Contrary to popular belief, the main purpose of a steel is to straighten the edge of a blade –not to sharpen it. Ifyou examinea knife’s blade under a microscope, the edge would looksimilar to a wood saw with jagged teeth. As you cut with a knife the jagged teetheventually bend out of alignment. When the edge falls out of alignment, the knife loses its ability to cut through things easily. This is when it’stime to use a steel to straighten the blade.
In this example I’musing a basic 8-inch steel. Steels are madein a variety of lengths and some are madewith a diamond coating. I don’t recommend using a diamond steel. Diamond steels are intended to sharpen your knife as you straighten the edge but, if you want a quality edge on your knife, I recommend using a shaping stone since a diamond steel does a poor job of making a quality edge.
1.) Place the steel in your non-dominate hand and point the end away from your body.
2.) Hold the knife in your dominant hand and place the edge on the steel at a 45 degree angle. Start with the butt of the knife on the steel as shown below.
3.) Maintainingthe 45 degree angle, apply a very light amount of downward pressure andslowly push the blade forward while moving your hand outward. You want to make sure the entire edge of the blade travels across the steel.
4.) Now it’stime to straightenthe other side of the knife. Place the edge on the bottom side of the steel at a 45 degree angle. Again, start with the butt of the knife on the steel as shown below.
5.) Maintainingthe 45 degree angle and applying a very light amount of upward pressure, slowly push the blade forward while moving your hand outward. You want to make sure the entire edge of the blade travels across the steel.
5.) Repeat steps 2 through 4 until the blade slides smoothly across the steel. You should only have to repeat steps 2 through 4 aboutthree times. If afterthree times the knife does not slide smoothly across the steel,your knife likely needs to be sharpened.
A few notes:
- When placing the steel on the blade, do so gently. When the knife is slapped hard onto a steel, itdamages the edge and the knife.
- Never pull the blade towards your body. I’veseen many people usea steel this way and you riskcutting yourself.
- Try to run your knife across a steel frequently. I normally run my knife across the steel before I cut anything.
Alla Cucina –