Sharpening Tips: Honing Rods
While we generally recommend against the use of honing rods, I want to show you some tips to use them properly and avoid any potential damage while extending the life of your edge to prolong time between sharpenings.
Ceramic VS Steel
In Western traditions, honing rods have been made from steel. While this can be effective when used with a softer western steel knife, steel rods can often damage Japanese knives. Most Japanese knives are made from a harder steel that results in a better cutting feel and edge retention. The steel in a Japanese knife is actually harder than a steel honing rod. This makes those rods less effective and therefore we recommend using a ceramic rod for better results.
How to Use a Honing Rod
Start by placing the tip of the rod on a stable surface, this will help you maintain a constant angle and make sure that you are making the most of every stroke. Begin honing by using moderate pressure and working from heel to tip with the knife's edge facing away from you. Avoid putting too much pressure as you can crush the edge.
Flip the blade around and repeat the same motion in step one, this time drawing the blade towards yourself. Be sure to go slow and focus on maintaining the proper bevel angle.
A general rule of thumb is to count back from 10. Start with ten strokes on one side and 10 on the other, then 9, 8, 7 until you get to 0. In total, 110 strokes on one blade. If your knife has been sharpened relatively recently on a sharpening stone, you can skip some numbers as you go down, just be sure to be consistent on both sides.
*on the last couple of strokes lighten up pressure significantly, just barely making contact with the honing rod for the finest edge.
The dullness of your knife will determine how long you will need to hone it.
Avoid the temptation to hold your honing rod in the air. Doing so creates an unstable honing surface which can lead to marring the face of your knife or even chipping your edge.
- Will West