Facts About Sharpening Steels
Facts About Sharpening Steels
A sharpening steel works on a very fundamental principle.
Quite simply, it provides a grinding surface which is harder
than the blade of the knife to be sharpened; this allows
sharpening to take place.
The surface of a sharpening steel can be finished or “cut”
several different ways.
COARSE “SPIRAL” CUT
The coarse “spiral” cut (also known as the “British” or
“helical” cut) sharpening steel is ideal for putting an edge
on a blunt knife blade.
PRECISION CUT
The “precision” cut (also known as the “Continental” cut)
sharpening steel has unbroken cuts running the length
of the steel. It is ideally suited for maintaining a good
blade edge.
POLISHED FINISH
The “polished” finish sharpening steel is perfectly smooth
and is used for honing a knife blade. Honing refines or
polishes the edge of a knife blade.
COMBINATION SPIRAL/PRECISION CUT
Comprised of both the “spiral” and the “precision” cuts,
the “Doublesharp” steel is ideal for restoring very dull
knife blades.
DIAMOND STEELS
In recent years, diamond steels have gained popularity.
They are coated with ultra-fine 100% diamond abrasives
and simultaneously lightly hone as they realign a knife edge.
Which sharpening steel to use depends on the sharpening
job at hand. We recommend owning both “Doublesharp”
and “Precision Cut” steels to ensure that you have the
proper tools available when you need them.
SHARPENING STEEL LENGTH
Sharpening steels come in lengths ranging from three to 14
inches (7.5 cm to 36 cm). As a rule, a sharpening steel
should be at least as long as the length of the knife blade
being sharpened.
SHARPENING STEEL SHAPE
Sharpening steels can be round or oval. Round sharpening
steels are generally preferred, while oval shaped sharpening
steels provide a larger sharpening surface.
CLEANING
A sharpening steel may become soiled through use and
develop a grease barrier. This grease barrier will prevent
the steel from “biting” and the knife will not be sharpened
properly. To avoid a dirt build up, wash the sharpening
steel regularly in hot sudsy water and dry immediately to
avoid rusting. Polypropylene handles may be sterilized by
boiling the handle in water.
HOW TO SHARPEN A KNIFE USING
A SHARPENING STEEL
A good knife is easy to sharpen and should be sharpened
regularly. “Little and often,” defines how professionals
sharpen a knife. A few strokes on either side of the blade,
every time the knife is used will maintain sharpness and
guarantee best performance. A knife with a sharp blade
always works better and more safely because it cuts easily.
After numerous sharpenings, a blade may begin to lose its
original shape, or have been sharpened to the point
where the blade edge is thicker than desired. If this
happens, the knife should be professionally reground.
This process will restore the blade to its original state.
SHARPENING A KNIFE IN SIX EASY STEPS
1. Hold the sharpening steel in your left hand with the
guard positioned to protect your hand. (If you are lefthanded, hold the steel in your right hand.)
2. Hold the knife in your right hand. Place the blade’s
edge at the handle near the tip of the steel. (If you are
left-handed, hold the knife in your left hand.) (See Figure 1)
3. Tilt the blade of the knife at an angle of approximately
25 degrees to the steel. (See Figure 2)
4. Draw the knife across the sharpening steel until the
blade’s tip is near the steel’s safety guard. Keep the
pressure light and even. (See Figure 1)
5. Repeat step four on the other side of the sharpening
steel, maintaining the same pressure and angle.
6. Alternating sides, repeat this sharpening process
several times.
A knife “sharpened little and often,” will provide years of
perfect cutting and chopping performance.
Figure 1
Figure 2
WHY USE A SHARPENING STEEL?
A sharpening steel is still the best way to sharpen a
quality knife. Using the correct steel for sharpening a knife
will not remove more of the blade than is necessary
(excessive blade removal is the major drawback of
mechanical sharpening devices).
Additionally, a sharpening steel represents a long lasting
investment that will prove to be economical and handy
to use.
CCI – Cutlery Literacy Guide
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