If they are as you say western style knives and most of the time the blade would be solid carbon steel, so the whole blade will patina up even after you polish the whole face.
In my limited experience, simpler carbon steel patina and grey up easily; so polishing isn't that worth it.
Again in my limited experience, for single bevel or wide bevel knives like a nakiri polishing is easier since I've only tried blade polishing on them (not western style knives).
I start by levelling the face/bevel out on a coarse stone and stepping up to the finer cutting stone 1000-ish to check whether I missed any spots. My finest grit stone is a King 6K, which got me most of the way to mirror; but the iron cladding scratches easily if I'm not careful. Even with the 6K, it's a synthetic stone and it'll still leave scratch marks under the shiny surface... shiny but no smooth mirror polish that comes with expensive polishing natural stones or the shortcut.
The shortcut to me is a stiff buff loaded with a cutting compound to remove scratches, then a loose leaf buff loaded with polishing compound. If you're working with machine, do it freehand without gloves so if it heats up you know when to ease off. Then after polishing, you would still would have to sharpen the knife since the buffs dull knives.
I have cheated before by using metal polishing paste and a cloth to hand polish to get a shiny finish. But the existing scratches are clearly visible behind the shiny face, I haven't tried the polishing paste method following work on waterstones. I might try it this coming week.
Here are a few references:
which links to this...
(natural stone porn)
(natural stone porn convention)
(a more realistic/do-able guide)
| Former German 'axe' user, turned Japanese knife fan, turned carbon steel lover, turned knife-tweaker.|