Sharpening tools?

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Joined Dec 22, 2003
Is there a general consensus here that most other methods of knife sharpening other than a sharpening steel are inferior?

I lost my steel a few months ago and last week I received a beautiful Zwilling Henckels sharpener, with two slots, one with ceramic and the other with coarser steel wheels as a gift and was wondering if I should just return it in exchange for another good sharpening steel.

Also, what kind of material would you recommend for the steel? I've seen some ceramic steels (ah yes, an oxymoron) and would like to hear some professional opinions on this matter.
 
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Joined Dec 30, 1999
Kent,

Welcome to ChefTalk!

First of all, let's make it clear that "Sharpening Steels" are not for 'sharpening' so much as they are for "re-aligning" the straightness of the knife blade. The purpose of 'knife sharpening steels is much different than 'knife sharpeners'. Perhaps a more proper term for your 'sharpening steel' would be 'honing steel' instead.

Knife sharpeners actually remove metal from the blade, honing steels do not. A honing steel aligns a microscopically bent knife edge.

"There is a misconception that there are sharpening steels that remove metal where in actuality they realign the cutting edge."
Knife Sharpeners

"All you are doing is aligning the knife edge after daily wear and tear."
Sharp knife is essential

"What is the difference between honing and sharpening? When a typical knife is sharpened, it has tiny microscopic teeth all along the cutting edge. When the knife is used, the teeth and edge gradually flatten out. A honing steel, which looks like a short sword with a round blade, is used to draw those teeth and the metal of the cutting edge back into shape so the edge is keen. The honing steel is not designed to remove metal."
Honing and Sharpening Knives

If I were you, I'd keep your gift so you can actually sharpen your knives instead of just realigning them.

Honing steels can and should be used quite often to keep your knife sharp before each use. The above links will provide information as to technique which is as, if not more, important than the material of which each has it's own features. Perhaps other ChefTalk members will be able to elaborate...

:)
 
4,469
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Joined Aug 4, 2000
Sharpening steels realign the wire edge and nothing more.

A great stone for sharpening is an old Carborundum stone, the grit being coarse silicone carbide. Avoid India, Washita and Arkansas stones for they're way too fine for your needs as a chef.
 
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JP:

I owned the Tri Hone but sold it. There is some quality in Norton's coarse silicone carbide stone that just doesn't "cut" it when it comes to sharpening and no pun intended. Really, the CARBORUNDUM brand of coarse silicone carbide does a far better job of sharpening knives than Norton's carbide.

You can get stones on ebay for really cheap, too. But I did like the Tri Hone's design and setup however.
 
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Thanks for all your input. I'll go to my local chef equipment store and get a stone.

What are your opinions on ceramic steels then?
 
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In my opinion ceramics work pretty well to hone your blade but they are relatively fragile and don't take rough treatment without breaking. A steel will last practically a lifetime (unless you loose it :) ) They are not that expensive (about $20) and given the lifetime of service they provide it is a worthwhile investment.

Jock
 
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Kent:

I urge you not to get just any brand of stone. Get the CARBORUNDUM brand that can be found at ebay and in the big city at an abrasives distrubutor. You'll be well rewarded for your patience and effort spent in getting the CARBORUNDUM brand coarse silicone carbide sharpening stone. Get one having a length of at least 8 inches in length and preferably 10 or 11 inches long.

I'm a bit experienced in using abrasives for two of my hobbies are lapidary and gunsmithing - both requiring extensive knowledge and use of abrasives.
 
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Joined Jul 31, 2000
Kent,

What type of knives are you using?

This is the first thing I would need to know to help you in any way.
 
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I hate to sound fanatical on this topic but CARBORUNDUM coarse silicone carbide will sharpen any knife made with either stainless, cheap stainless, carbon stainless, and carbon steel quite well. It's the best stone to use.
 
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It is a good stone Koko by all means,"but" you should not use damascas steel from Japan (shun,Hattori ect) you must use a wet stone.

Every knife I own except a few from Japan I use my Norton tri stone.

PS, You...Fanatical !?!?:D
 
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CC:

I agree and own a couple of sushi and sashimi bochos, both made with Damascus steel. The Japanese whetstone is a much softer stone better suited for that type of steel which seems thin, soft and rather delicate.

