• Never buy an expensive knife you can’t handle.  Ask the clerk to open the package.  Your hand will tell you if a knife feels cheap, doesn’t fit, bad balance, and trust your instinct.  How they cut is another story. If the blade bends, slips, or is inadequate for your size hand or grip, pass, look at another.  Bent blades are an accident looking for a place to happen and ER rooms and stitches are expensive. 
  • If I had to survive on one knife, I would select a 8 inch chefs knife.  Look for a slight curved edge on the blade for dicing and chopping as the curve and the rocking motion of the blade is the key to chopping. For slicing and other delicate cuts a straight blade is better and should be longer.    A Santoku is great in that respect.  The weight should be equally balanced between the handle and blade in most applications, cleavers are different. 
  • For the frugal,  I did not say cheap,  everyday shopper the knife of choice by many in a Chefs knife style is the Victorinox, the parent company of Forschner. This knife is a favorite of the gang at Cook’s Illustrated and was recommended over many others costing a lot, as much as five times more.  It is my everyday go-to knife, light fast and holds an edge.
  • Lightning fast and goes through anything, stays sharp, steels quick.  The right blend for the right price usually around or under forty dollars. I found two in a store closing new for $22.00 and grabbed them.
  • It is and I have quite a collection, it is for short orders my everyday go to knife. Light, no slip handle, and kept sharp with a minimum of effort.  In ten years everyday I have never re-edged the blade, just a steel and always washed and dried by hand never the dishwasher, the scourge of knives. It’s going on eleven years gets used three or more times a day and never reground.

Sharp Out Of The Box  - Sometimes  —  All knives generally are shipped sharp.  Most can be sharpened further.  Many of the cheaper steels will dull faster than those made with better metals. It's called holding an edge. 

  • Many started out sharp enough to slice an unripe tomato. After a week or so they smash the tomato and your sandwiches look like they were made in a blender. 
  • A good knife in some cases is about as good as the person sharpening them. Thats why it is in the curriculum of the first week in most culinary schools.  The three elements of cooking tools are the knives, pots and pans, and gadgets.  The three elements of cooking are prep, cooking control of equipment and presentation. I call it the three ‘C’s cutting cookware and contraptions. The third elements of cooking are the oven, chillers, and stove tops.  
  • Handles are another “ one of contention". Polished plastic and smooth finishes become dangerously slick when used on or cutting chicken.  I learned with a Chinese style cleaver.  So I like a larger knife with a textured grip and some weight when cooking chicken parts for twenty people. The handle should also keep your fingers off the cutting board.  
  • Tramontina from Brazil make some inexpensive commercial restaurant white handle Santoku, Chef and Boning knives for commercial use and are available at Costco,  and copy cat knockoffs from SAMS Club but the Costco when in stock are tougher. Sam’s is Chinese, look on the handle base for Brazil, thats the good steel from the Tramontina company. The Sam’s house brand is not as good —  period.
  • One-piece stainless knives with integrated handles look like an accident looking for a home. I do not like them. I own both bolstered Western and Eastern style knives. The two most dangerous things in a kitchen are dull knives and the mandolins when in the hands of an incompetent. 
  • Admittedly the Mandolin reigns supreme in the annals of medical treatments for cooks and chefs some delivering job ending cuts hard to heal.  There are safety gloves made to be used with the mandolin.  The cheap ones are worthless. 

Sidebar  —  Emergency rooms are great places because you get to meet many new chefs who tried to imitate others by sharpening or steeling their knives in a fast impressive way usually resulting in many stitches.  

  • This is where you can learn,” Who does the best in good old square knot surgical sutures".  Never accept substitutes, you want someone who knows what they are doing so your chef’s hand’s will look good for the cameras when you do your YOU-TUBES on "How to Make Scrambled Eggs”.
  • By the way, I don't know if it is my x-ray vision or just TV lighting but a few of the hot dog chef's on some of the shows should either get a soft or non-invasive manicure, wear gloves or just scrub their hands better. Nothing finer than someone handling every piece of food, no gloves and absolutely filthy fingernails. 
  • If it isn't dirt, its fungi, or some alien disease, and please don't touch my food that way.  This month alone four shows had guest chef's on who looked like they, and not the dishes needed to be thrown into the dishwasher.  Hold the plates, get the Brillo and the scrub brushes. Some looked like a bath wouldn’t hurt either.

The Steel  Simple Explanation  —  I repeat the “ Purpose of the steel" a lot here because after many years I have learned it takes eight times for something to soak in with some folks. Ans some brains are un-soak-able.

