A number of Japanese firms manufacture synthetic water stones. After many years of experience, we have discovered those brands which offer the most consistency in quality, cutting effect, and value to the user. Generally speaking, synthetic water stones can be classified into three groups: Very coarse stones for the maximum removal of metal, medium coarse stones for refining the edge and establishing the "burr", and finish stones for final honing and polishing of the edge.
Sharpening stone material has been mined in Japan for nearly 2,000 years. About 1,200 years ago, the best deposits were discovered in the mountainous Narutaki District north of present day Kyoto. Over the centuries, the easily obtainable deposits have been mined out. Today, laborious tunneling and mining techniques are required to obtain natural sharpening stones. All of the natural stones sold by the Japan Woodworker have been selected following a centuries old grading method. Particular care is taken to ensure that we obtain stones of a more uniform size and quality than those generally available in Japan.