After a certain amount of wear (not all that much), stropping or "touching up" on a polishing-fine surface doesn't sharpen -- it only trues. Truing makes a big difference if and when a knife needs it. Whether or not the edge actually gets sharper, a true edge sure feels a helluva a lot sharper than one that's got some burring.
It doesn't make a lot of sense to sharpen a knife by grinding away metal which only needs to be trued. It not only removes material at the time of sharpening, but more material down the road because the more frequently the knife is sharpened, the more frequently it will need to be thinned. Worse, unnecessary sharpening is a lot like work.
A lot of knife enthusiasts develop an aversion to using a rod on anything made in Japan -- which is silly or Korin or maybe both. There isn't a huge amount of overlap between knives which can be steeled without hurting them, and knives which can't.
- Too chippy, no rod;
- Too hard, no rod;
- Too asymmetric, no rod;
- Too thin, no rod.
Otherwise, a rod -- providing you're not actually abusive with it (most people are) -- is faster and generally more convenient, but is not more effective. True is true.
You want a rod with a sufficiently fine surface so as not to shred the knife when you use it. Although it seems intuitively obvious that "Packer's steels" with their polished surfaces will scuff less than a a rod with a very fine texture, the difference between polished, ultra-fine, and extra fine isn't meaningful providing you use appropriately light pressure.
Rods depend a lot more on mass than "hardness." Still, a hard rod is desirable because they don't take nicks as easily -- and nicks on the rod screw up knives.
Few strokes. Light pressure.
Last edited by boar_d_laze
on Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:57 am, edited 1 time in total.