Speed: 8 out of 10 / Feedback: 10 out of 10 / Wear: 8 out of 10
Overall Performance: 9 out of 10
Quick Summary: The Naniwa Pro 3K (aka Naniwa Chosera 3K) manages to blend the best of both worlds. It is fast cutting, slow wearing, and leaves a nice low gloss finish.
Why sharpen on a 3K whetstone?: In the world of knife sharpening, we often are told to get a 1K whetstone such as the King Deluxe 1K (1000 grit) and a finishing whetstone such as the King S-1 6K (6000 grit). These two recommendations of grit rating and brands are solid – anyone learning to hand sharpen on whetstones will be well-served. However, I have discovered that, while both a 1K and 6K grit rating can be considered essential, my favorite grit rating falls in between them. Enter the 3K (3000 grit) grit whetstones.
Speed: 8 out of 10 – Many will consider speed one of the most important factors when choosing a whetstone. To a point – I agree. As a stay-at-home dad, I cannot afford 30-40 minutes a week sharpening my knives. Before being a dad, sure, I would spend hours each week sharpening knives. Nowadays, I would be lucky to be able to spend 30 minutes a month on my knives. So while speed is not the top priority, it’s a consideration when choosing a whetstone.
For reference, the Suehiro Cerax 1K and Naniwa Pro 800 are incredibly fast-cutting whetstones. On a dull knife (either bricked or used in my kitchen for 30 days), both whetstones can produce a micro-burr in 2-3 passes. Learn what a “pass” is in this video. The Naniwa Pro 3K can achieve a micro-burr in a similar time or sometimes require just one additional pass.
Feedback: 9 out of 10 – Feedback is where the Naniwa Pro 3K excels and why it remains a top pick. There is a balance between speed, feedback, and wear. No whetstone will be perfect in all aspects. The fastest cutting whetstones may be overly aggressive and wear faster than ideal. Too much feedback is often associated with overly-hard whetstones, such as natural whetstones, which offer less control for beginners. The Naniwa Pro 3K is a bit harder and slower wearing than average, but it is not overly hard that the user may feel the knife is gliding un-controlled over the surface.
Wear: 8 out of 10 – Stone wear is something everyone dreads. We want our favorite whetstones to last forever. A whetstone seemingly is a simple tool to sharpen our quality knives. When a whetstone wears too quickly, it could be for many reasons. First, our blades are too hard for the whetstone. We could be using too much pressure during sharpening. Or worse, we may have over-soaked our whetstone (generally not a problem with SPLASH-N-GO sharpening whetstones).
Thankfully, the Naniwa Pro 3K is a slow-wearing whetstone. I have never felt the need to flatten the one I have in my collection. At the request of some subscribers, I sharpened two knives; one on the freshly flattened side and one on the side that has sharpened between 3-4 dozen blades. I did a cut test on some newspapers and used them in my kitchen. I could not tell you which knife was technically sharper. Even after sharpening dozens of blades, the Naniwa Pro 3K did not exhibit any dishing or gullying that affected its performance.
Overall Performance: 9 out of 10 – I’m not sure if any knives or whetstones will ever get a perfect 10. I want to do so for the Naniwa Pro 3K. Are there changes I can suggest? Of course. But are those changes possible without affecting how the current whetstones perform? Probably not.
Conclusion: The combination of speed, feedback, and wear is what makes this whetstone special. If I HAD to criticize something, it would be price. It is not what I would consider a budget-friendly whetstone, but if you bought this whetstone, it would likely be the last 3K whetstone you would ever need.
*note – Naniwa Pro 3000 is the same as Naniwa Chosera 3000, but without the plastic base*