By Carl Hanson

You know that rod-like tool that came with your knife? It's probably sitting unused in your knife block or buried deep in the back of a kitchen drawer. Dig that sucker out.

Yes, that thing! Photo by Chef John

It's called a knife steel, and it will keep your knives sharper much longer.

Here's How to Use Your Knife Steel

Here's the deal. Start with a sharp knife. A dull knife can never be made sharp by running the blade along a knife steel. The point of this operation is to keep an already sharp knife sharp. When you're doing it correctly, it looks like this:

Images by Chef John

There's a definite technique to running the blade across the steel. Chef John shows that below. But first, you have to hold the knife against the steel at a specific angle...about 22 degrees. Whuuuh?

Here's a simple way to find that angle. Start with 90 degrees, take half of that, which is 45 degrees, and then another half from that, which equals about 22 degrees. Like so:

Images by Chef John

Now, you'll want to watch Chef John in action to see his technique.

OK, let's start choppin'. Here are some of Chef John's favorite recipes.

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