The 7 Best Sharpening Steels

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This wiki has been updated 7 times since it was first published in May of 2019. The sharper a knife, the safer it is to use, but every cut causes an edge to go slightly out of true. Whether you use yours only occasionally or for hours each day, it's important to have the right honing rod to keep them in pristine condition. Here are some of the most effective sharpening steels for kitchen knives and utility blades. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best sharpening steel on Amazon.

7. Smith's 3001

6. Cooks Standard Diamond

5. Mundial 5500 Series

This item has been flagged for editorial review and is not available.

4. Idahone Fine

3. Pierre Bonnel Ceramic

2. Dexter Butcher

1. Mac Black

Editor's Notes

May 06, 2019:

Before going any further, you may notice what we don't have on the list: any grooved steel rods. Quite frankly, those do not serve much of a purpose and nobody should ever buy them. They don't sharpen and they barely hone, but they can and do cause tiny microserrations in otherwise healthy blades and cause them to degrade more quickly. Next up, briefly, remember that honing and sharpening are very different things. Honing brings a slightly warped edge back into true by making it straight again, while sharpening physically removes material to create an entirely new edge.

With that clarified, the Mac Black is the most versatile around. A skilled chef can hone at any rate and sharpen with relative ease thanks to the ceramic material and grooved sides. The reasons this grooved option is okay are that 1) it's accompanied by a smooth side to finish the honing process and 2) it's geared towards professionals who tend to have more experience regarding the nuances of the task. For everyday use, the Dexter Butcher is hard to beat; this is one that you could safely use after every single kitchen task and it wouldn't damage the knife. If you just need something to get you by at work, check out the Pierre Bonnel, which isn't the very best quality, but it's cheap and effective. As for the Idahone, I've used one for years, and it's a little amusing how many times I've seen them in different cooks' and chefs' kits over that time. Just don't drop it, as it's pretty fragile, and its round handle doesn't like to stay in one place once it's set down. The Mundial is worth looking at if you're honing a small machete or similarly large knife, as it's important that your rod is longer than your blade. And the Cook's Standard and Smith are not to be used without extreme caution, as they can very easily damage a knife if you don't use them properly. They both take a lot of metal off a blade, and neither is meant for honing. As long as you know what you're getting into, though, they can be very effective tools for repairing damaged edges or bringing otherwise very dull knives back into circulation without dealing with actual sharpening stones, which require multiple hours of soaking in oil or water to work properly.

Christopher Thomas
Last updated on May 08, 2019 by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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