Knives

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I've tried the $20 ceramic sharpener and the $150 electric diamond sharpener and the whetstone method but they all seem to make the blades just a bit duller than they were. Apparently some finesse is needed. It's something I'd love to learn. Very handy, I imagine, after the apocalypse, when my local sharpener has packed up her bench and fled to higher ground. Interestingly (or not) the half-dozen best knife-sharpeners I know are female -- maybe it's a chromosomal sort of finesse.

I did get in the habit of giving my knives a good steeling after every use.

Paul Eater (eater), Monday, 21 November 2005 19:14 (thirteen years ago) link

I've been tempted by the sharpener with James Beard's endorsement that used to be advertised in the New Yorker. Anything advertised in the New Yorker has to be worth it, right?

I used to have a whetstone with the oil and the whole nine yards, but it was tricksy work and when I lost it in a move I didn't worry about it. Next time I need to sharpen the knives I'm going to see if my father has a wheel on his bench grinder that would be appropriate.

I do feel guilty for getting any perverse amusement out of it (Rock Hardy), Monday, 21 November 2005 19:18 (thirteen years ago) link

Cool! I am all over that! Oh wait, I thought you said endorsed by James Bond.

Those "easy" sharpeners enforce their idea of what a good bevel is, which I think is incompatible with (for example) these nice Japanese knives, some of which are beveled on just one side, and have a much skinnier angle (17 degrees rather than 25?) and thus feel much sharper.

There's extensive sharpening info on the web, like here and here. That first link does seem to like the Chef's Choice 120 electric sharpener, which I see on eBay for $90 or so.

Paul Eater (eater), Monday, 21 November 2005 20:59 (thirteen years ago) link

the global sharpener is fantastic, really does put a good edge on mine, and like matt says they can be vicious little bastards, especially the flexible filleting knife.

I tend to use the big chefs knife more than any other though, for most work.

They do make that nasty callous at the base of the index finger really bad though due to the very sharp shoulder on them.

Porkpie (porkpie), Monday, 21 November 2005 22:14 (thirteen years ago) link

A butcher's steel is a round file with the teeth running the long way. They are intended for mild steel knifes that are steeled several times a day, but are not suitable for today's tougher and harder steels. I know a knife shop owner and knifemaker that disagrees, but in my opinion they belong in a knife museum along with natural stones.

Yes! I generally get good result steeling my biggest knife, a cheap 10" butchers knife, with much less effort than it takes with my Henckels 6" utility. Also, I'm glad to know I'm not the only person who anchors the steel vertically instead of doing the whip-whip-whip in the air. I'm just afraid I'm going to accidentally kill one of the cats doing that.

Maybe I should just get a leather strop. (And wear a boater and grow a handlebar moustache.)

I do feel guilty for getting any perverse amusement out of it (Rock Hardy), Monday, 21 November 2005 22:32 (thirteen years ago) link

I have just ordered a Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker System, which quite a few people have recommended. I will report back -- it comes with a DVD tutorial.

All the sharpening web sites say you should be able to shave your arm with a well-sharpened knife by scraping it at a perpendicular angle, but none of my knives, not even the absurdly sharp ones, seem to do that. Maybe my arm hair is abnormally tough? At least I know how to spot knife enthusiasts in the future -- bald forearms!

Paul Eater (eater), Monday, 21 November 2005 22:52 (thirteen years ago) link

The big'un is 10" Paul, it is easier for chopping things I suppose but I so rarely chop like that; my knife technique (which I think stems from hour after hour chopping mirepoix and salad prep for sadistic chefs) is more to run a smaller knife held by the handle and the top of the blade across rather than chopping down. It's murder on chopping boards but you can get a good speed up and it's easier for dice. I generally steel them fairly regularly (free-standing I'm afraid, again a legacy from working kitchens 'cause you look more badass that way).

Matt (Matt), Tuesday, 22 November 2005 15:25 (thirteen years ago) link

That's what I use Matt - it's perfect for all sorts of chopping, onions are like a dream with it.

