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Jan 10, 2012 11:45 PM

Brand new knife already dull?

So when I was choosing a new knife I nicked myself twice on the display knives at Kitchen Stuff plus. When I got my new henckel chefs knife home I was being careful because I thought I was dealing with something much sharper than I was used to. This was about 2 weeks ago and it already seems that the knife has either dulled or never was as sharp as I thought. I just spent 120$ on a knife. I don't really think it's fair to be expected to shell out another 20$ to get it sharpened so soon.

How do you all test if your knife is as sharp as it 'should' be? I can't get all the way through an onion easily to do a proper dice, and I felt like it was dragging a bit on the soft tomato I was testing it on. Very frustrating!

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  1. What kind of cutting board are you using? What have you cut with this knife?

    1. If you search various cooking boards you'll discover that a lot of people, including me, have discovered that most knives of that sort (Henckels, Wushhof, &c sold in higher-end chain stores) actually aren't that sharp out of the box. Ironically, cheap stamped knives from Ikea or a restaurant supply store are often sharper when you get them out of their plastic packaging.

      As for how *I* test a knife, I do it the way you did. I rock-cut a pepper (skin side down for me, but skin side up is probably a better test of sharpness) or dice an onion, or drag it over the skin of a tomato . If the knife requires any effort, I get out my sharpening tools (a DMT diamond hone, which can put an edge on anything) and sharpen away. The DMT cost me more than the knife did, by a few bucks, but it means I can put a decent edge on almost any cheap knife I encounter.

      1. Many things can come into play like fmed pointed out the board and materials cut. Do you have a honing steel and use it? Couple of strokes may fix you right up.

        If the steel doesn't remedy it a resharpening is called for. $20 for resharpening a dulled knife, ie no damaged tip or chips, is quite high


        1 Reply
        1. re: knifesavers

          It is impressive the improvement the honing steel can do. Watch Julia child explain on the French Chef how to use it and you can save some money.

        2. Well, I think the best way is to learn to sharpen your knives, but that is an entirely different topic.

          As for what actually happened, there are a few likely possibility. First, it is that your cutting boards are very bad. I hope you are not using a glass cutting board or marble cutting board. Second, the knives have been put in dishwashers. Third, it is your cutting techniques. Your cutting technique is poor.

          1. lf your knife felt sharp when you bought it and now feels dull, two weeks later, chances are that it is. You can test, if you wish, by slicing a sheet of newspaper (or at least printer paper). If the paper isn't sliced cleanly, then the knife is less than sharp.
            But testing on food is equally valid when you're experienced with sharp edges.

            If your knife is dull, the next important thing is to figure out why.
            - If you have glass or marble cutting board, case solved. These are awful for knife edges.
            - If you just throw your knives in a drawer and let em bang around, case solved.
            - If you throw em in the sink or dishwasher in such a way that the edge can just bang around into other implements, case solved.
            - If you used the knife to hack through bones or frozen food or tree branches, case solved.
            - If you never learned good cutting technique and find yourself applying a lot of pressure or wiggling the knife side to side; or if you move foods around your cutting board by pushing it with the knife, dragging the edge along the board, case solved... sort of. These things are bad for a knife edge, but not as bad as the problems I mentioned above. Still, they'll cause you to dull prematurely.

            If none of these apply, there are still various reasons why your knife could be dull. The edge could be rolled, in which case a light honing should return the sharpness of the blade. Do you have a steel? If so, try using it and then check the edge. If not, you can even steel on the rounded edge of a marble countertop or on the spine of another knife. If your edge is rolled, then steeling for a minute or two should make the knife sharp again. This type of thing can be the result of a problem with the initial sharpening and/or a result of the steel of the blade being comparatively soft for the angle it's set at.

            I would think that 2 weeks is a little quick for a big drop off in sharpness for most home cooks' knives, but if you're using them extensively enough, then it could have just dulled normally. If I lent out a sharp knife to a professional line cook who works in a busy kitchen, I would expect a dull knife returned after 2 weeks. Some knives dull quicker than others, but ALL knives will dull noticeably under heavy usage with no maintenance. Whether your knife cost $30 or $120 or $1000, it will go dull with heavy use and will need to be sharpened for optimum (or acceptable) performance. Because of this, the most cost effective way to have very sharp knives year round is to learn to sharpen for yourself. I'll say the same thing I say in all of these threads: sharpening is more important than what knives you have.

            45 Replies
            1. re: cowboyardee

              "Whether your knife cost $30 or $120 or $1000, it will go dull ...sharpening is more important than what knives you have."

