Norton water stones have an aluminum oxide abrasive held by a relatively weak bond that releases fresh particles at a fast rate. In our tests, they were comparable to King stones when sharpening O1 steel, but in tough alloys such as A2 and M2 they cut approximately 40% faster than King. Because of the steady release of fresh abrasive, they produce a consistent scratch pattern at each grit, making it important to work through the grits progressively to obtain a final polish.
Regular lapping is also recommended with these stones. The 220x is used to remove nicks, the 1000x to establish a basic edge, the 4000x to refine the edge, and the 8000x to produce the final polish. Except for the 8000x, which requires only a quick spritz, all need to be immersed for about 10 minutes before use. They are ready for use without having to produce a slurry.
At 7 7/8" × 2 7/8" × 1", they easily accommodate wide blades. Each comes in a rubber-footed plastic storage case that doubles as a sharpening stand.