Honing is an abrasive machining process that produces a precision surface on a metal workpiece by scrubbing an abrasive stone against it along a controlled path. Honing is primarily used to improve the geometric form of a surface, but may also improve the surface texture.
Typical applications are the finishing of cylinders for internal combustion engines, air bearing spindles and gears. There are many types of hones, but all consist of one or more abrasive stones that are held under pressure against the surface they are working on.
In terms of sharpening knives, a honing steel does not actually hone knives, but simply realigns the metal along the edge.