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Honing vs Sharpening: Which Is the Best Choice for My Knife?

Are you confused between honing vs sharpening? One thing is for sure though. They are both essential for your kitchen knife’s health. After all, chopping the ingredients like meat and vegetables is blissful when you have a sharp-edged knife. 

So, when do you know if the edge of the knife needs honing or sharpening?

Honing vs sharpening varies in a way of their performance on your knife. Sharpening essentially removes material that blocks the edge, making it sharp. In contrast to that, honing maintains the knife’s shape as it realigns the edge back to the center.

Honing and sharpening are the simple solution for the best condition of your knife. Yet, you can see that your knife will get dull again with continuous use for different reasons.

Before we dive into many ways to sharpen or hone your knife, let’s see how the blade gets dull first.

Why knives get dull

Dullness in your knife’s edge can happen because of several reasons. 

Placing it in the utensils drawer can harm your finger with its edge. Additionally, your knife is also vulnerable to hits and scratches as you pick them up. So, in the end, it’s best to have a designated place where you can store your knife.

a block of knives

Another reason why your knife gets dull is because of putting them in the dishwasher. Your knife receives damage by getting it mashed or chipped with other utensils. Mixing your knife in the dishwasher will make the knife yield to overheating.

your knife is still a metal that corrodes with water and heat.

Finally, the blade loses its bite when you keep it away from its regular sharpening. The desired sharpening for the knife goes in an eight-week to 12-week rotation, your knife needs sharpening or honing to keep its sharpness.

Honing vs sharpening: what’s the difference?

You have to use and do the two separate processes to keep your knife in shape. So what is the difference between honing and sharpening? Let’s discuss them one by one.

Honing maximizes your knife’s durability and sharpness. Sharpening removes material that clings as you cut your ingredients. 
Honing is good for keeping the cutting edge of the knife in the center. The act of sharpening is not as frequent as honing. 

Different tools required

Honing and sharpening need different tools to execute the process. In sharpening, you can use a sharpening stone, and an electric knife sharpener. These tools do their jobs in keeping your knife free of dulling materials.

Meanwhile, the only tool required in honing is a honing rod. You can choose either steel, diamond honing rod, or ceramic one.

To learn more about the tools one by one, keep on reading.

Different purposes

The sharpening stone covers more tools than a mere knife. Sharpening stones come with different grits. The grits or the abrasiveness of your whetstone cover the need for your blades. In that way, you can select the degree depending on your sharpening skills and knife needs.

Different outcomes

Sharpening your knife gives your edge new bites due to the removal of the material. Honing, on the other hand, aligns the blade to make the knife sharp.

Different frequencies of use

You can only re-sharpen the knife once every four months. The reason is that it will cause even more damage to the knife’s edge or blade. 

Honing, as contrasted to sharpening, can help your knife look sharper over time if you use it often. It’s also an option to hone the knife after three or four uses, depending on if you feel like the blades need some realignment once again. 

Sharpening your knife 

sharpening a knife

The thing about sharpening your kitchen knife is that you can do it seldom and only when you need to. Let’s say that your knife does some resharpening for at least two to four months, depending on the tool that you are using to effectively do its job. 

Are you caught in the middle in selecting the appropriate tool to use? Why not check which is better between whetstone vs sharpener

The most common tools to use in sharpening a knife are:

  • Sharpening stone 
  • Electric/manual knife sharpener

If you already have them and know what to do, keep reading to have a quick refresher. Yet, if you’re new to these terms, this is your lucky day! You can now have sharper insights in sharpening your kitchen or your high-quality chef’s knife.

Whetstone or sharpening stone

Whetstones are one of the most popular options you can look for when choosing a knife sharpener. These stones set the standards. Based on the coarseness your knife need, you can choose the right grit of whetstone for sharpening.

Grit between 1000 to 3000 is ideal for everyday kitchen knives. The kinds can also be referred to as a medium stone. Under 1000 grit coarse stone is great for damaged blades, while fine stones that are higher than 4000 grit are mainly used to polishing the knife.

The types of whetstone varies. Water stone is the most popular (also practical) choice for most of the chefs. Check out all types of whetstone types in this guide.

It takes practice as well as patience to sharpen a knife with whetstone, but once you mastered the art of sharpening with whetstone, you’ll find peace in the process. It can be a fun activity!

Electric knife sharpener

The next knife sharpener that we’ll tackle in this post is the electric knife sharpener. This kind of sharpener works well with the ones who need to save time sharpening their knives. But how do you exactly use a knife sharpener

Beginners and knife enthusiasts can enjoy the advantages found in electric knife sharpeners. People with less experience in sharpening a knife spend less time doing the process.

Aside from that advantage, it keeps up the handles of the edge and the knife’s blade well.

Still, there is a downside to using one. The heat of the electric knife sharpener can superheat the blades. It could receive the usual damage like the effects when you put the knife in the dishwasher.

