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Oct 22, 2008 05:57 PM

honing steels? does brand matter? any recs?

I've recently collected some knives but need a honing steel- since my knives are not all one brand- i assume that it doesn't matter that I use say a henckels steel with a wusthof or forschner knife, correct?

that being said, does anyone have any recomendations for a good and inexpnsive steel? i'm not ready to actually sharpen myself just yet- but would love the imput on the steel.


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  1. Don't buy any grooved steels. Instead get a ceramic steel. They are not very expensive will be less aggressive on your edges, have a 1200 grit surface on average and in fact will lightly sharpen your edges. A groove steel will not just align your edge as many people say. Grooved will create micro serrations and create a toothiness that may feel sharp but will not last and is not what one strives when trying to form a very sharp edge. Sure they are used a lot in some restaurants but they are "quick and dirty". Some chefs who are into their knives will use whetstones on the job. If you just want to realign your edge you need a smooth glass or metal rod. Great if you have a super sharp edge and don't want to modify it other than realign. From your post I see you are not ready to jump into home sharpening so that's why I recommended the ceramic steel. It's in effect like using a spyderco sharpener


    Ceramic steel

    1. Honing steels don't sharpen, they merely 'true' the edge, straightening out that last hundredth of a millimeter.

      Don't buy an abrasive (diamond, ceramic) steel. Your steel shouldn't remove metal.

      Some people prefer the 'ridged' or rough hones, some prefer smooth hones. I have both, both are Henckels which I use with all my various knives. The rough one is newer, the smooth one is a vintage hard chromed one. For a hone, brand really doesn't matter, as long as it's fairly hard metal. Age doesn't matter. Size matters a little, longer knives will be easier to steel on a longer rod. Technique matters, I prefer to 'strop' the blade, others 'shave' the steel. Search for videos that show all the various honing methods, and see what suits you.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ThreeGigs

        A grooved steel will remove more metal than a ceramic. I don't argue that the smooth is the best for realigning or "truing" the edge.
        I also agree that a diamond steel is way too aggressive. But the myth continues that a grooved steel will only align the edge. This is certainly not true and how it removes metal is more destructive than a ceramic.

      2. thanks everyone- any recomendations for a smooth steel? there was a henckels one at amazon for about $15 will that be fine for my mostly wusthof and victorinox knives?

        also- do I hone serated knives as well? thanks again- this was all very helful.

        2 Replies
        1. re: qwerty78

          I'd go with an Idahone (ceramic). My understanding is that it's what ships with the (excellent) Edge Pro sharpeners.

          Scubadoo97 is right that grooved is the worst.

          Here's one purveyor for the Idahone:

          And there are only a few serrated knives that will sharpen/hone. Honestly I haven't fooled with any of them. I bought a MAC slicer b/c it's scalloped edge will sharpen, but I haven't needed to yet.

          1. re: qwerty78

            Just remember that the smooth steel will help keep your already sharp edge in alignment. As the edge rolls it looses cutting ability. The realignment puts the apex of the edge back were it belongs. Constant use will over time cause you to loose the sharp edge and sharpening will be needed. Good or bad the ceramic removes a little bit of metal and can resharpen an edge in the same was a stone will. As an example I have a Japanese high carbon knife that sometimes gets a stubborn wire edge, also known as a burr that is very hard to remove. In frustration I pulled out my ceramic rod from EdgePro and gave it a light pass down both sides. Under magnification I had not only removed the burr but put a very small microbevel on the knife. It cut beautifully. As micro chips developed on it's very thin edge I had to resharpen on the stones and at that time made sure I didn't develop such a tenacious burr. Japanese metals can create very stubborn burrs is not careful.

            This little narrative was just to highlight that a knife needs on going care for different reasons. No one tool can do it all but these days I rarely ever use a steel of any kind. If a knife is loosing it's sharpness, a couple of passes on a fine 8000grit stone will bring it back to life. If need be I drop back to a coarser stone and work up.

          2. I have 2 Fdr Dick steels. 1 that I carry in my traveling knife case and a double cut oval steel that I keep in my block.



            1. While surely not cheap, the best "steel" for your knives is this: While it's s special plastic, it's actually harder than your knife, INCLUDING Japanese style knives. You use it very lightly to realign the edge.

              3 Replies
              1. re: UnConundrum

                Isn't Pyrex a brand name for Borosilicate?

                1. re: scubadoo97

                  Dunno. I can tell you that these steels feel more like plastic where pyrex feels like glass. These rods are very light weight and you'd think the knife would be harder, but it's not.

                  1. re: UnConundrum

                    Pyrex is in fact a trade name for Borosilicate. Wonder why it's so light