Those who read my knife evaluation articles on a frequent basis have probably picked up the fact that my preferred “go-to” edge restorer for everyday use is almost always a diamond coated butcher’s steel. It isn’t that I don’t have other options. I own about a footlocker full of Japanese waterstones but they all require taking the time to pre-soak them before use. Oilstones are a little more convenient as long as you don’t mind cleaning the lubricant off the blade and everything else in sight. Diamond sharpeners, on the other hand, require neither oil nor water to easily restore the cutting power of even the hardest super alloy. Better yet from my prospective, is the fact that various butcher steel versions offer long sharpening surfaces at very reasonable prices.
For a number of years my standard model has been a 10-inch rod, but I recently noticed that DMT was offering their 12-inch versions in both fine and super fine grits. Given the number of machetes I touch-up on a diamond rod, the extra 2-inches sounded like an even better idea.
The two rods I bought for the article came in “fine” and “extra fine,” that DMT lists as 600- and 1200-grit. Given how popular Japanese waterstones are right now, it is probably necessary to point out that these grits are on an American scale, not the Asian one. 600-grit is more like 1000 on the waterstone chart and 1200 is probably around 2000 Japanese. Maybe not the ultra-fine polishing surfaces some think necessary, but many experienced hunters, outdoorsmen, chefs or butchers feel it is desirable for an edge to have a little “bite” to it. A 600-grit rod is about right for raw meat and hide while the 1200 handles fish and soft vegetables with ease.