How to Use a Honing Steel (You Can Slice and Dice Like a Pro Chef!)

Having a sharp knife is VERY important because it makes it easier for you to cut (plus it makes it safer)

Your kitchen knives should be sharpened at least six times each year.

To do this, you’ll need to use some sort of knife sharpener.

Dull and blunt knives can pose a risk.

This is because users will often have to compensate for the bluntness by using unnecessary extra force to slice and dice through things.

This can be dangerous because the dull knife blade can end up slipping off the food item. And you’ll increase the chance of you cutting your hand instead.

With a sharp knife-edge, you can easily slice through things cleanly just by applying very light pressure.

Hence, if safer to use a knife that has a sharp edge, rather than a blunt one.

how to use a honing steel

What Is a Honing Steel?

A honing steel is essentially a knife sharpener rod. It looks like a steel rod that’s attached to a chunky handle.

And it’s an essential knife-sharpening tool that every kitchen should be present in every kitchen.

It’s very different from a typical knife sharpening block. However, both of these make sure that your knife will always have a sharp blade.

They’re also used by professional chefs all the time to maintain the sharpness of knives in their kitchens. 

While a whetstone knife sharpening block is the best thing to use when sharpening your knives, it’s not very convenient to use.

This is because it requires you to wet its surface and run your knife along with it many times at a 15 – 20 degree angle. 

A honing steel is a much more portable, and it’s mainly used to refine the edge of your knife in between major sharpening sessions. 

using honing steel

What Is the Correct Method for Sharpening Knives?

The most important thing is to hone your carving knives at the correct angle. If you do it incorrectly, let’s say your angle is too wide, then you’ll do more damage than good. Instead of sharpening your kitchen knife, you’ll dull it even more.

You may have seen professionals — who sharpen their professional knives all the time — hold both the honing steel and the knife right in front of them and sharpen it that way.

But this requires years of practice and a lot of skill. Beginners who attempt to use a honing sharpening steel rod in this fashion put themselves at risk of hurting themselves quite badly.

The safest way to sharpen your steel knife with this tool is;

  1.  Place the rod of steel vertically on top of a wooden cutting board. The tip should be pressed firmly onto the wooden flat surface with medium pressure. And you should also be maintaining a firm hold on the honing steel’s firm-grip handle.

  2. Next, align the heel of your knife so that it’s in contact with the very top of your honing steel. Then proceed to adjust it so that it’s touching the rod at an approximate 20-degree angle.

  3. If you’re having trouble gauging this approximate 15-20 degree angle, then start at a 90-degree angle. You’ll then want to halve that, so you’re left with a 45-degree angle. From there, just halve it again, and your knife should now be at a 22½-degree angle. This angle will work just fine too.

  4. After that, you’ll want to keep it at that constant angle. And you should just run the length of the knife down the entire rod. Make sure that you’re applying just a slight amount of pressure. You also don’t want to rush this process. Take your time, and just make soft and consistent strokes.

  5. Each side of the knife should receive about five strokes. You don’t want to overdo the sharpening process.

Is a Honing Steel Better Than a Knife Sharpening Block?

No, a honing steel rod is not better than a knife-sharpening block. Nor can it replace your knife sharpening block.

This steel rod was invented to perform regular daily maintenance.

It’s just meant to keep your knives sharp in between full-on knife sharpening sessions with an actual sharpening block.

A honing steel rod also does not function as a traditional sharpening block. It does not ‘shave’ off any metal filings.

Instead, it just smooths out any ragged edges or bumps that may have formed on your knife’s cutting edge because of daily use.

sharpening bock

Our 3 Best Tips for Sharpening Knives

Lastly, we want to leave you with some of our best tips for maintaining your knife’s sharp edge.

  • There’s a simple way that you can check whether you’ve sharpened your knives properly or not. 

    Start by holding a piece of paper right in front of you and running your blade right down and through the sheet. If the sharpened blade produces a clean-cut, then you’ve done a good job.
  • You should always wash the cutting surface of your knives after you’ve sharpened them.

    While honing steel isn’t supposed to shave off bits of your knife’s blade, you don’t want to risk consuming any metal filings.
  • For safety purposes, you should always use a honing steel rod that is longer than the knife you’re sharpening.

    For example, if you’re working with a 10-inch knife, then the rod shouldn’t be shorter than that length.

We hope that you found our article on how you should use honing steel to be helpful.

Remember that it’s very important that you keep your knives sharp at all times because it can reduce the chances of cutting mishaps in the kitchen.

Trust us, once you’ve used a properly sharpened knife you won’t be able to go back to working with blunt knives. 

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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