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Very Basic Sharpening Set Request

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
I have read threads until my head is swimming in trying to determine the best way to get started on quality sharpening. I got to this point for several reasons, a new stove and cookware along with a freinds son demonstrating the Cutco knives.  I'm not here to debate Cutco but out of the box they are pretty sharp compared to the run of the mill kitchen fare floating about my house.
I've made attempts at sharpening using the Chef's Choice 110 I purchased many years back, along with a Henckles steel and another ceramic "steel" but I've never been very happy with the results. I can get knifes to the point of slicing paper but I know they aren't really sharp and they never stay sharp for long.

I have one Henckles Friodur 6" and the same in a paring knife, along with Victorinox paring and the general assortment of misc. knives most all of them 30+ years old. After much reading some of the problem in staying sharp relates to my habits and on the sharpening side I've completely missed out on honing which seems to be my biggest mistake.

Eventually I'll get some new knives but for the moment, using what I have to get started developing honing skills seems like a reasonable path.  So I'm looking for the very basics and here's what I'm thinking, maybe the Norton waterstone set which has everything, DVD, two combo stone 220/1000 4000/800 and the flattening stone.

Or another way to go would be to buy the Sharpton 120 conditiong stone and the Bester 700 and 2000 stones. I know this wouldn't produce a fine edge but again I just want to get started in the right direction and I don't tink it's going to take a lot to make me happier than the results I've gotten with what I've tried so far.

post #2 of 47
Sharpening is a very personal, and very steep slippery slope......

Generally, there are three things that everyone can agree on:

1) The Bevel must be consistant

2) Durability of the edge is proportional to the fineness of the very last stone you've used.

3) Each system, or choice of abrasives  has it's pros and cons.  There is no perfect system.

My humble advice is to choose a system that is fairly cheap--the Norton Waterstones are such a system.  Use this system untill you are familiar with it--at least a year or two.  If you don't like it, fair enough, try another one,--but then stick to that system for another year or two before you go on to another one.

Shaptons are lovely, wonderfull stones--especially in the higher grits, but they are pricey, and if you decide you don't like them, or don't use them enough to warrrant their cost, then you feel  bit put-out.

Norton and Shapton have very good DVD's and information.  Another source of information is the woodworker's angle:  These people are just as crazy and passionate about sharpening as cooks, and use the same materials, and they have a wealth of information as well. 

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #3 of 47
Thread Starter 
A slippery slope indeed when I hear "stick with that system for a year or two", Wax on - Wax Off if you remember the Karate Kid Movie.

The constant bevel, freehand is what has me concerned the most but I have also read about using guides and the problem existing there in the form off reclamping to the exact same spot for a consistent bevel.

As to price Amazon has the Norton system for $119.00.

At EasttoolWest.com  (Just looking for price references) has..
The Shapton Conditioning stone is $23.00
The Bester 700 is $40.00
The Bester 2000 is $65.00   or  Shapton 2000 $70.00

With the exception of the included DVD the two "sets" aren't terribly different in price. The Norton has the advantage of more grades of while the created set has the appeal of thicker stones for lots of practice and lapping as needed (I have some chisels I'd like to sharpen too). So bearing in mind that I'd still need to pick up enough sharpening information either by buying a DVD or just off the Web, is the 2000 grit fine enough to get a good usable edge.

As long as a two stone system is OK I guess I'm worried less about a really fine edge because until I get the mechanics down of producing a consistent bevel I don't really have anything good to polish anyway.

Thanks for the information. It's much appreciated. - Gene  

ps. either way I'm not giving up cycling for wetsones, well at least not until next winter.
post #4 of 47
2000 grit is an "inbetween" stone.  Remember, the finer the grit, the longer teh edge retention.  Most woodworkers and knife sharpeners got to a minimum of 4000, and many go to 8000.

"sharpening" by L. Lee (of the Lee Valley) is a good book that give a lot of information on basics and mechanics of sharpening, but the section on kitchen knives sucks. CIA (culinary Inst. Amer.) has a good book on knives and knife techniques as well.   Lee valley (www.leevally.com) has a very good selection of abrasives and sharpeing jigs as well.

