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"An Edge in the Kitchen"


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If I stick with the restaurant supply store Forschners, is an easy to use Chef's Choice electric sharpener OK?  I would assume it would destroy a pricey Shun or MAC were I to buy one of those knives.  Would a fancy manual sharpener (like the Edge Pro Apex) couple with a ceramic "steel" be overkill for the Forschners?  If I ever did spring for the Shun or a MAC, I would probably keep the Forschers.  No reason to get rid of them. I like them alot.

So, the question is, if I think I might get a Shun or MAC in the future, should  I spring for the Apex and a ceramic "steel" now and use them on the Forschners?

I wouldn't use an electric sharpener on good knives. If you already have one, just use the final stage and pretend the first stage doesn't even exist.

I'm all for learning to sharpen your own knives. If the price tag doesn't scare you off, the Edge Pro Apex is a great system. For a smaller outlay the Spyderco Sharpmaker 204 is hard to beat. It comes with slots for 15 and 20 degree (per side) angles, which matches up nicely with most commercially available knives. Shuns, Macs, Globals, et al, come from the factory with 15-16 degree edge angles, so the Sharpmaker will work just fine on them.

Even less expensive (and more rewarding) is learning to sharpen by hand. It really isn't that hard. It just takes a little practice. A good starting point is the King 1000/6000 combination stone. Oh, and a good book that covers sharpening might be nice, too :biggrin:

If you are interested in maintaining your own knives, start with the sharpening gear and learn on your Forschners. The results may surprise you. You might find that you don't lust after the high dollar stuff quite so much. And if you do eventually get a Mac, you'll have the sharpening experience to take good care of it.

Take care,

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Chad,

Thanks so much for all of your work.  Your book is speeding along its way to my house -- but I wondered if you (or someone else) would answer a question.  You said, in an earlier post,

The Glestain has an unusual convex front and nearly flat back bevel.

How would you sharpen this to retain its factory-created bevel?  I have no problem with the Korin suggested two-penny three-penny method on other Japanese knives -- but the edge on the Glestain is pretty different.  Is this a place to use sandpaper on the mousepad (for the convex front)?

Thanks again for your wonderful posts,

cassady

Great! I hope you enjoy the book. If you are used to the two penny/three penny method, it will also work on the Glestain. The factory bevel is just a slightly more extreme version of that, anyway. I don't claim to be an expert on convex edges. They're great for sporting and outdoor knives but I don't see the advantage in the kitchen. If you'd like to maintain the factory edge, the mousepad trick would work for the front. I know that there are people who do convex edges by hand on stones by using a very slight rolling motion when passing the edge down the stone -- starting with the edge hitting the stone a little above the shoulder of the bevel and rotating the wrist a little so that they'r right at the edge by the end of the stroke. I have a hard enough time not unintentionally introducing convexity that I'm not too keen on trying to do it deliberately :rolleyes: . I suspect that hand sharpening is always going to lead to a little convexity simply due to the stroke-to-stroke variation that is inevitable in any kind of hand work.

Hope this helps.

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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If you are interested in maintaining your own knives, start with the sharpening gear and learn on your Forschners. The results may surprise you. You might find that you don't lust after the high dollar stuff quite so much. And if you do eventually get a Mac, you'll have the sharpening experience to take good care of it.

Take care,

Chad

You are so right. I have mainly low end cutlery. After I sharpened them they slice like they are cutting air.

My sharpening gear is not high end. I have the GATCO Professional. I added their extra fine and ultimate finishing hones. I purchased the kit at Cabela's and the extra hones I purchased directly from GATCO. I refine edges and maintain on two strops made with scrap leather from Tandy. I load my strops with red and white polishing compound from Sears.

There is nothing mythical or secretive about sharpening. You just need to make the two sides of the edge meet in as fine a line as you can. Using finer stones and strops you can refine the edge to a finer line and remove any burr that has developed.

The shallower the angle you sharpen to the nicer the cutlery will slice. Generally the shallower the angle the more fragile the edge is.

Some advantage to sharpening yourself:

1. you can experiment with angles to see what your custlery likes best

2. you can experiment with angles to see how low an angle a knife can support

3. you do not have to wait to send a knife out and wait to get it back.

4. you have the satisfaction of knowing how to do something that anyone should be able to do

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I have been looking for something to supplement my 10" Messermeister Meridian Elite and I was thinking of going with a Japanese petty knife. I was wondering what was the most popular size considering they come in a wide variety of sizes. I was looking on JCK and they have a "Gekko" line in their specials section. Any idea if they are a good product?

