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Knife sharpening by mail?


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1 hour ago, dcarch said:

 

A matter of definition.

I said, "not a dull knife". To me that means relatively sharp for most non-sushi chefs.

" If you have decent knife skill you need sharp knifes" If you have decent knife skill, sharpening knifes is generally not an issue.

"Unless you are very skilled you will just mess up the edge using a stone." Not really, unless you try to sharpen a $1,000 Japanese knife. 

"Having consistently sharp knifes is easy." Exactly what I am trying to say. Don't let all the fancy talks from knife nuts scare you.

" You just need to invest in a quality sharpener."  Quality is good, but quality may not mean effectiveness. Read reviews before buying is important. 

You can buy a few sheets of wet/dry silicon sandpaper of varying fine grit. They last a long time, take no room to store, they are wonderful for sharpening knives quickly.

 

dcarch

 

How would you sharpen a $1,000 Japanese knife?

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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2 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

How would you sharpen a $1,000 Japanese knife?

 

The same way  porcupines  make love – – carefully.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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53 minutes ago, Anna N said:

The same way  porcupines  make love – – carefully.

 

Love is a many splintered thing? 9_9

 

To sharpen an expensive Japanese knife, first find out if it is a single or double bevel, find out the exact angles, then hold those angles absolutely while sharpening.

 

you will also need a set of stones worth about $1,000.

 

I made my own "Japanese" knives, and I made my own sharpening/system machine.  So I have not really worked on a Japanese knife.

 

dcarch

 

 

Edited by dcarch (log)
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3 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

How would you sharpen a $1,000 Japanese knife?

 

 

Well, I'd recommend first getting a $70 Japanese knife and a $40 combination stone. Then you can practice your sharpening and cutting skills with something you don't feel too precious about. 

 

Then when you decide you want a $1000 knife (which, if you're lucky, will be never) you'll better know what you want and also how to sharpen it.

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Re. the need for sharp knives, I'm all for them. There's a pretty wide range of sharp, and you don't need a yanagiba-like edge for everything. But most of us probably learned to cut with dull knives, and sharp ones do everything better. If you're preparing things that will be served raw, they leave much better looking edges. You'll cut with much less effort and more precision. Delicate foods will retain their aromas and vibrance better. Onions won't make you cry so hard. Herbs and fruits won't brown. 

 

I used to do things the European way and cut herbs at the last possible minute, so they wouldn't brown and lose flavor. This added to the chaos of service. Now I do herbs first thing, when my edges are fresh. The herbs stay perfect for hours. I can chiffonade basil and it will not be brown or dull smelling 4 hours later. It won't be brown 24 hours later. This is one measure of a sharp knife. It raises the level of what's possible. 

 

There's a learning curve to get that level of sharpness, and not everyone is interested. But the good news is that if you decide to learn sharpening, by the time you've practiced just a few times and are barely more than a beginner, your edges will already be better than most of the ones you've ever used. Certainly better than any German knife brand new from the store. It only takes rudimentary skills with the most basic kit to notice greatly improved performance. Whether you want to keep practicing and improving past this point is entirely optional.

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Notes from the underbelly

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We just got new upgraded cable boxes sent to us.  My wife dreaded the trip to the trip to the Comcast Gulag to return the old ones, but I found out they had cut a deal with the UPS Stores.  All I had to do was bring them there and they scanned the bar codes, typed some incantations into their computer and printed me a receipt.

 

That reminded me of reading a story in Tom Friedman's book The World is Flat where Toshiba(?) cut a deal with Fed Ex for their computer repairs.  If a customer called Toshiba and it was determined that the computer needed to be send in for repair, he would be given instructions on how to ship it back via Fed Ex.  And shipped back it it was - to a Fed Ex hub where Toshiba trained Fed Ex employees would effect the repairs.

 

That sort of thing could work for knife sharpening, I suppose.

 

But then again, I got a knife sharpener for Christmas, so, yeah, whatever. ;)

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55 minutes ago, paulraphael said:

 

Well, I'd recommend first getting a $70 Japanese knife and a $40 combination stone. Then you can practice your sharpening and cutting skills with something you don't feel too precious about. 

 

Then when you decide you want a $1000 knife (which, if you're lucky, will be never) you'll better know what you want and also how to sharpen it.

 

The answer does not entirely address the question.  I've owned a set of quality stones since the 1970's and ruined many a fine edge thereon.

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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40 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

The answer does not entirely address the question.  I've owned a set of quality stones since the 1970's and ruined many a fine edge thereon.

 

 

Possibly look up "Sharpie Trick" "magic Mark" trick on youTube for knife sharpening? 

