How to Use a Sharpening Steel

Sharpening steels are one of the available choices for you to maintain your knives. Of course, you can use knife sharpeners or whetstone to do the same job. This article will focus on how to use a sharpening steel to keep your knives sharp. Before, let’s clear some confusion.

What is a Sharpening Steel?

As the name implies sharpening steel is a metal that helps you keep your kitchen knife be sharp, and avoid it wearing out.

Sharpening steels are used for removing a tiny layer of the knife-edge, in order to form a new sharp edge.

Generally, sharpening steels are made from diamonds or ceramic.

How to Use a Sharpening Steel

Sharpening Steel VS Honing Steel

We have to say sharpening steel is not honing steel, but most people don’t understand the difference between them and incorrectly think they are the same thing.

To make it simple and clear, honing steel is used to realign the blade edge to keep it sharp like before.

While sharpening steel is used for stripping the tiny edge of the blade away, and exposed to a totally new and sharp blade edge.

Sharpening VS Honing

We get to know the difference between sharpening steel and honing steel, we’ll let you more clear on sharpening and honing.

When it comes to dull knives, we need to know how knives get blunt. If the kitchen knives totally lost their edge or just no longer aligned properly due to long time use. You know, if the blade just lost alignment but still sharp will make you cut food unsmooth. Thus, just use the honing steel to get the alignment back. In another hand, if the knives lost their edge, then you need to sharpen them with sharpening steel to get a new sharp edge.

Ok, let’s make it clearer:

Sharpening: Sharpening is a process where tiny layers of the knife edge are ground and taken away to reveal a new, sharp edge. This job can be done by whetstone or knife sharpeners too.

Honing: Honing is a process that pushes the knife edge back to the center to correct it again in the proper position.  During the process, no need to shave off the blade layers.

How Often Should You Use Sharpening Steel and Honing Steel?

Normally, you can hone your knives often to make sure it is sharp each time when you use it. For example, you can do it once every three uses, some pro chefs even hone knives before each use. It doesn’t spend so much of your time, just slightly push it a few times is enough to keep your knife sharp.

In another hand, you can sharpen your knives so much less frequently than honing, it depends on how often you use your knife. For daily home cooks, just sharpen your knives once or twice a year is ok.

In a nutshell, if the knife just slightly unsmooth, honing it in the daily kitchen before you use it, no need to sharpen it frequently which will spend so much time.

Warm tips: Honing steel or sharpening steel is commonly used in stainless steel kitchen knives, if you own expensive Damascus kitchen knives, we recommend you use the whetstone instead. After all, whetstone is the best sharpening tool to some degree.

How to Use a Sharpening Steel to Sharpen Your Knife?

It’s easy to learn knife sharpening skills with sharpening steel, even though you’re a starter. Master it will put you in touch with your knives, which will give you a better relationship with the food, and just make cutting a pleasure, which just adds to the pleasure of cooking.

Step 1: Position the Steel

We suggest you put the steel in front of you on the cutting board or another suitable surface vertically. and anchor it. Hold the sharpening steel handle with your non-dominant hand, The guard at the top of the handle will protect you.

To prevent the knife from cutting you, please keep the honing steel arm’s length in front of you.

Step 2: Find the Proper Angle

Put my finger at the very back of the knife so that when you slide the knife into the steel, and hit that 12 to 20 degrees, you’ll pull the knife down in an arcing motion and then switch sides.

In general, the thinner knives like Japanese knife need 15° degrees angel, the thicker knives like German or Chinese knives need 20° degrees angel.

So, how to find 15 or 20 degree angle? Hold your knife at a 90 angle to the steel, then clarify that angle by half, which is about a 45-degree angle, do it again to find nearly 20 degrees angle.

Step 3: Sharpening your Knife

After you find the appropriate angle, maintaining that angle, move your blade across the knife from heel to tip along the full length of the honing steel. The first few strokes are with more pressure and then you lighten up until the very last couple of strokes. Generally, people apply light to medium pressure when steeling a knife. Do it 5 to 10 times depending on how blunt your knife is. Then, change to another side of the knife, do the same motion with the same number of strokes. Of course, you can alternate them so long as you hone them the same number of times.

Warm tips:

  • Keep the blade at a consistent angle to the steel;
  • Give each side the same number of strokes to maintain an even cutting edge;
  • Make sure to use gentle, steady strokes to hone the knife.

Step 4:Test Sharpness of Your Knife

After you done the job before, you need to test the sharpness of your blade. Get a thin paper and  try to slice through it top to bottom with your knife. Only the paper cut is cleanly without shredding papers, the knife becomes sharp again.

Step 5: Clean the Sharpening Steel

Wash the knife under running water, and then dry the blade with a soft cloth. To make it free from tiny steel shavings.

Finally, keep your sharpening steel well stored.

Some Honing Tips You Need to Know:

  1. When sharpening, move the blade instead of the steel.
  2. Hone the edge of the blade rather than the complete side of the blade to avoid putting scratches on your blade.
  3. Draw up the knives with slow even strokes to get better control of the knife.
  4. Be careful of your hand holding the steel, don’t hurt it when honing.

Our Pick of Best Sharpening Steel

Our Pick of Best Sharpening Steel

Letcase 10″ Diamond Sharpening Rod

This diamond sharpening rod is a high carbon stainless steel rod coated with diamond, lightweight and durable. Great for all types of knives, including chef’s knife, santoku knife, chopping knife, meat cleaver, paring knife, boning knife, bread knife, etc.

This 10 inches knife sharpening rod is designed to increase the sharpening surface ensure higher sharpening efficiency.

This diamond sharpening rob comes with an ergonomic handle that fits all hands, the ergonomically shaped plastic handle gives firm grip. Easy to use.

Remember: If you are washed with water, be sure to wipe the rod dry completely after washing and hang it in a cool place to air-dry; do not put the sharpener into the dishwasher.


A well-maintained knife blade will bring you years of cooking pleasure. After reading this article, you know something about caring for your knives. So, are you ready to the honing hero of the family kitchen?

Evan Riddle
I'm a cooking enthusiast, I enjoy making different dishes when I'm free. I've tried different recipes. And this blog is where I share my opinion on kitchen knives and cooking ideas.

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