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Old 10-17-2014, 06:39 PM   #1
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Taking issue.

I have issues with the methodology that Cook's Illustrated Magazine uses to evaluate knives. Now, I love that magazine and have learned a great deal from it over the years. But when they evaluate knives, about 80% of the evaluation seems to me to be an evaluation of the factory edge. They also seem to always favor higher hardness (RC) ratings. My issues are that all factory edges eventually become dull; and, also, while a harder edge will hold up longer without maintenance, in my experience a somewhat softer edge that is maintained regularly on a butcher's steel will outlast them. For the uninitiated, the microscopic edge of a knife gets bent over with use. The butcher's steel is used to straighten that up again and not to actually sharpen the knife. Softer steel can be trued up over and over, whereas the harder steels will just break off and require sharpening (i.e. metal removal) sooner.

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Old 10-17-2014, 06:59 PM   #2
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I hear you. Your reasoning sounds right. However, I think the magazine is considering price and the "average" user. A knife with harder steel won't need sharpening as soon as one with softer steel. That sort of aligns with a lot of folks who don't want to spend a lot and won't care for their knives as you or I would.

It couldn't hurt to write to them to question why they do this.
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Old 10-17-2014, 07:08 PM   #3
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They would probably say the same thing. I recently watched a Youtube video about the last knife sharpener in Rome. He still goes around on his motorized trycycle type vehicle sharpening knives for his dwindling customers. Apparently most restaurants these days buy knives, use them until they are dull, and then throw them away and buy new ones. Seems wasteful to me.
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Old 10-17-2014, 07:20 PM   #4
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They would probably say the same thing. I recently watched a Youtube video about the last knife sharpener in Rome. He still goes around on his motorized trycycle type vehicle sharpening knives for his dwindling customers. Apparently most restaurants these days buy knives, use them until they are dull, and then throw them away and buy new ones. Seems wasteful to me.
It is wasteful. I think most people use an electric sharpener even though it's not the best. I think ATK recommends one.
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Old 10-17-2014, 07:22 PM   #5
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if the mag is anything like their tv show (america's test kitchen), they tend to over think things, and then choose an opinion and say it's the absolute and only way to go.
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Old 10-17-2014, 07:36 PM   #6
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I agree. Electric knife sharpeners are s-l-o-w. If you've got the skills, old fashioned whetstones are the best. If you don't there are several manual gadgets that are faster (and less expensive) than the electric ones.
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Old 10-17-2014, 07:38 PM   #7
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That's true, but I still learn a lot from them because they make it a point to tell you why, not just what to do.
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Old 10-18-2014, 09:41 AM   #8
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I agree. Electric knife sharpeners are s-l-o-w. If you've got the skills, old fashioned whetstones are the best. If you don't there are several manual gadgets that are faster (and less expensive) than the electric ones.
Not really that slow. I have the Chef's Choice 3 stage that is the only electric recommended by Wusthof. Unless a knife has no edge to begin with, I only use the 2nd and 3rd stages, and it takes all of about 10 seconds, removes a very minimal amount of metal, and gives a good edge that lasts for months for me as a home cook. Once I can't get a good edge with the hone, I get out the Chef's Choice, give a knife 3 strokes on each side with stage 2, then a couple more each with stage 3 and I'm good for a few months with just the hone. All I've ever managed to do with a stone is ruin a good knife.

