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Professionals have always used a sharpening steel to keep their knives sharp. With a little practice, anyone can master the art of "steeling" to keep your knives sharp. A sharpening steel is a metal rod that consists of a slightly softer hardness factor than the knife blade. A knife's sharpness is maintained by stroking the blade over the rod on a regular basis. To be effective, though, the hardness of the sharpening steel must be softer than that of the knife. This means all steels do not work on all knives. If you do not have success in steeling your knives, the sharpening steel may be at fault or a new edge may be needed on the knife. It is best to use the same brand of steel as your knives to avoid using the wrong steel. If you examined a knife under a microscope, you would see that the edge, even the edge of a fine edged knife, is made up of thousands of small cutting teeth. Through use, these "teeth" are bent out of line and the blades become less effective. By "steeling," stroking the knife on a sharpening steel does NOT put a new edge on a knife; it simply realigns the existing edge, increasing the sharpness.

Simplified Method of Steeling
Hold the sharpening steel in your left hand with the point of the steel firmly placed on a cutting board or similar surface. Hold the knife in your right hand in a natural position for cutting.
(Instructions are given for a right-handed person; reverse procedure if left handed.) Place the blade closest to the handle against the sharpening steel just under the steel handle. Angle the knife approximately 10 degrees from the sharpening rod.
With medium pressure, bring the knife blade down at this 10-degree angle, pulling the knife handle toward you as you go down the steel. Be sure to stroke the entire blade edge from handle to tip. Alternate from left to right sides of the steel rod 4 or 5 times.
Back steeling is a process used to raise rolled edges. Do this routinely before steeling for best results. To back steel, put the point of the sharpening steel against a firm surface at a 90-degree angle. Pull the blade flat across the sharpening steel, moving in the opposite direction of normal cutting. You will feel resistance if the edge is rolled. Repeat the process on the other side of the knife-edge.

Ideally, a sharpening steel should be used every time a knife is used. A butcher carries a steel at his side and uses it every few minutes to keep his knife sharp. It's much easier to keep the knife sharp with regular steeling than to let the edge deteriorate and try to resharpen it. Steel your knives before or after each use just as automatically as you wash them.

Caring for your steel
To clean and remove metal particles from your sharpening steel, use a scouring powder (BonAmi©) & Scotch Brite© pad, not steel wool. Use long vertical strokes and medium pressure with the Scotch Brite pad running parallel to the lines of the steel. After scouring and cleaning with Scotch Brite pad, rinse the steel with clear water, dry the steel thoroughly, and store in a dry place.

The ceramic hone is used to sharpen knives in a method similar to using the sharpening steel, although both create different effects on the blades edge. The hone removes metal from the knife blade, creating a new edge. After honing the knife, "steeling" is highly recommended in order to realign the cutting teeth and provide a razor sharp edge. If a knife is steeled regularly it should not need to be honed.

Caring for your hone
Clean your hone after each use with scouring cleanser (BonAmi©) and a sponge or cloth. Do not use any type of soap on the hone. After cleaning with the cleanser, rinse and air-dry or wipe dry. With proper care, your hone should last for many years and give you good service.
Caution: The hone may break if dropped or struck against a hard surface.

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