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View Full Version : Is sharpening a necessary skill to keep a decent working edge?



Don Nguyen
11-07-2012, 10:37 AM
Most people I know don't sharpen their knives. Let's say I buy a decent knife with a working edge, and take good care of it (soft cutting board, washing separately, keeping dry, storing safely, no abuse).

If I don't use a sharpening stone, how should I best keep that edge? Regular honing on a rod, and send it for sharpening every couple months?

Lefty
11-07-2012, 10:40 AM
I'd make a new knife

Korin_Mari
11-07-2012, 10:46 AM
For softer steel knives like any German knives, a sharpening rod would help get back the blade. Not as much as using a stone, of course, but enough to be useful. For any asymmetrical knives (70/30, 90/10, etc etc), I highly recommend using a stone or having someone else sharpen it for you. Reason being, you spent the money for the asymmetrical blade, using a honing steel will ruin that bevel. There are ways to effectively hone an asymmetrical blade, but asymmetrical blades also tend to be made out of a much harder steel, so it won't be much sharper even if you use a honing steel.

I hope that makes sense... If not, feel free to message me. I'll be happy to help. :) lol

Chuckles
11-07-2012, 11:02 AM
A loaded strop would be my choice to keep you going between trips to the sharpener. Cheap and I think faster and easier than learning how to use stones.

Chuckles
11-07-2012, 11:04 AM
I take that back. I like Lefty's idea.

Korin_Mari
11-07-2012, 11:13 AM
I like Lefty's idea too. LOL

chinacats
11-07-2012, 12:08 PM
Yes, unless you happen to make knives...

ajhuff
11-07-2012, 12:14 PM
My experience has been that what most people post for sharpening frequency is more often than actually necessary or required. I'm not saying wrong. I can push my knives for months. The edgewise not as great as a fresh edge but at say 60% of starting sharpness still quite usable in the kitchen.

If you didn't want to do it yourself and cost was a non-factor then yes, I would say sending knives out for sharpening every few months would be reasonable.

-AJ

Don Nguyen
11-07-2012, 12:20 PM
Awesome, thanks for input everyone. I knew honing rods weren't that great for knives of high hardness, but never thought about the asymmetry.

And Tom... :laugh:


I can push my knives for months. The edgewise not as great as a fresh edge but at say 60% of starting sharpness still quite usable in the kitchen.

Do you do any sort of touch ups?

Lefty
11-07-2012, 12:29 PM
Realistically, you could easily maintain a kitchen knife with a 5 or 6k stone and not have to worry too much. A guy like you would be able to sharpen as well as any of us in now time.

Don Nguyen
11-07-2012, 12:49 PM
Realistically, you could easily maintain a kitchen knife with a 5 or 6k stone and not have to worry too much. A guy like you would be able to sharpen as well as any of us in now time.

I agree. For myself, it wouldn't be so much of a problem because I enjoy learning how to sharpen, but for someone like my aunt, she would never consider purchasing a stone and actually learning how to use it, even though she likes sharp knives.

Is it possible in that case to keep a decent edge?

Taz575
11-07-2012, 01:19 PM
You can strop it or touch it up on a fine stone for a while, but eventually, it's going to need at least a good thinning. I have a gyuto I have been using at home since Mid August this year and I've only had to strop it a few times. A fine stone works well for a touch up. The other option is to have a couple of knives. Use one and strop/touch up on a fine stone until it needs sharpening/thinning. Send it out, use the other one until that one gets to the point where it needs attention and keep rotating them.

mainaman
11-07-2012, 01:36 PM
Most people I know don't sharpen their knives. Let's say I buy a decent knife with a working edge, and take good care of it (soft cutting board, washing separately, keeping dry, storing safely, no abuse).

If I don't use a sharpening stone, how should I best keep that edge? Regular honing on a rod, and send it for sharpening every couple months?
Your scenario will work only if perfect technique is used every time and the edge does not chip or deteriorate past the point where a rod will be able to maintain it.. IMO there are too many factors that can cause the edge to deteriorate.
A person should be able to use a stone or two to bring back an edge.

tk59
11-07-2012, 02:39 PM
Well... There is always Chefs' Choice-type products... :scared2: BTW, honing rods are fine for high hardness as they are the ceramic variety. The only thing is they are just cylindrical stones and aren't any easier to use than a flat stone, IMO. Just make sure they don't take their knives to the fellows with the high speed dry-grinding wheels at the supermarket, etc.

sachem allison
11-07-2012, 03:20 PM
I agree. For myself, it wouldn't be so much of a problem because I enjoy learning how to sharpen, but for someone like my aunt, she would never consider purchasing a stone and actually learning how to use it, even though she likes sharp knives.

