Sharpening Steels


Joined Feb 12, 2002

I am a beginner, so bear with me if this is elementary for eveyone else! I am very excited about my new Henckels Twin Select knives. I purchased the 8" chefs knife and the 4" paring knife. My dilemma is which sharpening steel to use. I have an old Wusthof Classic sharpening steel. Henckels recommends using the sharpening steel that matches the Twin Select. However, none of the on-line stores or my local stores carry it. The only way I can find it is to purchase the entire set of knives. I have read some good advice regarding not buying sets anyway, rather choosing each knife individually. So, those of you who have several brands, do you use a different steel for each brand? Should I use any Henckels steel? Are they the same, just with different handles to match the set? I could try to special order the Twin Select sharpening steel - do you feel that would be the best way to go? If I use the Wustof sharpening steel will I damage the knives? Henckels says theirs is made specifically for their blades.

I am sad to say that I did not have the knowledge to take care of my first set of knives that I received as a wedding gift 8 years ago. I still have the Wustof Classic set, and never knew how to use the steel and never bothered to learn. Needless to say, the knives are no longer sharp, and even after taking them to a local sharpener, they are not in good condition. Now that I have purchased the Henckels, I desperately want to treat them properly so they last and so they are always sharp.

Thank you for your help.

Joined Aug 14, 2000

Fear not LJV, we are fairly well behaved lot:) I looked at the knives you own and Henckels claims they stay sharp 1000 times longer than other blades. I also saw claims that the Twin Select "Never need sharpening":eek: Other knives I've seen, that make similar claims have almost microscopic serrations on the edge. If this is the case with your Henckels, you will want to be very careful about the steel you use. I'll do a little more poking around and will report back if I find anything.

Welcome to ChefTalk :)
Joined Aug 4, 2000
Be it known that like sharpening stones, steels come in various degrees of coarse and fine. Consult the following websites for steels:




Joined Feb 12, 2002
Thank you for the welcome:)

The knives I bought are Twin Select, which do not have the serrated edge. They just came out within the past year and are the ones with the stainless steel handles. Henckels also makes Twin Star, which they claim do not need sharpening. I'm not sure why they chose two similar names! The salespeople at Williams-Somona were calling them the Twin Star Select which just confused me even more.

The customer service people at Henckels told me I shouldn't have to use the steel every time I use the knives so hopefully I have time to get this figured out...
Joined Jun 19, 2001
As far as I've heard, the Twin select have the exact same blade as the Henkels 5 star, just a satin finish handle. Kind of like the Wushof Trident Culinar series which is identical to their other knives be the Grand prix or the other ones I forget. I own the Culinar knives and I know that Wusthof Trident had a special "diamond coated" sharpening steel especially made for the Culinar series.
(I received the culinar sharpening steel as a gift), but after several uses "the diamond coating" had basically come off and i'm left with what seems to be a regular but flat sharpening steel (i'm comparing this to my henkels sharpening steel as we speak). So, my point's most likely a marketing gimmic. That's just my hunch though. And to answer your question, yes I do use TWO separate sharpening steel for both different sets of knives. Why you may ask? I just happened to have two of them. But I use the same sharpening stone. :rolleyes: :confused:
Joined Nov 10, 2001
Most standard sharpening steels should work well with German knives. The diamond and ceramic steels are more aggressive than regular steels and do not need to be used unless the knife has been neglected.

The following is from the FAQ at To read the entire FAQ about knife sharpening and maintenance try this link:

Using a Steel
The sharpening steel should be an important part of your knife maintenance strategy, and is maybe the most misunderstood part.
When you use a knife for a while, especially a knife with a soft, thin edge like that found on a kitchen knife, the edge tends to turn a bit and come out of alignment. Note that the edge is still reasonably sharp, but it won’t feel or act very sharp because the edge may not point straight down anymore! At this point, many people sharpen their knives, but sharpening is not necessary and of course decreases the life of the knife as you sharpen the knife away. It’s also akin to putting in a thumbtack with a sledgehammer.
The steel is used to re-align the edge on the knife. Read that last sentence again. Re-aligning the edge is all the steel needs to do. It does not need to remove any metal. Since the steel’s only function is to re-align, the sharpening steel can be perfectly smooth and still do its job. You’ll see many bumpy steels on the market, but this is almost certainly because consumers think that steels must have bumps to work. The bumps can actually mess up the edge, and make the work of steeling more difficult.
There are two schools of thought on steels. Some people use grooved steels, which align the edge more aggressively but are harder on the edge. I use a smooth steel, which is easy on the edge but may align the edge more slowly.
To use the steel, run the knife along the steel on one side using light pressure—no more pressure than the actual weight of the knife is required! Then switch to the other side and do it again. Repeat a number of times until your edge feels sharp and nice again. I hold the steel in my left hand, the blade in my right, and lightly run the blade along the steel while keeping the steel stationary, but it’s perfectly fine to move both steel and knife past each other at the same time, or whatever works for you.
Most people run the knife down the steel edge first, the same direction you use when sharpening. This yields good results. However, theoretically going edge-first along the steel could bite into the edge while straigtening it, and so many people like to go spine-first (like when stropping) instead. This method also works well, and I personally have begun to feel that steeling in this direction gets my edge the tiniest bit sharper. It is more awkward to go spine-first, so if you have any trouble with it switch to edge-first, and your edge will end up just fine.
If you steel your knife every time you use it, you will significantly lengthen the time between sharpenings. I’ve found steeling to be critical on kitchen knives, but it’s an incredible help even on ultra-hard ATS-34.

-----Good luck and enjoy your new knives. :)

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