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This background might help in debates.

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
As you might have noticed in some of our recent debates, I have an opinion that might seem to conflict with many members. That is not my wish.

There are a few members, like Phaedrus, who know me and why I enter the discussions from this standpoint. I think this post might help. Consider it a bill of my credentials.

Technically, I am not a sharpener, nor am I a polisher (those who have entered this guild craft and have been taught by a togishi). I am a "tinker," which is a craftsman who repairs kitchen implements. Think of that as a "yeoman" half-way up the guild.

That does not preclude me from using a polisher's tools and stones. And I try to find sword polishing books and others based on Japanese history.

Being a tinker is my retirement job. While I have sharpened for decades, my adult job was in finance before this retirement.

When I incorporated The Edge Pro into this hobby, I was exposed to Japanese waterstones and met Ben Dale. Ben formerly worked as a sharpener with his own route. He even helps people learn their craft and set up a business. I am one of his "students."

To that, I added the polisher's philosophies and tools to the process of sharpening kitchen knives, as well as the sporting knives used here in Wisconsin for deer hunting. For about four years I had a little stand at our local Gander Mountain, before that store closed.

During this period I met several local chefs. As I worked for them I also obtained my Wisconsin Resellers License and helped them purchase their working knives. One of my suppliers carries primarily Japanese tools.

Here's my point. I cannot help but bring these ideas to the discussion table on a debate. Many times I am in the midst of sharpening, and I take a break to order things on the computer and come here.

As you might imagine, this means I'm repairing a poor quality knife or polishing a nice one. With your hands stained with fresh swarf that condition slants your opinion.:lol:

In conclusion, it is never my goal to belittle or denigrate anyone. If I state that I find a deba is more productive for your uses it does not mean that I find your concept, tools or education to be second-class.

Additionally, I believe in continuing adult education. I have never been to Japan, nor have I handled every manufacturer's product. Members like Chris exceed my skills here, and you will often find me asking him questions.

I wish to be a good member here. I hope this provides some background and explains my overall beliefs when entering a discussion. Thank you.
post #2 of 12
A brief note:
No, I don't. I do have some knowledge that you don't have, here and there. Much of it is historical, or based on having lived in Kyoto for a year and researched some issues about knives from that side of the water. But I have never worked in a professional kitchen, my sharpening skills aren't especially brilliant, and my cutting skills are nothing to write home about.

I'd guess that BDL has probably handled more knives than anyone else here, in terms of actually using them in a kitchen, and it should be instructive that he hangs on to his old carbon Sabatiers.

Buzz is I believe the most intense collector who contributes regularly to this forum.

Phaedrus is one of the few regular posters here who's much into Japanese knives and currently works in a professional kitchen.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
By 'Buzz' do you mean a guy with the handle Buzz767? If so, I've met him personally.

BTW Chris, I like the way you write, and you've mentioned knives I've never heard of. This isn't a competition, I like to read and debate these issues.

To tell the truth, one of the main attractions here is the fact that we discuss things as adults. There are knife forums where I'm still a member and I haven't been there in years.

And like I said, all you have to say is, "Chico, I disagree."

I will happily do the same and bring my A-game.:bounce:
post #4 of 12
Chico - I hope you'll not spend too much energy being concerned about how you are being interpreted. Having shared a thread with you, I believe you come across quite clearly.

You have to figure that very often the people asking questions, won't necessarily be coming to them with the exact same interpretation of the holistic approach that you might extol as being a platform for excellence. After all, if it was a one size fits all World there'd be no need for a knife forum - we'd probably just have a sticky to read that one of the more informed members here would hopefully update periodically.

I for instance have practically zero knife skills beyond perhaps remembering to use the pinch grip, and only just a little more general kitchen knowledge.

What worked for me in the sharpener thread was being able to bounce off people like you and BDL to identify those questions I didn't know I had.

What I don't think worked so well, was that from my viewpoint, you didn't signal recognition of the value of scaling your answers down. You were very focussed on the picture of the professional chef, and all that means for you with that set of expectations.

Speaking for myself, I can't meet those expectations. In fact at the moment, I can't even share a discussion with you guys in which the term sharp, would be one I know we'd have a shared understanding of. If I didn't squish the tomato when I cut it - my knife was sharp.

Still, even with no previous background knowledge, based on the electric sharpeners thread, I now have a much better understanding of the considerations raised. That information will go on to impact on how I choose my first dedicated knife. Another step in my journey if you will.