 

dcarch

Edited by dcarch (log)
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A kinda simple way I find the angle of my knives is to slowly slide them edge forward across my honing block while slowly raising the spine up until the edge just bites.  Then while holding at the same angle move to my stone.  It doesn't take to many strokes to raise a burr.  Then repeat on the other side until I raise a burr then break it off on a felt block then hone at that angle.  Seems to work for me.  They will slide through paper effortlessly 

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5 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

The answer does not entirely address the question.  I've owned a set of quality stones since the 1970's and ruined many a fine edge thereon.

 

 

Understood, but if you have an inexpensive knife, ruining the edge isn't a big deal. You just use this as an opportunity to practice fixing the edge on a coarse stone, and you try again.

 

The big difference between now and the 1970s is the internet ... youtube specifically. There are great resources on how to sharpen knives. I've recently found the videos posted by Jon Broida at Japanese Knife Imports (in LA) to be especially good. He shows you the basics in just one or two quick videos. And if you're hungry for more advanced techniques, or get into single bevel knives or whatever, he's got more specialized videos for those.

 

I realize most people aren't looking for a new hobby in the kitchen, especially one that's about maintenance. But I really think that with even a single medium-grit stone and a few attempts with the help of youtube, you can make your knives better than ever (even if not as good as possible). Spend a few minutes with the stone every couple of weeks and you'll enjoy great performance, and independence from questionable sharpening services and vendors of gizmos. 

Notes from the underbelly

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On 12/29/2016 at 0:40 PM, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

How would you sharpen a $1,000 Japanese knife?

 

Just like you would a Vnox.  Perhaps with a little more caution.  If you're close to the city you could probably watch a bit of it at Korin.  

 

 

On 12/29/2016 at 3:22 PM, dcarch said:

 

Love is a many splintered thing? 9_9

 

To sharpen an expensive Japanese knife, first find out if it is a single or double bevel, find out the exact angles, then hold those angles absolutely while sharpening.

 

you will also need a set of stones worth about $1,000.

 

I made my own "Japanese" knives, and I made my own sharpening/system machine.  So I have not really worked on a Japanese knife.

 

dcarch

 

 

 

So much wrong here.  But first a nod to the Porky rejoinder.  Like it.

 

If one has to "find out" if a knife is a single bevel or a double bevel, one should not be considering sharpening it (or anything else for that matter)  Exact angles are not important.  Consistent angles are.  Holding consistent angles are learned through some practice - it's not difficult to become proficient, very few are expert.  I count myself as closing on the former 

 

1K worth of stones?  Hardly.  One can readily sharpen a 1K knife with a cheap King.  To remove scuffs, to polish the edge, to highlight the contrast between the jigane and hagane, a natural stone, 200ish, would be nice.  I've seen it done with a King 800.  To sharpen the knife?  No.

 

I've seen pics of the knives and the gizmo..... If it works for you thats all thats important.  

 

I've owned and sharpened knives that are north of 1K.  If anything they are easier to sharpen than knives at the other end of the spectrum.  Still working on that polishing though.  

 

I am not a sushi chef but have worked with.  Do own some "sushi" knives,.  There's nothing magical about them.

 

Back to the subject at hand, sending the knives off is a good idea.  I've done it when receiving a semi-custom knife the maker did not bevel or sharpen.  Dave Martell did a great and timely job.

 

 

 

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On December 29, 2016 at 10:17 PM, paulraphael said:

 

Understood, but if you have an inexpensive knife, ruining the edge isn't a big deal. You just use this as an opportunity to practice fixing the edge on a coarse stone, and you try again.

 

The big difference between now and the 1970s is the internet ... youtube specifically. There are great resources on how to sharpen knives. I've recently found the videos posted by Jon Broida at Japanese Knife Imports (in LA) to be especially good. He shows you the basics in just one or two quick videos. And if you're hungry for more advanced techniques, or get into single bevel knives or whatever, he's got more specialized videos for those.

 

I realize most people aren't looking for a new hobby in the kitchen, especially one that's about maintenance. But I really think that with even a single medium-grit stone and a few attempts with the help of youtube, you can make your knives better than ever (even if not as good as possible). Spend a few minutes with the stone every couple of weeks and you'll enjoy great performance, and independence from questionable sharpening services and vendors of gizmos. 

You almost had me convinced. I watched some of the videos you recommend and even checked the price and availability of a medium grit stone but in the end I looked in the mirror. I knew then I would either buy the stone and completely fail to ever put an edge on a knife ( definitely the most likely scenario) or I would succeed and ultimately go bankrupt buying all the other stones and paraphernalia.  Going to stick with what I have chintzy though it may be.   But I am still grateful for your advice. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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This whole $1000 knife discussion has led us astray. I think so many people have intense fear of knives that is unnecessary. If you're a chef and need to think about performance then care. Otherwise, go play Harry Potter, pick up a bunch of different wands/knives and see what feels best in your hand. 

