HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


Sharp knives: do those who are into edges intimidate other folks? Knife addition?????

A post otherwise here made me ask this. I know I have knife-edge "Ausbergers". Meaning I beyond, love sharp. I adore knives, I have spend in relation to other needs to live items, absurd amounts on a knife I crave. Yes. I have sharpened Exo-blades.

I am addicted to sharp, OK ultra sharp. I want to look at the beauty of my knife, the balance, it's soul and know such a minor task as slicing a ripe tomato is child's play.

Schreeeeching stop!

Few of us share this ideal (but it does drive others out!).

So lets be kind and not say stuff like "your now knife cannot cut that?!?" And start to understand and move folks forward.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. oh quine, i feel your reaching out, your desire to make us understand the pristine, idealistic -- nay, utopian, idea of knives. the platonic ideal of knives is your quest. i admire that.

    just bring us along gently. we will come to understand, i think. in fact, i know many of us will strive to do so. just consider that we are limited in our imaginations about how fine a knife can be, how it can fulfill so many desires, and lead to happiness and contentment with life.

    carry on, dear quine, carry on.

    however, if i ever see you on CSI, i will have to retract my post. ;-).

    2 Replies
    1. re: alkapal

      "however, if i ever see you on CSI, i will have to retract my post."

      Actually, I was thinking Dexter...

    2. I think you may be talking to me because in another post I wrote "Unless you are peeling a tomato, your Chef's knife is exactly the right tool for cutting a tomato" -- an idea I still stand by. Now, a Chef's knife may not be sharp enough to cut a tomato, but it is not flaw of the design. A Chef's knife is designed to able to cut a tomato.

      Now if you look at it from a different angle, don't you think the idea that I need to buy a special tomato knife to cut tomatoes seems just as scary to others. Imagine the other way around, if another poster wrote "I want to buy a Chef's knife to cut tomato" and I took on the opposite stance and wrote "No, you need to buy a specialized tomato knife" Is that really less scary?

      1. If your chef's knife can't cut tomatoes, you have a problem. I can shave with mine.

        1. Quine: I'm really not sure what your point is. You pose a couple questions in the title that seem utterly unrelated to the body of the post.

          From my perspective as a knifemaker and (relatively) recent arrival here on CH, the fervent group of knife and sharpening hobbyists who post here are extremely kind to folks, including newbs. I've actually learned a lot from them. They are very free and giving with their knowledge and recommendations, and in many cases have suffered fools gladly and gently. I think it can be easy for someone whose sense of worth involves showing off his/her knowledge to be intimidated by being challenged by another who MIGHT have more knowledge. So my answer to your title's first question is "No."

          As to your second question, I assume you are asking about a separate knife board or sub-board. Personally, I PRAY to see a separate board for all things Le Creuset (so that I can avoid it), but the truth of the matter is that the Cookware board doesn't get enough new daily postings to be bothersome and a burial detail (like the General and Home Cooking boards have become). AND, many of the "knife Mafia" here make regular contributions to Cookware that are either dehors from knives or concern their cooking with them. To the extent CH wants a plebiscite on this question, my vote is to keep knifes in Cookware.

          2 Replies
          1. re: kaleokahu

            +1 on a Le Creuset/Dutch Oven Forum

            1. re: smkit

              You two really have a good sense of humor.

          2. I'm a completely new member here, and my only post about the prospect of buying a new knife turned into 80+ replies and I now have that knife and another knife on the way as well as some sharpening stones...

            I obviously wasn't intimidated, but rather sucked in. lol

            Now... in the real world, I will say this: My wife and a few other people I have talked to are terrified of sharp knives. While intellectually they may understand that a dull knife is dangerous, they still can't get past the fear of sharp knives. The Shun I purchased is fairly sharp out of the box - sharper than any of the knives that have been in my kitchen. It's not nearly as sharp as what it could be (and hopefully will be once I get some sharpening skills down). Still, my wife has no desire to get even remotely close to it, even though it would be much safer for her to use than any of the dull knives. (OK... it IS bigger than what she's comfortable with, too - that doesn't help.)

            Also, it's very true that many people don't understand the idea of spending even a modest amount on a decent knife. I made a comparison for someone who gasped at the $100 price tag on a knife. I said that we have a $300 Kitchenaid mixer. I certainly use it often, but not nearly as much as I use a knife in the kitchen. If spending $100 makes my cutting more enjoyable, more functional, AND safer, then it seems like a good investment. (Yes, I know I could spend less and still get those things, but come on... Give me a little room for extravagance!)

