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About quality knives [moved from General Chowhounding board]

At a yard sale, I picked up a 10 1/2" stainless steel chef's knife made by a company called Old Homestead.

I did not expect this to be a very high-quality knife, but I've been very pleasantly surprised at how good this knife is, how comfortable, the balance, sharpness, etc etc.

Does anyone know anything about this company and its reputation? anyone have any knives made by this company?

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    1. Hi there
      The problem most people have with knives is that they don't sharpen them, or that the have misconceptions about sharpening. If you had a dull knife before, the difference could be impressive (but misleading).

      The fact that you got it at a yard sale is good; if it's been used, it indicates that it's been looked after, or that it's retained its sharpness well.

      On the flip side, you could put a razor edge on a $5 knife, and it would cut as well as most: The quality knives would hold their edge better, and be resistant to defects and blade damage. It's mostly down to the quality of the steel.

      So in summary, don't count your chickens - it may be a great knife, or it might be an inferior, but currently sharp knife. If you like it, that's very important, but give it a while of use before you go out and buy a whole set of their knifes ;)

      22 Replies
      1. re: Soop

        You're dead-on re sharpness. AAMOF, I have a stone in my kitchen tool drawer, and I habitually take a few strokes on it before using any knife. I've never understood how people think they can prepare meals with dull knives. A sharp knife is such a joy to use!

        1. re: Howard_2

          I still need to learn unfortunately. I need to find a good whetstone, and I may just go for one of the rough/medium global ones with the guides (I have a global).

          1. re: Soop

            Instead of buying whetstones and chance ruining your knives, I suggest that you look at the chef choice model 316 for asian knives. Its $59. The two sided whetstone you mentioned is about $68. Chef's choice makes other asian sharpener and you may wish to look at those also. I own the model 316. I have sharpen several knives including a $300 Sakai Takayuki yanagiba, a buck folding knife, henckel filet, slicing and paring knives. You can use an asian sharpen on western knives provide they have a fairly thin backbone, e.g. fillet knives. The all come out "razor sharp" The main advantage of my electric sharpener is that it holds the blade to consistently sharpen at a 15 degree angle which is what Global recommends for its knives.

            1. re: bgazindad

              "Instead of buying whetstones and chance ruining your knives"

              Grinding your knives is a good way to ruin them. Grind a Global or other hard japaneese steel and IMO you might as well toss them in the trash bin.
              Take a close peek under magnification at a blade that has been ground on one of those grinders!
              Oiye

              1. re: Fritter

                Have you used the chef choice asian electric sharpeners model 316? I own one. I am relaying my observations. I am Japanese. I have use debas in the a fish market on a daily basis. We did not use the chef choice in the fish market.But I am reporting that these sharpeners work and are the best alternative for someone who has no experience with using a whetstone. I own whetstones too. I agree that if you used a standard american electric grinder on Japanese Knives, the result will not be satisfactory. I own two sharpners. one for western knives and one for Japanese knives. Each sharpen at different angles.

                1. re: bgazindad

                  My difference of opinion has little to do with the angle. Keeping a blade at exactly 15 degrees is far less important than holding the same angle each time you sharpen.
                  Using a stone is not at all difficult. There are tons of tutorials out there for free and plenty of demo video on youtube.
                  For some one with no experience the best bet is to learn how to use a stone. There are even angle guides available for those who are learning.
                  I do have one of those Chef choice grinders that was a gift. I tested it on an old knife and then it got tossed in the basement.
                  If you are happy with a grinder then enjoy however the chances of some one "ruining" their knives are infinitely higher on a grinder IMO than using stones. When you learn to use a stone you will always have a truly sharp knife.

                  1. re: Fritter

                    From what I've heard, I tend towards Fritter's point of view. Obviously I respect that Bgazindad has the experience I lack, but I feel that whetstone sharpening is a worthwhile skill to learn.

                    1. re: Soop

                      Soop Check out this site. There is a ton of information about sharpening.
                      Korin sells a video for $25 that is excellent and Chad Ward has a book on sharpening out as well as a very usefull page on egullet.
                      Hope this helps! Learning to sharpen your knife is well worth the effort.

                      http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/sho...

                      http://korin.com/The-Chefs-Edge-Knife...

                      http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s...

                      http://www.chadwrites.com/book-descri...

                      1. re: Fritter

                        Yep...and if you have a bamboo cutting board, you'll get lots of practice...LOL LOL...just kidding.
                        Chad Ward is one of the few people who talk about knives and sharpening who really knows what they are talking about. An honest-to-God expert. So much misinformation on the net.

                        1. re: Fritter

                          Thanks for that. I'm already a member on Knife forums, and there is a good (written) guide I've seen. I'll check those out nearer the time, but I think it's going to be practice more than anything (maybe the video too).

                          I've tried it on a borrowed whetstone on some bad knives, but I sharpened the blade back and forth in sections (probably not the best idea) and made a bit of a mess of the knives. I think next time I'll try the swipey move.

