One of the biggest misconceptions is that the use of honing rod will sharpen your knife. While the honing rod has a place in the kitchen, it won't actually sharpen your knife, which involves creating an entirely new sharp edges on your blade.
To fully understand sharpening, it's best to step back and understand a little bit about knives, and how they work. That edge of the blade on your knife looks like a perfectly smooth long ridge. If you were to put it under a microscope, what you would see is that the edge isn't actually smooth, but instead is like a craggy mountain range of microscopic "teeth" that run the length of the blade.
Photo credit: the awesome Science of Sharp blog
When your knife first comes out of the box, the blade edge remains in tact creating a sharp edge on your knife. But over time, the daily wear of your knife starts to knock these teeth out of alignment, which creates a dull edge.
Regular use of a honing rod can help realign these teeth somewhat closer to their original state, and improve the performance of the knife versus its inevitably dulling state. But it will never fully return the original sharp edge.
This will not sharpen your knife
True sharpening involves removing metal from the blade to create a brand new edge. An expert sharpener is a craftsman who utilizes specialized tools and a knowledge of steel and knife construction/geometry to create the appropriate edge for your knife.
Is it possible to do this at home? Yes. But the most common solution, a pull-through sharpener, leaves a lot to be desired. These "one size fits all" sharpening units don't create great edges, shorten the life of your blade unnecessarily, and can severely damage or ruin your blades.
The best way to sharpen knives at home is through the use of whetstones, which is a process by which you give each knife dozens to hundreds of passes over a series of stones, starting with rough and moving to smooth. This is an excellent way to create a great edge on your knife, and we highly recommend it as the best home sharpening solution. But as with many things, there are downsides. Proper whetstone sharpening involves a learning curve to master the skill and plenty of time to do the sharpening. During the development of Knifey we've encountered customers who have put time and money into learning to sharpen, only to find they were unhappy with the learning curve, the time commitment, and the results they were able to achieve.
At Knifey, we wanted to take "sharp" and make it "easy." With expert craftsmen with years of experience sharpening knives, we are able to diagnose the needs of each individual blade and attack sharpening on an individualized basis. Creating a razor sharp edge is what our technicians specialize in. If you haven't already signed up for Knifey, try it today. With no long term commitments and plans starting at $5.99 a month, it's a low risk way to see how sharp knives can change your life.
Ready to sign up for Knifey? Get started with the link at the bottom of the page.
Interested in learning more about knife sharpening? Here are a couple of links to great articles on sharpening from The Kitchn and Serious Eats:
Sharpening vs. Honing from Kitchn
Choosing a Honing Steel + Sharpening Primer from Serious Eats