One of the questions I get asked often is What 1 stone would you recommend for just "maintaining" a razor without re honing? It's a really good question because a lot of people don't know where to begin and what all they would need to just keep their razors going without having to send them out to be re honed. Now please keep in mind that I'm NOT an expert and that I'm just sharing what I've learned and have experienced and that this is just my opinion. So lets get started:
The first thing you will need is something to clean and flatten you stones and for the money, you can't beat a 6 by 2 inch Ultra Sharp 2 diamond plate over at Best Sharpening Stones. $17.95 + shipping and they're fast too. I went with the 600 grit which is more of a cleaner. The 1,200 grit makes a great slurry stone for natural stones and the 325 grit is for lapping. Avoid the flattening stones because 9 times out of 10 they really don't work. Here's the link to Best Sharping Stones website: http://www.bestsharpeningstones.com/index.html :
Now some people will recommend a .5 chromium oxide paste or crayon applied to the fabric side of a strop which does work very well and is equal to 30K grit, but it will only work for so long. The next best thing you can is a 12K grit or higher finishing stone. Below is my personal favorite which is a Shapton M5 12,000 git water stone which I bought off Amazon for $55.00 dollars + shipping. There's also other 12K grits available such as Naniwa 12K specialty stone which I was told that they seemed to be specifically made for straight razors. I personally prefer the one you see below. And some people have recommended the little barber hones as well:
What stones you choose is really up to you. Some people go for the natural water stones instead of the synthetic stones. So the possibilities are truly endless. If you are just starting out and are just buying your first stone, I highly recommend avoiding the naturals until you can get the hang of it because they can be extremely challenging to even the most advanced straight razor honer. The little barber hones can be found on EBay and various other websites.