The Knife Thread

Discussion in 'Food and Drink' started by GoodEnoughGear, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    Welcome to the knife thread! A thread for knives and associated gear like sharpening systems.

    My intended context is culinary, hence this is in the Food and Drink section, so if you want to discuss tactical aspects or stropping of razors maybe start another thread for that elsewhere.
     
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  2. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    I have a 30 year old set of kitchen knives that have never been sharpened. They are decent-ish Henckels Tzwillinge knives, and I was looking at getting a nice Santoku or new Japanese chef's knife but I thought maybe I should take care of what I have first before I abuse a beautiful Shun Damascus blade.

    I'm looking at sharpening systems. The relatively ubiquitous Lansky system, and the Edge Pro, KME and Wicked Edge systems. Most proponents are more hobbyist/perfectionist than I suspect I need to be to just learn to keep a set of kitchen knives sharp and functional.

    I'm not fond of knives larger than 8" and tend toward vegetable prep, small poultry work, so I don't need to sharpen long blades.

    Is starting with a Lansky 3-stone to practice on my current knives a good step, or am I wasting time and should shoot for something more spendy?
     
  3. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    Bought a Tojiro Flash damascus paring and chef's knife kit for my parents for their wedding anniversary. Now that I live away from them, I despise every piece of kitchen cutlery I've come across. I could buy a set for myself, but my gf would stab me in sleep with them.
     
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  4. Stapsy

    Stapsy Friend

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    In my experience the biggest difference between a lansky style and the more advanced sharpening systems is the ease of use to set a consistent edge. The arms and base of the lansky style is not stable enough to produce a truly even angle.

    What does this mean in practice? Well it greatly depends on what you are trying to do. If you want to split hairs and fillet tomato skins then you would probably be better off with the increased precision of a EdgePro et al.

    In reality the Lansky will do a great job for most general purpose use. Using the lower grit stones that come with the Lansky can actually produce a more durable, usable, and long lasting edge than going into the super fine micron edges. Unless you are extremely diligent about using each knife in your set for its exact purpose, getting an extremely fine edge will make your life more frustrating.

    Sticking with a more usable edge also gives you more room for error in sharpening. This again will limit the advantage afforded by the precise nature of the more advanced sharpening systems. An EdgePro will still make it easier to set an edge and then touch it up on an ongoing basis. It will also probably reduce the amount of metal you need to remove to get an edge due to the increased precision.

    With an older set of knives I have no problem recommending either option for your uses. If you decide to buy a new knife and want to dedicate that to uses like vegetable prep, then you probably want to go with an EdgePro or Wicked Edge to take advantage of the modern metal used in the blade.

    A lansky is cheap enough that I would just buy one and give it a try. If nothing else it will give you some experience sharpening knives and will help you to understand the process.
     
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  5. JustAnotherRando

    JustAnotherRando My other bike is a Ferrari

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    From the perspective of someone with zero interest in food preparation and just wants minimal fuss, the Lansky system is a fiddly pain in the ass.

    I don't know what the more advanced alternatives are, but with Lansky there is a bit of fiddling around getting the succession of stones attached to the overly flimsy guide arm.

    I bought the system perhaps seven years ago, and have used it about three times. Crap, it's sitting out on the dining table as I write this. I guess I should open the damn box and use it a forth time- dragging me away from reacquainting myself with the Black Widow after a brief hiatus.

    I'm going to look for less fiddly, more robust feeling alternatives tomorrow.
     
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  6. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    That makes sense. I'm really in the movie of just getting a serviceable edge on working knives. To be honest I'm a little wary of making them too sharp - I remember cutting myself when they were new without even feeling anything and only noticing when the blood dripped onto the board.

    There's a place that sells the entry level Lansky close to me. At this point whatever ham-fisted mess I make of those knives has got to be better than the 'edge' that's on them now. :eek:
     
  7. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    I'm a firm believer that sharper instruments actually lessen the chances of cutting oneself. Usually dull blades make you use force and employ an overall crappy technique. With that said, I've cut myself with sharp blades and due to smooth edges the wound heals really slow and opens up with every flex movement.
     
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  8. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    I personally use Japanese sharpening stones. Especially if you have a knife you can afford to mess up, you can pick up the skill with minimal practice. Once you get the hang of it, I find it's more space efficient and quicker to setup as well as touch up your knives.

    I also second what @Hrodulf said, sharper knives are counterintuitively safer.
     
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  9. JustAnotherRando

    JustAnotherRando My other bike is a Ferrari

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    Well, I'm back from using the Lansky and can better put my finger on what I dislike about it: It works, but there is absolutely no joy or satisfaction in usage as I can experience when using good tools. It reminds me little of the feeling I get when using a $10 soldering iron versus a dedicated station.
     
