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TOPIC: Sharpeners and steels in a real life kitchen

Re: Sharpeners and steels in a real life kitchen 2 years 5 months ago #2956

  • Razoredge
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For a good smooth steel check out the F. Dick "Dickoron" These are the ones we used in the meat packing plant. The others have grooves cut in them so they are essentially round files.

Mark M
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Re: Sharpeners and steels in a real life kitchen 2 years 5 months ago #2964

  • RogerHerbst
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Thanks for the info, though it's a little pricey for my taste.

I just did a quick survey on Amazon, reading 3 pages of sharpening steel offerings. Only one steel, a Wusthof, mentioned, "Grooved rod improves ease of sharpening". Wusthof goes on to say "made of magnetic steel that attracts metal fibers during the sharpening process", indicating that they understand the steel is behaving as a file.

None of the others said anything about grooved or smooth, though the pictures, when good enough, all looked grooved. Interestingly, the description of the "Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Pro", clearly a grooved rod, says "steel doesn't actually sharpen a knife" , it "serves a vital role by realigning, or "resetting," kitchen knives' edges, which bend this way and that when contacting a cutting surface". Yes they are blindly repeating the mantra that their round file isn't really a file.

This subject of how to to touch up a blade keeps getting more complicated ! I'll throw in another complication - a rolled edge almost certainly requires a different treatment than a dulled edge.
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Re: Sharpeners and steels in a real life kitchen 2 years 5 months ago #2965

  • Razoredge
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Martin Clifton did a video discussing the various types of steels. Check it out.

Edit: Look up F. Dick Packing house steel. That is the one I use.
Last Edit: 2 years 5 months ago by Razoredge. Reason: Added info.
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Re: Sharpeners and steels in a real life kitchen 2 years 5 months ago #2967

  • peppersass
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My take on this is that steels do, in fact, remove metal. It's open to question whether a smooth steel or maybe a borosilicate steel is smooth enough not to remove metal, but certainly the grooved steels do and both of my ceramic steels remove metal too, as you can see below:


The dark stains are metal that's been taken off blades.

The top steel is from my EP Apex 4 kit. It got a good scrubbing with Bon Ami and a Scotch brite pad after the last time I used it. But you can still see some metal. The bottom steel is a Yoshikin Global G-25. It hasn't been cleaned in a while. I've been meaning to get a more abrasive cleanser (Comet?) to do that.

Note that most manufacturers of kitchen knives and sharpening accessories are calling these "ceramic sharpening rods". They aren't pretending that they're "steels". EP calls them "ceramic hones", a term that implies sharpening. I believe they say that the rods are for fine burr removal.

The grit ratings on these rods are somewhat of a mystery. I wasn't able to find any clear information on the grit size of the Global. I found some references to DMT rods with 1500 and 2000 ratings, though. EP rates their rod at 1200 grit, but as I said in a previous post, this reference claims EP uses a non-standard rating.

There may be something to the claim, because the EP hone feels much, much smoother than the EP 1600 grit ceramic stones that just arrived :) . I tested the WEPS stones, the Global rod and the EP hone with my finger and with a microfiber cloth. No question that both rods are much smoother than the WEPS stones, and the EP hone feels distinctly smoother and more slippery than the global rod (though not as much difference as both rods to the WEPS stones. I would guess in WEPS paralance these rods are well over 2000 grit, maybe higher.

The ceramic rods are finer than anything in my WEPS kit other than the strops. They're a lot quicker to access and use for light touch-up before using a kitchen knife. I suspect if they're used with very, very light pressure and just a few strokes (as I do), they'll correct flaws in the edge either by pressing them out or removing very small amounts of metal. I've found a light touch is essential -- anything heavier tends to make the edge worse than it was.

The issue with steels that remove metal is matching the edge. I see nothing wrong with removing a little metal to restore the edge, as long as it's not creating a second bevel or a new profile. This suggests practicing to match the edge angle when steeling. Probably difficult, but not impossible.