            8 Replies
                  1. re: KaBudokan

                    KaBudokan: "My wife and a few other people I have talked to are terrified of sharp knives. While intellectually they may understand that a dull knife is dangerous, they still can't get past the fear of sharp knives."

                    My spouse and I share the cooking duties in our home. We have about eight or nine "good" knives, and I regularly use about four of them: different knives according to the task at hand (I use the other knives for rare specialty purposes, like carving the Thanksgiving turkey). In contrast, my spouse uses just one knife -- a Brazilian forged full tang carbon steel "petty" or utility knife with about a 7" blade -- for everything other than major cleaving of large objects.

                    As you can imagine, with all that use, my spouse's knife gets dull rather more quickly than any of the knives that I use that individually endure less use; so I frequently will steel my spouse's utility knife to straighten the edge out. My kindness is not always greeted with thanks, however, as those times when I have steeled the knife without remembering to tell my spouse that I have done so, the surprise factor the first time thereafter that the knife is used apparently is unpleasant.

                    1. re: Politeness

                      Next time you steel it, just put a rubber band around the handle to remind your wife that you've sharpened the blade.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        Excellent idea Alka!! Use one of those thick tight ones especially blue ones that come around broccoli bunches. I find many many uses for rubber bands in my kitchen.

                        1. re: Quine

                          those rubber bands are keepers, aren't they?!

                          i've seen tv chef ann burrell (?) cook asparagus with that rubber band (is it possibly silicone, or can one boil rubber at regular cooking temperatures without adverse consequences?) left on the bunch.

                  2. And now... looking at your title, it just hit me - you meant to say "knife addiction," right?

                    (I was looking for where you asked about adding a knife... lol )

                    18 Replies
                    1. re: KaBudokan

                      Oh, I was wondering the addition part too. I was like. Buying more knife? Or like kaleo said "A New Board on Knives?"

                      1. re: KaBudokan

                        Yes, it was a typo, ah, the difference one letter can make.

                        1. re: Quine

                          Quine: OK, I still don;t get your point.

                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            Point is our love of all thinks sharp and knifey can intimidate others.
                            "So lets be kind and not say stuff like "your now knife cannot cut that?!?" And start to understand and move folks forward.

                            I have met too many people who are afraid to buy a decent knife because they are afraid of making a mistake. Don't like a great knife but will not return it or try another because "it's a fantastic knife" So it spends it's life in a drawer until it finally ends up in a thrift shop. Where I will happily buy it.

                            As Alka said above, sometimes we need to bring people along slowly.

                            1. re: Quine

                              goodness gracious, who in the world doesn't want a sharp knife? seriously. people are afraid of sharp knives? as noted, they should -- if they had any sense about them -- be afraid of dull knives.

                              this unreasonable fear of sharp knives is typical of emotional ideas running over common sense in a freakin' stampede.

                              1. re: alkapal

                                Here's an adage I just made up:

                                A dull knife is only more dangerous when you're not TRYING to cut someone.

                                Is that too dark for chowhound? Here's a smiley face :)

                                Anyway, you're actually a good deal more likely to give yourself a mostly-harmless nick or two with a sharp knife than a dull one. Lots of people seem to be very afraid even of a little nick.

                                Also, people who have never played with sharp knives before have often given themselves little cuts when they come to my house because they're not used to respecting the edge like you have to with my knives. Nothing serious.

                                However, a dull knife is far more likely to slip off of something to which you are applying a great deal of force and leave a deep, jagged gash in your flesh that won't easily heal.

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  Amen on friends cutting themselves when visting. My former FIL thought I was out to get him, when he cut himself using my knives.

                              2. re: Quine

                                Quine: OK, I think I get your point, but let me quibble with the verb "intimidate". Unlike many of the posters here into production knives, I'm a complete reprobate when it comes to this-vs-that. Therefore I can see how some arcane comparisons here (especially when Japanese words are bandied about) might CONFUSE or OVERWHELM someone in search of buying "a decent knife", but there are MANY threads here where someone has pleaded some degree of ignorance/inexperience, and asked for a simple recommendation and gotten it without a protracted congress over squeezing the last .01% of performance/price out of a blade. I just don't see the intimidation factor here.

                                I sense that you think others are put off when the posters here who have deep and broad experience and expertise talk amongst themselves. Personally, I have fun trying to keep (and catch) up, like being at a gathering of physicists talking shop. I frequently make a fool of myself, but always learn something.

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  I agree that I wasn't necessarily intimidated, but rather overwhelmed by how uninformed I was.

