Oops, my post went to moderators again for having links and stuff. I'm sure it'll be approved soon.
But yeah, I'm really happy with the handle feel. The rivets are almost perfectly flush - I can barely feel them. The left piece of the handle comes down ever so slightly past the tang, and I can kinda get my nail between the right piece and the tang, but it's really nothing I'm worried about at all, especially at this price. If I had paid $250+, I would definitely expect the handle to be completely smooth, but I definitely can't complain when I didn't even pay 1/3 that.
Anyway, I soaked the Beston 500 and tried my hand at sharpening the LC Germain, not with the goal of making the knife sharp but just to see what sharpening feels like. The stone soaked for two hours (no more bubbles after 45 minutes) but it felt like it dried pretty quickly. I should have some liquid mud sloshing around the top of the stone at all times, right? I feel like I had to drip water on the stone pretty frequently, and it seemed like I never had much slurry/swarf buildup, though I could see the dark color telling me things were happening.
I tried the sharpie trick, and it seemed like I was doing very well sharpening the existing edge without running past the edge of the.. edge (the shinogi line?).
I built up a burr a couple times on each side, then went for stropping motions on the stone. Not enough sharpening to make the knife sharp, but that wasn't the point. All the massive chips and the misshapen profile is still there, but overall the edge still got a million times sharper. Nowhere close to the Fujiwara though.
My professional chef roommate offered to show me the "best" way to sharpen using his own knife. He looked like he was using the stone as a stationary honing steel and sliced a few chunks off the edges of the stone. His knife wouldn't even cut through paper towel after that, but he seemed very pleased that he was able to scratch through the first ply after a couple tries. His technique built up a lot of nice looking mud, though. Maybe I get too close to the edge and push all of mine off.
A couple hours after using the stone, it is FREEZING cold. Pretty neat! I heard they make ice in India through evaporative cooling like this.
I'm keeping the stone on my desk with only two corners resting on the stone holder so that it can get airflow on all sides and dry out before I put it back in the box. Curious to see if it develops frost by tomorrow morning, lol.
If I don't need to keep the knife wrapped up in that paper then I'll tuck it away somewhere, I guess. Maybe I'm just being too anal since it's my first time having something like this. I'm the kind of guy who parks in a far off corner of an empty parking lot just to avoid door dings.