Shapton® Glass Stone™ 500 Grit
Synthetic Whetstone Review

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Shapton® Glass Stone™ 500 Grit Synthetic Whetstone

I was familiar with Shapton® Glass Stone™-s long before I got them. They are always discussed on any forum where whetstones are mentioned. Some people swear by them, others not so much. General idea I got from those discussions was that they're quite good for many uses, especially if you need to get up and running fast, since they do not require long soak times. For very high grit edges, and especially when uniform polish is desired Shaptons aren't really popular, other stones like Naniwa Chosera 10000x Super Finishing Synthetic Whetstone or even finer natural stones are mentioned more often. I personally was just fine with my current selection of Japanese Synthetic Whetstones. However, in 2012 Takeshi, the owner of introduced me to several new Shapton® stones. I got a set of three Shapton stones, which gave me a very good opportunity to evaluate them. Good thing is I was not under any time pressure and I could test them against various knives.


- Shapton 500 grit glass stone is the same size as the rest of the glass stones, measures 210mm(8.25")x70mm(2.75"). The height is about 10mm, where the stone itself is 5mm, and the rest is the glass base. Because the base is a glass, you need an appropriate holder for it. Well, you do need a holder for any baseless stone anyway, since it is unlikely you'd put the stone on a table surface. Physically, Shapton 500 grit stone does feel smoother than the same grit Beston(Bester) 500 grit Synthetic Whetstone. Not so much during sharpening, but about that below. I got the stones in the set complete with the stone holder, so no idea about original packaging. As I mentioned above, one of the peculiarities of the Shapton Glass stones is that they do not need soaking in water, you just sprinkle them and proceed with sharpening. Whether or not to use Nagura is more up to you.


- 500 grit stone is a rough one and if you measure performance by cutting speed alone then it's a really high performance stone. I've used it on dozens of different knives, never failed. Obviously, 500 grit stone is not used for touchups or even minor sharpenings. It's the heavy artillery of sharpening stones. Sure, there are rougher stones like Shapton® Glass Stone™ 220 Grit, and all the way down to 80, but even with my knife collection I haven't really needed rougher than 500 grit stones, very rarely. Keep in mind a lot of my knives are made out of some of the most wear resistant alloys, and(or) hardened to 64-70HRC range. If I could get by with 500 grit stones, chances are so will you ;) Main use for 500 grit Shapton was reprofiling thick edges on stock knives, repairing badly damaged edges on the loaner knives and so on. For western mainstream kitchen knives using X50CrMoV15 steel and similar alloys, Shapton 500 grit is rather overkill. The stone simply eats the metal. I could reprofile edges and remove deep chips in 5-10 minutes easily.

Most difficulties were encountered when I was reprofiling high hardness CPM 10V, CPM S125V, CPM S110V and Aritsugu Gokinko steel knives. Depending on the knife reprofiling could take anywhere from 30 mins to an hour or even more. Lucky me that sort of work isn't frequent. On the other hand, very hard, low alloy carbon steels like Aogami 1 or Shirogami 1, or even Aogami Super steels were easier to handle, with one exception: Aritsugu Aoko Honkasumi Yanagiba 300mm(12") was a nightmare to reprofile, it came with no edge, required full blown honba-tsuke job.

None of the above(challenging alloys) was specific to Shapton, those alloys will give hard time to any whetstone. As for the Shapton 500 grit stone specifically, I have quite positive impressions. What I did find out is that after putting initial edge with Shapton I get more stubborn scratch pattern to work with vs. Bester 500 grit stone. To be more specific, after using any 500 grit stone, I always follow up with Bester Super Ceramic 700 grit whetstone. So, to get uniform, semi misty finish on the edge, I need more time after Shapton vs. Bester, even though both are 500 grit, and cutting speed is roughly the same, at least that's how I feel after using them for a long time. Unfortunately, without ESM(Electronic Scanning Microscope) and precise, motorized clamps I wouldn't be able to quantify which one is faster, and by how much. So, the conclusion is that they cut at the same speed is my subjective opinion, based on several years of use. Also subjectively, Shapton does feel a bit harsher on the metal compared to Bester, more screechy sound too.

Wear - I'd have to disappoint those who believe Shapton glass stones don't wear out. They do, and frankly I don't see any significant difference between the Shapton and Bester wear rates, Shaptons are marginally better, but just that. Both developed dishing and I had to flatten them using 120 grit DMT Dia-Sharp D8XX. And that brings the last point with Shaptons - life expectancy. 5mm stone lasts les compared to much thicker bester, it's as simple as that. I am still using Shapton 500, especially when I want to reprofile something fast and I am not overly concerned with scratch patters and sub-micron edges.


- In short positive. I figure because I have realistic expectations for this stone. It's aggressive, doesn't need preparation time. That may not always matter, unless you plan on using one or two stones, otherwise if you are going through 5 stones like I often do, 10-15 minutes you need to soak Bester won't make much of a difference. On the other hand, it's compact, and not too messy. It won't last as long as other whetstones of the same or even lower grit which are 5 times thicker, but depends on how often you need to reprofile edges or repair damaged ones. I do that often, but mainly because I borrow a lot of knives from my friends and coworkers, and those knives are with stock edges(read - too thick), or wore, severe edge chipping, etc. Unless you are in the same boat, I think Shapton 500 grit will last you a long time.

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Last updated - 05/19/19