View Full Version : Butcher's Sharpening Steel questions

05-23-2010, 01:30 PM
My dad always used a sharpening steel to touch up knives in the kitchen when I was a kid. Does anyone here recommend a brand or model? I picked up a new 12" Mundial (http://mundialusa.com/sharpening.html) (like this (http://cgi.ebay.com/Mundial-12-Sharpening-Steel-White-Plastic-Handle-/230418196291?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35a5fea743)) at the flea market today for $24.00.

Are the single ceramic rod ones as good or does the knife need to be sharper to use it in the first place? I also got a Superstick Ceramic Sharpening Rod (http://cgi.ebay.com/Knife-Sharpener-Superstick-1-Inch-Diameter-Ceramic-Rod-/220607619660?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item335d3d224c) at the flea market for $8.00.

Any tutorials, tips on use or technique would be greatly appreciated!

James Terrio
05-23-2010, 02:08 PM
Good idea for a thread, Rock. I'll be watching this one.

Ernie Swanson
05-23-2010, 02:19 PM
+1 for the good idea!!

Sorry I have no answer!

Diamond G Knives
05-23-2010, 06:36 PM
I dont know much about this topic, but I do use a steel in the kitchen. I use it every use. Just a few licks and it keeps things sharp and "bitey".

Ive used cermamic rods in the past and personally like a steel better. It is my understanding that a steel "realigns" the edge while a ceramic rod actualy "removes" material from the edge.

One question Ive had is this. Ive seen grooved steels and smooth steels. Anyone have an opinion on this? The one I have is not smooth, but have seen many that were.

Look forward to see what info folks have on this.

God Bless

05-23-2010, 07:55 PM
The cutlery guy at the flea market told me the opposite, that a steel removes material.

C'mon, guys, are we going to have to actually look this up on the Internet instead of asking the experts!?

05-23-2010, 08:04 PM
Okay, I broke down and did a Google search for "How do you use a sharpening steel?" It came back with over a half of a million results!

Here are links for the first five:






Lets see who cuts their selves first. Go!

Denny Eller
05-23-2010, 08:14 PM
I have used a steel for a little over 50 years to keep all my knives very sharp. My father grew up butchering hogs and could hone a knife to hair-popping sharpness in the blink of an eye. A steel is not used to sharpen a knife but rather to hone/repair the knife's edge. I'm like Mike. Every time I use a knife and wash and air dry it, I hit it with a few licks on the steel before putting it away. I like a grooved steel, the one I have been using for quite a few years is from Chicago Cutlery.

05-24-2010, 06:08 AM
I made myself a steel many years ago from a small rat tail file. I ground off all the roughness from the file then stuck it in the drill press and then used emery cloth to finish cleaning off the rough stuff. Once all the markings were gone I took it out of the drill press and used finer emery cloth by hand length ways to smooth up even more. I then used a small Whitetail deer horn for a handle. I have used this for many years and still works great.


05-24-2010, 07:10 AM
I've been using a steel for about 15 yrs. In '93 I bought my mother her first higher quality chef's knife and a butcher's steel for Christmas. I fell in love with using that steel to keep her chef's knife sharp. Of course, I started using it on all of my knives as well.

I now use several different steels to sharpen blades. The local Snap On guy gave me a sharpener that he said would sharpen any knife (I was skeptical til I tried it out), it's a pretty high speed little sharpener that has two sets of crossed steels in two different coarsenesses (that's a word isn't it?).

When I'm finished with my steels, I break out my Spyderco Ceramic Files (various shaped ceramic rods designed to sharpen the serations on Spyderco knives). A few light passes on one of the ceramics and I'm in business with a razor sharp edge. I find ceramic to be the absolute best for my final edge when I want the absolute keenest edge possible. If I'm planning to use the blade to cut red meat or pork, I stop with the steel as I find it gives more of a bite in denser flesh. For chicken, seafood, or vegetables and for my EDC, utility, or field knives I finish with ceramic.

John Barker
05-24-2010, 07:32 AM
I just hit mine on a leather belt for a second about once every few weeks.

05-26-2010, 05:47 AM
This is my opinion , and the way I sharpen..
I use a belt, to set the edge, then oil/water stone, to finish the edge.
If I want/need a razor edge, I use a hone(the one i use is two glass marbles held by a wire to keep the marbles together.)
I use a "knife steel" when I am carving , or hard using(abusing) a knife in the kitchen.(to keep the edge)

your mileage my vary ;}

/ al

Keith Willis
05-27-2010, 06:23 AM
I use a hone(the one i use is two glass marbles held by a wire to keep the marbles together.)/ al

Is this something you made or bought? Can you post a pic

God bless,Keith

07-23-2010, 09:48 PM
the way i interpreted a sharpening steel is this : when using a steel all it does is straighten out the micro dents and dings in the cutting edge caused by carving etc... this does NOT maintain the bevel, and should be sharpened traditionally in order to preserve blade life.

YouTube- Knife Sharpening : Knife Sharpening Techniques for Steel

YouTube- Knife Sharpening : Knife Sharpening: Common Mistakes

07-26-2010, 04:12 AM
I worked in kitchens for several years and I have seen people try to "sharpen" knives with a steel, and for the life of me, i couldn't figure out why. there is a reason they are called honing steels. they are for repairing the edge and returning the blade to max efficiency when cutting.

07-26-2010, 05:31 AM

I have 2 different steels that I use, along with a ceramic rod. I don't know the name brands, and they are older ones that I picked up at flea markets over the years for 50 cents or so. The first is a little coarser, the second a little finer. I take a couple of swipes on the coarse, a couple on the fine, and then a couple of swipes on the ceramic. It's then ready to shave hair.

Carey Quinn
07-30-2010, 07:52 PM
Boy do I feel special. I can finally answer one of Rock's questions.

I've had one of the big commercial Mundial steels for about 30 years and use it regularly to touch up the edge of kitchen knives. The bevel on a kitchen knife is usually shallower than on a 'using' knife so the edge tends to deform faster than the utility edges that we use on our EDC's etc. By passing the blade over the steel a few times, you can realign the edge and retain the sharpness longer. A steel isn't designed to sharpen a knife but to realign the edge.

The ceramic rod will, however, do a small amount of touch-up sharpening.

That's just my experience and not necessarily the be all to end all.


10-04-2010, 12:13 PM
We recommend using a 14" steel....not very easy to find. Take a look at what we have here:
Or give us a call:

10-04-2010, 12:47 PM
I had a 25+ meat plant processing veteran show me how to steel a knife. He said you don't cut into the steel, you pull the edge back along the length of the steel. I have to agree with him. A steel is used to straighten an edge and raise the wire edge. Cutting (shaving) the steel is not as effective as dragging the edge backwards and pulling the wire edge out. Now to be fair, I'm sure that given enough strokes and practice, shaving the steel will put a good sharp edge on a knife. I just think pulled the edge backwards is easier and in raising a wire edge, more effective. IF the wire edge is gone, I'd still pull the edge backwards.

My opinion, your mileage will vary.