The Difference Between Honing and Sharpening a Knife

Posted by Amanda Delatorre on

People may think of honing and sharpening as interchangeable terms, but they differ. We clarify the difference between honing and sharpening a kitchen knife.

Any blade you use will become dull with use over time, and kitchen knives are no exception. After repeatedly making contact with a cutting board and slicing through many ingredients, the edge will slowly lose its ability to cut effortlessly. There are two maintenance steps you can do to improve performance: honing and sharpening. So, let’s clarify the difference between honing and sharpening a knife.


Honing is performed by running the blade along a honing steel or stick, which usually has a handle on one end and is made from ceramic or another type of steel. Honing will not remove material and create a new sharp edge, but can realign the surface of the edge that gets battered with repeated use. While honing will in no way replace sharpening, it is good in a pinch (like in the middle of a busy dinner service in a restaurant) and works as a complement to more time intensive sharpening with a whetstone.


Sharpening, uses whetstones (or stone wheels) to take material off the edge of a knife restoring the angle for optimal cutting performance. We do not recommend electric, mechanical or pull-through sharpeners because blades may become chipped or damaged. Much greater control and precision can be achieved with whetstones.

Chubo Knives carres a large range of sharpening stones and accessories for all types of knife maintenance. Shop our online Japanese knife store for supplies for professional and home cooks alike. We offer handcrafted Japanese kitchen knives and all the tools you need to keep them in the best condition.

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