Honing with a steel
You can use a sharpening/honing steel on any regular bevelled blade to prolong the cutting experience in between regular resharpening on stones. However first a word of advice – Never use a steel on chisel edged blades like Deba, Usuba or Yanagiba because you will damage the blade.
Steeling your knives will remove a small amount of metal as well as adding tiny micro grooves along the blade that act like teeth to give it some traction during cutting. The steel will also realign any burrs that have formed.
You’ve all seen the method on television but we recommend you approach the task with much less gusto and try to be slow and precise while covering the entire length of the blade with even pressure.
Hold the knife by the handle with your cutting hand and the steel in the other hand, both pointing upright. They should meet at a comfortable, inverted V.
Rest the heel of the blade against the steel approximately 2cm from the tip of the steel. A good of thumb is to set up the blade with a 15° to degree angle to the steel (20° for German or thicker knives and 15° degrees for Japanese or thinner knives)..
Draw the knife down the steel and towards the tip of the blade with light to medium pressure. Accuracy is more important than speed so take your time to keep the blade at a consistent angle to the steel.
Repeat once on the other side of the knife blade with the opposite side of the steel and alternate sides for 5 to 10 strokes or until the blade is sharp.
Wash and dry your blade so it is free from tiny steel shavings.
A few honing tips
- Move the knife and not the steel
- Only the edge of your knife should touch the steel, not the side of the blade (you don’t want to put scratches on your blade)
- Be careful of your hand holding the steel, you don't want to cut it. Move in a slow even stroke so you have complete control of the knife at all times.
- When honing on a steel no longer gives results its time to sharpen your knives on a stone