Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

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Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:14 pm UTC

As per Zohar's recommendation in my other thread in "General", it seems like this "Cooking" forum may be a better place to discuss knives and sharpening. I've looked around and it seems like there are threads about general cooking tools, but nothing on knives specifically yet.

The knife is often considered the most personal tool of a chef. Not only are there various styles: Chef, Santoku, Slicers, Paring... there are the various brands... which use various kinds of metals... from easy to maintain "stainless steel" to the higher-hardness (but more rust-prone) "high carbon steels". When I see other forums online, there are discussions about type 440A steel (Aka: Cutco) vs X50CrMoV15 (Aka: Wustof) vs AG-10 (Aka: Shun) and the pros-and-cons (or "tier lists") of the steel types.

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My current knife set is rather cheap, but it seems like proper sharpening technique has allowed me to get it to a good level of sharpness. Somewhat ironically, I've spent far more money on whetstones than my knives.

My paring-knife is almost push-cut worthy, but not quite. It somewhat push-cuts, but still snags and rips paper. Its an easy "slice cut" which is sharper than what most of my friend's blades are. I can push-cut a folded-piece of standard paper (folded for extra rigidity). I reckon that I need a higher-quality steel and/or better sharpening equipment (ie: I don't have a Leather Strop) to get to the level of true razor-sharpness.

I have played with various knives over the years. I'd have to say that my #1 preference is the general Chef Knife, its a good shape for rocking, slicing, and plenty of work. Paring-knife is my 2nd choice... although I resort to more specialized blades as the need arises. (Ex: I do cook my own bread, and the dedicated Bread Knife is easily the best blade for that job).

I will say that my sister's blade (which is a Santoku-knife) has a good shape for slicing... and it seemed to be far easier to sharpen on my Whetstones. I can see why its very popular, although I still prefer the general Chef Knife in my own use. If I were to buy a $100+ blade, it'd be a Chef knife.
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby sardia » Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:41 pm UTC

My insurance gives me useless reward points for being healthy. Most of the good stuff cost too much, but cheap kitchen knives are pretty much free for me. That means I just use chef knives until they're dull, rehone them, and toss into the garbage after that stops working.

Someone gave me a knife grinder, so now I grind knives too. I don't have to worry about destroying my knives via excessive grinding because I can always get more.

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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby CelticNot » Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:10 pm UTC

I don't have my own chef's knife yet, but both lifemate and roommate do, and from them I have learned some very, very important lessons.

The single most important one being... never ever use anyone else's knives because if you manage to be a dumbass and put a nick in one you will end up footing the bill for a new one.

That said, I'm still undecided on what kind of knife I like best, but having used a truly sharp one, it's like night and day.
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:42 pm UTC

CelticNot wrote:I don't have my own chef's knife yet, but both lifemate and roommate do, and from them I have learned some very, very important lessons.

The single most important one being... never ever use anyone else's knives because if you manage to be a dumbass and put a nick in one you will end up footing the bill for a new one.


Rub out the nick with a Whetstone. Grind out the nick. :D :D :D
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby CelticNot » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:21 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Rub out the nick with a Whetstone. Grind out the nick. :D :D :D


It was actually pretty bad, my roomie did try rubbing it out, but the next time she took it to a hefty piece of meat, a whole chunk of the blade snapped off where the nick was. D:
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:32 pm UTC

CelticNot wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:Rub out the nick with a Whetstone. Grind out the nick. :D :D :D


It was actually pretty bad, my roomie did try rubbing it out, but the next time she took it to a hefty piece of meat, a whole chunk of the blade snapped off where the nick was. D:


Was this a ceramic blade or something?

Steel isn't normally that brittle. Although I've read up that some Japanese metals are incredibly hard... but brittle as a result. Western Knives seem to have a bigger focus on softer, more stainless, and more flexible steels (although they're less hard and therefore go duller quicker). Do you recall the brand by any chance?

Brittle and Hard vs Soft but Flexible. Stainless (rust-resistant) vs Hardness (high-carbon)... It turns out that "durability" is a complicated beast that requires a bunch of conflicting parameters be optimized. Harder steels resist microscratches... but softer-steels resist breaking or snapping outright.

-----------------

EDIT: I've looked into a bit of the metallurgy, and it seems like "440A", "440B" and "440C" are a relatively common set of steel. Although all are "high carbon" steels (over 0.5%), 440C has over 1.2% carbon. And with 18% Chromium, it is well into the "stainless steel" category (13%+). So its a high-carbon stainless steel. 440A has the lowest carbon content in the series (0.75%) but still qualifies as a "surgical high-carbon stainless steel"... only demonstrating the pointlessness of the marketing words.

