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Jan 10, 2011 07:13 AM

Knife Sharpening Questions

Used the Messermeister for last nights dinner. And I can say wow what a difference. Much sharper than my other knives, which is not surprising as they haven't been properly maintained, but even still I don't remember them ever being this smooth making cuts. Slicing a potato with very little effort it just glides through the material. An interesting side note about knives and kife safety. This knife responds very differently to pressure and effort. With my other knives I have a certain expectation of what it will take to make a cut and how it will respond. The new knife is different enough that it is more dangerous, at least until I learn how it responds. I noticed this right away and slowed down. I like my fingers where they are.

I also tried sharpening the Chicago with mixed results. I think I used to steep of an angle. The back of the blade was only a 1/4 inch of the stone. After working through all the different grits I used it on a tomato and while it cut readily I could feel rough edges grabbing as it went through the tomato. In comaprison the Messermeister is smooth as silk. I think I'll move this sharpening talk to another thread, but CK which stones would you have purchased?


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  1. First, please let me say congratulation. I am happy that you like your new Messermeister knife.

    The out-of-factory edge angles on Messermeister knives are literally sharper than most Henckels and Wusthof, so that may be a big part of the reason why you notice your knife being much sharper. I also like their partial bolster design.

    I know what you mean. When I first switched to a good performance knife, I was still using the heavy force I used for duller knives, and I was constantly cutting into my cutting board. In a day or two, I learnt to apply less and less force.

    Yes, I agree with you that probably the Chicago knife is not sharpened perfectly, but no one perfectly sharpen their knives the first time. The important is: Was it better than before sharpening? If it is, you are on the right track.

    Your stones are not entirely bad choice and I must say my first purchase of stones were not very great either. People learn these things in time and I hope you don't try to put too much pressure on yourself. I actually looked at Epicurean Edge website last night to check out the stones you bought. One thing I would suggest is that you don't need to go to the 8000 grit for now. First, I am not sure it worths your time to put your Chicago cutlery knife on a 8000 grit stone because I am not sure if it will hold it very long, but more importantly, your finest stone under the 8000 grit is the 1200 grit. A jump from 1200 to 8000 is a very big jump, so the 8000 stone will have a very hard time to polish 1200 surface.

    JB, how comfortable you are with your knife skill? You know. Pinch grip, clawed fingers... etc. A good knife skill is far more important than good knives and good sharpening skill. I think. I do apologize if you already know all these basic skills. I just want to be sure. Below link is a very short and brief slides on the very basic knife holding skills. Again I apologize in advance:

    4 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      I kind of thought the jump from 1200 to 8000 was a big one. I may go back for a 4000. I am putting no pressure, this is purely entertainment. Yes it was sharper so that was a good thing. I'm going to give it another go, change the angle slightly and work it some more.

      A comical side note. I watched the "chefs knives to go" videos and was using his back and forth motion. I was using my thumb as a guide and it was rubbing back and forth across the stone. I got to the 8000 and pushed the knife across and saw blood mixed with the water on the stone. Was startling at first as I thought I'd cut myself, but quicly realized I had worn the skin off my thumb. Maybe I shouldn't let it rub on the stone that way, eh?


      1. re: JuniorBalloon

        I would recommend one of those "Rubber Fingertips" you can get from any office surply store.

        1. re: JuniorBalloon

          Hi JB,

          I edited my last post, so maybe you didn't get a chance to read the new addition. At the end of the edited post (above), I asked about knife skill. Do you hold your knife like this:

          There is no one single correct way to sharpen knife. From time to time, I use that "thumb as a guide" thing, but most of the time I don't. Watch a few videos and try them all and see which works for you the best. Hey, some people are thin-skin, you know :).

          Don't worry about the 3000-4000 stone for now (3000 may be a tad better than 4000 if they have one). A 1200 grit finish is plenty sufficient for a Chicago cutlery knife.

          One last thing, Messerimeister Meridan Elite knives are sharpened with a 15o edge angle, not the typical standard 20o. Do not sharpened your Messerimester Meridan Elite knife at the same angle as your Chicago cutlery. It will get ruined.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Good to know, I'll stick with the stones I have for now.

            Interstingt site. Thanks. I am a self taught chopper. I don't think I hold the knife quite that way, but use both of those grips when slicing.


      2. OK, so now I'd like to ask you:

        How you would answer your original Thread Starter question?


        3 Replies
        1. re: Eiron


          You are really good. You always make very funny or insightful comments and this is the latter.

          JB. So how would you now answer the original poster questions?

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I answered it a few posts down in a response to SanityRemoved. Basically I had to figure out if there was enough value in upgrading. That's a subjective assesment. Why I decided to buy a new knife came from two comments by you CK.

