Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Knife Sharpening Essentials
SFGate reports: [edited]
Eric E. Weiss sharpens knives for restaurants and caterers, and operates a booth at three weekly farmers' markets...
"I sharpen knives in two ways, one freehand and one with a jig that I've modified to suit my needs. A jig holds the knife like a clamp and it's attached to my table. It's like having a third hand, especially helpful with big knives."
"You should definitely be using a sharpening steel - the tool that comes with any knife set - every time you're done with your knife. Hold it straight up and down on your table. Start from the heel or the guard, depending on your knife, and draw it straight down at a 25-degree angle. Two or three times either side is all you need. More than that, you start removing your edge."
"Dishwashers are my No. 1 nemesis. People seem to think that any knife can be put in a dishwasher. But in fact it's like sandblasting your car in order to clean it. The knife is banging against the basket, getting chips, nicks, dents, dings. And if the knife has any sort of quality steel to it, the dishwasher can remove the edge in two, three washings."
"Some people think dull knives are better than sharp knives because they're safer. Wrong! You're pushing and exerting much more pressure on a dull knife. So when you finally break loose, in most cases, your fingers are in the way. A sharp knife will give you a clean cut. Skin cut from a dull knife is essentially torn skin and takes longer to heal."
"People ask me, "How complicated can it be, sharpening a knife?" As complicated as it is to build a good car! That's an exaggeration, but meaningful. Metallurgy has come so far just in the last 20 years that, compared to what used to be three, maybe four types of basic metals used, now there are 50-plus metals used for knives."