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If I stick with the restaurant supply store Forschners, is an easy to use Chef's Choice electric sharpener OK?  I would assume it would destroy a pricey Shun or MAC were I to buy one of those knives.  Would a fancy manual sharpener (like the Edge Pro Apex) couple with a ceramic "steel" be overkill for the Forschners?  If I ever did spring for the Shun or a MAC, I would probably keep the Forschers.  No reason to get rid of them. I like them alot.

So, the question is, if I think I might get a Shun or MAC in the future, should  I spring for the Apex and a ceramic "steel" now and use them on the Forschners?

I wouldn't use an electric sharpener on good knives. If you already have one, just use the final stage and pretend the first stage doesn't even exist.

I'm all for learning to sharpen your own knives. If the price tag doesn't scare you off, the Edge Pro Apex is a great system. For a smaller outlay the Spyderco Sharpmaker 204 is hard to beat. It comes with slots for 15 and 20 degree (per side) angles, which matches up nicely with most commercially available knives. Shuns, Macs, Globals, et al, come from the factory with 15-16 degree edge angles, so the Sharpmaker will work just fine on them.

Even less expensive (and more rewarding) is learning to sharpen by hand. It really isn't that hard. It just takes a little practice. A good starting point is the King 1000/6000 combination stone. Oh, and a good book that covers sharpening might be nice, too :biggrin:

If you are interested in maintaining your own knives, start with the sharpening gear and learn on your Forschners. The results may surprise you. You might find that you don't lust after the high dollar stuff quite so much. And if you do eventually get a Mac, you'll have the sharpening experience to take good care of it.

Take care,

Chad

Thanks, Chad. I have no knife sharpener now. (just a steel) You pretty much confirmed what I suspected. I think the three stage electic Chef's Choice can cost in the $100 range, and it seems the Apex is in that same ballpark.

I have a good idea on what my next kitchen gadget will be and what my next book purchase will be. :cool:

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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One thing I've never seen discussed is that with hand sharpening, it should be possible to put a variable angle on your knife. Keep the belly at a meaty 20 - 25 degrees to let it power through tough matter without giving up and hone the tip down to 10 - 15 degrees to fine, delicate slicing.

Is this possible? A good idea?

PS: I am a guy.

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One thing I've never seen discussed is that with hand sharpening, it should be possible to put a variable angle on your knife. Keep the belly at a meaty 20 - 25 degrees to let it power through tough matter without giving up and hone the tip down to 10 - 15 degrees to fine, delicate slicing.

Is this possible? A good idea?

That kind of thing is done all the time. You have the main bevel at XX° and then a secondary bevel at XX°.

It is done not only with hand sharpening but on the guided systems as well.

That is one of the advantages to doing it yourself. You can experiment and if you don't like how it slices or cuts you can redo it.

Also a similar thing is done with the guided systems to simulate a convex edge. You vary the anngle and have maybe 4 or 5 secondary edges down to the main edge. You end up with a series of flats instead of a smooth convex but the cutting effect is similar.

Edited by Hard H2O (log)
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That kind of thing is done all the time. You have the main bevel at XX° and then a secondary bevel at XX°.

I'm not seeing that term being used in the way you seem to be referring to. AFAIK, a secondary bevel refers to a more complex shape on one part of the knife. I'm talking about having complete different shapes on different parts of the knife.

PS: I am a guy.

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One thing I've never seen discussed is that with hand sharpening, it should be possible to put a variable angle on your knife. Keep the belly at a meaty 20 - 25 degrees to let it power through tough matter without giving up and hone the tip down to 10 - 15 degrees to fine, delicate slicing.

Is this possible? A good idea?

Sorry for the slow reply. It can indeed be done. In fact, the lovey (and very expensive) kitchen knives by Canadian chef/knifemaker Thomas Haslinger are built exactly this way. There is a very strong distal taper so the tip is very thin. The heel, however, is left thick for power wedging through joints and butternut squashes and the like.

I haven't attempted it myself because I tend to either use a guided system (Edge Pro Apex), where changing angles for various sections of the blade is impractical, or I hand sharpen with Japanese waterstones. When hand sharpening, I don't think I'm focused enough to continuously alter the edge angle from heel to tip, at least not and stay as consistent from stroke to stroke as I like to be. With practice I'm sure I could master it, but it's easier to switch knives when I've got heavy duty cutting to do. I have a Tojiro western deba for that sort of work. It's shaped like a western chef's knife but is about double the thickness and weight. I use it as my barbecue chopping knife, but I would not feel at all uncomfortable cutting an impromptu sunroof in a Buick with the thing.

