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How To Sharpen A Knife With A Rod

How To Sharpen A Knife With A Rod

Perhaps you have always had a rod in your kitchen set or are thinking of buying one. Whatever the case, you may be wondering how to actually use it. 

Sharpening rods, also commonly called honing rods, are very helpful tools. Sharpening rods can help lengthen the life of your blade and help to maintain a sharp and efficient set of kitchen knives. 

The main jobs of honing rods are to straighten the blade’s edge, smooth out rough patches and revive dull, tired knives. 

However, this will not be the case if you use the rod improperly. This guide will explain how to sharpen a knife with a rod in a few easy steps. 

We will also cover everything else you need to know, including what a sharpening rod is and how it compares to other sharpening methods. 

Not only will you find out how to sharpen with a rod, but you will also learn the different kinds of sharpening rods you can buy. 

If you are ready to become a knife honing expert and learn what sharpening rod will be best suited for you, keep reading. 

What Is a Sharpening Rod?

What is Sharpening Steel?

A sharpening rod is a piece of steel that people use to hone knives. Most honing rods are steel, but you can also find ceramic sharpening rods and diamond-coated steel rods. 

Sharpening rods are usually about a foot long and are either oval, flat or round. 

A sharpening rod, also called a honing rod, straightens the edge of knife blades. While this is not the same thing as sharpening, it will improve how well your knife will cut. 

Sharpening rods will smooth out any rough patches on your blade as well as revive any edges that may have dulled over time. 

The most important thing to remember about sharpening rods is that they won’t necessarily sharpen your blade. Most “sharpening rods” on the market are honing rods, which we will talk about today. 

How Does It Compare to Other Sharpening Methods

Other Sharpening Methods

If you are wondering how to sharpen a knife with a rod, you may also question how well it works compared to other sharpening methods

Sharpening Rods Do Not Sharpen Knives

The majority of other sharpening methods, like sharpening stones, will remove steel on the blade to create a new, sharper edge. However, the main job of sharpening rods is to simply maintain the sharpness

Even though sharpening rods do not sharpen the blade, they are still crucial for maintaining a sharp knife. 

The main advantage that honing rods have over other sharpening methods is that you won’t have to sharpen your knife nearly as much as you would if you didn’t use a sharpening rod. 

Sharpening Rods Will Maintain Your Blades Sharpness

As mentioned above, sharpening rods will maintain the sharpness of your blade. Your knife blade has dozens of very small teeth on the edge. As you use the knife, the teeth can become misaligned or be bent/dulled. Honing rods will realign the teeth on the edge of your knife and will make the knife feel sharp again. 

How To Sharpen With a Rod

Sharpening Rods Sharpen

This section will explain how to sharpen a knife with a rod in a few easy steps. 

  • Get a dry cutting board and place it on the counter. Then, take your sharpening rod and place the end on the cutting board, holding it down firmly. If you don’t have a cutting board, simply place the end of the rod on the counter. 
  • Place the heel of the blade on the rod. Make sure that the knife is near the top of the sharpening rod, near the handle. You should also tip the edge of the knife upwards a bit. The blade should be at a 15-degree angle. 
  1. Slide the blade down the entire length of the sharpening rod. Make sure to maintain light pressure throughout the process and keep the blade at a 15-degree angle. As you run the blade down the rod, try to sweep in a motion that moves the knife blade from left to right. By the time the blade is in the middle of the rod, the middle of the blade should be touching the rod. 
  2. Repeat this stroke five times on one side of the blade. After you finish, sharpen the other side of the blade.
  • Rinse the blade and wipe it dry. Your knife may have some small metal filings on the blade. If you are cutting food right away, these tiny pieces of metal could get into the food you are preparing. Clean the blade after sharpening to avoid this. 

There are a few things to note when using a sharpening rod. First of all, take your time and sharpen your blade slowly. Going faster has no benefits and will increase the risk of cutting yourself. 

Furthermore, as a general rule of thumb, your sharpening rod should be at least as long as your knife or longer. This will make the process more efficient. 

Finally, make sure your honing rod is easily accessible at all times while in the kitchen. Just a quick few strokes on the rod can prevent the need for sharpening your knife for a while. The more you use your sharpening rod, the less you will have to use a sharpening block. 

Are All Sharpening Rods the Same?

Sharpening Steel

Even though you may know how to sharpen a knife with a rod, you may be unfamiliar with the different kinds of rods out there. Not all sharpening rods are the same; there are three different kinds. 

Steel Honing Rods

Steel honing rods are the most common types of sharpening rods you will find in most kitchens. Many knife sets come with steel honing rods. They are also the oldest and most traditional. 

Steel honing rods either have smooth surfaces or have tiny ridges along the length of the tool. There are benefits to both kinds of rods. 

Rods with rough ridges tend to shape the teeth on the blade more aggressively. Knives that you sharpen with rough honing rods will be able to cut a bit better. 

However, the rough steel rods are also harder on the knife itself. These kinds of rods will lower the life of your blade and wear down the edge much faster. 

On the other hand, smooth steel honing rods do not wear down the blade since they don’t have ridges. Something to note about smooth steel rods, though, is that they can damage Japanese knives. 

Diamond Honing Rods

Diamond honing rods are great for those who want rods that sharpen your blade and not just hone them.

Since diamond rods are so hard, they will sharpen your blade as well as hone it. For this reason, you should never use a diamond honing rod for regular maintenance. If you do, you will drastically lower the lifespan of your knife. 

Diamond honing rods are good for quick sharpening sessions that don’t require full-fledged sharpening stones. 

Ceramic Honing Rods

Ceramic rods are a mix of steel and diamond honing rods. They are harder than steel but are much less aggressive than diamond sharpening rods. 

Many ceramic rods have a very fine grit. While this could potentially wear down a blade, it won’t do near as much damage as rough steel would do. 

Ceramic rods can smooth and clean the edge of the blade while straightening the teeth simultaneously. The tool will remove any weak edges on the blade and only leave strong and sharp edges. 

A major benefit of ceramic honing rods is that they can do just as good of a job as diamond and steel rods. However, it won’t take as much metal away as other kinds of tools. 

One last thing to mention about ceramic rods is that you will have to be careful with them. If you drop them on the floor, they can break quite easily. 


Sharpening rods also come in many different sizes. If you want to buy only one honing rod, we recommend picking up a rod that is about 12 inches. This size will give you some wiggle room for larger knives such as 10-inch blades. You will also be able to hone smaller knives with a 12-inch rod. 


We hope that this guide has helped you understand how to sharpen a knife with a rod. 

There are three main types of sharpening rods, including steel, ceramic and diamond. Sharpening rods straighten the teeth of blades which will increase how sharp it feels. 

Honing rods can also smooth out any rough patches on your blade. The main benefit of using sharpening rods is that they will help maintain the sharpness of the knife. 

The more you use a honing rod, the less you will have to sharpen it. 

It is not difficult to sharpen a knife with a rod. To start, place the rod on the counter. Then put the heel of the blade on the rod at a 15-degree angle. Then you can sweep the blade across the rod about five times on each side. 


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