Is it possible in that case to keep a decent edge? Don, if she is Vietnamese she'll just use the back of a rice bowl.lol

ajhuff
11-07-2012, 03:21 PM
Do you do any sort of touch ups?

An occasional touch on a ceramic rod. That's it. I used to use an F. DICK multi-cut steel. O can't. Seem to see a real difference.

-AJ

Benuser
11-07-2012, 03:41 PM
Your scenario will work only if perfect technique is used every time and the edge does not chip or deteriorate past the point where a rod will be able to maintain it.. IMO there are too many factors that can cause the edge to deteriorate.
A person should be able to use a stone or two to bring back an edge.
Thats exactly how I see it as well. You may imagine it's possible to maintain an edge during weeks of home use, just by stropping on newspaper. It does require some technique, knowledge and experience, though, you only can expect with a reasonably good sharpener.

Cadillac J
11-07-2012, 05:58 PM
Be a sharpening resource for your aunt

I sharpen for all my friends and family. After I take their knives and put on the initial edge, I will bring my old worn down 5K SS with base as a travel stone to do touch ups when I stop over there. When they need a brand new edge, they bring over and I turn it around for them while they visit usually.

However, I've been thinking about them buying a cheap King stone, and then showing them how to strop on it. For a novice, it might even be easier to hold both hands on the knife and see the angle that it might be to swipe a rod (not sure).

Don Nguyen
11-07-2012, 06:17 PM
:laugh: @ Son

I had considered the ceramic rods as well, but at that price, they might as well get a King 1000? Seems like proper stropping/sharpening is unavoidable. Maybe my goal should now be convert all friends and family to be sharpening addicts.

eto
11-07-2012, 10:01 PM
Most people I know don't sharpen their knives. Let's say I buy a decent knife with a working edge, and take good care of it (soft cutting board, washing separately, keeping dry, storing safely, no abuse).

If I don't use a sharpening stone, how should I best keep that edge? Regular honing on a rod, and send it for sharpening every couple months?

The amount of time Spent just reading this thread could of been spent sharpening your aunts knife on a stone:justkidding:

keithsaltydog
11-07-2012, 10:56 PM
Don I agree wt. Cadillac be a good nephew & sharpen her knives when you go over,esp. if she does not want to do it herself.I can get King 1000 here for 28.00,I give these to my nieces & nephew & teach them how to sharpen.They all have kids of their own now & cook at home alot.

Don Nguyen
11-08-2012, 12:46 AM
The issue is that I'd love to sharpen my aunt's knives for her, but she lives in a different state. It's the same story for some of my other friends and family too - I only see them maybe once a year.

Maybe I could get them some King 1000's and show them the basics if they're interested?

Eamon Burke
11-08-2012, 12:43 PM
I think that honing rods have their place for when it is an emergency and you need the knife to grab and go. However, when I use a honing rod, unless it is what I use to maintain the knife exclusively(like my CCK1303), I consider the edge screwed up and in need of a bit more love on the stones.

I see it like hunting knives. People keep looking for sharpening solutions for the woods, but nobody lives in the woods! You are out there for a few days! If your hunting knife won't hold an edge for 5 days, something is wrong. If you can't get through busy shifts at work without touching up your knives, you either need training or new tools.

I think people should learn to sharpen, and if you don't want to, get a talented friend/family member to do it. If you don't have anyone or your demands are too high for them, pay a professional--it's not expensive!

All those Tin Cup gadgets with batteries suction cups and carbide rods and grinding rollers and levers and hinges and clamps are a complete waste of time and money unless you are physically handicapped and sharpen as a hobby.

Canadian
11-08-2012, 01:04 PM
I think that honing rods have their place for when it is an emergency and you need the knife to grab and go. However, when I use a honing rod, unless it is what I use to maintain the knife exclusively(like my CCK1303), I consider the edge screwed up and in need of a bit more love on the stones.

I see it like hunting knives. People keep looking for sharpening solutions for the woods, but nobody lives in the woods! You are out there for a few days! If your hunting knife won't hold an edge for 5 days, something is wrong. If you can't get through busy shifts at work without touching up your knives, you either need training or new tools.

I think people should learn to sharpen, and if you don't want to, get a talented friend/family member to do it. If you don't have anyone or your demands are too high for them, pay a professional--it's not expensive!

