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Sharpening Steels

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A steel or an effective sharpening system is equally important as good knives. Sadly all to often customers can be reluctant to buy a good steel, this is really false economy. A good steel is a little like putting good tyres on your car, re-treads may work but will they really do the job? Remember, you can do more damage with a half sharp knife than a sharp knife. Therefore, we highly recommend a good quality steel to accompany your new knife. It is easier to maintain a sharp knife than try to bring back a dull knife. With all of the fancy knife sharpening gadgets that have come and gone, a high quality steel is still the best.

 Sharpening or honing steels basically come in two formats, round and oval (or elliptical to be correct).  We are often asked, "which is better for my knives, round or oval shaped steels?"  The following should make that question clear ....

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To achieve the effective honing surface on a round steel, that is equal to that of an oval steel, by example, the diameter of the round steel would have to be equal to one of  the large circles above. Obviously a steel of that size would be totally impractical and unmanageable. The illustration demonstrates the huge working difference in the two styles. Furthermore, a knife on a larger format of steel wears more evenly and requires much less effort by the user. 

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Technology touches everything, re-inventing old tried and true systems. Sharpening steels are no exception, in fact, sharpening steels, an old idea, have adapted to technology in a big way, now enabling them to be the tool they had always promised they were.

Today we have a number of steels for different applications. There are steels with a fine cut, a coarse cut, a multi-cut and even a polishing steel. The materials used are just as varied, for example, diamond incrusted steels, titanium steel, hard chrome steels, ceramic steels, stainless steel steels and more.

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Using a steel is not a science or special art and almost anyone can use one.
1. Hold the steel firm in a comfortable, stationary position (keep it steady)
2. Hold your knife around where the blade joins the handle, mainly with fore finger and thumb.
3. Find the correct angle for sharpening. Angle of the cutting edge to the steel is 20 degrees(+/-). A simple way of finding this angle is hold your knife at right angles to the steel, this is 90 degrees, then halve that, 45 degrees, the halve that again, 22 degrees.....  you are there!
4. Start with the heal of the knife at the tip of the steel, drag the cutting edge toward the steel handle by rotating your knife holding wrist, in an arc or as a pivot point. You will notice that  the blade has crossed over and down the the steel evenly. This is ultimately the goal. You should repeat this several times until you fully understand the action required. When you are comfortable with this, then repeat the same on the opposite side of the steel (or bottom side), this is just a mirror image of the previous instructions.
In day-to-day use these instructions will become simplified and quite natural.

Tips:- 
The weight or pressure of the knife on the steel is quite light (about the weight of the knife is usually sufficient). Remember a steel is a honing device  -  NOT A GRINDER!
Keep your steel clean;  most steels have a chain ring, mainly used as a hanging ring. In many kitchens steels are hung in close proximity to the stove or range hood. This is a major mistake, the airborne oil, grease and dust settles on most items around a stove top - including your steel. Grease and oil will reduce the efficiency of your steel. Human hands can have a similar effect, from natual oils in the skin - so, hands off! 
After use wipe down your steel with a clean dry facial tissue. This removes any metallic dust left from your knife.
Storage; Best place is wrapped in an old clean towel in a kitchen draw.
For best results, use your steel little and often. 
 
Made in France Since 1894 
 
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