Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

Q&A -- Knife Maintenance and Sharpening


  • Please log in to reply
265 replies to this topic

#61 Chad

Chad
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,295 posts
  • Location:Wichita, KS

Posted 23 August 2003 - 03:37 PM

Thanks Chad.  How often do you think I should do this?

Well, about as often as you'd recondition a cutting board. I do my cutting board about every month or two. If your knives are in really bad shape it might be more frequent than that until they're saturated and the gaps/cracks seal. Another idea is to take all of your wooden-handled knives & put them in a plastic container then cover with the food grade mineral oil overnight. That way they'll soak up everything they can. You can drain the oil back into the bottle when you're done. That's a little drastic, but it would probably work.

Good luck!
Chad
Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com

#62 elyse

elyse
  • legacy participant
  • 4,861 posts
  • Location:NYC

Posted 23 August 2003 - 05:17 PM

Much thanks!

#63 pjs

pjs
  • participating member
  • 540 posts

Posted 24 August 2003 - 09:59 PM

Well, about as often as you'd recondition a cutting board. I do my cutting board about every month or two.

Chad, what brand and kind of cutting board are you using?

End-grain boards are obscenely expensive but, as I'm sure you know, they are the only way to go.

Of course I could make one in my spare time if I had any. :laugh:

PJ
"Epater les bourgeois."
--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling
(Dori Bangs)

#64 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,116 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 25 August 2003 - 06:45 AM

End-grain boards are obscenely expensive but, as I'm sure you know, they are the only way to go.

You can ge them at IKEA for less than 20 bucks... real end grain.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#65 Chad

Chad
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,295 posts
  • Location:Wichita, KS

Posted 25 August 2003 - 07:07 AM

Well, about as often as you'd recondition a cutting board. I do my cutting board about every month or two.

Chad, what brand and kind of cutting board are you using?

End-grain boards are obscenely expensive but, as I'm sure you know, they are the only way to go.

Of course I could make one in my spare time if I had any. :laugh:

PJ

Well, I'm a firm believer in the idea that you should use the biggest cutting board that you can stand upright in your sink. Unfortunately, my sinks suck. So right now I've got a standard edge-grain board, but an end-grain board is in my sights. I kind of like the Boos boards, but there may be other gems out there that I don't know about. I'm sure slkinsey has a couple of sources we could tap. Sam?

Chad
Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com

#66 oraklet

oraklet
  • participating member
  • 812 posts

Posted 26 August 2003 - 04:48 AM

End-grain boards are obscenely expensive but, as I'm sure you know, they are the only way to go.

You can ge them at IKEA for less than 20 bucks... real end grain.

yes - and though they're not absolutely even, they're much better than most edge-grain.

chad,

as for dried handles: i've got this huge old sabatier, and the handles have shrunk a bit - du you really think they could be made to "fill out" again? and could a handle with a crack, too?
christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

#67 Chad

Chad
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,295 posts
  • Location:Wichita, KS

Posted 26 August 2003 - 05:35 AM

chad,

as for dried handles: i've got this huge old sabatier, and the handles have shrunk a bit - du you really think they could be made to "fill out" again? and could a handle with a crack, too?

Hmm, depends on how much they've shrunk, how big the crack is and how long it's been there. Dry wood handles can sometimes be revived with a mineral oil bath. Sometimes the damage is too extensive. It's worth a try, though.

If that doesn't work, you can have the knife re-handled. This is really not that difficult and there are hundreds of knifemakers out there who can do the job for you. You may even have one nearby. If the knife is worth it, having it re-handled is certainly something to consider. You can go with a nicer wood (like coccobolo), micarta or just about anything else. I once had a custom kitchen knife with carbon fiber handle slabs. That was really nifty.

If you need some help finding a knifemaker, let me know and I'll see if I can put you in touch with someone.

