I think we’ve been pretty consistent about how we feel about sharp knives — they’re awesome. They’re easy and safe to use, they make cooking way more fun, plain and simple! Always having a high-quality kitchen knife on hand that can hold a keen edge for a very long time is really what we’re all about here at Knifewear.
One key point that we always try to make clear is the real difference between “sharpening” a knife, and “honing” a knife. A lot of people will use these terms interchangeably, but they’re actually very different concepts. If you’ve ever shopped at Knifewear before, whether it was in one of our stores or online, you will know that we always strongly recommend that everyone gets a Ceramic Honing Rod to go along with their new knife. So much so, that we actually offer it for half price with the purchase of any Japanese kitchen knife! Let’s take a look at this tool and what it actually does.
Behold! The majestic ceramic honing rod in its natural habitat. We consider this tool to be an essential part of owning a knife. Think of it this way - everyone has a toothbrush, right? That’s just common sense. Brush your teeth twice a day, and they’ll stay in good shape. Everyone knows that! But that doesn’t mean that if you brush your teeth frequently, you never need to go to the dentist. The ceramic honing rod is the toothbrush for your knife. If you use this tool frequently and correctly, you’ll have a sharp knife for longer in between trips to the dentist — or in this case, the sharpening stones. Here’s how it’s used:
By running your knife along the rod frequently and correctly, you’re going to keep the edge on your knife nice and keen for a much longer time. Everyone knows that preventative maintenance is better than waiting for something to break before you fix it. And before you nerds out there ask -our ceramic rods cannot be graded by grit. They are made using abrasive-free ceramic, thus the abrasive concentration cannot be quantified. They work simply by being very hard. Very cool!
But what about the dentist? Well, lucky for you, getting your knife sharpened is a hell of a lot easier (and cheaper!) than getting your teeth cleaned professionally. Over time, the steel along the edge of your knife will wear to the point that your honing rod will no longer be effective. This is unavoidable. When this happens, it’s time to bust out the whetstones.
Ceramic whetstones, even those of a very high grit, remove and reshape the steel on your knife to some degree. Every time you hit your knife on a low grit stone (like a 220 or 400 grit), a little bit of your knife gets ground away to make way for a new edge. Therefore, it’s not a good idea to use these stones frequently. Constant sharpening is the easiest way to grind your beautiful, sleek knife into a big thick chunk of metal that won’t cut food nicely. You’ll also note, we always stress the use of aceramic honing rod over a steel or diamond rod. That’s because steels are more akin to those low grit stones — they grind steel off your knife way faster than you realize.
Sharpening a knife properly using a whetstone is a skill that, like most other things worth doing, takes a little bit of practise to get down pat. Luckily for you, we not only offer mail-in and in-store sharpening services, but we also have many excellent resources to help you learn to properly use these whetstones. Our YouTube channel is chock-full of handy instructional videos, and we have live classes online weekly.
So there we go: honing versus sharpening in a nutshell. It doesn’t take much effort to keep that beauty of a blade sharp for a long time, so there’s no excuse not to do it. For further information regarding the use and maintenance of whetstones, take a peek at some of our other more detailed articles and videos. Happy sharpening, friends!