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 SHARPENING HONE
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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