                          1. re: Fritter

                            And there's a good series of videos in a playlist here...

                            http://www.youtube.com/results?search...

                            And a YouTube search on sharpening gives some good results - including the one above.

                            1. re: Paulustrious

                              I've been warned off of youtube videos - there probably are some good ones, but I've heard there's a lot of bad ones

                      2. re: bgazindad

                        A problem with the electric sharpeners (which can do a decent job) is that many Japanese knives do not have the standard symmetric "V" bevel. Some are 60/40, 80/20 or other variations.

                    2. re: bgazindad

                      You did what? Tell me you didn't run that yanagiba through that sharpener. That knife WAS single beveled with a concave back.

                      For those that lack the desire to learn to hand sharpen the Chef's choice is passable on standard western knifes. Even Japanese western 50/50 beveled knives can be sharpened this way. But a traditional Japanese yanagiba should be sharpened on a whetstone. Really not hard since you only need to sharpen the beveled side and leave the back side alone! Just deburr. If you own an yanagiba and don't want to sharpen it yourself, send it to someone that knows how.

                      1. re: scubadoo97

                        scubadoo97, you apparently replied to bgazindad's posts after reading only every third word in them. It is quite apparent that bgazindad does know what he is doing. He uses his knives daily professionally, and he knows how to use a whetstone. It is also apparent is that he has not been using one of the Chef's Choice models that puts on a double bezel, but he is using the specialty single-bevel Chef's Choice model 316 designed to sharpen Asian knives.

                        1. re: Politeness

                          Yup, I guess I didn't read the entire post after seeing the words Chef Choice and yanagiba together. My bad and not very polite of me. Sorry

                          1. re: Politeness

                            I'm not so sure. Having read the entire post (and having read it more carefully in light of your interpretation), it still sounds as though he sharpened the yanagiba on the "Asian" Chef's Choice. Maybe not. Or maybe he just sharpened the beveled edge. The post is ambiguous, and bgazindad is the only one who can clarify for us.

                            But it certainly can't hurt to make it clear that that particular machine is **extremely** inappropriate for all but the most westernized of Japanese blades.

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              Are you familiar with the very particular model he mentions? I think you're not. The 316 sharpens one side of the knife at a time, so it's certainly capable of sharpening a single beveled knife. Now, it does so at a fixed angle, so I'm sure you'll complain that it's the wrong fixed angle, ignoring that humans are pretty well incapable of free handing an arbitrary angle.
                              Even good ones sharpen to some angle that's good for them.

                              1. re: dscheidt

                                I'm very familiar with the Chef's Choice sharpener. In fact I own one. It's not the worst sharpener out there, but IMHO its drawbacks far exceed any benefits it might have. Mine hasn't been out of the cupboard in years.

                                You identified one of the many problems with it. As far as westernized Japanese steel, all but the most mass-market gyutos, sujihikis, and pettys have asymmetric bevels. So it's useless for those. And although the CC can sharpen the face of a yanagiba, it can't debur the back. So you'll have to be hauling out the waterstones for that as well.

                                The whole point of freehand sharpening is that the angle ISN'T arbitrary - it's optimized for the knife. Any competent sharpener can feel and duplicate the existing bevel. And for those who can't (like me) there are jigs that allow you to precisely duplicate the bevel on a knife or establish a new one and repeat it perfectly.

                                Never mind the question of whether the motorized wheel will damage the temper on the steel. Never mind that the you immediately start ruining the edge on a European knife when the full bolster bumps up against the edge of the machine. My opinion is that it just isn't a very good sharpener.

                                Your mileage may vary. In fact, if you'd like a 20-degree sharpener, it's yours for the cost of postage. I need more space in the cabinets and would rather send it to a good home than throw it out.

                      2. re: Soop

                        Don't know if it's available in the UK, but here's my favorite sharpening device. It's basically a set of proper waterstones and a jig that holds everything precisely in place while you sharpen with them. The learning curve is nearly non-existent and the results are equivalent to that of a professional hand-sharpener. Steep bevels, shallow bevels, single bevels, asymmetric bevels - no worries.

                        www.edgeproinc.com

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          I've heard a lot about the edgepro. Maybe I should consider it...

                    3. re: Soop

                      There's very little correlation between the price of a knife and its actual performance in a kitchen. For many people, a knife made of some (relatively) soft steel that is easy to sharpen and still takes a wicked sharp edge, is a better knife than one made of a hard brittle steel that keeps an edge for longer, but which has to be treated as a holy relic, lest it chip when it's used to actually cut something with bones in.

                    4. I use an AccuSharp - $10 - for daily use and a sharpening machine for every now and then. I don't have Japanese knives with a single bevel and I don't care about trying to create the exact angle that's best for each knife type. Better for me to keep them sharp. Most people use dull knives so the first step is making sharpening routine and that means making it easy.