Sharpening A Knife With A Steel

Sharpening A Knife With A Steel

VideoJug user MartinC shows us how to sharpen a knife using a steel. Learn the reasons behind sharpening a knife with a steel, and how it should be done, with this simple and quick guide.

Step 1: A blunt knife is not good:

In ordinary use, a knife gradually becomes blunt over time. This is because the sharp edge is very delicate and it rolls over and develops microscopic areas of flattening or indentation. It's a very simple matter to realign the blade using a steel, and you should do this on each occasion before you use the blade. By doing this, in addition to restoring it to its original sharpness, it will delay the time untill you next need to sharpen it formally on a stone. Sharpening a blade on a stone, by its very nature removes metal from the edge, and so shortens the life of the blade. Using steel is a very simple technique and the purpose of this video is to show you how to do that. In order to simplify the explanation of the technique, and to make it easy to demonstrate I have divided it into four parts. I've called these the stance, the grip, the angle, and the action.

Step 2: Holding your steel:

First then, the stance. This refers to the way you hold the steel. So standing comfortably with the steel held firmly in your non-dominant hand. I'm right-handed, so that's my left hand. Your elbow should be slightly bent, and slightly away from the side of your body with the steel angled at a comfortable angle across and in front of you with the tip higher than the handle.

Step 3: The proper grip:

And next, the grip. You should hold the knife in your dominant hand with the blade horizontally and your thumb on top of the blade at the spine. If the knife is very large, or you want to pay particular attention to the tip of the blade you can advance your hand along the blade so the fleshy part of the thumb is over the junction of the handle of the blade, and the thumb itself is further advanced along the spine. It's important that this is a firm grip.

Step 4: The correct angle:

And next, the angle. This is the angle between the side of the blade and the side of the steel which you need to maintain throughout the sharpening process. And it's usually suggested this should be approximately 20 degrees. It doesn't need to be an accurate angle, but whichever angle you settle on needs to be maintained throughout the process. Twenty degrees approximately is easy to visualize if you imagine the blade vertically like this, this is 90 degrees; halving that angle is 45 degrees and halving it again is 22 and a half degrees or as we say approximately 20 degrees. And so it's this angle that you are going to maintain.

Step 5: The action:

And finally the action, where we put all these parts together. With the steel in your non-dominant hand held comfortable across the body, a firm grip on the knife, angle at 20 degrees between the blade and the surface of the steel we're going to move from the heel of the knife to the tip, from the tip of the steel to the handle. So heel to tip, tip to handle like this. Angle at 20 degrees as we've said, no more pressure than the weight of the blade itself. The movement is achieved by a specific movement of your dominant arm; which again I have divided into three for simplicity of explanation. And these are internal rotation of your upper arm, which brings the forearm across the body, lifting of your elbow; so internal rotation, and lift and flexion of your wrist. So the whole movement is rotation, lifting and flexion. And that will easily allow you to make the action like this. It becomes unconscious after you've done it a couple of times. So the first action is with the blade on top of the steel and the second with the blade underneath the steel. That's one cycle, and you'll need to do six or eight cycles on each occasion before you use the knife. It doesn't have to be done fast, although you'll find you'll speed up with practice.

Step 6: Choosing your steel:

In order to keep this video at a reasonable, digestible length, I have not said anything abou