The 5 Best Honing Steels in 2020
You would be rather mistaken to believe that the only knife care product you need is a sharpener. After all, a knife is supposed to be sharp so logically you'll want a product to keep it sharp. In reality, you need to do more than just sharpening your knife if you want to keep it in the best condition. You'll need a hone!
Honing is the practice that'll keep your knife edge straight and true but realigning the blade back to now. We'll get more detailed into the mechanics of knife honing later on. For now, let's go over the top five best honing steels on the market!
Our Top 5 Picks of Honing Steel:
Note: The above links will take you to additional information, current prices, and reviews on Amazon.
Top 5 Best Honing Steel Reviews
First on our list is this rather striking honing steel by TUO, which is apart of their Fiery Phoenix line of kitchen knives. The handle is made of pakkawood sourced from Africa and is a rather stunning piece by itself. To top it all off, you receive this honing steel in a handsome box packed in a foam material for added protection. So no need to worry about your hone coming in bad shape.
While the TUO honing steel looks nice, can it live up to the job? The actual hone itself is only nine inches long, and is made out of a high-quality stainless steel. Running a few blades across the hone, including old dull blades and some serrated ones, we were very impressed with how well they turned out. Good as new, and no sharpener required! However, for larger blades, you will need a much bigger hone.
For the price, the TUO honing steel is a fantastic piece. It's made of high-quality material, including an eye-catching pakkawood handle and the hone is stainless steel. While on the small side, it can easily fit in knife drawers or bags at the cost of being unable to sharpen larger knives. Our only complaint is we wish there was a larger handguard on this honing steel. Beyond that, it's a wonderful and eye-catching honing steel.
Yes, you're reading that right. This honing steel is apart of Dalstrong's Shadow Black Series which is designed to make an ordinary kitchen set more muscular and somewhat menacing. As you might have seen in other reviews, however, we aren’t stranger to marketing ploys we find silly and we judge only by the quality of the utensils.
Like the TUO, Dalstrong's honing steel comes in a very wonderful box and is packaged in a foam-like material. No need to worry at all about your hone being damaged during shipping. The first thing you'll notice about this hone is the grip, which is made of a fiber-resin material. There is some slight texturing here to support your grip and the material is highly resistant to water and heat.
The last thing to note about the grip before we move onto the actual hone is the diamond-shape as opposed to the traditional cylinder. This design really improves the grip, so we approve! Now, what about that hone? Made of high-quality stainless steel and coated in titanium nitride, this is a hone that is built to last and to keep your knives well kept. Like the TUO, it's only nine inches long.
Using this hone was simple and the results were our knives were back to perfection after a few passes. Overall, despite the flashy aesthetics, the Dalstrong hone is a very good hone with some innovative features we really enjoyed like the new grip shape. While we may find the marketing a tad series, we wouldn't deny that this is a great hone to buy.
You may not think that the Victorinox belongs on our list because of being a honing steel and not a sharpening steel, but you'd be surprised to learn this rod pulls double-duty.
If you have a burr on your blade, or as we like to call it a "bump", the Victorinox will smooth it out for you. This is essentially sharpening, which is why it makes our list.
The grip is textured, allowing you a stronger grip, while the rod itself is made of chromed stainless steel. The grit on this stainless steel is good enough to take out a burr, but not actually sharpen your knife. It still works as a great hone, of course. At ten-inches in length, this rod is perfect for most knives and the quality is superb that you'll be using it for years!
Compared to the Dalstrong and TUO, this honing steel doesn't have much in the way of fancy gimmicks or features. Utopia Kitchen made a name for itself by making high-quality kitchen utensils, and this extends to their honing steel. Sadly there were no fancy boxes this time or other accessories. Instead, the hone was shipped in a normal box and wrapped in normal protective padding.
The grip is what'd you'd expect out of a grip. It's a rubbery material that's very gentle on the hands, with the ergonomic design making it easy to hold. A large hand-guard is present which we really appreciate, and as an added bonus the tip of the hone is rubber; so no need to worry about your counter or table being scratched up.
The hone itself, as you would expect, is made of a high-quality material. Made of carbon steel and plated with nickle-chrome, the finish is as wonderful as the performance. Outside of one minor issue, this hone worked wonders on our testing knives including serrated and very old knives. Thanks in part to the hone being twelve inches in length, you can use much longer knives than you can on the other three.
While not flashy, this hone is certainly a good buy. Affordable, high quality, and above all else it actually works!
The fourth hone on our list has something others lack; a second surface. We'll get onto this feature in a moment, but let's look at the other features first. The grip itself is a standard cylinder grip without any texture or rubber, but with a nice hand-guard. The hone itself is made of stainless steel, so it carries the benefit of anti-corrosion and being solidly built.
That said, the second surface is a nice bonus. It's micro-ribbed and is used for finer honing than the normally smooth surface which acts like a regular hone. It's built into the side of the hone, so you don't have to switch out the hone. You shouldn't use the micro-ribbed feature as often as the regular side, however. Overuse can actually be detrimental to your blade in the long run.
As for actual honing, it did well with our test knives and we found the micro-ribbed side worked especially well with our older knives. Overall, while not as flashy as other hones, what makes the Shun Classic work is being effective at what it does.
The last hone on our list certainly packs the most bang for your buck. The Chefast hone is made of chromium-plated carbon steel similar to the Utopian Kitchen hone, but features a ten-inch hone as opposed to the commonly seen nine-inch hone. With a synthetic grip that's ergonomically designed, you're getting a great hone for a low price.
