The professional-quality Diamond Sharpening Steel from Mundial of Brazil will sharpen blades ordinary honing steels can’t touch. Harder steel and worn edges can both be restored to working order with the Diamond Hone, but be cautious. There’s still good reason to own a whetstone.
Honing steels were not intended to shape edges, only to reset an edge that turns out of line with the blade. Diamond grit sharpening steels actually cut steel from the blade on each pass — using them too much can shorten the knife’s lifetime and doesn’t create the best cutting edge possible.
When knives do become worn beyond simple resetting, grinding on a flat stone is the usual remedy. The Diamond Hone postpones that day a little longer and can correct minor defects on its own. Many cooks will actually prefer this abrasive hone since results are a little easier to spot, but perfectionists may be happier with more traditional sharpening tools.
Diamond hones are not tricky to use but often create unreasonable expectations in new users. The cutting action is faster when the hone is new, since some diamond chips set higher than others and cut with a coarser effect until the hone is broken in. When the true honing surface is fully exposed, the action is smoother and the resulting edge is sharper — but the cutting action of the hone isn’t so dramatic. Rotate the hone in use to avoid wearing away only one facet of the rod, and rinse the hone after use to prevent clogging it with steel shavings. Unlike regular honing steels, diamond hones will affect even the hardest steel edges — but follow the sharpening advice of the knife manufacturer or risk damaging your best blades.
For another economical diamond-coated honing steel, see the Chef’s Choice Diamond Sharpening Steel.
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