I stand corrected but was thinking of western style steel originally. Good point, though :)
 
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Joined Dec 22, 2003
I use Zwilling Henckels chef's knives some of the time, but I still mostly use a Chinese cleaver that is of indeterminate composition. It seems to be stainless steel, but I'm uncertain as to the actual quality of the material. I love it because of its utility, but it definitely dulls faster than the Henckels. I plan to upgrade to a Henckels cleaver sometime next year, or whenever I get around to it.

@kokopuffs: OK, I'll definitely check out the Carborundum stuff. You sound like you know your stuff. I hope local retailers will carry it.

@Jock: Sounds like ceramic is not really worth it then. Even if it is more efficient than steel, it's not like using a steel or is a laborious or time-intensive task.
 

phatch

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The Spyderco Sharpmaker is my preference. It's an alumina abrasive and can produce a wide range of edges for different purposes.

Compact, easily used. Can be set up as a benchstone, as pre-set angles for 30 or 40 degrees, slotted for sharpening hooks/needles other pointy things and also includes a scissors angle. Medium and fine stones included.

Short of the EdgePro systems, this is what many knife enthusiasts swear by.

Phil
 
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There are some excellent posts on this thread. A knife steel can halp maintain and lengthen the life of a cutting edge but cannot form it in the first place. Being a woodowrker I have learned the critical impoortance of keen cutting edges. A kitchen knife does not need aperfectly hined edage to work well.

Sharpening is not difficult but it does take some practice and attention to detail. Most amateurs are better offf having their knives sharpened by a professional. If you want to try it yourself I can suggest tow methods

1. Use silicon carbide wet/dry sandpaper gule onto a flat sheet of glass or a piece of granite. Try 220 grit followed by 400 grit. Pay attention to the angle of the cutting eage and pull the edge in a direction away form the cutting edge. Lubricate with water.

2. If you want to try and conventional sharpenign stone, I would suggest trying a japanese water stone or one of the synthetic alternatives from Norton. They cut much faster and have better feedback give the use some some feel as to whether the stone is cutting well. I would suggest an 1200 grit or one of the 1200/6000 grit combination stones
 
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Joined Apr 22, 2004
I have a F.Dick cook's knife. At first it was just amazing, slices through dull tomato with ease, shreads paper like you wouldn't believe. Now even thought i use the steel rod before use I can't slice dull tomatoes anymore.

I wash and dry the knife after use, store in wooden rack upright, don't use on metal etc...

Can anyone offer some suggestion? is it my steel rod technique? about 30-40 degrees angle pull from top to bottom towards body.

p.s. yes i know, what am i doing cutting up old tomatoes...
 
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Joined Oct 13, 2001
Hey kokopuffs , remember when we could get good stoned at venice beach.
And then I remember we could work our way up the coast for Pismo and you could get good stoned there too and eat some great clams . Uh Oh , this thread is about stones and sharpening knives (Yikes , flashback has come to a dramatic end).
Sharpening knives is realy a simple affair. The time it takes depends on type of steel and the stone or abrasive used in the sharpening process.
All you do with the stone is put the bevel back on the knife and going from course to fine makes the teeth get finer and closer together .
All the steel is for is aligning the edge back up to center .
Thats why I use the low end chefs knives called Forschners . The steel is soft enough to require very little time on a stone and it lasts suprisingly well with just a few strokes on the steel . Also they are rather inexpensive compared to the big brand names ( My parents swear I was adopted off of the streets of Jerusalem ) so if stolen its not that big of a pain to replace.
Oh and another tip I picked up years ago was to dry stone(except of course with them japanese wet stones) . Now excuse me whilst I return to the flashback and the great clam chowder at Pismo Beach................
 
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Chefboy:

I don't know you and I've never been to Venice beach. Yes, I use a 35 year old Forschner boning knife that's flexible yet most of the remainder of my knives are veeery old Sabatiers, whose steel is quite pitted.
 
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Thanks for the link, wicked reading for a beginner. However, I think i will find a professional knife sharpening service to begin with, maybe even watch and learn if they allow it.

On another note about thin knives, when I went to Vietnam I found the knives to be extremely light and thin, the blade is some type of dark close to black colour material, yes it is prone to rusting but the locals use it for shaving or julienne vegetables, or hacking into a green papaya to finely shred it.
 
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