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steeling

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

When do you use a steel and when a carbon hone?  I have a couple Henckels and a couple carbon Wustoff's.  Is it bad to use the steel on the Henckels.  

 

Should the steel be reserved for carbon knives only?  According to this, if you need to use the steel the knife needs to be re-sharpened afterwards. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYnFL3zCYUY

 

  When using the carbon knives I use the steel a lot, but not with the harder steel knives, didnt seem to help much.  In the video above, he also said you should use the strop everyday.  

post #2 of 12

The you tube guy is not wrong, exactly, but he's confusing.  You don't need to sharpen your knife immediately after steeling.   Depending on what kind of edge you like, what kind of steel you have, and what your knife is like it's possible to maintain a knife on a steel dozens and dozens of time between sharpenings -- and still do everything right.  It's one of those "it just depends" things. 

 

Wusthof has been making nothing but stainless for at least four decades, so I doubt you actually have what most people mean by "carbon."  Rather, you most likely have "high-carbon stainless." 

 

With knives, the term "high carbon" means the knife alloy has more than 0.5% carbon by weight, and the term "stainless" means it has more than 13% chromium.  Those numbers have implications in terms of strength, hardness, corrosion resistance and so on -- but the actual meanings refer only to chemical, quantitative composition.

 

The Henckels and Wusthof both can (and should) be maintained on any appropriate hard and fine rod hone as needed to true their edges.  The most common rod hone materials are steel and ceramic.  I've never heard the word "carbon" applied to a rod hone and don't know what you mean.

 

There are probably three reasons your rod hone (aka steel) is not helping on some of your knives.  1) The knives are probably too dull for the steel to do much for them; 2) You probably don't know how to steel correctly (very few people do); and 3) You probably aren't using an appropriate steel. 

 

More than likely, the knives are beyond steeling and need real sharpening.  Even good tools and technique won't get you past that.

 

BDL

post #3 of 12

I saw that video a few months ago.  My head still hurts.

"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
Reply
"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
Reply
post #4 of 12



I'd be appreciative if you could provide (or point to) a good tutorial on the topic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

2) You probably don't know how to steel correctly (very few people do) 

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

The knives are carbon for sure, I dont know what a carbon steel "hone" is either, was thinking ceramic.  

 

Knives date back to 1983, they were my first set. Shortly afterwards I bought my first stainless and the carbon knives didnt get much use.  The Wustof french knife is my favorite and I still like to use it once in a while, just dont like to hassle with the carbon knives all the time. 

 

I always sent my stainless knives to the sharpener, so I'm talking about steeling a sharp knife, could be the effect is just not as much as it is on the carbon knives.  I'm good with the steel, but I'm open to learn, what do you mean about proper use?  Daily use of a strop is a new idea to me, found it interesting that guy suggested it over using the steel as you go, he seems to have some skill.  Never worked in a place with wood cutting boards, always plastic, (some softer than others) could be the edge gets rolled or knocked off right away, and the steel isnt going to fix it.    I use the steel with the stainless, but sometimes ask myself if its just a matter of habit, I'll have to try a ceramic and see the difference. 

 

The only stone I have is an Arkansas HB6, I use it with water and it keeps the carbon knives nice.  The stainless knives are in bad shape right now, I recently tried to use the stone on them and it didnt do much.  The carbon knives where pretty bad too, but I used a diamond steel, followed by the stone and that worked.  

post #6 of 12


That is my experience.  A sharp high-carbon stainless will steel to a sharp edge, but a sharp carbon steel blade will steel to a wickedly sharp edge.

 

A sharp Shun will steel to an exceedingly wickedly sharp edge.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by redzuk View Post

I always sent my stainless knives to the sharpener, so I'm talking about steeling a sharp knife, could be the effect is just not as much as it is on the carbon knives. 

post #7 of 12

Here's a link to Steeling Away -- a tutorial on steeling.

 

I'm still confused by the "carbon" Wusthofs because all steel knives are "carbon" to one degree or another.  Do they rust and stain or not? 

 

In either case, assuming the knife's edge geometry is reasonably symmetric (don't worry -- yours are) and the blade alloy not too hard (don't worry -- yours aren't), a rod hone will effectively true carbon and stainless without much regard to the difference.  The problems you're having lay elsewhere.  We'll nail it down eventually if sharpening the knives and restricting the steel to truing doesn't take care of it.

 

Many professional sharpeners are not worth a darn.  Make sure yours is. 

