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Do you steel japanese knives?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm confused.

When I purchased my japanese knife from Korin, I remember reading on their website: Do not use a sharpening steel to sharpen your Japanese knife. Using a sharpening steel can damage your blade and change the body style of your knife. (Source: Knife Care)

In fact if I remember correctly, someone here (I believe it was Chris Lehrer) explained to me that the Japanese knives' steel was harder than the European's, and using a steel might break the edge rather than bring it back in place. I hope I understood correctly.

However, I keep hearing (or reading) some people recommending steels seemingly without any concern for whether the person uses a japanese or european knife. In fact some japanese knife companies (i.e. Shun) make and sell steels.

By the way I own a Togiharu inox steel 9.4" and a King 1,000 stone.

So what about you, do you steel your Japanese knives?
post #2 of 22
IMO Shun only offers a steel because everyone in the West expects one. I think you should never use a ribbed steel on a 60+ Rockwell J-knife. With a light touch one may use a 1) smooth steel, 2) a ceramic hone or 3) a glass hone. Beyond that, a strop is useful.

Attempting to steel a Japanese knife as you would a German will lead to chipping of the edge.
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I see that the Togiharu is 57-58 on the HRc scale...
post #4 of 22
I've never used the Togiharu but I think that advice would hold true for it, too. It may not be quite as hard as a typical VG-10 blade but it probably is pretty thin. If you want to use a steel on it be careful and stay conservative.
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
OK great! Thanks a lot for the advice.
post #6 of 22
You can steel anything with a reasonably symmetric bevel that's not much harder than 61 HrC, or more asymmetric than 66/33. You have to steel right, and not smack the blade against the steel, or put too much pressure on the blade, or steel for dozens of strokes at a time. But that's true for European knives too, even though they're more forgiving of abuse. Anyway, you can sure as heck steel knives made in Japan.

This has been a huge topic at Fred's and the KF. There are a few die-hard "don't ever steel anything from Japan" people, but it seems like about half of (appropriate) gyuto users do steel them.

Plenty of big deal Japanese companies make rod-hones, not only Shun, Global and MAC, but plenty who don't give a darn about sales to the west -- Masamoto for instance.

I have never, not once, NOT EVER, talked to anyone who claims to have wrecked his or her own Japanese knife by steeling. What "empirical" stories there are, are always about other people.

Korin has seen a lot of knives which have been damaged by bad steeling. I don't usually do "motive," but maybe that's the reason they're categorically negative. With the greatest respect for their in-house sharpener, and with respect for whatever their reasoning is: They are wrong. And yes, it's really that simple.

You don't have to steel, but what's your alternative? Are you going to keep a couple of stones in the bucket, ready to go every time you ding an edge on the board, every third chicken you break, and before every other night you cook? If you do, you'll eat through your knives and stones PDQ.

One thing about Japanese manufactured knives, because of the (typically) higher hardness of their blade alloys, they tend to need less steeling than western made knives of similar geometry. But they are thin, they do wave, and consequently still need truing. For most of them the right steel is the best and most efficient way to do it.

BDL
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post #7 of 22
I would never steal a Japanese's knife!

(sorry, bad pun day today)
Did you hear about the criminals that stole all the toilet seats from the police station? The cops had nothing to go on.
post #8 of 22
There are a lot of reasons I used to like you.

BDL
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post #9 of 22
A chef once said to me "you can't put too much butter in the hollandaise." and walked away.

Huh?
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much guys. So I guess to sum it up: don't steel if you want to be on the safe side or don't know what you're doing. If you're going to steel, get the right steel, and be gentle in the way you use it. Correct? Makes sense.

Any recommendations for a 57-58 HRc Togiharu 240mm Inox Steel Gyuoto knife?

Thanks!!
post #11 of 22
12" Idahone fine ceramic (high quality, inexpensively priced); DMT CS2 (nearly unbreakable); MAC Black (expensive, but very good). Within the context of a two hone system (which you're not ready for at all -- at least not yet), the $95 HandAmerican combination consisting of the HA borosilicate + Idahone fine combination + other useful goodies.

I should also add that besides its utility in maintenance between sharpening sessions, a rod hone is fantastically useful for deburring when sharpening.

BTW, apropos of nothing important, the Rockwell hardness C unit designation is usually HRC, and sometimes HrC (which I'm stuck on using because that's the way it was written in defendant's literature when I did a case which tangentially involved I-beam failure), but is never HRc. Don't ask me why. No. Really. Don't ask.

I'll switch to the more common HRC, if you will.