The Global sharpener I have has kind of two little whetstones that rotate with water in the bottom, one harder (or maybe finer) than the other. They make a lovely edge too, I use them before every time I use them (or try to) and they seem to always be arm-shavingly keen. I do have a couple of discolourations on them which shames me a little, they've come from leaving them out on the drying rack :(

Porkpie (porkpie), Tuesday, 22 November 2005 17:13 (thirteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
does anyone have any suggestions for decent cheap knives? i've completely fucked up my only half-decent one by never sharpening it, and much as i lust after globals etc i don't have the cash right now.

toby (tsg20), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 10:03 (thirteen years ago) link

Get to know a chef, sooner or later a complete set will turn up at a bargain price (hem hem). Worked for me.

Failing that, splash out on one good one rather than a set of cheaper ones. A good quality, decent sized knife will do most jobs you require of it (use the tip for small stuff, main body of the blade for bigger jobs etc)

Matt (Matt), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 11:24 (thirteen years ago) link

Your half-decent one can probably be salvaged. Find a sharpener who can take the edge down to totally fresh steel and put a fine edge on it.

I went to the Alton Brown website the other day and he's flogging some line of knives now. They look pretty good -- I had a moment of lust.

I do feel guilty for getting any perverse amusement out of it (Rock Hardy), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 13:20 (thirteen years ago) link

Wustof makes an inexpensive line. I bought one of their paring knives for $5 at an outlet store that is now my favorite knife.

Jaq (Jaq), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 13:26 (thirteen years ago) link

Yeah! It's the first one. Truly razor sharp. And comfortable for me to use.

Jaq (Jaq), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 15:20 (thirteen years ago) link

I like Alton, and I like Shun, but those angled handles look like they offer less torque (?) not to mention repetitive stress injuries waiting to happen. Maybe I shouldn't knock them till I try them? I'm sure they're better than Emerilware.

Regarding cheap knives: I too bet that a good lady sharpener could fix up your decrepit knife. Forschner/Victorinox seems to be talked about as the Best Cheap Knife but I have no experience with them. These Tojiros were also recommended to me recently as great knives for the price.

Paul Eater (eater), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 16:40 (thirteen years ago) link

That Shun website confused me at first, but I think you can get them with or without the angled handles.

I do feel guilty for getting any perverse amusement out of it (Rock Hardy), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 17:18 (thirteen years ago) link

Aha. But only the angled ones have the little Alton-face on them! And the non-angled Shun Classics are cheaper almost everywhere else.

I think I'll wait for the line with adjustable angles. I just got the Kyocera vegetable peeler whose head rotates from harp-style to straight-style.

Paul Eater (eater), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 17:46 (thirteen years ago) link

This thread reminded me to put that Mac santoku on my wishlist.

Also, I was reading on those Sani-tuff boards - you can sand them to resurface! I'm going to order one after the holidays.

Jaq (Jaq), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 19:23 (thirteen years ago) link

Jaq, if you already have all-purpose chef's knives that you're happy with, the santoku might be a little unnecessary, since it sort of fills the same niche. Maybe you'd have more fun with something a little different, like a nakiri. It's designed for vegetables and makes taking apart a head of broccoli a joy, but you'll find all sorts of things it's good at.

Paul Eater (eater), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 19:37 (thirteen years ago) link

That looks like fun, a mini-cleaver! It's true, I like my Henckel 6" chef's knife. Now, I want just a leeetle bigger kitchen, to put a chopping block in.

Jaq (Jaq), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 20:48 (thirteen years ago) link

Actually, get an usuba if you can, not the nakiri I linked to! I thought the difference between them was just about weight, but apparently an usuba has a one-sided bevel and a nakiri has a symmetrical bevel. The words seem to be tossed around somewhat interchangeably, but the asymmetrical edge feels much sharper than Western knives, so look for that.

Paul Eater (eater), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 21:36 (thirteen years ago) link

These handmade Japanese kitchen knives look pretty great. And very competitively priced -- the nakiri is only $50!? I better close the computer before I talk myself into buying any more knives.

