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A survey on Honing steels


  

11 members have voted

  1. 1. Do You believe honing steel has a place in Harder RC steels?

    • yes
      7
    • no
      4


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For the past few months I've been, back burner like, designing my "perfect chef knife kit"... And as a result I've been toying with figuring out how to make a steel.

 

Traditionally, in a restaurant a random piece of equipment breaks, someone drops the soup de jour in the cooler and amongst scrambling to get things ready for dinner service... knife maintenance is on the back burner. A quick steel hone and youre ready to prepare your holy trinity for your soup base (carrots celery onions or some variant depending on your region). These are usually mass produced blades with lower RC values... more malleable steels in general. The way I understand it, Microscopically the edge gets bent left or right out of line with the primary edge bevel-- the act of honing then realigns the metal with the primary edge and *work hardens the steel to some degree. Effectively this does in fact lengthen the time between needing to stone sharpen the knife no doubt.... on softer steels. So far I havnt had to hone my knives to retain their sharpness, but I am fairly new as a maker.

Does anyone have anything to correct, or add to this?

 

I hope this is in the proper subcategory?

 

Gabe

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In my opinion honing steels are worthless on high HRC kitching knives. As a matter of fact, if a customer uses (tries to use lol) a steel on my knives and I find out, I'm likely to come beat him with it. The proper way to maintain a high hardness kitchen knife is with a high grit oil or water stone (some ceramic 'steels' will do the trick as well)...and while this is a bit less convenient than a typical steeling, a proper knife shouldn't be getting dull during service anyhow.

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I think a steel is only useful for high HRC knives if the edge is kept sharper/narrower than a normal knife, since at the very edge where the blade is the thinnest, if it's thin enough it will start to bend there, but if it's not as sharp, like the level of a normal kitchen knife will stay at, the edge will still be too think to bend. Basically steeling is useful for high hrc knives, but only if you make sure they stay sharp otherwise.

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I would have answered, "it depends", but you specifically asked about high-RC edges...above a certain hardness, a steel will chip out the edge. Some of my shear steel chef's knives were tempered quite hard; my mom chipped the heck out of the one I gave her, both by steeling, and by running it through one of those 'scissor' carbide sharpeners, ouch. For the most part, I've gone to using 5160 for kitchen and hard-use blades, as it's not as chip-prone. For an average user, I'd rather have the edge roll, since it can be steeled back straight; chips have to be ground out.

Edited by Orien M
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There are exceptions to the chipping thing. Properly thermal cycled steel is much less prone to chipping even at high HRC, but it also won't 'bend'. If you apply enough force to bend it, it WILL chip...it just takes substantially more of that force than at softer HRC.

Again, this negates any positive effect a traditional steel might have. Unless you're abrading the steel to some degree, you're not doing anything to the edge.

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I would agree with Mr. Anderson. I have found that on very high HRC knives, a steel really does nothing at all because of the hardness of the steel, hence the reason I have a sharpening stone. A steel is useful for el cheapo knives such as the ones that always seemed to be in the drawer that were bought at a garage sale for .50, but anything of good quality really doesn't benefit at all.

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While we're discussing this topic, I'd love to ask...do you deliberately aim for high blade RC's in your kitchen knives, accepting that they will be somewhat chip-prone?

 

Personally, I sure like the edge retention of a very hard temper, but it seems like quite a few cooks (including my mom, lol) don't know how to maintain this this type of blade. This issue has actually worried me quite a lot...as I said above I actually switched steels, and changed the HT regimen for the kitchen knives I was making for sale, specifically to avoid chipping and brittleness. Tricky to HT these thin blades..... :ph34r:

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Ive been aiming for 59-61 generally speaking. My knife with the longest tests are the one i sent to a chef buddy of mine and his chef was tempered to 57ish. He has a lazer that is thin enough for him to break down fish with as well, per his request. Last I hear from him he doesnt have to do any maintenance to his as of yet (been 3-4 months)... And he was very specific in saying that the edge lasted so long that he hadnt even honed it a single time yet.... Id like to do some more research in this area for myself tho im thinking.

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Also, I havnt been using a steel to hone my knives with... I have a 6k water stone that i use to do final sharpening then hone it some, then i throw a piece of paper over a dry stone and do final honing with that. Obviously, I would want the best edge possible. In the spirit of trying to set up clients to be successful in maintaining their own equipment is what brought this question up.

