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Old 12-24-2012, 09:21 AM   #1
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Inexpensive Borosilicate Glass Butcher's Steel

If you have any double bevel hand forged Japanese knives, chances are that the knives are tempered harder than your butcher's steel, rendering the steel useless on them.

There is one craftsman out there who makes a 12" borosilicate glass steel, but it is $60 and it is usually out of stock.

So I made my own. I used a 12" laboratory stirring rod and an old paint brush. I sawed off the bristles, drilled a hole in the handle and attached the glass rod with epoxy and mighty putty. It is quite strong, not brittle and boroslicate glass is harder than any steel. It gets the job done and I think the glass rod was something like $1.95.

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Old 12-24-2012, 01:55 PM   #2
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Nice find! Where did you pick it up? I use a glass hone for all my J-knives and having a cheap source for a spare would be cool.
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Old 12-24-2012, 02:03 PM   #3
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source for borosilcate rods

eBay. I bought two from an outfit in England. The postage cost was very reasonable. It was under $10 for two rods, delivered.
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Old 12-24-2012, 02:11 PM   #4
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$10 includes the cost of the borosilicate rods

I think the two rods shipped (mailed) from Engalnd to USA, including shipping was around $7.50. But, whatever, not expensive.
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Old 12-24-2012, 10:45 PM   #5
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That is cheap! I paid $80 or so for my glass hone with a handle.
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Old 12-24-2012, 10:54 PM   #6
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Not sure what mm you are looking for...Schott Borosilicate coe33 Glass Rod and Tube - sundance art glass center
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Old 12-24-2012, 11:19 PM   #7
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7 mm

7 mm thick and about 12 inches long. It gets the job done. I'd love to have the real, thicker thing, but I just looked and they are now around $110 (and out of stock). And, again, the thing is remarkably tough and not at all fragile.
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Old 12-24-2012, 11:25 PM   #8
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The website I posted it's $2.30 for a 5 foot length.
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Old 12-24-2012, 11:31 PM   #9
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But what would I cut it with?

Yes, I saw that. I think I would need some kind of diamond abrasive file or wheel or something to cut one of those down to size. Might as well buy the real thing at that point. What I bought was more or less pre-sized and even had a nice flange at one end.
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Old 12-24-2012, 11:42 PM   #10
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Tools for Flameworking Lampworking Glass Beadmaking Supplies and Information - Sundance Art Glass about 1/3 of the page down, rod cutters. $18-22 price range.
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Old 12-24-2012, 11:54 PM   #11
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Hmmmm

Now we're talking. And for a handle for one of the thicker rods maybe a bed post end or something like that from someplace. Just a vice and some careful drilling with a DeWalt or even a hand drill might do the trick.

Thanks for the tips. I've got those pages bookmarked now.
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Old 12-25-2012, 11:01 AM   #12
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Glad to help.
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Old 12-25-2012, 05:00 PM   #13
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As the OP states, the only real purpose of a glass rod for knives is honing very hard knives (like 60 RC and harder). A glass rod isn't really all that useful for softer knives like those from Wusthof, Henckels, etc.
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Old 12-26-2012, 04:43 PM   #14
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Do the more expensive rods have a frosted finish?
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Old 12-26-2012, 07:12 PM   #15
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Frosted

I believe the Hand American professionally made model is frosted.

More and more I find myself reaching for my carbon steel knives and using my smooth butcher's steel on them. They go for months and months without needing any sharpening. I am beginning to think that greater RC hardness is not necessarily a virtue in kitchen knives. Also, two of those are the old fashioned french style (Thiers-Issard Sabatier chef knives) and I love using them. Same for my very inexpensive Old Hickory boning knife. Yes, you have to rinse them and dry them a lot or they'll tarnish and pit, and steel them a lot to keep them sharp, but none of that is any big deal to me.
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Old 12-26-2012, 11:45 PM   #16
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Many of those Sabatier knives are actually pretty hard. Hardness in a knife is neither here nor there really; in and of itself the RC doesn't say much. If it's very hard but not at all tough (brittle like a ceramic) then it's of limited usefulness. Very good steels that can be hardened to a high RC with superb toughness, such as M390, are staggeringly good in the kitchen. Every one of my personal favorite knives is at least 60 RC and all will hold up pretty well in a pro kitchen.

However, some harder ones aren't really all that great. Several of my coworkers have Shun knives and it seems they only keep a usable edge for a couple weeks to may a month or two depending on how they're treated. I just don't think VG-10 is a great kitchen knife steel.
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:26 PM   #17
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Ceramic

The larger diameter borosilicate rod project ran into snags when the supplier that PincessFiona told me about informed me that I would need a torch to cut through it. So I went with Plan B- a ceramic sharpening rod. Yes, I know they take off a little bit of metal, but it really doesn't amount to much. It seems perfect for occasional use on the High- RC Japanese knives and also for occasional use on everything else in between regular steelings. First impressions: very good, very useful new sharpening thing for my arsenal.
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Old 01-03-2013, 08:27 PM   #18
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Well...at least now you know!
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:07 AM   #19
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Yep. I'm glad I looked into it. Now I can be happy with my ceramic alternative. Lots of interesting hard to find items on that page, btw.
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