Paul Eater (eater), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 21:49 (thirteen years ago) link

LSO take your brand-new knife to a good sharpening service before bringing it home and using it.

This might be a stupid question, but where would would I find a place like this?

Lars and Jagger (Ex Leon), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 21:52 (thirteen years ago) link

Yellow Pages maybe, or ask around among friendly kitchen shoppes and restaurants? There are some mail-order sharpening services too, I believe. here's a little list and here's another.

I picture you in Michigan, but is that a true recollection or just a subconscious inference from your Michigany attitude?

Paul Eater (eater), Tuesday, 13 December 2005 22:08 (thirteen years ago) link

Thanks. I am in Michigan. I was wondering because I ended up with a friend's Global knife and it needs sharpening. Every time I've tried using a whetstone it seems like I've made knifes duller so I didn't want to try doing it myself.

Lars and Jagger (Ex Leon), Wednesday, 14 December 2005 17:13 (thirteen years ago) link

My local cooking utensil shop offers a sharpening service, somewhere like that maybe.

Matt (Matt), Thursday, 15 December 2005 11:10 (thirteen years ago) link

one month passes...
i think thiswebsite is not very good it is downright apawling.

martin andrew, Monday, 6 February 2006 16:43 (thirteen years ago) link

your speling, otoh, is maggniffissent

Matt (Matt), Monday, 6 February 2006 16:52 (thirteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
I just took delivery of one Sani-Tuff cutting board, mentioned upthread. It's truly a hideous color, and not at all bouncy though made of rubber. It weighs a serious amount, and will do serious damage if dropped. The place I ordered it from (somewhere in NYC) 1) took forever to ship it 2) transposed the numbers in my street address 3) refused to acknowledge that they screwed up, blaming UPS. But, it's here now. Time to go chop something up.

Jaq (Jaq), Friday, 24 February 2006 23:14 (thirteen years ago) link

Nice, congratulations! Did you get the huge thick chopping block? Or which one? How do you like it, besides the beigeness?

And what's the name of the place? They're all within a couple of blocks here -- I can go round and demand an apology for the mixup on your behalf.

Paul Eater (eater), Saturday, 25 February 2006 00:16 (thirteen years ago) link

Time to go chop something up.

pixel farmer (Rock Hardy), Saturday, 25 February 2006 00:39 (thirteen years ago) link

It's like 3/4" thick and 18"x24". I love it, compared to the poly boards especially. It feels right, under the blade, really controlled - does that make sense? I rendered about 6 lbs of pork fat today, so lots of chopping of frozen slippery stuff.

The place is Bakedeco.com, but that's okay - I'm happy now it's here.

Did you get to try out that knife sharpening thing? I'm still debating if I want to get that into it, or just continue to pay the pros.

Jaq (Jaq), Saturday, 25 February 2006 01:12 (thirteen years ago) link

Oh yes, the knife sharpener. It's on my desk, and I've played with it a bit, but not as much as I need to before providing a full report. The instructional DVD that comes with it shows the company's founder sharpening a penknife, then using it to cut a flat 8.5x11" piece of typing paper the thin way, into two thinner 8.5x11" sheets. I haven't gotten that far yet but I've gotten some knives I thought I'd never use again to arm-shaving sharpness.

You have to think a bit about angles and bevels when you use it, and take into consideration the bevel your knife already has, and it definitely takes an hour's commitment on a dull knife, but the instructions are helpful. It seems like using it without making the initial effort to understand the why of what you're doing might be frustrating or unsatisfying, but if you do that, home sharpening does seem to give a lot of control beyond what taking a knife to a sharpening service offers.

Paul Eater (eater), Sunday, 26 February 2006 05:05 (thirteen years ago) link

(I worry though that too much of this board is me linking to products and you buying them! Still, I'm glad you're happy so far. I could have used a sturdier grippier board for this morning's debonings.)