There's more, and this is why the hone made it to our list. You get not just the hone, but also a carrying bag, a cleaning cloth, and a short instruction booklet. This set is perfect for first-time knife owners, or those who need a simple hone and don't want to spend too much money on a hone meant for higher quality knives.
For the hone itself, it works as intended and got our test knives back to their old selves in no time flat. With a carrying bag and cleaning cloth, you get plenty of accessories and a standout hone that works much better than other cheaper hones on the market.
Now that we covered our top picks for honing steels, let's explore more in-depth into what a honing steel is and what it does.
What Is A Honing Steel?
A honing steel also called sharpening steel or honing steel, is at its simplest form a metal rod you drag your knife across to realign the edge. We'll of course go more in-depth into how a honing steel works, but essentially, it's a tool that doesn't actually sharpen or hone your blade; instead, it realigns your blade.
What Is A Honing Steel Used For?
As mentioned, a honing steel is used for realigning a blade. A knife is sharp thanks to the very thin edge it has. By keeping the edge thin, and sometimes even microscopically thin in the case of obsidian blades, a knife can cut through most soft tissue. Being this small has its negatives, as the edge can very easily twist or being unaligned which causes the knife to lose its sharpness.
A honing steel is used to realign the knife point back to its prime. It doesn't remove any material from the blade or stops the edge from being blunt, but instead moves the edge back into place. This is what we call "honing".
When And How Often Should You Hone A Knife?
Some knife experts recommend honing every day. It doesn't take long and you can feel confident knowing your blade is still sharp. It's easy to forget to hone your blade everyday, however, so instead, we recommend you hone your knives right before using them and right after using them. This will keep them sharp when it matters most.
Types Of Honing Steels?
Honing steel rarely changes shape. It's a stick of metal with a grip attached. There are, however, different types of material used in honing steels which can lead to different effects on your blade.
Like we say in our review with the Shun Classic, some honing steels will feature a different texture like ribbed or grit. This readjusts the blade much better than a regular hone, but can easily ruin a blade if you're not careful.
Benefits Of Using Honing Steel
When you use a honing steel, you're extending the life of your knife. By sharpening a blade as opposed to honing, the knife slowly grows smaller and to the point that there isn't enough material left to form a proper point. Since honing doesn't remove material and just readjusts it, you're saving your knife in the long run. Not to mention honing is the single best way to keep your knife sharp.
Things to Consider When Buying A Honing Steel
Now that you know what a honing steel is, let's go over our guide of what you should keep in mind when purchasing one.
Consider What You Need:
When picking a honing steel, consider the knives you have at home. The rule of thumb is never to buy a low-quality hone for high-quality knives and vise-versa. You need a hone, don't be mistaken, but if your knives aren't the most expensive ones on the market you really don't need to buy the most expensive hone.
As previously mentioned, a hone can have different textures and of course grit. Having a higher grit means a sharper finish, but also puts the blade at risk of being fragile. Since you're only wanting to hone your knife, pick a lower grit or none at all.
Some hones come with accessories like bags, cleaning cloths, fancy boxes, etc. If you're planning on using these features then nothing should stop you from buying that hone. If you don't think that the features included are worth the money, or you'll never use them, then don't buy that hone. Likewise, features like grit or ribbed construction found nice but if you're not planning on using them it'll be a waste on your part.
Handle And Hand Guard:
Because you use your hone while holding it, pick a model that has a comfortable grip and a hand guard. After all, you don't want the knife slipping and cutting you! If you can, go to a kitchen store and ask to handle some of the hones they have on hand to find the one with a grip you like.
Hones are used facing down, so if their weight isn't balanced you can easily lose track of either it or the knife. Make sure your hone is heavy enough that you won't lose grip of it.
Material And Construction:
Most hones are, as said before, a metal rod attached to a handle. You'll always want to get steel hones, never any other alloy unless the steel is involved. Steel is a wonder metal, and that's no exception when it comes to hones as steel can be plated or mixed with other metals and still provides a great performance.
This being said, you'll also want to ensure the handle is firmly secure to your hone. Not only will this help with control, but a loose grip can easily break off.
Along with construction, another important aspect of a hone is the length. Most hones are around nine-to-twelve inches in length and the longer the length the larger knives that can be used with it. As said in our first point, consider what you need first off. Never buy a foot-long hone if all you have are small knives!
The surface area matters quite a lot and again, take into account what knives you have. A larger knife requires more surface area than a smaller knife. It's possible to hone a large knife with a small hone, but you'll be wasting a lot of time.
Cleaning is generally easy, unless you have a ceramic hone which requires careful cleaning. Decide if you want your hone to be dishwasher safer or not, as while a hone doesn't necessarily get dirty like a knife or fork, cleaning is still required regardless.
Check the warranty of any model you want to see what the coverage is. Most will offer you a year's warranty while others may issue a lifetime warranty. For expensive hones, always go for ones with a warranty so you don't have to worry about your breaking and then having no replacement or refund.
Finally, there is the price. Hones can be bought in as little as under twenty dollars, while others can cost fifty dollars or more. Always read the reviews beforehand and weigh in why these hones cost more or less than others. A good hone should only set you back twenty or thirty dollars.
A hone is as important to own as a sharpener, which is why we offered you our list of the best honing steel and our handy guide and buyer guide. If you don't have a honing steel, we recommend you buy one as soon as possible as it'll save the lives of your knives!