How to Hone Kitchen Knives: What You Need to Know

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The first step towards enjoying a lively and exciting cooking experience is by investing in a premium quality knife.

An appropriate knife will make chopping, slicing, and mincing to become easy and effortless like you are a pro.

A good knife requires the best maintenance and the easiest way to accomplice this is by honing it regularly.

Honing helps in straightening the cutting edge as well as reinforcing the sharpness of the blade.

Here is what you need to know about how to hone kitchen knives.

Type & length of honing rods

The type and kind of honing rod you choose to use will have a great impact on the results you will achieve.

The best type of hone to use is a ceramic honing rod with fine grit.

This rod is hard, works with different types of knives including German and Japanese knives, and is least destructive to the cutting edge.

Fine-grit ceramic rods are a favorite option for professional chefs and seasoned cooks.

The rods come in different lengths with some models being longer than the others.

The thumb rule to follow when you are looking for the best honing rods is that the rod should be longer than your blade.

Such rods are easy to use and provide excellent results.

The quality of the rod of choice also matters as you should only settle on a high-quality rod that will last for long.

Honing angle

Ideally, you should hone your blade using the same angle it is sharpened at.

This angle depends on several factors including the design of the blade as well as the type of sharpener used.

If you have German-style kitchen knives, the best angle to adopt is 20-22 degrees for both sides.

For Japanese and Chinese style blades, you can opt for an angle of 11-15 degrees.

Always ensure that you understand and identify the type of blade in your knife.

This is because if you hone with the wrong angle, it is possible to dull the blade more rather than restoring its sharpness.

The techniques

There are numerous techniques that you can use when honing your kitchen knives.

However, the best and safest technique to use is by holding the knife and honing rod at a perpendicular stance to each other.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Place a dishtowel or cutting board underneath to act as a buffer, then hold the rod perpendicular to the buffer using your non-dominant hand with the tip resting on the buffer.
  2. You should then hold your blade using your dominant hand.
  3. The next step is to approximate the correcting angle to use.
  4. As stated above, the angle to use will depend on the type of blade.
  5. After you have identified the right angle to use, you should commence honing and start at the base/heel of the blade and at the top of the rod.
  6. While maintaining the correct angle, pull it towards you, and ensure that you only apply light pressure.
  7. Ensure that the entire cutting edge has been honed before flipping to the other side.
  8. Alternate in a back and forth fashion.
  9. If your cutting edge is in a good condition, then you shouldn’t spend too much effort and time to hone.
  10. After a few swipes on each side, you should test whether the knife has regained its sharpness.
  11. Try slicing a piece of people to see the ease with which the blade cuts through the paper.
  12. If it is not sufficiently sharp to your liking, then you should hone it more.
  13. If you realize that after some time there is little improvement, there is a high likelihood that you are not doing it correctly or the blade is extremely dull and hence needs to be sharpened.
  14. Always ensure that you do not use too much pressure as this can easily damage the cutting edge.

How often should you hone?

There is no specific number of times that you should hone the blade.

Stainless steel knives require honing using a steel rod after every 2-5 uses.

This helps in maintaining the sharpness of your blades.

On the other hand, carbon steel knives require doing so after every use.

If you hone your blades regularly, then it will take you long before you sharpen the blades.

Conclusion

Honing kitchen knives is a simple DIY task that you should not hire anyone to do for you.

It is a self-explanatory task that you can accomplish all by yourself.

All you need to do is ensure that you use the perfect rod or sharpening stone and choose the right angle.

Honing helps in straightening the cutting edge which comes in handy when you want to make precise and accurate cuts.

Last Updated on February 18, 2021

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.