"How do I use this daunting metal rod?" I hear you ask. Well, it's not too hard, really. The best way for a beginner is to balance the steel on a surface with the tip secured by a damp tea towel. You want to get that angle right, whether it's around 15 degrees for a Japanese knife or 20 degrees on a German or French blade. Then swipe slowly down, away from you, making sure the whole blade is honed – around five swipes on each side should do.
Using the coarse side of the stone, hold the blade at a 15° – 20° angle. It’s important to maintain the same angle the entire time you sharpen. Applying a light but even pressure, move the blade back and forth across the length of the stone. It all depends on how dull your blade starts, but you’ll probably need quite a few back and forths. To finish off, give the blade a couple quick swipes on the corner of the stone to knock off any burrs.
Note that, unlike steel honing rods, ceramic hones need occasional cleaning, as particles of knife metal build up on their surface (they form a gray layer). Idahone sells a “Superaser,” but on knife forums, many owners of ceramic hones recommend generic melamine foam sponges as a more economical alternative (the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is the famous name-brand version). Messermeister, the maker of one of the other ceramic hones in our test, recommends a mild abrasive cleanser, like Bon Ami or Bar Keepers Friend, advice that is also echoed by many knife enthusiasts.