American 440C corresponds to Japanese 440C, and corresponds to European X105CrMo17.

It seems like the Japanese VG-10 is considered among the best kitchen steels right now in many knife forums. It can have a "Folded Damascus" pattern applied to it for a truly exotic look, and seems to have high stainless (15% Chromium) and high-carbon (over 1%) attributes as well.

I bring this up because 440C might be the optimal price / performance ratio... with this offering I found on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/ZHEN-Japanese-Ca ... B00E0EF6GU

I don't fully understand the metallurgy however... but from my understanding... the final heat-treatment of the steel is incredibly important. Apparently "raw" 440C only has a Rockwell Hardness of HRC 5, but with proper heat-treatment it can increase to HRC 60 Hardness... and of course... different manufacturers may heat-treat the steel in slightly different ways for slightly different results. Poor heat-treatment can lead to poor results.

So even in the great scheme of things, it seems like brand-name may be more important than the specific steel used.
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby CelticNot » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:06 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Steel isn't normally that brittle. Although I've read up that some Japanese metals are incredibly hard... but brittle as a result. Western Knives seem to have a bigger focus on softer, more stainless, and more flexible steels (although they're less hard and therefore go duller quicker). Do you recall the brand by any chance?


No idea for the brand, but it was a Japanese santoku, so the former point might well stand.

I think the sheer variety in knives is what keeps me from buying my own. I cook a little more often than the other people in the house, but I can't see much of a difference in function between different shapes of knives, or materials. I liked my roommate's old knife because it had heft to it, which made it feel more natural in my hand. But all in all, I just want something that cuts without giving me grief, and won't break the bank to purchase.
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby KnightExemplar » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:28 pm UTC

CelticNot wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:Steel isn't normally that brittle. Although I've read up that some Japanese metals are incredibly hard... but brittle as a result. Western Knives seem to have a bigger focus on softer, more stainless, and more flexible steels (although they're less hard and therefore go duller quicker). Do you recall the brand by any chance?


No idea for the brand, but it was a Japanese santoku, so the former point might well stand.

I think the sheer variety in knives is what keeps me from buying my own. I cook a little more often than the other people in the house, but I can't see much of a difference in function between different shapes of knives, or materials. I liked my roommate's old knife because it had heft to it, which made it feel more natural in my hand. But all in all, I just want something that cuts without giving me grief, and won't break the bank to purchase.


You want a general knife. I like "Western" Chef knives: it supports rocking, slicing forward, and even light chopping. Its wide enough to scoop things or crush garlic. The Santoku (which seems to be the Japanese General Chef knife) basically does all of that as well, which is probably why its a popular choice as well.

The only other knife that I use often is the Paring Knife. If you're going to hold a vegetable or fruit in your left hand... while cutting it with a knife in your right hand... the paring knife is the best. And honestly, its a hell of a lot easier to cut things "in your hands" than to pull out the cutting board all the time. I definitely prefer to skin potatoes or other vegetables / fruits with a paring knife than use a vegetable peeler.

Beyond that, the variety of knives are mostly related to their specialty. Bread Knives cut bread. Cleavers or Butcher Knives are for chopping bones and butchering duties. Clam Knives open clams. Get those specialty knives if you need them. Definitely don't underestimate the cheese knife (its really good for cutting cheese). But overall, a chef knife can be used for all of these applications (its just not ideal). So consider these highly specialty blades.

--------

My three knives in my kitchen are:

* 6" Chef knife -- a bit small, but I'm still learning.
* 3.5" Paring Knife -- Seems like a good length
* Bread Knife -- I cook enough bread that its worth it

Beyond that, cooking is like any other hobby. The only way you learn is by trying it out. If you don't have any baseline, you're basically forced to buy something and just give it a shot. I was a knife-salesman a long time ago, so I was able to try a variety of knives to form my opinions. So really... most people learn what they like by doing things.

I will say that I've been satisfied with my knife set: https://www.amazon.com/ZYLISS-Piece-Par ... B00LIRKR52. I've seen blades hold a sharper edge, but the blade is higher quality than what I see in most people's kitchens. Not quite up to my standards (I'm looking for new knifes), but its damn good for the price point.

I don't use the serrated blade (and I had to buy a Bread Knife at a later time), but Chef Knife + Paring Knife gets a huge number of kitchen tasks done. Really, start there. Or if you want to go Japanese-style, get the Santoku + Japanese Paring Knife.

