Recommand a good "sharpening" steel?

Jan 5, 2001
I've read the wonderful FAQ on knife sharpening. I've bought a Spyderco Sharpmaker. As a final step I want to buy a good "sharpening" steel for straightening edges.

What confuses me is that the FAQ seems to suggest using a non-abrasive steel, but all the ones I can find appear to be abrasive. Can anyone set me straight on this? Any specific recommendations on a steel and where to buy it?

--Bob Q

Some confusion may result from the fact that sharpening devices designed for different purposes may have a similar shape: basically a rod protruding out of a handle.

A truly "abrasive" steel, i.e., one with a diamond dust surface, is not actually used for "steeling" (realigning) an edge; rather, the diamond rods are for grinding away metal, same as a conventional sharpening stone.

A steel for "steeling" (as opposed to grinding) is just metal--no abrasive diamond surface.

Steels for "steeling" come in two basic types, smooth vs. longitudinally grooved. The grooved steels seem to be far more common, and they often come with kitchen cutlery sets. My impression is that the smooth kind is preferable for the way I use the steel: for touching up an already sharp but slightly used edge. The grooved steels seem to work pretty well too, but I think they may remove a bit more metal than the smooth steels.

Members of this forum have spoken highly of the steel produced by Razor Edge. The steel I use is a rectangular bar with slightly rounded edges and one end tapered like a narrow wedge for chiseling and what-not. It was made by Gerber, but I haven't seen 'em in stores since I got mine in the early 1980's. It works well and is quite portable.

You can get tiny rod-shaped steels as an accessory for Swiss Army Knives. These are of the common grooved variety, and they seem to work fine. I have one.

I hope this helps.

David Rock

AKTI Member # A000846
Stop when you get to bone.

[This message has been edited by David Rock (edited 04-04-2001).]
Get the Razor's Edge folding steel. It is small (big enough to steel a khukuri on though!) and extremely easy to use. Sal Glesser said too that you can take the "steel" rods off of the handle thingy and place them into the groove on the triangle Sharpmaker stones if you want to make steeling easy as well!

Do get the smooth.

If you want a big 'ol regular one, f.Dick makes a superb one.

"Come What May..."
david - i have 1 of those gerber steels - it looks like a chisel - have had it for yrs - worked good for a long time, then seemed to lose all abrasiveness(?) for some reason - anyway will try it again, as i havent for about 12-15 yrs , maybe will work better now lol

i use a henckel grooved steel i got at target for $17.99 and it works ok - makes 'em razor sharp, what more can i ask??
Thank you all for the information and advice. I ordered a folding steel from Razor-Edge.

--Bob Q
I just noticed the glitch in my title. <sigh> At least it was a typo and not an actual spelling error.

--Bob Q