It sounds like we work similarly. I try to have a bit of precision on the first sharpen by using a honing guide. However, when it seems a tool just needs a quick sharpen or tune up I will do it by hand. After about every fifth hand sharpen I go back and use the honing guide. So far this has been an effective compromise for my work to keep me working wood but still have a very well working tool.
I use water stones as well. I take it the baking and dish washing did not help with the oil in the stones. If you switch to diamond stones I’d love to hear about the experience.