Natural Waterstone - Amakusa Natural Sharpening Stone 800 grit (Rating: 4)

I've recently acquired a full blown case of sharpening OCD, and having been inclined towards Japanese tools, I've started pining for natural water stones. I'm strictly a newbie, but apparently there are some advantages to using high quality "naturals" especially at the higher grits. The issue is that to get a descent one you need to fork over hundreds if not thousands of dollars because they are limited in supply. All this while synthetics are more consistent, cheaper, and frankly work great for probably 99.9% of folks. Yet I still pined to try a natural.

The Amakusa Red stone is a lower grit stone (~800) that was available at a local store (bay area) and also readily available online at a few knife/tool sites, and it was only $25! And it's huge. I really didn't need it, but I couldn't resist. Did I mention it's huge?! It's 5lbs, it will last a lifetime.

Now this isn't an exotic stone, I read that in parts of Japan it's actually building material, so you might think you're actually overpaying, but if you have the bug, it makes a great first natural stone. It has a soft feel, but doesn't dish easily. No soaking is needed (it's actually bad for it), just a splash, and you're ready to go. It is by no means a fast stone, but it does work up a nice slurry, and makes you feel very zen, and before you know it you've been working it for half an hour.

I've used it to sharpen some chisels and kitchen knives as part of my progression up to an 8k synthetic. Other than not worrying about it wasting away anytime soon with heavy grinding, it's something nice to have if you're starting to become an irrational sharpener.