Author Topic: HONING STEELS  (Read 4876 times)

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Offline wolfy

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HONING STEELS
« on: April 15, 2016, 04:06:36 PM »
Rather than derail the thread on the merits of carbon vs. stainless Opinels that we've been having here the past day or two, I thought I'd add this video from Lonnie of Far North Bush  8) on the advantages associated with the honing steel vs. always resorting to abrasives to bring an edge back.  I REALLY like a good honing steel for setting an edge back upright again.....it saves wearing away good knife steel and is a very fast and effective way of restoring a shaving-sharp knife edge. :thumbsup:

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Offline Electric Cowboy

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2016, 04:47:56 PM »
Wolfy, I use a steel on my kitchen knives and convex edged knives.
To keep my Scandi's tuned up I use a Strop.
Just my thoughts........... .....
Side note, after hearing your praise on the opinel 8,
I got one................ ............like it!
Deus Vult

Offline wolfy

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2016, 04:54:50 PM »
EC, you may be the only person in recorded history that ever took my advice on anything!  THANKS! :cheers:
The only chance you got at a education is listenin' to me talk!
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Offline Unknown

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2016, 04:58:39 PM »
I saw a bit of bias in his newsprint technique. 1. low effort push cut only tears the paper 2. some mixed effort pushing and slicing 3. dedicated effort to slice the newsprint.

That said I believe steels work better on lower hardness steels. Think about it like this, the metal that forms the actual edge is tiny-thin(less than a micrometer). How many time can you fold and straighten that back before metal fatigue breaks it off.
  Not to mention cutting abrasive materials, and most are more or less, will unsharpen the edge. you will have to use abrasives to thin the metal eventually, but 2 years? I can dull a knife in 20 minutes of spoon whittling. Whether I stop to sharpen is whether I need peak performance or not.

The only steels I have are ribbed. Funny enough 3-4 days ago I gave it a try once again and no slice on tomato. I could see that it was putting scratch marks on the patina from going too low on some passes. Maybe I needed to do it longer. About 1 minute on a true Wash_ita  and the knife would slice that mater paper thin.  I have so many knives and the wear from abrasive sharpening so minimal in terms of loss that I guess I just don't want to learn how to use one.

Offline wolfy

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2016, 05:30:07 PM »
I don't like striated or ribbed sharpening steels.....it's strange that they are about the only ones that normally come with sets of kitchen knives, too. :shrug:    I agree with you that Lonnie's technique is not quite 'up to snuff' or the way I do it, but it's as good as any I found in a quick search.  He is much too rough & imprecise or should I say, 'enthusiastic' in his method.  His is not truly a SMOOTH steel, either.....they are harder to find, but are very commonly used in packing houses and butcher shops.  They are made from smooth stainless steel and look like they are chromed.  They will pit if not kept dry and oiled and once they pit they will do damage to a precision edge.  Sometimes they can be brought back if you catch a rust spot before it deepens....a good piece of sanding belt looped over the steel and stroked lengthwise MANY times will sometimes take a very shallow pit away.  I will do that occasionally anyway....just to give the steel a bit of 'tooth' to help grab the kife's edge a little more vigorously.

I don't cut anything that I would call 'abrasive' with my hunting or kitchen knives, so metal loss is not a problem with them.  I save those chores for my SAK or cheap Rough Rider pocket knives.....heck, I've even been known to use a file on them! :[     They are made for use and abuse. ;)
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Offline Unknown

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2016, 05:48:27 PM »
these, those are like fine files. I might have a smooth one in a box of butcher junk but it is not polished anymore.

I can't remember the guy's name (an author of some knife sharpening books) that was mentioned in the Verhoven (sp) knife sharpening experiments. The knife he prepared had the narrowest edge measured, which he did by honing a small burr and then folding it in half with a BS(butcher steel). what was his name... real big on steeling.. cant recall.