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  10. Kunlun

    Kunlun cat-alyzes cat-aclysmic cat-erwauling - Friend

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    [​IMG]

    Cook Ting was cutting up an ox for Lord Wen-hui. As every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee — zip! zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to the Ching-shou music.

    “Ah, this is marvelous!” said Lord Wen-hui. “Imagine skill reaching such heights!”

    Cook Ting laid down his knife and replied, “What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill. When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself. After three years I no longer saw the whole ox. And now — now I go at it by spirit and don’t look with my eyes. Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, guide the knife through the big openings, and following things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less a main joint.

    “A good cook changes his knife once a year — because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a month — because he hacks. I’ve had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I’ve cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there’s plenty of room — more than enough for the blade to play about it. That’s why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone.

    “However, whenever I come to a complicated place, I size up the difficulties, tell myself to watch out and be careful, keep my eyes on what I’m doing, work very slowly, and move the knife with the greatest subtlety, until — flop! the whole thing comes apart like a clod of earth crumbling to the ground. I stand there holding the knife and look all around me, completely satisfied and reluctant to move on, and then I wipe off the knife and put it away.”

    “Excellent!” said Lord Wen-hui. “I have heard the words of Cook Ting and learned how to care for life!”

    Translated by Burton Watson
    (Chuang Tzu: The Basic Writings, 1964)
     
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  11. Imraan

    Imraan Friend

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    OK, I had a whole post written but @Kunlun's is so full of win I had to delete it.

    All I will say is - try the Spyderco Sharpmaker, it's great value and produces a good, durable edge.
     
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  12. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    I have, not a set, but a collection of individually acquired carbon-steel kitchen knives. Far from being stainless, they stain, and rust, with the greatest of ease! And they will sharpen easily, but need sharpening often. They are an eccentric choice, and increasingly hard to find. Doesn't matter: mine will almost certainly outlast me.

    I have a drawer full of things guaranteed to put a razor edge on your knives, and guess what they don't do!

    Don't really have the hand-eye coordination for "proper" wet (or whet, which would be dry!) stone sharpening, satisfying though it would be, and over the thirty-plus years age of some of my knives, this is what I have ended up with...

    Zero to almost-zero skill, zero to-almost-zero effort:

    Manual: Chef'sChoice Diamonond Hone 464.

    [​IMG]

    Yep, looks like just another of those back of the drawer gadgets, but it isn't. It works!

    Almost-zero to some skill, zero to-almost-zero effort:

    Electric: Chef's ChoiceChoice Edge Select 120.
    [​IMG]

    The knives are held at the correct angle to the spinning diamond disks. It doesn't take skill, more like knack: the knack being to get the speed of pulling the knife through right, and simply letting the machine do its job. Except that I find that a quick, once-a-side, wipe on an ordinary steel restores a slightly dull edge, this guy does all my work these days.

    It produces an edge with micro serrations. Thus, its result is not as aesthetic, perhaps, but you can still shave your arm.

    Some skill, as-much-as-it-takes effort:

    Manual: Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker.
    [​IMG]

    Real-stone sharpening for dummies, and how! If you don't want one for the kitchen, keep one for the workshop.

    The human eye and hand are not very good at judging, and holding at, say, 22 degrees to the flat, but we have no difficulty at all in holding something perpendicular. This kit comes with stones harder than anything in your house, and a base that holds them at a choice of two angles: user only has to hold the knife straight, and move it down, so many times on the left, so many times on the right.

    Two grades of stone, and on each, cutting on an angle is stronger than cutting on the flat. There is even a socket to hold a stone for scissor sharpening at the correct angle.

    This thing is just wonderful, and, with enough time and effort, will put the most amazing edge on your knife. And many, many other things. Every home should have one!

    I, or some other idiot, have almost destroyed my knife: what to do?

    Don't buy a fancy whetstone, buy a coarse stone from the local tool shop, and work hard. You may need a file, even, for the bolster. Angles, at this stage hardly matter, just getting the right shape back. Or get a bench grinder. Or ship it out to a place with a sharpening service, especially if it is stainless, which is really hard work. The point of the knife doesn't matter much: how many times do you use it, except for sticking in your hand? (Hmmm... filleting fish, yes.)

    This has been the story of my life with my knives. Real chefs may cringe: I don't care, because my knives cut stuff too! But I still admire proper stone sharpening and the skills to do it... which someone else can tell us about.

    Is a sharper knife safer?