And now it's time to fine tune my bike, an all-steel Pinarello with that old school 8 spd gruppo of that Famous Italian mnfctr which is pronounced "Dur-Ache"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #5 of 47
Thread Starter 
Foodpump I won't go too far off course here. I'm leaning towards the Norton set as I think it offers the best chance for beginner success at a reasonable cost.

Pinarello makes some fine bikes! I have a steel touring bike (steel is real) but the Klein is a 9 speed aluminum with a little carbon thrown in. Climbing up from Portland to Crown Point and the Vista House at the Western end of the Columbia Rive Gorge is my idea of therapy!

Sorry for the long link below but it's a nice picture of Crown Point from Sunset magazine if curious.

post #6 of 47
For controlling angles I have had great success using a protractor to draw 11 degree, 15 degree and 20 degree triangles and then cut them out of cardboard. It only takes a short time and then I use it it check the angle I am holding my knife when I place it on the stone. I have no problem holding the knife at a consistent angle at all only knowing what exact angle I am using by looking. 
"Passion is in all great searches and is necessary to all creative endeavors." - W. Eugene Smith
"Passion is in all great searches and is necessary to all creative endeavors." - W. Eugene Smith
post #7 of 47
I have to sharpen the knives at school once a week (roughly speaking). We have a FURI sharpener and it makes it a lot quicker than using a stone. I like it for a couple of reasons: a) it's quick and easy to use and I have between 60-80 knives to sharpen a week, b) I don't have to pay a tonne of attention to the angle of the edge c) my year 12s are slowly getting used to being able to use it, and WH&S wise, it's a lot safer than say a steele or the stone. They're pretty cheap, but durable. I've had mine for a few years and I've had no complaints. You can even get them from Amazon these days. www.amazon.com/Furi-Ozitech-Diamond-Fingers-Sharpener/dp/B000F8SIOW
post #8 of 47
Just don't use a Furi sharpener with good knives.

post #9 of 47
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the good informaiton and ideas. I will get a set of stones sometime in the near future but today I got distracted and was out spending money on garden plants instead.

Mrs. Parkins At 60 to 80 knives a week your interest in time savings is very understantable. I've not run across the Furi sharpener, I'll have to take a look.

Edited by BCycler - 5/22/10 at 10:58am
post #10 of 47


You might want to at least take a look at the Scary Sharp system which uses silicon carbide "sandpaper", a sheet of glass, and a small jig to hold your knives at a selected angle.  It's primarily  for woodworkers tools, but works very well for kitchen knives with a knife-holding jig...








It doesn't just work "well" it works like crazy, and the cost is minimal.




travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
post #11 of 47

Most of the people I know (including me) who have sharpened kitchen knives on sandpaper, ala scary sharp, find it problematic -- especially with longer knives.  The biggest issue of all is most papers clog  too fast.  


Furthermore, sharpening "scary sharp" does nothing in terms of the single aspect of sharpening most beginners find most difficult -- that is, holding a constant angle You can (of course) use an angle holder but they really aren't consistent across knives of different widths nor are they consistent for knives with a lot of belly (arc), and they're very erratic with most tips.  


On the other hand, "scary sharp" lets you get to extremely fine grits relatively inexpensively.


Unfortunately, there's no easy, inexpensive, consistent, and efficient way to sharpen that will not mangle your knives.  Nor, for that matter, is there any single best way for everyone.



post #12 of 47
Thread Starter 

I've made a purchase and it's a compromise. I bought the DMT W6FP (fine) and the DMT W6EP (Extra Fine) Diamond whetstones along with a Woodstock 1000/6000 grit watestone.  They just came in today so nothing to report about usage. I know the fine is only suitable for basic profiling of a knife but I have some chisels to sharpen and it's reported to work well for flattening a waterstone.  