 

The Norton HB6 is a "Hard Arkansas."  A hard Ark is fairly slow under the best of circumstances, and the Norton is slower than many.  If you want to see results on your very dull knives, you may need to start with something more aggressive, like a Norton Medium India, before moving on to the Ark.  Make sure your Arkansas stone is very clean (run it through the dishwasher a few times) before using it. 

 

I find that Arks, like most oilstones, work faster and better dry or with water than they do with oil. If you sharpen knives longer than 6", you might consider moving up to an 8" stone.  I recommend Hall's Arkansas stones over Norton.  FWIW, my own oilstone set is:  Norton Coarse India; Norton Fine India; Hall's Soft Arkansas; and Hall's Black Arkansas.  If you're going to stick with your current knife set and do your own sharpening you might think of that or something very much like it.  It can take any western made knife reasonably quickly through some fairly serious repairs all the way to a well-polished and extremely sharp edge. 

 

Getting back to steels, my recommendations are to avoid anything coarser than "fine," and to stay away from diamond rods of any sort.  Diamond is a real knife killer.   

 

In my opinion, Shun rods are overpriced and mediocre.  If you want to buy a high-end, steel, textured rod, F. Dick makes the best, and a lot of brands come in second.  Forschner, at least, are favorably priced.  Ceramics are better and cheaper. 

 

I personally use a two rod set.  My coarser rod is a Henckels "fine," purchased in the mid seventies, but over the decades it has worn down to be still finer.  Although I still use it and will continue to do so, I don't recommend it or any other metal rod as a first choice.  My other rod is a HandAmerican borosilicate.  I'd guess it's the best in the world for what it does, but it's expensive and you don't need it.

 

BDL

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Here's a link to Steeling Away -- a tutorial on steeling.

BDL



I'd never noticed your fine tutorial before, BDL.  Thanks for the link.  It's the best written, non-video tutorial I've seen; I'm going to bookmark it for future reference. 

 

For my own part, I prefer the hold the steel by the handle in a hammer grip with the tip of the steel pointing down and in contact with a counter or cutting board.  Then I'll make deliberate, controlled strokes from heel to tip, being careful not to let the tip drop off the steel (that can round the edge).  To paraphrase the old gunny seargent, more than two or three strokes is pleasure- and you're not in the business of pleasure.wink.gif  If a few licks per side doesn't fix things you need to sharpen it, not steel it.

 

And when I say steel I never mean a steel steel.  I prefer a ceramic rod and a glass one for very hard knives.  If you have a smooth steel, that will work just fine.  But most of the time when someone is talking about a steel they mean the vertically-banded metal file usually found in knife blocks.  If you find one of those you can either discard it or use it as a skewer to hold wieners over the camp fire.


Edited by Phaedrus - 12/23/10 at 1:42am
"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
Reply
"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
Reply
post #9 of 12



And thanks from me too!  No matter how busy things get I can always find time to learn something new... or refine existing skills.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post


I'd never noticed your fine tutorial before, BDL.  Thanks for the link.  It's the best written, non-video tutorial I've seen; I'm going to bookmark it for future reference.

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

 Do they rust and stain or not? 

 

BDL


Yes they do.  

 

 The steel is stamped "sabahlr france", couldnt find anything on google.

 

The guy in the video seems to dislike to steel as you go, maybe he's just seen too many flailing out of control.  Like me when I was younger, it was all about speed.  Did you ever try using a leather strop on a daily basis?   

 

Thanks for the stone tips.   

 

post #11 of 12

Strop?  Yes.  Steeling is faster and more convenient, while you always run the risk of pulling a burr with stropping.  On the other hand, even the most polished steel can scuff an edge easily, while a strop can enhance a polish.

 

It's been a long time since I was in a professional cooking, but for what it's worth I've also learned an awful lot about sharpening since then.  Now, as a home cook, I do use a loaded strop every so often to true AND restore a little polish, and use my rods more often.

 

There's a threshold to both.  In order to work well stropping and steeling each require their own respective skill sets, each predicated on angle holding -- just as freehand sharpening is.  You cannot get around the fact that the utility of both are limited by the skills of the user as much as by the quality of the tools and the various properties of the knife itself. 

 

BDL 

post #12 of 12

A chromium oxide charged balsa wood strop works very, very well.  I would keep one in my knife case for work if it wasn't so messy, but I don't see who I could transport & use it.  The green stuff comes off all over your fingers, the knife and anything it touches.  But I do keep on charged and on hand at home for touch ups.


Edited by Phaedrus - 12/24/10 at 5:04am
"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
Reply
"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
Reply
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