The Best Sharpening Steel for the Money: Reviews of Top Deals for Your Money

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 11/16/20 •  16 min read

Are you still searching for the best sharpening rod for your knives?

Not sure which product to pick up because there are too many?

Then take a look at my personal favorite list below.

And I’m sure you will soon find what you’re looking for.

But first…

Do these rods wear out?

No.

As long as these steel rods are maintained in pristine conditions, they are usable throughout the entire rod.

They only become clogged with metallic particles from the blade.

When they are unclogged, the steels are often good as new.

Are they really that good?

They are good, convenient, and efficient.

The main reason why most people love them is that they are easy to use and require almost no maintenance.

What is more amazing about these rods is that they are free to use in that they do not require electricity like electric sharpeners.

They are easily portable thereby making them a perfect choice for hunting and other outdoor experiences.

Best Sharpening Steels for Your Kitchen (Updated List)

Utopia Kitchen 12 Inch Honing Steel Knife Sharpening Steel Sharpening Rod
$12.99
  • 12-inch knife sharpening steel rod is for all types of knives, including kitchen, household, sporting and pocket knives; sharpens standard and serrated edge knives
  • The steel rod is made of carbon steel and plated with nickel-chrome; the fine surface of the steel rod prevents the cutting edge from damage when sharpening
  • Easy to use, right or left handed with an ergonomic handle that fits all hands; slip-resistant rubber bottom means your sharpener is easy to handle and stays in place during use
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/18/2022 02:33 am GMT

* A Serious Contender *

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/16/2022 03:46 pm GMT

Buying Guide

Cutting through food items with a blunt knife is not only inconvenient but also dangerous.

This is because a blunt knife will require you to apply more pressure and force which in turn can cause injuries to your fingers or even damage your food.

This is why it is vital to ensure that your knives are sharp at all times where you are a home cook or a professional chef.

This is why you should invest in a good rod.

These sharpeners double as indispensable kitchen accessories.

Some of the things worth noting about these sharpeners when looking for the best to buy include:

Material

Irrespective of the exterior surface, there will always be a metal core.

This core is crucial in ensuring that the rod is not only solid but also strong.

On average, steel has a 65 HRC hardness on the Rockwell Scale.

This guarantees the least abrasiveness level.

However, the abrasiveness level depends on the material used in coating the rod.

Diamond is a hard material and equally most abrasive material that can be used for coating.

It is usually ideal for refining knife edges as well as removing metal chippings and fillings on your knife.

Ceramic is yet another material used on these rods.

Steel is the most common material in steel rods.

This is because it is ideal for sharpening, maintaining how sharp the edges would be, and honing blades after sharpening.

It also comes in different grit levels for varying sharpening needs.

Shape

The shape is yet another variant.

The most common shapes for these rods include round, oval, flat, and squared shapes.

Round is the most common shape since it has a standard contact thereby making sharpening quite easy.

Inexperienced cooks are also able to handle round rods easily when honing their knives.

Oval and flat rods have a bigger contact surface than round rods.

As such, they (oval & flat) are increasingly easy to use for both sharpening and honing.

Squared rods feature two sharpening levels with each face having a different grit level than the other.

However, you have to be careful when using this rod as the corners can easily damage your knife if handled and used wrongly.

Size

The rods vary in size just like knives and blades do.

In light of this, the ideal size should be influenced by the size of your knives.

It is important to note that the size of the sharpening rod should be equal or longer compared to the length of the knife.

This provides for smooth and efficient sharpening as well as easy handling of the sharpener.

Blade hardness

Before buying anything, it is necessary to consider the hardness of the blades in your knife.

This goes a long way in influencing your choice.

The blade hardness will determine how abrasive the ultimate steel should be.

For harder blades, you should opt for the most abrasive steel rods.

For ultra-hard blades, it is recommendable to use diamond and ceramic steel rods.

Handle

As far as the safety of a sharpening rod is concerned, the handle is definitely an important feature.

The right product should have a comfortable one that is slip-resistant.

It should not be either too big or too small so that it provides a firm and secure grip.it should also rest easy and comfortably on the hand.

A good one will make it easier and safer to use the rod.

Is Honing The Same?

best sharpening steel

Sharpening and honing are seemingly similar but there is a world of difference between the two.

This is because while these tasks are accomplished using nearly the same process, the intentions and results are quite different.

Sharpening refers to removing bluntness and repairing chipped knife blades using a sharpener such as a sharpening rod, electric sharpener, whetstone, or any other preferred sharpener.

It often eats away a portion of the knife so as to make the edge thinner and remove any dents along the edge.

This makes it easier to cut with the knife using lesser force and effort.

Honing, on the other hand, is a polishing process done after sharpening a knife. It is usually a finishing process that adds the final touch to an already sharpened knife.

Honing re-aligns the microscopic teeth on the edge to make the knife more centralized for smooth cuts. It enhances a knife’s longevity while at the same time reducing the frequency of sharpening.

For honing, you can only use a honing steel or a sharpening rod.

