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Knife Trouble. Sharp, but no edge??

I have a Henckel 4-star chef's knife, not the most impressive knife in the world I know but good for a beginner cook like me on a budget.
Out of the box is was not particularly sharp, so I took it to Eugene at Knife in Toronto. (Good guy by the way.) He sharpened if up for me so I was able to slice through a tomato easily which I know is a good test of sharpness.
It seemed like it was struggling to get through certain foods lately, it would now drag on tomatoes and I can't get all the way through an onion to dice it.
I took it back to knife and Eugene said it was still sharp, just needed a little touch up on his fine sharpening stone and some strop which he generously did. Voila, take it home and it's goes through a tomato like it should.
Strangely though, after two uses, it's now not slicing through a tomato any more! I don't know what I'm doing wrong or if the blade is a dud or what, but this is really frustrating!
How can a knife lose it's edge after making one meal???

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  1. Maybe it's that cement cutting board.

    Try using a steel before each use.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FrankJBN

      I did. Feels like it dulls it even more.

    2. <It seemed like it was struggling to get through certain foods lately>

      How long was the last time it got sharpened? 6 months? A year? If it is a year, then it is time to sharpen again.

      <I took it back to knife and Eugene said it was still sharp, just needed a little touch up on his fine sharpening stone and some strop which he generously did>

      Ok, it sounds like he is saying that the edge is still kind of there, but it rolled or it curled up.

      http://www.seriouseats.com/images/201...

      <How can a knife lose it's edge after making one meal???>

      I think the knife edge has bent. The suggestions from FrankJBN are very good. The standard German knives are tough, but their edges are softer compared to others. This means if you use a hard cutting board, the German knife edge will early roll up and the edge is no longer sharp. At this point, you can straighten/realign it back by using a honing rod.

      101 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        It's a standard wooden cutting board, nothing fancy. It was sharpened a few months ago but like I said, after he tuned it up on the stone it seemed to be back to normal. Don't know if I'm using the ceramic steel incorrectly but it doesn't seem to help. I'm holding it upright and pulling the blade down and across at a 22 degree angle (approx of course). It seems to edge ok on one side but not on the other.

        1. re: Nocontact

          "It seems to edge ok on one side but not on the other."
          ______
          Not sure what you mean by this. Care to elaborate?

          1. re: Nocontact

            As cowboy has said, wood cutting boards are usually gentle to the knife edge, so we can rule this out. Like cowboy, I am not entirely sure what you mean by the edge is ok on one side but not on the other.

            (a) Did you mean you can feel a burr on one side of the knife, but not the other? Burr is like this:

            http://www.egullet.com/imgs/egci/shar...

            If you have a big burr, then you can feel it on one side, but the other as you brush against the knife edge with your fingers.

            (b) Or did you mean the back part (heel) of the knife edge is sharp, but not the front side (tip)? Thanks.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Sorry, I meant after the ceramic steel, the right side (facing me) has some friction to my finger, but the left side is smooth.

              1. re: Nocontact

                Sounds like a folded edge or an intact burr, though there's no way for me to absolutely confirm without feeling it myself. Unfortunately that alone doesn't tell us WHY you had the problem. Most likely the edge would be sharp again after another sharpening, maybe even just a little more work on the honing rod.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  So if I continue to use the honing rod am I at risk of doing any damage? And do I do an even number of strokes on each side or just keep going until it's where I'd like it to be?

                  1. re: Nocontact

                    No damage that can't be undone, anyway. With a honing rod, you're safest doing an even number of strokes per side, and alternating sides, at least with the last few strokes, to make sure you're not pushing the edge toward one side or the other. Go slow.

                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peOy_9...
                    Ignore the second half of this video. This guy has the basic technique down, though you might notice it looks like he's actually honing the one side of the knife at maybe 30 degrees and the other side at half that, and also he's not great at math. Still, that's the kind of set up you want, rather than the wild swinging you sometimes see on TV (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syvvxx...)

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      Thanks, I've learned the tv chef way of doing things isn't the best so I've been doing it the way it's shown in the first video. I'm only doing about 10 strokes a side so maybe thats the issue. I'll keep at it and see what happens.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        "safest doing an even number of strokes per side"

                        How is an even number of strokes safer than an odd number of strokes?

