Sharpening steel and Wetzstab

Admittedly, today we rarely sharpen our knives in the household, and then in a practical knife sharpener. The classic sharpening steel has already fallen into oblivion. What kind of steel it is, and what special features it has, read here.

Whetting or peeling?

A sharpening steel is basically suitable for both - for whetting a knife, as well as for peeling. For commonly used knives the sharpening steel is sufficient for sharpening and refining the cutting edge. In most cases, the sharpening steel is rod-shaped, the cross-section may have different shapes:

  • square cross section
  • round cross section
  • flat cross section

The type of cross section offers only differences in handling, but otherwise has no effect on the properties.

Hardness of a sharpening steel

If one considers the Rockwell hardness of individual Wetzstäbe, one identifies differences throughout. It is interesting that a sharpening steel is only a little harder than the knives you whet. While an average kitchen knife has a hardness of around 57-59 HRC, sharpening steels are usually between 60 and 70 HRC.

With a very hard knife (made of Japanese knife steel, for example), it can happen that the knife with a hardness of up to 63 HRC is harder than a cheaper, older sharpening steel (only 60 HRC). As a rule, however, modern, hard chromium-plated steels are today in the range of just under 70 HRC settled.

Groups of steels

Sharpening steels can be fundamentally divided into straightening and cutting steels. There are, however, many different designs. Most are needed in the butchery area and are always designed for very specific purposes.

Corrective steels

Here, the blade is not sanded properly, but only "straightened". For very sharp, cut knives, the fine edge is only slightly set aside by use. The sharpening steel then straightens the blade and corrects the faulty cutting angle (hence the name: straightening sharpening steel).

Cornering sharpening steels have a microscopically fine structure. The knife is peeled off the whetstone only after use to maintain its sharpness. When straightening the knife, no material is removed from the blade, so it causes no wear.

Cutting steels

As the name suggests, it comes here to a material removal on the blade. They are the more common and often used in household budget variant. The surface of these steels, which are provided with so-called "trains", may also contain sapphire or diamond coatings.

When sharpening with this sharpening steel (coarse or fine) material is removed very aggressively, and created a sharp edge. This cutting edge is rough and therefore not as sharp as it could be. A finer sharpening with a less rough blade is usually done with ceramic rods.


Only for particularly sharp knives - such as a classic razor - you then also used a leather strap, the so-called peel-off. It gives a knife even more sharpness, the effect of the leather is often amazing. It is also deburred at the same time when removing. Extractor leather is available either as a leather strap (free hanging) or mounted on a handle.

Tips & Tricks

Also, the correct use of sharpening steel and peeling leather will probably be learned. A little practice is already required, so as not to damage the knife.

Video Board: Keramik Wetzstab