              Agree. It is infinitely better to have "a Victorinox $20 knife and knowing show to sharpen it" than to get a "$1000 Henckels Kramer knife"

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Only cut fruits and veggies.
                Wooden cutting board.
                Hand washed.
                My cutting technique isn't pro but it certainly isn't bad.
                This is really disappointing.
                There is some drag on the tomato. Noticed it last night.
                After buying this stupid knife it'll be awhile before I can afford something decent to sharpen it with.

                1. re: Nocontact

                  If you can't afford to buy something to sharpen it, you can have it professionally sharpened. It should only cost a few bucks per knife, not $20.

                  1. re: MelMM

                    Any idea where in Toronto I can get it sharpened well for that price? I looked at Knifetoronto and it was $14 for my chef's knife. I've read some nightmare stories about Nella's and I don't want to part with it for a week.

                    1. re: Nocontact

                      "Any idea where in Toronto I can get it sharpened well for that price? I looked at Knifetoronto and it was $14 for my chef's knife. I've read some nightmare stories about Nella's and I don't want to part with it for a week."

                      $14.00 sounds like a lot of money,but Eugene at Knife or Ivan or Olivia at Tosho Knife arts will make your knife sing..They both have sharpening classes(one is free,very basic and they both have more advanced classes,not free)

                      Whatever you do don't send them to Nella!!

                      I forgot to add that both places hand sharpen with top notch stones,none of those grinders used to sharpen ice skates... :-D

                      1. re: petek

                        Kitchen Stuff Plus sharpens knives (the one at Yonge/Highway 7 does anyway) but I don't know how good of a job they do.

                        I was in the audience of a CityTV taping a few months ago and they gave everybody these: They work great and are fairly inexpensive (~$25).

                        I make sure to sharpen my knife before every use.

                      2. re: Nocontact

                        don't let nella sharpen it, and i have a lot of henckel pro knives which are the same steel and mine definitely last more then 2 weeks without being sharpened, and i use them professionally. That said, I do hone them pretty much every day that I use them, sometimes more then once. Perhaps your method of honing isn't correct or maybe it just needs to be steeled a bit more. If I was in Toronto I'd take a look at them for you, but I am in Barrie right now and not for much longer. My professional S knives I have at 18 degrees which is less the the recommended but I still have no problem keeping them sharp by honing.

                        1. re: TeRReT

                          Petek and TeRReT,

                          Ok..... I have been holding my tongue... , but what is Nalla? Is that a person who has this horrible reputation that both of you condemn? Or is this a hardware store chain?

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            nella is a restaurant supply store, they have store fronts where you can buy decent things, and also rent/sell all equipment to outfit a restaurant. They are very good at this. They also provide a knife service to restaurants, they have knives similar to victorionox that they replace weekly and take your old ones to sharpen. Its a decent enough idea, but they use a wheel grinder and grind the crap out of them. Again, thats fine since they are cheap knives and its a cheap service, but they don't take the care that other places would so I wouldn't want to send my own personal knives there. Places like Knife will sharpen by hand with great care.



                            as a company I do like them, and they are probably the biggest restaurant supplier for most of ontario, and I likely will use them in the future, and have friends that work there, just I wouldn't send my knives to be sharpened is all.

                        2. re: Nocontact


                          that was just posted today, they do sharpening for $5 and the store looks mighty fun :P

                          I will be going there this week and will let you know how it is ;P

                          1. re: TeRReT

                            $5+ :)

                            So I am guessing a big knife will cost closer to $10. It is still pretty inexpensive as it does waterstone sharpening by hand. It is probably overkill for a Henckels :D I bet the store will lure Nocontact in and say "Why don't you take a look of this Japanese knife while fill out the paperwork" :D

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              bah, i was too excited reading about the store i missed the +, its right around the corner from where i get my korean food so looking forward to going there this week, though im not in the market really given in 2 weeks i will be in japan, but still, and Petek already mentioned Tosho but still.

                              1. re: TeRReT

                                Have fun in Japan, and don't forget to take a few pictures about foods and knives as you zoom around in Japan. Where will you be? Tokyo? Osaka?

                      3. re: Nocontact

                        Hmmm... in that case, I cannot really see anything obvious. It sounds like the knife is only lightly used.

                        Instead of sharpening it... do you have a honing steel? As cowboyardee said, maybe your knife edge is still there, but it has been rolled/bent. You can realign it using a steel.


                        1. re: Nocontact

                          Two questions:

                          Exactly which Henckels knife did you buy? Doesn't necessarily make a huge difference, but it might guide the discussion a bit.

                          Also, what exactly do you mean by 'There is some drag on the tomato'? In other words, it's hard to gauge from your description just how dull it is right now.

