Sharpening knives on the sharpening steel – this is how it works

A sharpening steel can be found in almost every household. However, with a sharpening steel, it is also important to use it correctly. How exactly to do this, and what to look for, you can read in detail in this article.

Choosing the right sharpening steel

When it comes to sharpening steel, it is important to choose the right sharpening steel for the right purpose. There are the following types of sharpening steels:

  • straightening sharpening steels
  • coarse-cutting sharpening steels
  • fine cutting sharpening steels

The shape of the sharpening steel or the material it is made of, on the other hand, have no influence on its suitability. However, it is important that the sharpening steel is always significantly longer than the knife you want to sharpen with it. And, of course, the sharpening steel must be used correctly.

Straightening sharpening steels

They are not suitable for sharpening dull knives. Straightening sharpening steels only help to restore the original sharpness of a knife after it has been used. Even with the sharpest knives, the edge will minimally lay on its side after a cut. A straightening sharpening steel thereby straightens the cutting edge again so that it regains its full sharpness.

Rough cutting sharpening steels

These sharpening steels remove a lot of material. They can make a dull knife cut well again after just a few (correct) strokes. However, they should only be used when necessary (knife wear).

Fine chip sharpening steels

Fine-cutting sharpening steels remove less material from the cutting edge and therefore do not sharpen as quickly as the coarse steels. They do, however, result in a finer sharpness and a less rough blade. A fine grind after a coarse grind is therefore recommended.

Using sharpening steel correctly – step-by-step instructions

1. hold knife and sharpening steel correctly

Knife and sharpening steel should be held in one hand each. The knife should be held in the “more dexterous” hand (i.e. on the right for right-handed people). Each time the knife is used, it should first be above the sharpening steel.

2. first sharpening

Tilt the blade at a 20° angle to the sharpening steel. Pull in a semi-circular motion across the sharpening steel, using the full length of the blade and the full length of the sharpening rod until you reach the top.

3. second sharpening

Now place the knife under the sharpening steel so that the other side of the edge is also sharpened. Proceed in the same way as above.

Sensitive, very hard or Japanese knives

For delicate, very hard knives, it is better to use a whetstone and sharpen the knife in conjunction with water. Some very hard steels (Rockwell hardness often up to 63 or 65) are often harder than the sharpening steel (Rockwell hardness between 60 and 70). These steels are often used for Japanese knives. Their cutting edge is very sensitive because of the great hardness. Sharpening steel is unsuitable here.

With a good sharpening steel and proper technique, it is sufficient to draw each side over the steel six to eight times in one application to sharpen a knife really well.

Elizabeth Green

Elizabeth Green

Elizabeth Green is a seasoned home chef and culinary expert who has a passion for all things kitchen-related. With her extensive knowledge of the latest kitchen products and appliances, Elizabeth provides insightful reviews and recommendations to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. Whether you're looking for a new refrigerator, blender, or cookware set, Elizabeth is your guide to finding the best kitchen products available in the UK.

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