U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- I don’t know for sure when ceramic steels came out but I started using them over 40 yrs. ago. They are a great tool to have when your knife gets bad enough that you can’t quite bring back the edge with smooth steel but your knife is still sharp enough that you don’t want to use a stone or a rough steel. Most beef plants outlawed ceramic steels decades ago due to the danger of them breaking and getting into the trim belts. To make this decision they used the same logic they used to outlaw uncovered glass products on the floor. I still like one for my home use though. Since I was used to using a ceramic steel, I was glad to see that Smith’s Consumer Products had come out with their Smith’s 8” Oval Ceramic Sharpening Rod. It is the same tool as the ceramic steel we used decades ago except that it is oval instead of round.
Use a ceramic rod when you can’t bring back the edge on a smooth steel. Or maybe I should say it like this. When sharpening a knife, you start with your coarsest tool and work down to an Arkansas stone or a smooth steel right? (Although some people use a leather strop as their final step).
To properly use the Smith’s 8” Oval Ceramic Sharpening Rod you will want to run your knife edge down the rod one time on each side at the exact same angle that you sharpened it at. According to how dull the knife is and how hard the steel in the blade, you will probably want to steel your knife 4-10 revolutions. While steeling a knife, you only run it down the rod once on each side before rotating and doing it on the other side.
I don’t put very much pressure on the knife when steeling. The only time I apply more pressure is if I have a knife that is really dull and then I’ll hold the knife at about 10 degrees and rub it backward rather hard a few strokes to straighten up the rolled edge. Then I will go back to the original angle. Other than in this circumstance, it doesn’t matter if you steel your knife forwards or backwards.
I took the Smith’s Oval Ceramic Sharpening Rod on an axis deer/hog hunt last week while hunting with Adventures Missions and Retreats Properties on one of their leases down in Texas. I used it to process our deer and hog and it performed as expected.
Sitting here typing, I assume that you could also sharpen a serrated edge on the sharp edge of the rod. I just remembered that my Spyderco Utility 4.5” Polypropylene Red paring knife could stand a little touching up so I tested the Smith’s 8” Oval Ceramic Sharpening Rod on it.
If you want to sharpen a serrated knife here’s how I’d recommend doing it. Run the serrated edge lightly down the edge of the rod. After 6-10 strokes lay the offside of the blade on the flat portion of the ceramic rod. Make sure that the blade is flat on the rod and lightly run it backwards 3-4 times to remove the burr left from your previous actions. It should now be sharp.
To care for your Smith’s Oval Ceramic Sharpening Rod is easy. After using it a few times you will notice it has a silvery/grey residue on it. That is metal filings that were removed while steeling your knife.
You’ll want to remove these shavings to ensure that the pores in the rod aren’t plugged, thereby slowing down the effectiveness of the rod. To clean it is easy. Use a warm soapy green pad to clean the rod. If you don’t have a green pad use a rag and soap. In the old days they told us to use Ajax. I assume that is still ok but I haven’t heard that recommendation for years.
I love new ceramic steels. They are coarser than an old used one so they work faster. Manufacturers will say your steel is now seasoned. So an old steel won’t work quite as fast as a brand new one but don’t panic. That’s the norm. Your ceramic rod is not ruined. I don’t have a clue how long that they will last because I have always accidentally broken mine in half long before one has ever worn out.
The MSRP on the Smith’s 8” Oval Ceramic Sharpening Rod is $24.99.
- Oval design increases sharpening surface
- Hones and realigns knife edge
- Soft grip rubber handle
- Hang hole for easy storage
About Tom Claycomb
Tom Claycomb has been an avid hunter/fisherman throughout his life as well as an outdoor writer with outdoor columns in the magazine Hunt Alaska, Bass Pro Shops, Bowhunter.net, and freelances for numerous magazines and newspapers. “To properly skin your animal, you will need a sharp knife. I have an e-article on Amazon Kindle titled Knife Sharpening #ad for $.99 if you're having trouble.”