Top 5 Best Sharpening Steels 2020:
- Victorinox Swiss Army Honing Steel
- Wusthof 12″ Deluxe Steel
- Winware Stainless Steel Sharpening Steel
- Green Elephant Ceramic Sharpening Rod
- Buck Knives 97082 EdgeTek Steel Diamond Sharpener
If you’d ask a couple of people what is sharpening steel, you would probably get a shrug an honest blank stare. Sure, they have seen this piece of kitchenware included in the fancy knife sets or cooking TV shows but never had the opportunity to use one.
Well, that’s too bad. Why?
Sharpening steels are used to keep the blades of your knives sharp and well-shaped. That makes them probably the second most important tool you can have in your kitchen. If you own a set of knives, you need to own sharpening steel.
Of course, having one is simply not good enough. There are too many cheap money-grabs out there to fall for the product appeal alone.
Let us then take a quick look at some of the most popular units on the market and see which one of them deserves to carry the title of the best sharpening steel and become a part of your kitchen arsenal.
Like always, we have five contenders.
Related: The Best Pocket Knife Sharpeners
5 Best Sharpening Steels In 2020: Detailed Reviews
1. Victorinox Swiss Army Honing Steel – Best Sharpening Steel Overall
Victorinox Swiss Army Honing Steel is a pure joy to use. Seriously, we thought we could never be surprised by honing steel ever again in our lives. But, every now and then a product like this comes along and proves us wrong.
So, what’s so terribly exciting about this piece of 10-inch Swiss stainless steel?
The answer is nothing in particular. It’s just every single thing this unit sets out to do it does with speed, efficiency, and grace.
For instance, the stainless steel rod is strong enough to deal even with the most hardened blades but still fine enough not to completely wear out some moderately soft edges. Nevertheless, keep this bad boy from the most delicate materials in your knife set.
What we are impressed the most, however, is the durability of this thing – the whole thing looks like it can survive the Apocalypse. And taking into consideration that if properly applied, you don’t have to use the rod more than every few months, it is safe to say that the unit can survive many years to come.
The handle feels excellent as well. It’s sturdy, textured, and allows for one incredibly comfortable grip.
Are there some downsides? Yeah. The brand name stamped into the steel does take a lot of space and makes handling a bit harder. But that’s pretty much it.
- Excellent performance
- Good price-value ratio
- Quality Swiss stainless steel
- The handle is rock-solid
- The engraved brand name on the handle
2. Wusthof 12″ Deluxe Steel – Best Premium Sharpening Steel
It takes quite a lot of nerve to call your product Deluxe and roll it out coming at a price twice as high as most of the products in this otherwise very approachable market corner. But, good people from Wusthof have somehow managed back up this price with one incredible performance and earn the premium vibe that comes with the name.
And believe us, Wusthof 12’’ Deluxe Steel has premium written all over its body. How else would you describe this beautiful 12-inch rod forged from a single block of high carbon stainless steel and tempered to 58-degree HRC?
That’s right – this piece of kitchenware can be destroyed neither by rust nor by attrition. At least not in some incredibly long and gratifying time frame. This excellent build quality is accompanied by a rock-solid performance. The fine grit you can find all over the rod makes an easy job of blades of different shapes, sizes, and strengths.
As you would expect, the handle is on par with the rest of the product – competent, reliable, and easy to hold. You even get the small hanging ring at the end.
Finally, we have to say that, in the time we used the unit, we weren’t able to find any real flaws. However, you can get the same performance for a much, much lower price.
- Beautiful design
- Excellent build quality
- Strong and reliable performance
- Great handle
- Too pricey for an average consumer
3. Winware Stainless Steel Sharpening Steel – Best Budget Product
Some products try to sway the audience with quality. Others do that with a low price. If you can get both these perks, you are in for a treat.
We are happy to report that WInware is one of those rare precious products that manage to offer the low price and high quality in one incredibly handsome package.
