It’s often said that a sharp knife is a safe knife but unless you have an electric knife sharpener or other way to sharpen your kitchen knives it is fairly likely you are working with dull knives. No matter how good quality your cutlery may be it must be maintained in order to stay sharp and hold an edge. That’s why many pros use a diamond dust knife sharpener or a sharpening steel each and every time they use their cutlery.
You’ve probably seen televisions chefs brandish what looks like a rod with a handle and run their knives up and down the device – it almost looks like they are fencing. This device is called a sharpening steel regardless of whether it is made of any sort of metal, ceramic or other composite; many sharpening steels are covered with a fine diamond dust or grit to provide the ultimate in sharpening capabilities.
It does take some practice to use a sharpening steel properly as you need to maintain the proper angle while sharpening the knife blade; that’s why many home cooks prefer to use a knife sharpener with a fixed wheel or rod. Some examples of this type are the pull-through knife sharpeners which keep the limit your ability to put the knife blade on any kind of an angle which might compromise the edge.
Professional knife sharpeners are more apt to use a sharpening wheel or a sharpening stone which permits them a full range of movement over the knife blade; this requires skill and practice along with a steady hand and a good eye to make sure the angle is consistent and accurate and that the knife edge is not compromised.