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"Sharpening" Steels
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Taamar



Joined: 09 Mar 2006
Posts: 52

PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2006 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MeganAmyH wrote:
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.

Actually, what it does it re-align the mini-serrations.
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cynicalb



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With regard to using the back of a ceramic plate in place of a steel...

Let's do a logic experiment. Your knives are probably in the mid to high 50 HRC (Rockwell C) range. Although I have never tested them, but probably can in a week or two, I would expect that a sharpening steel is only slightly harder, so that they can bring the knife edge back into alignment and not create a new edge. Ceramics, at least the industrial type, which aren't that far removed from the type in dinner plates, are in the 65+ HRC range (hardness scales are NOT linear). Plus, they are extremely brittle. When you drag a knife across that, you are no longer just realigning an edge, I suspect that you are grooving that edge, and perhaps not in the manner you want to. Bottom line - you can get good steels for $40 or less. You spent a crapload of $$'s on your good knives. Use a steel. There is a reason they are on the market.
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GaryProtein



Joined: 26 Oct 2005
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks cynicalb, I'm glad someone finally agrees with me. Besides, a steel can take off some metal to sharpen the blade (a little anyway--try wiping your steel with a paper towel, you'll see the metal), in addition to realigning the edge. It depends on how much pressure you use against the steel. Furthermore, the problem I have with the back of plates is that the unglazed ring around the botton that is used for "sharpening" is never a regular surface like a ceramic sharpening stick, which I am not crazy about anyway. Last I looked, plates don't have good handles to protect your hand while sharpening either.
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Howard



Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 64

PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2006 12:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heck, one could just go to Home Depot and buy a length of 1/2" carbon steel rod and use that. The longer the better, but not so long as to be too unwieldy.
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cynicalb



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howard wrote:
Heck, one could just go to Home Depot and buy a length of 1/2" carbon steel rod and use that. The longer the better, but not so long as to be too unwieldy.


Although logically one might think so, this is not a good idea. If you could find a hardened and tempered steel (to ~60 HRC) rod, that might be serviceable; however, steel rod from hardware stores is mild steel. Not only is it not hardened and tempered, it cannot be hardened and tempered (mild steel is low carbon and does not possess the proper chemistry to allow hardening). The hardness of such a rod is less than 20 HRC; most knives are in the mid to high 50's HRC. Using such a low hardness piece of steel will only result in the knife slicing off part of the steel. That is, the steel will do very little, probably nothing, in the way of realigning the edge of the knife, and will probably only hasten the dulling of the edge and possibly damage it.

Also, sharpening steels are designed with axial grooves which help with realigning the blade. A steel rod is smooth, at best.

As noted previously, in the grand scheme of things, a good steel is not that expensive. Rather than trying to find something that "might" work, buy something that does work.
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Howard



Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 64

PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2006 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with grooved steels is that they also try to sharpen. A smooth steel only realigns.

I do see what you mean about the hardness, though.
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cynicalb



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 4:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Howard,

I will agree that the design point of grooved steels is to sharpen, at least sort of. What the grooves do are probably knock off the wayward bits of the edge. As you use a knife, the edge bends (for lack of a better word) over. When you bend steel in that manner, it becomes work hardened, or brittle. What the steel probably does is knock off those brittle (microscopic) pieces, exposing a new edge - well, sort of. That edge will not be as nice and sharp as a properly ground, sharpened, and honed edge, but it won't be bad, either. At some point enough metal will have been removed, rendering the blade incapable of being really sharp, that will require re-sharpening.

So, my blathering above is basically a steel realigns a blade to keep it serviceable for a longer period of time than if you didn't use a steel. I bet (and this is only based upon my ferrous metallurgy education, nothing more, that is, no controlled testing) that a sharpening steel only removes those bent, (effectively) damaged parts of the edge. I suspect that a diamond "steel" will remove those bits and relatively virgin material in the blade. This is based on the fact that diamond is considerably harder than the hardest steels. And, as steeling a blade is a much less controlled process than sharpening, I would rather have my steels hone, or realign, the blade, and my sharpening stones do the re-cutting of the blade.

