Naniwa Specialty Stones 3k & 5k

SP Boxes

Naniwa Specialty Stone Review 

SP-430 / 3k

SP-450 / 5k 

I’m a long-time Naniwa Chosera fan. I’ve had all the stones in that series, and doubles/triples on some of them. Before I settled on the Chosera stones, I had tried several other systems, none of which made me happy; but when I first tried the Chosera 1k – I was hooked. Even so - I continue to try new systems often. 

Last year I was told that the Chosera series was going to be discontinued and that they would be replaced with a new series. Of course I was both excited and a little miffed. I have a love/hate relationship with change. Recently, I found out the Super Stones and the Choseras would be replaced – Hmm, I thought “now this is interesting”. 

Recently, the new line of stones hit the market; and I decided to pick up a new 3k and 5k. About 2 yr ago, I sold my 5k C, so I figured getting a new stone for that slot would be cool. My 3k sees a lot of action, so having another option there seemed like a good idea. With those facts in mind, the purchase was justified (cough cough). 

These new stones are branded ‘Specialty Stone’, and in the box-top logo, the ‘S’ and ‘P’ are capitalized. Perhaps this is the SP line?  Each hone is numbered, the 3k is SP-430 and the 5k is SP-450.  Seems to me that these are the SP stones. 

The boxes are gold/amber with an ugly white label on one of the short ends. Running my eyes over the box right now – I see the ‘Shrimp Mark’, some Kanji, made in Japan, and some other typical print on the box. The boxes are way too big for these stones, they are well packed in a bubble sleeve but they packaging is lacking in presentation. This though, is somewhat unimportant. 

Out of the box, neither stone was flat. Not even close. The lapping went fast but they’re hard and it seemed to take longer than I would have guessed. These SP stones are way thinner than the Choseras I think this might be a good thing, even though we get ‘less’ stone for the same cost or a bit higher cost. Thinner stones are lighter, and they dry faster too.  

Because these SP hones are thinner, I won’t be able to hone on the edge so easily like I could with the notably thicker Chosera stones, but I think I can live with that. Those gymnastics were not a common event, and there are other ways to skin that cat. After lapping, I measure each of these two stones at 3/8” or 9.5 mm. 

When lapping, the new hones feel harder than the equivalent Chosera stones. They also have another tactile thing going on that I am finding hard to put into words. I bonked the two together, and the sound was sort of hollow. Repeated instances of this (gentle taps only) brought on sort of a plastic-like sensation. I also had the same feeling when lapping; light, hollow (as in, less dense than expected), and sort of very not ‘stone-like’. 

Ok – so, they’re hones, right? And how do they hone?

Pretty damn well, thank you very much Naniwa. 

I put several razors through some honing use and abuse on these two stones for a good long while. I leaned on the blades, used the stones soaking wet, sorta dry, lightly wet, etc. I did every stroke in the book and I think I invented a few more too.

Here’s what I think; 

These are spray and go. No soaking is needed.

I don’t like the term splash/go. I don’t splash – there’s no need for that much water.

The new binder feels great under the blade; just awesome. Smooooooth. 

I’ll start with the SP-430, the 3k. 

I love, love, love my well-used 3k C, and I always will. But this new 3k is harder and the ‘feel’ is super silky. The feedback is, to me, even easier to read and my early impression is that the SP is markedly faster.  

The 3k SP’s scratch pattern seems to be a bit more consistent and the polish it put on the bevel is outstanding.; and off-the-hook high-level mirror. 

The color of the SP-430 stone is ‘reddish’, and similar to the 3k C. But - side-by-side with the 3k C, it appears to be more pastel/pink where the Chosera is more of a pure red. The new stone’s top surface looks a little different; there’s a greyish speckled pattern and none of the dark red flecks found in the 3k C had. 

On to the SP-450, the 5k. 

I don’t have a 5k C to do a side by side with the new SP-450. What I can say is that the color is different; the new stone is powder blue. It’s harder – I remember the 5k C, great stone, but the SP 5k is definitely harder and it didn’t get that rubbery feeling after it was wet for a while like the 5k C did.

 

The 5k SP’s feedback was very similar to what the new 3k SP gave me. This is a change from what I remember about using the 5k C after the 3k C; the feel between them was way different, but with the SP stones, the feeling is very similar.

After 20-25 passes on the new 5k, the polish on the bevel was a crazy high-polish mirror. The scratch pattern was very very good, but I can’t compare to the 5k C without having on in hand. I’d guess the SP is more uniform though, which is always a good thing.

 

Both SP stones loaded with swarf, but not terribly so; they seemed to load less than the 1k C does actually. And, to be fair, I really worked the hell out of them and never rinsed them off.  

Not once during these early tests did I think twice about how thin these stones are, compared to the Chosera – or their mass/density. The SPs ‘feel’ very good in that way.

At one time I used Naniwa Super Stones, they seemed to be too light-duty  This is one of my idiosyncrasies, for sure. But it’s a real thing to me – the vibration isolation of a big thick heavy stone allows a unique type of honing experience; and I happen to be dialed into that sensation. 

The SPs are good stones, great stones actually. They seem to be more consistent, and faster than the Choseras. I love the ‘feel’ of the blade on these stones, and they’re smaller, lighter, and easier to deal with.  But – I don’t know if that translates to a performance boost worth dumping a working set of Chosera or Super Stones for. Well, actually – it doesn’t. 

What is important though, at least – in my opinion, is this;

Anyone buying in to a stone system now would be well served by getting into the SP stones. Admittedly, they are a little pricey – so getting into this system is a notable commitment. But, cost aside, they pretty much seem to kick serious hone ass. 

 I can see, hear, and feel that the SPs are superior to most stones I’ve tried, the exception being the Hayabusa and Fuji from Naniwa.  


© Keith V Johnson 2014 - 2018