  • A sharpening steel is a long cylindrical piece of steel vertically serrated with a handle. If it does not have a handle it is called a 'burnisher" but they are not seen too often.  Last one I saw was in the Philippines.  I think it was a cheap steel the handle fell off .
  • I cut one handle off myself to keep in a backpack,  for steeling, but sharpened the cut off end to a point for a survival spear, ruined one cutoff disk.  Took up less room.  Most Steels vary from 10 to 16 inches, the average cost 15.00 and 40.00 US Dollars and higher for premium name brands and celebrity endorsed products.  They come in fine and medium textures.
  • DO NOT USE A DIAMOND OVAL STONE —  The diamond and ceramic steels which remove material quicker cost a bit more and are more aggressive working like a coarse stone removing bits off the blade and creating a new edge.  Till you know what it can do and you will most likely ruin a good edge with one, because the diamond removes metal creating an uneven edge and tends to curve the blade killing the edge. I do use one on location cooking but I know how to handle it which is vertical and only when the other guys ruined their knives.
  • We are using the steel as a freshening device more so than as a metal removal and reshaping device. I prefer long Japanese stones ( they are good,  the bad news is price ) for edge corrections like chips, dents and general reshaping. 

Basic Steeling  -  (Safe) For Beginners — 

  • STARTING THINK VERTICAL  —  Place the tip of the steel on your board holding the steel straight up or direct vertical. 
  • HINT ONE  —  On my big plastic cutting boards I drilled a countersunk hole in the corner with a 1/4 inch drill bit about 3/16 - 1/4 inch  deep. Basically a small shallow hole, then round countersunk the edge so it will wash clean.  The tip of the steel will not slip now.  I also have no slip tabs on the bottom of all my four cutting boards.
  • HINT TWO  —  Oiled wood boards and slick plastic boards can slip.  You can just purchase a white cheap rubber sink stopper. Cut off the ring from the nipple in the center and pitch it.  I vertically place the steel or "stab"  the soft sink stopper on my counter top so it doesn't slip. Even wet it holds.  
  • HINT THREE  —  THE RIGHT BEVEL  —  Place the knife bevel at a 10-12 degrees (Japanese) to a 20-22.5  degree angle (German Knives) against the sharpening steel near the top. Starting at its base (the handle end) and at the right angle, I pull the knife's sharp side down and the handle drawing toward me. Do the other side. Repeat until the knife is honed, five times should do it. 
  • PROCESS REVIEW  —  Bring the knife down and across the steel drawing it to you to erase those rolled edges that make the knife dull.  Sort of imitating a slice.    Now place the blade on the opposite side of the steel and bring down and across to remove the roll from the other side.  
    When you can’t feel the burr on the edge the knife is sharp.  Five strokes on each side should do it.
    Keep repeating these steps until the knife is sharpest. It is now de-burred, straightened and sharpened. 
  • AGAIN  —  Remember to keep a consistent angle down the edge of the blade on both sides. It is the angle that is important and not how fast you can do it.  After I have steeled the blade I use an old piece of a real leather belt glued to a piece of wood that I think my grandfather used it to sharpen his straight razor blade.    This removes any infinite particles that may be left. We call it "stropping".
    On some websites there are fine stropping compounds for the leather.  I then wash the blade in soapy water, rinse and towel the knife dry by pulling it through a towel. (safety first)

Some Truth Won’t Hurt —  

  • SHARP KNIVES ARE SAFER, BASICALLY because they cut where you place them and don't slip. It's  a misconception sharp knives are more dangerous.  A dull knife is more likely to slip during cutting, putting your hands at risk.  Part of being in the kitchen is maintaining your knives as an important part of safety and common sense.  You develop a feel for working with any tool and if the edge is good and the same each time, you get better at what you do. Consistency is the key.
  • You rarely ever see a pro on TV heading for the electric grinder to sharpen his knives.   They have twenty fine helpers back stage to do the rote work.  Occasionally you will see one "steel" his knife before delicate slicing.  Many like to show off.  I call it that TV  “Showoff sharpening fan-dango".   
  • A sharpening steel is a tough usually stainless metal rod that consists of a close but slightly harder/softer factor than the knife blade. A knife’s sharpness is maintained by stroking the blade over the rod on a regular basis.  
    If the steel was harder than the blade too much removal will take place.   Again, the hardness of the sharpening steel must be softer than that of the knife.
    And this is the gaff of it all. The steel is an alignment tool,  it is not made to remove or change the shape of the blade.
  • Hardness in knife steels is most commonly measured using the Rockwell C test. Hardened knife steels are generally about 58/62 HRC (hardness Rockwell C), depending on the grade. Most are typically about 58/60 HRC, although some are occasionally used up to about 62 HRC.
  • Great professional grade honing steels like Wusthof are made from hard chromium plated steel with a hardness of 65 Rockwell. All honing steels are produced from an alloy tool steel (material no. 2210) with 1.15%C (carbon) content, .6% chromium and .03% vanadium.  65R is about reality for most knives to be steeled. 

