How to Use the Honing Steel That Comes With Your Knife Set
An easy and essential step to keep your knives in tip-top shape
If there’s a knife block set on your counter, congrats—you’re officially an adult. But have you ever used the honing steel that came with it as anything other than a lightsaber prop? If not, your kitchen knives are probably not performing as well as they should.
If your knife set didn’t come with a honing steel, you can buy one for $40 to $100 (try Amazon, Home Depot, Target, or Sur La Table). Look for one that’s at least 9 inches long with fine consistent grooves along the rod. It should feel smooth, not rough.
Our three-step guide might not have you honing with the alacrity of Gordon Ramsay, but it will definitely help keep the blades in your knife block sharp and might even make you confident enough to duet with him on TikTok.
Step 1: Find the Right Angle
Honing at the correct angle is key: If the angle is too wide, you’ll actually dull the blade.
Hold the handle of the honing steel with your non-dominant hand and plant the tip straight down onto a cutting board.
Gently place the heel of the knife against the top of the honing steel at an approximate 20-degree angle. A trick for gauging the correct angle is to hold your knife perpendicular to the honing steel, then reduce that angle by half, which is about a 45-degree angle, then reduce the angle by half again.
Step 2: Hone the Blade
Maintaining that angle, draw the knife down the full length of the honing steel while applying light pressure and pulling across the full length of the knife blade, until the tip of the knife and the tip of the honing steel meet.
Be sure to use gentle, steady strokes: Blunt force and speed can damage the knife’s edge. Repeat with both sides until the blade is honed, about three to five strokes per side.
Step 3: Check the Knife Edge
Your knife should now be perfectly honed.
To check, grab a sheet of paper and try to slice through it top to bottom. A sharp knife will slice the paper cleanly, without bending the edge down first or shredding it. If that still happens after repeated honing, it’s time to sharpen the knife.