Opinions on proper honing steel for Shun Elite powdered steel knives (if any)

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by ras1187, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. ras1187


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    Line Cook
    Hello all,

    It's been a while since I last posted. My apologies, I'm sure everyone here already knows how the industry is in regards to free time. But on to my actual post...

    I recently acquired (for very reasonable prices) a few pieces from the Shun Elite series which is currently being retired. These knives are made of "Powdered Steel" which I am told is a higher quality steel than the typical VG10 steel that Shun uses in most of their knives. The steel is supposed to stay sharper for a longer period of time if maintained properly. The drawback is that they are supposedly fragile and more prone to shattering if dropped or chipping if being honed improperly.So begins the question...

    I have talked to a few people back and forth on this and get very mixed opinions on what kind of honing steel to use (if honing is required). I currently own a smooth diamond steel that I use very sparingly on other Japanese style knives.My understanding is that the diamond steel pulls away small shards of metal off the knife as it is used (similar to sharpening, but on a smaller scale).

    I have done some research of my own and have found that typical rigid honing steels can chip powdered steel knives and are therefore not recommended for use on them. Smoother steels (such as my diamond) are preferred, but should be used sparingly because these knives are designed to hold an edge for a longer time, and because of the pulling shards of metal off the knife thing.

    Because I have had so many differing opinions on this and my research has been somewhat inconclusive, I figure I could re-emerge on cheftalk with this question and hopefully remember to be more active in the community.

    So if you managed to read through all of this. Should I stick with my smooth diamond steel and use it very sparingly with careful technique? Should I invest in a different kind of steel (I have been hearing about ceramic and glass steels, each with their ups and downs), or should I not worry about honing these knives and get them sharpened as needed (which hopefully isn't for a very long time as I just got them)?

    Your input is appreciated. Thank you!
  2. dreamwrx


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    Home Chef
    This is probably better answered in the Cooking Knives section.

    I assume that when you are talking about powdered steel I'm guessing its SG2 for Shun (but I thought that's only on the Kaji line). My thought is that, diamond steels will probably eat away at your knives easily. If anything an Idahone Fine Ceramic is less abrasive than a diamond steel be and would probably be more suited for the job.

    BDL would definitely give you a better answer.

    P.S. Also Shun brought back their free knife sharpening so you can send it to them to resharpen. 
  3. scubadoo97


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    At home cook
    I prefer a strop. It's easier to maintain the correct angle. I'm currently using a basal wood strop charged with chromium oxide for everyday maintenance between sharpening
  4. boar_d_laze


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    Cook At Home
    A "smooth diamond steel" is an oxymoron.  The terms are contradictory and there's no such thing.  Because diamond is such an aggressive abrasive, because a narrow rod has a such a small contact point, and because errors caused by bobbling the angle are magnified, diamond steels do far more harm than good. 

    It's a good rule not to use a diamond steel for any knife. 

    Your Shun is made from an alloy called SG2, hardened to 64-66RCH.  SG2 is a "strong" steel but not very tough, especially at that hardness.  That means it's somewhat chip prone under the best of circumstances.  It's probably a better idea if you don't steel it at all, as even a smooth or ultra fine steel will put so much force on tiny sections of the edge as too cause chipping. 

    If your knife needs truing your best bet is a "touch up" on a medium fine or fine stone.  Stropping on a hard strop --  DO NOT use a leather belt! -- works well also.  However, either of those methods is prone to "pulling a wire," so you may have to deburr as well. 

    Strops are not "easier" to use than steels, just better for very "strong," "hard" alloys like the SG2 in your Shun because their relatively large contact areas spreads the force over a much larger section of the knife's edge. 

    Last edited: Nov 7, 2012