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View Full Version : sharpening steel versus ceramic sharpening rods?



boomchakabowwow
04-14-2013, 11:36 PM
pros and cons of each? i like the ceramic..thinking of getting one. do i need one? i think i have a bucket full of random steels.

rdmalak
04-15-2013, 12:06 AM
I have a ceramic rod since I was told, true or not, that a steel and high rockwell knife steel do not work well together.

Dave Martell
04-15-2013, 12:33 AM
99% of grooved steels are junk, they can only (at best) rip the edge apart to offer some edge teeth to aid in cutting performance but when used on hard/thin edged Japanese knives the pressure exerted easily cause edge chipping.

A really hard & smooth steel would be a decent option for these knives (something like the slick made by F. Dick) but this only works OK since you need to use it often and catch the edge before it degrades too far.

A smooth ceramic rod, and to some extent a very fine diamond rod, is a compromise between those two above as they scrape the edge to provide some teeth but (in the case of the ceramic) it's more forgiving as to not chip the edge and both will work a lot longer than a smooth steel will.

In all cases I find them inferior to a nice strop but that's my own personal tastes talking, there's really nothing wrong with using a steel/rod if it's used correctly.

K-Fed
04-15-2013, 12:36 AM
99% of grooved steels are junk, they can only (at best) rip the edge apart to offer some edge teeth to aid in cutting performance but when used on hard/thin edged Japanese knives the pressure exerted easily cause edge chipping.

A really hard & smooth steel would be a decent option for these knives (something like the slick made by F. Dick) but this only works OK since you need to use it often and catch the edge before it degrades too far.

A smooth ceramic rod, and to some extent a very fine diamond rod, is a compromise between those two above as they scrape the edge to provide some teeth but (in the case of the ceramic) it's more forgiving as to not chip the edge and both will work a lot longer than a smooth steel will.

In all cases I find them inferior to a nice strop but that's my own personal tastes talking, there're really nothing wrong with using a steel/rod if used correctly.
My experience exactly. Only occasionally use a steel on my softer French and German carbons. That being said, if available, I much prefer to strop on my felt and or a clean finishing stone depending on how far the edge has degraded and it works much much better than any steel ceramic or otherwise that I've used. I've lately been able to keep edges alive and kicking for a month or so in a pro environment using this technique.

Dardeau
04-15-2013, 01:07 AM
After trying a few ceramic steels I went back to my f Dick smooth steel, which works great on almost any knife regardless I hardness. But more often than that I just strop on a cardboard box. Also using a stropping technique rather than the traditional steeling motion on the f Dick is much better at bringing back a "new feeling edge"

Benuser
04-15-2013, 02:44 AM
With a few edge trailing strokes on a fine stone - even dry - your edge should be OK again. As far as I can see, all rods degrade more or less the edge. With the next sharpening session the fatigued steel will have to be abraded. I realize though that in a pro environment there's often no alternative.

psfred
05-07-2013, 12:52 AM
Since the point of a steel is to roll the edge back into shape after it's been deformed, there really is no comparison with a ceramic rod which is usually abrasive. A steel, when the edge is drawn straight across the steel, not forced into it, will restore most of an edge on a Western knife. On a Japanese knife, any significant pressure is likely to knock chips out, quite the opposite of restoring the edge.

There is no point in using a steel on a very hard knife since you cannot roll the edge back up anyway with any reliability. Probably a waste of time on a hard high carbon stainless knife too.

If you actually remove material with the steel, any really sharp edge is gone anyway.

Peter

Pensacola Tiger
05-07-2013, 11:48 AM
Since the point of a steel is to roll the edge back into shape after it's been deformed, there really is no comparison with a ceramic rod which is usually abrasive. A steel, when the edge is drawn straight across the steel, not forced into it, will restore most of an edge on a Western knife. On a Japanese knife, any significant pressure is likely to knock chips out, quite the opposite of restoring the edge.

There is no point in using a steel on a very hard knife since you cannot roll the edge back up anyway with any reliability. Probably a waste of time on a hard high carbon stainless knife too.

If you actually remove material with the steel, any really sharp edge is gone anyway.

Peter

Peter,

Have you ever used a borosilicate rod, like the HandAmerican?

Rick

psfred
05-07-2013, 10:36 PM
No, never used a glass rod, just our ancient grooved steel (works great on carbon steel, so-so on high carbon stainless) and a ceramic rod that I didn't know how to use properly. Should be like a smooth steel, I'd think, unless it's not smooth, in which case I have no idea what it would do.

Peter

Pensacola Tiger
05-07-2013, 10:45 PM
No, never used a glass rod, just our ancient grooved steel (works great on carbon steel, so-so on high carbon stainless) and a ceramic rod that I didn't know how to use properly. Should be like a smooth steel, I'd think, unless it's not smooth, in which case I have no idea what it would do.

Peter

I asked because I've had one for a while, but never used it until a few weeks ago on a 52100 blade at ~ 61 HRc. I'd always thought it might be a waste of time, but to my surprise, three passes was enough to restore the edge. Just curious if you'd used one, and if you had, what your experience was.

Rick

Miles
05-08-2013, 01:01 AM
I consider a ceramic rod essential in the kitchen. You simply can't stop and pull out strops and the like if your blade starts to lose it's mojo in mid shift. You need to do something fast which keeps you in the game. A ceramic rod fits the bill perfectly. Just a light touch up can mean the difference between screeching to a halt and keeping things flowing. It's easy to go back to the strops or a fine stone to touch up after the shift, but when you're in the game, it's fourth quarter and you've got to put some points on the board...

psfred
05-09-2013, 12:50 AM
I can see that. Being a home cook, I have the luxury of literally stopping in the middle of things and sharpening a knife if I want to, but a busy kitchen would be another story.

A ceramic rod would have enough abrasive character you should be able to get a knife sharp enough to function if not perfect.

Peter

Lefty
05-09-2013, 01:02 PM
I often touch up my knives with edge trailing strokes on my Mac Ceramic Rod. It's abrasive, and fine, which seems to add tooth and straighten out softer metal. I think the key here is gentle stropping. Truth be told, at work, I use the bottom of a coffee mug, then newspaper on my AEB-L by Adam Marr and it gets stupid sharp.

PT, I know the 52100 knife you're talking about and I'm still marveling at how much money I might have saved myself had I known two years ago (or whenever it came out).