The extra fine diamond stone has good reviews on Amazon for general sharpening and as I don't own any really good or great knives it will let me practice without the expense of killing a waterstone.


When I get a reasonable edge I'll have the 6000 grit portion of the waterstone for finishing. The combo waterstone will let me compare the extra fine diamond stone against the 1000 grit part of the waterstone. Let the games begin :-)   

post #13 of 47
Thread Starter 

Well, after an hour of playing around and not getting very far I found the http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuOlGGl97dI   WesAtCarterCutlery video. It's amazing when you are shown something incorrectly how long it can propagate in your life.  After watching the video I found out... you draw the knife to you not push it against the stone and life started to get better. To me it seems to be significantly easier to keep a constant bevel drawing the knife.


I do like the waterstone better than the diamond stones but the "fine" diamond stone does work very well for lapping the waterstone. I also used the fine stone to profile out the end of a paring knife that used to have a kink in the tip. How much I'll use the extra fine diamond stone remains to be seen but it's still very early on in the process.


The end of the current evening's activities is I have some sharper knives, maybe not really sharp but I have exfoliated well and the underside of one arm is noticeably lacking in hair. After a slow start I'd call it a reasonable beginning.

post #14 of 47

There is simply no subsitution for water stones and practice.


With a good edge at a proper bevel created through proper sharpening, all that is required is a steeling of your knives every time you pick them up.


Sharpening by hand is an art form, and in my opinion is an essential skill for a cook.


Back when I was in cooking school, my instructor used to say "sharp knife, sharp student".

When I was an apprentice, my Chef used to check our knives whenever we used them... if they weren't sharp, we sharpened them until they were acceptable.

Now? I judge my cooks by the state of their blades.


No pride in the knife, no pride at the job.


There are several resources out there for knife sharpening. You can find many just through google.


There are "systems" that work, but like all things in life, when you do something by hand, your pride grows in relation. This is cooking... one of the basic trades with it's roots in simplicity. Keep it simple. Besides, sharpening my knives is a wonderful Zen experience.


Final note... sharpening cheap, crappy knives is simply an excercise in frustration.

post #15 of 47
Thread Starter 

I didn't take time to mention it last night but I was using a strong magnifying lens to look at the result of the blade after sharpening (it wrong) and could unhappily see the double bevel caused by the inconsistent angle. It gives an appreciation of how fine the point of the blade becomes and with the magnification used it was easy to see how imperfections in the steel of the blade will affect the final outcome. If you don't have good metallurgy you won't get a really sharp knife.


Regardless, unless you are a person of limitless means life is a series of compromises based in part on need. My needs as a home cook are not as demanding as the professional chef but I am sure over time I will upgrade some of the knives.


MikeLM thanks for the suggestion even though I didn't read it until after making the purchase. I've had other distractions for the last couple of weeks, including replacing the hard drive on this computer. I appreciate the input but think I would have still went the with buying the stones. From my perspective a jig would allow a nice constant angle for the shaft but for the angle to be consistent the jig would have to be clamped to the same exact spot each time the knife is sharpened (unless you made a jig for a specific knife) and the curve of the tip still has to be dealt with. Developing the art of sharpening seems a better option as it can be applied many places as needed.

Edited by BCycler - 5/22/10 at 10:56am
post #16 of 47

Forgive me, I was not trying to say that you have to run out and buy new knives... quite the contrary. I actually suggest practicing sharpening on "lesser" knives first... as long as they're not total garbage "housewife" knives to begin with (with apologies to the very many talented cooking housewives out there... it's simply an expression).


Once your confidence grows, those beautiful knives you always wanted don't look quite so intimidating.

post #17 of 47
Thread Starter 

No need to apologize, I didn't think otherwise. I was just saying that my knives aren't inspiring, the best I have is a couple of Tridents and a couple of Henckels and nothing very upscale in those.


Were you around when years ago PBS ran a series called Connections which traced the root of something modern back to it's inception.  My current adventure reminds me of that show. I'm here because a friends son came over to demo Cutco knives which renewed my interest in figuring out how to sharpen a knife well which led me Chefs Talk, resulting in buying a waterstone....and eventually a few new knives.


