A honing steel, also known as a sharpening stick, rod, or steel as well as chef’s steel and butcher’s steel is a steel/ceramic/diamond-coated rod which realigns the edges of blades. When looking for honing steel for sale, you should know the things outlined below in order to get the absolute best honing steel you can buy.
Your Guide To Buying Honing Steel
When a knife is sharpened, you’re removing fatigued material and uncovering a fresh beveled edge. However, sharpening isn’t enough to correct a knife whose blade has been bent out of shape. You need a honing steel to make your knife sharp again. With that said, look for the following features when searching for a steel rod for honing.
- Honing Ability to Sharpen an Unsharpenable Knife: One reason why it seems your knife isn’t getting any sharper despite multiple attempts at sharpening it is because of misalignment. The sharp edge is pushed off the side, so you need honing steel assistance in order to correct the alignment so it’s facing the right direction. This is something you won’t accomplish with regular sharpening alone. You’ll also get to learn about knife sharpening angles the more you use a honing steel.
- Sharpening Angles and Steeling: The bevel angle on a typical knife is very large, so the knife sharpening angle it’s about 20° to 35°. The beefiness is to make it easier to handle chopping and cutting. As for a razor, it’s has a smaller bevel angle of 15° to 17° because it only needs to cut hair. Stropping is best used for edges with smaller bevel angles and beefier blades require outright steeling.
- Magnetic Rods: Some honing steels, like those covered in honing steel reddit boards or subreddits, are magnetic. There are brands like Wusthof that let the fibers released from your blade to stick to it so as not to contaminate your kitchen with metal filings and whatnot.
- Slip-Resistant Handle: Whether you’re buying a honing steel for regular knives or honing steel japanese knives (which require extra sharpness to work), you need a comfortable and ergonomic slip-resistant handle to give you better leverage when correcting the misaligned blade angle. Some of these handles even have loops for hanging and easy storage as well.
The Top 5 Honing Steel Products
1. Utopia Kitchen 12 Inch Steel Knife Sharpening Rod
This 12-inch honing steel wonder (it’s referred to as a “sharpening” rod, but that’s another obvious misnomer to better market the rod to ordinary citizens) is capable of sharpening all kinds of knives, including sporting knives, pocket knives, household knives, kitchen knives, camping knives, hunting knives, and so forth.
It can even sharpen serrated or standard knife edges. The steel used on this rod is carbon steel with nickel-chrome plating. The utopia honing steel also features a fine surface to prevent cutting edge damage when you’re attempting to align the edge just right. It’s simple to use whether you’re left-handed or right-handed.
It also has an handle that ergonomically suits different sorts of hands big and small. The rubber is slip resistant at the bottom, allowing for a firmer grip. However, this item has gotten low scores by people complaining about not knowing how to use it, thinking it’s a real knife sharpener instead of a realignment rod. It’s also not dishwasher safe.
2. Wüsthof Sharpening Steel
The Wusthof Knife Sharpening Steel is a 10-inch honing steel with magnetic properties to attract the fibers you’re aligning. What’s more, the wusthof honing steel also has a plastic handle that is slip-resistant and fits comfortably in your hand.
It also has extras like a hanging loop for easy storage and a design that allows it easy cleanup after every honing session. Just wipe it clean with a moist cloth and you’re good to go. With that said, it got second billing on this top 5 honing steel products list mostly because it has inconsistent quality control.
Wusthof 10-inch Knife Sharpening Steel has issues with quality control. Some customers have been using theirs for years. Others have ended up with a dud that doesn’t effectively correct the alignment of the blade, thus keeping it from “sharpening” the blade. Ultimately, the top honing steel had fewer complaints compared to Wusthof, so its score wasn’t dragged down by the complainers.
3. Victorinox Honing Steel
The Victorinox Swiss Classic has all the requisites of a quality honing steel and the added bonus of accurately labeling what it really is (a “honing” steel rod instead of a “sharpening” steel rod). It has patented Fibrox handles that are also slip-resistant and textured to boot.
Fibrox works pretty much like rubber handles but with less likelihood of deterioration. It ergonomically fits on any hand and the rod itself is industrial steel, thus giving the surface more stain resistance and hardness for easy sharpening angle alignment. The victorinox honing steel is even NSF-approved as safe to use.
It’s also easy to clean, just wipe with a moist piece of cloth. However, in terms of its flaws, that’s where it differentiates itself from the other honing steels (unfortunately). It’s mediocre with what it offers, there are steels longer or more consistent with their benefits, and it doesn’t have a looped end as described.
4. Winware Stainless Steel Sharpening Steel, 12-Inch
The stainless steel Winware Sharpening Steel does its part in maintaining the edge of knives and extending the lives of your cutlery with its five-inch handle and 12-inch “sharpening” rod. The winware honing steel is also easy to clean, but that’s a general feature found in all steels.
However, it features a hanging loop attached to a plastic handle. The fact that the handle is plastic (even though ABS plastic) might not sit well with certain chefs, fishermen, and campers because they don’t compare in terms of being no-slip as the rubber or “Fibrox” handles of the other honing steels.
