If you’re new to cooking seriously, you might have been wondering what that long piece of metal in your knife set is supposed to do. While “big metal stick” is a fun name, the proper terminology for this piece of equipment is honing steel. Aside from its use of bludgeoning your food to death if it’s still got too much fight left in it, its main purpose is to hone the edge of your knife.
In layman’s terms, this just means it straightens out the edge of your knife when you run it against it. This is not, as many assume, the same as sharpening your knife. That would require entirely different equipment and is not what we’re covering today.
In order to follow this guide, you’ll need to get a few tools together. Well, “a few” is probably a stretch; all you’ll actually need is honing steel and any knives you want to hone. If you don’t have one or the other, why are you even here right now?
How to Hone
Once you’ve wrangled your tools, you’ll be able to get down to business.
Step 1: Hold
Step 2: Angle
Take your knife in your dominant hand and place the blade’s edge against the steel near the tip. Make sure it’s standing at an angle of around 90 degrees. Turn the knife towards you in a way that cuts that angle in half to 45 degrees. Cut that angle in half again, then lower it slightly more. The ideal angle for honing is around 20 degrees. Use this trick to help you get close to that each time.
Step 3: Hone
With your knife properly angled, begin drawing it towards yourself along the length of the steel. The draw should be in a diagonal fashion so that each area of the edge touches the steel as it travels close to the guard. To get the motion down right, pretend you’re slicing off a piece of the steel and mimic that.
Draw the knife down to the bottom of the steel before placing it on the opposite side, repeating the process to hone the other side of the blade. Alternate between both positions as you hone to ensure the edge is evenly straightened on both sides. Do this a few dozen times with each knife.
Honing your knife is a simple process that everyone who cooks should do on a regular basis. For best results, get into the habit of honing your blades before and after each use. This keeps them straightened out and ready to slice in between sharpening and saves you the embarrassment of crushing a tomato like some kind of chump.
If you enjoyed this guide, let us know down below. What are you kitchen maintenance tips that you think everyone should know? Most importantly, remember to share this page with a friend who’s been severely neglecting their own tools, since it’s more than time for a wakeup call.