                                  At the same time, I appreciate the efforts everyone put in to try to help me understand more. Without their guidance, I would have probably picked up the 1st knife that the salesperson recommended at Williams-Sonoma. (Which would certainly be a fine knife, but I am glad I listened and got some other options.) I also would have not been particularly happy once that knife dulled a bit and I felt like I didn't know the best route to sharpen it. (I have to admit I have a low-end Chef's Choice sharpener, and I now know that I would have hated myself if I put a better knife through that thing!)

                                  I now feel like I have a better understanding of some knife basics - both in terms of knife properties/qualities as well as sharpening.

                                  1. re: KaBudokan


                                    :) We all walked pass the same path at one point and another, so sometime we just like to answer more than we are asked for -- which is why you probably got more advises than you initial asked for. This is because we wanted so much to solve the root of the troubles and not just the superficial symptoms. Sure we can just say stick your Shun knife into the Chef's Choice sharpener, but I think that may not be the most responsible thing to do.

                                    Kinda of like if someone say, I fill up the mechnical oil in my car a week ago, but now it is getting low. I want to buy another bottle. Well, should we suggest a new bottle of oil or should we point out there is a leak?


                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      I was a bit overwhelmed, but extremely grateful for the help and knowledge. I'm much less overwhelmed and much better informed now. (Is it possible to just be "whelmed"? You can be overwhelmed and underwhelmed... What about just whelmed?)

                                      My wife may not appreciate my new obsession, but I do. lol

                                      1. re: KaBudokan


                                        In all honesty, I think the early replies to your posts were cool, but as those knife folks started to gather and talk among each others, then some of the information were not directed at you and those can be a bit confusing. Nevertheless, I considered those information are something you can tune in and tune out.

                                        In real life, I am a scientist, but I specalize only in one tiny field. When two biologists come together and start talking about biology. I just try to pick up as much as I can, and let the rest passes. I think that is the key. To absorb what you are comfortable, and not worry about understanding everything.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Oh yeah - I could obviously tell when the conversation was taking a direction I didn't need to pay attention to.

                                          I absorbed what I'm comfortable with and learned a little bit. I DID order a Tojiro, didn't I? lol (Which, incidentally, should be waiting for me when I get home. Unfortunately I won't be home until later tonight - maybe midnight or so. WHat am I going to cut at midnight???)

                                          1. re: KaBudokan

                                            Yeesh - make sure it's not your fingers!

                                  2. re: kaleokahu

                                    I'll quibble. Many people don't realize when their " deep and broad experience and expertise" ends up intimidating others. Frequently these are folks who are passionate about the subject. Which is why I used the term "Ausbergers" in my original post. I am not saying that folks are trying to intimidate but I am suggesting some folks unintentionally end up as doing such. Overawe is an intimidation factor.
                                    Funny thing about intimidation; people who are seldom intimidated have very little concept of how much they can intimidate. For example, I am sure that your use of ALL Caps in your above post did not mean you were yelling those words at me which is the commonly accepted denotation of all caps in a online discussion. But rather you wanted to only give a certain weight, that a vocal inflection would. Did you mean to intimidate by "shouting" at me or was it meant solely for emphasis and you were unconscience of it's intimidation factor?

                                    Good quibble? (g)

                                    1. re: Quine

                                      Quine. Yours was a fine quibble. OK (no shouting there, IMHO), I get your point. I was confused by your title and where you were coming from--apparently you consider yourself to be in the group that you think sometimes intimidates. I still think that to be intimidated by knowledge, one's ego or self-worth has to be driving the bus.

                                      I think it is pretty obvious my use of capital letters wasn't shouting. Your reply indicates it was obvious to you. In the absence of bold, underscore or Italics typefaces, those who would be intimidated at the use of single-word capitalizations by taking them as as shouting are oversensitive. They would probably be intimidated by an exclamation point!

                                      But your reply raises an interesting philosophical question: Is there any positive role for (non-personalized and polite) rhetorical and polemic "intimidation" to play on these boards? If an idea of CH is to educate and debate, then I think there is a limited role. What do you think?

                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        I think that further discuss online these line would be off topic and deleted. further discussion of this can be carried on privately, via email. It's fun.

                                    2. re: kaleokahu

                                      "I frequently make a fool of myself, but always learn something."

                                      Double that sentiment for me.
                                      Or triple, even....

