In one of my guides to the differences between honing and sharpening, I maintained that you should hone your knives way more than you sharpen them.
I still stand by that.
However, how often should you take your knife through the honing steel?
The frequency of knife honing will depend on factors such as how much the knife is used and the materials used for the knife blade. As long as the knife has been properly sharpened, it should be honed between usage when it feels less sharp than it should be. This helps align the edges again and keeps the knife cutting sharp for longer.
What factors determine when to hone your knife?
There is no one-size-fits-all guide to how often your knife should be honed.
You should already know that honing does not sharpen the knife. It, instead, pushes the edges back into alignment so that the knife can cut smoothly, better, and much efficiently again.
With that in mind, these factors will determine how often you should hone your knife:
Frequency of Usage
A knife that is used more will require more honing.
Since the knife gets engaged frequently, there is a high chance of the edges getting pushed out of alignment.
For those who do a lot of cooking – either personally or professionally – I recommend getting a quality honing rod to restore your knife edges better.
Material of Make
There are different materials a knife handle can be made of. The same goes for the knife blade – which can be made from stainless steel (high carbon stainless steel, VG10, blue steel, Damascus steel, etc), obsidian material, ceramic and more.
Since most knives are made from stainless steel, I’ll focus on that here.
When you have a stainless steel knife, there are still different kinds of stainless steel to consider.
High carbon stainless steel knives, for example, hold their edges for longer and better than ordinary stainless steel. Thus, they would need less honing than the latter even if they were both used at the same rate.
This is yet another reason why you need to choose quality materials when buying a knife.
The knife sharpness
The fact that you should hone a knife more than you sharpen it does not mean you should forget the place of sharpening.
Maintained and used right, you can get by with sharpening your knives 2-3 times a year, or 4 times at the max.
Thus, you might start honing your knife more if it needs sharpening, but you are not giving it that.
If you’re not near a proper whetstone or pull-through sharpener, you can employ any of these unconventional methods to sharpen your knife for now. Once you get to a proper whetstone, follow this sharpening guide to have that knife back to tip-top quality.
Honing your knife properly
Once you determine that you need to hone your knife, I’ve seen no better resource than this video to teach you how to do so.
Do you sharpen or hone a knife first?
If the knife is dull, you should sharpen it before you hone it subsequently. For an already sharp knife, hone the knife only without sharpening.
Thus, to answer the question above, the proper process is to sharpen the knife before honing it. However, it is not every time you need to hone a knife that you sharpen it first.
Are you honing your knife right?
Whether you are honing the knife far too much or too little, or you’re sharpening it more than you hone, the resources here should remedy that today.
Combine honing and sharpening right to get the most out of the knife, wear it out less and enjoy your kitchen tool for longer.