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In the long run, is it better to regularly use a knife honer instead of a knife sharpener once in a while to keep the edge sharp?

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I didn't know there was a difference. +1. –  SurDin Feb 10 '11 at 9:38
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4 Answers

up vote 24 down vote accepted

You should use both. Knives have a very thin ragged edge (the burr) that is too small to see, which gets pushed over from use, and which makes the knife seem dull. A honing steel straightens this burr out. I use a honing steel before I cook every day.

Over time, the burr wears down, or can no longer be straightened. At this point, you will need to use the sharpener, which actually removes metal from the blade. One metaphor would be that if your knife was carpet, honing is like vacuuming, and sharpening is like steam cleaning.

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+1 for the metaphor :) –  Alinium Jan 24 '11 at 12:37
    
+1, for truth, succinctness, and b/c that's a wonderfully elegant metaphor. –  BobMcGee Jul 29 '11 at 17:20
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I worked with a 60+ year old chef who had been using the same knife since he started his apprenticeship at age 15 (no exaggeration). Over the decades he had worn away at least 1cm of blade width by sharpening and honing but it was still completely functional.

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At the restaurant I work with now, one of my personal chef knife (8" Victorinox) is the same as two of the house knives... except the house knives are about 1/2" (1.5 cm) smaller. –  BobMcGee Jul 29 '11 at 17:22
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Absolutely. A honer, or even better a sharpening steel removes a minuscule amount of material. Or knife will last a lifetime.

The honer only realigns the blade, it doesn't remove material and reestablish a true bevel.

Eventually, you'll use the honer and it won't do anything, thats when you use the sharpener.

Realize though, that the electric sharpeners often have a rough sharpening disk, and that will remove a lot of material. You want to use that sparingly.

Other than that, you can sharpen every few weeks and your knives should last years and years.

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Ah, I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say with the first three sentences (they seem contradictory). Can you edit this? –  BobMcGee Jul 29 '11 at 17:27
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I'm 72 been doing it a while. Buff shooting Skinning. Deer. Roos Cattle etc down to bunnies.

My main knives are Wustof Which I bought b4 coming to this country 40 yrs ago last month. Three are still ok. My favourite one. a 15cm Utility I've stoned\honed it down to the main body thickness of the blade. STill does the drop Tomato trick easily. But. Time to retire. I replaced with a nice little Damascus Japanese one. Standard handle. What the heck. At my age.. Spoil myself...

So Moral of story.
YES. You will wear out even good\best quality. Eventually. But most won't live long enuff to see it. Mine took not much less than 50 yrs to do so. and the primary ones still good for another ten at least. Keep stropping. That's the secret of the extra edge. Strop, strop, the knife. 10 times a side Alternate for five minutes.on GOOD leather belt..NOT oiled. Have fun

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