sharpening steel question

Apr 30, 1999
I almost bought a sharpening steel from Wal-Mart today. It was made by Chicago cutlery but it had grooves in it. I thought to align the edge I would want a smooth edge. Could I substitute a smooth screwdriver shaft or a engine valve? What perpose do the grooves serve?
I use a smooth steel also, though there's plenty of folks around who like grooved steels. Depending upon the groove pattern, a grooved steel tends to either cut (so it's like a very fine stone) or chip the edge. As long as your grooved steel isn't chipping the edge, if you like the slight sharpening that a grooved steel does, go for it. I tend to stick with a smooth steel for simple edge aligning, and then re-sharpen when the steel stops working.