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Ceramic rod quesions

Jan 8, 2001
I'm newbie enough to fall into that catagory of "a little knowledge is dangerous". So before I ruin something I figured I'd ask here.

I recently read about how steeling a blade works and had an enlightening but brief conversation with Ben from EdgePro. I have an EdgePro system on the way, sold my Lansky..... Any way, I figure I know much more then my non knife-nut co-worker about things concerning blades. I'd watch him use an old ceramic rod I keep at the shop to maintain the edge on his folder and think to myself that he is just putting a bandaid on an edge that needs to be sharpened the "right way". Then after reading about how steeling works I started using the rods again myself and am impressed with the results.

Here are my questions:

1) The blade leaves a dark line on the rod. Am I correct in assuming that material is being removed?
2) What is the best way to clean a ceramic rod? They seem to work better when clean.
3) Ben at EdgePro told my that steels especially the serrated type produce a micro serrated edge as well as staighten the edge. The micro edge is different though, then that produced by a stone in that the edge is torn and in use micro bits are removed requiring regular re-steeling. Anyone care to comment on the mechanics of a ceramic rod?
4) I'm happy enough with the results of the rod that I want to replace the one I have. Suggestions as to what to buy and where?

By the way way please do not take my interpretation of what Ben told me as quote I am expanding on it some and may be wrong.

Thanks A.J.
Hi Sideways,

For a ceramic sharpener you can't go wrong with a Spyderco Sharpmaker 204. It comes with a instructional video that will answer most of your question by Sal Glesser.

The black material you are seeing is in fact the medal from the blade, the best way to clean this is with Ajax powder and the green Scotch Brite pads or similar. It usually cleans up very quickly this way.

I haven't bought a EdgePro yet, so I think your ahead of the game. It gets nothing but raves here on BFC.
1) You are correct. Material is being removed. How much pressure you apply, and the grit size of the rod, will determine how much material is being removed.

2) I seem to get good results scrubbing the rod with steel wool under running water.

3) Not too sure about what you mean. The accepted "format" for a steeling rod is that it should be quite a bit harder than the hardness of the blade you're going to steel, and that it should be glass smooth. The idea is not to remove material, but to re-align the edge. It also smoothes out the micro-serrations so that you get an edge that doesn't "bite" as aggressively on a pull cut (dragging the edge length-wise across the thing to be cut) but shows incredibly clean push cuts (chopping down on something useing only one section of the edge). Ceramic rods will remove material.

4) Can't help you with this one.

I assume you're already read the Sharpening FAQ here in the forums and have done some searching through the archives? Lots more info there. Also, see if you can borrow a copy of John Juranitch's book about sharpening. More info there.

Arghh! Where are my manners?? Welcome to the forums.

[This message has been edited by Steelwolf (edited 01-08-2001).]
Please check your mail.
Happy sharpening:

Hi Chicago Cutlery has one you should be able to find just about anyplace. Also Ben sells them if it is not to late I am sure he will send it along with your EP.

Both these types look like a sharpen steel
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">1) The blade leaves a dark line on the rod. Am I correct in assuming that material is being removed?</font>

Yep. Those ceramic rods are typically sharpeners, not steels, and they function differently from steels. The main action of the ceramic rods is removing metal, just like your Lansky and your coming Edge Pro. A steel's main job is to align the edge -- and a grooved steel might remove a little metal, too. The two might intersect if you compare a very fine ceramic rod with a very aggressive steel.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
2) What is the best way to clean a ceramic rod? They seem to work better when clean.

So far, nothing works better or faster for me than one of those steel wool pads with detergent in them, like SOS or Brillo. I know, it seems like the steel wool should fill up the ceramic even worse, but due to the detergent, it doesn't. Steel wool + detergent works better than those plastic scrubbies + detergent.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
3) Anyone care to comment on the mechanics of a ceramic rod?</font>

It's a sharpener, performing exactly the same duty as your Edge Pro. If the ceramic rod is working for you, great. But keep in mind it's removing metal, and one of the advantages of steeling is that no metal is removed so the blade lasts longer. I recommend getting yourself an honest-to-goodness steel. I use a completely smooth one, myself.


[This message has been edited by Joe Talmadge (edited 01-08-2001).]
When a knife edge is used it gets dented, bent, chipped, galled, corroded, and otherwise abraded (mostly on a microscopic scale). A smooth steel rod can straighten up dents and bends and smooth galled and corroded sections. If the rod is smooth and hard enough you can do this either with edge-forward or edge-trailing strokes along the rod. If the edge is soft or thin enough this works without removing much material or weakening the edge.

A ceramic rod is very hard and not very smooth. You can use it to straighten up dents and bends if you strop your blade lightly on the rod using edge-trailing strokes. It will remove only modest amounts of material if you do this briefly and lightly. A metal steel would remove less material, but I often use a ceramic "steel" in this way if it is handy. A few more light strokes and I'm removing more material and giving a fine edge, at the expense of some material.

My preferred approach is to use a steel then a couple strokes on ceramic to get the most aggressive edge with minimal material removal.

I've never thought of "stropping" on a ceramic steel to do what you're doing. Sounds interesting, I'll have to give it a try.