Ceramic rod knife sharpener
Ceramic rod knife sharpener – A lot of knife sets come with honing rods included which can also be called ’steels’ or ‘hones’. But is that steel a good one for your knives and how should it be used?
First of all, honing a knife is not the same as sharpening one. It is simply a way to realign the edge of your knife blade so it can once again cut with a straight edge. As you use your cutlery, the sharp end will ever so slightly start to roll over to one side, and honing a knife straightens it out again. It will seem sharper and cut better, but this is caused by taking that slight curve out of the end of the blade and restoring the edge.
Ceramic rod knife sharpener – which brand
The next question one might ask is: Do I need to use a specific brand or the steel that came with my set? The answer is ‘no’; brand doesn’t matter, and the steel that came with your set may not be a good one to use. If you do use it, however, you should proceed cautiously. Learn how to hone by watching some videos on the internet or reading up on it because the angle and pressure applied are very important. If you have a grooved metal steel, use it LIGHTLY. These devices are very aggressive with knife blades and if not used correctly will dramatically shorten the life of your knife.
Ceramic rod knife sharpener – steel or ceramic
The next question is: Which steel should I purchase if I need one? There are so many products on the market today (ceramic, oval, diamond, smooth, grooved and glass), but which one is best? Well it depends upon what kind of knives you have and what shape they are in. If you have fine Japanese versus European cutlery, then you should get different honing rods. And if your knives are older and duller, then you may also need to use different materials.
One way of thinking about it is by how aggressive a rod is. Without out getting into grit (coarseness) too much, here is a general progression of how aggressive each steel will be with your knife blade from hardest to the gentlest.
(1) Grooved steel hones. Very aggressive and most common in sets.
(2) Diamond hones. These can be coarse and fine, but they are still fairly aggressive.
(3) Ceramic hones. The fine ones are less aggressive and a good choice for European knives.
(4) Grooved glass hones. These are even more gentle than ceramic hones and can be used with Japanese knives.
(5) Smooth hones. These can be glass or metal and are not aggressive.
(6) Soft material hones. These really aren’t hones, but include leather strops and are good for Japanese knives.
When a knife is sharp, a smooth hone is best to use as all you really want to do is gently push the rolled over metal back into place. Do this right before using your knife to ensure your cutlery is ready for work.
Ceramic rod knife sharpener – push the blade back into shape
Eventually, though, that weaker part of the blade tip will return to its rolled-over shape and become ‘flimsy’ over time. This is especially true of European-style knives such as Henckels and Wusthof. The steel that goes into making these knives is softer than Japanese ones and will lose its edge quicker. That means that eventually you will need to use something more aggressive such as a ceramic hone to recondition your blade a bit. Fine ceramic rods will push the blade back into shape, but also remove a tiny bit of the weakened part of the blade to help it maintain its edge longer. Yes, it is still removing some of your blade, but it is taking a very minimal part off. After doing this repeatedly though, you will need to get your knife re-sharpened.
Ceramic rod knife sharpener – Japanese cutlery
If you use fine Japanese cutlery, it is best to step back even further from the ceramic and go with a completely smooth rod or a glass honing rod. Japanese knives keep their edge longer, so often they just need to be realigned with a non-aggressive honing process. Also, because of the hardness of Japanese knives, they chip easier so a gentle honing is necessary to prevent damage to your knife. Leather strops, smooth hones, and micro-grooved glass rods are good options for Japanese cutlery.
So if you are looking to be nice and gentle to your knives, it is best to go with a combination of rods such as a smooth polished one and then have a ceramic one for European knives and a glass one for Japanese knives when needed.
After browsing the Knife Forum discussions, here are some recommendations for honing rods.
The Messermeister Ceramic Rod Knife Sharpener is a good option. It is sold from EdgePro and Japanese Knife Sharpening.
For smooth hones you can shop several stores. Restaurant Source and Chefs Knives to Go have good selections of hones.
To buy a glass honing rod as well as other sharpening tools, Hand American is a good resource, but the site seems to be under some maintenance right now. It sort of looks like a light saber.