Chefs and meat cutters frequently pause and “steel” their cutting edges. Steeling doesn’t sharpen an edge; it straightens it. That’s necessary because the thin edge actually bends or warps while you’re cutting. If you could see the edge under a microscope, it would look wavy, and it would feel dull while cutting. Steeling the knife straightens out all those waves to restore a straight, even cutting edge. So when your knife begins to seem dull, don’t sharpen it—steel it first. Every time you grab a knife for the first time to begin cutting, steel it before you even get started. But it’s important to do it right or you’ll just make the edge worse. And don’t act like one of the Iron Chefs on TV and do it all up in the air—you’ll eventually wind up in the ER. Rest the end of the steel on a cutting board and do your steeling the safer and more accurate way. It’s very important that you steel at an angle between 20 and 30 degrees. Photo 1 shows you how to figure that out.
The fine grit is best-suited to those somewhat dull knives which simply need a quick clean-up. Again, I suggest jumping over to stage three and honing your blade afterward for a better, straighter edge. The honing stage can even be used on its own to clean up a warped edge or simply to maintain a straight edge. This sharpener’s long sharpening slots will work well to hold blades steady as they move through, effectively reducing the chances of producing a warped and wobbly edge.
In recent years, some whetstone manufacturers have started producing ceramic whetstones made from hard, ceramic, powders that are mixed with Aluminum Oxide and then sintered to form a solid. But, rather than using oil or water to lubricate the whetstone, ceramic whetstones are meant to be used without lubrication and thus, they provide a significant advantage for chefs who need to keep their knives sharp but, who do not have either the room or time for using a bench water stone. Thus, they are commonly available as either bench stones, pocket stones, round rods, or triangular rods.
This 9-inch honing steel is the perfect length for most people. Just slightly larger than the typical chef’s knife and slicing knife (usually the longest knives in a set), this rod will not be too much for most people to handle. Unlike the 12 and 14-inch rods featured further up this list, this 9-inch rod should be very easy to confidently and safely control.