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I don't really have too much to add that hasn't already been said. I agree with all the above, a very hard edge is pointless to hone with a steel. But the lower RC will definitely benefit from a steel. It comes down to preference, I know some people that don't even HT their carving tools because they like to be able to touch them up easier. Then again I know some people that like to keep things ultra hard so they don't have to maintain them so much.

To answer your work hardening with honing question, that's a new one to me. I would assume no, but that isn't based on any empirical evidence.

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While we're discussing this topic, I'd love to ask...do you deliberately aim for high blade RC's in your kitchen knives, accepting that they will be somewhat chip-prone?

 

Personally, I sure like the edge retention of a very hard temper, but it seems like quite a few cooks (including my mom, lol) don't know how to maintain this this type of blade. This issue has actually worried me quite a lot...as I said above I actually switched steels, and changed the HT regimen for the kitchen knives I was making for sale, specifically to avoid chipping and brittleness. Tricky to HT these thin blades..... :ph34r:

 

I aim for 63-65HRC on carbon, and 61-63 on AEB-L...and reach this without chippiness. My edges are so thin that I can easily visibly deflect them by running my thumbnail under them (even pre-sharpening)...so I'm not compensating with a thick edge to stabilize things. In a bit under...4yrs?...making kitchen knives, I've only had three knives come back with damaged edges. One, I don't know WHAT he did with it. It looks like someone hacked a stainless sink edge repeatedly (this wasn't a temper issue, I'm 150% positive it was a usage issue. The other two are a matched set, and were smacked edge to edge into each other. Understand...this is in a test pool of over 100 kitchen knives, most of which are used daily in a professional, production kitchen.

 

 

Also, I havnt been using a steel to hone my knives with... I have a 6k water stone that i use to do final sharpening then hone it some, then i throw a piece of paper over a dry stone and do final honing with that. Obviously, I would want the best edge possible. In the spirit of trying to set up clients to be successful in maintaining their own equipment is what brought this question up.

 

Murray Carter's method. It works...I used it for a long time. There are definitely better methods though, that give up nothing in regards to efficiency.

 

 

Ive been aiming for 59-61 generally speaking. My knife with the longest tests are the one i sent to a chef buddy of mine and his chef was tempered to 57ish. He has a lazer that is thin enough for him to break down fish with as well, per his request. Last I hear from him he doesnt have to do any maintenance to his as of yet (been 3-4 months)... And he was very specific in saying that the edge lasted so long that he hadnt even honed it a single time yet.... Id like to do some more research in this area for myself tho im thinking.

 

My oldest retail kitchen knife is a bit over 3yrs old this year. The owner is a retired professional chef, who uses the knife daily for everything from cutting up his daughter's pizza, to breaking down chicken. He has never 'sharpened' it, just maintained it on a high grit stone. But I promise you, 'laser' or no, thin behind the edge or no...if your knife is not being maintained somehow...it's not as sharp as it was 3-4 months ago. I will be brutally honest and say that at 57HRC, I would be questioning the validity of your friend's usage, and/or information. Physics are physics...and it's impossible to get around them.

 

Here's a quick couple pictures of my first customer's knife, so you can see what I mean by it being a laser having no impact on the edge stability or retention. This knife tested out at a local shop at 63-64 along the edge, after tempering and before final grinding (2mm thick edge).

 

20130921_085954.jpg

20130921_173132a.jpg
20130921_173035a.jpg
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i was tempering at 350 and that was it, but ive been bumping it up over time. And im tempering in a residential oven so thats a guestimate based on the colors i see and the temp its set at. Whats youre tempering cycle like?

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Do yourself a favor and pick up a $20 pyrometer off Amazon. Then you will KNOW what you're tempering at, instead of trying to guess. My tempering cycles are specific to the steel I use, in my shop, with my equipment. I've never liked sharing them as advice, because that can do more harm than good, depending on another's setup.

In addition, I never saw what steel you are using, so even knowing what your numbers are, doesn't help much :).

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I generally use 1095 / 1084 for my kitchen stuffs

 

My last few have been 1095 chefs and tempered to 61-62 in a 2 - 1 hr cycles @ 450... I put them in the freezer over night in between cycles.. Bed was calling me so i figured why not...

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I am torn because I have a arc tube from a high pressure sodium light. On a sharp knife it polishes the edge unlike steel. I have to fight to salvage these things. Old men who whittle swear by them. I'll post pictures later today

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