Steel, Diamond, Ceramic, Electrics, V-Cutters — 

  • 👨‍🍳  STEEL A major drawback is that some old Steel Hones using softer Steel than their knife counterparts manufactured today.  When the Steel of the honing rod is softer than the knife it’s being used to hone, you’ll find it harder to straighten the edge of the blade, creating the need for more frequent honing.  Not to mention, if the softer steel honing rod gets chipped from harder steel knives during routine honing, this creates a steel that will possibly ruin your other knives.

  • 👨‍🍳 DIAMOND — The shape of a diamond sharpening steel produces an optimum edge when sharpening knives. The diamond sharpening steels have a solid stainless steel core and the surface is covered in diamond grains. Depending on the size of the sharpening steel, up to 2 million diamond grains are applied to the surface  that guarantees a smooth, sharp finished edge. I steel it after as a clean up move. 
    Diamond Hones or Diamond Steels are typically not rods, rather flat in shape. And they are literally coated with millions of diamond grains. They range 45-75 dollars, and  diamonds are the hardest materials known to man. They are very coarse, and will cut high-end Japanese knives.  I use it as a last resort as you will be removing metal.

HINT —  But don’t when working with tomatoes, the diamond grit finish on the blade will start a tomato faster.  And in volume when I’m starring at a case of tomatoes for a big charity event and no one sharpened the blade on the mandolin,  I grab an older Chef’s knife that I tomatoized it for that purpose.  Also Cold tomatoes cut better than hot tomatoes, I make sure a case if needed is in the chiller before I become the Samurai warrior. 

  • 👨‍🍳  CERAMIC HONES   —  are popular with many chefs and knife-smiths. With Ceramic, you get the best of both worlds – supreme hardness and very fine grit.   Your edge will be straight as an arrow by the time you’re through. Ceramic Honing Steels can straighten an edge while barely removing any steel. In addition, the fine grit of ceramic even acts as a means to sharpen the blade by leaving tiny scratches on the edge of the blade that enhances its cutting capabilities.   Just don’t get sloppy and drop it, they are not cheap and break like Fine China.

  • The wrong steel can do more harm than good.  All steels do not work on all knives. If your knives are not getting sharp after steeling you might be using too hard a steel,  a new edge may be needed on the knife.  Hint: A good idea is to use the same brand of steel as your knives.  They made the knife they know what steel is needed.
  • The edge, even the edge of a fine edged knife, is made up of thousands of small cutting teeth called variations.  When these "teeth" are bent out of line, the knife dulls.  “Steeling,”does NOT put a new edge on a knife; it simply realigns the existing edge, increasing the sharpness.   
  • To properly clean your Steel, use Barkeepers Friend and a sponge following the lines of the steel, rinse and wipe with a clean towel or paper napkins. Dry thoroughly.
  • If a knife is steeled regularly it should not need to be reshaped — Honed ( PROFESSIONALLY SHARPENED) except when the bevel is ruined by wear, chipped or ruined by improper sharpening with a grinder or oval based diamond steels .  Knowing how to sharpen knives is a primary skill cooks and chefs learn. Not having sharp tools is frustrating, time-consuming, dangerous to you, and damaging to the food's presentation.

Stones  — 

  • The knife is the primary tool in the kitchen, used more than any other kitchen utensil. This section is about sharpening when the edge is so bad or abused some metal might have to be removed to restore the knife edge. For sharpening, not steeling I prefer stones.  
  •  An inexpensive  sharpening stone should be at least 2 by 6 inches and feature a coarse side and a fine side. This is used to remove nicks and dents and restore the base of edge. Go slow and keep both sides even in the count till with a magnifier you see no chips or cuts.
  • Lubricate the sharpening stone. There are three things used on stones, water, oil, and your blood.  Also nothing. And you have to know what right for the stone you are using. In a kitchen, in a bind, the most common safe oil is Olive oil, except it can go rancid. You really should use Mineral Oil or a light weight Honing or Sharpening oil specifically made for this process available at good Kitchen supply outlets for an oil stone. 
  • Japanese style water stones use obviously water. Water and Oil do not mix and if you used one on a stone do not change.   Place the sharpening stone on a sturdy countertop, table or workbench and here's a trick, use two rubber sink stoppers, the five inch flat disk from the sink or bathtub. Cut off the finger grip tit and this makes a beautiful, washable no slip for the stone on the counter.  BUT
  • For water stones, if you have not made a trough, you need one or you wife will kill you with your own knife.  Use a cheap flat baking pan with a towel underneath as they tend to dirty up countertops.  I have a large squirt bottle (Professional size at Lowes filled with water and five DROPS of DAWN. ( This will aid in the cleanup)  The wet towel saves the tops of the table and a mess. There are many types of stone holders and grits available. And I made a trough from a large plastic cutting board and added four sides one inch tall to create the trough.
  • WARNING:   I do not use sanders or electric sharpeners period, my knives are too valuable. I can because of practice do less harm and save a blade with my bench sander than one of these so-called knife sharpeners regardless of the BULLSH*T ADVERTISING.


