A sharpening (or honing) steel is the simplest way to sharpen a knife. They come in three materials: chromium-plated, stainless steel, ceramic, and diamond-coated. Chromium plated steels have a grooved surface, deliver a good result and are relatively immune to damages. Ceramic steels sharpen gently and carefully but are more sensitive to shock so must not be dropped. Diamond steels deliver a fine result, but they have a shorter lifespan because the coating wears off over time.
1. To sharpen, take a firm grip of the knife and place the sharp edge of the blade against the butt of the sharpening steel at an angle of approximately 20 degrees. Start with the widest part of the blade (not the tip) against the steel.
2. Pull the knife down and across the steel diagonally, making a slight arc, then repeat on the back of the steel to sharpen the other side of the blade. Use your arm rather than your wrist to make the movement. The speed of the movement does not matter. Repeat between five and ten times.
3. Test the knife by getting a thin sheet of paper and cutting ribbons out of it. The blade should easily slice through the paper. Now carefully wipe the knife blade dry with a paper towel so that any metal filings don’t end up in your food.