8 Best Sharpening Steels for Your Kitchen to Purchase
You've likely seen this the words "honing steel" and "sharpening steel" thrown around quite a lot if you're looking online for information pertaining to your knives. Sharpening steel and honing steel seem to be buzzwords that can be used interchangeability. Except, they're two completely different objects.
We're going to cover everything related to sharpening steels today, including the best sharpening steel on the market, how to tell the difference between a sharpening steel and a honing steel and how they function, as well as a handy buyer's guide so you know which sharpening steel is right for you!
Our top 8 picks of sharpening steel at a glance:
Note: The above links will take you to additional information, current prices, and reviews on Amazon.
Top 8 Best Sharpening Steel Reviews
Based out of Germany with a long production of high-quality knives, you can trust a brand like Messermeister even if the name may be a tad hard to pronounce. What makes the Messermeister ceramic rod stand out, to us at least, is the use of ceramic. That is the main selling point, of course, and we admit that as far as selling points go this is one that isn't lying.
The Messermeister has a twelve-inch rod, making it perfect for larger knives, and the ceramic is covering a steel core. The rod is attached to an ergonomically grip with a hoop at the bottom if you need to attach the sharpening steel to anything. It holds nice in the hand, with a good amount of weight but you never feel that it's too heavy or too light either.
Now, let's get to the rod. Covered in ceramic, there is enough grit that not only will your blade be honed, but also sharpened. This makes this set a fantastic deal as it's two-for-one. A hone and sharpener all in one rod! That being said, this isn't going to give a dull blade a brand new edge, but it will keep your knives both sharp and edged.
No, we're not going to make an "elephant in the room" joke. Green Elephant is a producer of knife and razor sharping tools, Their sharpener is no laughing matter either, Unlike other sharpening steel rods with ceramic coats you'll find on the market, the Green Elephant uses a different formula of sorts for their ceramic.
We of course don't know what this formula is, but it provides a very hard ceramic coat around a harder steel core. It's also shock-resistant, so can take falls and bumps without any sort of hassle. A convenient carrying hoop at the bottom allows you to store the Green Elephant where you need it. The grip is quite comfortable and overall it's quite solid.
The length of the rod is ten inches and this ceramic is much harder than the Messermeister; a 1500 grit compared to the 1200 grit of before. Sharpening is smooth, with no bumps or aggravations.
Number three on our list is this lovely sharpening steel from Winware. Made out of stainless steel and with a rod that is twelve inches long, we found the Winware to be incredibly stable and easy to use! Thanks to the construction, this sharpening steel was also durable. We tested a few knives on it, and found them to be as good as new once we ran the blade over the rod.
Along with the rod itself, the Winware comes with a large and very comfortable grip made out of plastic, and a handle ring at the base for easy storage or for taking it with you. Despite the handle being made out of plastic, it's surprisingly sturdy as far as plastic handles go. We never felt it get loose in our hand and more importantly, it felt that if and the rod were connected tight.
Winware is number three on our list as while it's a very nice sharpening steel, it doesn't particularly do anything noteworthy besides working as intended. If you want a sharpening steel like this, then it's a great deal!
They say cooking should be fun, so why not pick a sharpener that looks like a sword? Much like the Victorinox, the Zweiling is actually a hone and not a sharpening steel. It does, however, remove burrs which is why we count it on our list. That, and it looks like a sword and we're having too much fun pointing that out.
Construction-wise, the grip is ribbed and very comfortable in the hand. You get a sword-like cross-guard before you get to the rod itself. At twelve-inches in length, this rod is perfect for nearly all knives and as you may have guessed works wonders as a hone. Durable construction ensures that this sharpening rod will last you for years to come.
A mouthful of a name, but don't let that name fool you. This sharpener is from Buck, one of America's leading knife manufacturers. These guys know knives inside-and-out and produce some of the most well-respected knives on the market.
While generally making outdoor knives, they have made some kitchen knives and the EdgeTek is made for any knife.
The EdgeTek has a very comfortable grip with a hoop at the bottom and a fairly sizable hand-guard. The rod itself is ten-inches long, but comes with three sides. Each one, in a diamond-coated mixture, is a different grit and you have a Fine, Medium, and Coarse grit. This effectively allows you to sharpen and hone your knife all in one convenient package!
The biggest downside of the EdgeTek is you need to remember which side is which unless you like sharpening your knife instead of honing it.