Different knives have different bevel angles. Purpose and use determine the angles 

  • Filet and paring knives will have shallow bevels 10-12  degrees because to flex you must be thin. 
  • Santoku’s, Chefs, and thicker bladed chopping knives and slicing cleavers generally are at 18-22 degrees. 
  • Sashimi, Nakiri’s, and similar thin-bladder knives have 12-14 degree angles. 
  • I have seen field axes used in competition (Alaskan Logging Events) that were sharpened almost to shaving standards. 
  • I have dough cutters sharpened enough to carve turkey.
  1. Place the edge of the knife against the surface of the stone. Hold the knife at the angle of the bevel for its type. Start with the coarse stone. Tightly grasp the handle of the knife and, move the edge of the knife back and forth over the sharpening stone, using a circular motion. Do this about 10 times, applying enough equal pressure and look to do the length of the blade consistently.  Do the other side the same amount.

  2. Select the a finer stone.  Repeat the process watching the angle. You may now use the finest stone, doing five strokes on one side and five on the other in a draw motion.  You will with patience attain an incredible edge.

  3. After the burrs are gone some use a fine, fine steel I have superfine ceramics, to polish the edge further and it can be carried to extremes. I have used a circular ceramic stone steel and my grandfathers razor finish stone that he shaved with, which is about a 2000 grit to polish with. Thanks papa. 

  4. I have stones that can go to 8000 and I understand there are finer stones.  Those who are old enough to have shaved with straight razors, and note there is an International straight razor club, understand this process. I admire their bravery,  and I will continue to use my Gillette Fusion   Dollar Shave Club with their shave butter. I call it frugally “Saving Face”.

Accusharp Products For Emergency And Charity Work  —  

It’s in my bag when we go charity since other “ Chefs and helpers” will be there with an assortment of knife some needing attention. Best emergency sharpening tool on the planet. In about 10 seconds, it can sharpen serrated knives, cleavers, light axes, machetes, and many other cutting tools. 

  • The large ergonomic handle fits either hand safely and securely. The full length finger guard protects your fingers.  

  • The sharpening blades are Diamond Honed Tungsten Carbide for years of reliable use. AccuSharp Knife Sharpeners will not rust and can be cleaned with soap and water or in the dishwasher. Replacement sharpening blades are available. 
  • It is my field tool  and the tool I use on my inexpensive, lender, outdoor steak knives, when doing charity with lots of cutting on my oldest service knives and/or if  someone has a really dull knife and needs help when a steeling won’t cut it. 
  • It has brought a few back from death.  It is a pure stock removal tool and one or two passes with a steel is a good idea. It saves me time at a gig when more important things are surfacing.
  • I never thought I would say this but this gadget works and I keep it in my travel bag. Its simple, safe and very inexpensive and  it is fast.  When cooking for hundreds at a charity event I don’t have time to nursemaid the beginners.  Your knife not sharp, I take it from him, then seconds later, it is sharp and he’s back at work.  
  • When hunting it’s in our field dressing kit especially for tough boar hog or deer carcasses. They are huge butcher knives and cleavers and it does a good job in the field.  I keep mine on key chain holders with retractors, so they don’t get lost or borrowed or stolen that way.


Chefs-Choice - And Similar Models By Edgecraft Who Import And Sell Horrible And In Some Cases Dangerous Products, Other Products also failed the Safety Test.

“Their viewpoint:  The Edgecraft Chef’s Choice 110 Diamond Hone 3 stage professional knife sharpener is a must-have tool in any kitchen.  This professional, electric knife sharpener safely and quickly gives kitchen, sports, and pocket knives an incredibly sharp, long-lasting edge in seconds.  

Why pay others to come in and sharpen your knives when you can do it yourself. With the Chef’s Choice 110 electric knife sharpener, you will save time, money, and knives. 

I disagree,  I sent my Model 110 back to the company with a letter and a bill to repair some knives we ruined.  Never heard from them. Real Crap…Lousy Company

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