Now that you're holding the handle and the blade is in position, gently apply some pressure to the belly of the blade with your left hand fingers – "roughly the amount of pressure to semi depress a sponge," says Warner. Starting at the tip, glide the blade up and down the stone – around five strokes up and down is a good number. Then move to the middle – five more strokes. Finally five strokes up and down on the heel.
Start off on the rough grit side of the stone. Check the grit on your stone, or the packaging that came with the stone, to identify which is which. In general, whetstones and diamond stones each have different grits on either side. The rough grit side is used to grind the steel down, while the fine grit side is used to sharpen or hone the knife. The grinding process comes first, so you start on the rough grit side.
The Sharpening and Specialty lines of waterstones from Naniwa are available in several packages of three to five stones. The Specialty line is the same as the Sharpening line, but half the thickness and therefore less expensive. Both the Sharpening and the Specialty stones are 8 1/4" long by 2 3/4" wide, amply sized for most knives and tools. These are a higher grade stone that do not require soaking before use. While you would need a flattening stone in addition, these kits are a good way to enter into premium grade waterstones.
You will also need at least one finer stone. Once the shape of an edge is established, successively finer grits are used to refine the edge improving the quality of the cut it delivers. A dull edge will not cut well and should be shaped with a coarse stone. An edge sharpened on a coarse stone will cut better than a dull one, but still won’t be ideal and should be improved with a finer stone. As you progress through finer stones, the cutting edge will continue to improve. How many and how fine these stones need to be varies depending on how fine an edge you require.
As opposed to water whetstones that require you to pre-soak the stone, the Norton oil stone is pre-filled with oil to save time and eliminate the need to pre-soak it prior to use and the lubricant stays on the surface during sharpening. The oil also prevents metal from bonding with the abrasive surface by flushing away dislodged abrasive and metal chips.
The speed and polishing ability of waterstones attract many sharpeners. Waterstones sharpen quickly and are available in fine polishing grits not found in other stone types. The ability to flatten the stones is a necessity when sharpening with waterstones, so a starting set should include a flattening stone of some kind. Our article, How to Flatten a Waterstone, has more information about keeping waterstones flat.