Chad
Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com

#68 oraklet

oraklet
  • participating member
  • 812 posts

Posted 26 August 2003 - 06:02 AM

that's nice of you, but as i live in denmark...anyway, i should be able to find one near by.

i'll try bathing the handles in oil, frequently.
christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

#69 plragde

plragde
  • participating member
  • 14 posts

Posted 12 September 2003 - 01:18 PM

Chad: I hope you are still available for questions. After reading your very informative article, I ordered a Spyderco 204, and the Japanese utility knife from Lee Valley (both are quite nice). It doesn't seem as if the 204's preset angles are right for the utility knife; how would I maintain this blade using the 204? Also, what does one do if one drops a knife and dents the edge? Thanks. --PR

#70 theakston

theakston
  • participating member
  • 212 posts
  • Location:Washington DC (Arlington)

Posted 15 September 2003 - 10:30 AM

I'd like to tag another question if I may.
Do you have any specific advice on sharpening Global knifes? I would imagine that you would need different angles?

Thanks.

#71 Chad

Chad
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,295 posts
  • Location:Wichita, KS

Posted 16 September 2003 - 11:11 AM

Chad: I hope you are still available for questions. After reading your very informative article, I ordered a Spyderco 204, and the Japanese utility knife from Lee Valley (both are quite nice). It doesn't seem as if the 204's preset angles are right for the utility knife; how would I maintain this blade using the 204? Also, what does one do if one drops a knife and dents the edge? Thanks. --PR

Sorry for the delayed reply, my ISP's been a bit wonky the last couple of days.

Congrats on your purchases. Both the Spyderco sharpener and Lee Valley knife will serve you well. The angle on the Lee Valley knife is a little odd and doesn't lend itself to maintenance on the Spyderco unless you want to rebevel it. I wouldn't recommend it just yet. It'll be fine for a while. What I do with mine is use the "Mousepad Trick" or a simple hard-backed strop loaded with CrO2 paste (both available from Lee Valley). That lets you maintain the factory angle for quite a while before having to do any serious sharpening. Do not use a grooved steel on the knife, you'll just chip out the knife.

The carbon steel sandwiched into the soft stainless is very hard by Western kitchen knife standards. It'll stay sharp for a long time if you rinse and dry it thoroughly every time you use it -- maybe even during cutting if you're going through a lot of acidic foods like tomatoes, citrus fruits or onions. The acids will attack the edge and degrade it far more than cutting will. You've got to keep this knife clean and dry.

If you've dented the edge, you can use a smooth steel or a very fine grit ceramic rod (700 grit+) to roll the edge back into position. It'll take a while, but it's better than sharpening away the impacted area. If it's a major dent, lay the knife flat on a work surface and use the steel or rod as a file, stroking toward the edge with light to moderate force to slowly fix the dent. The really nice thing about this knife is that if you completely screw it up, it's only $16 to replace it :biggrin:.

Take care,
Chad

Edited by Chad, 16 September 2003 - 11:12 AM.

Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com

#72 Chad

Chad
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,295 posts
  • Location:Wichita, KS

Posted 16 September 2003 - 11:13 AM

I'd like to tag another question if I may.
Do you have any specific advice on sharpening Global knifes? I would imagine that you would need different angles?

Thanks.

Hmm, I'm not sure what the factory edge on the Global line is. I'll look into it and get back to you. I do know that one of the Japanese knife makers -- either Global or Mac -- has a special sharpener/jig thing designed specifically to maintain the factory edge.

Chad
Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com

#73 CRUZMISL

CRUZMISL
  • participating member
  • 281 posts

Posted 16 September 2003 - 02:25 PM

Hi Chad, awesome report! I really learned a TON!

Based on your praises of the Edgepro system I went and bought one. Admittedly, my first knife sharpening experience with it wasn't that great but the second was fantastic. MY question really revolves around bevels and stones.

First I sharpened my Henckels at 15 degrees and then at 18 degrees to achieve a beveled edge. I thought it was 20 degrees but I wasn't on the correct setting. Is this OK. Also, is the beveled edge always superior to a straight angle edge?

Lastly, Edgepro says that for kitchen knives the 180 and 220 stones supplied are all I need. What are your thoughts? I was thinking it's OK for a chef's knife but I may want finer for a paring knife since it's going to be pushing more.