Offline Electric Cowboy

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2016, 05:50:27 PM »
I should add that the steel I have is a 12 inch ceramic that I got
from Chef Knives to Go.

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Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2016, 05:51:55 PM »
EC, you may be the only person in recorded history that ever took my advice on anything!  THANKS! :cheers:


Actually, I have a No. 8 with olive wood handles on order now, too.  Pretty soon you will have some serious street cred, Wolfy!
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Offline wolfy

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2016, 06:07:42 PM »
Aw, shucks. :-[
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2016, 06:29:15 PM »
Well Wolfy how do you hold your steel?  I have tried the free hand method he prefers and holding it straight up and down.  I seem to get a bit better control with the straight up and down method.

I have a few steels.  Some are rough, some ribbed, and some are nearly smooth.  I use the Henckels steels the most but perhaps I should rethink that as they are the roughest surface.  Any advice?
« Last Edit: April 16, 2016, 09:54:14 AM by wsdstan »
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Offline MnSportsman

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2016, 09:21:27 PM »
  I have 2 steels. Both of excellent quality. I suck at using them & quit trying years ago.


  I am better off with my other methods. I just don't have the "knack", I think.


:shrug:
I love being out in the woods!   I like this quote from Mors Kochanski - "The more you know, the less you carry". I believe in the same creed, & think  "Knowledge & honed skills" are the best things to carry with ya when you're out in the wilds. They're the ultimate "ultralight" gear! ;)

Offline xj35s

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2016, 05:16:23 AM »
I don't remember what I paid for this but it wasn't much. Keeps my Swiss in good shape. It is genuine swiss army from their parts website. Bought a replacement pen which is how I found this..

pessimist complain about the wind. optimist expect the wind to change. realist adjusts the sails.

Offline Aven

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2016, 07:30:01 AM »
EC, you may be the only person in recorded history that ever took my advice on anything!  THANKS! :cheers:

I know for a fact that isn't true.  I've taken your advice and was glad I did.

xj35s - Thanks.  I didn't know they made Honing steels.  I'm going to have to check them out.
Seriously people, stop expecting normal from me.... We all know it's never gonna happen.

Offline Moe M.

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2016, 08:00:00 AM »
  Good thread old pard,  I can't say enough good about Opinel knives,  While a lot of folks on these boards love Mora because they are cheap price wise and they cut well I don't share that love,  when it comes to inexpensive small task knives my nod goes to Opinel every time,  my favorite is my old found # 9,  it's been with me for close to 40 years and still going strong.
 
  As for sharpening steels,  I have several that I use for my sporting knives,  one is a SAK small ribbed steel that is fitted to my SAK sheath,  it works ok to dress the edge in the brush when needed,  two are ceramic by Shrade and Gerber, one stays in my day pack,  the other lives in my campers kitchen,  the ones I use the most are in my kitchen,  one is a Henkles, it's ribbed and came with my block,  I have two knife blocks, one on either side of my kitchen work counter,  the one closest to the stove are my general use knives and the steel in that one is the most used,  it's a smooth butchers steel made by Chicago Cutlery,  I bought it along with my butchering knives and meat saw back in the '70's and it's the best I've ever had.

  It's been my experience that steels are not for sharpening,  they are for dressing the edge on knives,  they work best when they are used about every time the knives are used,  as Wolfy has stated,  kitchen knives when used right don't see much abuse,  most of my kitchen and butcher knives have been with me for decades and have never been sharpened,  yet they all cut like razors because I routinely give them a pass over the steel either before or after each use.