                            2. Sharpening a knife w/ a whet stone, and a glass of wine, sure as Hell is a lot less scary than watching watching the evening news. Relaxing.
                              My brother just brought me an old Sabatier that my dad found sticking out of a stump 59 years ago, while picking wild mushrooms in NJ. The knife is half the width, but still wicked sharp.
                              How can one fillet fresh fish w/out a very sharp knife?
                              Although no longer in use, my Navy K-bar is still up in the attic, razor sharp.
                              Now a bunch of 19 year old Marines sitting on top a bunker in Nam sharpening K-Bars singing The Rolling Stones, "Satisfaction" is a scary thought, unless you realize what a rolly-polly group of old men we are now.
                              Carpe Chow

                              1. Sometimes it's hard for people to grasp the benefit of sharp vs dull. A 3lb bag of onions divided in half, one for the dull, one for the sharp explains it pretty well.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: SanityRemoved

                                  True! People learn in different ways, some visual, some by listening and some by experimenting or hands on. Excellent point.

                                2. I don't know a ton about knives, but I love reading the opinions of those who do. I'm a culinary student and long time home cook, and I definitely appreciate the difference a sharp knife can make in a kitchen. As a result, discussions I've read here have led me to the Chefknivestogo website, where I'm about to purchase the Fujiwara 210 gyuto and a combo stone. I've never found the discussions to be snooty or elitist... so I say keep it all coming!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: malkazanie

                                    :) I am glad our conversation help. It is my experience that most of the knives folks here are very down-to-earth and very honest about their thought. They are certainly less snooty or elitist than other boards.

                                  2. Addicted to knives? Oh maybe, I have a bay window in my kitchen and I leave my knives lined up with the blades facing the evening sun , because when I come home from work I go right to the window and admire the sun reflecting off of the mirror edge of them , oh gawd

                                    4 Replies
                                      1. re: Dave5440

                                        Dave, I'm similar, but maybe a little worse. I sit is our kitchen nook w/ a glass of wine, before dinner, listen to Mozart, and sharpen a knife of choice, usually the one I will use to prepare dinner. Very relaxing.
                                        This thread got me thinking about the USMC and the K-Bar knife. As I stated above the jar heads would sit around in groups sharpening their K-Bars, shootin' the shit, for relaxation; kind of a girl or car substitute for a young man. Poignant, sad and a little creepy.
                                        The K-Bar was an all around tool.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          Ya that is a little creepy reminds me of Hamibal , that K-bar is pretty nifty I'll have to keep an eye out for one

                                      2. I have found that a high end knife is all well and good, but a Wusthoff and dare I say Forschner knife sharpened by a professional grinder will be as sharp as a razor and will stay that way for a while due to the fact that a good knife grinder/sharpener knows how to sharpen a knife from top to bottom. Basically, you don't have to spend $300 on a knife unless you really, really want to. I also like to use an offset serrated knife for slicing tomatoes

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: awm922

                                          Sending a knife to be sharpened is a bit like having sex w/out foreplay; I enjoy sharpening my knives.
                                          On the other hand, my most used knife is a Cutco serrated large pairing style knife. My BIL sold them in college in the sixties, we inherited it from my MIL, and we send it back to the factory for it's yearly free sharpening. The handle is just so damn comfortable, he says sheepishly.

                                          1. re: awm922

                                            Oh this is so hard to be polite, All I can say is try a Japanese blade once,I got mine sharper than the factory and even a 10$ ginsu knife will cut a tomato

                                            1. re: Dave5440

                                              Yes you are right on the issue of Japanese knives, my son was a professional chef and had his Jap. stteel (He cooked Martha Stewart her birthday meal when he was sixteen). For a professional chef, I can understand, but for a poor slob, school teacher cook, like me, I sharpen my own; my hunting and filleting too; it is all part of the love of cooking act.
                                              Thanks so much for being polite.

                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                It wasn't hard being polite to you Pass, other post

                                              2. re: Dave5440

                                                I have used was very impressed by Japanese knives. Rationalizing the cost of them, if not in a professional capacity, is tough. What would you recommend?

                                                1. re: awm922

                                                  I heard of arguments both ways. Some say only professionals need to spend that much for a knife due to the higher performance demand and the frequent use. Some argue that only home cooks need the finer things and professionals simply need to get by. Moreover knives get abused and get lost in a professional environment.

                                                  The rationalization is subjective. Many people will not spend more than $50 for a knife, yet some will spend more than $300. Many people do not have an iPhone, yet some do. If given the choice, I would rather spend $300 on a knife than a cell phone, but that is me. I am sure most people choose the other way.

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Very good point, well stated. Tho' I do think Anthony Bourdain has the best professional knife quote, illustrating that those who have serious knives in their professional kitchens guard them pretty well.

                                                    And I am sure that alot of us really want both.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      I'm using a 4yr old 30$ samsung cell , so i think you have a great point I wouldn't hesitate to spend even 500$ for a knife , but more than 50 for a cell ,,, not a chance