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So which direction are you supposed to hone knives?

I see conflicting instructionals about how to hone knives with a steel, namely the direction to face the knife. They all say to have about a 20 degree angle, but some have the sharp end of the knife going Into the steel while others have it away from the steel. It's a bit hard to describe in text so here's two videos:

Towards the steel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUdrRE...

Away from the steel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syvvxx...

Is one better than the other? Are there certain cases or knives that do better with one or the other?

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    1. For a honing steel, it should work in both directions. It is nicer to point the honing steel perpendicular a flat surface (like a cutting board), and then hone. This is safer for you and others (if you slip, you cut the board, not a person) and this gives you a better sense of the angle between the knife and the steel.

      Now, if we are talking about honing or stroping on a leather surface or a wood surface or any soft surfaces, then you will have to hone knife edge away the surface, not toward the surface. Otherwise, you will cut into the materials.

      1. I do the Gordon Ramsey way :P I was taught that way at school so just stick with it, I am used to it, I can do it much faster and it feels more comfortable, I'd feel all strange doing it the other way. Doesn't make a difference, one is more safe then the other, I know another school here teaches the other way. The Gordon Ramsey way I think is just older and more traditional maybe. *shrug*

        1. While I'm not an expert, I would propose that honing is best done with an edge trailing technique. Since the primary objective is to re-align the edge back to true - let's say that the edge is slightly "rolled over" (you probably can't see it but it's happening way down at the very edge) - then it's easy to understand how an edge trailing motion has a much better chance of gently nudging the rolled metal back upwards.

          If you are going to steel, then I completely agree that the correct technique is to hold the steel vertically, tip down. This helps you to keep a consistent angle and control your pressure. Use nice easy slow movements. If your pressure is too light, that merely means that you'll need to do a few more strokes - no big deal and no harm done. The flashy fast way that some chefs do it on tv is simply wrong - very few people can really do that freehand and hold the correct angle.

          Better yet - instead of using a steel, I'd really recommend that you consider honing with a strop instead, edge trailing of course. Please note that a strop does NOT need to be traditional leather strap. Not at all. A very effective strop can be a mousepad or even a piece of cardboard. Some really skilled knife experts just use mousepads, with 3m abrasive films or scraps of leather on top of the pad. Any number of very gentle abrasive pastes can be used with leather scraps, like chromium oxide (like a green crayon - and it's cheap), or even diamond pastes made by people like DMT.

          An added advantage is the slight give of the pad will allow you to apply a slight convex edge to your blades. These edges will hold better than a standard V edge since there is more material right behind the very edge. I achieve a similar effect, though not quite as efficient, by using a micro-bevel. But I only do that with a few of my knives.

          8 Replies
          1. re: jkling17

            Interesting, I've never heard of or seen strops before. Reminds me of the tip I heard to resharpen disposable shaving razors by running them across an old pair of jeans.

            1. re: truth1ness

              LOL. I used to strop my straight razors but I wasn't aware that it was possible to do that with a disposable.

              Here are some links that you might enjoy. With any inexpensive mouse pad, you can not only strop but also can use it for sharpening, with different sandpapers or abrasive films (3m makes the latter).

              A good deal of what I've learned about sharpening is from the folks at:
              www.bladeforums.com and sharpeningmadeeasy.com. These are excellent resources - these guys are really serious and very knowledgable about knife sharpening. At some point I might start doing some stropping but I have a really nice little guided DMT system that does the trick for me.

              http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/sho...
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaDEXu...
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rt44uD...
              http://www.sosakonline.com/index.php?...

              1. re: jkling17

                Unrelated, but just a quick comment. I went to Mexican Mariachi Grill today. It is not bad. I will have to try it again to be sure. The food is fresh. The price is cheap. The portion is reasonable (not too large and not too small). Now, I notice the place is fairly small, and it appears it may rely on too much salt. Again, I will have to go back. Thanks for your suggestion. I will try Guatelinda next time.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Cool - what dishes and desserts did you have? Yes it's small - they do a lot of lunch and take out business. They'll soon be opening more locations.

                  1. re: jkling17

                    I was going to get the Carne Asada Plate, but instead I went with the today's special... opps I forgot the name. It has very similar ingredients as the Carne Asada, but it is spicy. It is not in this electronic menu:

                    http://www.mexicanmariachigrill.com/m...

                    I want to say "Super" something or "Quick" something. I will have to drive by the place again to remember its name.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Hmmmm ... the Speedy Gonazales perhaps? Tasty. I'd truly recommend that you try the steak tacos and fish tacos. I also really like the steak, beef and pork burritos. The chorizo quesadilla is excellent, though quite rich - I find that it's best to share that between multiple people.

                      The desserts are excellent. Flan, Tres Leches and "Impossible" - it's a "choco-flan" and is a family recipe.

                      At Guatelinda, you simply must try the pork adobada - it's the bomb!

                      1. re: jkling17

                        Yes, that's right. The Speedy Gonazales. I will try to fish tacos next time. Question. Do you know if Guatelinda opens on Sunday?

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I could be wrong but I believe that Guatelinda is open 7 days, from about 7am until 10pm - perhaps even later. This is probably their # (609) 989-4984.

          2. Nice videos. I find that six Bobs followed by a few Gordons works just fine.

            1 Reply
            1. I'm not sure it matters, but I usually pull towards my body with the point of the steel facing down, starting from the part closest to my fingers, and ending on the tip, and going from the top of the steel (near my hand) heading towards the point of the steel. Some people do it with the point of the steel facing up too. I don't think it really matters which way, but if you do it the same way every time, it will probably be easier to build speed and consistency.

              You could probably even go forward and then back, but I think it would be harder to keep the angle consistent.

              The angle should follow the angle on the knife blade; with most German / French style knives, that will be symmetric, with ~ 15 degree angle on each side, however that's not always the case.