Everything You Need to Know About Honing a Knife

ChefSteps shares terrific tips for honing knives, so they will work well and last a lifetime.

Read the transcript of this video
[MUSIC] Hi, my name's Daniel O'Malley. I'm a bladesmith and I started making knives back in 1996 and I own a shop called the Epicurean Edge. Okay, so the goal of the honing is to be distinct from sharpening, that is that instead of recreating a new edge We're trying to straighten the edge that we've got. There's no big surprise. The edge of the knife is microscopically thin. We're whacking it against a cutting board and it's gonna bend over. The goal here is to bring that edge back to center. We can often feel a bent over edge if a knife hasn't been honed enough by rubbing your fingers against the edge or away from the cutting edge. And if it catches your finger pads, you can feel that the edge has been rolled over. We're gonna start with honing, and you'll see a lot of different techniques for honing. The way that I'm recommending doing is vertically in front of you. Many times you'll see people hone down in front like this. Not that you can't do it this way. It's just unlikely you're gonna do it correctly. This is all about angle. Sharpening the wrong angle doesn't work, nor does honing, and so if I can see the angle that I'm doing, if I can remove my pivot points I'm gonna be much more accurate. Starting at the heel of the knife drawing the knife down and toward me reaching the tip in a nice fluid motion. It's the best way that we can re-straighten that edge. The angle is critical. Think of a paper matchbook put down between the knife and the rod. If the angle is too wide, we're gonna roll the edge to the side, or even rip the edge off. If the angle's too narrow, we risk scratching the knife. And so just sort of think of that paper match book between drawing down and toward you. You'll have the best results. This is something that needs to be done about six times on each side and to keep the knife straight. It's gonna need to be done about every two to three hours that you're actually using a knife. Most of us at home maybe that's once or twice a week. For a professional chef once or twice a day. [MUSIC]
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Everything You Need to Know About Honing a Knife


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