Some stones need water, while other stones need oil for floating the swarf (small metal filings created when sharpening) away. Simply apply a few drops of either oil or water directly to the stone. (We recommend using an inexpensive spray bottle for applying the water.) The lubricant you need is determined by the type of stone you are using. Water stones and diamond stones require water. Oil stones such as India, Crystolon and Arkansas stones use oil for a lubricant.
In terms of feedback, in the eyes, and in the hands of many sharpeners, the feedback on this particular brand of stones is not to their liking and often it is enough to stop them from using them. These are thinner than other stones as well so you may get the impression that you are not getting your moneys worth. They are very hard stones, there is no soft, creamy sensation as you sharpen, there is not much feedback at all in fact.
I do have to question the grit ratings of these stones. I didn't notice anything before using them, but after a day, the 2000 grit actually felt courser than the 1000 grit side of the other stone. Whether that could be a byproduct of other factors or an indication of the more obvious, being that the grit ratings aren't accurate, I don't know. But that seemed to be the main criticism of cheaper whetstones, that their grit ratings often aren't accurate. Or maybe it's less a problem with accuracy and more a difference that most synthetic stones might have in common when being compared to much pricier natural stones?
I give Sharp Pebble a top rating for two reasons. First, the company emailed a user guide for me to review and learn how to best use its product while it was being shipped to me. Wonderfully proactive. Second, the sharpening stone did a terrific job restoring the edge on my kitchen knives that had been woefully neglected. Ever rent a house and every knife in the kitchen has the edge of a butter knife? I was almost there. Now, the knives are cutting beautifully. I have only one suggestion for Sharp Pebble. While the stone includes a useful angle guide that can be attached to a blade and the guide gives clear steps on prepping the stone and how to hold the blade when sharpening, it does not illustrate the manner in which the blade needs to be moved across the stone. I had to go to Youtube to get some tips on the exact method. I have historically been very bad at putting an edge on a blade due to ignorance primarily. But with the help of the video and a good stone, I did an effective job. The base does a great job of holding the stone in place and is attractive in the kitchen.
It will be tempting to raise the angle here to get to the edge quickly, that is not the way to go. Re-paint the edge/bevel if necessary and try again. You can flip the knife prior to burr formation and work on the opposite side. Repeatedly feel for the burr with your thumb by running it very gently down the blade and over the edge, if the burr is there it will be very obvious, you need to create the burr along the entire length of the blade. Once you have done that, (you have accomplished what most people will never try) but besides that, you have to do the same to the other side of the blade.
I can personally verify that this will get your knives very sharp. I will spare you all the gory details, but the picture is of the instructions the ER sent me home with after stopping the bleeding and patching me up. I have to say, that’s not what I had in mind regarding “Thanksgiving tips”. So: not only will knives slide easily through spinach, but they will go through finger and fingernail like a hot knife through butter after being sharpened by this whetstone. Very clean, straight cut. Impressive, really. Just take it slow and don’t be a moron like me.
In addition, the most prized of the natural Japanese Water Stones are quarried in the Narutaki District north of Kyoto, Japan and are commonly available as either bench stones or pocket stones in grits ranging from 120 to 12,000. On the other hand, synthetic water stones are made from Aluminum Oxide and commonly available as either bench stones or pocket stones as well in grits ranging from 220 to 8,000 and, although this is the same abrasive material used to make India Oil Stones, the difference between the two is that the binder that holds the abrasive together enables Water Stones to be much softer than India Oil Stones which, in turn, promotes faster cutting because the worn abrasive material breaks away more quickly and is replaced with fresh, sharp, abrasive material more quickly. In addition, because water stones do not become glazed or loaded with swarf like oil stones can, new abrasive particles are constantly exposed as the stone wears so it continues to cut consistently. Plus, they can be lubricated effectively with water (rather than oil which can ruin some water stones) which combines with the fine particles of abrasive from the surface of the stone to form a slurry which polishes the bevel as the stone cuts. However, it should also be noted that Water Stones do become uneven significantly faster than other types of whetstones although, their softness does make them easier to true again.