Judith is a fairy in the world of writing: she manages to turn any topic (far not only a kitchen-related) into an entertaining text that is so easy and educating to read. Fond of gardening, reading, and cooking, of course.
Emily has over 10 years of professional experience using, testing and comparing kitchen appliances. Her knowledge helps to easily and naturally solve everyday problems. She is also the owner of the lifestyle blog emilyreviews.com
Last updated: April 11, 2021
All chefs and butchers – whether budding or professional – know this: a knife is an essential tool in the kitchen, the butcher shop and in the jungle as a survival tool. And everyone will agree that a knife that no longer cuts is not much use. Rather, it becomes a frustrating object. We have all already transformed a tomato into a puree instead of cutting it into slices, all because of a poorly sharpened or honed knife. Who hasn’t had a hard time cutting meat? This kind of problem can, however, be solved permanently in the simplest and everyday form of practice, with the best honing steel, of course.
We created this buying guide for the main purpose of you finding the best steel that suits you. To get the best selection of products, we reviewed 35 honing steel. Among the 5 creams of the crop models, we found out that the TUO Honing Steel is the overall best model in the market. It is a model with the highest quality pakkawood handle. It is suitable for everyday use and, more interestingly, it comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Hence, we have named it the Editor’s Choice. Asides this are 4 equally high-quality honing rods with their differentiating features.
While selecting these models, some of the guiding criteria for selection include, but not limited to the type of rid, handle, total length, rod length, weight, price, and warranty. The structure of the article is divided into four sections. We have the comparison table, in-depth honing steel reviews, the buyer’s guide, and finally, the frequently asked questions section.
Editor’s Choice: TUO Honing Steel
"The best steel honing rod is a slightly oval but circular model with steel material and a pakkawood handle. This handle is of premium quality and sourced from Africa."
Best Value: Kota Japan Knife Sharpener Rod
"A classic knife sharpener for the kitchen, this knife sharpener rod is made of diamond carbon steel and comes in the form of a rifle for quick and easy use."
Budget Pick: Utopia Kitchen Honing Steel
"Utopia Kitchen’s sharpening and 12-inch honing rod with a hanging loop is a heavy-duty, inexpensive and simple yet effective way to take care of your dull kitchen knives."
Best Combination Steel Rod: Shun Sora Combination Honing Steel
"This model looks simply designed, but it’s not your regular knife honing steel. As its name suggests, it is a model that combines steel materials to make one resistant and hard tool."
Best Ceramic Rod: Satori Professional Honing Steel
"This 16-inch ceramic honing steel is ideal for honing heavily worn knives. Its coating is thick enough to bring the most battered blade back to life."
Top 5 Honing Steels Review 2021
TUO Honing Steel – Editor’s Choice
Handle: pakkawood handle
Total length: 15 in
Rod length: 9 in
Weight: 1.3 lbs
More features: ideal for daily sharpening, 100% satisfaction guarantee
The best steel honing rod is a slightly oval but circular model with steel material and a pakkawood handle. This handle is of premium quality and sourced from Africa. It is intended for use as a maintenance tool, rather than as a knife sharpener itself. It is very useful to extend the life of your knives without having to sharpen them as often. Made of forged materials, we consider this product as the best deal on the market.
This is the ideal honer for professional chefs or for those who love to get the most out of their kitchen. Its steel material measures 9 inches, making it suitable for almost any size of the knife. However, in total length, the rod measures 15 inches. Meanwhile, it is ultra-light but still ideal for everyday use. It has a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
What are our favorite features?
Ergonomic and elegant handle
For professional chefs/butchermen
Attractive and well-finished
Very durable materials
What could be better?
Not suitable as a knife sharpener
Kota Japan Knife Sharpener Rod – Best Value
Type: diamond carbon steel
Handle: not specified
Total length: 17 in
Rod length: 12 in
Weight: 8.8 oz
More features: oval-shaped, ergonomic handle, lifetime warranty
A classic knife sharpener for the kitchen, this knife sharpener rod comes in the form of a rifle for quick and easy use. Made of diamond carbon steel, the kitchen knife sharpener is a tool that is now being frequently found in kitchens. It doesn’t have a suspension ring for better storage optimization. However, for better hand grip during use, the handle is made of ergonomic material and can be held with any hand – whether the left or right hand. It measures 17 inches in total length, and its lightweight allows a perfect grip. However, the actual rod measures 12 inches, longer than many cutting parts of knives.
