Honing Compound – What Is It and Why It's Used

Sharp Pebble Honing Compound

You most likely wouldn’t need it as a beginner knife sharpener but as you learn more and get comfortable with the process, you want to explore how you can magnify the result even more. A honing compound is one such element. Today, we’ll discuss what exactly it is, why and how to use and what types you may find out there.      

What is it? A honing compound is a mixture of several abrasive chemical substances processed to be very fine such as aluminum oxide, chromium oxide, and diamonds. This is used as a finishing touch in the sharpening process. Similar to sharpening stones, you can find it in various grits. And depending on how you prefer to use it or the tool you’re working on, you can buy them in different form factors such as a wax bar or a spray. 

Why a honing is used? To start off, a honing compound is not an essential part of the sharpening process. You could still have a pretty sharp blade without using one. The honing compound is mainly used as finishing a process to bring about shine in the blade (once the blade has already been sharpened).

Although it does bring a slight difference in the sharpness of the blade; it cannot resurrect a blade gone dull because the honing compound is not coarse enough to remove metal.           

How to use honing compound:

  • You first need to find yourself a hard flat surface. The recommended method is to have a leather strop affixed on a flat plank of wood.

  • If you’re using the compound in a waxed bar, start by rubbing the bar on the strop until you achieve a consistent coating of the compound on the strop.

  • Once you have the coating, pass your (already sharpened) knife for a few passes on both sides until you achieve the desired finish.

What types are available?

  • Wax bar: Waxed bars are the most widely available option. Not only are they light on your wallet, but they also last for a fair amount of time and are very easy to use. As explained earlier, you just need a hard surface to use it.

  • Abrasive powders: This is actually loose grit without the added binder. You need to spread a bit of it on a hard surface to use it. However, it requires a bit more work and skill to work with as you may need to reapply a few times.

  • Spray: This is another easy option to use. It saves you time as you don’t have to rub out a coat or reapply like powder or bars. A couple of sprays are usually enough. However, it may cost you a bit more than the other two options.

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Here’s to sharp knives and great food!

Team Sharp Pebble            

1 comment

  • What’s the differences between a strop block and a strop strap? Plus what’s the order of use of strop straps. Swade, Smooth leather or blue jeans straps. Which do you use 1st?


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