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Old 01-25-2006, 02:49 AM   #11
Assistant Cook
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 7
Wink steel or ceramic rod?

Originally Posted by Goodweed of the North
Also, be careful to pick a steel that is hard enough for its job. I have been using a Chicago Cutlery Steel that I purchased almost thirty years ago now, and it's the best steel I have personally used. It is a very hard steel and gives me a good edge with few strokes.

But there are steels out therethat aren't really steels at all. They can be coated with diamond dust, or be made of ceramic. The ceramic variety is usually called a ceramic rod. But labeling can be confusing.

The steels coated with diamond do remove metal from the blade and are a sharpening tool. The same is true of ceramic rods. They do not hone the cutting edge. They sharpen it.

In a pinch, I have used the stainless steel shank of my multi-bit screw driver (in the field) to hone the cutting blades of my Leatherman-type tool. It gave the blades a razors edge, litterally. I have also seen peple use the bottom of ceramic plates to sharpen there knives in an emergency situation. Many years ago, before I purchased a good steel, I used the spine (back) of a high-carbon butcher's knife to hone the edges of several knives we were using to cut meat (I was in boot camp and assigned to the butcher's shop for two weeks, and had only semi-sharp knives and no sharpening or honing tools to work with). It worked.

My point is, if you know how materials react to each other, you can improvise. It is of course more convenient to use proper tools, made for the job. But in a pinch, technique and knowledge are more important.

one year, when my eldest son was about 18, he purchased a cheap set of kitchen knives for me. The set came with a steel. Every time I tried to use it, the knife edge would bite into the steel, leaving a scratch and dulling the knife blade. The steel of this tool was far to soft for the job it was supposed to do. So beware of cheap tools. They can really cost you more than the money you pay for them.

Andy and the others are dead on with there advise. I hope that my additions are helpful as well.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
Wow, I almost bought a ceramic rod a few days ago; I'm glad I didn't! I am familiar with Chicago Cutlery; I've had more than a couple of their knives in the kitchen in the past. I'll check out their steel rods, thank you for the head's up!

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Old 01-25-2006, 02:53 AM   #12
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 7

Originally Posted by Michael in FtW
A "western" chef's knife (I assume you mean something like the standard "French" chef's knife) is no more designed for "hacking" a chicken than a Japanese chef's knife. For hacking through bones and cartilage you need something more substantial with a bit more heft - you really need a cleaver. Recently, America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated aired a program where they looked for the best tool to hack a chicken (including using an axe) and they concluded that a cleaver was the tool of choice (it actually did a better job than an axe).

I bought mine at an Asian market several years ago and it is the only knife I think about reaching for when it comes time to cut up a chicken. The market had two to choose from - one was a plain carbon steel and the other was a high carbon Stainless Steel ... I opted for the SS model. I don't remember what it cost exactly, but it was in the $10-$15 price range.

As for info on sharpening knives - just check some of the previous threads in this forum. We discuss it frequently.
Oh no, I'm very sorry! I was joking; I've never used a chef's knife like that! Ooops! Did I bring your heart up into your throat?

Actually, I've never gone through chicken bone at all. Only through cartilage, but then I did use my old chef's knife so I guess I did commit a sin

I guess I had better re-think what my next knife should be, then. Thank you for the advise!

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