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Derek answers your questions: (feel free to ask him any others about your tools!)

A:  Most people would be best to get their knives reshaped, beveled and sharpened professionally occasionally. In between times they could learn to maintain and hone their knives with a steel.

If you have the desire, patience, perseverance and reasonable dexterity to take it further I would recommend a coarse and a medium whetstone to go with the steel.

Paradoxically, the highest quality, most expensive, hardest wearing knives will mostly also be hardest for the owner to sharpen.

Because, even though they are mostly capable using a steel to basically maintain and hone a micro bevel they might not have the gear or time to reshape the bevel, bolster or bridge.

And, I guess, at $5 a knife they can think of better things to do with their spare time.

A:   There are myriads of steel varieties and all of them have pros and cons. These can be depend on things like cost, edge holding ability, corrosion resistance, flexibility, proposed use and maintenance, hardness and consequent sharpening issues etc. Most can do a fair job if maintained correctly.

A:   I don’t much like any of the “pull through” sharpeners (especially the tungsten carbide bladed ones). They sort of rip the steel and leave a large burr that should still be removed. They also create a bridge (hollow in the blade).  I see many quality knives damaged with these.

A:  Hairdressing scissors have so many technical features that make them expensive. All these things need checking and setting and that takes a lot more skill, time and expensive sharpening tools.

A:   Knives get out of shape over time from sharpening with a steel or pull through sharpener (electric or manual) and need the curvature of the blade re established. The bevel is the angle of metal at the edge. Over time this gets rounded and the knife goes blunt. The sharpening process reestablishes this bevel (in several possible forms).

A:    The choice is wide and price is a big factor. Sometimes expensive quality knives are ruined by misuse.  After understanding a persons situation and skills I may be able to recommend a brand.


  • Good quality fabric scissors are usually forged or cast instead of being stamped out of sheet. They will be thicker (helps maintain shape), have adjustable hinge screw (instead of fixed rivet) and will be more expensive. Usually worth it.


  • A good shape and balance for your use. A blade that is tapered to the edge from the spine will be easier to maintain with a steel because the blade is thinner near the cutting edge. As a “cooks” knife the “Santoku” style is generally very practical. Other uses like filleting or chopping need different shapes and different steel qualities  (eg hardness or flexibility).

A:    I don’t risk overheating delicate edges by using fast and wide angle grinders on them. (the goal is to remove as little metal as required to gain a sharp edge so that expensive tools have as long a life as possible).

I have a wider range of tools than some so I can choose appropriate method for different items/uses. I work from home so can take as much time and care as required instead of trying to rush around businesses/salons all day.

I am not a travelling sharpener so if there is an issue you don’t have to wait 3 months to see me again.

I had one on one personal training and certification from a Master Sharpener of The International Shear Sharpeners Guild.   


Very old blunt knife; see the burrs on the blunt bevelled edge too?


Lovingly restored, and now razor-sharp!


THE TEST: Squishy ripe tomato- NO PROBLEM!