Love your knives but hate that they aren't as easy to use as they once were? Learn everything you need to know about maintaining your knife blades with a Honing Steel and keep your knives cutting like new.
- Watch a video on How to use a sharpening rod correctly
- What Does A Honing Steel Do?
- Three Different Types Of Honing Steels
- Sharpening Vs. Maintaining
- What Should Your Knife Edge Look Like?
- When Should You Use A Honing Steel?
- Parts Of A Honing Steel
- How To Use a Honing Steel
- What Are Some Good Honing Steel Brands?
Why You Should Trust Our Tutorial On Using A Sharpening Steel
- Cookbook Author: I've written 5 Instant Pot Cookbooks and 2 Air Fryer Cookbooks so I've spent more than my fair share of time in the kitchen.
- Efficient: That's the only way I know how to do things in the kitchen. Who has time to waste when you're trying to get food on the table? I'm known for my ruthless efficiency and use the pot in pot cooking method every chance I get.
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Watch a video on How to use a sharpening rod correctly
What Does A Honing Steel Do?
A honing steel is a long, metal rod with a handle on one end. They are used for realigning the blade of the knife and taking any wave out of it. This helps you pull it through food easier.
Three Different Types Of Honing Steels
There are three different types of honing steels. They serve the same purpose, but they are made out of different materials. The three types are:
- Stainless Steel
The most common type of honing steel. Is great for adjusting knives before using them and are the most gentle on your knife blades out of the three varieties.
Ceramic steels are actually not steel at all. They are a ceramic rod with a handle. They can be slightly more abrasive than the stainless steel version but do a nice job of adjusting the blade between sharpening sessions.
This is the most controversial type of honing rod. Because of how abrasive the coating on the rod is, it can remove more metal from your blade than the other two types. This may make your knives stay sharper, longer between sharpening sessions.
Sharpening Vs. Maintaining
There are two separate ways to take care of your knives to keep them sharp and functional. They are:
Sharpening a knife is actually removing tiny bits of metal from the blade to keep it thin and effective
Maintaining a blade is using a honing rod to keep the edge of your knife one straight piece of metal so it can easily be pulled through the food that you are cutting.
What Should Your Knife Edge Look Like?
With consistent use, the edge of your blade will start to change shape. Cutting food will begin to put small waves in your knife.
If you're not maintaining your blade between sharpening it, it will stay sharp, but you will notice it doesn't slide through food as easily as it should.
The edge of your blade should be one straight edge, not wavy.
Do I Need To Use It On Both Sides?
Yes. Since you're not actually sharpening the blade, but simply making sure the edge of your knife is straight, you will want to do this to both sides so the knife is uniform.
When Should You Use A Honing Steel?
You should use a honing steel every time you use a knife. It doesn't have to be a lengthy process if you are maintaining your knife edge correctly. After you pull your knife out of the knife block, just run the edge of your knife over the honing rod a few times and get to chopping.
Parts Of A Honing Steel
Every honing rod has three different parts. They are:
- Steel Rod
Some types have a bevel to help guide your knife at the correct angle, while others do not. The type we use is a Shun sharpening steel. It has a bevel to make sure it is guided at the right angle while correcting the edge of the knife.
How To Use a Honing Steel
There are three major factors in correctly using a honing steel. They are:
Depending on the style of the knife you're using, you will need to use different angles to maintain the edge of the blade. Most honing steels have a bevel on the bolster to establish different angles for you.
You will want to maintain LIGHT PRESSURE while using a honing rod. Remember you're not trying to sharpen the knife, you're simply trying to adjust the edge of the knife so it glides through food easier.
Slow down. To maintain the edge of the knife blade, you will only need to glide the blade across the sharpening steel a few times on each side. You may have watched some of your favorite chefs or your local butcher do this very quickly. But they use and maintain their blades all day and are professionals. So, don't get in a rush and make sure you're being efficient in your blade maintenance.
Unlike what I almost did in the video, make sure you are using a honing rod ONLY on the sharpened side of the knife.
What Length Honing Rod Should I Buy?
Depending on which style of knife you're planning on using on your honing steel, there are a few different lengths to choose from. The most common honing steel lengths are:
If you're sharpening a lot of longer length knives, you will want a longer honing rod. This allows you to adjust the entire length of the blade in one swipe.
What Are Some Good Honing Steel Brands?
There are hundreds of different brands of sharpening steels on the market. If you want one that is durable and reliable, I would suggest one of the following:
Tips and Tricks For Using A Honing Steel
Using a sharpening steel isn't hard, but there are a few things to remember to make sure you're using it as effectively as possible:
- Don't rush. Just because you see some chefs or butchers running their knife over their honing rod quickly doesn't mean you need to. Get the right angle, take your time, and do it correctly.
- Start with your arm straight. This will help you get the entire length of the blade across the sharpening steel in one motion.
- Move the knife down from the bolster. Move the blade down an inch or two from the bolster after you establish your angle to give you a wider range of motion.
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Originally Published September 2, 2020