Thought I'd share a recent experience with my fellow sharpening fanatics.
I really wanted to try a Japanese natural and given that I wanted to "feel" the edge in use, getting a JNat I could insert in place of my usual finishing stone was the direction I headed in.
As a general rule, my day to day sharpening goes : Bestor 1.2K > Rika 5K, and to be honest, I was pretty happy with that combo. Both stones feel great, are fast, and leave an edge I really like, i.e. dead nutz sharp but with a little tooth. So with this in mind, the Maera replaces the Rika.
The short version of the result is : Friggen Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!
The longer version in no particular order:
I've never used a natural before so wasn't ready for the smell. When you wet it and hit it with the slurry stone, it smells a bit like fresh rain out in the woods. Adds a really nice vibe to the sharpening experience.
Next thing I liked is how easily the knives got seriously sharp. While I've never had any issues getting carbon steel sharp enough to push cut paper at this grit level, I had to work with a lot more finesse to get German steel to do the same. Not so with the Maera. Both the carbon steel and German steel got noticeably sharper on the Maera than I could get them on the Rika, in less time, and with less effort and skill.
I also used the Maera to polish one side of a blade and the Rika the other. While the scratch pattern of the Maera was far more defuse than the Rika, what also stood out is after the session, I had to flatten the Rika where I did not have to flatten the Maera at all. In fact, so far, I've sharpened 6 knives on the Maera and polished a blade, and with the exception of when I first got it, its not needed any maintenance at all.
My conclusion is this. After researching naturals, I called Ken Schwarz because I was pretty much totally confused. He recommended the Maera and I liked it so much, I ended up calling him again to see what he could suggest I try in place of the Bestor. Another JNat is headed my way, woot
On a side note, I was under the impression that JNats where really expensive. What I've learned is that JNats have a wide price range and price is not necessarily tied to performance. Much of the high JNat price is related to rarity, or color, or smell, or being in some way unusual. What I learned is that if I just wanted a very functional JNat, I could spend in the same range I would a synthetic and get a great result.
Loving this rabbit hole