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Knives for Keen Home Kithchen Cook
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beamer



Joined: 19 May 2008
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 2:37 pm    Post subject: Knives for Keen Home Kithchen Cook Reply with quote

Forgive me if i have intruded on a profesionally oriented site but i would value some expert advice.
As a very keen home cook i am extremely displeased at the quality of knives available in homeware shops. After a fair bit of research on the many advice forums for chefs i decided to order a few Victorinox knives (chefs, paring and boning).
Considering that i am not using them in a professional capacity would this be enough to cover most of the cutting i would encounter? Otherwise would their be a minimum number and type of knives anyone would recomend to this end?
Also i have just found a huge article on another forum about maintenance of knives, does anyone have advice on best type of sharpener to use bearing in mind how little use (compared to professional chefs) they would have.
Thanks in advance for your replies
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1024
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Beamer -

as to assortment, I personally find the boning knife indispensable - that because I am fond of buying meat "bone in" - if you seldom go there, it might not be as useful in your routines. That said, for years I attempted to convince a acquaintance they should have a boning knife. finally they got one with the reaction "wow, and where has this boning knife been all my life?" - for it's purpose, it is 'the tool'

an 8" chef and 8" slicer are two good starting points.

paring knives / sizes as you see fit - I'd start with a 4" paring

a serrated blade - ala bread knife or tomato or 'utility' is also a handy one

as to brand, gosh everyone has their favorite. frankly I think any of the top brands will perform very well - what I always tell people is to make sure the handle(s) fit your hand. if you have a small hand with short fingers, those "neo-modern" big fat round handles may look cool, but may not be 'comfortable' in your hand to work.

for sharpening, take a deep breath and don't believe all the hype you read. sharpening a knife ain't rocket science. two smidgens of practice and you'll have it down pat.

_do not_ go for anything "electric" to sharpen your knives.

I use a tri-sided woodworking stone - altho I never use the coarse stone.
2-3 swipes on medium, 3-4 on the fine stone, couple swipes on the steel (you need a steel for everyday edge maintenance) and it's done. the whole trick is to know / learn what a 15 degree angle is - after that, it's really easy.

I sharpen my batch on the stone twice a year - pre-4th of July and pre-Christmas turkey. I use the steel in-between and it seems to work for me.
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beamer



Joined: 19 May 2008
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that quick reply. im in the right ballpark by the sounds of it Smile

Sizes are a little different though, Ive ordered a 10" Chef knife and a 3" paring knife. As for the boning knife there are so many different styles, is there one which is a general purpose? (boning/sticking,5/6/7",curved/straight,narrow/wide,flexible/rigid)
Whew! thats a lot of options for a novice lol
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SirShazar



Joined: 30 Jul 2007
Posts: 89

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For home use, I'd say the basic boning knife is 6 inches, straight, narrow, and rigid. Sticking knives have a dagger-like edge (sharp on both sides) and are used to bleed animals, probably not what you're looking for. The longer flexible knives are often meant for filleting fish. I'm not sure about the curved knives, but I think they're specifically designed to cut the membrane between the muscles on large cuts of beef.

I have yet to need a boning knife since the only thing I bone is whole chicken, and I use a Chinese cleaver to do that. I think that for now you should be fine with what you have.

For sharpening, I would get a King 1k/6k waterstone, and learn to free-hand sharpen. It takes time to learn, but it's well worth it.
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beamer



Joined: 19 May 2008
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ive read in several places what your saying about the waterstone being the thing to go with but it seems to be a tool for serious one off sharpening. It seems that everyday sharpening is better done using a diamond steel. Would this be the correct way to go?
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1024
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a 10, an 8 and a 6 inch chef.

the 6 is my fav, but if you going to chop say 3-4 stalks of celery or 3 carrots, the 6" is too short and the 8" works better. a 10" knife is a big item - I find it's use limited to stuff like cutting acorn / winter squash, watermelons, . . . really big stuff where you need a long but very rigid blade to avoid slips / bends / oops'ings off a finger.