                          I agree with Chem (who agrees with me ;) ) - consider steeling the edge and see if that helps before moving on to more drastic measures.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            I bought a 4-star 8" chef's knife.
                            I used a ceramic honing rod on it last night which just arrived from amazon, didn't seem to make much difference if any.
                            It certainly won't cut paper cleanly.
                            I just meant that if I take it to a tomato, it doesn't go through the skin with minimal effort. It feels like it's pulling a bit.

                            1. re: Nocontact

                              Make sure you are using a 20 degree angle. That's what the manufacturer recommends:

                              The key is to maintain a consistent angle on both sides. The angle is so important. Its the difference between a good edge and a perfect edge that's durable.


                              "Maintaining consistency is a primary reason freehand sharpening with benchstones or waterstones is a little tricky. It takes a lot of experience and practice to keep the edge at a constant angle stroke after stroke using only your hands and eyes."

                              Just be patent it will work.

                              1. re: Nocontact

                                Thanks for the description of how your edge is currently performing. It definitely sounds dull. Might not have been that sharp to start off, but it would be impossible for me to say for sure. Not all knives come sharp when new, even expensive knives.

                                Generally speaking, a ceramic rod should be able to hone a knife and fix an edge that is slightly rolled (an edge that is completely folded probably needs something more aggressive, but then we're talking about sharpening again rather than honing). That's only if you use it right though. When you use the rod, apply a couple pounds of pressure (lay your hand on a scale and see what a couple pounds feels like -- that's not much) and hone at about 20-25 degrees each side, making sure you alternate sides with each stroke for the last few strokes of the honing. You can safely hone at an angle a few degrees more obtuse than the angle of the edge. Again, a few degrees is NOT MUCH. But if you hone at too shallow an angle, you won't touch the edge itself and the hone won't make any difference to the sharpness of the blade.

                                If the honing ceramic rod still doesn't get you a sharp edge after another try, I suggest taking it to a well-reviewed professional at least once so you start off with a reliably well-crafted edge. Unfortunately, I don't know Toronto so I can't tell you where to take it. The Toronto board might help you. Here is a (slightly out of date) thread to start you off:

                                After that, I recommend you reconsider a sharpening strategy for the long run. There are many methods of keeping your knives sharp, and they all have upsides and downsides (ok, some have a lot more downsides than upsides). I made a thread a while back comparing various sharpening methods. Here is a link:

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    Sorry, missed that, this forum is a little hard to navigate sometimes with replies not necessarily coming in order. Thanks. I'll have a look. And thanks cowboyardee.

                              2. re: Nocontact

                                Should cost less than 20$ for honing steel.

                                1. re: melpy

                                  Who said anything about $20 for a honing steel?

                                  1. re: melpy

                                    Nocontact has a ceramic rod. No need for a sharpening steel.

                                    The ceramic rod should do it if it's used correctly. I'm guessing the angle used on the rod is to acute so not getting the edge

                                  2. re: Nocontact

                                    You may want to look at a book called _An Edge in the Kitchen_ by Chad Ward, whose blog is at He discusses many aspects of sharpening, including an inexpensive technique using a mousepad and adhesive sandpaper. I haven't tried that, but he seems to be a credible source. Find a cheap knife, try his technique, see if it works.

                                    1. re: KWagle

                                      The mousepad and sandpaper method is cheap in a sense. However, it is actually a method of sharpening or converting to a convex edge (which has some upsides - Globals come with convex edges normally). A piece of wet dry sandpaper tends to wear down quickly so the cost adds up eventually. And though it's pretty fast on a knife that you are converting to a convex edge for the first time, once an edge is already convex, it can be a fairly slow way of sharpening a knife since you can only sharpen in one direction.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                        I went to Tosho knife, nice people and Olivia sharpened it on the spot for $8 which I thought was fair. It does feel as thought there's a burr on one side (i think that's what it's called, it feels a little rougher on one side and rounded on the other) but that may be what I needed. I thought the german blade should be a V but I don't know if one side should be slightly rougher. It certainly does seem sharper, I'm just still a little confused if both sides should be smooth.

                                        1. re: Nocontact

                                          "$8 which I thought was fair"

                                          $8 is pretty cheap for hand sharpening.

                                          "It does feel as thought there's a burr on one side"

                                          That's not good. It shouldn't has a burr. It does not matter if it is an French knife or a Japanese knife. It is not a good thing to have a burr at the end.

                                          "It certainly does seem sharper"

                                          Can you slice paper at the very least?

                                          "I'm just still a little confused if both sides should be smooth."