Thanks for the reply. You really opened my eyes to knife sharpening. Now I know how to use and maintain my tools. Simply awesome!

Joe

#74 plragde

plragde
  • participating member
  • 14 posts

Posted 18 September 2003 - 02:28 PM

Thanks, Chad. I have a finely grooved steel I've always used on my Chicago Cutlery knives (20+ years old) and it's one of those that is dented. I am being quite careful with the Lee Valley knife with respect to rinsing and drying it -- in fact, after reading your article, I've started doing that with all of my knives, just to develop the habit. I bought knife guards from Lee Valley for everything that isn't in a block. So, in terms of behaviour modification, you've been quite successful. --PR

#75 Chad

Chad
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,295 posts
  • Location:Wichita, KS

Posted 19 September 2003 - 02:18 PM

Hi Chad, awesome report! I really learned a TON!

Based on your praises of the Edgepro system I went and bought one. Admittedly, my first knife sharpening experience with it wasn't that great but the second was fantastic. MY question really revolves around bevels and stones.

First I sharpened my Henckels at 15 degrees and then at 18 degrees to achieve a beveled edge. I thought it was 20 degrees but I wasn't on the correct setting. Is this OK. Also, is the beveled edge always superior to a straight angle edge?

Lastly, Edgepro says that for kitchen knives the 180 and 220 stones supplied are all I need. What are your thoughts? I was thinking it's OK for a chef's knife but I may want  finer for a paring knife since it's going to be pushing more.

Thanks for the reply. You really opened my eyes to knife sharpening. Now I know how to use and maintain my tools. Simply awesome!

Joe

Thank you! I'm glad you got something out of it.

The EdgePro, like everything else, does take some practice. That's why I recommend starting off with a cheap knife or two before attacking your pricey cutlery. It does take two or three knives before you get really proficient with it.

If you did a 15/18 double bevel, that's fine. There's no magic or mystery to the 15/20 I recommended. The 15/20 is simply easier to maintain on a Spyderco system. The Spyderco Sharpmaker has angle settings at 30 and 40 degrees (or 15 and 20 per side). In writing the article I wanted to show how the double bevel worked and picked settings common to every system. That and the fact that the 20 degree burr pops up pretty quickly after you've set a 15 degree edge. Quick results are always a good thing.

As for the stones, you're absolutely fine with what you have. The 180 and 220 grit stones will work for anything in your kitchen. The 220 will leave a medium fine edge. I don't generally go any more polished than that unless I'm playing around to see how sharp I can get something. You can get up to 3000 grit with the EdgePro. But you've got to remember, the EdgePro grit labeling system is a little weird. The 220 is going to be pretty close to a 1000X Japanese water stone in the level of finish it leaves on the edge. If you want to add to your stones, get the coarse stone -- that's the one I use most often. It'll cut metal like crazy! Perfect for quickly resetting an edge. I have to admit, I sprang for the whole stone upgrade kit, but I'm nuts. I rarely use anything higher than the 220 or 600 (extra fine).

Take care,
Chad
Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com

#76 beeblebrox

beeblebrox
  • legacy participant
  • 11 posts

Posted 04 November 2003 - 12:20 PM

I just got spyderco, but haven't sharpened my knife yet. It's a sabatier chef's knife, stainless steel, and the bevel on one side seems a bit shorter... do I just focus on that one till it's even to the other side? And then alternate as normal till i feel burr?

Edited by beeblebrox, 04 November 2003 - 12:25 PM.


#77 Chad

Chad
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,295 posts
  • Location:Wichita, KS

Posted 04 November 2003 - 12:37 PM

I just got spyderco, but haven't sharpened my knife yet. It's a sabatier chef's knife, stainless steel, and the bevel on one side seems a bit shorter... do I just focus on that one till it's even to the other side? And then alternate as normal till i feel burr?

I wouldn't worry about it unless your bevels are significantly uneven. What you can do, however, is kill two birds with one stone. If you haven't sharpened this knife on the Sharpmaker before you'll be removing some metal to get the edge to match the preset angles. Just start on the short-beveled side and stay there until you feel a burr on the opposite side. It might take a while. Be patient. Then pop a burr on side one (this will happen fairly quickly) and alternate lightly. Follow the tutorial or the Sharpmaker manual/video from there.

