At TSS, the view is that the Arkansas stone cannot be surpassed as a tool for preparing straight razors for shaving.
There are sharper/finer abrasives, and there are abrasives which impart a higher human perception of smoothness to the cutting sensation, but if you are to place an equally high importance upon each trait, the belief here’s the humble Arkansas stone combines the highest minimum standards.
These stones produced by Dan’s Whetstones are manufactured to incredible precision, and arrive to you extremely flat. In fact, the best standard for flatness of all natural whetstones made on Earth today.
You likely did not know this [b/c the exact opposite is confidently & heavy-handedly espoused on every str8rzr-centric internet forum], but str8rzrs’ bevels are supposed to be concave for best performance and longevity. Don’t believe it? [email protected]@k at the picture here taken from the 1934 book from the world’s largest abrasives manufacturer who supplied the best vintage razor factories their sharpening wheels… Could it be possible the world’s largest abrasives manufacturer and supplier of the tools used by the vintage Victorian Era razor factories might know something the self-appointed and self-taught shaving forum experts do not? Read the gobs of screenshots of customers’ praise all from here in 2021 when I began seriously shaping the shop’s stones to be smaller wheels upon the honing SKU and decide for yourself if it makes any sense that so many people would go out of their way to contact us (all unsolicited, we never contact you unless you contact us first!) versus the assuredly-small volume we move of product. The percentage who took the time to write boggles my mind.
Unfortunately, while shaping whetstones – including the rock hard novaculite stones – by hand (via chisels/sandpaper/files/etc.) has been an apprenticeship test for master grinders for over a century, shaping an Arkansas stone yourself at home to become a small portion of a larger wheel is quite a challenge. We have created a singularly unique item to do just that, and its massive size would be overkill for any stones except these hardest of hard things, the Arks. Have fun; the task is pure misery, and it takes a long time to earn the submission; I recommend 60-grit SIC powder atop 60-grit SIC based sandpaper for the hard step#1, and polishing thereafter is a comparative piece of cake. But damn that step 1!