Sharpening vs Honing: What’s the Difference

Oct 24, 2017 | Blog

Not many people out there realize that honing and sharpening are two different things. It’s something that’s not right up to everybody’s alley. As such, they could be seen as brothers from the same mother, but they aren’t the same thing. Keep in mind, the edge of a knife is formulated from many microscopic teeth. They need constant sharpening to stay in top shape. To set the records straight, any half-ass effort can ruin the knife for good. Without the right tools in one’s arsenal, a sharp knife can go dull within no time. This is where honing and sharpening tool can prove to be great rescue heroes.

Promising as they look, every time we put our knife to use, it loses its sharpness. Honing simply means that it keeps a sharp knife sharp. It’s more of a maintenance tool. On the other hand, a sharpening tool resets the edge of a knife and gives new life to the knife. So, the geometry of the knife can change a bit after sharpening. On the other hand, a knife will look almost the same as before after going through the process of honing. Of course, it will be sharper though. Ideally speaking, you should be honing your daily-use knife at least a few times in a week. You can also hone your knife once in every few hours if it’s put to extensive use. Basically, you want to hone your knife on a regular basis, if you use your knife a lot in the kitchen. This will help maintain the sharpness of the knife.

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Eventually though, you will lose the edge of the knife. To put a new edge on the knife, you can make use of the sharpening tool because that’s when honing the knife won’t be of much help. Basically, when the knife gets too bad, you will have to sharpen it and not hone it. Sharpening would involve removing quite a bit of metal from the knife to make it sharper again. When you are honing a knife, you are taking a knife that’s already sharp and just refining the edge back to its original state. You are simply removing the imperfections on the edge by honing it to make the knife cut better than before. So, you may not be taking any metal off the knife while honing it.

How do you know really know when you should be honing or sharpening your knife? Well, the answer is hidden in the holy books. Just kidding! There isn’t any secret to it. The answer is rather simple and known to a lot of folks out there. For your information, here’s when you can tell that your knife needs a bit of poke to get back to life. If your knife isn’t going through the food without any effort, you should know that it needs a little bit of touch up, if not more. In other words, if your knife isn’t working like a breeze, you should realize that it’s not as sharp as it used to be.

As such, dull knives can also work, but you have to involve a bit of patience and elbow grease with them. Yes, you will have to force your way through the food. So, to get the best results from the investment on your knife, you will need to keep them sharp at all times. Both honing and sharpening are simple to conduct. It’s all about maintaining the correct angle with these tools so that you can sharpen your knife to perfection and with great ease. With a wrong angle, you might not get desirable results. So, the angle is the real key with both these tools. The right angle for honing steel is around 20 to 30 degrees.

It’s advisable not to try crazy things while honing or sharpening because one’s fingers could be at easy risk over here. Early practitioners will require some time to learn how to hone or sharpen the knife properly. Yes, both of them have a tad bit of learning curve involved. If you are not proficient at such tasks, it’s better off to take your knife to a professional for sharpening to avoid the risk of injuries. After all, not everyone out there is expected to a knife nut. The majority of us simply own a knife or two. So, we don’t want to be bothered with honing or sharpening. That being said, it’s important to know the difference between the two so that one knows when to hone the knife and when to sharpen the knife. As you should be able to tell by now, there is a difference between the two.

At the end of it, all knives go dull. Even if you get the best Japanese knife for yourself, it’s bound to go dull sooner or later. Same goes for serrated knives, which have their own process. Therefore, it pays to touch on this information. We are not looking to make you an overnight expert on this subject, but the difference between a sharp and a dull knife can be like night and day. When the knife blades are sharp, kitchen work can be so much fun. It becomes easier to use the knife, and the cuts come out great as well. Better yet, it automatically fastens the pace of work in the kitchen. Somehow everything seems to be in order when the knives are working great.

On the other hand, a dull knife can easily rob the elegant smile on your face and replace it with frustrating frowns. In a nutshell, cutting and chopping won’t prove to be a pain in the butt when your knives are acting normal. So, if you want your knife to be as sharp as it was when it left the showroom, honing and sharpening is the way to go. You will be able to sharpen your knife with these gateways at the comforts of your home with no fuss at all. They always work as long as you know how to use them right. Hopefully, all the information above has helped you to get through the haze and come out on the other side better equipped with the difference between honing and sharpening.

Billy StewartBilly Stewart

Founder of

My dad is a true mans man, and has owned a number of grills. Ranging from gas to charcoal. Growing up with him allowed me to see what different types of rubs, spices, brines, etc went into making the best BBQ. Although my dad was a truck driver, and I had a degree in Information Technology I knew that I wanted to do something about grilling and our recipes.  That’s where Barbeque Smoked comes in.


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