Free-cycling is all the rage now, but us cheapskates have been doing this forever. Here is a “free” option for a nice sharpening station. This chunk of granite is the cutout from a kitchen sink. The size just happens to make a nice sharpening station.
I use this piece as an attachment point for sandpaper for flattening plane bottoms and as a surface to hold my water stones.
I place the water stones on top of drawer liner material. For honing a blade or two at a time the liner absorbs the water until it can evaporate away. This makes very little mess and is a nice solution for the $. Assuming you are not getting granite countertops installed, see somewhere that sells it and they may sell you a similar piece for cheap.
I was going to make some nice legs for it and make it stand alone, but for the last 4 years it has been setting on a larger tabletop and that works well. Plus, I’m out of space.