                        1. re: FrankJBN

                          Ha ha ha. You are funny. I never thought of it this way. I love it. :)

                          1. re: FrankJBN

                            Depends on what you consider odd. Some might think 17 strokes per side is 'odd.' But really it's just arbitrary and will do no harm.

                            Now, 17.6487^π stokes per side - that's odd. And extremely difficult to measure. I recommend people stick with integers.

                                1. re: Eiron

                                  I often wonder what would happen if I hone my knife an even number on one side and an odd number on the other side.

                                  It is so uneven and so odd! :)

                                2. re: cowboyardee

                                  Damn, maybe that's the problem. That .6487 always gets me....

                            1. re: Nocontact

                              I usually stay out of these discussions because there are waaaaay too many who have strong opinions, regardless of the evidence, and I'm extremely pragmatic and very much a "cut to the chase" cook (and person). That said, I will now tell you that I have a 60 year old Sabatier 10 inch chef's knife that has NEVER been professionally sharpened, still cuts it's way through a tomato with no pressure from me, but only guidance and the weight of the knife as it slides through. In my opinion, based on been-there/done-that experience, I suspect your problem is your ceramic rod. I bought one once, paid a goodly bit for it. Gave it away after a week's use. I use a honing steel that is at least a hundred years old, it was originally my great grandfather's, and except for the short period when I tried the ceramic rod, I have used that very steel on my Sabatier first EVERY TIME I USE THE KNIFE! Steel first, slice or dice second. It pays off.

                              You probably know most of this, or at least have probably read it somewhere along your quest for a decent knife. Microscopically, a knife's edge is simply a series of jagged "saw" edges (called the "burr") that are so thin and fragile that they will fold over in a relatively few slicing exercises. What a good steel or rod hone does is set that edge back up into cutting position. Your very best friend in determining whether your "steeling skills" are doing the job properly is your THUMB! Pull the pad of your thumb very lightly ACROSS the blade after steeling it. Do you feel the burr? Is it laying more to one side than the other? If it is, you want to do maybe one swipe of the steel to get it to stand up straight again. THEN you will have an easy time slicing tomatoes, dicing onions, and whatever else you want to do. SOMETIMES, depending on what you're cutting, you may need to steel your blade again during use.

                              There is one other thing that may be working against you. That is the "recipe" your knife's manufacturer used in making your knife blade. Most "knife experts" will tell you that carbon steel will take a better edge than "stainless" steel. For the most part, that is true, but NOT CARVED IN STONE! My 10" Sabatier chef's knife is made of "stainless" steel, I bought it in 1961, and have used it daily since, and it holds an edge as well as my 6" Sabatier carbon steel "go to" chef's knife. (Also, when I bought my Sabatier knives, "Sabatier" was a region/town in France where a whole lot of knife makers made "Sabatier" knives, and I don't know which company made my mid-20th century knives. Today you have to be knowledgeable when shopping for "Sabatier" knives or you can end up with junk.) In "stainless" knives, the recipe used to make the steel is critical to how well it will hold an edge. There are a lot of different elements that are used in alloying "stainless" steels, and they determine how well a knife will take an edge, hold an edge, and how easily it can be steeled. I have some knives that LOOK excellent, but trying to get them to take an edge requires about a half hour of steeling because the "recipe" for those knives is good for show but pretty grim if you want to use the knife in any practical way for cooking.

                              I don't know that much about "German" knives (Henkel's is one of that group, regardless of where it's made) because I don't like the heft of German style knives, BUT assuming yours is made of good drop forged steel that will take on a good burr, sounds to me like you need to do some shopping for really good steel. Dump the ceramic! They require a LOT more work than a good steel and won't give the same result. And keep in mind that really good steels have to be cleaned every once in a while because the "iron filings" from sharpening, microscopic though they may be, can pack into the grooves of your steel and greatly reduce its effectiveness. If I absolutely had to replace my ancient steel today, I would look on eBay and in antique shops for an OLD "Sheffield steel" rod that was made in the Sheffield section of England around seventy to a hundred or more years ago. Mine is simply superb. Or talk to your knife guy about a really good contemporary manufactured steel. But also keep in mind, he is going to sell you what he likes. It's the way of the world! '-)

                              Good luck!