 

So, going back to the mail order question. I want to propose a second option, which I know many knife geeks will argue about, but I love my EdgePro. You'll drop about $200, but it's a one-time expense. What do you get in return? A locked in angle (do the Sharpie trick once and never again), set up in less than a minute and done sharpening in less than 5 minutes, and they take hardly any space (I keep mine in its carrying case on a kitchen stool). I've had enough professional shapeners go at my knives and they don't do any better unless I've had a major trauma to the tip or heel.

 

And to the OP I do hope you'll continue looking locally - there will undoubtedly be someone in town that does quality work. And I do agree with someone above that you want a person who uses a stone not a wheel.

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20 minutes ago, Paul Fink said:

I'm going to reiterate my plug for the Chef's Choice M120 knife sharpener.

I don't know anything about the EdgePro but the Chef's Choice is easy for a home cook.

And can give you that razor sharp, sushi knife, edge.:B

I haven't used one but they have great reviews apparently. The only issue I would have is that they sharpen to 20º. For me that's too wide, so it goes back to the basic question of Western (20º) or Japanese blade (15-17º). I do like simplicity however so thanks for putting it on my radar.

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5 minutes ago, gfron1 said:

I haven't used one but they have great reviews apparently. The only issue I would have is that they sharpen to 20º. For me that's too wide, so it goes back to the basic question of Western (20º) or Japanese blade (15-17º). I do like simplicity however so thanks for putting it on my radar.

 

It sharpens at 20º then hones a 15º edge onto the knife. That give the razor sharp edge.

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Don't worry too much about not being able to keep an exact angle while sharpening. The worst it can happen is you will get a desirable convex edge. 

 

I still think wet/dry sand paper is worth considering for OP. Nice thing about sandpaper, besides they take no room to store, last a long time, inexpensive, you can get a whole range of grits, from 80 to 10,000.

 

Showoff time: :B My home made sharpening machine. The reason for the machine is that I can use any regular stone, diamond stone, big or smallSharpener  2.jpgsharpener.JPG, and it had multiple adjustments for bigger knives.

 

dcarch

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, gfron1 said:

I haven't used one but they have great reviews apparently. The only issue I would have is that they sharpen to 20º. For me that's too wide, so it goes back to the basic question of Western (20º) or Japanese blade (15-17º). I do like simplicity however so thanks for putting it on my radar.

 

Chef's Choice makes models for 15 degrees.  I have one.  I also have a 20 degree Chef's Choice.

 

 

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Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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36 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

Chef's Choice makes models for 15 degrees.  I have one.  I also have a 20 degree Chef's Choice.

 

 

 Apparently my Chef's Choice model is now passe but all this talk at least persuaded me to drag it out and most of my knives will now cut butter. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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1 hour ago, dcarch said:

Don't worry too much about not being able to keep an exact angle while sharpening. The worst it can happen is you will get a desirable convex edge. 

 

I still think wet/dry sand paper is worth considering for OP. Nice thing about sandpaper, besides they take no room to store, last a long time, inexpensive, you can get a whole range of grits, from 80 to 10,000.

 

Showoff time: :B My home made sharpening machine. The reason for the machine is that I can use any regular stone, diamond stone, big or smallSharpener  2.jpgsharpener.JPG, and it had multiple adjustments for bigger knives.

 

dcarch

 

 

 

Very nice workmanship! Certainly has as much flexibility as you would ever want in a nice sharpening device. Next save will be to make it self powered!

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I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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I tried using my mail to sharpen my knives, but I just ended up with a load of shredded letters.

 

But seriously, I have a little man (the world needs more little men) who comes by once a month and sharpens my knives and cleavers for an embarrassingly low price. He is damned good. I swear this man could sharpen a house brick.

So I am no help at all on mail order sharpness. I'll get my coat.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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23 hours ago, dcarch said:

Don't worry too much about not being able to keep an exact angle while sharpening. The worst it can happen is you will get a desirable convex edge. 

 

Exactly. When you're a rank beginner you'll probably get more curve than is ideal, but you'll get steady enough. No human can hold a perfectly steady angle; this has never been a problem.

Notes from the underbelly

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There are a couple of things to  consider with any kind of automated or semi-automated system. One is that after several regular sharpenings, your blades will have to be thinned. Otherwise, the constant removal of metal is going to change the knife's geometry and the blade will be much too thick behind the edge. You'll have knives with great edges and lousy performance. Thinning requires sharpening higher up on the blade at a very acute angle ... typically lower than 5°. This can be challenging on an edge pro. It's not possible with a machine like the chef's choice.

 

The other challenge is dealing with the blade's geometry at the tip. This requires changing angles both when sharpening and thinning. Gadgets can make this challenging, if they allow it at all

 

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