So, my preference would be to use only a sharpening steel for steeling a blade, and save the ceramics and diamonds for the sharpening stones.
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GuidoTKP



Joined: 16 Mar 2007
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting about the negative comments re: the diamond steels. Spent about 45 minutes hanging out with the guy who owns Ross Cutlery in Los Angeles after he sharpened a bunch of knives for me (the words "light saber" came to mind when I goofed around with them last night) and asked him what he recomended in terms of honing/steeling. He recomended a diamond steel (I bought the one made by Henckels). Spent around 10 minutes showing me how to use it. Said that regularly using that + pro sharpening about once a year is all I should need to do to keep the knives scalpel sharp.
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Jaywalker
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I concur with cynicalb that the point of using a steel is to dress the blade's edge so that it won't have to be honed as often.

I steel my new honed edge and continue to do so until the "steeling" effect only lasts a day or so - that's my signal that I need to hone it again and restart the process.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned in this discussion of whether or not to steel is what you're "feeling" for with the steel. Using minimum edge/steel pressure I feel for the small sensation that the edge is dragging irregularly. It'll kind of give and release - that means, "there's still an edge to be realigned - continue to steel, alternate sides of the blade." The feeling will gradually diminish as the edge dresses, until the edge feels completely smooth.

A smooth-feeling steeled edge does not mean the edge is sharp - it just means it's as sharp as that edge will get. If that isn't sharp enough, then it's time to hone.

Jaywalker
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GaryProtein



Joined: 26 Oct 2005
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2007 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me, a "sharp enough edge" is one that shaves the hair off my arm, and being right handed, my left arm is bald! I have used a stone on my knives maybe two or three times on knives that I have had for over 25 years. Steels rule!
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DrBiggles



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

PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MeganAmyH wrote:
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.


A steel is a matter of preference? What does that mean? Long or short? Smooth or coarse?

Do you mean to tell me that over hundreds of years worth of chefs and professional knife sharpeners have all been wrong? That these nitwit sales people have had the inside scoop and everyone in the entire world had it all wrong?

Well then, clearly these salespeople need to travel the world and let the French and Italians know they've been ruining their kitchen knives over the last few thousand years. Phew! Good thing! I've only had my family's knives for 35 years and they show no visible change due to constant steeling and sharpening. Now I really know what to do! Thanks to Global all is well.

Biggles
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Howard



Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 64

PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DrBiggles wrote:
MeganAmyH wrote:
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.


A steel is a matter of preference? What does that mean? Long or short? Smooth or coarse?

Do you mean to tell me that over hundreds of years worth of chefs and professional knife sharpeners have all been wrong? That these nitwit sales people have had the inside scoop and everyone in the entire world had it all wrong?

Well then, clearly these salespeople need to travel the world and let the French and Italians know they've been ruining their kitchen knives over the last few thousand years. Phew! Good thing! I've only had my family's knives for 35 years and they show no visible change due to constant steeling and sharpening. Now I really know what to do! Thanks to Global all is well.

Biggles

When you were a kid, did you decide to be the most sarcastic and hostile adult possible? I mean, seriously, judging from your tone, you must be getting off on it.
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Guest






PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howard wrote:
DrBiggles wrote:
MeganAmyH wrote:
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.


A steel is a matter of preference? What does that mean? Long or short? Smooth or coarse?

Do you mean to tell me that over hundreds of years worth of chefs and professional knife sharpeners have all been wrong? That these nitwit sales people have had the inside scoop and everyone in the entire world had it all wrong?

Well then, clearly these salespeople need to travel the world and let the French and Italians know they've been ruining their kitchen knives over the last few thousand years. Phew! Good thing! I've only had my family's knives for 35 years and they show no visible change due to constant steeling and sharpening. Now I really know what to do! Thanks to Global all is well.

Biggles

When you were a kid, did you decide to be the most sarcastic and hostile adult possible? I mean, seriously, judging from your tone, you must be getting off on it.