The set that I'm looking at right now looks pretty good theoretically. However, good knife maintenance requires you to "baby" that delicate edge, so be sure to buy sheaths or a wood block (or some other kind of storage mechanism). The $12 Zyliss set comes with sheaths so its actually very good for a beginner.

Beyond that, be sure to buy at minimum a honing steel, and the honing steel must be longer than the longest knife you plan to hone. Most Chef Knives are 8-inches, so get a steel bigger than that. While knife edges take months to dull, the edge should be re-aligned often. In fact, you should do ~5 to 10 swipes against the honing steel before every use to maximize your cutting performance. Once you learn the motions and practice a bit, it won't take any longer than 10 seconds.
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby sardia » Sat Mar 25, 2017 11:01 pm UTC

Is this a grinding stone? It seems too hard, and isn't creating silty particles.
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Mar 27, 2017 5:18 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Is this a grinding stone? It seems too hard, and isn't creating silty particles.


I can't say that I'm an expert on this subject... but it looks like a brick to me. Lol. It does seem to be slightly larger than a standard whetstone.

If I were to take a guess, you probably have a lapping stone: a stone designed to flatten other whetstones. Water-Whetstones go "curved" in a very short time... within 2 sharpenings in my experience. So you use a lapping or flattening stone to make a flat surface again. Although... my flattening stone has grooves in it so maybe not.

How "flat" is it? (Although if it was used to flatten other stones, it may not be as flat anymore as when it was fresh)
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby sardia » Mon Mar 27, 2017 5:48 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:
sardia wrote:Is this a grinding stone? It seems too hard, and isn't creating silty particles.


I can't say that I'm an expert on this subject... but it looks like a brick to me. Lol. It does seem to be slightly larger than a standard whetstone.

If I were to take a guess, you probably have a lapping stone: a stone designed to flatten other whetstones. Water-Whetstones go "curved" in a very short time... within 2 sharpenings in my experience. So you use a lapping or flattening stone to make a flat surface again. Although... my flattening stone has grooves in it so maybe not.

How "flat" is it? (Although if it was used to flatten other stones, it may not be as flat anymore as when it was fresh)

It's fairly flat, and I do recall people pouring water over it to use knives on it. You can't tell, but it appears broken in half. One end in jagged and smoothed over.
I thought it was a for honing blades because of how hard it was.
I only did like 20 scrapes on each side before giving up.

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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Mar 27, 2017 6:19 pm UTC

sardia wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:
sardia wrote:Is this a grinding stone? It seems too hard, and isn't creating silty particles.


I can't say that I'm an expert on this subject... but it looks like a brick to me. Lol. It does seem to be slightly larger than a standard whetstone.

If I were to take a guess, you probably have a lapping stone: a stone designed to flatten other whetstones. Water-Whetstones go "curved" in a very short time... within 2 sharpenings in my experience. So you use a lapping or flattening stone to make a flat surface again. Although... my flattening stone has grooves in it so maybe not.

How "flat" is it? (Although if it was used to flatten other stones, it may not be as flat anymore as when it was fresh)

It's fairly flat, and I do recall people pouring water over it to use knives on it. You can't tell, but it appears broken in half. One end in jagged and smoothed over.
I thought it was a for honing blades because of how hard it was.
I only did like 20 scrapes on each side before giving up.


If people sharpened knives on it, it probably is a whetstone. The stone is necessarily harder than steel so that it can scrape steel and polish it. Lower-grit stones will necessarily feel rougher (while my 6000-grit stone feels almost like soap because of how smooth it is). So you might have a low-grit stone for rapid sharpening.

I might not be understanding the actual size of the thing. There could be a trick of perspective or something... What's the approximate width and length of it?
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby SDK » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:25 pm UTC

I couldn't talk about paring knives vs. chef knives to save my life, but I am a metallurgist. If you're interested in knowing how heat treatment, chemistry, or material choice affects your blade, or how hardness, strength and toughness are related, I can probably help if you quote this post with a question. Just offering my services, feel free to completely ignore me otherwise. :)
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby sardia » Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:46 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:
sardia wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:
sardia wrote:Is this a grinding stone? It seems too hard, and isn't creating silty particles.


I can't say that I'm an expert on this subject... but it looks like a brick to me. Lol. It does seem to be slightly larger than a standard whetstone.

