Bester 700 grit synthetic whetstone was a complementary stone for the DMT 8XXC diamond whetstone. As I've mentioned in the DMT 8XXC diamond whetstone review, 8XXC is way too rough and leaves pretty deep scratchmarks. Especially if you use excessive force(read pressure). You can jump to something above 1000 right away, but that will take very long time to get rid of the scratches. Doubling the grit, 220-240 grit won't do much good, those are still very rough. Based on Dave Martell's(Japanese Knife Sharpening) recommendation I've picked up this Bester 700. It's rather inexpensive whetstone. It's coarse and synthetic at that. However, for coarse whetstones, synthetics work better, they wear down slower compared to their natural counterparts. That basically sums up my reaons for getting this stone.
General- Bester 700 is brown color, perfect brick :) You can see it on the linked picture at the beginning of this article. It's the top one in it. Not that coarse on touch, however, under magnification you can see it's pretty rough. Exact dimensions are 215m×75mm×25mm. Other than that, I don't know what to say in general description to describe a stone :) Shape ware perfectly rectangular and smooth. No chips or cracks were present at the time of arrival. There are not any now either. Good thing is the stone doesn't come with a base, so I don't have to deal with that nuisance.
Performance- To get started you'll need to soak this stone in water for approximately 30 minutes or so. With bester it's easy to tell when you're done soaking, the bubbles stop coming up. Once the soaking process is completed you can get started. As far as I know, it is safe to leave the stone in the water for prolonged times, although I don't do that, just to be on the safe side ;) Like I said, Bester 700 was recommended by Dave, as a fine scratch remover, initial edge smoothing whetstone. That is how I use it most of the time. After using either one of the coarse whetstones I have - DMT 8XXC, Shapton 220 Grit Glassstone, Beston 500 Grit Ceramic whetstone, this Bester is absolutely a must. Any of those three leave way too deep scratches on the stone. Bester 700 smoothes them out fairly easily and in very short time, except for really deep scratches, then you'd have to remove a lot of metal, for which this stone isn't really designed, even though it's a 700 grit stone, which by definition falls under coarse category. Because of that, it's not really recommended for cutting initial bevels on the knife, or reprofiling the edge significantly.
Using this stone is pretty easy, cutting speed is pretty good for what I use it, sharpening itself feels very smooth for the stone with 700 grit. However, the water consumption is waay too high. Basically, Bester is more like a sponge than a stone, or even a whetstone. Have to water it after every 10-15 stokers sometimes and in the end, I always have a nice puddle of water under the stone. Other than that, it's just perfect for my purposes. Gives nice, smooth surface, doesn't wear down too fast and raises the burr real quick, even on Aritsugu Honkasumi Yanagiba, which let me remind you is 65HRC+ knife.
Conclusions- Very good stone, especially for it price. Works fast, no significant wear. The only con is an excessive water consumption. Other than that, it's a must for any serious sharpener.
Last updated - 09/01/11