Not so much when I was a kid. Then, was quiet and kept to myself with only a few friends. Always enjoyed cooking, mostly grilling and smoking meat. I spent a lot of time, still do, second guessing myself. As I got older and talked to more people, spent more time with people that actually knew what the skinny was. Found out a few truths. Felt good and spent a lot of time reading and watching appropriate tv shows, then reading more to see if there was any other juicy bits to be had.

As I got older I had less and less patience for people that spouted some rumor they'd heard and was based upon nothing more than speculation as though it were concrete truth. As though, they had the inside scoop where the experts who'd spent decades perfecting their craft, had no idea what they were talking about.

Such as, staff at Mega-Lo Marts telling their customers that using a steel will wear down your knife prematurely and to not use one. When it's common knowledge to skilled knife sharpeners and enthusiasts that actually not using a steel will do more harm than good.

And you're correct, I do enjoy it.

Biggles
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SirSpice



Joined: 04 Dec 2006
Posts: 95

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DrBiggles wrote:
Do you mean to tell me that over hundreds of years worth of chefs and professional knife sharpeners have all been wrong? That these nitwit sales people have had the inside scoop and everyone in the entire world had it all wrong?

Well then, clearly these salespeople need to travel the world and let the French and Italians know they've been ruining their kitchen knives over the last few thousand years. Phew! Good thing! I've only had my family's knives for 35 years and they show no visible change due to constant steeling and sharpening. Now I really know what to do! Thanks to Global all is well.


All he was saying is that using a steel is a matter of preference, and it is. I have noticed significant improvement in the edge of my knives ever since I've stopped using grooved steels, and instead used a fine ceramic steel and leather strop. I don't give a damn about what chefs have been saying for hundreds of years, I can see for myself what works for my knives. The knives the French and Italians were using two hundred years ago were made of soft steel which needed constant re-aligning, so I don't see why I should take their advice on how to maintain an edge on my brittle Japanese cutlery.
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DrBiggles



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

PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SirSpice wrote:
DrBiggles wrote:
Do you mean to tell me that over hundreds of years worth of chefs and professional knife sharpeners have all been wrong? That these nitwit sales people have had the inside scoop and everyone in the entire world had it all wrong?

Well then, clearly these salespeople need to travel the world and let the French and Italians know they've been ruining their kitchen knives over the last few thousand years. Phew! Good thing! I've only had my family's knives for 35 years and they show no visible change due to constant steeling and sharpening. Now I really know what to do! Thanks to Global all is well.


All he was saying is that using a steel is a matter of preference, and it is. I have noticed significant improvement in the edge of my knives ever since I've stopped using grooved steels, and instead used a fine ceramic steel and leather strop. I don't give a damn about what chefs have been saying for hundreds of years, I can see for myself what works for my knives. The knives the French and Italians were using two hundred years ago were made of soft steel which needed constant re-aligning, so I don't see why I should take their advice on how to maintain an edge on my brittle Japanese cutlery.


Brittle Japanese Cutlery, you're funny. Yeah, I right passed up those with thousands of years worth of blade technology that ruled/rule the world. And today? Most certainly the only kitchen knives that are massed produced and worth a pinch of moon shine. Those sashimi knives are wicked sharp. Prolly split a bed mite's nose hairs by quarters.

You clearly know what you're doing. As do many others, not worried about you and yours. I get upset at the people who sit in power and spew untruths. Such as the day when I recieved my first few copies of Cook's Illustrated Magazine. Maybe this is when it went all down hill for me. It was the beginning of spring and their grilling expert was talking about which grill is best. I was thinking, whichever sounds best to you. That wasn't the case, this time. He passed up the charcoal or wood fired grill because the lid imparts a bitter taste to your food.

Aroo? Mebbe for a smoker, but not a grill. That bitter taste would be creosote created by poor fire tending (not enough air). And even if it did impart a bitter taste on your grilled food, clean it and reseason it. That was probably 4 years ago or more and am still fuming over it.

Ah well, happy honing & stropping.

Biggles
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