To use a steel and maintain the sharpness of the edge of your knives
Step 1 – Hold the steel in one hand and the knife in the other. The cutting edge of the knife should meet the steel at an angle of about 20 degrees. Place the edge of the knife blade (closest to the knife handle as pictured) near the top of the steel. Note: cup your hand around the steel if you can. This may not be as comfortable but it could avoid a cut thumb if the knife follows through on the downward stroke
Step 2 – With a quick motion of your knife-holding wrist and forearm, bring the knife down and across the steel until the tip touches the bottom. Maintain the angle so the tiny bevel and the cutting edge will be properly aligned. You only need to use light pressure.
Step 3 – Repeat the sharpening motion on the opposite side of the steel. Six to ten strokes on each side are usually enough to get a sharp edge.
Step 4 – Make the last strokes very light. Never allow the side of the blade to touch the steel or it will be scratched.
Use a stone to return an edge to the knife
Carving knives should be ‘steeled’ or ‘stoned’ regularly. Many people use an oil stone, which is lubricated with water and rubbed with soap or dishwashing liquid before sharpening. The blade is held at an angle of 20 degrees to the stone and passed along its entire length. It is then turned over and returned, stoning the opposite side of the cutting edge. Using a gentle pressure, this process is repeated until a uniform sharpness from heel to tip is apparent.