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"Sharpening" Steels
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craveytrain



Joined: 19 Sep 2005
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2005 4:19 pm    Post subject: "Sharpening" Steels Reply with quote

Based on the article on this site about knives (and several others) I went out, tried lots of knives and settled on a Henckles Twin Cuisine 7" Santoku. I am very happy with it, however, I just got 1 knife (since that was all I really could afford at the time). I didn't even get a steel. Now, several months later, I need to get one (as well as will pick up a paring knife).

My question is, are all "sharpening"/honing steels the same? I quote sharpening cause I suppose I really mean honing, but many of them are called "sharpening steels". I see honing and sharpening steels on sites like amazon (from the link on the sidebar of this site) and I am curious if they are all the same. Do I need a Henckles steel? Do I need Henckles Twin Cuisine steel (which I couldn't find on amazon)? Is a good quality steel a good quality steel, no matter the brand? Are they using honing and sharpening interchangably when referring to the steels? If no, I assume I need a honing one, please correct me if I am wrong.
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jagstyle



Joined: 08 Aug 2005
Posts: 45
Location: CA

PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A true knifenut uses waterstones to keep his knives sharp.

If you want a steel I recommend one of the smooth ones or ceramic ones that can be found here.
http://www.handamerican.com/steel3.html

be wary of grooved steels that may do more damage to your edge than aligning of teeth...

You do not need a Henckles steel.

Steels are only meant to realign the edge in a effort to extend the life of the edge before the next sharpening round is required. You will then need to consider how you will actually sharpen the knife.
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1626
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To add to what jagstyle has said, I would caution against using a steel with diamonds (they coat the steel with diamond dust). These steels actually carve away part of the knife which is not what you want a steel to do (get waterstones for that purpose). Otherwise, the industry seems to use the term honing and sharpening to mean the same thing when talking about steels - the realigning of the edge of your blade. Also, get one at least as long as your longest knife.

To steel your knife, I suggest holding your steel straight up with the handle at the top and the tip firmly planted on the top surface of your cutting board. Hold the knife at an angle as close as possible to the angle of the actual edge of the knife (usually 15 to 25 degrees depending on your knife). Draw the knife from the bolster to the tip while sliding the knife from the top (handle) of the steel to the bottom (tip). Repeat on one side about 3 times and switch to the other side of the blade and repeat 3 times. Switch back and perform 2 more strokes on each side and finish off with 1 stroke.

Holding the steel at this position takes one of the variables out of the equation (or at least minimizes the error due to it): steel positioning. If you hold the steel up, there's a tendency to have the steel swing back and forth as you are steeling your knife and that means you have no control over the angle of your stroke. Also, speed doesn't matter. Go slow until you get the feel for it. Fast or slow the effect on the knife will be the same if you technique is solid.
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jagstyle



Joined: 08 Aug 2005
Posts: 45
Location: CA

PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 4:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Furthermore, it's not necessary to use a lot of pressure. Minimal pressure is the goal. The weight of the knife should be sufficient.
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craveytrain



Joined: 19 Sep 2005
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2005 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you both very much for your advice. I have been reading the blog for a while, but just found the message board yesterday. I can see I have been missing out.
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jagstyle



Joined: 08 Aug 2005
Posts: 45
Location: CA

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

craveytrain, this forum is a good resource but it is pretty slow.

Anything you want to know about knives can be found or asked about at these two forums:
http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/showforum.php?fid/26/
http://216.91.137.210/ubbthreads/postlist.php/Cat/0/Board/cutlery

Actually, probably more than you want to know...
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GaryProtein



Joined: 26 Oct 2005
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2006 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="jagstyle"]A true knifenut uses waterstones to keep his knives sharp. Be wary of grooved steels that may do more damage to your edge than aligning of teeth...You do not need a Henckles steel.

Steels are only meant to realign the edge in a effort to extend the life of the edge before the next sharpening round is required. You will then need to consider how you will actually sharpen the knife.[/quote]

***Quite the contrary, once the knife has been sharpened with a stone the day you take it home from the store, even with heavy use, ALL they need is a steel to maintain the edge. Even my 25 year-old Wusthofs have been touched by a stone only a of couple of times. All my knives will shave hair--my ultimate test before each use. I use a 14" F Dick standard grooved steel for almost everything, and a very fine grooved 14" F Dick Dickoron sapphire cut for when I am doing delicate brain surgery, and I don't find that one really necessary, even for finely slicing lox or sashimi. The long steels make it easy to sharpen the long slicing and chef knives.