I personally would not recommend a 10" chef for "general all around"

boning - six inch is good - straight is my preference - a boning knife must be stiff but flexible.

sharpening:

there is a difference between steeling and sharpening
..."diamond steel" - did you mean a diamond rod type sharpener?
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SirShazar



Joined: 30 Jul 2007
Posts: 89

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2008 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beamer wrote:
Ive read in several places what your saying about the waterstone being the thing to go with but it seems to be a tool for serious one off sharpening. It seems that everyday sharpening is better done using a diamond steel. Would this be the correct way to go?


Actually, most professional cooks don't know how to properly sharpen their knives, so they either do it wrong or send them out to be sharpened. Don't be afraid of sharpening. I once thought that the only way I could get my knives back to their original factory sharpness was to take them to a professional sharpener. I wasn't very good at sharpening at first (due to a lack of good learning resources), but now I've gotten so good that I can easily get any knife sharper than it came.

Investing in sharpening equipment is a good return investment, since anything with an edge eventually gets dull (scissors, pocket knives, garden shears, chisels).

I'm not a fan of steels, since they can only restore an edge (not to it's full capacity), but won't really sharpen the knife. With a waterstone you can repair, restore, and improve an edge.
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beamer



Joined: 19 May 2008
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok i take your point with the chef knife being a bit big but will have to go with it for now bearing in mind i wont be using it for hours on end .. if i find it clumsy i will just have to order a smaller one. I will take the advice on the boning knife.
As for the diamond steel, having never done any sharpening im not exactly sure what types are available but when i read about them i imagined the rod type. I found a very good looking article on another forum on knife maintenance but not sure whether i could post a link here to share it with you good people.
On this theme of knife types, i just had a wee thought that it might be nice if some clever/kind soul would put together a chart detailing knife types, subtypes and applications. Just for us thick amatuers who are starting out Big smile
Thanks for all your help up to now.
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 355
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dilbert wrote:
I have a 10, an 8 and a 6 inch chef.

the 6 is my fav, but if you going to chop say 3-4 stalks of celery or 3 carrots, the 6" is too short and the 8" works better. a 10" knife is a big item - I find it's use limited to stuff like cutting acorn / winter squash, watermelons, . . . really big stuff where you need a long but very rigid blade to avoid slips / bends / oops'ings off a finger.

I personally would not recommend a 10" chef for "general all around"

boning - six inch is good - straight is my preference - a boning knife must be stiff but flexible.

sharpening:

there is a difference between steeling and sharpening
..."diamond steel" - did you mean a diamond rod type sharpener?


Once again it looks as though I'm the freak of the lot. For most kitchen tasks I rarely use anything smaller than a 12". Years ago was told by a knife collector and accomplished cook that I should practice with the larger ones, get my skills down and I'd be glad I did down the road. But I think he was more of those types of cooks that just plain enjoyed using a sword to cook with, that's all that was. Even when peeling garlic, 10" to 13". FREAK !!!

xo
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1024
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

...link...

don't know that we're so "hung up" here that good info is suppressed, so if you found something feel free to share it.

there is a link somewhere - thought I had it saved - to a site with excellent sharpening info / theory / techniques. I'll have to go looking.....

but here's the bottom line:

to sharpen a knife one rubs the steel against an abrasive that is harder than steel, removing minute quantities of metal resulting in a pointy edge.

two major divisions of "rubbing"
(1) perpendicular to the edge (stones)
(2) lengthwise "with" the edge - rods, V-gadgets, etc

I prefer (1) because it creates micro-serrations which I think makes the knife "more sharper" - but there is debate on which is better and the wherefores and whyases thereto.

once one has a properly shaped 'edge' it will stand up to a lot of cutting. one can spout Rockwell hardness and diamond impression numbers until one is purple faced, raw beef/chicken/shrimp/liver/ect does not have a lot of abrasion effect on cold hard steel.