Well, as much quality as you can get at this price point. But, still – what you get here is more than enough for months and months of regular use.
First and foremost, we have to admit that we were quite impressed with the rod on display here. First of all, its length is pretty impressive – 12 inches you get in this package will be able to quickly deal even with the longest knife in your kitchen arsenal.
The very rod is made of quality stainless steel. In other words, it performs well, it’s built to last, and it’s easy to clean. We could live with a finer grit but don’t want to nitpick.
On the other hand, the handle is pretty weak. Don’t get us wrong – it “handles” just fine. It won’t slip out of your hand or something. However, it’s quality is definitely subpar. Expect it to lose some parts sooner than later.
But hey, as long as the rod is good…
- Great value for the money
- Rock-solid stainless steel rod
- Good performance
- Grit could be finer
- Poor handle
4. Green Elephant Ceramic Sharpening Rod – Best Ceramic Sharpening Rod
Ceramic as a material offers a couple of quite great benefits. For instance, it’s strong just as stainless steel, but its surface is far smoother. Therefore, ceramic rods are a great match if they are working with softer blades or want to restore some smoothness.
Green Elephant Ceramic Sharpening Rod exemplifies all the good things associated with this material. Unfortunately, it also exemplifies some inherent flaws.
Let us first talk about some good things.
First of all, the rod is reasonably light (not to the point where you will lose the ability to apply the pressure to the blade) and easy to use. And if that’s not enough, the manufacturer has made sure to build in a shock-absorbing feature (small silicone seal between ceramic and handle) that makes honing even easier.
The performance is simply exceptional. Ceramic is a versatile material that can be used in a wide variety of scenarios ranging from sharpening to polishing, and this unit is no different.
Finally, we have to give a special shout-out to the beautiful ergonomic handle – this is what the honing dreams are made from.
Now, on the downside… The unit is very brittle – drop it on the ground, and you may as well end its life. Also, the whole package feels needlessly bulky. It’s hard to fit on traditional kitchenware slots.
- Top-notch performance
- Very easy on the eyes
- Excellent handle
- Feels very brittle
- A bit too bulky
5. Buck Knives 97082 EdgeTek Steel Diamond Sharpener – Best Diamond Steel Sharpener
As you probably know, the diamond is on the hardest materials like possibly ever. Keeping that in mind, it wouldn’t be too big of a surprise that diamond rods do one damn excellent job and sharpening blades of all sorts of qualities.
Buck Knives 97082, is no exception. This unit will easily get your entire knife set back in shape in a matter of minutes. Well, at least as the diamond particles are still on the rod.
Yeah, this product has one severe drawback – the diamond-sprinkled surface has a nasty habit of noticeably wearing off after continuous use. Sure, you will need months to hit the steel base, but when we take into account how much this thing costs…
Well, not the most worthwhile purchase on the planet, that’s for sure.
If you are, on the other hand, ready to pay this steep price, you will be glad to know that this couple of months of use will be a real joy.
As we already mentioned, the rod works like a charm and has no problem sharpening whatever piece of metal you slide across the surface. The handle is also very good, if not a bit oversized.
So, excellent performance as long as you know what you are buying.
- Incredible performance
- Good build quality
- Diamond particles make all the difference in the world
- These diamonds are not forever
- Oversized handle
Factors You Should Consider When Buying A Sharpening Steel
Ok, those were our five contenders competing for the title of the best sharpening steel the money can currently buy. As we already mentioned in the introduction, this market corner is flooded with sub-par products that want to rob you of your hard-earned money based on the fact you need one.
Here we are going to set some of the features that set these products apart and try to identify those worth spending money on.
Besides, learning more about the product you are buying can only work to your advantage. No one can guarantee you that you are going to agree with the choices we made down below.
So, without further ado, here are the essential factors you should consider when buying sharpening steel.