It's always eye opening when you really start to look into a topic. 


- Oh and on Mario Batali's Q-A response, I just bought the Splendid Table cookbook. I didn't see that one coming from a Cutco Demo!

Edited by BCycler - 5/26/10 at 9:56am
post #18 of 47
Thread Starter 

As I get drawn further into the morass, the urge to get a couple of knives grows. What I don't want to own, at least at this point is something so fragile I'll mess it up or something expensive (that of course being a relative term).


I'm looking at the Tojiro DP 210mm Gyuto and 120mm Petty knives. I've read some reviews about the DP series being pretty good value oriented knives.


I'm not looking for a life commitment, just a reasonably, inexpensive place to jump in. I can get both for a little over $120 including shipping. I'm happy to hear any thought on this direction. Thanks!

Edited by BCycler - 5/26/10 at 7:07pm
post #19 of 47
Thread Starter 

I pulled out the Henckles last night and took another run at sharpening. I bet that newbies like me provide a constant source of entertainment with all the mistakes we make.


I think I figured out that it doesn't make any difference which direction you stroke the knife as long as you do it well, with a consistent angle. During the several hour process I did have a lot of questions come to mind, i.e.


Should I drop back to the 1000 grit stone?

Should I be using more pressure or less pressure?

How many strokes does it take to bring back a neglected knife?

Is this really an aerobic exercise?

Will I have to start wearing shorts or become ambidextrous if I run out of hairs on my left arm?


At the end of the process, which is not yet complete I'm thinking even though I've managed to shave a few hairs my mind keeps going back to a review I read on the Tojiro DP this is a paraphrase, "I learned to brush food off the blade differently because I quickly found what the Tojiro touches, it cuts".


So the Henckles is sharper but not even close to sharp yet, how sharp can I actually get it?



I did write JCK last night to ask about the Tojiro DP and received an amazingly quick reply from Koki, especially considering the time of day...


Thank you very much for your inquiry and interest.

We apologize we don't carry and sell Tojiro items. About 3 or 4 years ago, we had to discontinue Tojiro items.


Anyone know why JCK stopped carrying Tojiro? Koki did make some other recommendations for knives in the $100 range which I've put in abbreviated form below.


JCK Original Kagayaki VG-10 Series at
High Quality Control, practical use,  stainless steel VG-10, famous for sharpness, edge retention and easier to resharpen.

Basic and classical design, we can also recomend Kagayaki Basic Series   VG-1 High
Carbon Stainless steel can make great sharpness and edge retention,


Misono's reasonable range Molybdenum Steel Serise

Amazingly sharpness and cutting performance, practical shape of Kanetsugu
Pro M Series


So many choices, so little to spend.



post #20 of 47



I pulled out the Henckles last night and took another run at sharpening. I bet that newbies like me provide a constant source of entertainment with all the mistakes we make.

Yes.  You are.


I think I figured out that it doesn't make any difference which direction you stroke the knife as long as you do it well, with a consistent angle.

Right, by and large.  The limitiation is there because there are few, if any, absolutes.


Should I drop back to the 1000 grit stone?

As a general rule, if you notice a problem, the solution generally lies at least one stone coarser.  Most sharpening errors result from an uneven bevel with high and low spots.  If you aren't already using "the Magic Marker Trick," you should be.  


Should I be using more pressure or less pressure?

Beginning sharpeners should use no more than light to moderate pressure on the coarse stones and no more than light pressure on their finer stones.   Later, you may want to use more pressure and a faster stroke rate.


How many strokes does it take to bring back a neglected knife?

Depends on the stones, the sharpener and the knife.  I can take most knives from very dull to very sharp in about fifteen minutes if they're not badly damaged or don't present any other special challenges.  I sharpen very fast, and use short and back and forth strokes for profiling and sharpening.  I'm use slower longer strokes when polishing.  I'm not sure how many strokes that would represent.  