All those Tin Cup gadgets with batteries suction cups and carbide rods and grinding rollers and levers and hinges and clamps are a complete waste of time and money unless you are physically handicapped and sharpen as a hobby.

I use a honing rod on my carbon knives all the time and have never felt like my edge is "screwed up"--quite the opposite. If one uses "steels" properly and with the proper rod it re-aligns the edge and brings it back to life without having to take it to the stones, grind away metal and create a burr. So a honing rod for me is part of my daily maintenance rather than an "emergency" device.

Have you ever been on a week-long hunting trip with pals, and have had to field dress 3-4 moose?

I agree that people should learn to sharpen if they value sharp knives, but I don't agree that waterstones are the only way. Moreover, hiring the services of someone gets expensive really fast. If I take it to the "local" guy, they usually butcher it.

Canadian
11-08-2012, 01:15 PM
Some people look at sharpening as a means to an end--the end being a usable edge.

Other look at sharpening as an end in itself--the gear, the process and...the gear being a big part of the hobby.

Different strokes for different folks. I don't "hate" sharpening. In fact, I actually enjoy it. But I enjoy the mastery part, not the gear part. I'm definitely in the Murray Carter camp insofar that all I need to get a screaming edge are two stones (one starting out). I've always found more stones take more time, and do not give me a more appreciable "working" edge--especially not after the knife hits the board a couple times.

However, I have noticed that many on the forums have switched their philosophy towards the number of stones one needs in a progression to a less is more approach. John Broida (sp?) I believe was influential in instigating this shift???

keithsaltydog
11-08-2012, 01:39 PM
Even one medium stone can put a good edge on a blade.I used a polishing steel on my carbon gyuto's & Sugi. at work,the trouble wt. steels is improper use.Many use Diamond steels to sharpen their blades,this ends in failure.Freehand skills are a must for persons in the cooking profession.You will have a trained blade that cuts well,& as Murry Carter says you are not transfering respondsibility to a jig or someone else to get your blade sharp.

Learning freehand saves you time & money in the long run.

Eamon Burke
11-08-2012, 01:47 PM
I use a honing rod on my carbon knives all the time and have never felt like my edge is "screwed up"--quite the opposite.
If you bend a piece of steel beyond the limits of its elasticity, it will never be as strong as it was before. It's like that game where you flick the tab on an aluminum can--the effects of the stress are exponential with every flick, and eventually it pops off. The steel may be straight, but it's not as strong as it was.


Have you ever been on a week-long hunting trip with pals, and have had to field dress 3-4 moose?
No moose, but we'd dress 4-5 deer with a Buck skinner and it got sharpened like once a year. I'd love to go on a week-long hunting trip.


If I take it to the "local" guy, they usually butcher it.
I said a professional, not a local. :scared4: It is a sad state that you can't get a knife, razor, or pair of shears properly hand-sharpened in at least every major city in the US. There isn't a single razor-honing service in the DFW Metro--6 million people!

JMJones
11-08-2012, 03:08 PM
I can go a looooong time between sharpenings in my home kitchen with a home made leather strop and an idahone ceramic rod.

Don Nguyen
11-09-2012, 11:46 AM
I will be sharpening families' knives whenever I can, but it'll be long intervals of time in between (and I'm sure they don't take care of their knives as carefully as we do).

Would it be an OK choice to recommend them this 9" Lansky ceramic honing rod, for $10?

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/210frq6ZrKL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

There aren't many details, except that it says ceramic, and is 9" long. Decent ratings though, so it must mean at the very least it's not a horrible product?

EDIT: I'll encourage a King 1000 whenever possible, but chances are they won't like the idea too much.

stevenStefano
11-09-2012, 11:59 AM
Speaking from my own experiences in work, everyone there either uses one of the pull-through type devices, or they use just a grooved steel. One of my co-workers uses a grooved steel on his knives that have never ever been sharpened, so basically it does nothing. I think most people don't give a damn about sharpening, if a knife cuts they don't care. Occasionally I sharpen the house knives in work and the edges last for a lot longer, but if you can use a pull through device and the knife cuts, that's all anyone cares about.

How am I gonna convince them that using stones is better than the pull-through? I'm not!

Cutty Sharp
11-09-2012, 12:51 PM
I'm the opposite of some, maybe. My problem is I want to sharpen too much. Used it once? Well, maybe needs some work. Hmm.... Well, it's been a week with that other one too, so maybe I should break out the stones...?

Perhaps it's a consequence of having about twice as much sharpening/honing equipment as actual knives!

