What is a Honing Steel?

honing steelWhat is a honing rod or a honing steel (if you are from the UK), well hopefully after reading this article you will know what a honing steel is and what it can do for your kitchen knives.

There is a lot of confusion of what a honing steel is and how to use a honing steel properly and effectively on your kitchen knives.

Before we carry on let me just say that a honing steel doesn’t sharpen your kitchen knives; good at least I got that out there! This is one of the big misconceptions when using a honing steel on your knives.

Honing a knife is not the same as sharpening a knife, when you are honing a kitchen knife the edge of the knife blade is gently pushed back to its proper position, what you are basically doing is re-aligning the knife blade.

When you are sharpening knife blades you are removing tiny pieces of metal from the blade and creating a whole new knife blade edge.

Honing Steels Are Really Only Maintenance Tools

Honing steels are really only maintenance tools for your kitchen knives to help keep them in tip top shape and to maintain an already sharpened knife blade.

There are many types and sizes of honing steels but the actual overall design varies very little. The most common honing steels are made from steel (as you probably guessed) and are used by the pros. However more and more ceramic honing tools are now coming onto the market, ceramic rods are a great way to maintain a new knife or a newly sharpened knife and tend to be less aggressive than the steel equivalents.

Mac Knife Ceramic Honing Rod, 10-1/2-Inch, Black

Price: $54.92

4.4 out of 5 stars (68 customer reviews)

7 used & new available from $54.92

Most of the steel honing rods that come with knife sets are far to coarse, they have little grooves cut down the length of the rod which are commonly in a shallow spiral design and sometimes cut right down the length of the rod.

The ribbing on these honing steels is very aggressive and you’ll find that these types of honing steels will remove lots of metal from your knives when used, If you use a coarse or medium course honing steel on a professionally sharpened knife you’ll actually dull it – this is not ideal and you could in-fact be doing permanent damage to your knives in the long run.

If you can find a polished honing steel which have no visible “teeth” these are far less abrasive than other honing steels and even the ceramic rod varieties.

If you are looking for a honing steel to use regularly on your kitchen knives I would recommended investing in a polished less abrasive steel since the others will gradually change the shape and angle of your kitchen knife blades.

Ideally you should run your kitchen knives over your honing steel about once a week to keep the edge straight (around 10 swipes per side will do), you’ll notice some people honing their knives before every use but to be honest this is not really necessary.

Depending on how often you use your kitchen knives I would have them sharpened about once per year by a professional knife sharpener or even sooner if your knives feel dull even after using a honing steel. Many of the best kitchen knife brands will actually sharpen your knives for free but you will have to courier your knives to them which will of course endure a cost.

If you want to know how to sharpen and maintain your kitchen knives using a honing steel and whetstone check out this previous article 

What type of honing rod or honing steel do you use? Drop a message below

Wüsthof – 10″ Knife Sharpening Steel with Loop

Price: $11.53

4.6 out of 5 stars (298 customer reviews)

26 used & new available from $11.53

Comments (2)
  1. Greg Urbano January 21, 2014
    • Mark January 22, 2014

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