Easy to use, the Kota Sharpener Rod will satisfy even the most novice cooks. This type of material is useful in case the knife is dull and can sharpen all kinds of kitchen knives.
The only downside is it is not dishwasher safe, but it is very easy to clean. It is also important to wash it regularly to maintain its sharpening efficiency. It has an oval shape and comes with a lifetime warranty. This is, hence, the best honing steel for Japanese knives.
What makes it special?
Oval shape for protection
Lightweight and easy to use
What cons did we find?
Not dishwasher safe
Diamond abrasion wears off easily
Utopia Kitchen Honing Steel – Budget Pick
Type: carbon steel and plated with nickel-chrome
Handle: not specified
Total length: 18 in
Rod length: 12 in
Weight: 15.2 oz
More features: available in 2 sizes, hanging loop, right or left-handed use, slip-resistant rubber bottom handle, suitable for all types of knives, sharpens standard and serrated edge knives
If you fancy beautiful sharpening rods, you’ve met your dream steel! Utopia Kitchen’s honing rod is a heavy-duty, inexpensive and simple yet effective way to take care of your dull kitchen knives. This device does not go in the dishwasher, but the good news is that it is easy to clean in both cases. Between the non-slip ergonomic rubber bottom handle and the perfectly balanced tip, you will quickly get used to using it. Unlike many other steels, you can get an angle of 18 degrees for classic Japanese knives thanks to this model.
The model is available in two sizes. It has a hanging loop at the end of the handle and is designed for all types of knives – whether standard or serrated knives. It is very long and has a total length of 18 inches but a rod length of 12 inches. The metal material is made of carbon steel and nickel-chrome plate.
What stands out?
Non-slip rubber bottom
Safe and easy to use and clean
Suitable for left and right hands
Made of high-quality materials
What cons did we manage to find?
May be too weighty to handle
Not dishwasher safe
Doesn't sharp knives (just for honing)
Shun Sora Combination Honing Steel – Best Combination Steel Rod
Type: combination steel
Handle: PP/TPE polymer blend handle
Total length: 13 in
Rod length: 9 in
Weight: 3.2 oz
More features: 2 different finishes, built-in angle guide, lifetime warranty
Another of the best knife honing steels is the Shun Sora Combination Honing Steel. This looks simply designed, but it’s not your regular knife honing steel. As its name suggests, it is a model that combines steel materials to make one resistant and hard tool. For better resistance and protection, it features layers of stainless steel on both sides of the rod. It maintains more precision than other models with diamond coating.
Although this honer could have been a little bit longer, instead of its 9-inch rod length, it has a finer surface. It is ideal for the most demanding professionals who need more control when sharpening their work instruments. It can be used to hone all straight-edged knives including santoku, chef’s knife, utility knife, paring knife and lots more. It hones knives with a medium level of wear. It is a very versatile model, suitable for almost all knife brands due to its high-quality stainless steel. It can be used frequently without losing effectiveness. Its 13 inches total length means you need to take regular and repeated passes to achieve the desired honing point safely. Its handle is fabricated of a specially textured blend of PP/TPE polymer. This ensures a better grip.
What makes it special?
Quality polymer blend handle
What cons did we find?
Not resistant enough to resist shattering
Satori Professional Honing Steel – Best Ceramic Rod
Type: Japanese black ceramic
Handle: 5-in long wood handle
Total length: 16 in
Rod length: 10.5 in
Weight: 12.8 oz
More features: 8 Mohs hardness rating, 0.63-in thick rod, hanging loop, lifetime warranty, gift box
This 16-inch ceramic honing steel is ideal for honing heavily worn knives. Its coating is thick enough to bring the most battered blade back to life. Its size and lightweight make handling easy and quick to get the perfect edge on a couple of passes. In addition, the rod is 0.63 inches (16 mm) thick and has a hanging loop for easy storage and handling. Also, it has a hardness rating of 8 Mohs. The handle, made of wood is just 5 inches.