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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I've been enjoying the book (just started reading it today) but wanted to comment on a couple of health-related pieces of misinformation.

First is the assertion that there's no such thing as "24 hour flu," and that all cases of this are really food poisoning. What we generally call 24 hour flu is some form or another of Norwalk virus, which infects the lower digestive tract. It can be transmitted in ways besides food.

But it CAN be transmitted by food, which brings me to the second issue: the recommendation to use vinegar instead of bleach to sanitize cutting boards. There are many foodborn pathogens that frolick happily in an acidic environment. Norwalk-type viruses are among these. Vinegar has no effect on them.

Chlorine and peroxide bleaches are much more effective agains these viruses and other acid-resistant bugs. The book claims that wood "neutralized" the free oxygen in bleaches. Is this true? I'd like to see a citation of some credible research.

I understand the appeal of vinegar, but the only evidence I've seen supporting it is a single study showing that it reduced e. coli on cutting boards. And the study was conducted by the Nakano Vinegar Co. Ltd .... so take it for what it's worth!

Notes from the underbelly

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I understand the appeal of vinegar, but the only evidence I've seen supporting it is a single study showing that it reduced e. coli on cutting boards. And the study was conducted by the Nakano Vinegar Co. Ltd .... so take it for what it's worth!

I didn't consider the Norwalk-type viruses when writing the chapter, just the most common food borne illnesses. Thanks for pointing that out. I'm on vacation and have limited Internet access. I'll address the bleach point when I get back. In the meantime, here's one of the studies showing the effectiveness of vinegar as a sanitizing agent: Microbiology of Cleaning & Sanitizing a Cutting Board.

There is another study, done to improve food safety in developing countries, that shows a sequential combination of vinegar and peroxide will sanitize cutting boards, fruits and vegetables even better than vinegar alone, killing just about any bug out there. I'll track it down in my notes.

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Thanks Chad,

that's a much better study than any of the ones I've been able to track down. I'm still interested the idea that wood somehow weakens the action of chlorine bleach. Do you remember your source for that?

After looking into this topic a bit, I'm realizing that it's a very young body of research. Which means we should all keep an open mind about it and pay attention to new discoveries. There are bound to be some revisions and surprises as more specific research gets done.

Notes from the underbelly

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  • 4 weeks later...

I just want to add that I had the book sent to me here in France, because when I asked a local knife guy about sharpening my MACs and Ken Onion chef's knife he gave them a funny look. I used to sharpen the MACs with the roller thingy MAC recommends, but I really don't like what it does to the knives over time. The Ken Onion, I blush while admitting, has never been sharpened in the two years I've had it. It's still quite sharp, but not the way it used to be, and I want that edge back.

I've been trying to be disciplined and read from front to back, but really, I wanna skip to the sharpening section!

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  • 4 weeks later...

OK, Chad, now that I've read through the book... in the sharpening section, you have a short discussion of pull-through type sharpeners. I have two of those made by Wusthof, for my Wusthof knives; one for the chef's knife and one for the santoku.

They both seem to help quite a bit. I'd be interested to hear what you think of them. You wrote that most of them were not a good idea, but I wonder which ones might not be included in "most".

I'm still trying to decide between the Edge Pro and the Spyderco 204. The Edge Pro certainly appears to be much easier to handle, especially for someone like me, who won't be using it often. But of course the Spyderco is about half the price of the Edge Pro. Any ideas about issues I could use to help with a decision? Actually, if the prices were the same, the Edge Pro would win, hands down. But $200 is a lot of money. On the other hand, I'd always know my knives were sharpened well. It appears to be a nearly fool-proof system.

Jenny

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OK, Chad, now that I've read through the book... in the sharpening section, you have a short discussion of pull-through type sharpeners.  I have two of those made by Wusthof, for my Wusthof knives; one for the chef's knife and one for the santoku.

They both seem to help quite a bit.  I'd be interested to hear what you think of them.  You wrote that most of them were not a good idea, but I wonder which ones might not be included in "most".

I'm still trying to decide between the Edge Pro and the Spyderco 204.  The Edge Pro certainly appears to be much easier to handle, especially for someone like me, who won't be using it often.  But of course the Spyderco is about half the price of the Edge Pro.  Any ideas about issues I could use to help with a decision?  Actually, if the prices were the same, the Edge Pro would win, hands down.  But $200 is a lot of money.  On the other hand, I'd always know my knives were sharpened well.  It appears to be a nearly fool-proof system.