If I were to take a guess, you probably have a lapping stone: a stone designed to flatten other whetstones. Water-Whetstones go "curved" in a very short time... within 2 sharpenings in my experience. So you use a lapping or flattening stone to make a flat surface again. Although... my flattening stone has grooves in it so maybe not.

How "flat" is it? (Although if it was used to flatten other stones, it may not be as flat anymore as when it was fresh)

It's fairly flat, and I do recall people pouring water over it to use knives on it. You can't tell, but it appears broken in half. One end in jagged and smoothed over.
I thought it was a for honing blades because of how hard it was.
I only did like 20 scrapes on each side before giving up.


If people sharpened knives on it, it probably is a whetstone. The stone is necessarily harder than steel so that it can scrape steel and polish it. Lower-grit stones will necessarily feel rougher (while my 6000-grit stone feels almost like soap because of how smooth it is). So you might have a low-grit stone for rapid sharpening.

I might not be understanding the actual size of the thing. There could be a trick of perspective or something... What's the approximate width and length of it?

3-4 inches wide, and 6-8 inches long. It's broken in half though.

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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby mosc » Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:19 pm UTC

I have a set of Heinkel Internationals. It's a block with like 5 different knives to which I added a bread knife (which is huge). Look like this:
https://www.amazon.com/Henckels-Interna ... 0009MGN3W/
They probably need to be sharpened pretty badly. Any suggestions on what I should get to take better care of them? Wetstone seems like too much work. They make stuff like this?:
https://www.amazon.com/SunrisePro-Knife ... 00RW7OYCO/

I recently got more into it and decided this was too good a deal to pass up:
https://www.amazon.com/Nourish-Japanese ... 01L2I4SM4/
$40 just seemed like a bargain for a damascus VG-10 steak knife. I'd classify this as a knock-off shun but it tries to be a little less Japanese and a little more German in style. I would probably buy a version of this that was smaller too but they don't make it. Been looking at Zelite Infinity who makes a 6" and 4" that look similar but they cost more than the chef's knife did (most people buy just chef's knives?)

The Nourish blade is so much lighter than the VERY thick Heinkel. It mostly gets used for cutting up chicken. Definitely picks up water marks much easier. Can't exactly let it sit gunked up in the sink it must be cleaned immediately and dried where the Heinkels handle the terribly abusive treatment of being treated like a fork or spoon much better.
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:23 pm UTC

Best bet-find the store where chefs buy knives in your area, they will do sharpening. I have a small pull-through sharpener that I use between visits to the cutlery store.
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:06 pm UTC

mosc wrote:I have a set of Heinkel Internationals. It's a block with like 5 different knives to which I added a bread knife (which is huge). Look like this:
https://www.amazon.com/Henckels-Interna ... 0009MGN3W/
They probably need to be sharpened pretty badly. Any suggestions on what I should get to take better care of them? Wetstone seems like too much work. They make stuff like this?:
https://www.amazon.com/SunrisePro-Knife ... 00RW7OYCO/


So, pull-through sharpeners have a very bad rap in sharpening circles. In essence: the blade is basically squeezed, which doesn't actually make a sharp edge. Its "sharper" than how most people keep their knives, but the overall quality of the sharpening effort is extremely low. Even a novice sharpener will get a far better job done with any grinding tool.

Any quality sharpener needs to be a grinding motion. Its just the nature of how the microscopic cuts affect the steel. There are a ton of options if Whetstones are too much work: Crock-sticks and Belt-Sanders work too. We're talking the difference between:

Pull Through:
Spoiler:
Image


Whetstone:
Spoiler:
Image


In essence, a Pull-Through sharpener causes the "lines" to cut parallel the blade, as opposed to a Whetstone or Belt-Grinder which makes the "lines" cut perpendicular to the blade. When those microscopic lines are perpendicular (or at a 45-degree angle), you get a micro-sawing effect which is very beneficial.

But when they are parallel, due to the Pull-Through use... those imperfections have a dulling effect which diminish the quality of the knife.

---------------------------

My friends get their knives sharpened at a farmers market. They have a belt-grinder over there. Its a local place so I'm not entirely sure how that'd translate online. Maybe a local farmers market in your area also has a belt grinder service.

The "Good" options:

* Whetstones: Already discussed
* Crocksticks: https://www.amazon.com/Lansky-4-rod-Cro ... B000B8FW0E
* Electric Grinder: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Presto-EverS ... er/5969525

---------------------

As discussed in this thread: sharpening should only happen every few months... maybe once every 6 months or once a year. Maybe 3-months if you got cheaper, weaker steel. Instead, most people need a knife honer (which should be done every time you cook).

