Looking for a Sharp Knife

I am slowly replacing all my knives. By slowly, I mean I’ve been in the process for maybe 25 years. As a wedding gift we received a knife block and also a set of knives. The knives all had brown plastic handles. The set only had a paring knife, a serrated vegetable knife (supposedly for slicing tomatoes), a meat clever, a bread knife, and a fillet knife. It was a “starter” set. We also managed to acquire a 3 piece carving set as a free gift for allowing a vacuum sales demonstration. That set had plastic faux ivory handles. Coupled with the knives (wooden handles) Sparky and I each owned prior to merging our households we managed to fill (just) two knife blocks. Plastic handles tend to get brittle over time and the paring knife handle disintegrated, followed by the fillet knife. Eventually I decided that I wanted knives with metal handles that wouldn’t fall apart in my hand. My mother had a knife that was made by my great grandfather (or maybe my mother’s great grandfather?), any way it had an aluminum forged handle that was quite formidable. It is still in use and looks like a machete. It is perfect for hacking apart big hunks of meat. Anyway I’ve found at garage sales and at resale shops many aluminum or stainless steel handled knives. With each new find I replace a wooden or plastic handled blade. I was down to only the carving set as needing to be swapped out. I found a meat fork and purchased it. I’d looked all through the bins for the matching knife to no avail. A week later and at a different Goodwill, I found the matching carving knife! I was thrilled. I’ve now passed the still functional carving set to my sons. Now as you may deduce, many of the knives I’ve obtained as pre-owned are not sharp. That is however not a problem. You see when I was in college one of the skills I was required to master was sharpening knives and scalpels. There were at that time (in the ancient days of yore) still surgeons using scalpels that were not disposable. They had to be sharpened after every use. And the Veterinary Technician (now Veterinary Nurse) was responsible. I had to purchase my own hone. I still have it and use it as needed to keep my cutlery sharp. (I also got A+ in my sharpening skills tests.) As I was sharpening my newest purchase (for 19 cents) I was inspired to pen this little Nonet. If you aren’t familiar with the nonet, it is a reverse etheree but instead of the first line starting with 10 syllables it starts with 9 and each successive line is reduced by one syllable with the last line having a single syllable… Enjoy.

I know how to sharpen every knife
From paring, carving, and chef’s blade
Make it a keen razor edge
Able to split a hair
Slices paper thin
Needs no pressure
Carves off fat
Cuts deep
Wounds

49 thoughts on “Looking for a Sharp Knife

  1. Your depth of knowledge knows no bounds! I did not know that surgeons used disposable knives. But of course, in this profligate society why would that be surprising? I too sharpen my own knives, but out of consideration for the last line of your Nonet, I don’t put too fine an edge on them. Though I was thrilled when I bought my matching set at Costco for about $12; that jubilation wore off as quickly as the finish (they seem to have a painted-on coating, probably deadly Teflon) and require sharpening nearly every time I pull them out of the dishwasher. My favorite is a trusty little paring knife that I picked up at the thrift store.

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    1. Yes. Disposable, one use scalpel blades are the norm. It became a point of necessity with the advent of AIDS and all the other host of deadly blood borne pathogens. I doubt there is a surgeon in any modern hospital that doesn’t use a disposable blade…. All my knives have been from garage sales and the thrift stores. They hold an edge for a very long time. They just don’t make then that way any more!

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  2. Wrangler and I merged stuff and I bought a couple to get by after. Well Wrangler listened as I complained. He got a butcher’s block cutting board to cover the mismatched counter where a counter top stove once sat in our house before we got it. He also bought this huge knife block with knifes for all uses. Most of the old has ended up being garden knives or camper knives or now truck knives.

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    1. A good knife is a joy! All my old knives (the ones still in good condition) have gone to the boys’ house. I imagine when either one of them gets married they will have enough to split them and still have enough for their needs.

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  3. I bought a set of paring knives I thought had that white blade, material unknown to me. They don’t and won’t even cut a grape. Since I have nothing to sharpen them and there is color on the metal blade, need to go out.

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  4. My knife just broke, so I’m down to one that is kind of dull. They were cheap, so I wasn’t expecting much. Thank you for this wonderful post. I hope you have a good day! Don’t wound yourself!

