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I was really happy bringing home my first quality Zwiling Chefs knife. Before cooking I ran the knife through some paper - sliced like butter! After I was done and washed dried the knife, I decided to try the test again. It began tearing the paper. That's when I picked up my honing steel I got earlier (20 cm, around 20$, no brand, with ridges down along) and pushed several strokes. The knife afterwards with a decent amount of pressure would cut the paper, but that razor sharp feeling was gone.

Should I get a different honing steel? Or do I just lack technique? Can I kill my blade? I learned mostly from YouTube videos, particularly the one by Bob Kramer.

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A sharpening steel with ridges is really a file, and removes blade material. A smooth sharpening steel will stand the micro burr back up. A hone removes blade material, and is used to reshape, re-angle, or remove notches that form from miss use, or from letting others use it. –  Optionparty Oct 22 '13 at 19:46
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2 Answers

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Poor honing on a blade that was already in true can reduce the sharpness, as you have discovered. This happens if your angle is off, and you knock the edge of the microscopic burrs or teeth over, presenting a duller cutting surface.

It is likely that proper honing will correct this, although it may never be quite as perfect as the blade fresh from the whetstone or factory.

In any case, you will not do any permanent harm to your blade with a honing steel (short of using it as a bludgeon), because absolute worst case, you can always have your knife resharpened, or do it yourself. This may be somewhat inconvenient or costly, but is much less expensive than replacing a blade.

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I own a set of Zwilling knives and Zwilling honing steel, and have thoroughly discussed their care with the Zwilling rep.

As hinted in other answer many people don't realise that a chef's steel is not intended to remove material from the knife edge but rather roll the partially curved tip of the blade back in perfect alignment with the overall blade. This means one should take a shallow angle so the steel "pushes" the tip back in position. Too much angle (as I initially did) and the steel will tend to run across the front of the out out of alignment sharp edge and yes, indeed, make the knife blunt by rubbing against the tip. The wikipedia article on this is not bad http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honing_steel

However equally the German style knives, Zwilling included, are by design a relatively soft steel and will go blunt. For me proper use of honing steel returns a great edge for 10-15 times depending on what is being cut. Then I have to go to the sharpener to get blade back in peak shape. Good news is these blades are suitable for home sharpening, unlike say the Japanese style knives. Zwilling sell sharpeners as well as honing steel's. I use an older equivalent of their Twinsharp Select ( see http://www.zwilling.com/en/sharpening-knives-with-zwilling-j-a-henckels-knife-sharpeners.html ) with good results.

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