Chad
Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com

#78 beeblebrox

beeblebrox
  • legacy participant
  • 11 posts

Posted 04 November 2003 - 08:07 PM

Thanks for the reply Chad. :smile: I started today and I grinded for a while... and the blade seems resilient. It doesn't feel like I'm making any progress. I double checked to make sure I've been using the right stone. I hope this doesn't take forever.

#79 Chad

Chad
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,295 posts
  • Location:Wichita, KS

Posted 05 November 2003 - 03:03 PM

Thanks for the reply Chad.  :smile: I started today and I grinded for a while... and the blade seems resilient. It doesn't feel like I'm making any progress. I double checked to make sure I've been using the right stone. I hope this doesn't take forever.

Hmm, shouldn't take more than 30-45 minutes. Oh, wait, are you doing a 15/20 double bevel? That will take a lot longer. Remember, your knife from the factory has edge bevels of 25 degrees or more per side. Grinding that down to 15 degrees involves removing a lot of metal. I wouldn't worry about trying the double bevel just yet. Simply use the grey stones, beginning with the corners, and grind a plain 20 degree bevel. Use the corners until you get a burr on one side, then grind the other side until you get a burr on side 1. Then switch to the flats of the grey stones, the corners of the white stones and the flats of the white stones, alternating strokes and getting progressively lighter with your touch.

Let me know how that works.
Chad
Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com

#80 Boris_A

Boris_A
  • participating member
  • 683 posts
  • Location:Switzerland

Posted 14 November 2003 - 06:51 AM

Hi Chad

What do you think of this device called "Rapid Steel" by F.Dick?

RapidSteel

There's one for sahrpening (more abrasive) and one for polishing.

After reading you excellent piece of work, I'm not so sure whether this devices are ok.
OTOH, F. Dick is highly regarded not only for knives, but for their sharpeners and sharpener machinery. It's hard to imagine they use their good name to sell useless tools.
Thanx.
Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

#81 Chad

Chad
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,295 posts
  • Location:Wichita, KS

Posted 14 November 2003 - 07:06 AM

Boris, I haven't played with one of those personally. It does, however, bear a striking resemblance to the Mousetrap Steel from Razor Edge Systems. Could be a licensed product or a knock-off. Who knows? The Moustrap steel has a pretty good reputation, especially for high-volume, restaurant-type work. It's been extensively reviewed by Cliff Stamp. Take a look.

Chad
Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com

#82 Boris_A

Boris_A
  • participating member
  • 683 posts
  • Location:Switzerland

Posted 14 November 2003 - 08:54 AM

Thanks a lot, Chad

Interesting links.

> Could be a licensed product
I guess so. F.Dick is more a machinery/tool maker in south of Germany than a "real" knife maker, I was told by some artisanal guys (Güde) from Solingen.
My fisherman uses the polishing/smoothing device when fileting his fishes.
So having this tool for quick, fool-proof polishing and an EdgePro for sharpening could be a dream team. (at $200+ though)

Regards.

Edited by Boris_A, 14 November 2003 - 08:54 AM.

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

#83 bobsdf

bobsdf
  • participating member
  • 94 posts

Posted 25 November 2003 - 11:37 AM

I have a Murray Carter "Funiyaki" (carbon blade) that I used last night to break a chicken down into 8 pieces. Afterwards I noticed that little pieces of the blade had broken off along the edge, sort of like small (.3-.5mm) scallops along about an inch of blade. It's not like I was hacking randomly at the carcass, I was making cuts through cartilage and small relatively soft bone. Does this sound normal? I've used a similar shaped global to do this job countless times with no problems.

I'm kind of bummed, as this knife wasn't exactly cheap.

