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?

  • 2
    I didn't know there was a difference. +1.
    – SurDin
    Feb 10, 2011 at 9:38

5 Answers 5


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.

  • +1, for truth, succinctness, and b/c that's a wonderfully elegant metaphor.
    – BobMcGee
    Jul 29, 2011 at 17:20
  • 1
    Nice analogy, for an illustration of dulled edge vs folded edge, I like Alton Brown's video on knife sharpening - link In my opinion, it's not worth buying a sharpening system, and spending the time to learn how to sharpen properly - in general I find it's a better use of time/money to take your knife roll to a pro once or twice a year (depending on how much you use them). But it can totally be a fun hobby, and if you wanna do it, you do you!
    – Nat Bowman
    May 19, 2017 at 17:26

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.

  • 1
    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, 2011 at 17:22

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.

  • 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, 2011 at 17:27

The heart of the matter is that you can

  • end up "thick behind the edge" if you overuse a sharpening device that imposes a fixed angle (that means anything guided). Since most blades become gradually thicker towards the spine, the width at the end of the primary bevel increases with each use - leading to a knife that is still sharp but does not cut harder foodstuffs fluidly any more. This can be repaired, but is nontrivial work (on whetstones, assume you will spend 1 to 2 hours. And you need to know what you are doing.).

  • lose blade height. There are many anecdotes around about some chef's filet knives having started out as chef knives.

There is another problem with some ill advised sharpening devices:

  • anything that uses powered sharpening wheels without a coolant (water) can easily overheat and permanently damage the metal.

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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