So getting your knives sharpened once a year or twice a year at the farmers market... and then taking care of it by honing the blade every use... is all you need to do.
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:13 pm UTC

My little pull through has two wheels which spin against the blade.
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:20 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:My little pull through has two wheels which spin against the blade.


That's useful. There's a lot of shitty pull-through sharpeners that simply pinch the blade. The spinning motion is very important.

The one that was linked is one of these shitty designs: https://www.amazon.com/SunrisePro-Knife ... 00RW7OYCO/

Electric-grinders aren't even that expensive. They're probably not as good as a practiced Whetstone user, but the theory of operation is at least sound. So I'd imagine that they'd be good enough for most people.

Image

Once your blade is properly sharpened, it should remain so for months. It takes months for a high-quality steel blade to degrade into the left-kind of image. But every time you push the knife against the cutting board, the tip will bend over sideways, like on the far right. Use a honing steel to make the knife back to optimal "sharpness".

Really, a honing steel just aligns the blade. Two or three quick swipes and you're set. You don't want to remove any steel during the honing process.

Oh right, and what I do with a Whetstone:

Image

A combination of 15-degrees and 20-degrees. A 15-degree point dulls very quickly, so you put a 20-degree point on the tip of a 15-degree point. It greatly enhances durability, and barely makes the edge any duller. All of the Crock-sticks are designed to make this sort of process easy (they have two pairs of sticks at two different angles... and rubbing the blade against those angles makes this kind of design)
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby mosc » Fri Jul 28, 2017 5:56 pm UTC

I have a honing steel, I can't say I know how to use it. Does a knife grinder as you call it operate the same way as a "pull through" sharpener?
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Jul 28, 2017 6:31 pm UTC

mosc wrote:I have a honing steel, I can't say I know how to use it.


Image

It shouldn't take long or much pressure to fix the burr. However, this process is mostly blind... well... for me anyway. My eyes can't see the burr.

But my fingers can feel it. If you're careful about feeling the edge of the knife, you can feel which side the burr is on, as well as approximately how big it is. Learning to feel the edge of the knife without cutting yourself is part of the trick in both honing and sharpening.

If you're honing correctly, the whole process should take you less than 10 swipes total. Like 3-swipes on the left, 3-swipes on the right, 1-swipe and then 1-swipe to finish off the sides. The time taken is far less than a minute. The first time you hone however, you should be feeling the blade and trying to get an understanding of what you're doing. So take your time on the first go, to build up your understanding.

Ideally, you learn how to place the proper amount of pressure on the steel so that when you're done... there's no "wire burr" (which inevitably just breaks off and leads to slightly diminished cutting while you're halfway through cooking). Having a light touch for a perfect honing is a developed skill however... and its really not a big deal to make a wire burr anyway.

Honing the edge isn't hard at all. If anything, the primary skill is understanding when a blade needs honing vs when a blade needs sharpening. There's a bit of knowledge on how to grip a honing steel so that its physically impossible to cut yourself (keep your secondary hand behind the grip: so if the knife slips while you're honing the grip is cut and not your hand).

Does a knife grinder as you call it operate the same way as a "pull through" sharpener?


Yes and no. Fundamentally, the knife grinder is very different. A knife grinder has spinning wheels on the inside which smooth the tip of the knife... leading to superior cutting.

As far as "using" a knife grinder, the use is very similar to a pull-through sharpener: except you have to turn it on. I can't say I have much experience with knife grinders however, some reviewers indicate that aggressively putting pressure on the blade may lead to nicks and other bits of damage to the delicate knife edge.

So the "use" is very similar, in that you pull the knife through a slot. The difference is the nature of the spinning grinding wheels on the inside. Pull-through sharpeners don't have a spinning mechanism, and therefore only "pinch" the blade.

Remember: the knife's edge is the thinnest piece of metal that can be made. Its fragile. The very point of a knife edge is to be thin... and that thinness leads to fragility. So treat the edge with care: it will be the first part to break, the first part to rust, the first part to "dent". As such, it doesn't take much force to hone an edge or sharpen it. Sharpening is roughly ~5lbs of force, while honing should use less than 1lbs of force.
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby mosc » Wed Aug 02, 2017 5:21 pm UTC

Your nerdy attention to detail on this matter is really helpful KnightExemplar.

Now, school me on cutting boards pretty please.
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KnightExemplar
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:23 pm UTC

mosc wrote:Now, school me on cutting boards pretty please.