Paul Eater (eater), Sunday, 26 February 2006 05:12 (thirteen years ago) link

Hahahah! I've only bought the Skyline chili and the cutting board :) That food-shooter is under consideration though. Well, and also the japanese knives - they are on my wishlist, so someone else can buy them for me.

I don't think I want to get that technical with the knives. But I would like to see the video of the guy slicing paper the thin way!

Jaq (Jaq), Sunday, 26 February 2006 05:38 (thirteen years ago) link

seven months pass...
I just got one of these. Short, orange, and endorsed by Rachael Ray, although mercifully her name is nowhere on it. It's too short to mince with, and too fat for fine work, so I use it like a sort of mini-cleaver that happens to rock a little. The soft rubber handle is comfortable to hold. It's especially good for taking apart meat.

Paul Eater (eater), Wednesday, 4 October 2006 19:56 (thirteen years ago) link

six months pass...
Paul Eater, I love the giant sani-tuff board I got so much, I bought two more little ones the other day. Got free shipping on them via Google, somehow. All the poly boards I bought 6 months after I got that first Sani-tuff are all warped and scratched and needing to be pitched out. They're heavy as all get out, but damn! Last forever, can be sanded down, don't warp, and treat the knife blades well.

Jaq, Tuesday, 1 May 2007 23:54 (twelve years ago) link

I'm glad!

eater, Wednesday, 2 May 2007 20:57 (twelve years ago) link

one year passes...

I've decided to take the plunge and start sharpening my knives myself. I just ordered this system + special c-clamp - the reviews make it sound straightforward to use and that it gives a good edge.

Jaq, Wednesday, 4 June 2008 16:45 (eleven years ago) link

Today, my knives are SHARP!

Jaq, Friday, 6 June 2008 20:33 (eleven years ago) link

Nothing like a sharp knife. My steel and sharpener are perpetually at work so my home knives are in a terrible state. I am a poor show.

Matt, Wednesday, 11 June 2008 20:15 (eleven years ago) link

Just like the poor cobbler's kids never having any shoes :) Now that all mine are sharp, I'm starting to solicit them from family and friends, so I'm not tempted to just keep sharpening my own into nothing. Next you know, I'll have a stand set up down on the sidewalk, like my shoeshine guys.

Jaq, Wednesday, 11 June 2008 21:04 (eleven years ago) link

i need to learn how to sharpen. we've got a water sharpener and a crazy expensive, apparently difficult to use japanese sharpening system, neither of which i can use. i'm taking a knife skills class in a couple of weeks, and i hope this is covered!

lauren, Thursday, 12 June 2008 14:38 (eleven years ago) link

I'd be surprised if it wasn't. In fact I'd be bloody outraged.

Matt, Thursday, 12 June 2008 20:50 (eleven years ago) link

i assure you that i'll cause a scene if it's not!

lauren, Friday, 13 June 2008 01:03 (eleven years ago) link

six months pass...

I'm coveting knives. I have one great knife and it's great. I love you so much, Only Good Knife I Own.

Abbott of the Trapezoid Monks (Abbott), Thursday, 1 January 2009 23:34 (ten years ago) link

Happiness is not having what you want, it's wanting what you have.

Plaxico (I know, right?), Thursday, 1 January 2009 23:39 (ten years ago) link

lauren how did the knife skills class go? i really need to learn how to sharpen, too.

Tracer Hand, Friday, 2 January 2009 12:45 (ten years ago) link

I gave up trying to sharpen the old-school way--broke down and bought a chef's choice dealie. It's pretty awesome, but not as awesome as sharpening on a stone like a true knife badass.

quincie, Friday, 2 January 2009 16:40 (ten years ago) link

I live opinel knives, an almost perfect penknife. Very simple, I love that you knock the heel on your boot to open them, the simple ring lock. Much better than your fancy Swiss Army knives.

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Thursday, 11 October 2018 19:28 (one year ago) link

OOOOH I DIDN'T KNOW THAT. Youtube was very educational.

There's more Italy than necessary. (in orbit), Thursday, 11 October 2018 19:37 (one year ago) link

The Opinel is the Platonic ideal of the simple folding knife. I have never seen its simplicity and functionality done better.