So the Henckles is sharper but not even close to sharp yet, how sharp can I actually get it?

Much sharper than it came from the box; but there are limits to the edge you can put on German stainless.  Considering that you haven't been sharpening all that long, I doubt you've reached them.



post #21 of 47
Thread Starter 



I have read many of your reviews, some on other forums and I've yet to encounter an instance where you weren't helpful, insightful and well written, so as many before me have said, thank you for providing the benefits of your experience.


I've found what you've written about the Tojiro DP, how the handle is a little boxy but if purchased at the right price point it is a good value and how you prefer the MAC Pro. It seems both are on the harder side and may be a little more prone to chipping than some. I guess at this point in my education I'd rather take my chance with the $70 Tojiro than the $120 MAC. lt also allows me the luxury of buying the petty knife.


I own a bike much like the Tojiro, I equate it to being the lower end of the good stuff. I've had it for 4 years put over 16,000 miles on it and based on use could have made a case for spending more. There is pride that goes with owning some of the best equipment but there is also satisfaction in buying value suited to use, well not to mention the practical application of having the money to spend elsewhere. My bike gives me 90% of the value of equipment easily costing twice as much.


If I spent the time you do with a knife or was in the culinary arts, I'd buy the Mac in a heart beat. If I was a racer I would have spent the extra money on the bike. I think that the Tojiro will be such a step up that I will be quite happy for some time.

post #22 of 47
Thread Starter 

Going back over this reminded me of another question I wanted to ask, how far do you push a Chefs Knife? By that I mean, I know you don't get near frozen food or real bone, but are they acceptable for cutting up a chicken where the bones are less dense than beef?


Are there other chef knives than the Tojiro DP that would be better suited to general tasks including cutting up a chicken?  That could change my opinion on the DP, as neglecting to spend a few extra dollars to get a knife best suited to tasks would be a regretful use of money.


I can use the Henckles for tougher jobs but would still like some flexibility is the use of a new knife.  

post #23 of 47

The Tojiro DP is a decent, entry level Japanese Chef's knife.  It's not the best by any means, and probably not even the best deal.


If you're going to do a lot of heavy duty tasks involving cartilage and poultry bones,  you'll want some sort of heavy duty knife.  Ordinary, high quality Euros such as Wusthofs or Henckels are up to the task, as long as they're given a fairly obtuse edge.  Forschners chef's knives are a little problematic because they're pretty light.  I use an ordinary, 12" K-Sabatier au carbone as my "chef de chef." 


One of the drawbacks to Japanese made knives is that they're both lighter and hardend in such a way that the "strength" alloy is favored over "toughness."  In practice that means that a Japanese knife might chip at the edge when a western knife would only deform; and that when a Japanese knife does deform, it doesn't "steel" back into shape as easily.  When it comes to Japanese made knives, you'll probably want something special -- along the lines of a "western deba" or maybe a garasuke. 


Tojiro DPs used to have a reputation for being slightly over-hardened and consequently prone to chip.  They were also marginal when it came to steeling.  At a guess, DPs are one of the sources of the myth that Japanese knives cannot be steeled.  Back to the topic, it's my understanding that they've made some subtle improvements to the line over the years and that the alloy is lightly tougher now.  Still, I wouldn't use one frequently for heavy duty use.



post #24 of 47
Thread Starter 

Steels, while I do a double take on my knife choices I figure I should review my ability to care for the knives.

I have a old ceramic steel with no makings of any kind on, it feels fine grained but probably best to not take the chance and buy the Idahone fine.


The other is a JA Henckels Soligen that has a fine ribbed structure. I've read not to use true steels on Japanese knives (though that may be brand dependent) and as I've read various opinions on do/don't use ribbed steels. Thanks for any comments!


I have a 1000 / 6000 waterstone so should be OK there but wouldn't use it on a new knife until I had more practice.





post #25 of 47

The ceramic you have actually appears to be an Idahone -- or something very similar.  It needs cleaning -- Idahone sells an "eraser" and I think Japanese Knife Sharpening carries it.  At least they used to.  In the meantime, wash the rod with soap or a mild abrasive and a mildly abrasive rag or sponge like a Scotch Brite.