Sharpening system

Usually, the sharpening system is a kit that comes in a pocket that you can carry anywhere. The kit comes in with different honing or sharpening tools that are fitting on the pocket with a sharpening lubricant.  

Other methods

Keeping your knife is essential so it is best if you know other methods to still perform it even though you don’t have the tools stated above. In fact, there are some ways to sharpen your knife without a sharpener

  • Using a razor strop. For a quick polishing of your blade, razor strop is advisable to use. Stropping is the same as honing or sharpening. You will need to set the blade at a specific angle. However, note that instead of pushing the edge inward, the process of stropping is inclined on pulling to remove the material.
  • Going to a professional. They already have the skills and knowledge in sharpening the knife. Going to a professional sharpening shop once in a while can help you make your knife sharp and durable. 

Honing your knife

Using a honing stone after sharpening your knife is the next step. In contrast to the previous procedure, honing a blade is necessary after each usage. But, why should you hone a knife?  

It keeps the sharpness of the knife longer, though it does not necessarily sharpen the knife by rubbing against it repeatedly.

But before you can slide into the honing process, you must locate the ideal honing rod for your needs first.

Choosing the right honing rod for you

To meet the honing needs, these are the following considerations:

  • Length
  • Material

The steel that you should get also covers the length of your knife blade. It is so that you can hone your most extended edges without getting specialized honing steel for it.

The longer honing rod is more convenient for you so that your knives will be on a uniform edge. It will give you ease because the sharpness of all your blades is the same as the others.

Honing rod materials can also vary. There are the ceramic ones that give the right abrasiveness your knife needs. Additionally, it also comes with grits, like when you use a whetstone.

Steps to hone the knife

Honing a knife

Keep your worries about honing the knife on the side. The process should be easy with your kitchen knives, or your selected blades are within reach. 

Here are the necessary steps in learning how to hone a knife.

Step 1. Prepare the knives

Nicks and chips are the ones your knife wants to go away from, especially now that you have sharpened your knife. Get your knives laid out on a clean surface where you can reach for them without hurting yourself.

The reason why it is like that is that some accidents happen. Your hand slips from the grip. That’s why if you are planning to hone all your knives together, you need to place them in the right place.

Once you lined out all the knives you intend to hone; it’s time to go on to step two: making the honing steel.

Step 2. Preparing the steel / rod

Get the honing steel and a bit of a damp dish towel so that the honing rod won’t slip and can hold it in place.

Moreover, if you’re sharpening with steel or a rod, make sure you’re at ease by holding it in the proper manner.

Step 3. Getting the appropriate angle for your knife

Holding your knife at the appropriate angle will give you the best result. Tilt the knife around 20 degrees, keep the blade from the top of the rod, and drag it down as smooth as possible.

As you drag the knife down on the rod, ensure that the knife’s tip and heel are also taken care of. By doing it, you can make your blade honed to all the parts of the knife.

Step 4. Drag the knife in alternating sides

The flow of your knife honing should be fine when you do it on alternating sides. Drag the knife on the alternating side to cover the front and the backside of the knife’s blade.

You’re not playing with the blade as you hone it, but you may appear to be having fun in a skillful way.

Step 5. Repeat

You will need to repeat honing the knife again to achieve the alignment that your knife blade needs. 

Some skills and tips in honing the knife

Honing the knife comes in with a skill that develops over time. It can be difficult doing it at first due to the struggle in holding both the knife and the rod. But once you get a hang of it, you can lose the damp towel and grip it horizontally instead. It’s also noteworthy that different kind of kitchen knives require different angles for sharpening.

What should you do to prevent the knife from getting dull?

Prevent kitchen knives from getting dull

Preventive measures are necessary after learning about the differences between honing vs. sharpening. These two methods can maintain your knife sharp, but they can also keep it from dulling.

The knife can get dull again when you use it often without doing the upkeep it needs. To counter the problem, follow these suggestions to keep your blades sharp.

  • Drying your knives after every use. You can wipe it clean with a clean cloth before storing it.
  • Chop on a wooden surface. Invest in a solid chopping board to avoid chipped and scratched kitchen or chef’s knives.
  • Keep your knives polished every after use. You already know the drill. Sharpen and hone your knives when it feels like your blades need them.
  • Store the knives in the right place.


Like the body, a knife needs to be in superb condition to operate. Your knife requires some honing and sharpening to cut through the steaks you need in a porterhouse recipe.

Your handmade chef’s knife or any knife should go through a sharpening routine every eight weeks, or you can also look for professional sharpening. But to keep the edge aligned and sharp enough to use, honing would do wonders for you.

Now that you know about honing vs. sharpening, we encourage you to check out the excellent handmade knives HDMD has in store for you. Visit our selection of high-quality knives today.

From the shop

HDMD™ - Premium Whetstone

HDMD™ - Premium Whetstone

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