Stainless Steel

A Different Method of Steeling Knives


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A Different Method of Steeling Knives

kaleokahu | Jun 20, 2014 09:23 AM

Hi, All:

Ever since growing up working in my dad's packing plant, I've thought steeling (and crock-sticking) was a 2-arms-working exercise with the knife held in the dominant hand. Let's call this Method #1. You see butchers and chefs rapidly slapping the blade against the steel, alternating "licks" on one side of the steel and then the other. IME, Method #1 works well IF you know what you're doing AND if you do it EXACTLY the same way EVERY time. If not, this method can be frustrating (yet ineffective yet possibly counterproductive) because the angle of attack is both inconstant and compound. Method #1 can be very fast, but the faster you go, the sloppier you tend to be.

Then there's the method of placing the steel or rod tip-down on a board, and steeling downward, again alternating, and also with the knife held in the dominant hand. Let's call this Method #2. Some crock sticks actually come with a little rubber "crutch tip" to encourage users to use this method. IMO, Method 2 is far easier for folks (at least for us amateurs) to maintain a somewhat constant attack angle across the whole blade edge. But this method can feel awkward to supinate the dominant hand in order to steel on the left side (for righties, opposite for southpaw). It also feels awkward if you change hands trying to keep the angle totally constant. And I find Method #2 to be very slow.

This morning I fooled with a third method I've never heard of, that I think is promising. At least it's easier for me than the above two methods.

That is, Method #3: I hold the knife still with my elbow locked in tight to my hip, and blade parallel to the floor, in my non-dominant hand. The steel or stick is then held at the desired angle by the dominant hand, and drawn across the blade's edge. You do the "other" side simply by flipping the blade 180 in your on-dominant hand. One side is a pull stroke, the other is a push.

This was a minor revelation for me because the motions for Method #3 felt more natural than #2, and keeping the angle more or less constant is 'way easier for me than #1--the attack angle on both sides seems easier to see and maintain (steel is held handle-UP at the same angle for both sides).

I'm going to try using only Method #3 for a month and see how it goes, but I think the *tip* of the chef I worked this morning with the crock stick is improved over what it was using Method #1.

Does anyone else here use Method #3? Actually, of the three I've listed, which do you prefer and why?


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