    On the whole, I'd say yes, because a dull knife slips off the tomato it wouldn't cut, but goes into you skin with ease! And you were probably using more force than you would have done with a sharp knife. (according to me, a knife should cut slivers off a tomato, however ripe, with barely any more effort than its own weight)

    On the other hand, a mere touch with a sharp knife will cut you. I cut my finger two days back, striping wire with an OCD-sharpened (Tri-Angle Sharpmaker) pocket knife.

    On the other other hand, unless you do something really stupid involving deep damage (people do: a friend of mine tried to catch a falling knife and, unfortunately, succeeded!), surface wounds from a nice sharp knife are nice sharp cuts and likely to be healed by the time you finish dinner.
     
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  13. JK47

    JK47 Guest

    I've had the Wicked Edge Pro pack for almost 5 years, and have multiple leather and wood strops from them as well. I will say after you get the hang of it, the process truly does put a Wicked Edge on a knife, also the sound and feeling of doing it yourself is very satisfying.

    Finishing touch's with wood strops and 0.5 micron diamond paste on my Spyderco Positron.
    we1.jpg

    Finished product
    we3.jpg

    Support gear and accessories, including a geologist loupe, magnetic angle block gauge, Sharpie to check which part of the blade material is being removed from when setting the bevel with the 200 grit stone. I don't use the Flitz on knives, it was for polishing the feed ramps of firearms.
    we2.jpg
    For the most part I'll set the angle on folding everyday knives at 20° per side. I used to do them at a showtime (big shiny bevel) 15° , but the edge was not very durable with hard use.

    For quick touch ups, I'll use my Spyderco Sharpmaker which is a fine little tool in it's own right, but very difficult to set bevels on modern powdered super steels.

    I lust after the latest version of the Wicked Edge, but mine still works like a charm.

    EDIT: Word of caution with motorized sharpeners... It's possible to overheat the steel changing the temper, thereby making the blade susceptible to chipping.

    The ceran wrap around the knife handle is to prevent the metal dust from entering the pivot. I have ruined a knife without protecting it this way.
     
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  14. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Thanks for starting this thread @GoodEnoughGear.

    I've been cooking for awhile, but as far as knife maintenance goes I just try not to be too abusive and I use a honing steel. Never really sharpened a knife before, but I decided to change that recently. On the recommendation of a friend I bought a King 2-sided 250/1000 grit water stone. After some practice on some crappy knives I was able to get it pretty sharp but not razor sharp no matter how much time I put into.

    Upon further research it seems like I can't really get razor sharp unless I finish with 3000-6000 grit. Also it seems like you can just go straight to 1000 grit for most knives. Below 1000 grit is only if you have an exceptionally dull knife. I have a 3000/6000 grit stone that I borrowed from a family member to see how sharp I can get things. But honestly the 1000 grit is good enough for the kitchen, I'm just trying to see how far I can push it.

    As far knives go I finally got my first "good" knife when I bought a 10" Victorinox chefs knife. I know they say an 8" is all you need, but I actually have a use case for slicing brisket and other large pieces of meat. I also bought an Massdrop x Apogee 8" knife that should be coming within a couple months. I hope to review it here for you guys.
     
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  15. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Wow, that is droolworthy kit! :p
    Glad to know you appreciate this one too!
    Thought I should have said that when I mentioned bench grinders in passing. Chances are that anyone unaccustomed to such a tool (that includes me these days) would destroy a knife in under a minute on a bench grinder, especially if they are trying to restore a ruined profile.

    The Chef'sChoice electric machine seems not to heat, or even warm, the edge noticeably. I think one would have to move the knife through the machine incredibly slowly to change the temper.

    My dream sharpener would be the Tormek kit. But I would never, really, have a need for anything other than simple knife sharpening. Interesting: I see they have introduced a kitchen-dedicated model since I last looked. I expect I'll be drooling.

    But, honestly, I have more than enough for my needs, especially as I have no workshop tooling to sharpen or grind these days (although I am rather sad at the point of my automatic centre punch).

    Two more little things in my kit are a Rust Eraser, a little block that keeps the carbon steel clean, and a wood-mounted strop. I'm after a new strop, when I go to UK this month.

    My knives go from 3 inch, to nearly-8 inch. 99% of my cutting is done with one single 7" knife. But then, I have not chipped large potatoes, nor carved a joint, in quite a long time.
     
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  16. bobboxbody

    bobboxbody Almost "Made"

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    Another vote for Japanese water stones. I started with a 250/1000 grit combo King stone and practiced on an abused 6" chef knife and some beat up old pocket knives until I had a feel for angles and technique. I now have 400, 3000, and 6000 grit stones. I almost never use the 6000 and only use the 250 anymore if a blade gets chipped. 1000 is reasonably sharp for most things. I have one knife that I sharpen to 3000 and another to 6000. The super fine grit sharpening dulls pretty quick, but is great for tomatoes and sushi while it's sharp, prefer 1000 for everything else.
     
