Should I get rid of these knives?
I know there have been a lot of knife discussions lately, and I've read all of them.
My question is, I've never been happy with my knife set -- Wusthof Trident Classic, made in Solingen, Germany, bought about 15 years ago. I have the 9 knife set, with all the standard knives (10 inch chef's, 8 inch chef's, paring, carving, bread (large and small, I think they call the small the sandwhich knife), cleaver, and another smaller one, plus a steel). My problem has been that I have never been able to keep them sharp. I've had them professionally sharpened (in Los Angeles at Ross Cutlery), and have honed them regularly, and when they still got dull quickly after being professionally sharpened, I bought a Chef's Choice, which works but I feel like I have to use it all the time, which I know can't be good for the knives. For background, I don't use them for professional cooking, just an avid home cook, and always use them on a wood or bamboo cutting board, and always handwash them (never put in the dishwasher).
Just how dissatistifed I was with the knives became clear to me a couple of weeks ago, when I was cooking with a friend at her house, and she had these lovely SHARP knives. My chef's knives, in particular, just weren't even close to that sharp. Her knives were Globals, and I'm not really in the market to go there $$-wise, but, even though my knives were expensive and are still in very good shape, I've been thinking about ditching the whole set and buying some of those R H. Forschner knives you all have recommended in other threads. Am I being silly? Are they just not that great of knives, despite the sticker price (I paid around $250 for the set 15 years ago, and an equivalent set sells for like $400 now)? Am I not taking care of them properly? Could the wood block I store them in be dulling them? Is there a way to get these knives to hold a sharp edge for longer than a month or two after they've been professionally sharpened?
Any and all help would be appreciated!
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Chad Ward's book is a really good guide. The basic problem is that the steel isn't as hardened on the Wusthof's as in many Japanese knives. Makes for an edge that's harder to chip, but it doesn't get as sharp or stay sharp as long as a result.
You probably don't need the same set of knives to get by. Esp. since buying the block full of better knives is going to cost a boatload.
If the savings is worth moving quickly, Tojiro DP's are on sale at Korin through today. They are a great value knife. If the steel you're using has big ridges on it, look into getting a smooth steel or a ceramic one (Idahone is the brand I know). It'll do less damage to the edge- work on your technique, too.
FWIW, I have mostly Wusthof's, too. I've picked up a few Japanese knives now, and I'm tempted to get rid of the rest and replace them also. The MAC SB105 bread knife/slicer is definitely the cheapest/coolest of the lot- got it via Amazon.
You know, after I had my knives sharpened, I was told that I was whacking them on the cutting board with each cut, and that was partly why I was dulling them. Of course, I wasn't actually whacking them, but I tend to cut things like carrots, and the chef knife works sort of in a wedgelike manner there, so I'm slicing, but then suddenly the wedge effect sets in and the knife splits through and hits the board with a tap or thump. After that, it became clear that my chef knife is duller right where it tends to go thump.
I have arthritis, so I can't really improve my knife skills. Instead they are slowly evaporating. But you might be able to slice more, rather than thunk through food. Also, now I have a different angle of edge on one of my knives. It is so much sharper that way. The thunk-type of effect might change if I didn't usually use a chef knife. That has a rather thick blade. A thinner blade also might continue slicing the carrot, and not have a tendency to split it part way through the cut. One of those trendy Japanese knives is thinner...
I have plastic boards, though. Maybe my thunking wouldn't be a problem on a wood board. But I use a dishwasher to clean everything I can, as it is easier.
You could replace your whole set with 3 knives, a good 8-10" chefs, the MAC slicer/bread knife recommended below and a smaller 3-5" utility knife. I have not used the Tojiro DP but it get s great reviews everywhere on blade quality, fit & finish is sometimes noted a problematic but price for quality they are often noted as the best deal. Take a look here