Saturday, March 20, 2010


That was the state of my knives.

I posted in January about knife sharpening. I had decided to do it myself using a steel. I did some research on the Internet and, gosh, it looked so easy. Gordon Ramsey said so! Just get a steel, run your knife back to to front, back to front and viola! A knife that Toshiro Mifune could use to slice open a bad guy in a Kurosawa movie.

Per Ramsey's advice, I began steeling my knives before every use. At first, they were sharper. Then, they got duller. And duller. And duller. By the beginning of this week, it was like trying to cut with a butter knife. The edge was all but gone. Closer inspection showed that the edge had rolled out instead of in. Obviously, I'd done used the steel incorrectly.

Doing a little more research, I realized that the Ramsey video I'd relied on is at best misleading at worst dead wrong. A steel does NOT sharpen a knife, as Ramsey so convincingly claims. It only works out nicks and burrs in the blade. To sharpen a knife, you need a wet stone.

In short, Ramsey is full of doggy do on this one and he surely knows it.

This morning, I took my two knives to the local kitchen store and had them sharpened. Unfortunately, the woman who sharpened them said she couldn't get a really good edge no my kitchen knife, which is ages old. She suggested having it refurbished, which I will look into.

The woman was very nice and showed me how to properly steel knife. You need to angle it close to the steel and run it the length of the pole. She suggested bracing the poll vertically on the counter top and running the blade SLOWLY downwards. Forgot those fast strokes a la Ramsey and others.

The woman also showed me different types of sharpeners. I have a sharpener, but it's very old and primitive. I'll consider my options.

FYI, another option for sharpening knives may be your butcher. I mentioned my problem to my butcher today and he offered to run my knives through his sharpener.

So forget my earlier post. If you want to steel your knife, talk to someone who knows what they're doing first. I'd even advise bringing your knife into a store and asking an expert to watch to make sure you're doing it right. Otherwise you'll end up feeling pretty dull like me when your knives lose their edge.

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