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Proper knife sharpening technique

nihon_no_cook's picture

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So I have finally convinced my DH to sharpen my kitchen knives once a week or so. The problem is, every time he does it, he nearly gives me a heart attack. According to the directions which came with our sharpening steel, you hold the handle of the steel in your fist, with the steel pointing towards the ceiling. Then you draw the blade down the steel, from top to bottom, with the blade held at an angle to the steel. That's fine, and it works well to whip the knives into shape, but every time my DH does it, he practically cuts off his finger or his arm. It's so scary-looking that I make him wear an oven mitt on the hand that holds the steel!

Will the steel work if it is used backwards, ie hold it with the steel pointed toward the floor, and draw the blade from the steel's handle to the tip, away from the hand holding the steel? Or are the abrasions on the steel designed so that you can only sharpen in one direction? I'd try it myself, but I don't want to end up dulling the knives I want to sharpen, especially if someone here already knows the answer.

Many thanks for your limb-preserving advice, Nihon no cook

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #53691, reply #1 of 3)

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Yes, put the steel point down on your cutting board and stroke from the handle downward. This does not sharpen but realigns the edge. This should be done before each use of your knife.

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #53691, reply #2 of 3)

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I have a Chantry knife sharpener which is nice because the rods are automatically placed at the correct angles (one of the big problems some people find using the steel).

While the Chantry edge is pretty darned good - we DO use the steel to truly "hone" the edge to hair splitting capability. (The blade will require less use of the steel if you start out with a Chantry or a stone.)

PMace_'s picture

(post #53691, reply #3 of 3)

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Is the steel long enough? Before I started collecting Sabatier I had a set of Chicago Cutlery with a short (8") steel which worked fine for the shorter knives. When I tried using the longer Sabatier knives on the short steel I kept running into the finger guard. Now that I have the longer steel (12") I don't seem to have the problem any more except with the long slicer. Also the new steel is a more agressive cut so I don't have to work as hard to get an edge which translates into more control.

I think it looks a lot scarier than it actually is. If you keep the knife on the steel and your fingers behind the guard it seems to be pretty safe.