The Sharpest Knife in the Kitchen – On the House

The Sharpest Knife in the Kitchen

By on December 12, 2016

You might be familiar with the old cliché, “a job worth doing is worth doing well.” In home improvement as is with life in general, having the right tools has a great deal to do with doing a job. While the way in which a tool is used has significant impact finished product, the quality and condition of the tool has equal influence.

Tools that dull, broken or simply not suited for the job can make the task more difficult and produce a less-than-desired result. Furthermore, poorly maintained tools, especially cutting tools, can be the cause of serious injuries.

One such cutting tool is a knife. Whereas a knife can be used in the workshop, for sport use or other hobbies the most frequent use of knives is in the kitchen. It also happens to be the place where they are the least cared for. Hunters, fishermen and serious home improvers take great pride in keeping their cutting tools in stellar condition.

Your everyday run-of-the-mill homemaker (this is any adult who cooks) expects the knife to perform miracles and will do little more than wash it. These are the same folks who spend hours in the kitchen preparing culinary delights only to unintentionally massacre them with a dull knife. A Sharp knife made of quality materials like at imarku is a key factor for an easy kitchen.

One really can’t appreciate the innumerable benefits and veritable satisfaction experienced when using a razor sharp knife. It can make a world of difference when carving the turkey at Thanksgiving or slicing ham during the holidays. Some go so far as to say that the meal even tastes better although this can’t be documented.

So, if you’re tired of crumbling turkey, ham that looks more like spam and sore shoulders…sharpen your dull cutlery.

All knives are not created equal. Most knives are made of carbon steel. They hold an edge wee, but they are also tough to care for. When washed, if they are not promptly dried they will easily stain. On the other hand they are the easiest knives to sharpen.

Knives constructed of stainless steel are easiest to care for. They are unbelievably wear resistant and the chromium in their steel makes them virtually rust and stain resistant. In contrast to a carbon steel knife, the stainless steel knife is the hardest to sharpen due to its excellent wear resistance.

Always on the cutting edge (no pun intended), knife manufacturers have combined beauty with function to come up with a steel alloy known as high-carbon stainless steel. These “knives of the future” combine the sharpening properties of carbon steel with the stain-resistant qualities of stainless steel.

Simply stated, sharpening a knife involves grinding the steel blade against something abrasive like a sharpening stone. While there are a myriad of sharpening devices on the market, the most effective sharpening device is the “whetstone.” A whetstone is an abrasive block make from natural stone, such as Arkansas or Washita. Some whetstones are made from manufactured materials such as ceramic, aluminum oxide or carbonium.

Just as with sandpaper, whetstones are made with varying degrees of abrasive’s. The smaller the abrasive material, the finer the stone, the smoother the finish.

A whetstone works best when lubricated with a touch of light grade machine oil or water. Some stones work properly only when used with water. The lubricant acts to carry away metal particles as they are remove from the surface of the knife. The lubricant also helps to suspend these particles to prevent them from being ground into the stones’ surface. Don’t be greedy when using the lubricant. It can make all the difference in the finished product.

Knife sharpening is a lot like sanding wood. You start out with a coarse paper and complete the job with fine paper. Consequently, start the sharpening process using a stone with a coarse surface and repeat the process on a stone with a fine surface. Separate stones can be used for each phase, however, a combination stone (one with both surfaces) is less expensive than having two stones. When using a combination stone, be careful not to confuse the two sides since they will both smooth. Test for abrasiveness by running your thumb across the surface.

A few essentials when knife sharpening are above average light, eye protection and a location where metal particles won’t contaminate food. Start by placing the whetstone on a stable surface with its end facing you and lubricate the stone with oil or water. You need to continue to add lubricant periodically during the sharpening process.

Lay the heel of the blade flat on the stone with the edge of the knife facing you. The spline of the knife should be slightly raised so that the angle between the blade and the stone is about fifteen degrees.

Gently draw the blade across the stone, making several passes moving it from the heel toward the tip as you go. Be careful to catch the entire length of the blade. Next, switching hands, do the other edge, always making sure to draw the blade toward you. Periodically wipe the blade with a clean soft cloth or paper towel, and have a close look at your progress under ample light.

Don’t expect to be a pro right off the bat. It takes practice. With time and a bit of patience you’ll find that holding the correct angle will become easier and the back and forth motion will become natural. Chances are that you’ll not only become faster as time goes on, you’ll also do a better job.

The final step involves removing the waste metal from which created when sharpening, but is not ground off during the process. These particles are wire-like burrs along the knife’s edge. Although they are not readily visible to the eye, this is appropriately known as the “wire edge.” This wire edge must be removed in order for the knife to be truly sharp.

The tool that’s most commonly used to remove this wire edge is called a “steel” or steel honing rod. These are generally available at most department stores and can surely be found and fine cutlery shops. Only use a steel with a secure handle which is protect by a guard to avoid injury.

Just as with the whetstone, the angle between the blade and the rod should be maintained at about fifteen degrees. Beginning at the blade’s heel, draw the knife along the rod toward the handle, maintaining a steady, gentle pressure. Flip the blade over and repeat the process.

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