The most unique thing about honing is that unlike sharpening, you can do it every time you are using the knife to straighten it and enhance its sharpness.

Related:

Best Honing Steel Reviews

Utopia Kitchen Honing Steel (Top Choice)

Utopia Kitchen 12 Inch Honing Steel Knife Sharpening Steel Sharpening Rod
$12.99
  • 12-inch knife sharpening steel rod is for all types of knives, including kitchen, household, sporting and pocket knives; sharpens standard and serrated edge knives
  • The steel rod is made of carbon steel and plated with nickel-chrome; the fine surface of the steel rod prevents the cutting edge from damage when sharpening
  • Easy to use, right or left handed with an ergonomic handle that fits all hands; slip-resistant rubber bottom means your sharpener is easy to handle and stays in place during use
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/18/2022 02:33 am GMT

Utopia is popular for producing the best quality kitchenware and sharpening rods.

This 10-inch model is made using carbon steel and hence is durable and resistant to wearing out.

In addition, it is plated using a nickel-chrome finish that protects the whole main part from corrosion and rusting.

It is perfect for use by both right and left-handed people without any strains or inconveniences whatsoever.

The ergonomic handle is comfortable to grasp in the hands and does not strain the forearms or fingers in any way.

With the proper care and cautionary measures, you can reshape your knife or blade within a few minutes.

Ideally, the product feels easy and soft to hold in the hands even for a long duration.

Our scores:

Pros:

Cons:

Kota Japan 12-inch Sharpening Steel (2nd Best)

Featuring a state-of-the-art manufacturing process for precision and excellent performance, this Kota Japan is designed uniquely to guarantee high efficiency.

Being a professional Japanese product, it is good for use by restaurant-level chefs as well as for use by average cooks at home.

This one boasts of an attractively pleasing design that enhances the overall appearance while also having a positive impact on durability and reliability.

Over the years, Kota Japan has consistently manufactured high-end tools that are not only easy to handle but also highly efficient.

The 12-inch length makes it safe to use the rod even without prior experience.

Our scores:

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Cons:

Mac Knife Sharpening Steel (Best for Ceramic Knives)

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03/18/2022 02:34 am GMT

Measuring an impressive 10.5 inches in length, this model from Mac Knife features a 2000 grit surface that is perfect for revitalizing all types of blades including ceramic ones.

This good black ceramic rod is considerably more durable compared to white ceramic ones.

They are perfect for honing kitchen knives as well as other multipurpose blades.

It also has a decent build quality and as such can last for long without wearing out excessively or losing its grit.

Despite the handle being plastic, it is relatively durable and with the right care and attention, the rod can be a useful and reliable tool for years.

It has a Rockwell hardness of over 60 and hence can be used for honing a wide range of blades and knives.

Our scores:

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Noble Home & Chef (Best for Gifting)

Built for everyday use, the Noble Professional Knife Steel comes with an oval handle that provides a firm grip while the steel rod is magnetized for safety when working with your blades.

This professionally designed model is ideal for use by chefs and for daily use by average cooks at home.

The superior design concept employed in building this sharpening tool enhances the durability of the hardened carbon steel material for excellent durability.

The chromium plating ensures that the main steel is resistant to rusting and corrosion even when used in wet and moist conditions.

What is unique about this product is that it does not wear out too much metal from the knife’s edge.

As such, the rod does not contribute to the excessive wearing out and tearing off the knife’s edge.

Our scores:

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Green Elephant (Best for Hardness)

If you are looking for an exceptional and classy steel sharpening rod that is lightweight and highly durable, then this unit from Green Elephant is the ultimate choice to get.

This extremely durable tool boasts of featuring the best high-quality ceramic material with a Rockwell hardness range of 75-80.

It prides itself on having a unique shock-absorbing feature that not only protects the hands from vibrations when working but also prevents the shattering of the rod when dropped.

The comfortable handle makes it easy to grip the sharpener securely in the hands without hurting or straining your muscles.

It is a great choice for dull blades or those that have stayed for long without being touched.

You can use this rod for all types of knives and blades including serrated knives.

Our scores:

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How To Hone The Knife Edge – Some Useful Tips

Buying the best honing steels is one thing but maintaining and using the rod appropriately is a different thing altogether.

This is because even for the best quality steel rods, it is crucial to ensure that you not only use the steel rod appropriately but also that you take good care of it.

The first thing you need to ensure when buying the steel rod is that its length is either equal to or more than that of the blade.

This provides for the safety and convenience of using the rod for your kitchen knives.

Another thing you need to note about these rods is that you should rinse them after use.

This guarantees that your rod remains in pristine condition since there is no clogging of metal chips from the blade.

You do not need to soak the road in water with detergent or soap.

Instead, use a moist towel to rinse and wipe it off.

It is advisable that you keep it in close reach when working in the kitchen.

This will help you access the rod easily in case you need to hone your knives when preparing your food.

The best thing about these rods is that they are efficient in straightening blades without grinding away much of the blade.

