Edge Maintenance - How to use a Sharpening Steel
For efficient performance always keep your knives sharp. Remember, a dull knife can be dangerous. Keep all knives in a rack or block to prevent direct contact with each other. Don't toss them in a drawer or use to open cans, remove jar and bottle caps, or cut string or paper. Always use a cutting board or proper cutting surface when chopping, slicing, or mincing... never cut on metal, glass, or porcelain.
Kitchen knives demand constant inspection for efficient performance. Even a fine cutting edge made from the best steel will turn its edge if used on a hard surface. While ordinary cutting will dull a good edge, this doesn't mean that the knife requires re-sharpening. A few light strokes on a steel will reset the edge and restore the knife's keenness. Eventually this keen edge wears off and the use of a steel will not restore it. The knife must then be reground.
Steeling isn't actually sharpening or honing. All you are doing with a sharpening steel is realigning the edge. Realigning the edge goes a long way in keeping the knife sharp, as often times, a rolled edge will make an otherwise sharp knife dull. There is no reason to remove excess metal if the edge can be fixed with several strokes on a sharpening steel.
To use a steel, grasp the sharpening steel firmly with your left hand (if right handed), placing the thumb securely behind the guard. Place the heel of the blade against the steel at a 90 degree angle - (position 1). While keeping the cutting edge against the steel, raise the back of the blade approximately 1/4" off the steel - or at 20 degrees - (position 2). Try to maintain this angle and apply constant, moderate pressure as you draw the blade smoothly across and down the full length of the steel in one continuous motion until the blade tip completes the stroke by passing off the steel near the guard - (position 3). Repeat for the other side of the blade, only this time under the steel - (position 4). A few passes on each side should do the trick. If not, do not keep steeling, your knife needs to be reground!