This tool is used not to sharpen the edge but to true the edge (to perfect it, or to smooth out irregularities) and to maintain the edge (to keep it sharp as it is used). Observe these guidelines for using the steel:
1. Hold the blade at a constant 20-degree angle to the steel, just as when using the stone (Figure 7.2). A smaller angle will be ineffective. A larger one will dull the edge.
2. Make light strokes. Do not grind the knife against the steel.
3. Make even, regular strokes. Alternate each stroke, first on one side of the blade, then on the other.
4. Use no more than five or six strokes on each side of the blade.Too much steeling can actually dull the blade.
5. Use the steel often.Then you will rarely have to sharpen the knife on the stone.
Figure 7.3 illustrates one of several steeling methods.This one is popular, but several others are equally correct. Carefully observe your instructors' demonstrations of their preferred methods.
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