Maintain Your Knives with A Honing Steel

Discover the everyday ease and convenience of a honing steel. This useful kitchen tool may make its first appearance in your home when you select or receive a new knife set, but once you see how sharp it keeps your knives, you'll be thrilled to have one. Select a single steel to go with new knives, to assign to a special knife from a legacy brand or to pair with a set of knives that you've curated over the years.

What Is a Honing Steel?

A honing steel or sharpening steel is an elongated rod made of stainless steel--or in some luxurious instances, diamond-coated steel--that you use to sharpen your knives.

  • The rod is long, slim and textured to allow sharpening of blades to occur in the air, using a unique motion of wiping the blade over the rod.
  • A handle is at the base of the rod. The handle is ergonomic and easy to grasp so that you can hold it firmly while you hone your blade.
  • Honing steels aren't meant to replace manual or electric knife sharpeners. Rather, they're a quick care step.
  • Since the steel is meant to be used frequently, keep it in a nearby drawer or hook and devote a few minutes to using it before cooking or after using and cleaning your knives.
  • Some steels may include a ring so that you can hang it easily.

How Do I Use My Sharpening Steel?

Using your steel is a great way to feel connected to the entire culinary process. Pull yours out before a big roast to prepare a carving knife for a strong first cut or when finishing up a series of garnishes with a paring knife.

  • Hold the rod point down in your non-dominant hand, so that the tip rests on a surface, like a counter or cutting board.
  • Hold the knife in the other hand and start honing from the base or heel of the knife toward the tip.
  • Sharpen at approximately a 15-degree angle between knife and steel for Western knives. For Eastern knives, figure on an approximately 10-degree angle.
  • Pull the blade towards you on the downstroke, so the top of the knife is at the bottom of the steel when the stroke is complete.
  • Repeat on the other side of the knife blade as needed. Clean the knife and wipe it dry immediately after honing.

Some honing steels make the job even easier by including guides with the rod. Choose the one that best suits your needs, usually one that you know you'll enjoy using daily.

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