March 8, 2021

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Around the House Products, Product Reviews & Coupon Bargains

Honing Rod: How and When to Use a Honing Rod and What to Consider Before Buying One


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A familiar scenario: You’re about to make an obscenely large amount of Broccoli Cheddar Soup With Cheesy Croutons, because the world is strange and you need a hug on the inside. So you whip out your trusty chef’s knife to make light work of those florets—only your knife is blunter than 2020. What’s a soup-seeker to do?

Your knife needs to be sharpened, and for the sake of convenience—soup waits for no one!—you might want to break out a honing rod. To be clear, honing is not the same thing as sharpening (more on that in a bit), but honing a dull knife is better than nothing and will get you back to the broc faster than you can say whetstone. Don’t let perfectly sharp get in the way of sharp enough! Don’t hack when you can hone!

Here’s what you need to about honing rods—what they are, when to use them, and which one to buy:

What in heck is a honing rod anyway?

It’s a kitchen tool that looks a bit like a less-menacing sword. Mounted on the handle is a rounded stick-like rod—typically made from steel, ceramic, or diamond-coated steel. They’re commonly used to straighten the edge of a knife as it’s gently dragged along the rod from heel to tip in a downward slicing motion. Swish, swish, swish!

How does honing work?

If you were to look at your knife blade under a very strong microscope, you’d notice the edge looks like a series of tiny teeth ( 😬)—which get knocked down and bent out of shape with regular use. Using a honing rod can realign that toothy edge, says test kitchen director Chris Morocco, which helps keep your knife feeling sharp, even as 232 Bleecker chef Suzanne Cupps reminds us, it “doesn’t take the place of sharpening it.”

So what’s the difference between honing and sharpening?

Sharpening your knife with the likes of a whetstone uses friction to remove some of the steel and create a new, sharper edge. A honing rod, on the other hand, maintains that sharpness—it offers a quick fix by realigning the existing edge.

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