Man attempts to sharpen a dollar-store kitchen knife


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/12/01/man-attempts-to-sharpen-a-doll.html


#2

I maintain that for most people just doing a half-assed job of sharpening a cheap knife almost every time that you use it will give better results than the more typical pattern of buying an expensive knife and sharpening it once or twice a year.


#3

Hmmm, how much material would you take off per year if you sharpened your knife every time you used it (which for me is every day)?

If you used water stones, like in the video, probably not that much, but it takes me at least 20 minutes to sharpen my knife with those, so that’s not a daily occurrence. From what I understand, the cheaper sharpeners and certainly the electric sharpeners take off a lot more material.


#4

I suspect that’s Simonize’s point: it’s a $1 knife; it doesn’t matter if it wears away quickly.


#5

Watching the first half of the video all I could think was “Run, kitty cat! Run!”.


#6

My approach is to steel the (cheap) knives every time, and sharpen them every few months.


#7

That samurai move at 1:20!


#8

If you don’t let your knives get too dull, it doesn’t take that long. Also, the sharpening time will vary a lot depending on how hard the steel of your knife is. The knives I use the most in the kitchen are actually a couple of relatively inexpensive Dexter-Russell knives I got at a restaurant supply store. They’re not too hard to maintain. For some years now I’ve been using an EdgePro Apex kit, which works well for someone with limited hand coordination such as myself.


#9

Out of curiosity, do you mean this purely in the context of steel blades; or are you including ceramics among the options?

Sharpening those at all is a nontrivial operation; but their durability is impressive.


#10

I know plenty of knife snobs, but honestly, even a knife from the .99 Cent store can perform well enough… If one knows how to sharpen it.

The biggest issue with dollar store knives (and some that cost significantly more than a dollar) is that the edge bevel (the ground apex, or actual edge, of the blade) is often poorly finished, at an angle that is not as acute as it could/should be, sometimes with burrs and/or overheated during the sharpening/grinding process (usually done fast and sloppy with power tools). Resulting in a weak edge.

But unless the steel is annealed (like if they forgot to heat treat it), pretty much any knife can be decent at cutting. Particularly for kitchen work, as foods tend to be not all that abrasive, and edge holding isn’t as demanding as, say, the machine tool industry.

The quick and dirty treatment I like for knives that are not babied (of any quality) is to use diamond stones/plates. They aren’t necessarily expensive (adequate sets can be found at Harbor Freight), cut fast with water or even dry, rather than oil. Expensive waterstones can certainly make a very impressive edge. If you know how to use them. But I think most people aren’t that interested in impressing people with their sharpening skills, and simply want something that’s good enough.


#11

Nice kiri-sute gomen, dude. What did those water bottles ever do to you?


#13

I’ve got mixed feelings about ceramic blades. Which are pretty quickly falling into the dollar store price range. Already there if you buy direct from China.

I can make a steel blade sharper than any ceramic I’ve seen. But for careful kitchen work, the ceramic holds the edge much longer. Careful is the key word here. When they dull, it is the result of microscopic chipping at the very apex of the edge. Sometimes not so microscopic. For most people, ceramics are not user sharpenable. And durability, as meaning impact resistance, I’ve not found to be their best qualities.


#14

I have literally no idea how one sharpens ceramic knives. And when I say every use, I’m not talking about a rough carborundum sharpening but a refresh with a very fine sharpener, or, as said above steeling it. It won’t be as sharp as a professional’s knive, but it will be sharper than most people’s kitchen knives.


#15

plastic bag shame… shame!!!


#16

Man attempts to sharpen a dollar-store kitchen knife

And succeeds!

It may actually be easier to get a temporary edge on a cheap knife, if the metal is softer.


#17

a slack belt sander with a very dull 320 grit belt and you can get the same edge in about 3 seconds.


#18

Right. People worry more than necessary about the type of steel in the blade, and not enough about keeping it sharp, or about the design and ergonomics of the knife as a whole. Many metals, not just steel, can be made usably sharp. The Romans continued to use bronze razors even when steel was available to them.

Yes. Steeling doesn’t remove material (or not much), so it can be done regularly. Honing two or three times a year seems to keep an edge adequate for kitchen purposes. My usual approach is to shape the edge initially with flat waterstones, then maintain it with a homemade V-sharpener using ceramic rods like these:

http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=46363&cat=1,43072,43079
Lee Valley quotes 280 grit, but from the feel of them, and from the results, they appear to be quite a bit finer.


#19

i have 4 really good knives of varying sizes. i generally use a steel every time i use a knife and then resharpen every 100 times i use the steel.


#20

I did something related just last night. I took an expensive kitchen knife that was sort of dull and made it really dull.


#21

I bought a ceramic paring knife at a discount warehouse a couple of years ago for $5.00. It was certainly sharp, but no sharper than my steel knives. After some very light use such as cutting fruit and cheese on wooden boards, it was noticeably duller, and it now has visible nicks in the edge. I’ve no idea whether those microscopic fragments ended up in the food. I may try sharpening it with a diamond hone that I have. Even at dollar-store prices, I wouldn’t buy another.

Note: Warn your guests. The blade is zirconium oxide, a white, lightweight, slightly translucent material. A guest who was helping me wash the dishes picked it up, cut himself slightly, and said, “Wow, that’s pretty sharp for a plastic knife”.