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How to Hone a Knife

Diamond Hone

First, you should know the difference between sharpening and honing. Sharpening a knife involves removing material from the knife blade edge by use of tools or an apparatus. Honing a knife is maintenance you do to the knife to keep the already sharp blade sharp and keeping it that way.

Above is displayed diamond steel. The difference between diamond steel and just steel is that the diamond steel is coated with diamond dust. The diamond steel will remove a thin layer of metal to give it a finishing sharpen unlike the more aggressive use of just steel.

Instead of removing metal, honing rods realign the metal in the blade by getting rid of small nicks, flat spots (caused by applying too much pressure while sharpening), and small indentations.

You should only hone a knife after it has been sharpened or just needs a touch-up. It should not ever be used to sharpen a knife by itself. A knife should be honed after every two to four times you use it.

To do this you would utilize a ‘steel’ that is similar to what you would use to sharpen a serrated knife. A smooth ‘steel’ works better than a ‘steel’ that is grooved. Diamond steels that are used on serrated knives can be used but they may be too abrasive so make sure you get a smooth one. The recommended steel to use for honing is called ceramic steel.

To hone the knife you hold the steel upright with the tip against your cutting board. You can place a rag on the cutting board to prevent the steel from slipping. You then slide the knife blade down along the steel at a 20-degree angle like how you sharpen a knife with about a dozen strokes on each side going the full length of the steel keeping it at the 20-degree angle. Never go back and forth while sharpening. Use one direction only.

20 Degree Angle

After you have finished honing the knife use a clean rag to wipe off any residue.

Note: Serrated knives should only be done on one side. The beveled side. A ‘steel’ is used to sharpen serrated knives so honing is usually not needed on these types of knives.

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That is one big knife!
That is one big knife!

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