Honing vs. Sharpening: Know the Difference!

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Honing vs. Sharpening – One of the best knife usage tips is to retain the sharpness of the blade so that it functions smoothly. So, it is essential to sharpen or hone a knife. However, is sharpening equivalent to honing? Or, is it so that there is a difference?

Well, the truth is that both the processes differ from each other. While the terms honing and sharpening are used in place of one another, there is a vital distinction between the two. This point of distinction is such that you are not supposed to ignore it while maintaining knives in the kitchen or a toolset.

honing vs. sharpening knife

There are conditions that govern when to sharpen or hone the knife. Does a dull knife need sharpening? Will honing be ideal for a bent knife? Let’s check out by analyzing honing vs. sharpening.

Honing vs. Sharpening: When to Do What

An unavoidable result of using a knife is a dull edge, which is slim metal facing much negative impact due to daily use. After some time, it becomes evident what the edge of the blade is not cutting well as it initially used to.

However, at a subtle level, some different things tend to occur with the edge. For example, the edge is worn after a prolonged use, which is seen due to a spherical tip. Such an edge is still working but not as accurately or quickly as before.

Another outcome can be small dents on the edge. They might be very minute to be seen but they come in the way of cutting. In both the cases, you will choose to sharpen the knife.

This is because sharpening involves using a coarse or rough stone to grind the blade’s metal down at an accurate angle to discard a small amount of metal. This helps in restoring the original sharpness, which is similar to sharpening a pencil.

However, quite often, sharpening happens in excess quantity. In daily use, the slim edge is capable of folding over just as a paper piece. Thus, its sharpest part gets pushed to stay away from the food. With the feeling of dullness, the folded edge can tear after some time only to make the edge duller.

See also: Chicago Cutlery

Luckily, this problem is solvable with honing. Using a rod and not sharpening steel, honing involves softly sliding the blade at an angle by the side of steel, which is equivalent to that of the original edge. This process does not discard any metal unlike sharpening but softens the folded part.

As a result, the folded edge gets back to its original position; it becomes straight again. This also helps in regaining the cutting edge and increases the blade’s overall lifespan.

Honing vs. Sharpening: Which Tools and how Frequently

Sharpening is usually done using a whetstone, a water stone, or an electric sharpener. On the other hand, honing is done with a honing steel. Sharpening is usually performed less frequent than honing. However, honing is frequently done, perhaps after each use.

Related: Best Sharpening Stone


If a blade is good, use honing to make it the best. In case it is rough, sharpen it to bring it to par.

See also: Best Electric Knife Sharpener