View Full Version : Honing, Sharpening...Newbie going crazy!

10-28-2011, 11:14 AM
Hey there,

I am new to Japanese knives and I need help with learning how to take care of them. I have been trying to educate myself, but the more I read on the internet, the more confused I get!! Every new thing I read seems to contradict the last thing. I need help!

I know that honing is to realign the blade edge, however I have read that Japanese steel may not require this. On the other hand, I have also read that all knives, including Japanese, require regular honing.

When it comes to honing rods, I have read that regular steels should not be used for Japanese knives as they are too soft. I see ceramic rods recommended frequently for Japanese knives, but on the other hand I've seen ceramic rods NOT recommended as they will really be sharpening the edge because it removes some of the metal from the edge and that this is bad. I've read about the HandAmerican borosilicate rod to be the best for honing Japanese steel, but then I also read about this not really being beneficial and to use a ceramic steel or nothing at all.

Then I've read that Japanese knives shouldn't be honed at all and should just be sharpened as necessary on waterstones. And then there's stropping...

So what is the deal?? I am going crazy! What is the correct info and how do I properly care for my knives?

Please help me!

10-28-2011, 12:02 PM
Sounds like you're very well educated. Now you have to decide what you like best, as opposed to what others think is proper. I've have very good results with all of the above methods on almost any blade (the honing steel being too soft is definitely true in some cases). The bottom line is figuring out what your personal definition of a good result is. Have fun!

10-28-2011, 02:10 PM
The thing about re-aligning the edge applies to western style knives that are made of relatively soft steel as the edge will roll when used on a board. This is not usually the case with harder steels found on Japanese or custom knives. The use of a rod is different with different types of steel and different types of rods. Some rods are abrasive, some not.
Honing means sharpening, how it is done varies wildly.

10-29-2011, 09:30 AM
I want to know what I should be doing to keep my knives as sharp as possible and in good condition. Should I be using a rod or waterstones? How frequently? I've also read comments that a rod should never be used as, no matter the experience level, a knife cannot be applied against a rod perfectly evenly and a wave effect on the blade edge will occur.

I appreciate the sentiment that there is a lot of personal preference involved, but being inexperienced and not having a lot of money to buy up a bunch of accessories to test out that I may not get use out of is why I posted here. I thought some experienced users would be able to give me their recommendations or preferences..

Eamon Burke
10-29-2011, 10:29 AM
What kind of knives have you got? What do you do with them? What is your budget?

10-29-2011, 01:35 PM
First you hone on a stone, then you strop to refine or restore the edge you get from honing. A combination waterstone to hone is good and stropping can be done on newspaper on a flat surface. I usually strop on a home made strop made by glueing a piece of leather onto a piece of wood that has some diamond paste rubbed onto it. This makes it easy to shave with the knife, but is not necessary.
You might want to do some searches on this site for sharpening. There is a lot of information here that you can benefit from. A lot depends on the knives that you have and how you use them on what food.

10-30-2011, 02:46 PM
As tk says, it is sorta up to you to find what works best and try different things. The terminology is incredibly confusing so I wouldn't worry too much about that. Also try not to be put off by other people's perceptions. There are very few hard and fast rules about knives so it is up to you to find what you like best. Personally I use a ceramic rod in work and a leather strop as well, it works for me