I’ve been interested in the Naniwa 純白 (Junpaku/snow white/pure white) 8000 grit sharpening stone since I got my first Naniwa Chosera stones. The Snow White is not a part of the Chosera line, but it’s considered to be the poor man’s Chosera 10,000 grit stone, coming in at less than half the price of the 10k Chosera. It’s even cheaper than the Chosera #5000.
The problem was that the stone wasn’t available in Europe, so I asked knivesandtools.nl (where I bought my Chosera stones) if they would consider importing it. They did, and also sent me a stone for review! Knivesandtools.nl is their Dutch site. They also have an English site.
I’ve tried out the Snow White together with my 1k and 5k Chosera. It feels a lot like a Chosera stone in that it’s hard and fast cutting. I understand why people call it “the missing Chosera”. It’s of course smoother than the coarser stones, but it also feels much harder than the 5k stone.
When I first started using it, the stone seemed to be loading up with steel pretty quickly, but as soon as I broke the surface of the stone the problem was gone. When doing bevel work, it forms a bit of mud pretty quickly, similar to the other Chosera stones. Since the stone is white, you see the steel coming off right away. As long as you have a slurry going the steel washes right off.
I noticed that when I worked the tip, the stone loaded up slightly, especially with some stainless steels (ZDP-189 and H1 in this case). However, it comes off when you work up some mud/slurry. I did a few knives in succession and working the the second blade cleared up the load-up from the tip of the first blade right away. Compared to the Sigma Power 13k water stone, the Snow White loads up a lot less in my experience so far. When using the Sigma I have to use a nagura to clean it off every now and then.
The Show White is pretty thirsty, though. It’s similar to the 5k Chosera in that regard. I tried soaking it for a few minutes before my second time using it, but I can’t say it made much of a difference so I won’t be doing that any more. I’m a bit paranoid about using too much water with magnesia bound stones, since they can develop cracks (like my 5k stone has, even without soaking it). It works well to spritz it with water whenever it starts to dry up. We’ll see how it holds up in the long run, but I get the feeling that the Snow White will hold up better than the 5k.
Random tip: I got a spray bottle to use on my stones when they need more water during sharpening. I used to add water with my hand or a squirt bottle, but I like the spray bottle better. You cover more of the stone using less water.
Just like the Chosera stones, the Snow White doesn’t seem to have any problem with any of the steels I’ve sharpened on it: ZDP-189, shirogami #2, H1 and el cheapo stainless. It leaves a nice polish on the edge. It’s not a perfect mirror polish (I wasn’t even going for that). You can still see some scratches, but the scratch pattern is much finer than coming off the 5k stone. The edge is very fine and I don’t feel the need for any stropping coming off the stone. A few strokes on paper, at most.
There’s no problem with gouging the stone when working the tip of the blade. I worked the tip on the ZDP-189 and H1 blades pretty hard and there’s just one minimal scratch on the stone that’s barely visible when inspecting the stone very closely. I’d say it’s less prone to gouging than the 5k. Feels about the same as the 1k in this regard.
I was considering getting a Spyderco ultra fine ceramic bench stone for touch-ups between sharpenings, but I might use this stone instead if it proves to be as low maintenance as it seems now that it’s new.
As a side note, I’d like to recommend Japanese budget kurouchi carbon steel (shirogami) knives if you’re interested in sharpening. They’re easy to get very sharp and the shape allows easy thinning of the blade. Since the carbon steel will develop a patina pretty quickly anyway, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get a perfect finish on the bevel. Of course, a stainless cladding would be more practical, but for practising sharpening the cheaper kurouchi blades are perfect.
These were just my first impressions. Overall it seems like a great stone. Especially for the price. Right off the bat, I like it more than my Chosera 5k, which I have kind of a love-hate relationship with, but we’ll have to wait and see how it holds up in the long run.
I’ll make a follow up later on when I’ve used it more and compared it to some other (budget) stones I have coming in. Then I can probably take some pictures with my microscope too. I didn’t have it hooked up this time.
Big thanks to Erik at Kato Group (who run knivesandtools.nl) for sending me this stone.