The purpose of a cutting board is to protect the knife's edge. So do NOT get glass cutting boards (glass is harder than steel, so you'll bend the fragile edge). Instead, use HDPE (aka: plastic) or Wood.

There seems to be conflicting reports on what is and isn't sanitary. I can't say I've figured it out, so I just go with the nuclear option: Hydrogen Peroxide. Its cheap, its plentiful, its everywhere. Its one of the strongest oxidizers (even stronger than Chlorine Bleach), except H2O2 turns into H2O + O2 over time, so the "residue" is safe water and oxygen. Its very poisonous before it bubbles into water however, so still rinse it off and stuff. But chemically speaking... the thing is so reactive that over time it turns into water + oxygen eventually.

Yeah, Hydrogen Peroxide is a bleaching agent and removes color from things. Be a bit careful not to get any on your clothes or fancy stuff. But its a damn good "nuclear" cleaning solution / poison for killing bacteria.

IIRC, Wood Boards are best taken care of with some sort of wax and stuff. Basically, you put a layer of wax on the wood so that bacteria and stuff are repelled and stay on the surface. It makes sanitization easier.

HDPE (aka Plastic) boards are cheap and plentiful however. So those are my preference.

----------

If you're cooking a multi-course meal, you really should have two cutting boards: one for the raw meats, and another for the fresh veggies. And then keep them separated. I basically just work with one and then do my best to clean it each time.
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PAstrychef
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:48 pm UTC

I like the inexpensive sets of cutting mats that I use over a wooden board. I have accumulated six or seven mats by now, all different colors so I can keep them straight at any given time. Bamboo boards are very nice to use, in the bakery we use the industry standard acrylic ones about 1/2" thick. You don't want the surface too smooth or stuff slides around when you try to cut it.
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trpmb6
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby trpmb6 » Thu Aug 03, 2017 4:57 pm UTC

I am comforted by the fact that a forum for a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math (&science!) and Language can cover a topic as trivial as cutting boards.

We mostly use our HDPE boards, particularly if we're doing raw meat. I do like to bust out the wooden cutting board I made when I was in 7th grade though. It's still holding up like a champ. Just needs to be waxed every so often. Plus, it's kind of one of those self gratifying things when you get to use something you made a long long time ago.

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sardia
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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby sardia » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:07 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:
PAstrychef wrote:My little pull through has two wheels which spin against the blade.

That's useful. There's a lot of shitty pull-through sharpeners that simply pinch the blade. The spinning motion is very important.
The one that was linked is one of these shitty designs: https://www.amazon.com/SunrisePro-Knife ... 00RW7OYCO/
Electric-grinders aren't even that expensive. They're probably not as good as a practiced Whetstone user, but the theory of operation is at least sound. So I'd imagine that they'd be good enough for most people.

Once your blade is properly sharpened, it should remain so for months. It takes months for a high-quality steel blade to degrade into the left-kind of image. But every time you push the knife against the cutting board, the tip will bend over sideways, like on the far right. Use a honing steel to make the knife back to optimal "sharpness".
Really, a honing steel just aligns the blade. Two or three quick swipes and you're set. You don't want to remove any steel during the honing process.
Oh right, and what I do with a Whetstone:
Image
A combination of 15-degrees and 20-degrees. A 15-degree point dulls very quickly, so you put a 20-degree point on the tip of a 15-degree point. It greatly enhances durability, and barely makes the edge any duller. All of the Crock-sticks are designed to make this sort of process easy (they have two pairs of sticks at two different angles... and rubbing the blade against those angles makes this kind of design)

KE,
What's your opinion on using a pull through grinder just to remove a bunch of material from a really beat up knife? Like I had visible chips on mine, and I removed it by using a pull through grinder. Then I used a whetstone afterwards to get it razor sharp. I think it saves a lot of time spent, grinding away, even at relatively low grit.

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Re: Knives and sharpening: Cooks edition

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:37 pm UTC

sardia wrote:KE,
What's your opinion on using a pull through grinder just to remove a bunch of material from a really beat up knife? Like I had visible chips on mine, and I removed it by using a pull through grinder. Then I used a whetstone afterwards to get it razor sharp. I think it saves a lot of time spent, grinding away, even at relatively low grit.


That seems like a good use of it. Pull-throughs usually remove way too much material, but in the case of chips and dings, removing a lot of material is explicitly the goal.

Whetstones are nice because you remove the least amount of metal to get to the optimum sharpness. But that makes whetstones a bit tedious when trying to rub out a ding. So combining the tools to use what they're good at makes sense to me at least.
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