The Swiss Army knives are too multiform to pick one version as "the" Platonic ideal, but I strongly favor the Recruit variant: long blade, short blade, can opener w/ small screwdriver, bottle opener w/ large screwdriver, toothpick, tweezers.

nb: a corkscrew on a Swiss Army knive is only favored by poltroons; it is fsr too important a tool to exist as a subordinated afterthought on a knife.

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 11 October 2018 20:26 (one year ago) link

I am completely sold on getting an opinel now.

Yerac, Thursday, 11 October 2018 20:30 (one year ago) link

I have one and I probably don't use it for anything other than opening packages and it's still a great tool

I have measured out my life in coffee shop loyalty cards (silby), Thursday, 11 October 2018 20:55 (one year ago) link

Leathermen (Leathermans?) and the like surpass the Swiss Army knife in actual multi tool utility. If I can have one thing that’ll be my one thing and the knife is usable but an opinel is an actual good knife.

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Thursday, 11 October 2018 20:59 (one year ago) link

as a late-stage sufferer of smartphone poisoning I am increasingly drawn to single-purpose devices of all kinds; that's why I bought an electronic metronome instead of downloading an app etc.

I have measured out my life in coffee shop loyalty cards (silby), Thursday, 11 October 2018 21:01 (one year ago) link

I think I lost my leatherman while crabbing one year.

Yerac, Thursday, 11 October 2018 22:53 (one year ago) link

i've seen opinels in stores and thought they were cool. didn't know they had such a great provenance. now i want one.

call all destroyer, Friday, 12 October 2018 01:50 (one year ago) link

i have a stupidly expensive chris reeve folder and a dumb old opinel no8 and tbh i think the opinel is better. it took an edge in about five minutes the other day

gbx, Friday, 12 October 2018 02:50 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Trying to pick out a nakiri knife now. One problem is that the niceness of the knife is directly proportional to how unlikely my spouse will use it (he doesn't want to mess it up.)

Yerac, Monday, 19 November 2018 18:21 (eleven months ago) link

lol what exactly does he plan on doing with this knife that will mess it up ?

(•̪●) (carne asada), Monday, 19 November 2018 19:11 (eleven months ago) link

I received a very nice nakiri as a gift several years ago and suffer from the same affliction. It sits on the rack and I just use my 10yo global instead

gbx, Monday, 19 November 2018 19:15 (eleven months ago) link

I think he got traumatized when he tried to sharpen some scissors on whetstone on a whim. He's worried that he will ruin knives now even though he was sharpening them before. I just got a MAC santoku and he keep using the shitty ikea knife.

Yerac, Monday, 19 November 2018 19:17 (eleven months ago) link

xp - sounds like somebody shamed your husband for 'mistreating' a knife and now he's mildly traumatized about it. if the knife would be a gift you're giving him, try to soothe him and promise he can treat it any way he likes and won't hear a peep out of you.

A is for (Aimless), Monday, 19 November 2018 19:21 (eleven months ago) link

The first gift he ever gave me, like when I was 21 yrs old was a henckels chef's knife. The handle finally split. I think he is just worried about having to sharpen it and also chipping it. I probably should not have mentioned how every Shun knife (at friends' houses) I have used was chipped.

Yerac, Monday, 19 November 2018 19:24 (eleven months ago) link

Ok, I hate my crappy cutting board. Are you liking the sani tuff, Yerac? Rly don't wanna spend $80 on a decent-sized one right now. Any other recs anybody?

form that slug-like grex (outdoor_miner), Wednesday, 21 November 2018 15:34 (ten months ago) link

Yeah, I like it. I like how heavy it is (doesn't slide or warp) and hopefully it's better for my new knives. It does stain but who cares. I got the 12x18 one so that was only $38 and it's heavy enough I kind of wouldn't want a bigger one. I do still use my epicurean ones too for quick things.

