|Basic Knife Sharpening with Steel|
1) Grip the handle of the steel and place it's point down on a hard surface that won't let the tip skitter away. Now hold it firm.
2) Hold your knife against the steel like the first image above, point away from you. Rotate your hand holding the knife so the sharp side of your knife meets the steel at approximately a 20-degree angle.
3)While pulling your knife toward you and maintaining your 20-degree angle, slide the blade from the top of the steel toward the bottom. You'll know you've done it correctly if it ends up with the tip of your knife coming off the bottom of your steel.
4) Switch sides and repeat. Place your knife on the opposite side of the steel, again, just below the handle. Find that same 2o-degree angle by rotating your knife-holding hand by an eighth of a turn (clockwise if you're right handed, otherwise if you're left handed), and swipe in that same downward motion.
5) Repeat the above steps 5 or 6 more times
6) Wipe your blade with a rag to remove shavings and test it's sharpness by slicing into the edge of a paper. If it cuts it easily, then it's ready to use. If not, repeat steps above until it does cut the edge of the paper easily.
*Note* Shaving the hairs on your arm, really proves nothing. Sorry, Dad.
Don't sweat the angle too much. anything less than 45 degrees will do, so long as you stay consistent.
7) Count all your fingers. Do you have as many as you started with? Success!!
Info courtesy of "How To Sew A Button and Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew" by Erin Bried