The thing about sharpening, in my humble opinion, is to choose a method and become proficient in it to the point that you no longer spend your time pondering whether or not it is the 'best way'. That's because there isn't one. The results speak for themselves, and if you can get those results using paste on blocks of MDF, then that is fantastic.
Personally, I was a convert to water stones 10 years ago and still use them. I have a foam box that they are kept in, always sitting in water. It's a matter of seconds to take the lid off and turn it upside down, sitting the first stone on it. The lid has a raised lip which contains the mess. When I'm finished, it goes back on the box and the mess goes with it. Of course you occasionally need to flatten your stones, but this is not a difficult process with a bit of sandpaper and something flat, like a piece of glass. I actually use a chunk of 15mm thick cement sheet.
I have an old washing machine motor mounted horizontally to which I have fastened a grinding wheel. It has a small table flush with the wheel. I mount my chisel or plane blade in my Veritas sharpening jig and set it for 30 degrees. I then slide the base to the 3rd detent which gives an angle of roughly 25 degrees and I use this to apply the clearance bevel (if it needs one, only done every few months actually). I can then move the base back to the first detent again, without removing the blade from the jig and I'm back to 30 degrees. Then I apply this to the 1000 grit stone until I have a burr all the way along the edge of the blade. Then I go to the 2000 grit and then to the 5000. I stop there. There was a time when I mucked about with green crayons and bits of MDF or leather but I have found that this is sharp enough for my purposes.
It is the results that matter most to me and I have found that this method is quick, easy, repeatable and gives me the results I need. There may well be some Holy Grail of sharpening out there but I just concentrated on getting good with what I had and now it's just one of those chores you have to do every so often and beyond that, never given a thought.
But if you were to go back through this forum, you would find that I did spend PLENTY of time talking about it a few years ago.
"I don't practice what I preach because I'm not the kind of person I'm preaching to."