A honing steel, sometimes referred to as sharpening steel, sharpening stick, sharpening rod, butcher's steel, and chef's steel is a rod of steel, ceramic or diamond coated steel used to realign blade edges. They are flat, oval, or round in cross-section and up to one foot long (30 cm). The steel and ceramic honing steels may have longitudinal ridges, whereas the diamond coated steels are smooth but will be embedded with abrasive diamond particles.
The naming ("honing" or "sharpening") is often a misnomer, because the traditional "honing steel" neither hones nor sharpens a blade. Instead, its function is to realign a curled edge rather than remove metal from the edge. The term "hone" is associated with light maintenance performed on a blade without the effort and precision normally associated with sharpening, so the name "hone" was loaned. In the 1980s, ceramic abrasives became increasingly popular, and proved an equal, if not superior, method for accomplishing the same daily maintenance tasks; manufacturers replaced steels with ceramic (and later, manufactured diamond abrasive) sharpening "steels" that were, in fact, hones.