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One of the first things they teach in culinary school is how to look after your knives. There’s good reason for that as well, without a nice edge on your knife, how can you julienne carrots, dice onions, shave garlic, slice mushrooms and all the other great things they teach you in those early years.

As discussed in “Knives Getting Them Sharp” running them along a stone is the best way to put an edge on your blades. From there and virtually every time you use your knives you’ll want to steel them as outlined below.

  1. If your knives are currently very dull, you’ll need to first check “Knives Getting Them Sharp”, as running a knife along a steel will not put a sharp edge on it.
  2. Running a knife along the steel only refreshes the edge already on there.
  3. Running a dull knife on a steel will not give it an edge.
  4. If your knives are sharp please follow steps outlined below.


  1. A steel can be used in a couple of different ways and before we proceed, it does not matter how fast you do this as the result is the same, so start slow and be careful!
  2. If you are not too comfortable with the idea of waving a knife around a steel rod in mid air then you may wish to place the tip of the steel on a cutting board and hold it vertical with one hand and the knife with the other.
  3. With the blade pointing down place the base of the left side of the blade against the right side of the steel.
  4. Maintaining a 17-22 degree slide the blade downwards along the steel, as you bring the blade to the tip of the steel, pull the blade towards you so that by the time the blade reaches the tip of the steel the whole blade has slid across the steel.
  5. Now place the right side of the blade at the top of the left side of the steel and repeat the process.


  1. For sharpening in mid air, hold the steel in your left hand hold it in the position of pointing at 2 o’clock.
  2. With the knife in your right hand and with the blade pointing to your left hold the knife in the position of pointing at 12 o’clock.
  3. Place the base of the blade on the front of the steel at the tip of the steel.
  4. Sweep the blade along the length of the steel.
  5. As you sweep, pretend the knife is a hand of a clock turning backwards.
  6. As the tip of the knife comes off the steel near the handle it should be pointing between 9-10 o’clock.
  7. Repeat the process on the back of the steel and then again on the front.
  8. Do this 3-4 times per side.


  1. Regardless of which of the above process’ you choose to steel your knives, if you do it every time you start preparing your meal you will maintain the life of your nice sharp blades.


Paul Hegeman

Paul is a personal Chef to exclusive Sydney clients and is also our most frequently contributing writer. Paul was born in The Netherlands and moved to Canada at a very young age. Experience with traditional European meals at home and the diverse multicultural influence of foods in Canada gave Paul a great appreciation for different culinary styles. Over the years Paul traveled extensively and worked at every level of professional kitchens, from the deep fryer in the local burger joint, to the Head Chef in Five Star Hotels. He now resides full time in Sydney, Australia with his wife and their children. You will find his recipes emphasize natural, uncomplicated flavours and fresh ingredients such as those found in Mediterranean and South East Asian cuisines.

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