Questions on Sharpening

First question. What is the best, low cost way to remove little tiny grind marks on the edge after you are done sharpening? (I use the aluminum oxide abrasive sharpeners)
Second question. What are those steel honing rods that come with kitchen knife sets? How are they used? I found that it removes little grind marks decently well and polishes up the edge pretty well, but I'm not sure if I'm using it right. Anyone ever use those steel rods?

Apr 3, 1999
I don't use steels very much. About all a steel is going to do for you is align the edge. When I can get to my Dad's shop I like to polish my edges on an arbor set up with a cloth or hard felt wheel loaded up with some sort of compound. I don't know the chemical names or whatever but the white stuff is usually for steel. You could probably even use the red jewelers rouge. I made a strop stick for myself at home to take the burs off my edges. I took a scrap of wood (roughly 2"X15"X3/4") and glued some thick leather on each side. Smooth side out on one side, rough on the other. Try to avoid the chrome tanned leather. Make sure when you glue the leather on you leave some room on the wood for a handle or else you will have a hard time using it safely. I load the rough-out side with a small stick of "stropping compound" which I bought at tandy leather. I think that cost around $.75. After sharpening (if you want a polished edge you will need to work your way down to the finest grade sharpener you have, I usually stop at the white ceramic sticks on my Sharpmaker but also have a very hard, smooth, Arkansas stone that I use if I really want it smooth {great for chisels}). There are super fine sharpeners available in just about every material (ie natural, ceramic, diamond, norton stones, etc.). After you are satisfied with what you have done with the sharpener drag the blade along the compound loaded rough side as though you were spreading butter on bread (opposite of how most people use sharpening stones). Try to keep the angle of the knife the same as the one used on the stone, or maybe just a tiny (very tiny) bit steeper. This should remove the wire edge and polish the bevel somewhat. Do this until you are happy with the results. You can polish the edge this way but I find that it takes quite a while with this method. I then usually flip the stick over and pass it across the smooth leather which I do not add compound to. There are as many ways to sharpen knives as there are people sharpening knives practically and i am sure that some people are appalled at what I just conveyed here. It works well enough for me though I can't wait til I have space for a arbor and motor.

I hope this helps a little anyway. I think that Tandy leather may even sell a kit to make one of these but it is much cheaper to use scrap leather and scrap wood. I've got to save my money for knives!

I bet some of the knifemaker forumites could explain this much better.

Keep Em Sharp
Those rods if they are groved are generally called butchers steels and I like them a lot for soft blades. It leaves a very aggressive edge. In fact you can even use it to sharpen hard blades if you have a fair amount of time on your hands. I would prefer a stone here though.

As soon as a knife dulls, hard blade or soft, a few strokes on a steel can sometimes get it back into shape. Experiement. Its not like you can break your knife. The worst you can do is dull the edge.

The steel is what I use after the sharpmaker to get my daily carry from shavin sharp to scary sharp.

I believe Joe Talmadge's Sharpening Facts discusses the use of the steel.

I think of it as aligning the edge. Also seems to polish it some. I believe what it does may depend on how you use it. I like to use a real light stroke almost straight across the steel, but going downward just a little depending on the curve of the blade.

Cooks are typically the ones who use steels the most or perhaps meat inspectors. They help keep an edge on their knives without having to resharpen as often. Perhaps one of the forum cooking guys will respond to this.


Sounds like you use yours a little differently than I use mine. What kind of stroke do you use to get the aggressive edge?