What is the difference between sharpening a knife and honing a knife?

What is the difference between sharpening a knife and honing a knife?

November 14, 2020

There is a difference between honing a knife and sharpening a knife and I hope I can explain the difference.   

    When it comes to explaining the difference, there is a little science that is involved. So, if you were to look at a knife underneath a microscope, you will see essentially what is a bunch of “teeth” that are going in different directions. When you sharpen a knife, essentially what you are doing is taking part of the metal away and making those “teeth” all line up in the same direction and making them razor sharp.  

    The difference with honing is that all you are doing is aligning the teeth, but you are not taking any of the steel away. This means that every time you hone your knife, you are making sure the edge stays straight and sharp. With this, add longevity in between the sharpenings. I always hone my knife prior to use.

    The best way to hone your knife is with a honing steel. As I mentioned in my previous article, I bought a set a knives that came with one. The best way to do this is by honing it at about a 22° angle. Start by getting your honing steel and placing it at a 90° angle to your cutting board. Put your knife perpendicular to the steel or parallel to the cutting block. Cut that angle in half which gives you a 45° angle. Cut that in half once again now you have a 22° angle.  

Most knives are sharpened between 15° and 22°, so as long as you stay within that range, you cannot go wrong.  

At this point, slide your knife along the honing steel 2-3 times per side and you will be good to go. If you have any questions, feel free to comment or contact us.

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