For ease of use, it comes with an instruction manual. This black ceramic honing steel comes all the way from Japan. In its making, it undergoes a rigorous process known as the HIP, the hot isostatic process. The Satori model comes in a Shatter-Proof Technology, a registered patent of the manufacturer which will prevent the rod from breaking even when it falls from a weight less than 3 feet.
What do we love it for?
Easy to handle and store
Very hard ceramic material
Shatterproof and resistant material
What were we disappointed with?
Rod length could have been longer
Things to Consider
Have you read our knife honing steel reviews and made a comparison between the offers? Have you still not been able to understand which model can suit you? Then you are in the right section of our page. Here, we will describe to you what the main features to look for in a good product are. First of all, we have to make a distinction between honing and sharpening, the different types of knife honing steels, selection criteria, provide some useful tips and answers to some FAQs.
Honing vs. sharpening
Honing consists essentially of reshaping the metal instead of removing elements from it. Honing works for your knives by aligning the edge to undo dents or chips in the metal. It only straightens the edges. Honing actually removes a small part of the material from the edge. This results in a fresh and brand new knife-edge, which cuts as if it just came straight from the manufacturer. You can hone your knives for several years regularly without them going deteriorated or needing replacement. Also, with honing steels, you can sharpen your knives before or even after you might have sharpened to get the most optimum effect. However, some honing steels are designed to function as sharpening and honing tools.
Meanwhile, sharpening involves the removal of the bits of the knife. Here, parts of the knife are shaven off, receding over time. While honing can be done multiple times before, during and after using the knife, sharpening can actually be done less occasionally. Sharpening can even be done once or twice a year.
Features to consider while buying the honing steel
Here are what you should know about the various types of honing steels before choosing one:
It is important to have quality materials, but we must also know which is the most suitable for the type of sharpening or honing we need. We may only need honing steel to keep the edge in optimal condition as long as possible, or we may use our knives very intensively and need to sharpen and leave them as new more often. There, however, is a material for each situation. Compare and choose the one that suits you best:
Ceramic honing steel: It is the most suitable for smaller knives since they are always the shortest. This material, in addition to going over the edge of the knife, straightens its blade and will stay sharp longer. Choose ceramic honing steel, such as Satori model, if you do not use your knives very hard and you just want to always keep them in perfect condition. For example, it will be the best material for the maintenance of a ham knife.
Steel honing steel: If you are a user of steel knives, this will undoubtedly be the most recommended. It is the material that most respects the surface of this type of sheet. And there is a wide variety of models at very affordable prices to choose from. For example, in this comparison of the best honing steels on the market, we have proposed two models of knife honing steels (TUO Honing Steel and Shun Sora Combination Honing Steel) and any of them will meet your expectations.
Diamond honing steel: It is the hardest surface on which you can sharpen your knives, as you can see it by Kota Japan Knife Sharpener Rod. And that is why you must be sure before deciding if this type of material is suitable for your needs. Industrial diamond is very aggressive to the blade, requiring more sporadic use. It is indicated for thicker blades, such as bread knives. It is also recommended for professional use in kitchens that put a lot of use to all types of knives and need more rigorous edge maintenance.
Before buying your honing rifle, check the handle: opt for a non-slip and safer handle. Don’t forget to take a look at the size of the wick. Some consumers still have doubts about which the ideal handle for their new honing steel. There is the option of honing steels with wooden and plastic handles. In the case of wooden ones, as it is by Tuo Honing Steel, their designs are usually quite artistic and resistant. The surface is perfectly finished, so it will not bother your hands. However, they are prone to damage a little faster with continued use. In the case of plastic handles, they are very light and easy to clean. There are even some that are antibacterial. This is because they are made of polypropylene that inhibits the growth of fungi or bacteria. In addition, they have a ring at the end to favor hanging. About color, in plastic material, there are greater possibilities of finding different shades while in wood, you will only find it in the color of the wood material.
Length and weight
There are many similar knife sharpeners on the market that are slightly larger than a USB stick. They’re very handy if you don’t have a lot of space at home or if you are an outdoor enthusiast and want to keep your hunting knife sharp at all times. In general, unless you have professional needs, we recommend a moderately long and weighted knife honing steel. This helps you to easily place it in the kitchen, store it in a drawer or take it out with you. However, note that for the proper use and perfect sharpening, the rifle of your rifle should be longer than the blade of your knife. And as you can see on our list the longest is the Utopia Kitchen’s honing rod with the total length of 18 inch and rod length of 12 inch.