The Wüsthof is another sharpener with German origin, and you know this means it's going to be high quality. The grip is square-shaped, which helps with your grip, and the rod is a nice stainless steel with just enough grit to help you sharpen your knife as well as hone it. The biggest innovation this sharpener brings is in magnets.
When you use a sharpener, little magnet shivers fly all over the place! The Wüsthof uses a magnetic coating on their steel, which keeps the little shivers of metal in place. Cleanup is easy, as you just wipe the surface down with a damp cloth and you're all set to go! Combined with an affordable price and good quality construction, the Wüsthof keeps your knives nice, sharp, and honed!
Once again, another hone is on our list. This one has just enough grit to make it sharpen your knife while you hone, so we'll let it slide. The OXO has a 10-inch rod, but a rather thin one, and a comfortable grip with generous hand-guard. The whole thing feels very solid, and it doesn't look like corners were cut when making this rod.
The rod itself is stainless steel and feels quite durable. The grit is fine, but you can feel it for yourself. So this is perfect for honing and removing burrs, but shouldn't replace any dedicated sharpeners.
The last sharpener on our list, and once again it's a hone that can act as a light sharpener. This time it's thanks to the diamond coating that adds a fine layer of grit. Enough for some very minor sharpening or removing burrs, but you're liking going to buy this for honing. On that note, it does a really good job acting as a hone.
The squarish-grip is comfortable to hold, and you have another generous hand-guard to protect you in case of accidents. A ring loop at the bottom adds a lot of universality to this sharpener, as does the ten-inch rod.
The Difference Between Honing Steel and Sharpening Steel
Now that we covered out the list of the top eight best sharpening steels, let's look at the difference between a honing steel and sharpening steel. As you might have read in our articles about honing steels, the basics of a hone are simple. A knife edge will get unaligned during use, and a hone with flat surfaces are very useful for re-aligning the edge so it'll be strong and sharp once more.
A sharpening steel, meanwhile, does just what its name implies. Unlike a hone, which is normally a flat metal, sharpening steels use different characteristics of grit such as ceramics or allowing the metal in the rod to be more coarse. Whatever the case, a sharpening steel will get your blade sharp by removing materials while honing steel will realign your blade.
There are cases of sharpening steel being able to both hone and sharpen, and we highly recommend one of those.
A Guide To Buying A Sharpening Steel
Here we'll touch up on the five main points of buying a sharpening steel.
Knowing you're getting a sharpener and not a hone
The first thing to consider when buying sharpening steel is making sure it's not a hone. Remember, a hone doesn't sharpen. This is easy to clear up, as you'll want to see if the rod is sold exclusively for sharpening or if it has grit. Both things that a hone doesn't have. However, since the names are often used interchangeably, always read the descriptions first.
Price and quality:
A good quality sharpening steel should set you to make no more than fifty dollars. A rather seep price, but some are willing to go that much for the sake of their knives. Cheaper knife sharpeners can break on your, so be sure to invest in a model with quality. What should you look for here? Be sure that the rod is stainless steel and has a coating like grit. Ceramic coatings also work, as they provide abrasives
Many of the sharpening steels have limited warranties or lifetime money-back programs. Given that a good quality sharpening steel isn't going to break anytime soon, it's not a bad idea to invest in a limited warranty just as a precaution.
Always pick sharpening steel with a good hand-guard. Given that you're sharpening your knife, and not honing, accidents are possible and the best course of action is preventive action. We recommend that you always buy a sharpener with good hand-guards.
Length of the rod:
Finally, take into consideration the length of the rod. And no that wasn't a dirty joke, we mean the metal rod itself. Most sharpening steels on the market tend to have ten-to-twelve inch rods, which makes them perfect for sharpening and honing most knives. However, specialty knives will need a longer rod, or the rod to have more space, in order to sharpen correctly.
Why A Knife Sharpening Steel Over A Knife Sharpener?
Why pick a knife sharpening steel over an actual sharpener? Well, it comes down to preference and the space of your kitchen. A sharpening steel is easy to store away, along with easier to clean on top of being affordable. But a knife sharpening steel isn't as going to have the precision of a regular knife sharpener, and you can't change out grits on your own.
It's honestly up to you. We personally prefer having one knife sharpener on standby in case the electric one stops working, and this is usually the reason why you yourself would want sharpening steel.