Last edited by GaryProtein on Tue Jan 24, 2006 8:43 am; edited 1 time in total
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ktexp2



Joined: 03 Nov 2005
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Mon Jan 23, 2006 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have discovered through serendipitity and random watching of Food Network that the rough bottom of a ceramic plate or bowl is a lot better than my steel for keeping my blade sharp between sharpenings. You just have to be careful when doing it, since there's no gaurd on a plate! I don't have expensive knives, so I don't mind experimenting like this, but I use the plate the same way I'd use a steel, holding the knife at the small angle and moving it from the heel of the blade to the tip. Works like a charm - everything I cut through these days is like butter.
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lil.vlad
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:01 am    Post subject: steels Reply with quote

remember that a steel is needed to debur after sharpening -- i use it prior also to prep the blade

try a simple ceramic sharpener like that of fiskar or trident(german)-- i get good results with my henkels, and victorinox knives

these are simple to use and will stop a disaster if you use a stone wrong -- my lasky kit works well but i only use it when i mess up a knife real bad
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Jimmy Tenacious
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I quite agree with the idea of sharpening/straightening your knife with the back of your ceramic plate. Although I would suggest a bowl is a better idea. I found out that the back of ceramic does the job when I went to a mate’s place and found out that he had a dull knife and no mean of sharpening the knife whist I was doing a cook off.

However, I need to point out that if you do decide to sharpen/straighten your knife with your ceramic plate that you need to have had an experience with the stick.

Remember, this is the last resort of straitening knives if there is no other means available.
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cncmike



Joined: 11 May 2006
Posts: 6
Location: Burlington Canada

PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 3:40 am    Post subject: no steel for me... Reply with quote

Hi,

For most cooks, unless you are a pro who uses a steel every day, you are far more likely to damage your edge then build it. A top quality draw sharpener weekly and a pro sharpening 3x a year will keep your blades edge far better then flailing away with a steel. I cook 100+ meals a week and I never use a steel, but that's just my 2 cents...MB
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 355
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 7:21 pm    Post subject: Re: no steel for me... Reply with quote

cncmike wrote:
Hi,

For most cooks, unless you are a pro who uses a steel every day, you are far more likely to damage your edge then build it. A top quality draw sharpener weekly and a pro sharpening 3x a year will keep your blades edge far better then flailing away with a steel. I cook 100+ meals a week and I never use a steel, but that's just my 2 cents...MB


Uh huh. Using a steel is a basic knife skill and should be learned along with using a knife safely and correctly. Using a steel is NOT for pros only. My wife only started using a steel two weeks ago at the ripe old age of 40. She's doing fine and hasn't ruined any of my 70 year old carbons. This is a basic skill. Sharpening with stones is for pros and enthusiasts.

And as far as not using any pressure on your steel is insane. Again, you need to consult a professional and ask them. Jeez, just watch any cooking show, they got both arms going with zeal. It isn't just dragging a knife lightly over the steel, nope. You'd think you were honing nitro.

If you're too timid with a steel on your knives, go to a dime store or a thrift store and buy some nasty old cheap ones. Practice. Learn the sound, the feel of your knife when it comes around.

It's truly not that difficult.

Biggles
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GaryProtein



Joined: 26 Oct 2005
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2006 1:15 am    Post subject: Re: no steel for me... Reply with quote

DrBiggles wrote:


Uh huh. Using a steel is a basic knife skill and should be learned along with using a knife safely and correctly. Using a steel is NOT for pros only. My wife only started using a steel two weeks ago at the ripe old age of 40. She's doing fine and hasn't ruined any of my 70 year old carbons. This is a basic skill. Sharpening with stones is for pros and enthusiasts.

And as far as not using any pressure on your steel is insane. Again, you need to consult a professional and ask them. Jeez, just watch any cooking show, they got both arms going with zeal. It isn't just dragging a knife lightly over the steel, nope. You'd think you were honing nitro.

If you're too timid with a steel on your knives, go to a dime store or a thrift store and buy some nasty old cheap ones. Practice. Learn the sound, the feel of your knife when it comes around.

It's truly not that difficult. Biggles



I absolutely agree!

If you use a steel regularly, with rare exception, you'll only need your stone on those days when you bring a new knife into your collection.
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Guest






PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bought a smooth steel from the company in the link in the second post. I've been extremely happy with how well it keeps the edge on my knifes. It also comes with a leather case on the steel which you can use as a strop, if you really need to show off shaving the hair off your forearm.

Mike
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MeganAmyH



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2006 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having spent time talking to people from Henkels, Wustoff and Global lately, I can honestly say that all of them agree that using a steel is a matter of preference. Since the steel doesn't actually sharpen, it's just gives the knives a bit of a mini-serration, people can use the knives daily without steeling. Me, I do tend to give my knives a quick couple of strokes through a sharpener before using them, but that is what works best for me. I'm also pretty realistic that I have issues with getting the angle right. Smile
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