21 hours ago, haresfur said:
Isn't that the idea of honing as opposed to sharpening?
This is what we were all taught, but it's not true. In practice, knife edges don't typically roll over in a way that can be straightened. Techniques like stropping and honing just remove damaged metal and create a new bevel (typically a microbevel).
Using a steel does essentially the same thing as using a pretty coarse stone, but without much precision. We usually use a steel at an obtuse angle, so the result is a fairly rough microbevel. If you have a polished smooth steel, you can get results that are more like microbeveling with a finer stone.
Here's an interesting 2-part explanation by a guy with an electron microscope.
This kind of edge can be useful. I like it on my big German chef's knife and Forschner utility knife. And I love how quick and easy it is. I think I had to put those knives on the stones once or twice in 15 years ... steeling just does the job.
My thinner bladed Japanese knives don't go anywhere near a steel. There'd no way to use it to get the kind of refined edge I want. But more importantly, those are sharpened to such acute bevel angles that honing would just shred them. You can't put that kind of lateral pressure on an edge when you've got 7° to 10° angles.