So if it's any help at all going forward - I don't think the issue was necessarily the off topic discussion. I think the thing that caused a degree of mismatch, was that as I was reading it, you hadn't found a way to scale your advice in a fashion that allowed you to bring the focus back to the level of somebody like me.

Anyway - I'm no-one to be giving advice and I'm not. I just figured you're a nice bloke that puts yourself out there and maybe you'll find something there you agree with, maybe you won't. Either way, best wishes, and I look forward to sharing other threads with you in the future.

post #5 of 12
You struck a chord there. My Pa, eventually ceased trying to raise me and my 4 brothers alone with a full time job and instead, took to the road with a clapped out van with a grinding wheel hooked up to the engine. He serviced a lot of the factories around Sheffield , and clothes factories in Leeds and made quite a name for himself as a tinker.
We're Mackenzies, so true to form, the original Scots tinkers.

BTW he was also a chef and a hypnotist (stage act)

Kept us in beans
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Ahhh, being a tinker is an age-old craft. In fact the itinerant tradesmen (and the 'itinerant' appears on my business cards) were better known for their showmanship than their ability to sharpen knives and scissors. They arrived from other areas and brought news, gossip, the best jokes and French post cards.

But while mechanized wheels are still used, more and more of them have some form of "water cooling." The Tormek is an example. If a laminate knife shows the color yellow or blue near the bevel you can bet the HT has been compromised.

After all, the blade blanks are originally ground and shaped (stock removal) before they are sent out for HT.

But after all of this historical and technical talk, I believe I was born a tinker, which might translate to "traveling bum." For example, I often relax on the highway going 80 MPH, splattered with bugs and ducking Kenworths. Even my wife gave me a debit card with the instructions to "go ride your Harley."

I was once accused by a cutler of getting "too Zen" on the subject of sharpening. Yikes, go to youtube and watch a polisher work on a katana. If there's a quieter and more peaceful pursuit I don't know of it. Sometimes I sharpen my own jackknife just to get away from the TV and the computer.

And here's the point you might find that sheds light on my character. When I get home from working, I reach into my crappy jeans (well, all of my jeans are crappy) and produce a wad of crumbled fives and tens. I don't count it, I just hand it to my wife. I don't care about the wages.


Knives. Inner Peace. Sharpening Stones.
post #7 of 12
I''d quite enjoy seeing old photos of tinkers - tinkering as it were. It's probably 30yrs since I last saw a guy set up on a street with a grinding wheel.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
As a boy in the 1950's I saw the last of the horse-drawn "junk men." Cowboy TV shows were popular at that time, and as a city boy it was the first horse I had ever seen. They used to call the tinker "the rag man."

As a 'boomer, my parents felt my destiny was to succeed in the white collar world. Imagine my mom's surprise had she found out I was to become a modern day rag man.
post #9 of 12
You're working with cutting edge technology - what more can a parent ask for? :D
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Oh, my, yes, and I own my own business! Somehow I imagine she envisioned me as a doctor and or a banker. But it was her genes that derailed that career path. Her father worked for Harley, as did I as a younger man, and I still ride them.

I hated credit management. I got fired once and felt relieved. When I report that I find sharpening "peaceful," I mean that in the truest sense. I have a pair of scissors and a personal knife to do tonight, and I'd rather work until midnight on those types of projects than shuffle papers in my "adult job."
post #11 of 12
Sound like you found your place. There are so many out there in the paper pushing world, grinding their own stone that would envy you your peace.

A world without a boss is a really wonderful place
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
If I was to convey any one issue to the members here at CT it would be my joy in being free to pursue the work, hobbies and ideals I find in this new chapter of my life.

For example, how many times do you see a response to a post with the caveat "IMHO." Or with the preface, "I mean no disrespect."

It's a forum, it's a debate. I like knives. I collect them. I repair them. I read about them.

If the entire CT was inhabited by Japanese polishers, the threads would run like, "I love laminates." And then followed by seventy-two guys saying "Me, too."

Admittedly, I'm not a fan of high carbon steel. They HT it quite soft. And while it's easy to sharpen, it's also easy to dull and blemishes with a change in humidity.

So what? Others like it. So we debate. I happen to know two nut-jobs that come close to tossing an embolism if you do not fall all over yourself to worship a convex edge. That's right, the shape of the bevel. Yikes, get a life.

Hey, talk to me about your favorite stuff. I'd like to own a new-style Yamaha V-Max. Drop the macho crap at the door. Go lift a few weights. Look at a pretty girl.

But in the end, I am so glad to be happy and free.
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