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Oct 6, 2009 11:08 AM

Counter productive

Of late I have taken to honing my knives on the smooth rounded edge of my granite counters. It seems to work just as well as a sharpener.

Any reason I should desist from this practice?

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  1. I'm trying to think of any reason that would be a major problem and I can't come up with any. Sort of. Your counter is probably acting as somewhere between a graphite honing rod and a smooth steel - mildly abrasive with a somewhat uneven grain. Hard to guess just how abrasive.

    Here goes for warnings:
    1) If your counter's edge isn't completely smooth, you could take a chunk out of your edge, or at least roll the hell out of it. Give the spot you're about to use a good feel and wipe down before honing. A chip out of the granite or some large stuck-on grit could mean bad news. It might be significantly harder to regulate the quality of your counters than it is to regulate the quality of a single smallish honing rod.
    2) A rounded edge of a counter is NOT a substitute for an occasional trip to the whetstones, just as a graphite honing rod is not a substitute either. After enough "sharpenings" on your counter, your bevel will be sloppy, your edge thick, your scratch pattern uneven, etc.
    3) I wouldn't use this for any knife that I also wouldn't use a graphite honing rod - this means ANY single beveled knife. Also any especially nice and expensive (and thin) Japanese or custom made double bevel knives.
    4) On the off chance - if you start to suspect that your counter top is aggressively abrasive - if you feel metal dust on the surface after just a couple passes or notice the edge reprofiling before your eyes - i wouldn't use use the surface at all, just as i wouldn't use a very coarse honing rod. Aggressive abrasion is for flat, well controlled surfaces. I doubt your countertop is all that aggressive though.

    Good luck. Hope I didn't miss anything big.

    7 Replies
    1. re: cowboyardee

      Pretty good reply and you seemed to have covered the bases.

      The counter edge is smooth and polished (and rounded). I can feel no imperfections at all on the edge. It certainly does not feel abrasive.

      1. re: Paulustrious

        Probably just works like a smooth steel or glass honing rod then - aligning the edge and glazing the steel a bit. I see no problem with using it as such, besides the concerns I already listed. I wouldn't be surprised if it did have some almost negligible abrasive characteristics, even though it feels smooth. I could be wrong though.

        If you're still curious or concerned, you could ask over at
        There are people there who know a good deal more than I do.

        1. re: cowboyardee

          There is no reason that you have to use a metal honing rod to hone. You can hone with many thing. I have honed with my chopping block. However, a honing rod has the advantage of mobility. You can carry your honing rod to your friend house or camping trip. You cannot bring a 40 lb chopping block around and certainly not your granite counter.

          I agree with cowboy that there is no major reason why you cannot keep on doing what you are doing. However, do keep an eye out for any imperfection on your granite. Unlike using a wooden chopping block to hone, granite is extremely hard.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            It's just so convenient. Half way through cutting up some veg or whatever, just swipe it a couple of time on the counter. I suspect in order to be abrasive particles have to be dislodged from the 'stone'.

            The knife is Japanese

            1. re: Paulustrious

              Some people hone their knives on the spines of another knife due to that same convenience factor. Works fine, in most cases.

              What kind of Japanese knife is it?

              Also, particles do not have to be dislodged from the granite for it to be abrasive. The fact that this is what happens with most effective abrasives is beside the point. A metal file is abrasive, yet you don't lose abrasive particles from it. To be abrasive It just has to abrade - remove material from your knife by scratching.

              1. re: cowboyardee


                I think what Paul meant is that in order for granite surface be abrasive, the granite has to lose some particles so the surface becomes rougher. A smooth surface of granite may be hard, but it will not be abrasive like sandpaper or sharpening stone. Once the surface is rough up then there is micro-sharp edges on the surface and then it can really start to do damages.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  Shun - but I'm only risking one of a set. I'll tell you what happens after a couple of months. So far, it seems to do a better job than the steel.