#84 Chad

Chad
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,295 posts
  • Location:Wichita, KS

Posted 25 November 2003 - 02:32 PM

I have a Murray Carter "Funiyaki" (carbon blade) that I used last night to break a chicken down into 8 pieces. Afterwards I noticed that little pieces of the blade had broken off along the edge, sort of like small (.3-.5mm) scallops along about an inch of blade. It's not like I was hacking randomly at the carcass, I was making cuts through cartilage and small relatively soft bone. Does this sound normal? I've used a similar shaped global to do this job countless times with no problems.

I'm kind of bummed, as this knife wasn't exactly cheap.

Yow. I feel your pain. :shock: :sad:

A funayuki-bocho is a general purpose knife. They're not as delicate as, say, a yanagi-ba. This shouldn't have happened just cutting through cartilage or even soft bone. Murray Carter uses Hitachi #1 White steel clad with softer stainless. The carbon steel edge is usually up in the 60-62 Rockwell C range, making it extremely hard but prone to chipping when it encounters hard material. Doesn't sound like that was the case here.

Frankly, I'm not sure what to tell you. This is outside my experience. I do know, though, that Murray is a true gentleman and will probably be more dismayed than you are. I'd e-mail him exactly what you posted here. This is the address I've used to contact him in the past -- Murray Carter.

Let us know how it turns out.

Take care,
Chad
Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com

#85 Sespe Pete

Sespe Pete
  • legacy participant
  • 3 posts

Posted 19 December 2003 - 12:43 PM

Hello Chad --

I really enjoyed your egullet treatise on knife maintenance and sharpening.
I read it several times. I also went through the Q and A several times.

I have been using a Lansky system to sharpen my knives for
several years. Probably incorrectly, which is why I write. I normally clamp
the knife in the middle and stroke the stone from hilt to point, in a very
shallow arc. This gives me a good edge from end to end, but tends to round
off the point of the blade, as the sharpening angle changes significantly over
the length of a 10" blade. Right?

Well, what is the correct technique? I believe it to be to 'saw' the blade with
the stone in several different clamp positions, over the length of the blade?
If this is so, how do you ensure that you are not taking more material off of
one area of the blade than the next? I mean, this 'sawing' action would seem
to be very innacurate, at the very best. Taken to the extreme and very much
magnified, wouldn't/couldn't this techique result in a square-wave appearance
of the edge of the blade? Am I missing something here?

I am also contemplating the purchase of one of the EdgePro Apex systems,
but it employs the same technique of using a 'sawing' motion to sharpen the
blade. Correct?

Where am I going wrong? Can you please advise me on how to use these
two types of systems so that I can get an even edge from end to end?

Many thanks for any help you can provide and thanks also for your excellent
treatise on basic sharpening techniques and equipment. It helped me
enormously!!

Walt Travers

#86 Chad

Chad
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,295 posts
  • Location:Wichita, KS

Posted 20 December 2003 - 03:47 PM

Walt, thanks for your kind words. I'm glad you found the tutorial helpful.

Yep, if you clamp a 10" blade in the middle with a Lansky system you're going to have some pretty serious angle variation over the length of the blade. When using a Lansky I generally clamp the blade right at the bolster to begin with, do 20-25 passes per side (or until it's sharp enough), reclamp a couple of inches up and repeat the process, reclamping as need be. I try not to let the arc of the stone get too wide -- maybe two inches or so. I'm guessing here, so bear with me. I didn't reclamp while using the Lansky on my paring knives, for example, and their tips are quite rounded. Yes, you never really know if you're sharpening one section of the blade more than another, but if you allow for some overlap it evens out.

Same thing with the EdgePro, which I infinitely prefer. The blade isn't clamped, so you don't have to worry about angle variation. You just slide the blade along the blade table as you progress. I overlap quite a bit when I slide the blade down, e.g. I'll do a couple of inches near the handle, slide the blade about an inch or two and hit about half of the previous area while progressing into a new section of edge. That way all of the edge gets about the same amount of attention. There isn't really any "sawing," but I do use the stone in both directions with a little more force on the foreward stroke and lighter on the back stroke.

Both systems take some practice to use well. If you don't mind spending the money, the EdgePro is definitely a better sharpening rig. Ben Dale is a great guy to deal with. Get the video and the ceramic "steel" too. The video, as bad as the quality is, shows how to keep the angle consistent so you don't round the tip.

