Sorry up front for such a long post. Much is written about sharpening and much is right and works. Angles are a compromise between ease of work and edge retention. Geometry of a specific tool and the working qualities of a specific species have much to do with sharpening decisions. I have been at this a while, as I am sure many of you have, and I have tried many ways.
Here is what works best for me. Plane blade edges should be shaped (cambered) appropriately for the task the tool is to perform. Different craftsmen have their preferences and they all work. For older tools I start by evaluating a blade for condition. Some blades are used up or may be in such bad shape that they must be replaced. Older manufacturers sometimes hardened the end of a blade so that the hardened section may be used up and the blade has to be re-hardened or replaced. Really old blades may have had a piece of steel forge welded onto it and if that is gone then the blade must be replaced or restored. Minor pitting on the back of the blade can sometimes be ground out by flattening or by introducing a "back bevel" using the "ruler" trick. If the tool is used for fine work it must be replaced if the pitting is still present at the edge or regulated to doing rough work. If the tool is used as a scrub or jack plane and if the work is to be further worked then the imperfections thus introduced do not create a problem. The back should be flattened and polished. Back bevels, if present, should be done in a manner to qualify as flat and polished. Backs are normally worked on a 400 grit diamond stone and evaluated for flatness after a few strokes by examining the scratch pattern. The blades are then worked flat, or minimum back bevels introduced, as necessary. The blades are then moved through to 1000 grit stones before attention is given to the bevel. I carefully hollow grind the bevel as necessary, to square the end profile(flat or cambered) to the body of the blade. The grinding is done by eye using my finger against the grinder rest to maintain position and frequently dipping the blade in water to prevent overheating. I only grind for shaping the camber and to establish the primary bevel. I know of no device designed to create or stone plane cambers and thus they have to be done by hand and eye. Primary bevels do not have to be "perfect" and can be of a general range of approximately 25 degrees. After I am satisfied with this step, I proceed to my diamond stones (other stones, and abrasive papers can and have been used) normally starting with a 1000 grit and feeling for the bevel, stone the blade by hand. Because you are ideally hitting on the edge and back of the bevel a bright line will quickly develop indicating where the edge is being fully developed. stoning continues until the entire edge (not the entire bevel) is being engaged and a burr is being pushed to the "flat" side of the blade At that point the blade can be moved to finer stones as desired, at least to 1200 grit in my case. Finer stones can be used but in my opinion, it is difficult to justify the additional time and money if the blades are to be honed/stropped/polished. Micro bevels are recommended for hardwoods and may easily be introduced by simply raising the blade a few degrees during the final stoning of the bevel. If the blade is being used for smoothing operations then the corners should be eased, or rounded. Some craftsmen choose to introduce an extremely small camber to the edge at the final grit stone by simply applying additional pressure at the corners for a few strokes. Attention must then be given to the back of the blade to eliminate the burr, being sure to use the "ruler" trick as necessary on flat edged blades. After alternating the sides being worked the burr will be reduced but may not be completely eliminated. Very hard modern blades may not develop burrs that are readily noticeable but if good technique is used a tiny one will be present and subsequent efforts will indicate successful sharpening. Remember that after the edge is established, all of the efforts simply are to polish and refine the edge and remove the burr.
After using the stones most blades will continue to have a small detectable burr. Finer stones would only serve to polish the edge and a cheaper technique is to simply strop or buff the blade. I prefer to lightly buff the faces (flat and bevel) using a buffing wheel charged with fine polishing compound. Alternately, any strop or hone, including leather, or MDF may be used provided it is simply used in a manner to refine the edge without overheating the edge or significantly rounding the edge and to eliminate the burr. Testing is performed by installing the blade, adjusting tool and using it. The planed work is then inspected for any indication of tool marks indicating an edge flaw. Generally any flaws found at this stage (if any) indicate that additional stropping is needed. often times, subsequent inadequate blade performance (after use) can often be greatly improved by simple additional honing, reducing the need to return to stones. Grinding need only be performed if reshaping the blade for other uses or if the tool becomes damaged. Guides may be used for the stoning process if desired but adds little to the finished edges ability to cut. They only help to establish a more refined geometry to the bevel of a straight edge. Just remember that it only the extreme edge that does the work and the entire process (without grinding) should only take about two or three minutes at most.
I do sometimes use guides with stones just to make sure I am not getting too far off the desired primary bevel angle but, seriously, a few degrees one way or the other makes little difference in tool performance. Don't be put off of the craft because you can't achieve the "perfectly-shaped bevel" and wet-and-dry paper will work just fine too so don't feel that you have to spend a lot. The toys just make it a little easier. Have fun.