The rods do not require any specialized skills to use and handle.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best choice currently?

Despite there being tons s in the market presently, there are a few brands that stand out due to their superior build quality and reliability.

These are rods that are designed for everyday use in a typical kitchen.

It is worth noting that these steels also double as honing rods.

Some of the best are Dexter Butcher, Mac Black, Pierre Bonnel, Messermeister, Green Elephant, and Winware among other brands.

Can a knife be too dull to sharpen?

A knife can never be too dull to sharpen.

This is because there are highly efficient sharpeners like electric knife sharpeners that are known to remove any level of dullness and bluntness in a knife.

The only thing you need to do when sharpening extremely dull blades is using the best sharpening angle.

Steep angles are the best for such knives.

However, manual sharpeners like a sharpening rod may not be the best choice for blades that are too dull.

How much does it cost to get your knife sharpened?

It is common for the majority of cookware shops to offer professional knife sharpening services.

Local shops are a good choice since they do not require you to ship the knife as you do with online sharpeners.

The pricing of professional sharpening services is done on the basis of the length of the blade.

Most experts charge between $1.50 and $2.25 per inch.

The cost of sharpening may also be influenced by the extent of dullness or damages to the blade.  It is also possible to get professionals with cheaper rates as little as $1 per inch.

Can you sharpen a ceramic knife with it?

Yes, you can.

However, this may be a tiresome and time-consuming activity.

This is because ceramic is a hard material and hence using it may require you to use more effort and time.

Ceramic is harder than steel and as such, if you want to sharpen these blades efficiently, a diamond sharpener is your best choice.

How easy it is to sharpen ceramic blades?

It’s not that hard as you might think.

Just do the work as usual and you would be fine.

Can honing steel sharpen your knife?

Basically, a honing steel is designed to push the edge of a blade back to its center and straighten it.

Therefore, honing steel does not sharpen the blade.

If done properly and appropriately, it is possible to notice that the knife becomes sharper after honing.

This is because the blade is not straightened and is in a proper cutting position.

Can stainless steel knives be sharpened?

Yes.

Stainless steel knives can be sharpened using a variety of sharpeners including sharpening rods, electric sharpeners, whetstones, and manual sharpeners.

How long does a diamond rod last?

Despite being quite durable, long-lasting, and reliable, it can not last forever.

Their lifespan ranges between ten and twenty years.

With proper care, use, handling, and maintenance, these sharpeners can last for a considerably long duration.

For sharpeners that are used regularly such as on a daily basis, they can last for up to ten years.

However, for those that are used less frequently, their lifespan can stretch up to twenty years.

Are knife sharpeners bad for knives?

For your information, sharpeners are not bad for knives or other cutting devices.

But, you need to ensure that you use the sharpener appropriately and accordingly in line with the manufacturer’s provisions and guidelines.

This is because using the sharpeners wrongly can easily damage the knives.

For sharpeners that are excessively abrasive, using them on soft steel blades can eat up the blade quickly.

Also, cheap sharpeners may be detrimental to blades especially if their handling and use are not right.

Why is my knife not getting sharp again?

Other than using the wrong sharpener, the other probable reason why your blade may not be sharpening is if you are using an impractically steep angle.

Ideally, if you settle on an angle that is too high, it is quite easy to blunt the edge.

Therefore, always use the right sharpener and follow the necessary sharpening procedures.

Do pull-through knife sharpeners wear out?

No, pull-through sharpeners do not wear out.

This is because the sharpening surface is hard and abrasive to eat away the edge (sharpen).

The sharpener may get clogged with time and as such, you need to clean it regularly to remove the clogging.

It is advisable to clean a pull-through sharpener after 3-5 sharpening sessions.

How do you keep a steel knife sharpened?

Keeping a steel cutting knife sharpened is as easy as sharpening the blade.

You only need to use the blade on the recommended cutting surfaces, cutting/slicing through the right food items, honing it regularly, and use the proper cutting technique.

Additionally, you should wash and rinse the knife after every use, and store it in a safe and secure place.

You should never place the blade in a dishwasher as this will damage the blade.

Conclusion

After you have identified the right set of knives and sharpening rods to buy, it is necessary that you play your part in using and maintaining the blade and sharpener in the right way.

Hone the blade frequently and ensure that you follow the right sharpening procedures.

This will guarantee the longevity and durability of both the knife and the sharpener.

The Noble Home & Chef Magnetized sharpening steel is one of the best picks out there.

Since it’s magnetized, it’s much safer to use, and with its chromium plating, the sharpening rod can last you a very long time.

Through our research, we also found that the TUO Honing Steel is a great runner-up, with it’s classy PakkaWood handle and high-carbon stainless steel rod, this honing steel will easily realign the edge on any of your knives.

And for those who need a budget-friendly option, we recommend the All Win Houseware Sharpening Steel, as it has all the features you need from a premium sharpening steel, but is available on a budget.

Further reading:

Knife Sharp

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Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.

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