium stones cut plain carbon steel and japanese irons very fast and hold their flatness well, and leave a very even scratch pattern. That flatness is extremely important when sharpening a hard japanese 70mm iron freehand, to lessen the amount of time spent on the next stone. I would bet there are a lot of japanese irons that aren't as sharp as they should be because of a 1000 stone that is not quite flat.
As for speed, though, no more than exists in shaptons and besters in the 1000 range is really needed with japanese irons, the flatness is more important.
For western tools, I literally take one side-sharpening stroke on a shapton pro 1000 with a freshly hollow ground chisel, and then probably 15 strokes with a 15k pro stone. If the stones cut faster, I'd just waste off more. If it takes more than a couple strokes to raise a wire edge on a chisel, I go over to the grinder and do a new primary, which takes less than a minute.
Last edited by David Weaver; 03-13-2011 at 10:54 PM.
I'm at the point now I won't add anything I don't know and trust.
Twas kinda shocking when I asked Sigma Power, and they said "yes, please!", and the rest is history. I'd like to add a few more stones in the near future, but won't do that until I can coax them out of the factories that make them, which might be a little difficult until I get some runs on the board.
But they are coming, and with what is coming in the next year, it'll be interesting to say the very least...
(It is nice when you got the folks who make the stuff back you to the hilt, and don't put you on a leash at the same time. )