                                          If Tosho knife is not too far away from work, then I would suggest you to stop by and tell them exactly what you told us.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            It can slice paper now so that's a good thing for sure.

                                            When I say burr, I may not be describing it properly. What I mean is, when I flick my thumb or finger along the edge on one side I can feel a little resistance, but when I do it along the other edge it feels smooth. Again, I don't know if this is normal or not, I would have guessed either both sides would be a little rough or both would be smooth. Any thoughts?

                                            And I agree, $8 is very reasonable. Just hope it doesn't mean another trip there so soon!

                                            1. re: Nocontact

                                              "What I mean is, when I flick my thumb or finger along the edge on one side I can feel a little resistance, but when I do it along the other edge it feels smooth."
                                              Sounds like a burr. But I can't say with 100% certainty without seeing it first hand.

                                              I agree with Chem - if it's not a huge inconvenience, bring it back to em and have em take a look at it. If they left a burr, I suspect they'll happily remove it for you.

                                              1. re: Nocontact

                                                I agree with cowboyardee. If it is a burr, they will fix it for you for free. It is such a basic thing that I cannot imagine any professional sharpener will charge you for their mistakes. Even if it is not a burr, they will able to fix the problem for you.

                                                If you are busy in the next few days, then just give them a call, and say you will bring it in a week or something. It does not have to be done today.

                                                1. re: Nocontact

                                                  I'll third the burr likelyhood. I know what you are describing and for me it isn't done until that is gone.

                                                  Imagine a wedge like this ^ where the right side goes a bit longer. Running your finger on the right it is smooth, running it on the left you feel it.

                                                  The knife may cut very well but the burr can fold over and then the knife goes dull.


                                                  1. re: Nocontact

                                                    drag it through a wine cork to see if you can remove the burr.

                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                      I can't believe Olivia from Tosho would leave a burr on your edge..But as scubadoo suggests,drag it through a cork or lightly strop it on some cardboard.
                                                      How cleanly does it slice through paper or a tomato?

                                                      1. re: petek

                                                        It does seem like such a novice mistake. On the other hand, Olivia may have a high volume of work, and sometime the best of us makes the simpliest mistakes when pressed in time.

                                                        If it is a light burr, then it can be removed by dragging across a wine cork or wipe on a leather surface like a leather belt....etc, but it is a large burr, then it may not get remvoed by these softer techniques.

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          I admit it was done during a time when there were other people there and she did seem a little frazzled, I just didn't want to leave it over night but I guess now it's costing me another trip there anyways! And "knifesavers" that's just what it's like, one side smooth, one side rough.

                                                          1. re: Nocontact


                                                            Just call them and tell them the problem, and bring the knife in at a time which works best for you. Obviously, you don't want to take way too long. I say anytime within a month is reasonable.

                                                            They will understand. A knife burr is not something you can create overtime. So if it is a real burr, they will know it is their mistakes. This is different from a knife chip. A knife chip is something that can develop overtime, so if you bring a chipped knife back to them in a month, then they really don't know if it is their mistake or not. A burr is a lot more clear cut.

                                                            P.S.: You can always buy a 1000 grit stone when you are there the second time. :)

                                          2. re: Nocontact

                                            What kind of wood is your cutting board? I was reading an article in last month's Cooks Illustrated and they concluded that a teak cutting board was the best material to prevent your knife from dulling too quickly. We use a teak cutting board but still make sure to run our knives through the hand-held sharpener before every use.

                                            1. re: ladooShoppe

                                              CI is talking out of their arse...teak is a bitch on cutting tools, mine anyway

                                              1. re: ladooShoppe

                                                I don't know if tweak wood is the worse, but I seriously doubt tweak wood is the top 50%, let's alone being the best. Cook Illustrated often writes the most stupid thing. I would really appreciate ( really) if you can share this link or something because if Cook Illustrated really wrote that, then I think many here would like to read it.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  I don't know if hardness tells the whole story but here is a list of woods and the Janka hardness scale. Ex. Teak is 1155 Maple is 1450


                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                    Hi scubadoo,

                                                    My understanding is that there is a concern for teak's higher concentration of silica. It is not clear, but silica embedded wood may dull a knife edge faster than the Janka hardness scale may suggest.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      Interesting. I didn't know about the silica connection.

                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                        I forgot to give you this link. It is from a short thread from a month ago:


                                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        Doesn't the chowhound thread you linked include a link to the CI article? The links are and

                                                        I do not have a CI account, so I cannot tell for sure if that article concludes proteak is the best, but it is one of the tested boards. It looks like there were only two end grain boards included, so maybe it is not too surprising—just a silly comparison.