Super low price on this 10-inch Mercer Chef's Knife

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I’m a big fan of the utility of a 10-inch Chef’s knives, and while I love the big, expensive forged ones, I have to say that getting a usable, industrial knife for $8 is kind of tempting.

The care instructions are new to me, though. I’ve never seen this warning before:

Avoid soaking in aluminum or stainless steel sinks because these metals may cause pitting on the blade.

I would say that soaking chef knives is bad practice regardless of what the sink is made out of.


Even with a plastic handle?

I suppose my curiosity is that it sounds like the steel of the knife will be damaged by some sort of interaction with the metal of the sink, and I’m not familiar with that process absent, say, an electrode.

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having a cheap blade and a knife sharpener (either human or mechanical) is much better than having an expensive knife that you don’t put the time into carefully honing


It’s not the handle i’m worried about but the metal of the knife itself. Even stainless steel can rust, i have a couple that were accidentally left soaking by other people and they started to get rust spots that i had to work on getting rid of. Some stainless steels can resist staining and rusting better but at least for me as a rule i avoid it as much as i can. But you probably already know this. The interaction with the sink is new information to me as well though.


I used to give nice kitchen knives as gifts. When I visit people I’ve given knives to it’s a bit sad that the knives have become expensive, dull tools that mash tomatoes.

I think that instead of giving nice knives I should track down local, reliable sharpening services and give gift certificates instead…


These are a smoking deal for less than $8.00 US dollars. I bought 2.

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And a way better deal than those Damasukasu knives that the Boing Boing Shop keeps trying to get us to buy.


By coincidence, I recently bought a Mercer fish spatula. The stiffness is just about ideal, and I’m impressed by the overall finish and the grade of rosewood used for the handle. The wood seemed a little dry as delivered, but it came up nicely with a few coats of tung oil.

I can’t vouch for the knives, but from the website Mercer seems like an actual cutlery company, not a rebrander.

X30CR13 steel is low-end as knife steels go, but it’s pretty typical of knives in this price range and it will get the job done. At least they tell us what it is. It’s a good steel to practice sharpening on, as @Whim recommends above.


I bought a Trident chefs knife by Wusthof in the early 1980’s. It’s been my go-to knife for pretty much everything. It has a wooden handle. After almost 40 years the handle needed replacing. I found a bladesmith in Lytton BC (temp today 40°) and he replaced the handle and gave it a new edge. It will outlast me.

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Yeah. Metal of any sort doesn’t like to be soaked. And its dangerous to have a cutting implement underwater where you may not be able to see it. But its common in commercial kitchens for things to soak for a bit at dish washing stations.

In terms of potential reaction, given its a metal sink maybe something like electrolysis?

But its probably just a reference to the fact that tossing a knife in a sink causes it to knock around against the sides which can dull or damage the edge, or create nicks in the sides. Rust can take hold in those causing pits to form over time. Non metal sinks in restaurants tend to be plastic.

They’re decent knives especially for the price. Tool and knife kits issued by culinary schools are commonly Mercer these days. A bit more consistently quality than Dexter Russel (who have some really shitty product lines, and some much better ones). Around the same price tier. Probably about equivalent to Mundial.

Victorinox, Messermeister and Wusthof are common brands of food service knives in the tier up. But tend to cost nearly as much as a better, non-food service knife when not on sale. I commonly point people at Mercer over Victorinox, since they got trendy their MSRP has gotten higher than it should be. They’re only really a good bargain on sale at this point.

They wouldn’t sell well using “better” steel. Good/bad for steel is all down to what you’re using it for. “High end” in knife steel usually means harder. But these are industrial use knives meant for food processing and restaurant kitchens. They will encounter very hard use, be sanitized in a crazy balls washing machine, get used to open steel cans, etc. They’re almost always built heavy and from softer steels so they can hold up longer. They’re not intended to be the thing you do fine or delicate work with, so absolute sharpness is less of a concern. You want something for bulk work that’ll take a good edge, sharpen easily, and deform rather than breaking dangerously so it can be fixed. Nicer knives made from harder steels tend not to survive.

They are referring to electrolysis. This happens any time two disparate metals are placed in a conductive medium such as water.

I have a mixing bowl that has electrolysis pitting so bad that it won’t hold water; there are holes eaten clean through it. (It will hold mixable things like mayonnaise, though.) That’s because my family and I would soak silverware in it for extended periods of time. Presumably there is a knife or fork somewhere with bits extra metal fused to it. My new rule is “don’t put silverware into the pots and pans or I will electrolyze you!”.


A genuine life pro tip: In general if you want to outfit your kitchen on a tiny budget, find and hit up a restaurant supply store in the nearest decent-sized city, where busy professional chefs and restauranteurs shop. That will have what the real pros buy, which often is not top of the line.

Mercer is one of the standard brands at restaurant supply stores. I’ve got a Mercer vegetable cleaver from a nearby restaurant supply which will take a nice sharp edge, is very nearly as nice as my expensive Wusthof knives, but cost maybe $12 or something like that. So yeah, their products hit a sweet spot of decent quality and very inexpensive.

Speaking of sharpening, which you should indeed be doing, Mercer also makes an assortment of nice synthetic sharpening stones at a reasonable price, which you’ll find at the same stores. I forget what I paid for my 1000/3000 grit but it was pretty cheap and it’s very solid and consistent. Unless I feel like going really crazy with a 4000/8000 grit and strop, I finish most of my cooking knives on the 3000 grit side which gives a nice clean edge.

Don’t have the knack of sharpening knives on a stone? For a couple bucks, Mercer’s got a little guide that clips on the back of the knife blade which makes it easy for a beginner to maintain a consistent angle. As you can see, I’m a fan.


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