|Most users of sharpening steels today are of the opinion that using a polished sharpening steel is the best method to maintain the knife’s sharpness. The exception to this is within the fish processing industry where tradition has been taken over from the fishing trawlers and where sharpening equipment was seldom available. In this industry the coarse surfaced sharpening steels have remained in much greater use than in the other food processing industries.|
In order to learn how to “steel“ knives one must understand what effect the sharpening steel has on the knife blade. With qualified sharpening, that is by using a sharpening steel with a polished or fine structured surface the task of the sharpening steel is to put pressure on the knife edge that has been somewhat bent over through contact with the harder grinding material.
Penetrating this question further and considering how the knife edge looks under the microscope one can see that it looks like an even sharp ridge. Using for example a coarse structured sharpening steel, would only result in “tears“ and loose hanging steel particles i.e. raw edge. On the contary when using a polishing steel this ridge would be smoothed out and the result would be an even uniform pointed edge.
The knife must be rested against the sharpening steel at exactly the same angle corresponding to cutting edge top angle. This angle between the sharpening steel and knife edge must be maintained all the while when drawing the knife from the back edge to the knife point. The pressure of the knife against the sharpening steel can be, if the knife cutting edge is very damaged, fairly heavy in order to press the damaged edge back to normal. The pressure should be gradually reduced throughout the sharpening operation so that the final draw is almost like a stroking with a feather. The most important thing to remember here is to have complete control over the complete operation and not to to use draws that have little or no effect on the cutting edge. It is not so important on how the “steeling“ operation is carried out and how one holds the sharpening steel as long as one has complete control over the whole operation and not to exceed the grinding angle which will result in a rounding-off of the top of the cutting edge.
The knife edge must however be moved against the sharpening steel in a cutting movement. Both sides of the knife should be continually “steeled“ alternatively followed by testing to test the sharpness.
Use both eyes and ears if at all possible. The eyes, in order to ensure that the sharpening angle is correct and maintained and the sound from the grinding operation which becomes gradually diminished as the knife edge becomes even and sharp. It would often appear that the general idea is that the “steeling“ operation shall be carried out as quickly as possible just like in a speed competition. This is only a result of a misunfortunate attempt to impress on the peple around and will only lead to unsureness for others who are trying to learn the correct ways of knife sharpening. Gradual and controlled movement are the very basic recommendations in order to learn how to sharpen to produce a sharp knife.
There is also absolutely no magnetic influence whatsoever on the knife edge or any other magic energy source that affects the finished result. The magnetism in the sharpening steel is only there to enable the collection of loose particles at the top of the knife edge which would otherwise damage the edge during sharpening.
Through training, consideration and thought most people can learn how to “steel“ a knife sharp again.
The knife must be rested against the sharpening steel at exactly the same angle corresponding to cutting edge top angle. This angle between the sharpening steel and knife edge must be maintained all the while when drawing the knife from the back edge to the knife point.