  For my outdoor knives I rarely have to actually sharpen them unless I screw up and nick the edge,  usually a good stropping on a leather strop dressed with compound when I get home from an outting brings the edge back to shaving sharp,  I firmly believe that more good knives have been worn out by over sharpening than by general use. 
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Offline xj35s

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Offline wolfy

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2016, 09:12:45 AM »
There's more interest in this subject than I anticipated and I have more to add later, but don't have the time right now.  Just to add a quick note, I carry one of these in my bibs alongside my Pilot pen.  It works real well for putting a quick 'utility edge' back on my SAK after scraping crud out of gear teeth, cutting wire or any other task you are never supposed to subject a knife to.....

https://www.knife-depot.com/knife-46943.html
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2016, 09:52:38 AM »
I thought about this for a time and am a bit confused on one point.  I am under the impression that all the steel does is straighten the edge up.  Since we are not removing metal from the blade that seems to be correct.  The edge, once straightened, is not as tough as an edge sharpened on a conventional stone is it?  It would require honing as Moe does. 

I took a few of my knives and used the steel on them and they cut newsprint like a champ but I don't know how tough they will be on skinning an animal or tougher work.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2016, 10:58:01 AM »
You are correct in your assumption that the idea behind the SMOOTH steel is merely setting a good edge back upright again.  Unless the knife-edge is very thin, folded over and of poor quality steel to begin with, you can get by with straightening it each and every time you go to use it.....for a looong time.    Constant 'dressing' or maintaining the edge prevents a problem area from getting worse and over-stressing the knife metal.  Think of it as straightening a piece of wire that only has a gentle bend in it versus a wire that gets a sharper kink in it before trying to straighten it....which would you expect to fail first?   Straightening BEFORE it needs it will keep it razor sharp nearly forever.

File-type steels with grooves or striations running lengthwise of the tool act just like flat files.....they remove metal from the knife.  That's why the tips of honing steels are magnetized....to collect the fine filings that those severe types of steels remove from the blade.  As you can imagine, you can only get by with that for just so long before the edge needs reprofiling on a stone or sandpaper.   I believe, though I can't prove it, that maintenance with a smooth steel actually polishes and 'packs' the edge for more durability which results in hardly ever having to resort to a stone or other abrasive.  Even stropping an edge on grit-impregnated leather will eventually round the edge and call for the inevitable re-profiling at the bench stone.

Steeling is a learned process that you just have to get a feel for.  The footage you see of folks whacking their knives willynilly against the steel with no attention paid to angle or technique can expect poor results.  You never see a professional butcher or buffalo skinner doing that.  He may be fast, but that comes with practice and experience......SLO W DOWN and pay attention to what you are doing....especially at first when you are learning.  It helps to immobilize the steel by holding it vertically against a cutting board while slowly stroking the edge at a uniform angle....free-handing can come later when the skill becomes second nature to you.  Constant angle and equal pressure....firm strokes to begin with and very light strokes toward the end of the steeling session will maintain a 'scary-sharp' edge for many, many moons.

I hope some of that made sense. :shrug:
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2016, 12:25:58 PM »
It makes perfect sense.  Like many others I follow your advice and get good results.   :hail: :cheers:
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Offline Unknown

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2016, 10:57:23 PM »
I used the Search function and it worked!

I felt like I got a positive result using the rim of a glass with an edge trailing strop stroke. Figured it was hard and smooth so why not... Sure seemed to return the shaving sharp edge, when previously it was hit and miss.

Gave me an idea, if you are a two knife kind of person. Couldn't one prepare the spine of one to make a passable field steel? (For the finer edged tool) Or, maybe there are other things in the kit that could be pressed into service.

What reasons make stropping("strapping") less desirable compared to a slicing stroke?

Offline wolfy

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2016, 11:14:42 PM »
I actually do use a 'stropping' type of stroke with the edge trailing, instead of leading, against the steel for the first few heavier-pressure strokes.  It just makes sense if you think about it.....a severely rolled edge will tend to straighten, rather than being bent more severely or, worse yet, broken with that trailing pull against the edge.  Successive lighter strokes can then be done safely with the edge leading against the steel. :thumbsup:

If you were to use the spine of another knife for your steeling surface it would have to be round, polished smooth and virtually flawless to work well.  Another surface that sometimes works well is the chromed faucet swing-arm on your kitchen sink, but don't let your wife catch you! :doh:
« Last Edit: April 21, 2016, 11:21:30 PM by wolfy »
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Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #21 on: April 22, 2016, 05:50:46 AM »
I read somewhere that the top edge of your car window could be used as well.  Never tried that.  I have a 10" ceramic steel I bought years ago to sharpen wood carving gouges.  It really wasn't made for that and did not work well.  I will give it a try steeling some dull kitchen knives.
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Offline MnSportsman

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #22 on: April 22, 2016, 06:45:20 AM »
  As far as vehicle window glass... I know 93 Jeep Grand Cherokee & an 89 GMC K2500 driver side windows work, among with some other earlier models like Dodges, Fords & Chevys over the years. Not sure about the other side windows, nor other makes & models, since I didn't try them. Worked fine for me, anyway, in a pinch & better than the ones I have in the kitchen do, when I've tried them.
;)
I love being out in the woods!   I like this quote from Mors Kochanski - "The more you know, the less you carry". I believe in the same creed, & think  "Knowledge & honed skills" are the best things to carry with ya when you're out in the wilds. They're the ultimate "ultralight" gear! ;)

Offline wolfy

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #23 on: April 22, 2016, 07:23:49 AM »
Just to add to the list.....the side window of the '84 Ford Ranger is also a stellar performer. ;D

  I will give it a try steeling some dull kitchen knives.

Just to clarify things a bit.....the knife that you are dressing back to an acceptably sharp 'razor' edge has to be sharp before you start steeling.  That doesn't make much sense does it?   Steeling with a smooth steel merely straightens an edge that is curled or bent.  To sharpen a truly dull or rounded edge requires an abrasive to remove metal. 
« Last Edit: April 22, 2016, 07:32:53 AM by wolfy »
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Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #24 on: April 22, 2016, 08:13:24 AM »
Wolfy, you are correct as usual.  I will give them a light stoning first.

Update:  I used a soft Arkansas stone and a leather strop with jewelers rouge to touch up the blades on our kitchen knives.  The knives are made by Calphalon and are forged.  I got a wire burr on them within 10 strokes on each side using the fine stone.  I stropped them until the blades stopped leaving tracks in the rouge.  Every one was shaving sharp and we will see it we can maintain them with the steel.  In the mean time, I think I will go buy another box of Band-Aids.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2016, 09:17:21 AM by Quenchcrack »
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Offline Unknown

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #25 on: April 22, 2016, 11:00:04 AM »
I didn't use heavy pressure on the glass obviously. I was thinking about something like a lid or rim of a stainless pot.

Offline wolfy

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #26 on: April 12, 2017, 03:26:11 PM »
Here is the video that I wish I would have run across in the first place.  It certainly would have saved me a lot of keyboard-beatin' in trying to explain what I meant! :P    THIS dude knows what he's talkin' about and it only took him a little over seven minutes! :hail:

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Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #27 on: April 12, 2017, 04:01:10 PM »
And now for  your "useless information" file:  As Unknown mentioned, when the edge is rolled over, it does experience some work hardening.  This is permanent in a knife blade as the only way to remove the effects of work hardening is to heat the steel up to the recrystallization temperature (about 900F) which would stress relieve it and ruin the temper.  However, work hardening occurs in degrees.  That is, it can be a little or a lot depending on the severity of the distortion.  It is usually expressed as a per cent that is measured by the cold reduction of the original cross section.  That is, final cross section divided by original cross section x 100.  Now for most occurrences of cold working, this method is bogus as you cannot measure every event in terms of reduction of cross section. However the change in cross section of a very thin knife edge would be minimal.  What it means is some work hardening is so slight as to be inconsequential and that may be the case with knife edges.  A cold working percentage of 5% or less is usually not one for concern.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #28 on: April 12, 2017, 07:12:52 PM »
So, in essence then, my theory has some credence.........th e fine edge actually does get slightly harder. :thumbsup:
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Offline Quenchcrack