BDL
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post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks a lot. As for HRc, it was the way it was written on the knife's page. Live and learn! HRC it shall be then.
post #13 of 22
Oh that Korin.

BDL
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post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
That's two mistakes! :lol:
post #15 of 22
Thanks guys you have also answered some of the same questions in my mind :--) but further more to this can I also ask if my kai shun 7" santoku dm0718 is to be honed on both sides ( only had it for about 3 weeks) because I have been told its a single bevel and a microwave bevel on the other side ? Excuse my lack of knowledge I'm a home cook who has only just purchased this knife along with a mac mighty mth-80 do I hone this any different?? Also like the original chap I became confused as I was told by u tube chefs not to hone Japanese knives , my thought then was do I just lightly sharpen with the stones?? Any how I can go ahead and purchase a Idaho rod with impunity :--) last thing how often should I hone and do I use 4-6lbs of pressure and slowly lighten this as bob Kramer said ? I'm so new I don't want to ruin these knives thankyou to any 1 that answers these noobie questions.
post #16 of 22
Bloody auto correct not microwave but micro :--)
post #17 of 22

There are some knives which should not be steeled because they have a tendency to sustain damage.  Knives with very asymmetric edge geometry (chisel or near chisel edged) and knives made from very hard alloys (mostly PMs at 63RCH or greater), from alloys which are hardened to the point or otherwise so poorly hardened that they are chippy.  

 

There are a lot of good ways to steel -- Cramer's is okay, and this one is better -- but the vast majority of people, including nearly everyone you see on TV, use such bad technique with such aggressive hones that damage is inevitable.   

 

VG-10 and SG2 Shuns are on the chippy side for knives which are appropriate candidates for steeling, but they are appropriate.  I suggest very few strokes and very gentle pressure -- which is all you ever need under any circumstances, and what I always suggest anyway.

 

I believe that the factory edge for the Shun dm0718 is 16* edge angle with 50/50 symmetry.  If yours is sharpened on one side (presumably the side with the kullens), and not the other, it might be a Friday afternoon factory error.  But I'm not a Shun guy at all, so don't rely on my memory.  Call Shun and ask. 

 

BDL

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post #18 of 22
Thank you BDL appreciated:--)

BDL
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post #19 of 22

After reading several posts on steels, I'm curious as to how the HandAmerican Borosilicate would factor into the equation of a 2 hone kit? For instance, I've had a couple of the MAC ceramics over the years which replaced the steel my mother got me back in Hong Kong some 20 years ago (for our Chinese cleavers). How would the HA Borosilicate complement my MAC?

 

Thanks - Jason

post #20 of 22

If you had an HA, you'd use it the first few times you steeled the MAC; and would use the MAC Black after that until taking the knife back to the stones.  The HA would maintain the polish while truing the edge; while the MAC would give you a little fresh metal on the micro-serration as well as truing.  Assuming you sharpen the MAC once a month, and steel daily or every other day, you's use the HA for the first week and a half, or so. 

 

I use an HA and a really worn down Henckels fine for my two rod solution; but my harder knives (61RCH or so) only get the HA.  Even as smooth as the Henckels is, I'm afraid that it would promote chipping and so I don't use it.  I'm not sure how I'd feel about truing them with a MAC. 

 

The alloy in your knives is probably tougher than in the ones I was talking about, and doesn't present the same worries.  As long as you remember to use very light pressure and very few strokes, you're golden. 

 

Unfortunately, the topic is probably moot.  While the situation could change, for now the HAs are unobtanium.  If it's something you really want, find a way to get on a waiting list (Mark at CKtG refuses to keep one) and practice not holding your breath. 

 

Breathe.

 

BDL

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post #21 of 22

Hi BDL,

 

I apologize...I wasn't clear with my initial post. When I referred my MAC ceramics, I meant honing rods. Your response however, answered my question anyway.

 

My carbon knives (Masamoto HC & Misono Swedish) range from HRC 60-62. Are you suggesting that something finer than the MAC black ceramic maybe better suited (safer) for them, e.g., the discontinued HA Boro?

 

Thanks - Jason 

post #22 of 22

Not really.  Truing those knives on any sort of honing rod is tricky.  Very few strokes, very light pressure, and you should be OK -- and it's easy to infer that you are, because that's what you're doing.  But if you notice any chipping or feel that you're losing polish and getting too much tooth from your rod, switch to stropping.  Stropping is less convenient, and you have to watch out for leaving a wire; but it's just as effective and a great deal gentler.

 

If you have the opportunity to buy an HA Borosilicate, jump on it.

 

BDL

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