Jenny

What kind of pull throughs are those? Are they carbide scrapers or ceramic? I have seen the ceramics as wheels or sticks.

The carbide type literally scrapes material from the edge shortening the life of the blade.

I would never subject any of my cutlery to the carbide scraper type.

The ceramic type is better. There is one, I forget the name, that comes as a set with 3 different grits of ceramic. I have read a few favorable reviews of the ceramic pull throughs.

The Spyderco Sharpmaker is great for maintaining an already sharp edge. It is not that great at bring back a dulled edge or at rebeveling and changing edge angles.

The Edge Pro, From what I have read, is great at sharpening and rebeveling and can be used for maintenance with the right stones and compounds.

I use a GATCO professional kit to which I have added their two finest finishing hones. The GATCO is a rod guided system that is similar in theory to the Edge Pro. I polish and refine using leather strops loaded with Sears polishing compound. I strop when maintenance is needed. I am a big fan of the rod guided systems. I am also a big fan of stropping.

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Having read Chad's book thru I am finding that I didn't do too badly over the years but I sure could have made less mistakes if I'd read it 30 years or so ago.

Thank Chad for a fine read{and eGulleters too cause this is where I first heard of the book}. Chad when you do the second edition would you add a bit on non kitchen edges. Like what angle is right for my Kabar- used in the woods- or an axe...?

I really am interested in the cutting board thing, that being sanitary is pretty important, I think.

Robert

Seattle

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for the kind words Robert. I appreciate it. The next book isn't going to be knife related, at least if they buy off on the proposal I'm sending. I might get back to knives at a later date. There are, however, other resources for sporting and tactical knives.

On a joyful note, the Chicago Tribune has listed "An Edge in the Kitchen" as one of it's Best of 2008 food books. That really made my day.

Of course, this complete lack of judgment may explain the Tribune's current financial woes :rolleyes:

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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And more amazing news. An Edge in the Kitchen made Slate.com's list of Best Books of 2008, apparently beating out the new books from Thomas Keller, Grant Achatz and Heston Blumenthal.*

Holy crap.

Chad

* edited to add that I don't take that part of the review too seriously, but is sure is fun to think about :biggrin:

Edited by Chad (log)

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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  • 4 weeks later...

Two things, first Amazon's Omakase Banner above seems to have learned that it should serve food related articles to this site. Second, I found it cool to See Chad's book appearing in the first slot.

gallery_55239_5394_79553.jpg

Edited by RAHiggins1 (log)
Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.
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Chad's book was top of my gift list this year and I received it late last week finally. I've really been looking forward to it because I know knife skills are an area I need to improve on. But I also know that with my work schedule if you get an hour out of me each night before I fall asleep you're doing well. As a testament to the book, I'm half way through the book after just a couple of nights of reading - haven't fallen asleep while reading it yet (something the last Harry Potter book can't claim). I'm really enjoying it and can't wait to start my practicing.

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OK, Chad, now that I've read through the book... in the sharpening section, you have a short discussion of pull-through type sharpeners.  I have two of those made by Wusthof, for my Wusthof knives; one for the chef's knife and one for the santoku.

They both seem to help quite a bit.  I'd be interested to hear what you think of them.  You wrote that most of them were not a good idea, but I wonder which ones might not be included in "most".

I'm still trying to decide between the Edge Pro and the Spyderco 204.  The Edge Pro certainly appears to be much easier to handle, especially for someone like me, who won't be using it often.  But of course the Spyderco is about half the price of the Edge Pro.  Any ideas about issues I could use to help with a decision?  Actually, if the prices were the same, the Edge Pro would win, hands down.  But $200 is a lot of money.  On the other hand, I'd always know my knives were sharpened well.  It appears to be a nearly fool-proof system.

Jenny

Hi, Jenny. Sorry I missed this earlier. I'm not intimately familiar with the Wusthof pull-through sharpeners. As someone else suggested they are probably carbide wheels or bits. Depending on how fine they are, they might not be too bad but you can do much better.

As much as I love the Edge Pro Apex, if you aren't going to use it often, the Spyderco Sharpmaker is probably a better bet. You can do minor reprofiling with a little effort, and basic sharpening and touchups are easy enough that you'll do them more often. The Sharpmaker also requires a lot less storage space and setup time, which, again, means you'll use it more often.

Hope things are going well.

Take care,

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Just piling on with the propers. Read the book in two days, and it was fantastic all the way through. I can finally explain that damned double bevel to myself, and I have a MAC paring knife going home with me tonight. Great work.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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