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  17. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    Alright, so I picked up el cheapo Lansky on the way home.

    And of course in a rush I just had to play with it and saw away with the coarse stone at the 8" subject of my choosing. Of course I had too little time and it ended up worse for wear :). After I put my daughter to sleep I sat down properly to see what was up. First issue is it expects the back of the blade to be parallel which a lot of chefs knive's aren't, of which mine is one. So that takes some finicking about to get the blade secured properly.

    Then I set about with the coarse stone, and after about 20 minutes could feel I was getting what felt like a burr. Flipped to the other side and sawed away similarly. Then on to medium and (probably futile) to fine.

    I guess I spent about 45 minutes. I have something that is now slightly less blunt than I started with. And with one chip cleaned up. But I have a better 'feel' for it...it will just take some practice.

    I can imagine that hand sharpening on a large stone would lend itself to better control or feel though, especially for a larger blade.
     
  18. Daveheart

    Daveheart Friend

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    Hand sharpening does have a far higher margin of error. That being said, yes, control and feel can be much better once you have the process down.

    Generally, I now only use the guided system for smaller folding knives. The blades often extend almost all the way to the handle, and I usually mar the finish at the end of the handle on my full stones. I've never run into that issue with any of my kitchen knives, so those all stick with the water stones.
     
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  19. loki993

    loki993 Facebook Friend

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    Ok, now you have found something in my wheelhouse. I have researched a ton of sharpening systems and have a lansky and a whetstone.

    first off I have a lansky and it's terrible to try and sharpen a kitchen knife with. It just can't handle something that big very well. So its relegated to pocket knife only duty..which it does an OK job with. Even then it's the basic non diamond stone one and I have a lot of pocket knives with supersteel...so its a pain to sharpen them with...thats a stone issue though and not the sharpeners fault. I need to get the diamond stones for it but Im a cheap bastard and I haven't yet.

    The Edge Pro and the Wicked Edge are both supposed to be really good...but they are expensive...if money is not an issue though you will get good results with either one, people swear by them. I don't know a lot about the KME.

    There is the work sharp which is basically like a little belt sander with different grit belts..and you can get extra ones that should cover most grits you would ever need. A lot of people say its ok for cheap knives but they would never use it on a an expensive one. I that that's at least partially because if you're not careful you can get carried away with it and grind the crap out of your knife. So maybe if you are really careful it would be ok, its intriguing to me at least for me to want to try it

    Whetstones will get you the best edge theoretically but they are kind of a pain to use. They have a learning curve and they take a bit of preparation, there is a margin of error but if you are good at it you will get a fantastic edge. Get something relatively inexpensive like a Tojiro DP or Misono to practice on, the are both perfectly serviceable kitchen knives in their own right too.

    So quick and dirty, I want more cutting time and less sharpening, money's no object go for the wicked edge or edge pro.

    If you don't mind taking some time to learn get some whetstone.


    if they are that old and never have been sharepeining you may want to find someone, ie a pro, that will sharpen them for you. It will cost a few bucks, but at least you know it will be right from the start. Maintaining a knife is a lot easier than bringing one back.

    the shuns are nice looking but there are better knives for the money IMO..I dont even know if they are "real" damascus.

    Take a look at Chefknivestogo or Japanese knife imports. I think japanese chef knives if good too. They all have knives at a variety of pricepoints all the way from relative cheap to one that will make your significant other say holy shit you spent what on a knife.

    There are a few ebay sellers that I follow that sell stuff directly from Japan too.

    Japanwoodworker was a place I found early on when I was looking for japanese knives, they also sell knives directly from japan...some of their stuff is downright cheap too but I don't know about the quality. For the price though they are definitely worth a look.



    First Carbon Steel knives are awesome...yes they take some care but it's really not that hard. They do sharpen relatively easily and over time should eveilia a really nice patina. They aren't for everyone though.

    Second everything Ive see has sand using those things on knives is borderline knife abuse. so they work ok for you?

    the Sharpmaker is a popular sharpener and relatively inexpensive..
     
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  20. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    If you end up buying a nice (read expensive) knife, stones are preferred over those pull through or disc sharpeners because they wear away less metal during the sharpening process. The aggressive sharpening methods could turn your knife into a short stub over time.

    I definitely recommend owning one good carbon steel knife, preferably Aogami or Shirogami steel, they have pretty decent retention but are also really easy to hone back to razor sharp. I don't use mine as much as my stainless but I'm sure as hell glad to have it when I need the extra firepower.
     

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