Sharpest knife in the drawer?

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Sharpest knife in the drawer?

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:39 pm

Every three months, roughly, using the change of seasons as a guide, I like to spend a few moments sharpening my small set of cooking knives.

They’re nothing really special - Chicago Cutlery from back in the days when it was still a respected brand - but I’ve been using them for most of my adult life. The larger chef’s knife has been my No. 1 kitchen tool since around 1974, so it’s an old friend.

I hone them on a steel before just about every use, but you want to be more circumspect about actually sharpening these sturdy but comparatively soft carbon-steel blades. Use a diamond stone on them every few days, and in a few years you’ll turn your chef’s knife into a boning knife! Or so I’m told. I really don’t want to find out.

Instead, I keep an eye on the calendar and, when the seasons change, give them all a fresh edge. This approach seems to work, and when I can zip through an onion or julienne a green pepper in just a few seconds, it makes me happy.

How about you? Do you keep your best kitchen knives sharp? Any particular scheduling or technique “rituals” that you’d like to share?

Diamond stone

For the last few years, by the way, I’ve been using a simple diamond whetstone that I got from Amazon.com for around $30. I think the investment was well worth while. It’s easy to learn how to use it - basically, just think of yourself as using the knife to shave off a very thin layer of diamond (as if it could) for four or five strokes on each side. Then finish with honing steel and I’m good to go for another three months.

Here’s a link to the stone on Amazon.com. Highly recommended, and if you buy, we’ll earn a few pence on the sale for our little Internet corporate empire.
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Re: Sharpest knife in the drawer?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Sat Sep 28, 2013 3:55 pm

My husband is a former meat cutter, owning his business on the coastal town of Eureka. I asked him if he knew how to sharpen knives and he said yes, but hated doing it. He purchased various sharpeners for me, all of which I hated. I do use a steel on my steel knives before each use, but have them sharpened by a fellow who does a great job and comes to our home with his truck towing his workshop, usually once a year. Mostly, I use a Kyocera chef knife, along with two hollow edge Wüsthof Santoku Classic and Dreizack. I love the three because they retain their edges longer. The 7 inch Dreizack has a metal handle and must be used with a dry hand and handle, otherwise it is slippery. The Classic is a 5 inch blade and has a synthetic wood-look handle. I have nice collection of Wüsthof plus some very old knives, which belonged to Gene's father, also a meat cutter. Gene uses those most of the time. I find them a little intimidating because of the weight and shape, after all the years of sharpening.
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Re: Sharpest knife in the drawer?

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Sep 28, 2013 4:15 pm

Karen, I love the little Kyocera that I bought on a sale last year, although it's on the small side for daily chef-knife duties, I do use it for a lot of quick slicing and chopping.

I guess everyone's kitchen rituals vary. Mary wanted our knives sharper, so she got me a Chef's Choice machine a few years ago. I duly used it quarterly, coming up with the change-of-seasons rule at that time, but it never made me really happy, and I didn't think it got the knives really restaurant-kitchen sharp.

One day a year or so ago, mostly on a whim, I started looking into options, asked some chef friends, watched some how-to-sharpen YouTube videos and decided to go with the aforementioned diamond stone, which cost something like $30 and seemed like a good deal. It's small, so I can just keep it handy in a utensil drawer; and to me it is intuitively easy to use. I just pretend it's a block of pastrami and I'm trying to shave off very thin slices. :lol: A half-dozen strokes on either side of a knife, a quick hit with the steel, and I'm done. And I really can hold up a sheet of paper, take a swipe at it with a blade, and it cuts right in. That's supposed to be the test, or so they say. :mrgreen:
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Re: Sharpest knife in the drawer?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:20 pm

Sounds easy enough Robin, I should learn to do that!
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Re: Sharpest knife in the drawer?

Postby Mark Lipton » Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:55 pm

Hearkening back to an earlier discussion of knives, I use a chef's steel after every use of the knife (that's not honing, Robin, but merely straightening the edge). Every 6 mo. or so I'l sharpen the knives at home using a sharpening tool that I purchased some years ago (it uses fixed diamond-coated sharpening surfaces and does a passable job). Then, every 1-2 years I'll take them to a pro for sharpening -- this basically occurs when their sharpness passes below a threshold value for me. I've never used a whetstone but someday will probably gravitate to one.

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Re: Sharpest knife in the drawer?

Postby Drew Hall » Sun Sep 29, 2013 10:31 am

I've been struggling for years trying to find a pro sharpener in my area to no avail. So with your post Robin, I purchased the wet stone at the link above and, by cracky, I'm gonna learn to sharpen my knives. My favority knife is a twenty year old Wusthof Grand Prix followed by several others, Shun and Mac.

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Re: Sharpest knife in the drawer?

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Sun Sep 29, 2013 4:36 pm

I have a mix of Henckels and Sabatier. I run them over a steel once or twice a month. I have not yet met a sharpening system or method that I like (and can do) so I take them to a pro every other year or so.

I can get away with such a long interval because I am careful about which blade to use for which task. I don't stress smaller blades to cut 'above their pay grade', even if it means I wash a few more blades at the end of the evening.
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Re: Sharpest knife in the drawer?

Postby Bill Spohn » Sun Sep 29, 2013 9:09 pm

I've never seen a better sharpening method than a Japanese water stone. I have one with 1000 grit on one side and 6000 on the other (the latter is mostly for carbon steel and Japanese blades)

Doesn't take long to keep them sharp that way.
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Re: Sharpest knife in the drawer?

Postby wnissen » Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:47 pm

Thanksgiving, the best day of the year, is typically the impetus for the start of sharpening season in our house. I have the Spyderco Sharpmaker: http://www.amazon.com/Spyderco-Tri-Angl ... B000Q9C4AE

It's pretty much idiot-proof, and if you follow the instructions the knives will get sharp enough to cut a rolled piece of newspaper diagonally. I've not found a gentle sharpening method that does as well.

I don't have any pros to consult, but the result is sharp enough that I won't cook in someone else's kitchen without my knife. Since I steel before each use and don't let the blade knock into anything (like in the sink) the knives stay pretty sharp for the year. Sometimes a knife gets dull early, so I do a mid-year touch-up.
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Re: Sharpest knife in the drawer?

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:41 pm

Like the rest of you, I try to take care of our better knives to keep them sharp for as long as possible. I have one of those three-sided whetstones that has a "medium", "fine", and "extra-fine" stones on it, but I've never managed to get proficient with it. I've gone to taking our knives to a guy who sharpens knives out of a big van that he pulls up in the parking lot of a local market once a month. He does a much better job than I've ever been able to do.

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