Your immediate goal is to raise a burr on the side of knife opposite to the side you are sharpening and depending on the steel, the grit of stone and how you are doing, it will be either a very quick process or it will seem like it takes an eternity. Patience here will reward you, believe me. The sharpening process is incomplete with no burr creation on your first stone. (Yes, it is possible to stop at that magic moment without the burr forming but we are not there yet, we don’t even need to go there, ever, I am just mentioning it so those gifted sharpeners will be happy) . Think of the burr as the debris that is making the knife dull being forced down the blade towards the edge and over to the other side of the by your sharpening prowess. You form the burr, that knife will get sharp, no burr, you just need to look at your work. A Loupe is handy here, an inexpensive magnifying device with a light that allows you to see the edge very well, if you are not forming a burr, you are not reaching the edge. (Having a loupe also makes you look cool and scientific, like a Sharpologist).
Naniwa also makes the Naniwa Traditional line of stones, these are less expensive than the Professional lineup and I believe were created to compete in terms of cost with some other brands such as King that are less expensive, more attractive to some who are just starting and may not want to invest a lot of money. I have tried the Naniwa Traditional 220, 1,000 and 2,000 grit stones and I thoroughly enjoyed them, so if you are considering a less expensive brand to get started, these are also good. I do not like them as much as the Professional line but I do like them, they work, they make the knives sharp.
Mine came plain white then started to darken after a few weeks. About 4 weeks in it settled to a more natural stone/slate grey. The leather has darkened a bit too and remains soft and comfortable. The leather remains easy to adjust and my selected sizings stays in place firmly. Overall It feels, looks and works great. The knot and darker stone/leather compliment each other well.
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My first set of sharpening stones so I have nothing to compare them to. For $50, though, great price to get into the world of sharpening. Stones are great and easy to use. Was able to put hair shaving edges on knives. Took a couple of knives to feel comfortable and better with the process and how to sharpen, but the stones you get work great. Here's the secret though. Get the green leather stoping block as well. As great as the stone are, I have found that stroping the knife after the fact is what really brings out that razor edge. And after using the knife, stroping it again, will restore and keep it razor sharp. Hope you enjoy it as much as I am.