Slightly OT - kniFe sharpening

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Something to be careful of is the angle of the edge wrt the face. I have read that different types of knives have different angles and using a sharpener that tries to put a different angle on the edge than what is already there can be trouble.
If your knives are not very good quality, I'd recommend considering a new set. You can get a 7 piece set of Henckels 4 star, 5 star, pro s or Wόsthof classic or grand prix on Amazon for around $200. I got mine there for $140 because someone else had returned it. You could probably do the same after christmas. The 7 piece sets only have 4 knives, but that really is enough for most cooking. The only thing I've added is a bread knife. If you use the sharpening steel once in awhile, the knives stay very sharp. It only took me a couple tries to figure out how to use it, and it takes just a few seconds. I have had my set more than a year and use one knife in particular almost daily. It's still very sharp.
A lot of sharpeners can cost as much as a set of nice knives, so I think buying new is good option for lots of people.
My other suggestion would be checking your local grocery stores. Sometimes their butcher departments will sharpen your knives cheap or free. One near me even advertises free knife sharpening on the radio.
Chris wrote:

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You want knife edges to be "hollow ground" i.e slightly concave to give a thin sharp edge. To do this you sharpen with the edge of a grinding wheel, nit the flat or the circumference. Commercial knife grinders do this and hold the knife at the proper angle. I've got one that belonged to my grandparents back in the 50s. Not commercial, but it does the job for everything but my cleaver.
If you can't be bothered with this, ask your local butcher where they take their knives for sharpening, and do so once a year or so. Our local Sears Hardware store has a professional sharpener come in about once a month.

Year old Henckels aren't even broken in. Mine are now 23 years old, and still in brand new condition, except for minor grainyness on the handles. If you can afford them go with either the 4 or 5 star. The knives are identical, only the handles differ. 4 star was all they had back when I bought mine. Commercial grade full tang heavy duty stuff, but with treated wooden handles. If you're running a restaraunt, and have to runthe knives through a commercial dishwasher, go with the 5 star plastic handles. THat will prevent the minor degridation I've seen on the handles.
Minimal set: 8" chef, 6" utility, 4" paring, steel. I've also got an 8" thin slicing knife, a 7" bread knife, both a boning and fileting knife, a tomato knife, and a cleaver. And the matching fork.
IMHO fancy steak knives are a waste of money. I wish we hadn't bought the set we did, as we NEVER use them. If I can't cut a piece of meat with a regular table knife, I don't want to eat it or serve it to guests!
While holiday gift shopping, I discovered that Henckels now has a lower grade made in Spain that appear to be almost the same quality as the regular stuff, but much less expensive. I can't yet comment on the quality. I'd be VERY cautious of any knives from Japan or China...
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kaplow snipped-for-privacy@encompasserve.org.TRABoD (Bob Kaplow) wrote in message writes:

I remeber when I was a kid, the Sharpener used to drive through the neighborhood periodically, ringing his bell... We took our Henkels to Chef Central for sharpening and they charged $20+ for sharpening that was IMO not very well done.

I think I saw these too. The handles were a very cheap plastic and they did not feel very solid. Felt like something you would buy from a TV ad. Now maybe they cut very well and hold an edge great, but frankly I was suprised that Henckel would put their name on something so shoddy.
-Chris
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kaplow snipped-for-privacy@encompasserve.org.TRABoD (Bob Kaplow) writes:
[...]

Why? Because they are so extremely sharp? Or because the expensive ones are not stainless?
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snipped-for-privacy@mybluelight.com (Chris) wrote in message

The BEST sharpener I've ever owned and still own is a $8 item which have a "V" groove made of some sort of hardened steel that you draw over the knife.
Here you go, I found it
http://www.accusharp.com /
I have sharpened knives which barely could slice through butter to a point where they glide through a soft tomato.
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Chris,
I recommend you go to www.lansky.com. Lansky makes reasonably priced knife sharpening systems that work great with no learning curve involved. I am not affiliated with them but I am a very satisfied customer. I think I bought mine through Amazon. I sharpened all of my kitchen knifes in a little over an hour after years of putting up with dull knives.
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I'd suggest taking them to a professional to get a really good edge on them then keeping up with them by using a sraight steel (The rough rods that come with most knife sets).
I know you don't want to do it manually, but...
If you have good knives and they start sharp, maintaining the edge is nothing more that running the steel over them every time you wash them. This will keep a good edge for about a year, when you can bring them back to the sharpener for a tune-up.
Before you hand dry them, run them over the steel 10 times, alternating sides and maintaining an eyeball 20 degree angle. Speed doesn't matter.
If you have average knives, they sell these hand sharpeners that have overlapping wheels that take care of the angle for you. Just start at the handle and draw backwards, keeping the knife at perpendicular. The good ones have two wheels, usually a brown, coarser whell, and a white finish wheel.
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Thanks everyone for the good information.
I just wanted some advice about the automatic sharpeners, such as the Chef's Choice. Several responded as such and I thank you.
Many others responded (as I predicted) about other methods, such as the Lansky System, and I curse you. I wanted a simple method, but as usually is the case, I found the best method might not be the simplest method and I usually opt for best over simplest (that's MY curse). Seems like the Lansky might be best for me since I am not very good with just a plain stone (can't seem to keep the dang angle consistant - same reason I have a jig for "scary sharp."
I am also going to check out rec-metalworking.sharpening (or whatever the group was) for a little more info.
I really just wanted sharp knives - I didn't want to become an expert (sigh).
-Chris
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Chris wrote...

Oh. Then you'd have no interest in this page:
http://forums.egullet.com/index.php?showtopic &036
(G)
Jim
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I use the 3 stage Chef's Choice for my large kitchen knives only because it leaves about 1/2 inch at the heel of the blade unsharpened. For the smaller knives and pocket knives I use the short "Ultimate Edge" fine grit diamond sharpening steel. It is quick, and removes metal faster than a hard Arkansas stone but is not too aggressive.
Jim Stewart
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I too have been a carpenter and wood worker for over 40 years. I do not whet and strop kitchen cutlery. A fine edge is not appreciated by SWMBO when she hacks at something still a bit frozen or uses it instead of a screwdriver, or tries to pry the lid off whatever. I think after this many years she is unteachable about these things, but, bless her heart, she means well and I will probably keep her.
I went looking for a picture of the one I like and googled my way right to here: http://www.epinions.com/other_small_appliances-type_knife_sharpeners/_redir_att__~1 and found the one I like here: http://www.epinions.com/hmgd-Knife_Sharpeners-AccuSharp-Accusharp_Knife_Sharpener
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Keep the whole world singing. . . . DanG

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