November 20, 2019 3 min read
How to I use my ceramic honing rod?
One of the best tools that you can use to keep a keen edge on your knives between sharpenings is a ceramic honing rod. They are quite different from steel or diamond rods, which can grind a lot of steel off of your edge. As you use your knife, it develops tiny ‘burrs’ which are rough bits of the edge that have bent out of shape. Ceramic gently pushes them back into alignment, straightening the edge without removing steel unnecessarily. These means that your knife stays sharp much longer, without having to be sharpened as often.
Knifewear’s ceramic rods have a special design: the hilt acts as an angle guide when you place the spine of your knife along it. The skinnier side will set a 15 degree angle for Japanese blade, while the wider side will set a 22 degree angle for western-style knives.
To use the rod, place a folded rag on your cutting board and place the rod upright, with the tip on the towel. This will help to keep it in place while you’re pressing a sharp knife against it. Set the knife to the angle you prefer, and gently drag the edge along the ceramic from the heel to the tip, in a downward slicing motion. Switch to the other side of the rod and repeat the motion. Continue 10-20 times, alternating sides as you go. Honing like this twice per week (more for professionals) will ensure that your knife stays sharp for months or even years at a time.
Which rod is right for me?
We carry two types of honing rod: a coarser white one and a finer black one. If you are a frequent-honer, the black rod will offer a smoother polish but must be used more often as it is less abrasive. The white rod is better for most folks, because most of us are tough on our knives and forget to hone regularly. The rougher texture will bring the edge back from a further state of dullness, and is a must for professional chefs.
Those who are serious about their knife collection will have both. A black rod for extreme fine tuning and the ‘collector’s pieces’ and a white rod for the daily workhorse. Both also come in handy when sharpening, as the rough rod will clear off burrs from your stone, and the black rod will act as a finishing touch.
Take it to the next level.
So you wanna get super serious? You’re a big knife-nerd like us and you wanna engage the warp drive? For that, you’ll need a strop.
Originally for barbers, strops are what give the final, straight razor edge that our knives have out of the box. The incredibly fine texture of latigo leather grabs any fine lingering burrs and cleans ‘em up. The polish you get is so unreal, you can even see your reflection in the edge if you’ve done it right.
While a solid slab of leather works well, a two-step approach is best. Our stropscome with a suede side and a leather side. The real pros load the suede side with Chromium Oxide, a super-fine polishing compound used by jewellers. It grabs burrs with spider-man-like grip and gives you that extra “oomph” when polishing your edge. Finish off on the leather side and your knives will be molecule-splitting sharp.
Do I still have to sharpen my knives?
Even the best knives go dull. Brushing your teeth properly will mean that you see the dentist less, but you still have to go for your checkups. Knife edges are much the same.
When you find that your blade is no longer ‘cutting it’ and your honing rod and strop no longer help, you’ve got two choices:
First, you can bring it to us. We are pros at knife sharpening, and we give half of the proceeds of all our sharpening charges to charity. If the knife is from us, the first sharpening is free. We even have a mail-in service for the out-of-towners!
Alternatively, you can learn to sharpen them yourself. Knife sharpening is a fun and useful hobby, and is easier than you might think! We host knife sharpening classestwice per week that give you two hours of hands-on instruction, plus 10% off of any sharpening stones that you need.
Now you are well equipped with all of the knowledge (and hopefully gear) you need to keep your knives sharp. Should you ever have questions, we are always here to help. Happy honing!
Owen is another ex-chef among our ranks. he has been Chef-ing in Edmonton for around 12 years but gave it up to be a human being again! An avid music lover, he plays guitar, loves Radiohead, and has probably been to about 500 concerts. Oh, and he can most definitely beat you in a game of Street Fighter. come chat with him about football, and steel!
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