            "people cannot desire what they have never experienced."

            and this in which he was quoting me.

            "(as you said "I have stepped up from the budget Chefs knives you get in those block sets and would never go back"). "

            I really did see a great deal of difference between the cheap knives and my Chicago and Henckel. If I could expect to see the same or more between the Chicago and a Messermeister it could be worth upgrading. I have also wanted to learn to sharpen my own knives, but have heard many horror stories of people ruining their knife. I didn't want to risk it without having something else. Buying the new knife allows me to use the Chicago to learn to sharpen. I suppose I could have gotten a decent second hand knife at a thrift store, but where's the fun in that?

            The last element is something I think most people on this site suffer from and that's kitchen porn. We like new gadgets and tools. I was ready for a new toy and what better way to satisfy that itch than with a nice quality piece. Though I really didn't want to do it if there was nothing to be gained.


            1. re: JuniorBalloon

              :) No, we (eiron and I ) are not asking why you got the knife. Pretend you don't know the original poster, if you read that original post, how would you answer that post. Just imagine a month later, another poster ask the same question you have posted here. How will you answer that post? :)

        2. They included more in this thread than I had anticipated, but oh well. This is meant as a place to ask sharpening questions so as not to clutter the other thread.

          I worked on my knife last night and gave it a workout on the 800 and then the 1200 at a slightly less steep angle. The back of the blade was approx 3/8th off the stone. I also used a different stroke. I had watched the Chefs-Knives-Togo videos where he does a back and forth motion on a section at a time. Another video I watched did a sweeping motion where the entire blade was in contact withe the stone. I think I like this better as it seemed more consistent, both in the amount of work each part of the blade recieved as well as the angle.

          This resulted in an even sharper blade and smoother cutting through a tomato. I'm sure there are several different methods that people use and have tried. Curious to hear your method and what works for you and what didn't?


          2 Replies
          1. re: JuniorBalloon

            check out youtube "Japanese knife sharpening"

            1. re: JuniorBalloon

              Well, I must say my sharpening technique is a mix bag. I will say that I sharpen much more like Mark Richmond from Chefknivestogo than others, but I wasn't influenced by him since I started sharpened way before his videos. I might have picked up that "section" technique from Dave Martell's video. Though I have to say Thomas Stuckey made a bigger impact on me -- initially anyway. I don't increase my sharpening angle gradually from stone to stone. I know some people do that, but I find it difficult. It is just too difficult to change the angle from 15 to 16 to 17....etc. If I increase, it will be a real increase to give it a microbevel.

              When I sharpen my knives, I usually start off like Mark Richmond/Dave Martell, one section at a time, but then I will spend less time in each section and sharpen more like a zig-zag motion (both Mark and Dave do this too). At the end, I will do sweeping motions. Curtis Chung does sweeping motion from beginning to end and he produces very good edge. There are arguments to be made for both strategies.

              What is more intereting is how people sharpen the other side of the blade. Some people switch hand, like Mark, like Dave, and I belong this group, but many more people flip/rotate the knife and keep the knife on the same hand. In other words, they sharpen one side with edge leading and the other side with edge trailing. Many Japanese do that.


            2. I was working with my Chicago and while it appears very sharp it does not glide along on the cutting board. It feels sticky. Normally when chopping carrots, or scallions I use a slice and slide motion that moves the blade in an oval. I'm sure I must have a ragged edge, but not sure how I clean that up.

              The other night when I was sharpening I was able to work up a burr on both sides and thought I finished it off clean. Certainly when doing the tomato test it didn't feel like it was grabbing, much smoother though not as smooth as the Messermiester.


              3 Replies
              1. re: JuniorBalloon

                I don't know what cutting board you have, but it is not uncommon for a sharp knife drag on a cutting board, especially the cutting board is kinda of soft like most plastic and rubber cutting boards. I don't think that indicates you did anything wrong.

                I don't understand "slice and slide motion that moves the blade in an oval"? Do you mean "rock chopping"? Rock chop is classic/standard European form. Here is a video for rock chopping, is that what you mean?


                In term of cleaning the edge, have you try this "stropping on stone method" at the 6:10 min mark?


                I like to do a rough strop on leather. Just try any leather belt and see if it makes a difference:


                Once you really like, you can get a real strop setup.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I have a plastic, well used, board with many cut marks.

                  Yes that is the technique I'm referring to. Slide the knife forward and down then lift and pull back. If you pick a fixed point on the blade it would be making an oval. Though I must say that fellow was wasting a lot of potato. :)

                  I think the stone or leather stropping may be the missing step.


                  1. re: JuniorBalloon

                    "Though I must say that fellow was wasting a lot of potato. :)"

                    That is Norman Weinstein to you. A big name chef-instructor from Institute of Culinary Education. :P