what does happen is the knife hits bone, cutting board, wandering fingers, blood-soaked band aides . . . . and that really fine pointy edge "rolls over"

now folks, we're talking geometry on the micron scale.

a steel - often cited as "does not remove metal" - basically bends the _really_ pointy part of the knife back to "straight"

I've seen posting that only a smooth glass "steel" should be used. There's debate over grooved vs. granular (diamond/ceramic) steels are "better"

I have a traditional longitudinally grooved steel. the thought that it removes no metal is el bunko - I steel a knife, wipe the knife edge with a clean white cloth, there's a veddy veddy fine deposit of swarf/metal particles there.

works great. the basic cutting geometry is established by sharpening on a stone, the steel tweaks the edge back to "really sharp"

I have pulled out a knife, started cross-grain slicing down a steak for stir fry - not happy, steeled it, works without effort / works cleanly.

so steeling a knife is imho essential to daily use/function.
but a "steel" is not a diamond studded rod sharpener.
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 355
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dilbert wrote:
so steeling a knife is imho essential to daily use/function.
but a "steel" is not a diamond studded rod sharpener.


Yeah, I think I'd take that imho out of there, it IS essential. And as far as the diamond studded rod sharpener I think we'd need to contact Tom Jones for that one.

Here's a bad snapshot of the knives to the left of my stove. I had another row, but bought a larger vent hood and lost it. The knives are still in a basket.



I have 4 steels that I use, while I don't know the chemistry behind them, I do know what they do to my knives. They have varying degrees of coarse or smooth grinds. Each one of those knives has varying degrees of condition on the edges. So, if I should really be sharpening the sucker, I'll use the rough one and get me a nicer edge, then use the one that feels like smooth metal to hone it to a razors edge. I do have a few modern knives, but they are on a wall rack under an opposite cabinet.

The one in the center my father made in the boy scouts back in the 40's with some "knife blade" and a piece of bone.

Biggles

ps - Oh, and the can of soup holding up my salt bowl is an Iguana Soup from El Salvador.
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SirShazar



Joined: 30 Jul 2007
Posts: 89

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beamer wrote:
On this theme of knife types, i just had a wee thought that it might be nice if some clever/kind soul would put together a chart detailing knife types, subtypes and applications. Just for us thick amatuers who are starting out Big smile
Thanks for all your help up to now.


Why certainly:
http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/showtopic.php?tid/809833/

If you scroll down you'll find a list named Western Knife Styles.
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1024
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

....... For most kitchen tasks I rarely use anything smaller than a 12".

holy cow!
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 355
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dilbert wrote:
....... For most kitchen tasks I rarely use anything smaller than a 12".

holy cow!


Awww, it's fun. Plus for many things, it's far easier. The weight of the knife, coupled with a good edge, makes breaking down root vegetables so much easier. And I can still finely slice a murshroom with ease.

I suppose if I was going through boxes of onions a day I might change my mind. But I'm not.

Biggles
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buzzard767



Joined: 30 Jan 2008
Posts: 21

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dilbert wrote:

I've seen posting that only a smooth glass "steel" should be used. There's debate over grooved vs. granular (diamond/ceramic) steels are "better"



What kind of steel should be used depends on the blade steel and the intended purpose. Steels that come with knife blocks are nothing more than files and the resulting edge when viewed under magnification looks like the Himalayas. However, it works for butchers and meat packing plant employees who often use nothing but a steel to sharpen their knives.

An ungrooved glass smooth steel is an excellent tool for realigning rolled edges on soft steel. This will work for awhile until the metal becomes fatigued and breaks off. At this time the blade must be resharpened - on stones.

On hard steels as those found on most Japanese knives use either a ceramic steel or one of the new microgrooved borosilicate glass steels. I prefer the latter as it also works quite well on softer steels. The use of these steels merely extends the time between required sharpening sessions when the blade must be reprofiled and a new edge applied.
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