I'm thinking about picking up a smooth steel and seeing if that provides any benefit over the rods. I suspect it'll take more strokes and probably a firmer hand, especially with my VG-10 knife.

BTW, I've always been puzzled by the notion that steels "straighten the edge" -- i.e., correct indentations and rolled edges. I can see where smooth steel could press out an indentation, but I don't see how it can "unroll" an edge. The typical steeling action is from edge to spine, so if anything a rolled edge would be bent over and pressed into the edge. Perhaps it breaks off? If so, that doesn't seem good.

In contrast, I can see how a strop could unroll an edge because the action is spine to edge.
Last Edit: 2 years 5 months ago by peppersass.
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Re: Sharpeners and steels in a real life kitchen 2 years 5 months ago #2991

  • PhilipPasteur
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This is an interesting definition of the different types of steel:

"One Knife Sharpener tool is known as a Honing Steel. A Honing Steel is a type of hardened cylindrical rod used similarly to Honing Stones. For example, a Butcher Steel is a round file with the teeth running the long way, while a Packer Steel (used in the meat packing industry) is a smooth, polished Steel rod designed for straightening the turned edge of a knife, and is also useful for burnishing a newly finished edge."


Another one:
"We will get into the various types of steels in just a moment, but be aware that the grooved steels that come with knife sets do in fact remove metal. A grooved steel acts as a file when used with a heavy hand, knocking microscopic chips out of your edge. At the very least, it is much coarser than the fine abrasive you used to achieve your edge. Steeling heavily with a grooved steel is taking several steps backward. A grooved steel should be used with caution and a very light touch."

" A steel actually “smears” the edge, teasing out a little more thinness. You’ll have a keener edge, but it will be weaker than the freshly sharpened edge."

I have seen photo micrographs of edges that have been steeled where the rolled edge was pressed back, folded over and the edge "smeared" to where it cut better.

You can see some examples of a packers steel here:



This last one is the one I have used (but I put it on the buffer with varying grits until, ending up with jewelers rouge, you can use it as a mirror), though these days I use a bench strop with horse butt leather charged with 1 Micron diamond spray to much better effect for quick touch ups.

John Juranitch author of "Razor Edge Book Of Sharpening", says that you should never get a steel that you can't see your reflection clearly in, anywhere close to any knife. I bought his book something over 20 years ago and used his system and concepts up until about 8 months ago when I got my WEPS (and EP and Kalamzoo, and various waterstones, and stops, and submicron spays and pastes :).
What he says makes sense, if you can't straighten your edge with a smooth steel, you probably need to go back to your stones. Taking a rough file to your blade just seems counterproductive...
even if you just go to the 1000 grit diamond on the WEPS.

One last link about hoing and stropping:

This is an excerpt:
"Steeling(or stropping) is the simplest and the quickest procedure that you can perform to maintain and extend the useful life of your edges, hence the knives themselves. Very simple procedure, however, unfortunately, most of the people never do it, others do it with a wrong tool, which arguably is worse than not steeling at all. I'm talking about the dreaded grooved steel, or butchers steel in other words that comes with every standard cutlery set sold in US and as far as I can tell, in the rest of the world as well." "The process is absolutely different, sharpening implies removal of the metal, while stropping/steeling does not, it just realigns the deformed metal, for the pedants, yes the small pieces of metal can and will be removed during steeling or stropping, but that is due to the metal fatigue, not because it was intended."

Not sure if this answers the original question, but hopefully it presents something of interest...


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Last Edit: 2 years 5 months ago by PhilipPasteur. Reason: spelling
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Re: Sharpeners and steels in a real life kitchen 2 years 5 months ago #2993

  • razoredgeknives
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Thanks for pointing that out peppersass.... I need to change what I call the ceramic rods from ceramic "steels" to ceramic hones.

As to your question about how it will straighten the edge if it is rolled, I would say that it depends on how much it is rolled. If it is severely rolled, you would seem to be correct in your theory - sometimes when this is the case, I will do a few trailing strokes/side to semi-align the edge before I go directly into the edge on the hone. Seems to work well anyway :)
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