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                Thanks for the thorough reply!
                                The guy I've taken my knife to doesn't really believe in steels, he uses stones only as he was taught in Japan but unfortunately I can't really afford the range of stones right now or have the opportunity to learn how to use them properly.
                                I bought the ceramic steel early on because I had heard good things about them *Sigh* I just want a sharp knife!

                                1. re: Nocontact

                                  He sounds like the kind of guy who LIVES to sell people VERY expensive hand forged Damascus steel knives! In other words, a cult member. But then, we're all cult members in one way or another, trying to convince you our way is right, if only as a means to convince ourselves that we're not wrong. I say simply, "Trust your thumb." IF a steel gets YOU a better burr, go with it. Works for me. '-)

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    "He sounds like the kind of guy who LIVES to sell people VERY expensive hand forged Damascus steel knives! In other words, a cult member"

                                    Wow! Pretty strong words from someone who has never met or dealt with him..
                                    I have and I can tell you Eugene is a stand up guy! He would never sell you something you don't want or need and he probably sharpens 1/2 of the "Chef's" knives in the city(the other half is sharpened by Tosho and Nella doesn't count).

                                    here's my 2 cents..Ditch the Henkels,buy a decent knife,take one of Eugene's free sharpening seminars watch a bunch of YouTube videos,buy a decent stone(King 1k) and learn to sharpen your own knives.Steeling a knife will only get you so far.You must remove some metal to bring the "edge" back.Steeling only realigns the edge but at some point you'll have to remove metal.

                                    1. re: petek

                                      Your answer is to ditch this knife and buy a "decent" knife? I don't know about you but times are a little tough for some people. If I had $200 to throw away maybe I'd consider this. But I don't. Keep your two cents.

                                      1. re: Nocontact

                                        Petek probably did not mean an expensive knife. He probably meant a harder steel Japanese influenced knife which can be easily obtained with less than that of a Henckels, but that is really another topic. I know Petek well. He did not mean anything harmful. What he meant is that sometime the effort to struggle with an existing knife far our weight the cost to purchase another knife. It is one of those "When is enough is enough?" questions.

                                        Personally, I don't think you need to switch out of the Henckels 4-star, but it is also true that there are other knives which can maintain a sharp edge longer than Henckels and cost less -- and that is probably what Petek was coming from.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          "Petek probably did not mean an expensive knife"

                                          Thanks Chem,that's exactly what I meant to say.Never said to spend $200. + on a knife.And @Nocontact, I'll take your advice and keep my 2 cents..
                                          Good luck! :)

                                          1. re: petek

                                            Ok, didn't mean to overreact. I'm just not from the school of tossing something in the bin if it's not working the way you want, without first trying to exhaust options to improve it.

                                            1. re: Nocontact

                                              <Ok, didn't mean to overreact.>
                                              When I said ditch the Henkels I didn't mean" chuck it in the bin",keep it as a beater knife,something to practice your sharpening skills on(if this is the path you choose).
                                              I agree with some of the others..run it through a cork or try stropping it on an old leather belt to see if it is in fact a wire edge that is causing you grief

                                              1. re: petek

                                                If a $120 knife is a beater knife, I must be living on the wrong planet.

                                                1. re: Nocontact

                                                  True. You shouldn't be intentionally get a $120 knife as a bester knife, let's alone a Henckels too.

                                                  But imagine that you go ahead and buy a Tojiro DP 8 inch Chef's knife ($75), and happened to like the Tojiro DP a lot and more than your Henchels. So what do you do now with the more expensive Henckels?

                                                  Again, it does not mean you or anyone should intentionally and knowingly buy a $120 beater knife especially when you only spend $70 for your main knife. However, what else could you do with it? Put it in the draw is more wasteful. Giving it away is kind, but you personally get less use out of it.....etc.

                                                  Take me for instance. My main knife is a CCK 1303, which is an inexpensive ($<40), but good quality knife. You will read tons of positive review of this knife soon or later. My bone chopping cleaver and chicken debone honesuki cost more ($65 and $150). Ultimately it is more important to use the best knife you can acquire, and not worry about how much you have spent already -- which is in the past. Look to the future. Do not punish yourself for your past actions. :)

                                                2. re: petek

                                                  How is your Kono? Still serving you as the main knife? Just checking up on you. :)

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    <How is your Kono?>

                                                    The Kono's are still laser like! Thanks for asking! :)
                                                    Gearing up for a very busy holiday season.This will be the first Christmas that the 3 of them will spend together as a family.. :D

                                                    1. re: petek

                                                      Thanks. I know you have your Kono for awhile now, so I just want to catch up with you and see how you feel about it after using it for month. Good to know it is still working well for you.

