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Honing Mac knives

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I couldn't find this anywhere, so I thought I'd ask here. 


I got a Mac knife, and a Victorniox sharpening steel. But somewhere deep in my subconscious I think I've read somewhere that you shouldn't use a steel rod with Mac knives? Is this true? Is there any other things I should take heed with honing the mac knife? Angle etc? Thank you :)

post #2 of 6

Concerning using a Victorinox honing steel with a Mac knife


Short answer - Don't use that hone with that knife.  You will quickly damage both hone and knife.


Somewhat longer answer.  You want the hone to slide over the edge of the knife, and do what a hone should do - use pressure concentrated into an extremely minute area to force that part of the edge of a knife which has been pushed to one side to be pushed upright.  What you do NOT want is for the edge of the knife to "grab" into the steel of the hone and start cutting into the hone.  That means the hone needs to be made of a steel which is harder than the steel used in the knife.


Here, you have the opposite.  Victorinox matches their hones to their knife blade steel - and Victorinox uses "X50CrMoV15" steel (i.e., Krupp 4116 steel), hardened during heat treatment to about 56 hRc.  The Victorinox hones are probably heat treated to just a little bit harder than that.


Mac Knives, on the other hand, are hardened to a 58 to 60 hRc.  Those two points make a huge difference.


Mac knife + Victorinox hone = damage, big time.


Mac does sell a hone for its knives - it's ceramic, not steel, and is WAAAAY harder than the steel used in Mac knives.  Or, you can buy an Idahone ceramic honing rod.  I would suggest the 12 inch length Idahone.  It's longer than the Mac hone (which is 10-1/2 inches), so it can be used on longer blades than the Mac would be comfortable with, and it's cheaper (at $30, vs $65 for the Mac).


I would just suggest tossing the Victorinox hone away and getting and using an Idahone for all of your knives.


The primary drawback to ceramic hones is that they can and often will, shatter if dropped.  But the Idahone comes with a fair sized steel ring at the end of its handle, so it can be safely hung on a hook on the wall out of the way when not in use.


Hope that helps



Galley Swiller

Edited by Galley Swiller - 3/23/14 at 9:18am
post #3 of 6

I concentrated on the type of hone above, and I should have also read through the entire post.  My bad.  So, here are a few tips on hone usage.


First, do not emulate Gordon Ramsay.  Using your knife and hone as improvised cymbals is certainly dramatic and impressively theatrical, but banging the hone against the edge of the knife is one of the stupidest things you can do.  Think about it - a knife edge is extremely small - and when a hone comes crashing down onto that extremely narrow site, the amount of localized impact pressure is immense.  No wonder his knives are probably all dinged up.


Instead, think violin - you want a sweep of the hone against the edge of the knife.  You should hear a "swoosh", not a "ding".


Second, it's always with the edge of the knife leading into the hone.


Third, always alternate sides.


Fourth, you don't need a huge amount of pressure from your hands.  The area of contact is so minute, that even light pressure (as you feel it) will be extremely concentrated.


Fifth. the angle only needs to be a small bit more than the edge bevel angle, which on Mac factory sharpened knives is 16 degrees.  Say, about 20 degrees is fine.


And finally, you don't need to do it for very long.  Three to Four passes per side is sufficient.  If you knife doesn't respond to that, then it is likely a candidate for real sharpening.


.....which is a whole different subject itself, and can go into another thread (or two or a hundred).


Hope that helps.



Galley Swiller

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you. Not the answer I WANTED to hear, hehe, but good thing I found it out now before I ruined both knife and steel. 

post #5 of 6
I do not intend on steeling (not really a p.u.n. I guess) the post by asking Galley Swiller a question but I guess I am, sorry. I never gave the steel brand any thought so thanks. I have an F. Dick round steel I've been using. I have several Mac knives as well as other non-Japanese knives (Henkel Wusthof and the like). I haven't noticed any damage. Will the ceramic steele recommended work on all my knives? What other guidelines should be kept in mind regarding Steerling specifically or sharpening in general. Thank you.
post #6 of 6

If the F. Dick honing rod (proper name for a steel) is smooth, there should not be any problems with the European knives (I don't know what the specifics on the F. Dick are as to hardness, but since F. Dick produces what for European knives is as good as any other brand out there - except possibly for custom knives - the F. Dick hone is probably fines for the Henckels and Wusties), 


For a description on steeling that's probably better than I can give, see the following posting from Boar D. Laze:  http://www.cookfoodgood.com/?p=551


The Idahone will work with almost any knife.  The only comment I would have about the HandAmerican is the question of availability (they are only sold through Chef Knives To Go, there have not been any shipments to CKTG for a while, and there is currently a significant waiting list if the HandAmerican ever resumes production again).


Honing (steeling) is one subject, since it is strictly involved with edge alignment.  Sharpening is a completely different process and result, involving actual metal removal - and is a huge subject all in itself.



Galley Swiller

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