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Old 09-22-2006, 11:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robo410
a diamond steel will keep knives sharp between more thorough sharpenings. THe Lansky system is excellent. THere are several other diamond stone sharpeners that will keep your blades in good shape.

I was just about to mention diamond. Wusthof makes a steel encrusted with diamond dust to help you keep an edge longer. I've never used one myself, but I've heard good things about them. They retail for around $40 I think.
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Old 09-22-2006, 01:36 PM   #12
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I use a run-o-the-mill Wusthof steel for re-aligning my edge, and a set of multi-grit wet-stones for sharpening. I use my steel each time I start cooking, and use the wet stones whenever I can tell the edge is dull. If you can't rest the blade on a tomato and then slice it just by drawing the blade back (without any downward pressue) your knife edge is either dull or out of alignment. If a steel doesn't bring it back, I drag the stones out of storage. Sometimes I've gone 8 months without using stones, and sometimes after fall/holiday cooking frenzies I need them after only 3 months.

I use the Cordon Bleu Wusthof series (I have two 8" chef knives and two paring knives). I like half-bolster knives that allow you to use the entire blade. Watch out for the cheapo Wusthof lines that used stamped blades. The Cordon Bleu series also have a thinner blade, which I skimp with by using my chef knives as slicers. The only other knives I own are my Steak Knives and a cheap tag-sale stamped/serrated bread knife. Those three knives do everything I need (8" CK, 3.5" PK, Cheap-O Bread Knife).

Sometimes I consider getting a hefty chinese cleaver, but just make do with my chef knives (they really are all purpose).

- Oh, I do cheat with my mandoline on some dishes...
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Old 09-22-2006, 07:24 PM   #13
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I have one Wustaff, a boning knife.

I got the brunt of my knife-sharpening skills when I was in the Boy Scouts, and a nice finishing education in knife sharpening when I was in college for Culinary Arts.

I use a triple-stone system for ALL my blades, professional, home, and pocket knife. The stones that I use for my work knives are ones provided at my job, and are professional-quality. The stones for my home are a kit I bought at Wal-Mart for about $20US many years ago. It has a rough-grit aluminum-oxide stone, and two "Arkansas" whetstones (natural stone), of a medium- and fine-grade. I can and do regularly put a razor edge on my knives, and maintain that edge with a commercial steel, both at home and at work. Whenever I notice that the knife is getting dull, I'll pull the stones out and sharpen them. For my work knives, this is usually about every 6 months, but for my home knives, once a year, or maybe every couple of years, as I don't cook that much at home these days.
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Old 09-22-2006, 11:23 PM   #14
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Thank you

All these ideas! Even though you each offer slightly different solutions, they're a HUGE help to me. To answer a question, my Wusthofs are their top-of-the-line, whatever that is -- Cordon Bleu? In any case, I think I won't take them to a professional to be sharpened. I'll either invest in a Lansky sharpener like GB has, or try to emulate what Allen does with his knives. You people really take your knives seriously, and that's what I was looking for. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to give me advice. I really appreciate it!
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Old 09-22-2006, 11:34 PM   #15
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Lansky systems offer several options. Check their site for details.

Also, there are several other companies that offer excellent products.
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Old 09-22-2006, 11:47 PM   #16
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Thanks for the link, Andy. I'll check it out.
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Old 09-23-2006, 09:16 AM   #17
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Hi all,

Regarding Steels - As I understand it, there are two types of steel - pro steels which are perfectly smooth and steels for the rest of us which have a texture. A true steel is not honing or sharpening or anything, it's simply straightening the "bent" micro edge of the blade.

The steels we use are actually doing a little bit of sharpening (or honing, technically the same thing). You can tell because when you wipe your steel or knife you can see the dust from the process.

I personally use a coarse F. Dick steel which does a good job of maintaining and edge. I also have a fine but it's harder to use for me. I use it on my F. Dick knives and my Wusthoff.

When the steel isn't enough, I used to resort to the Lansky, but being kind of lazy, I now use a 1.5" belt sander with a dull (used that is) 100 to 120grit belt. I then lightly polish the edge with a strop & compound just to get the burr off. using this method I can get the knife tomato sharp in about 1 minute. You obviously have to be careful not to get too aggressive, but it's much easier to handle and far less error prone than using a grinder.

A final note regarding sharpness - I also woodwork and polish my chisels and plane irons to the point where their sharpness embarrasses razor blades and surgical instruments. I've tried this with my stainless knives and have found that while this edge is very sharp, it doesn't last long. Using the 100grit belt sander a strop and the steel to maintain, I get an edge that lasts a while. I've also found that using more light strokes works better than few hard strokes on the steel.
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Old 09-23-2006, 09:54 AM   #18
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Beerco, thank you for your reply. Your knives must be the sharpest in Minnesota! I think it's terrific that you care for them so well. I have to say, though, that I don't have access to all that equipment you have in your workshop, so I'm more limited in the way I can sharpen mine (unless I take up woodworking, that is. ) I have to say, I wish you lived closer to DH and me, though, because I'd love to watch you hone those knives to better-than-razor-sharp.
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Old 09-23-2006, 10:45 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anne
I have to say, I wish you lived closer to DH and me, though, because I'd love to watch you hone those knives to better-than-razor-sharp.
Truth be told I can't get a knife to better than razor sharp, it's too hard for me to hold the blade at a consistent angle. Plane irons and chisels are easier.

If you don't have a belt sander or feel like buying one just for knives, I highly recommend the lansky system. It takes longer but is way more foolproof as well (you could easily wreck a good knife on a belt sander).

p.s. MI is Meechigan, MN is Minnesota eh?

Edit (added a few hours later):

I think it's worth noting that a polished razor edge is not necessarilly the best edge to have on cooking knives.

Consider cutting tomatoes. We all know that even a dull serrated knife will go through a tomato or pepper skin with ease. A razor sharp knife will also go through the skin the first couple of strokes but a few trips against the cutting board and it starts to get more difficult.

The most versitile edge I've found for the kitchen is the one that's made with the belt sander with a relatively coarse grit (120) and maintained with the steel not because It makes it razor sharp, but because it makes it pretty sharp with a micro serrated edge. Maintaining with a coarse consumer steel (like the F. Dick and clones) keeps the micro serrations going for a longer lasting edge. And although it may have come accross otherwise in my first post, I prefer cooking and cutting (wood or food) than sharpening.
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Old 09-23-2006, 06:54 PM   #20
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I forgot to mention in my original post, that in the past 20 years that I've been sharpening knives by hand, I've learned to maintain a constant 20 degree angle while the blade is on the stone. This takes lots and lots of practice.

I have two steels, both are F. Dick steels (most of my work knives are F. Dick knives as well). My first steel came with my original set of knives when I started college for Culinary Arts. It's a rather thin, cheaply-produced steel, but good for starting out. I would have to say it's got a "coarse" grain to it. The steel I use at work is also an F. Dick, but larger, thicker, and has a finer grain to the steel.

You can get diamond-encrusted steels, and they do a nice job of maintaining the micro-serrations on the blade that keep it sharp.

You can also get "smooth", polished steels. I have no real idea what the polished ones do.
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