There's any need to buy a new ceramic hone unless the current one is too short or is scuffing up your knives.


I actually use two rods.  One, a HandAmerican borosilicate (glass) is an "ultra-fine;" it's so fine, you might as well call it smooth.  I use it when the knives are still fairly fresh from the stones and the edge has deformed but not worn down at all.  When the glass hone no longer gives me the results I want I switch to an old Henckles -- much like yours but worn down somewhat smoother.


MACs aren't hardened to a high enough degree that you have to worry about hurting them with a steel (as long as you steel properly and don't clang the knife against the rod).  You may certainly steel a MAC as long as you haven't made the edge highly asymmetrical.




post #26 of 47
Thread Starter 

Lol, that was after cleaning with a scotch brite! When I went looking for the Idahone I saw the eraser and plan on getting one though I've temporarily suspended the knife purchase due to information overload.


I'm sure there are a dozen knives that I could buy and be happy with but sometimes it's good to step back and re-evaluate before committing. I suffer from engineering analysis decision making mentality disorder anyway and it gets worse when the purchases involve subjective values.

Edited by BCycler - 6/3/10 at 11:02am
post #27 of 47



I'm sure there are a dozen knives that I could buy and be happy with but sometimes it's good to step back and re-evaluate before committing. I suffer from engineering analysis decision making mentality disorder anyway and it gets worse when the purchases involve subjective values.


Beautifully put.  By the way, your bicycle comparison is pretty good too.  At least I found it illuminating.


Perhaps the best way to deal with "paralysis by analysis" is arriving at a position where all of the choices but the very good ones have been eliminated, and raise your awareness to the point that you understand there is no one, "best" choice.  Whatever torments of the damned you go through then are just part of the fun. 


So far you've been the one suggesting manufacturers' lines and models.  Maybe if you told us something more about what you want and how much you're willing to spend ...  MAC Pro isn't the only recommendation I make, y'know. 


Nor is Tojiro the only alternative.  Some other good entry level knives are Misono Moly, Kakayagi VG-10, Togiharu Inox to name a few. 


As to MAC Pro, I really like their chef's knives for a lot of reasons for a lot of people.  But not only isn't it a knife I own, it isn't the knife I'd choose for myself even if I were looking for a western handled, stainless knife in that price range.  FWIW, that would most probably be a Masamoto VG or possibly a Sakai Takayuki Grand Cheff.  Let me spend a few more bucks (which I would certainly spend), and it would be a Tadatsuna.


The larger truth is that I'd be very happy using any of the named knives, including the MAC Pro.


MAC Pro has a few outstanding qualities which make it an easy recommendation -- great handle, easy to sharpen, doesn't chip easily, good agility, good "feedback," and so on.  But it's outstanding characteristic for people new to high quality, Japanese knives is its stiffness. 


The overarching concept is that just as there are a lot of very good choices, there are a lot of nuances. 


The more we know about you, the better we can help you narrow it down to the set of knives that would suit you very well indeed.



post #28 of 47
Thread Starter 



It may seem like I'm making the suggestions but I've tracked your comments (and others) across so many continents that I feel like Philias Fogg. I've reduced them down into what I thought were the best sauces and tried to judge from there.


I am not and never will be a food industry professional, unless by the most bizarre twist of fate. Like many folks I really appreciate equipment that works well and I will buy the best (or something close to it) if that's what the situation calls for but I'm much more about function than aesthetics, so my best is heavily waited toward function. Aesthetics are the icing on the cake, nice to have if you can get them reasonably as part of the package. Sometimes it's a precious waste of money to buy the best, there are tools which are best left in the hands of professionals.


All I'm looking for is to replace a few of the poor knives in the collection with good working knives that function well, hold an edge and that eventually that I will be able to properly sharpen after much practice on the run of the mill pieces.


