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Sharpening Steel

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
While my current steel is still OK, it seems about time to start exploring the possibilities for replacement. I'm looking for a "traditional" steel, not a diamond coated one made of hyper-palladium and so one. The only steel that's been recommended to me so far is one made by F. Dick. A local butcher with a very well-regarded skill set suggested I look into these. What do you know about these steels, and what other steel might you recommend and why? Thanks!

Shel
post #2 of 15
I'm not quite sure I understand. The principle of a steel is to realign the blade. It does not have to be abrasive or such, so wearing out doesn't seem to be possible.

If your looking for a good steel though, I use a no name smooth steel, on Five Star Henckels. It keeps them honed to a great edge. I do make sure to hone before and after use though. That may help.
post #3 of 15
Why not a Diamond Steel? They work much better than the regular ones... I have a Wuesthoff, it just rocks!

:chef:
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post #4 of 15
Oh they do, Steels wear out, They are made of the same material and hardness as knives, so it's only a matter of time before the grooves in the steel wear smooth. A "Steel" does not "sharpen" but as tsblo points out, re-aligns the very fine wafer thin edge that has curled over. It's a matter of orthodontics, the grooves on the steel pull and straighten out the curled over edge. Over time this edge fatigues and breaks off (that black crud you wipe off your knife and steel when you're done...) and then the steel is useless because it's time to SHARPEN, which entails the removal of metal from a rounded-over edge in a controlled manner, basically making two edges meet. And where the two edges meet, you have nothing, which is something.

What to look for? A long one, at least as big as your biggest knife, with a good fixed-on handle. Stay away from diamond "steels" they are abrasives
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Depending on the knife and the steel, a knife can be harder than the steel. You are right, however, steels wear out. Nope, no diamond steel for me - just a good quality traditional one. None of the "knife experts" I know recommend using one, and that includes my butcher, my poultry guy, and a friend who is quite the knife expert. As you say, too abrasive.

Shel
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
See foodpump's post. I agree 100%. In what way does a diamond steel "work much better than the regular ones?" I don't think I want a steel that "rocks." What does that mean?

Shel
post #7 of 15
Well, it just means that it works. I have had a regular one and tried a lot of them, I have a Diamond one and it is better. Thats it.
Have you ever used one? What don't you like about it?

What means "abrasive"?

:smiles:
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post #8 of 15
Didn't know that :o. Neither of my chefs at school when we went over sharpening mentioned that, but I also use a smooth steel so I've never had to worry about it.

As towards meatloafs post, I can understand not wanting to use a diamond steel. You are more sharpening than honing your edge with a diamond steel, and its not very forgiving to sloppy angles. I don't blame shel for avoiding them.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
In what way(s) do you feel the diamond steel is better?

Yes, I have used a diamond steel, that's why I don't want one. It's abrasive - which means it will wear down the knife over time a lot quicker than proper sharpening will.
post #10 of 15
Listen to your butcher, F dick - you cannot go wrong.:smiles:
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post #11 of 15

indeed listen to yur butchero

and get an F.DICK butcher's steel.( the 'blade' of a traditional butcher's steel is oval and not round, at least back here where i come from...) and at least 35 -40 cm long.
by the way (this is the way i check if a steel is still efficent) once you can not hold with the tip a small metal object, NOT stainless steel, it is time to repalce the steel, it is worn out.
but in my now 40 years as Chef I only had 5 or 6 steels, they are expensive to buy but will last 'forever' ...
good food, one of the few pleasures left to mankind...
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good food, one of the few pleasures left to mankind...
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post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks - I think I'm going to look for an F. Dick steel. They are a little more expensive, but this is a long-term purchase. I'd expect to use it until I die. My current steel is about 25+ years old, and every knowledgeable person I've shown it to says it's pretty close to needing replacement.

Thanks!

Shel
post #13 of 15
I guess to answer Meatloaf's question why I hate diamond steels I'll have to explain a little more.

Using a steel straightens and aligns the curled over edge of the blade. No metal is removed. A diamond steel will remove metal, since diamonds are the hardest substance. But the big question is HOW it removes the metal.

Compare an axe and a surgeon's scalpel, both are sharp. The bevel, or the angle at which both sides of the blade meet are very different, the axe being at around a 45 angle and the scalpel at a 10 degree angle. With an axe, you can chop hard wood and the edge stays more or less sharp because it it is very strong, a lot of metal to support the sharp edge. Don't think you could cut a carrot with it, but it will definitely split wood. The scalpel is extreme sharp, but because the bevel is so steep there's no surrounding metal to support the edge, once the wafer-thin edge hits bone or scar tissue, the edge deforms and curls over. Most kitchen knives have bevels at around 22 degrees, a compromise over sharpness and edge-retaining qualities. When you use a diamond steel, you are changing the angle of the bevel, in some places a steeper bevel which will be sharp and dull very quickly, and others a shallower angle, which may not be sharp.

Diamond steels will leave the surface fairly course, diamonds scoring the material leaving grooves in it. Imagine looking at the tip of a comb, staring straight down, the edge may be sharp, but the grooves have scored the surface of the knife making it weak and prone to premature failure. A professionaly sharpened knife will have a mirror-like surface, so the surface of the knife is fairly groove-free, and the resulting edge will last longer.

The third thing is the shape of the knife. Many badly sharpened knifes have "hollows" in them, so no matter how hard you cut down, you can never really cut through a carrot, because the edge of the knife won't make contact with the cutting board, or the knife will have "flat spots" making rocking the knife virtually impossible. When you use a diamond steel you usually "sharpen" only the middle of the blade, and over time you will develop hollows or flat spots on the blade.

Hope this helps.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #14 of 15

well, never to old to learn...

...because in this part of the world we (Chefs) don't use diamond steels.
I have heard about them, but no professional chef's knife supplier has them in stock.
Maybe they also know something. And when asking about butcher steels everone recommends F.Dick with the 'oval' blade...;)
good food, one of the few pleasures left to mankind...
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good food, one of the few pleasures left to mankind...
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post #15 of 15
I've used my F. Dick steel for over 30 years on my Henckles SS knives and Sabatier carbon steel knives and it still works great. In all fairness I use it only at home since I'm not a restaurant chef - just a foodie. And I use the steel maybe once or twice a month.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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