See Also: The Best Knife Sharpeners
1. The Rod Material
Although these tools are called sharpening steels, their name is actually quite deceiving – the rods you are using to sharpen the blades can be made from quite a lot of different materials. Here are a couple of most common options:
- Steel rods – Pure classic that lend its name to the whole line of product, steel is strong, reasonably affordable, and durable but wears down the blade rather fast. Avoid if you are using Japanese knives.
- Diamond rods – Ok, they are not made of diamonds. But their surface is coated with small diamond particles. That allows diamond rods to hone the blades in a much finer way than steel. They also degrade much faster.
- Ceramic rods – Ceramic rods are very similar to their steel rods, meaning they are great for honing more hardened materials on a regular basis. On the downside, they are somewhat brittle, so they tend to break down if misused. See Also: The Best Ceramic Knives
2. The Length And The Weight Of The Rod
- The logic here is quite simple – the longer the rod is, the better. Consider this feature twice as crucial if you own a set of long knives. There is no way you will be able to hone them properly if your rod is long only a couple of inches.
- But, if your blades fall more on the small-ish side and you want to save a couple of dollars, you will be able to get away even with the medium-sized rod.
- The best way to find a way out of this maze is to take the longest knife and buy the rod that is at least two inches longer.
- Now, how does weight factor in this equation? Well, the more “substantial” the rod is, the less effort you’ll need to exert into honing. Of course, the unit shouldn’t be too heavy to handle.
3. Ease Of Maintenance
- Yeah, this may surprise you, but the sharpening steels need to be cleaned, preferably after each use. If you don’t wash their rods, they will become clogged with tiny metal particles and lose efficiency.
- Keeping this in mind, it is good to know that most of the rods out there can be easily cleaned with a cloth and soapy water. Ceramic rods take a slight hit here – the still knives tend to leave dark marks all over their body, so they require a lot more effort to stay in good shape.
See Also: The Best Knife Blocks
4. Ergonomic Handle
- We have talked a lot by now about the steels’ rod. That doesn’t mean you should overlook the handle. On the contrary – whenever you are working with sharp blades, you should aim for every bit of safety and convenience you can get.
- In this case, that would be a comfortable slip-resistant handle that allows you to maintain a secure grip even when your hands become sweaty. A protective barrier is a must.
5. Additional Features
- Sharpening rods are not exceptionally feature-rich products. However, the manufacturers find a way from time to time to sneak in a couple of small treats that make the whole package a lot more exciting. What are we talking about?
- Well, things like cleaning cloths, shock-absorbing features, hanging rings, etc. It’s always better to have these things than not.
Best Sharpening Steel – Final Thoughts And Recommendations
And we are finally at the very end of this short roundup. You know what that means? That’s right – now we have to take the hot potato and declare which product is worthy enough to carry the title of the best sharpening steel on the market.
And what a hot potato this is. Seriously, all of these products are excellent in their own regard. But, some cuts had to be made. So here we are with our top three sharpening rods.
Best Sharpening Steel Overall: Victorinox Swiss Army Honing Steel
- Victorinox Swiss Army Honing Steel probably comes as close to perfect sharpening steel as it gets. Its performance is great, build quality even better, and price quite decent. As a matter of fact, the single thing we don’t like is the brand inscription on the rod. Well, turn the rod the other way around, and it will work just fine.
Best Premium Sharpening Steel: Wusthof 12″ Deluxe Steel
- Much like the previous product, Wusthof 12’’ Deluxe Steel is a product with one single flaw. However, this flaw can’t be remedied with a twist of the arm. Yes, we are, of course, talking about a pretty hefty price tag hanging on this package. But, if you are ready to invest a couple of dollars into one excellent sharpening rod, we assure you – you will be more than rewarded with reliable and rock-solid performance.
Best Budget Product: Winware Stainless Steel Sharpening Steel
- Winware Stainless Steel Sharpening Still is far from a perfect product. But you know what? Perfect products do not exist, and this one actually puts on one pretty good. Especially taking into consideration the meager price you are asked to pay. Sure, the handle is pretty forgettable, but who cares. As long as the rod performs well, we are on board.