To my mind the two most likely candidates would be a Chef's knife and paring, or a petty knife (on the shorter side). I would lean more towards a general purpose Chef's knife. I have the Henckels for the heavier tasks but still I wouldn't want something so fragile that the prospect of separating a piece or two of chicken would cause horror to race through my mind (for fear of damaging the knife). If I absolutely have to make that hard line use distinction I can but it wouldn't be my first preference.


Other wise the main uses will be for cutting up vegetables, there's only the wife and myself at home and we eat lots of salads, a fair amount of chicken and the odds and ends of meat that make it across the table every now and then.


Since routinely it's just the two of use, I'm leaning towards the 210mm Chef Knife as the 8" blade seems adequate for general purpose use. I can see the 240mm for some of the things I do but usually it's breaking down a few carrots and an onion, peppers and not in quantity.


Regardless I think part of the joy in anything is owning something that you look forward to using.



post #29 of 47
Thread Starter 

About the joy in owning items that work right, somewhere along the way, or in another topic I've posted we recently bought a Samsung electric range that has a convection oven.


There are times when I do minimize the value of equipment, boy have I ever been wrong. We fixed a small turkey tonight with no prep (other than rinsing), tossed into a pan uncovered, inserted an electronic thermometer and placed in the oven on convection roast. 2 1/2 hours later out came a golden brown, moist, tender, turkey the best we've ever fixed including the ones I've brined. The meat came out perfect.


Unlike the regular over there was little extra run up in temperature. I turned the oven off when the bird hit 175 and the resting temperature maxed out at 178. The only negative is I have to buy a bigger drip pan now, too much grease splatter from using a regular pan. Sorry for going off topic but I'm a little giddy at the moment! 

post #30 of 47



First of all, I entirely agree with you about function over form. Of the kitchen-knife-enthusiast community's various topics, the one that means nothing to me is the aesthetics. Some people get very excited about "Damascus" lines, hammered finish, black steel, whatever. I want utility. I get really weirded out by the intricacies about handles -- I just want them not to fall off, and to have an appropriate weight for the knife.


Second, you really need to kick back, breathe, and have a couple cold ones. This isn't rocket science. More to the point, a decent knife used for purposes within its intended range, without grotesquely bad technique, does not need to be treated like it's made of glass. That goes for both cutting and sharpening. The only serious knife style I know of that must be treated with kid gloves is the usuba, and I assure you that you not want one of those anyway. A chef's knife that is not a piece of junk will not respond badly to strong usage, and since you already have a Henckels to use as what I call a "brutality knife," you're in the clear.


The principal issue is money. The Masamoto KS wa-gyuto I have is very expensive, and even BDL admits it's right up at the top of the list among truly great chef's knives. But you don't need to spend that kind of money to get a great knife. Every one of the knives BDL has suggested, here and elsewhere, is a good knife. A few are known to be idiosyncratic, particularly the Tojiro, which seems to have a kind of love-it-or-hate-it thing going on. So I'd pass on it for that reason -- what if you hate it?


Once you have the knife, don't do this thing everyone does about sharpening, where you plan to practice and practice on your old beaters until you know enough to approach the Good Stuff. Beaters can be very difficult and awkward to sharpen, teaching you bad habits. You've got a good knife, sharpen it and stop worrying. Use a decent-quality medium-fine stone, and a good rod for honing if that's what you like, and don't put a lot of force into it. Go slow, pay attention to what you're doing, and it will be fine. If you later on decide you don't like the bevel on the knife, because of your sharpening or the way it was initially ground, go ahead and put a new one on it. Takes some time, but it's not especially difficult. Decent, effective sharpening is easy, and don't let the enthusiasts and occasional fanatics tell you otherwise.


What's the worst that can happen? You break the tip or put in a big old chip. You know what? It can be fixed. Sure, the knife will lose something in the process, but it can be fixed. Got some micro-chipping? Fine, just plan to spend half an hour sharpening instead of the usual 10 minutes and it'll go away.


As the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy put it, "Don't Panic!"

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