Yerac, Wednesday, 21 November 2018 15:38 (ten months ago) link

I wanted a nakiri veggie cleaver but ended up getting this as my new knife for now. I spent the entire Friday watching knife sharpening/shropping videos.

https://www.cutleryandmore.com/enso-hd/prep-knife-p135306

Yerac, Saturday, 24 November 2018 19:37 (ten months ago) link

These are surprisingly good nakiri-style knives that one's spouse can abuse without excessive guilt: https://importfood.com/item/set-of-two-chopping-knives-kiwi-thailand

mick signals, Saturday, 24 November 2018 19:45 (ten months ago) link

I assume 12.5 inches is end to end and not just the blade? They are in BOISE!

Yerac, Saturday, 24 November 2018 19:48 (ten months ago) link

I need to get new cutting boards and I can’t find anything like a sani tuff here in Australia and shipping one in is heinously expensive. The Japanese equivalent appears to be an Asahi so i’ll have to pick one up in January.

My gyutou and Santoku are really good and I got the same Santoku for my sister. Nothing overly fancy but really easy to keep a good edge on. I’d really like a Usuba and an kitrisuke next.

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Saturday, 24 November 2018 20:37 (ten months ago) link

How are you sharpening your knives? I think I am going to just buy a 800 or 1000 grit King block to start and practice on my friends' crappy knives first.

Yerac, Saturday, 24 November 2018 20:55 (ten months ago) link

Yeah, I that enso I ordered (it had an additional 20% off) supposedly is useful to use as a paring and utility knife while looking like a small kiriitsuke.

Yerac, Saturday, 24 November 2018 20:57 (ten months ago) link

according to my knife/metal guru acquaintance (whose house in Paradise didn't burn!) this is what to get for actual sharpening: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004WFU7/ref=ox_sc_saved_title_2?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1
he gave me a little demo once and seemed to like to push his knife away from himself in his sharpening motion, which i'd never seen anybody do before. he had some theory about why he thought sharpening was more effective that way.

form that slug-like grex (outdoor_miner), Saturday, 24 November 2018 21:07 (ten months ago) link

bonus: it'll get you high

gbx, Saturday, 24 November 2018 21:12 (ten months ago) link

oh, and aforementioned friend recommended using oil and not water or dry

form that slug-like grex (outdoor_miner), Saturday, 24 November 2018 21:18 (ten months ago) link

I care for my knives with this guy; probably not going to spend the time learning to use stones in this lifetime

https://brodandtaylor.com/knife-sharpener/

I have measured out my life in coffee shop loyalty cards (silby), Saturday, 24 November 2018 23:05 (ten months ago) link

Yeah, I was watching a ton of videos on different sharpening stones, grits, methods. Some need to be water soaked, perma soaked, oiled, or splash and go. It's a whole thing.

Yerac, Sunday, 25 November 2018 01:00 (ten months ago) link

'burrfection' was the youtube channel I was watching where he has tons of videos of different sharpening stones/methods, stropping methods and how to sharpen different types of knives. He's not a professional chef, I think he just became ocd about knives. But I like how he wings it a bit.

Yerac, Sunday, 25 November 2018 01:03 (ten months ago) link

I have a diamond coated steel from ikea for day to day and a global 1000 grit stone for more serious sharpening. I can get a fierce edge with these, I’ve taken my knives in for sharpeneing I once or twice along the way.

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Sunday, 25 November 2018 08:17 (ten months ago) link

i like 'burrfection,' he's got a lot of enthusiasm and his sang froid about destroying extremely nice knives is...bracing

i use a wusthof 800/2000 and it's fine, but i'd really like some proper japanese waterstones and a sink bridge

gbx, Tuesday, 27 November 2018 02:48 (ten months ago) link

I was going to get something to hold the stone then realized that I could just use the sanituff board with towels and maybe a brick on top.

Yerac, Tuesday, 27 November 2018 11:50 (ten months ago) link

two months pass...

I am very into sharpening knives on the whetstone now. I think I have the touch.

Yerac, Thursday, 21 February 2019 01:27 (seven months ago) link


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