jon_banquer fired this volley in news:d0d5bc49- email@example.com:
It's a sign that the edge angle is too acute. A really acute angle can be sharpened to razor sharpness, but because it's so thin, it rapidly dulls.
A kitchen knife edge should be beveled about 20 degrees (for a start) to be both sharp and long-lasting. The metal may cause you to make it more or less acute. I sharpen my carbon steel kitchen knives (which I prefer over stainless) to about 28-30 degrees. I also do not steel them unless cutting vegetables; steeling makes the edge very sharp, but also very smooth. For meat, the slightly rough wire edge left by abrasive sharpening makes them cut faster and more cleanly. Being a _deeply_serious_ barbeque-er, meat slicing is my primary use.
The kitchen knife that won't hold an edge is stainless. I'm sharpening it with a bench stone holding it at 20 degrees. If all stainless knifes act like this cheap one does I can understand why your prefer carbon steel. I am cutting vegetables and all I cut are vegetables. See my posts on juicing. After getting the cheap stainless knife so sharp that I can cut the hair off my arm it becomes dull after just one prep for juicing. Do you think steeling the knife would make the edge last longer or just make it sharper?
Some stainless grades are the equivalent of tomato can steel, won't take or hold an edge at all. If it's non-magnetic, use it as a butter knife, it's not slicing anything tougher. Magnetic grades of stainless will hold an edge, if hardened. Have run across some of that, too, with cheap imports, stainless, but not hardened. You can get a wire edge that's sharp but will break off when you make your first cut with it, too. That's usually an indication of too much time on the stone and too little angle on the edge for the blade steel quality.
A steel is just a round file that raises small teeth on the edge, kind of like a serrated knife edge. Works great for meat and soft stuff, the "teeth" break off easily, so rinse and repeat. And do it AWAY from the food, nothing bugs me worse than some jerk steeling his knife over the roast at a restaurant. Don't care for a side order of steel filings, thank you.
You can check how sharp an edge is by passing it over a thumbnail, that'll also remove a wire edge. Nicks and dull spots are readily perceptible. Never understood why folks use the ball of their thumb when checking how sharp it is. Guaranteed bandaid time with anything but a butter knife.
All the folks had when I was growing up was carbon steel knives, came out of the Rath packing plant where my uncle worked, all Chicago Cutlery. They were wiped off, not soaked in dish water, and lived on a magnetic holder on the wall. They weren't mirror finished and were cheap, eventually picked up that brownish patina that exposed carbon steel gets. But they cut and kept cutting. Still have some. They were used until there was a not too useful stub left.
If you want a good cheap kitchen knife, in stainless, the Ace hardware stores around here have Tremontina(sp?) knives, come from South America, have hardwood handles and very good steel. Don't think any of them are more than $5. Have several paring knives of various sizes, they hold up well and the handles hold up well with washing. Their steak knives are good, too.
Those wooden knife block sets with slots look good, but they're breeding grounds for bacteria in the holes. Nice warm wet areas with food particles. That's why I like the magnetic holders. Not as neat, but the edges don't get dulled and you don't get food poisoning that way. Way better than sticking them loose in a drawer, too.
Save your valuable stock, and check out cleavers at oriental markets. The cutlers of China, Japan, Indonesia are putting out some very nice goods. German/French/Swiss for carving knives, but pacific rim for cleavers.
And speaking of O1 and sharp knives, I have a piece of 1/2" O1 drill rod th at I use instead of an "official" steel. It works quite well and often revi ves an edge that has gone wimpy in the middle of preparing a meal. I find I can do this three or four times before having to pull out the stones. I us e DMT red (and sometimes green) bench "stones," or for a quick touch-up, a chef's choice 100
which does pretty well, but I still like to do it manually - there's something relaxing about it.