The sharpener of your knife must be properly adapted to the work to be carried out. For longer blades, you will need to use equipment of the corresponding size. Very sharp knives will require hard abrasive material. The honing material should basically be harder than the blades you are going to sharpen, Kota Japan Knife Sharpener Rod with the diamond carbon steel rod is the perfect sample of such model.
The cleaning and storage of your honing steel will determine how hygienic, functional and sterile it will be without developing rusts. We, therefore, recommend mild cleaning agents to wash it thoroughly in water. After washing, you have to wipe it carefully with a mild non-fuzzing piece of cloth. However, note that some are not dishwasher safe. So check with the manufacturer manual or instruction.
Let’s come to the question of budget. How much should you spend on a knife honing steel? The answer to this question cannot be reduced to a simple question of budget. This is because you could buy good honing steel and not know how to use or maintain it best. To simplify your choice, think about your needs: are you a professional chef, or do you just want to renew an old set of knives that you have at home? There is no point in buying an electric sharpener with a big motor to keep it in the kitchen. Not only will you spend a lot of money, but it will take up a lot of space. But with a honing rod made of diamond or ceramics, you can find an inexpensive knife maintenance model that suits you or anyone whom you’ll give it as a present, considering the fact that some honing steels, such as Satori model, for example, come in the gift package.
Not many honing steels come with the option of warranty. But still, we can find models whose brands offer as much as a lifetime warranty package. This 100% satisfaction guarantee is an assurance of quality and durability.
In general, honing steels are not dangerous to use, as with other knife sharpening tools, the electric especially. However, since you’ll be dealing with knives, care has to be taken with the edges of the blades.
For assurance of safety, choose models with oval or round shapes. And on the handle part, choose a non-slip model that will prevent any mishap during use.
Honing steel usage tips
Here are some tips on how to use your honing steel:
Hold the handle of your honing steel in hand (hold it with the hand opposite to that with which you write). Then hold your knife in the other hand.
Position the blade of your knife (the part closest to the handle) on the rifle so that it makes an angle of about 20° with the rifle.
Slide the blade down along the sharpening steel. Then gradually move your hand away from the sharpener. Now, depending on the model, hone or sharpen the entire length of the blade.
Once one side of the blade has been worked upon, turn it over to sharpen the other side.
Repeat this operation approximately 6 times for each side. Note: To have a sharper knife, sharpen it with a knife sharpener occasionally.
As we earlier said, honing steels only straighten the blades’ edges and keep them as if they were still new. Just gently run your fingers around the knife’s edge or observe with your eyes. If you sight or feel a bending edge, then you have to hone it. However, while knives have no rules set aside to determine when they need to be honed, this can be carried out as a habit. Honing a knife frequently during uses mean you will need to sharpen it less.
Evaluating the condition of the edge of the blades is the key to deciding how often to sharpen knives. Honing can be carried out several times during, before or after the use of the knife. You should also know that if you have carbon steel or stainless steel knives, you must sharpen them after each use. This helps it to maintain its default shape. However, in principle, the blade should be sharpened about 3 or 4 times a year. This is particularly true for less frequent use. But if you use your knife regularly, then you should sharpen it about 6 or 7 times a year, or even more. Meanwhile, if you hone regularly, then you will only need to sharpen the knife once or twice a year. Besides, sharpening guarantees you a blade that never dulls.
Is your knife struggling to slice the meat? Hone it with a steel, diamond or ceramic honing rod, and it will regain its edge. Honing steel with a ceramic coating or a diamond coating is ideal for the regular maintenance of your knives. Whether you are a professional or an individual, we have provided you with a guide to buying the best honing steel in the world! Among the pack we recommended, the Tuo Honing Steel stands out for its pakkawood handle, durable steel and lifetime warranty. If you want a model with better value for the money, choose the 12-inch Kota Japan Knife Sharpener Rod. And if what you want is a budget pick from a renowned brand that can assure you of quality, then go for the 12-inch Utopia Kitchen Honing Steel with a hanging loop.