Originally Posted by basilchef
Made the jump to carbon. How do you keep them clean? Looking for a small polishing stone, ideas?
I just very recently jumped into this whole sharpening world, starting out small, so please bear that in mind as you read my post; you're listening to a beginner. I know of 4 materials that are used as whetstones, they include diamond plates (DMT), ceramics (Spyderco, I want to say they're manmade sapphires oven baked at something ridiculous like 3K degrees for 3 days straight, maybe I'm exaggerating), Japanese watersones, and Arkansas stones (which I think is some flint native to the state, and these are the least talked about so far as I could tell).
I have a combination waterstone, and a Spyderco fine (they have medium, fine, ultrafine; usually with either 2" or 3" width, with the proportionate price increase, but I do like that the smaller ones come with this plastic bench with feet to make working easier). Ceramics are nice in that they are the most durable, assuming you don't drop one or abuse them. There is some discussion about them needing a lapping (flattened, and this would probably take tons of work if true), but I'm not sure that matters until you're quite advanced, and mine seems pretty darned flat.
If you use a honing/sharpening steel (which is a misnomer, as they don't hone or sharpen, but just straighten your edge), you just want to make sure that the steel is harder than your knife (in case you got some super fancy extra hard Japanese blade), otherwise the steel will do absolutely nothing to the knife. You can look for Rockwell hardness numbers.
The Spyderco ultrafine, and other superfine stones, or stropping items, are for super silly levels of sharpness, but that's beyond what I want. Note that people shave their faces just fine with straight razors done up on just the fine, let alone UF stone.
You ask how can ceramic be more rugged than diamond plate, well I think it has to do with the matrix that the diamonds are embedded in. Some people wonder if diamonds embedded in ceramic could be the ultimate.
If I could choose one DMT plate, from my limited understanding of things, I'd aim for the XXC which stands for extra extra coarse, because it could serve a variety of purposes, quickly removing bad chips and what not from a blade, resetting a bevel, and also as a lapping stone.
The waterstones are like the opposite of a ceramic: they work the fastest on the blade, but they also go out of flat the very quickest.
Hope I helped more than hurt! I do think my smaller fine ceramic is a good value at $39. They can really get up there with price, believe it or not, and some crazies use 4 stones, maybe more, during a session. http://www.amazon.com/Spyderco-Fine-.../dp/B000Q99RVI
Hm, looking at your query again- sorry if my post is way off base. Whenever I see the word "polish", I think of abrasion to smooth out, and you very well might be only asking about cleaning, and didn't have sharpening in your thoughts at all. Ok, but you did say stone though, alright then...