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #29 on: April 13, 2017, 05:15:51 AM »
I have no empirical data but work hardening should indeed increase the hardness of the edge..  This steeling process is analogous to hammer sharpening a sythe or sickle.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #30 on: April 13, 2017, 10:31:23 AM »
EXACTLY! :cheers:
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #31 on: April 14, 2017, 08:26:01 AM »
  OK, I have a question for you Wolfy,  since you've worked in the food industry and have allot more experience than I about professional kitchens,  you mentioned and the video that you linked backed your statement that steels are usually made of Stainless and usually polished bright to the point of appearing to be plated.
  My best and longest owned steel was made by Chicago Cutlery back in the early '70's,  I think is made of hardened high carbon steel,  it had a grayish finish on it when I bought it new that resembles Parkerizing,  I've used it nearly every day on my kitchen knives for close to fifty years and it still has the same dull gray finish on it which shows no signs of wearing off with use.
  Also different is that all these years I assumed that it was a smooth steel,  I just checked it closely to make sure I didn't write any misinformation that might come back to bite me on the backside,  what I found is that while it looks smooth to the eye,  scraping a thumb nail across the surface I can feel tiny mico ridges running lengthways along the steel,  I don't know if it came that way or if it's the result of years of use ?
  You can't see the ridges by casually looking at the steel or even feel them by touching it,  they only become noticeable by passing a finger nail over it,  have you ever run into one like that ?
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Offline wolfy

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #32 on: April 14, 2017, 10:59:42 AM »
I think you're probably correct in your description of this particular sharpening steel, Moe.  What you have assumed to be a 'smooth' polishing steel all these years and from what you have just described in your last post is, in fact, a 'sharpening' steel.  It is very slightly abrasive & designed to remove metal.  A smooth or 'polishing' steel does not remove any metal....it merely straightens, smooths, polishes and ever so slightly, hardens the edge.  Think of it as maintaining & preserving an already very sharp edge that needs no thinning, but does need to be set back up straight.  It takes the 'at ease' edge and brings it back to 'attention!'

Your Chicago Cutlery sharpening steel may very well be parkerized.....or coated with something very much like it.  I don't really know.....because yours is old, and no doubt much different than what they are selling today.   Yours was probably made in the U.S.A., but the newer ones may not be.....more probably, not. :shrug:
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Offline hayshaker

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #33 on: April 14, 2017, 06:42:32 PM »
when i was a kd i used to live down the street from chicago cutlery
had i known how famous the knives were it would have been nice to take a tour,
it was on ravenswood&belmont,ave, some of the knives i use in the kitchen at home
are swiss steel comercial cutlery plastic handles. dexter/russell    as well.

Offline Unknown

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Re: HONING STEELS
« Reply #34 on: April 14, 2017, 08:55:13 PM »
Here is the video that I wish I would have run across in the first place.  It certainly would have saved me a lot of keyboard-beatin' in trying to explain what I meant! :P    THIS dude knows what he's talkin' about and it only took him a little over seven minutes! :hail:



I recall those speedy deboning vids.  If he worked at 1/2 speed those 30 deer wouldn't that make for about 6 or so hours work?  near what I might guess at for whittle edge life time with a good blade. Maybe after 4 hours I'd be wanting to change knives. No one likes to work with just one knife at a time and it's not hard to imagine he doesn't either.



Funny though, seems you can set a knife down for a few hours sometimes,  and when you pick it up it can seem sharper. Maybe the fin can stand itself up, Sorta re-spring. I bet there is no easy way to suggest a grit equilivant for a sharpening steel.

If the edge is 60 Rockwell, 61, or maybe 59 a file possibly doesn't work as well. I forgot what spec is given for Mora edges like shown by first vid.

I'm sure all my carbon, patinated kitchen knives are softer. A little swarf from steeling or stropping on a 5 or 8 k grit hard stone to keep edge fresh every few days will cause excessive wear. After watching 2nd vid, steeling and stoning seem more similar than my previous opinion in some ways at least.