I've been away on a cruise, no knife sharpening although I did meet the Executive Chef on board and we talked about sharpening so I got a little fix at least.
One thing that I never gave much thought about when I started sharpening full time, i.e. every day was the setup, my Sharpening Station. At first I was working in the basement in a poorly lit area, no water nearby and definitely not ideal but I did sharpened there for two years.
Finally, after several different attempts I got the setup I needed but even then, I found a way to improve it. First of all, you don't need anything elaborate at all. I've seen pictures of sharpeners in Japan hunched over a container of water with the stone resting on a 2"X 4" board over the water and they had been in this environment for years.
Lighting is huge for me, I need a very good source of light to help me sharpen but that is pretty easy. I just got one of those jewellers type of lamps that clamp onto the side of the desk and I got that from Lee Valley Tools for 40 bucks. It's perfect, even has a magnifying glass attached to it.
This is my current set up. The desktop is extremely sturdy and at the perfect height for me, that is important if you sharpen a lot, but not critical if you are a casual sharpener. Often I stand right here for 4-6 hours without moving my feet too much so it is important to be comfy as I sharpen.
The change I just made recently was going from the Shapton Pond which is absolutely fantastic to this plastic hotel pan and the Stone Bridge. I bought the Stone Bridge from Jon Broida at Japanese Knife Imports and as you can see I sharpen at a slight angle. This just aids in water management a little but it doesn't make much of a difference, and it is an optional setup with this particular stone bridge which is made by Suehiro and is quite superb. The water and soaking stones make it rock solid, nothing moves that should not be moving as I sharpen. What I like about it is that I don't go through nearly as many micro fibre towels as I did on the Pond. I was doing a wash every day but now, with the water here I don't need the towels as much.
The only thing I was worried about with this setup was testingthe edge with wet finger tips, would I be able to detect sharpness and yes, you can certainly do it. It takes a little getting used to but also, if the edge feels sharp with wet finger tip pads, it is definitely sharp.
This setup cost me about $130.00 Cdn but the bridge itself is only $40.00 USD, its the Exchange Rate, shipping a getting hit by customs that make things add up. No regrets at all.
I can still use my beloved Shapton holder and I use the Pond when I sharpen anywhere else but here at home.
As long as you have a setup where you can stand, or sit, comfortably with a good source of light and left undisturbed you are going to be just fine. As long as the stone is stable and doesn't move around at all when you sharpen, which is distracting, you're good.
(This is a hunting knife, fixed blade that I did yesterday by hand and finished it at 6,000 grit.