Hope this helps. If you've got any more questions (or if I didn't answer this one well :rolleyes:), just ask.

Chad
Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com

#87 Dave the Cook

Dave the Cook

    Executive Director

  • manager
  • 7,369 posts
  • Location:Atlanta

Posted 12 January 2004 - 10:26 AM

Just before a recent trip on which I knew I would be doing some cooking, I touched up my three most useful knives. I packed them carefully and secured them in checked luggage (no point in trying to explain to airport security). As it turned out, I didn't need (or in one case, simply forgot) my knives, so after ten days on the road, I retrieved them and returned them to active duty.

They're dull. Well, not dull, but I'm pretty sure they're not as sharp as they were when I packed them. Is there an explanation for this, other than my own perceptual error?

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.


#88 Chad

Chad
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,295 posts
  • Location:Wichita, KS

Posted 12 January 2004 - 11:16 AM

Is there an explanation for this, other than my own perceptual error?

You're f'ing nuts? :raz:

Okay, really:

They're dull. Well, not dull, but I'm pretty sure they're not as sharp as they were when I packed them.

Yup, it happens. And it's a very weird experience. There's a little about this phenomenon in the tutorial, but the long and short of it is that the steel at the very edge seems to "relax" over time.

So if you've blunted your knives during a marathon beet dicing session, let them rest overnight before sharpening. They'll feel noticeably sharper in the morning and you won't take off as much metal.

Same thing with touching them up. You shouldn't notice much change if you gave them a full sharpening because you've put on a fresh edge, but if you simply steeled your knives, they'll relax (a little) -- not all the way back to their previous state but certainly less sharp than just after you touched them up. That's why you always steel before use rather than after. This might even occur if you've given them a very light sharpening, but I'm not sure.

I don't know the physics behind why this happens, just that it does.

Chad
Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com

#89 Dave the Cook

Dave the Cook

    Executive Director

  • manager
  • 7,369 posts
  • Location:Atlanta

Posted 12 January 2004 - 12:43 PM

Well, at the least you've spared me from some humiliating masculine deficiency complex caused by comparing my blades to someone else's, if you know what I mean.

I use a smooth steel for everyday -- before use and intermittently during the marathon beet sessions. Before packing the knives, I pulled used a ridged steel for the touch-up. The thing is, they're duller now than they were before they were touched up -- in fact duller than before the last time I sharpened them. You're right, it's very weird. Do I need to go back to the Spyderco?

I don't know the physics behind why this happens, just that it does.

Hmph. Remind me to revoke your nomination for Smug Scientific Bastardhood.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.


#90 Chad

Chad
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 1,295 posts
  • Location:Wichita, KS

Posted 12 January 2004 - 01:15 PM

I use a smooth steel for everyday -- before use and intermittently during the marathon beet sessions. Before packing the knives, I pulled used a ridged steel for the touch-up. The thing is, they're duller now than they were before they were touched up -- in fact duller than before the last time I sharpened them. You're right, it's very weird. Do I need to go back to the Spyderco?

Aha. There's the culprit. A grooved steel is berry berry bad (as Garret Morris used to say). The smooth steel will take a little longer, but it's more forgiving of technique and does a better job of realigning the edge. A grooved steel, because the grooves create small, high pressure contact points, can actually chip out your edge if used with a heavy hand. Even with light pressure a grooved steel can create microfractures and the equivalent of a microscopically serrated edge. That edge won't hold up very long in use. And, I suspect (though I don't know) that edge will be more susceptible to the "relaxation effect."

I'd resharpen on the Spyderco and see where that gets you. Your knives should come back to razor sharp in very little time. Toss the grooved steel and stick with the smooth one or get a high-grit ceramic "steel."

I don't know the physics behind why this happens, just that it does.

Hmph. Remind me to revoke your nomination for Smug Scientific Bastardhood.

Aw, man! I'm smug! I'm a bastard! I can be pseudo-scientific.

Chad
Chad Ward
An Edge in the Kitchen
William Morrow Cookbooks
www.chadwrites.com