On one hand, it’s stainless steel. It doesn’t rust easy. It can last as long if not longer than the knives it’s “sharpening” (or “honing”, even though the proper term is “realigning”) On the other hand, it’s ranked fourth for a reason (and that reason is cheapness and lack of extra features like magnetism).
5. Shun DM0790 Honing Steel
This 9-inch wonder is a classic honing steel with all the fundamental features you’d expect from a product like this. The shun honing steel made it on this list because it contains a rod that has two polishing sides and another couple of sides for honing.
The handle of this beauty is D-shaped and made of black laminated PakkaWood. This is a boon and a detriment all at once, because once that lamination is taken off, wood rot becomes a concern. However, it’s probably among the most comfortable handles out there.
Then again, it’s only 9 inches long, so it’s a lot more limited than longer steels that measure 10 inches or 12 inches. Sometimes, the bigger the better. It’s still easy to clean and it does well to maintain knife edge quality. However, its biggest flaw is that it’s mainly used for upkeep of Shun-brand knives rather than knives in general.
Description And Disambiguation Of Honing Steel
Aside from the honing steel definition, this is what you can expect from a honing steel description. A honing steel is round, oval, or flat when viewed across. It can also reach up to 30 centimeters or a foot long. Diamond-coated steels are smooth because they already contain abrasive diamond particles. Ceramic rods or honing steels have ridges that are longitudinal.
At any rate, let’s further clarify what honing entails.
- Honing Disambiguation: Technically, the term “honing” is a misnomer because honing steels don’t sharpen or hone the blade. It instead realigns a curled edge instead of undergoing metal removal. When it comes to honing steel use, it’s better to describe it as a realigning steel than anything else. “Hone” is still used because it’s linked with light maintenance on a sharp blade. That’s why the term “hone” was loaned to the tool.
- The Difference between Honing and Sharpening: The bending of the blade is to be expected after normal use. It’s not caused by lack of skill. As for honing steel vs sharpener, it’s important to remember that a honing steel is capable of realignment while a blade sharpener mostly removes steel material and cannot do any realigning work at all.
- The Difference between Honing and Stropping: Stropping is what you do to the edge of a thin razor blade to correct it. Steeling is what you do to realign the edge of knives. When it comes to honing steel vs strop, the edge of a razor only needs leather to bend it back to shape while the knife edge requires the strong coercion of a steel surface to get it back into alignment.
- Honing Steels, Honing Ceramics, and Diamond-Coated Honing Rods: A honing rod is always made of steel, whether it’s a honing steel or honing ceramic. The latter is steel coated in ceramic. There’s also a third type of honing steel known as diamond-coated honing steel. When it comes to honing steel vs ceramic, ceramic is generally harder than steel in many ways, so the latter is more effective at uncovering that edge from a dulled knife.
Both steel and ceramic honing rods have longitudinal ridges. Diamond-coated steels don’t require the ridges and are smooth because the embedded diamond particles are rough enough to do the same work as the ridges. The edges of ceramic rods are more polished. Diamond rods speed up steeling because of the hard nature of the material.
The Butcher’s Method Of Using Honing Steel
A chef hones his knives with a honing steel with amazing speed. They developed their technique by years of experience. However, it’s safer for ordinary citizens to use the butcher’s method of honing steel. Also remember that honing steel serrated knife usage is a bit different from honing blades with normal edges. It involves:
- Pointing and Positioning: Point the narrow end of the rod down the cutting board then position the heel or the thickest part of the knife before the handle of your knife somewhere between 15° to 20° near the handle of the steel rod. That’s the honing steel angle.
- Swiping and Pulling: From there, swipe the blade down one side of the honing steel, pulling the knife towards you simultaneously in order to hone every last part of the blade that runs along the steel rod, from its heel to its tip.
- Repetition: Do the same swiping and pulling motion on the opposite side of the honing rod. Furthermore, continue going back and forth with the two sides a few more times. It’s not necessary to do it endlessly like on TV. Just a couple or more times will suffice.
- Precision Instead of Speed: It’s more important to be precise when honing your blade than attempting to be as fast as the chefs who hone their knives. They’re fast because they know how to do the action as fast as they tie their shoelaces. An amateur tends to do it wrong and can damage their blade.
Honing in the context of honing steel amazon is important because after multiple “sharpenings”, the entire length of the knife becomes slightly bent, and the best way to correct it and put it back into alignment is to use a honing steel to straighten out the microscopic fibers that have bent down the blade. You can even use a honing steel and whetstone combo to sharpen and realign at the same time.
The Utopia Kitchen 12 Inch Steel Knife Sharpening Rod only got bad scores from people who got fooled by its marketing and thought that it literally “sharpens” knives instead of realigns its sharpening angle and whatnot. It has just enough honing steel grit and offers great honing steel definition for your knife or knives when all is said and done.
What’s more, those who know how to use the honing steel have little to no complaints about it. It’s a good representative of the honing steel product category because of its ease of use, its ambidextrous design, and the ease of cleanup. It also has fewer complaints when it comes to its quality control. Just remember that you should not put this item into the dishwasher because it’s not dishwasher safe.