I like that, though. Feels like I can expand or shrink my knife collection, but whatever I have I'm able to care for in all situations.

wenus2
11-09-2012, 03:10 PM
Would it be an OK choice to recommend them this 9" Lansky ceramic honing rod, for $10?
yes.

Be sure to instruct on using deliberate consistent strokes, and not banging about.
I white lie and tell people they will break the rod if they don't do it this way. :)

Don Nguyen
11-11-2012, 12:37 PM
Speaking of which, what are your opinions on a good cutting board for under $40 or so? My aunt uses really cheap textured plastic ones that just get torn up, and my mom uses a corian :(

Any decent alternatives for that price range? Do they have to stick with the generic plastic ones?

Lefty
11-11-2012, 01:22 PM
How much are Boo's edge grain in the States? I like edge grain boards, myself. I use an end-grain, but I ALSO use a face grain. Wood anything is better than nothing.

wenus2
11-11-2012, 03:08 PM
How much are Boo's edge grain in the States?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00063QBKY/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B00063QBF4&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=00CSCFT047GT45MW20GS

Crothcipt
11-12-2012, 01:24 AM
I saw a end grain cutting board at walmart. I want to say Paula Deen cutting board. That was almost aug. so not sure if it's still with walmart.

Eamon Burke
11-12-2012, 05:18 PM
I will be sharpening families' knives whenever I can, but it'll be long intervals of time in between (and I'm sure they don't take care of their knives as carefully as we do).

Would it be an OK choice to recommend them this 9" Lansky ceramic honing rod, for $10?

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/210frq6ZrKL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

There aren't many details, except that it says ceramic, and is 9" long. Decent ratings though, so it must mean at the very least it's not a horrible product?

EDIT: I'll encourage a King 1000 whenever possible, but chances are they won't like the idea too much.

Where'd you find that? I would like to see if I can determine about what grit it is. If they have them regularly in stock, that is going to be a suggestion for me. I love my Idahone rod, but they are out of stock on the regular.

Don Nguyen
11-12-2012, 05:22 PM
I'm not sure if I can post a direct link, but if you search on Amazon "Lansky ceramic" you should be able to find it for just under $10.

With Amazon Prime shipping is free.

jayhay
11-12-2012, 05:23 PM
Where'd you find that? I would like to see if I can determine about what grit it is. If they have them regularly in stock, that is going to be a suggestion for me. I love my Idahone rod, but they are out of stock on the regular.

Here is one on amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Lansky-8-Ceramic-Sharp-Stick/dp/B000B8FW0O).

wenus2
11-12-2012, 05:46 PM
They say "medium grit," which i guess is likely to be around a 600 grit water stone.

-Don't quote me on that :)

Eamon Burke
11-12-2012, 05:51 PM
After googling, it turns out that it is Lansky's "Medium" grit. Which is 280 US Grit, about 350 on our Japanese stones. That's pretty freaking agressive. I'd go with something finer. There is a Smith's ceramic that is 800 US grit(about 1200 Japanese) for a similar price:
http://www.amazon.com/Smiths-50002-9-Inch-Ceramic-Sharpening/dp/B001GW9FW0/ref=pd_sim_sg_1

I'd go with the smith's one. Some places are selling that one for about 5 bucks more than Amazon.

wenus2
11-12-2012, 05:55 PM
After googling, it turns out that it is Lansky's "Medium" grit. Which is 280 US Grit, about 350 on our Japanese stones. That's pretty freaking agressive. I'd go with something finer. There is a Smith's ceramic that is 800 US grit(about 1200 Japanese) for a similar price:
http://www.amazon.com/Smiths-50002-9-Inch-Ceramic-Sharpening/dp/B001GW9FW0/ref=pd_sim_sg_1

I'd go with the smith's one. Some places are selling that one for about 5 bucks more than Amazon.

Lol, I was actually just posting that one. I have their diamond version of this same model for use on my German knives. I really like the oval shape, I find it easy to hone on and you get more effective passes with more surface area in contact.

I think it's worth the $2 over the Lansky previously posted.

Don Nguyen
11-12-2012, 05:57 PM
After googling, it turns out that it is Lansky's "Medium" grit. Which is 280 US Grit, about 350 on our Japanese stones. That's pretty freaking agressive. I'd go with something finer. There is a Smith's ceramic that is 800 US grit(about 1200 Japanese) for a similar price:
http://www.amazon.com/Smiths-50002-9-Inch-Ceramic-Sharpening/dp/B001GW9FW0/ref=pd_sim_sg_1

I'd go with the smith's one. Some places are selling that one for about 5 bucks more than Amazon.

I was just looking at that one too. Thanks for that!