How to Sharpen a Knife with a Honing Rod – How It Works

The knives come with sharp edges when they come from the factory but they get dull with the passage of time. The cutting again and again bends the microscopic piece of blade and it becomes hard to push it through the food. 

These things have a negative impact on users. The sharpening steel also called honing rod comes with most of the knives sets but its work is not sharpening a knife but it hone the edges of slightly dull blade. Grinding the blade with steel resharpens the edge so you don’t have to sharpen as often.

How Honing Rod Works

A honing rod is slightly inaccurate because the steel “corrects” or “hones” the edge but doesn’t actually sharpen it. It can help return the blade to its original state by smoothing the edge. But besides all these things, still many chefs think that proper honing requires very little pressure. 

You can hear harsh rasping noise during work with steel and it shows too much pressure is being applied. A silent ring is a sign that the proper stroke is being used, like a feather. Don’t knock the knife against the finger guard as it can damage the edge. The most important thing is the angle between blade and steel that would be 15 degrees. 

The dull knife requires a few light strokes on steel to correct their edges and retain the sharpness. Actually, when slicing through gristly meat, boney chicken, or other tough foods, an occasional swipe of the steel may be called for.

How to Tell If Your Knife is Sharp

To find out if your knife needs a sharpening or not, you can try a paper test. Grab a single sheet of paper and place the heel of the blade at the top of the paper and start to slice it down. If it is easily cut then it would be great but if the knife fails to slice cleanly then hone it and try it again but still it fails then you need to sharpen your knife.

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How to Use Honing Rod

Even though the honing process can be done in any number of positions. The following method will help you to maintain the angle of the knife properly and it will be quite safe as the blade will not move toward your hand or body. While doing all this motion, make sure you are working at the angle of 15 degree between the blade and steel.

Step1: For safety use, hold the honing rod vertically with the end firmly planted on the counter. Now place the heel of the blade on the top of the steel and point the top corner of the knife slightly upwards. Hold the blade at a 15-degree angle to the steel.

Step 2: In this you need to maintain the light pressure and 15 degree angle between blade and steel, slide the blade down the length of steel in extensive motion, drag the knife toward your body so that your middle blade is in contact with middle steel.

Step3: Complete the motion by passing the knob of blade over the bottom of steel. Repeat the same motion on the opposite side of the blade. You can repeat it 4 to 5 times on each side of the blade to realign the edges.


  • Have a great length for sharpening the knife.
  • No threat of slippery and prevents you from accidents.
  • Finer grain to refine and hone the blade more than creating a new edge by over-sharpening it.


  • Need a 12” rod for 8” knife
  • Not good for highly dull knives only provide fine grits
  • Come with a slight spot at the end which does not lay as flat as you like for security.

Best Rod for Knife Sharpening

Now you have a better idea regarding how to use sharpening steel rod, we also suggest you to wusthof 10” sharpening steel. You should start with a 10 inches rod because it allows you to use any type of knife that is normally used in home kitchens from paring to chef’s knife. 

It is a nice one for beginners due to its quality handle and no chances of slippery and magnetic fine-grit steel that attracts any metal fibers, so it won’t end up in your components.

Alternative ways:

1- Sharpen knife with whetstone

2- Sharpen knife with dremel tool

3- Sharpen knife with a sharpener

Frequently Asked Questions

What Metal Rod is Used for Sharpening Knives ?

Honing steel rod also known as sharpening steel, wheat steel, sharpening rod, chef’s steel, diamond steel is used to restore the sharpness of blade edges.

Do You Push or Pull When Sharpening a Knife ?

Push those points with your fingers which one you want to sharpen. While keeping the angle and dragging the point with your fingers, stroke the blade continually until it does not reach the other edge of the whetstone and then pull back the blade until it reaches out to the other end of the whetstone.

Is Sharpening Rod Enough ?

Using a sharpening rod is good enough for realigning the edges which helps you to maintain the sharpness of your knife but it cannot take the place of a sharpening tool.

Does Sharpening a Knife Ruin It ?

No, oversharpening will ruin the blade, there is a point where the knife did not need sharpening anymore. If you continue to do it with whetstone or steel then you will be shaving off the blade itself and shortening the knife’s life duration.


A sharpening steel rod is a good tool for maintaining the sharpness of your kitchen knives. Kitchen knives are widely used for cooking, preparing and handling ingredients and no one wants to cause an accident by putting too much force on the knife or slipping. Higher safety is possible with honing steel on hand. With a little practice, you should be able to sharpen a steel rod in your normal cooking activities.

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