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  5. Knives are like many other heavily used items. No, not that they break, but as you get older, you realize that “cheap” really means “cheap”, and decide (based on experience, and one too many broken knife accidents) that you do not scrimp and buy cheap knives, You spend the money and get good quality knives. It makes a big difference if you spend time in the kitchen.

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    1. Indeed. However I look for those knives at Goodwill instead of at the high priced department store or on-line. I have a Gerber knife that was 2nd hand and it will slice through a carrot like butter. Cost me a whole $0.49 since I grabbed it on a non-sale day…

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    1. There are online tutorials that are good. The thing is you have to practice. I sharpened everything I could for about 6 months. I can do it in my sleep! Of course the trick is to be careful and always pay for a knife. Superstition is that if someone gives you a knife you give them a penny or some other coin so that you won’t be cut!

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        1. Its a thing here. I’d never receive a knife without giving a penny in return!! My former coworker gifted me with a knife as a going away present and I gave him a penny – he was holding his breath and worrying because it is a very sharp tactical knife. Once I gave him the coin he relaxed. I had to laugh…

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    1. According to theearthspins “..that you do not scrimp and buy cheap knives, You spend the money and get good quality knives.” I’d say you are in a good position to get those new and expensive and very sharp knives…

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  6. When I came to this country, I had nothing. M had a butter/table knife and one fork and a couple of spoons. Have you tried cutting meat with a butter/table knife? So gradually I started my collection, and that was by way of filling the Buick Skylark with gas at 65 Cents per gallon. The gas station gave me a set of six serrated knives (I still have them) and a four piece set of Melamine plates….I was on cloud nine.
    Today, I have knives which I love to acquire and also a most amazing electric knife sharpener.
    You, with your education, your frugal nature and skills, put me to shame Val. Such a lovely post. And I know all about those scalpels. I have some here in my collection.

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    1. You have a collection?? Wow! I’d love to see some of those old friends again… I’ve never seen the glass (obsidian) scalpels but I hear that they are sharper than a regular steel blade.

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  7. We seem to,lose knives. I don’t know why. We have moved a lot in our time though. We now have a very good set in a block, but only hubby can use them since I got ill.

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      1. Oh heck! I actually get a bit worried about really sharp knives being aroundl. Nut rhey have to be sharp to do their job. I don’t mind little ones, it is the big ones!

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  8. I have always been afraid of knives. That’s why whenever i go for grocery shopping i would have my meats pre -cut already and segregated for each possible dish. I use knives though only for simple cutting that’s why i have so much respect for those who can skillfully use it..and i am really in owe knowing you do.
    And owe, i ddint know surgeons use disposable blades…i had major surgery and i always thought how they prepared those little sharp knives

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    1. I suppose there are many cautions in life. I’ve always felt comfortable using knives so having a big sharp knife is not at all fear inducing. Glad you have the option of having the butcher cut all your meat and prepackage it for you. There are different scalpel blades for different kinds of incisions… I am so glad that we used disposable blades at my last job – I really wouldn’t have had time to sharpen scalpels!

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    1. Its funny how we have favorite things like that! My G’ma Tena had a knife that was her go to for making almost anything – after she died I think it ended up with the family of grandpa’s second wife… Either way it is lost to me and my cousins.

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  9. My favorite knife is a large butter knife that was given to us from a butcher before we left for Africa. Actually he gave us 2 knives, but somewhere along the way I managed to lose the smaller one with the thinner blade. I took a picture of the one I still have, but I don’t know if there is a way to send pictures on WordPress. It’s about 14″ long, and has a wooden handle. I’ve never cut myself with it, though I’ve often cut myself with smaller cheaper knives. Tom used to sharpen it for me. Now I have no one to do it, and I’ve lost the steel or whatever it is that he used, so if you ever come to visit again, bring yours with you so you can sharpen it for me, please and thank you.

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    1. I’ll email you my email address and you can send the photo that way. It would be great to see you again. I’ll see if saintvi (Melinda) wants to do a trip when the weather is less changeable!

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    1. No… People buy cheap knives and then complain that they don’t stay sharp. I’d be spending all my time disappointing people by telling them that the knifes they own won’t hold an edge…

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