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Sharpening VS Honing

What’s the difference? Simply put, sharpening removes metal from the blade, honing doesn’t.

Honing

Every time your knife contacts the cutting board, there’s an impact on the blade. That’s not a flaw; it’s just part of using a knife. Over time and many impacts, the thin edge of the blade will naturally curl over. This is called a “rolled edge.” The edge is still sharp, but because the edge is curled, the sharpest part is no longer what is moving directly through the food as you cut.

Enter the honing steel. A honing steel enables you to re-align—or uncurl—the edge so that the razor-sharp edge is once again gliding through the food as you cut. To hone, align the flat side of the blade with the 16° angle guide on the hand guard of your Shun honing steel. Maintaining that angle, gently pull the blade down the steel from heel of blade to tip. Some cooks hone once a week, some hone every day. It just depends on how much you use your knives. Either way, you will be amazed at the difference it makes when you cut.

Honing Santoku knifeHoning Santoku knife

Sharpening

When honing is no longer effective in bringing the “sharp” back, then it’s time for real sharpening. Whenever you sharpen your knife, a bit of the metal is removed. But that’s no cause for concern. Your Shun is designed for a lifetime of use and can be sharpened again and again.

When sharpening, it’s critical to make sure the knife is sharpened at the correct 16° angle. But remember, sharpening actually removes metal from the blade, so sharpen only when you really need it. Once a year is probably more than enough for most home cooks. Professionals, of course, will need to sharpen more often. The easiest way to ensure your knives are sharpened correctly is to send them back to us for FREE sharpening. If you prefer hands-on sharpening, we recommend learning how to use a Japanese whetstone. The Shun 3-Piece Sharpening Set includes a base that helps you maintain the correct angle more easily.

Sharpening Santoku knifeSharpening Santoku knife