Honing can be a bit confusing with sharpening. When you hone your knife, you don’t actually make it any sharper, but maintains the sharp edges of the blade. Regular honing keeps your knife sharp by removing nicks, dents and aligning the blade to be straightedge. Your knife now works efficiently and you get the most out of it.
Sharpening your knife is a different process. When you sharpen, you grind away metals to create a new razor sharp edge. You can bring your dull knife to a kitchen shop where a professional can do the job for a minimum amount. An expert knows how to angle and sharpen the edge with precision. However if you want to do it by yourself, then you can use a whetstone, but this requires skills and techniques. Another option is to use an electric or manual sharpener.
HOW TO HONE YOUR KITCHEN KNIFE USING A CERAMIC ROD
For daily honing of your knife you can use a fine-grit ceramic rod, a long rounded piece of material with ridges. The fine ridges along its length straighten and align your knife without removing particles from it. If you have a 10-inch knife, the recommended length of the rod should be 2 inches longer. There are different brands and models of 12 inch fine-grit ceramic rod but choose a high quality one. Below are steps on how to hone your knife with a ceramic rod:
- Hold the handle of the rod vertically. For first-timers, this is the easiest grip.
- Plant the tip on a surface that won’t cause it to slide. A cutting board would be fine or you can put a dishtowel on the countertop.
- Place the heel or base of the knife against the top of the rod at an angle of 15° to 20°.
- Draw the knife down its length while keeping a light pressure and constant angle. Pull smoothly in such a way that the blade is in contact with the length of the rod from the heel to the tip of the knife. Don’t let the tip of the knife slide off the edge of the rod.
- Switch to the other side and start the same process.
- Repeat alternately 3 to 4 times on each side. Don’t overdo it.
- Wash the blade under hot running water to remove metal dust, wipe dry including the handle and store.
HOW TO SHARPEN YOUR KITCHEN KNIFE USING A WHETSTONE
Whetstone has two different sides: coarse-grit and fine-grit. The coarse side is to grind away rough edges during the pre-sharpening stage. The fine side polishes the edge and gives the knife its sharpness, the finer the grit the finer the edge. Using a whetstone can be a tricky business, either you will end up with a sharp knife or the same dull knife. If you’re using a water base whetstone, submerge first in water for 5 to 10 minutes or until no more bubbles appear on the surface. Continue to apply water while sharpening. Below are steps on how to sharpen your knife with a whetstone:
- Place whetstone coarse side up on a slip-resistant base or a wooden cutting board with groove. Or you can use a damp towel underneath to prevent it from slipping.
- Hold the knife by the handle, the edge against the stone at an angle of 15° to 20°. Stabilize the blade with your other hand.
- With light pressure and constant angle, move the blade back and forth (away from and towards you) across the entire stone. Start at the tip, pull the blade through the middle down to the base.
- Turn the knife and work the other side.
- Repeat alternately ten times or as necessary.
- Turn the whetstone and use the fine-grit side. Repeat the process as above.
- Wash under hot running water, wipe dry including the handle and store.