Honing vs Sharpening

Do you hone your knives?  Up until yesterday, I had no idea what this meant let alone why it was so important.  A rep from Mundial paid us a visit to educate us on their products and how to properly care for your knives.  During his presentation he explained to us that if you were to look at your knife’s blade under a microscope you would see that there are tiny little “fingers” on the blade of your knife.  When your knife is brand new and sharp, these little “fingers” stand up, ready to tear through product.  After use, these fingers get pushed down to the sides and are less effective at cutting.  To raise these fingers up you need to hone your knife.

Now, if you’re like me, you’re asking “well, what’s the difference between honing and sharpening?”  Great question.  Honing is reshaping, you are pushing those tiny, microscopic “fingers” back up to create a sharp blade.  Sharpening your knife involves shaving off the no longer effective metal from the blade of your knife.  So, with sharpening, you are physically removing metal from the knife to create a sharp blade, with honing you are realigning.  Your next question might be, “well, which one do I do?  What is best for my knife?”  The answer is both.  You will need to hone your knife on a regular basis until honing is no longer effective, then you sharpen, then you hone, hone, hone, then sharpen.  It’s a cycle.

So, how do you hone your knife?  It’s easy!  Kind of.  With practice and repetition you will master honing.  First, you need a honing steel:



As a general rule, you’ll want your honing steel to be longer than the longest knife you will be honing (we stock 10″ and 12″ honing steels).  To start, hold the honing steel straight up and down with the tip of the steel resting on a cutting board or towel.  Then you’ll want to hone your knife at the same angle of your blade (hint, most blades are around 20 degrees).  If you are mathematically challenged, like myself, here is a trick to getting your knife at a 22 degree angle: hold the knife blade facing the steel so it is at a 90 degree angle, then move the knife upward to reduce that angle in half.  Now you are at a 45 degree angle.  Do that one more time and you will be at a 22.5 degree angle.


Now that you have the right angle you will want to slowly move the knife down the rod pulling the knife from back to front so that when you get to the bottom of the rod you will be almost to the tip of the blade.  Don’t go past the tip of the blade or you will round your tip.  Please note that speed is not a factor in this process, you are simply moving the knife down across the rod to realign the “fingers.”  Firm pressure is also not necessary, you are guiding these “fingers” back into place, so use moderate pressure.  After doing one side, do the same thing on the opposite side and repeat this process, moving from side to side, three to five times on each side.


Kitchen Knife Guru has a great step by step video of how to hone a knife as well as a more details on honing and sharpening.  So stop in to get your honing steel to keep your knives razor-sharp.






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