I agree that sharpeners like the grinder my mother had on the back of her electric can opener are junk.
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Old 10-18-2014, 09:54 AM   #9
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Chef's Choice line of knife sharpeners have gone thru so many design changes with each freaking knife sharpener model that I almost want to yell "have mercy on us!" towards them and their latest model.
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Old 10-18-2014, 10:11 AM   #10
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Chef's Choice has gone thru so many design changes with their freaking knife sharpener that I almost want to scream "have mercy on me" towards them.
They have several different models - mine was about $130 some 10 years ago. It's the Edge Select 120, 3 stage, but the first stage is rarely used. I used stage one on a old, beat up knife I got from my mother's house after she passed and it worked great. My Wusthof and Chicago Cutlery knives only see stage 2 and 3 so far.
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Old 10-18-2014, 10:39 AM   #11
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They have several different models - mine was about $130 some 10 years ago. It's the Edge Select 120, 3 stage, but the first stage is rarely used. I used stage one on a old, beat up knife I got from my mother's house after she passed and it worked great. My Wusthof and Chicago Cutlery knives only see stage 2 and 3 so far.
I have the same one. Older than yours I think. I love mine and only use it a couple times a year.
The first stage is very rough and I have used it for my machete.
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Old 10-18-2014, 12:30 PM   #12
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i remember those knife sharpeners on the back of electric can openers.

when i was a kid, my mom bought a fancy one. while she was out one day, i got the bright idea that if i removed the cover i could use it to sharpen my skates with it.

well, they're only meant for short bursts of grinding, not to run for 5 minutes.

when it stopped smoking, i put the cover back on and looked as innocent as i could when my mom used it later that day.

fortunately, she was able to return it, although she has never used an electric can opener again.
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Old 10-19-2014, 05:01 PM   #13
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Did you get sharp skate blades? Do you use those blades at the dinner table, say beside your plate, as steak knives?

What a picture that is in my head, B.T., and B.T. junior sawing on steak with ice skates in hand. Too funny.

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Old 10-19-2014, 05:12 PM   #14
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I gave my tri-slot Chef's Choice to my son Spike. I now use the manual sharper that is hand held and cost me only $19. It was the one recommended by ATK. Also by my girlfriend who already had it for years and was quite happy with it. Serves me well.
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Old 10-19-2014, 05:57 PM   #15
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Did you get sharp skate blades? Do you use those blades at the dinner table, say beside your plate, as steak knives?

What a picture that is in my head, B.T., and B.T. junior sawing on steak with ice skates in hand. Too funny.

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if my mom had found out, i would have been eating the skate leather, not steak.

it happened not long after they threw out a tv because of me. i snuck into my parent's bedroom and stole some matches, then for some bizarre reason decided to play with said matches behind the tv stand. my dad came home, smelled something burning that he traced to the tv, and being a retired firefighter decided to throw it out rather than risk a fire.

it was an old black and white tv, and my parents ended up buying a colour unit. since it ended up well, i never said a word.

getting back to knife sharpeners, i have a small 2" x 4" whetstone from my scouting days. does anyone think it could be used for kitchen knives, or is it too small?

i was thinking of buying one of those knife sharpeners that have little rods that stick up to form a "v" . i forget what it's called.
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Old 10-19-2014, 07:19 PM   #16
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Great story, BT. While the stone you have will work, it will be difficult to sharpen a longer blade.

I've use the "V-stick" sharpener with good results. Now I'm using the Lansky System. It's a significant improvement.
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Old 10-19-2014, 07:46 PM   #17
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I have the stone from a knife sharpener's wheel. It is round with a hole straight through. It is a really smooth stone and I use it occasionally. I found it in an old abandoned house when I lived in Tacoma. There were also ice tongs for delivering ice. I left them behind.
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Old 10-19-2014, 10:20 PM   #18
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I prefer the harder edge. As the mater of fact I think it is harder to maintain the softer edge, as it is gums up while sharpening.
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Old 10-24-2014, 03:41 AM   #19
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I agree with Charlie. A harder edge (all else being equal) will last longer. You really should use smooth steel for a hard knife (eg RC 60+) and a ceramic is ideal.
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Old 10-24-2014, 04:19 AM   #20
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I agree with Charlie. A harder edge (all else being equal) will last longer. You really should use smooth steel for a hard knife (eg RC 60+) and a ceramic is ideal.
From what I have heard from other and read in reviews, ceramic is very sharp. I will give it that. But I keep hearing that once they go dull, they are very difficult to sharpen and they break easily.

Only from what I have heard. Not from experience.
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