                                                      <3 of them will spend together as a family.. :D>

                                                      Really? I didn't know you have 3 Kono. I know you have two for sure. One gyuto, one paring or petty. Is the other one a sujihiki -- you may have mentioned about a sujihiki.

                                                      https://toshoknifearts.com/sites/defa...

                                                      So I guess gyuto and sujihiki are the parents, and the small petty is the baby? :P You should take a Christmas family photo for them. :D

                                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              Ok, so maybe this will help to solve what the issue is. For some VERY strange reason, when I try a push cut through a tomato, no luck. But when I pull cut, it goes through fine! What does that mean? Isn't the edge the same going forward as going back??

                                              1. re: Nocontact

                                                The edge should act the same going forward and backward.

                                                However, you the person may not. You are likely the variable, and not necessary the knife. The angle of which your hand holding the knife can be different. Most people when holding the knife against a cutting board is to put the knife tip is slightly downward. So the angle between your knife edge and the cutting board is usually NOT parallel.

                                                http://chadwrites.com/blog/wp-content...

                                                This can make a difference between slicing an object.

                                                Now, this is opposite when you use a knife and try to slice a piece of paper.

                                                http://www.asweetpeachef.com/wp-conte...

                                                Try it. Get a piece of paper and try to slice the paper. Most people will naturally slice the paper with the knife heel down and knife tip up. What you will notice is that it will be easier to slice the paper when you pull the knife toward you, instead of pushing the knife away from you.

                                                Now, assuming what I said is true (which you can test by slicing a paper), then it really does not mean anything to your current and larger knife situation. Because if I am right, then it only proves that you are not holding knife parallel.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  Before posting I made sure to try cutting on a variety of different angles thinking it might just be my technique that's at fault. I just tried again, same tomato, same result. I tried cutting looking directly over it to see if the blade is parallel, did it on angles, to see if that would work. Nothing. Push cuts wont work.

                                                  1. re: Nocontact

                                                    Then, try the paper. Try slicing the paper, and see if you notice a difference slicing forward and backward.

                                                    As for the tomato test, if you really want to eliminate "hand holding" as the variable and really only want to test the "knife", then what you really want to do is to
                                                    a) hold on the knife blade on the knife spine (not the handle) and pull cut the tomato toward yourself.
                                                    b) now flip the knife around with the handle pointing outward and with the knife tip pointing yourself, hold on to the knife blade on its spine again, and pull cut the tomato toward yourself.

                                                    The reason is this. By holding the knife blade in both cases, you are holding them very similar. By simply flipping the knife around, you are solely testing the direction of the knife blade.

                                                    I have observed what you have seen before for non-tomato stuff. Long story short, it was the way I hold the knife, not the knife.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      Alright, I'm going to try this and report back. This is nuts!! HAHA, I'm losing it. And this poor tomato!
                                                      Thanks for the help thought, let's see what happens after this set of tests.....

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          Ok, tried it, and same result. Pull cut ok when held normally, push cut not. Held with the tip towards me, the opposite is true. It seems like it's the knife.....

                                                          1. re: Nocontact

                                                            You are ending up with a lot of wasted tomatoes or you'll have to make a lot of tomato sauce. I haven't read everything that Chem and others said. But I think a pull cut for a western chef's knife is easier than a push cut. Starting from somewhere near the tip.

                                                            Try the two cuts on a piece of paper several times. The part above the edge near the tip is a bit thicker VS the heel.

                                                            1. re: unprofessional_chef

                                                              Good thing I'm a fan. I'll put them in my eggs tomorrow. I can't imagine that a western knife can't handle a push cut. That just seems silly.

                                                              1. re: Nocontact

                                                                It's a very curious problem. Have another tomato to slice?

                                                                Try this. Deburr as in the video I posted below. Pull cut. Push cut. Repeat Chem's test, holding the tip toward you.

                                                                If it still won't cut in one direction, the break out your hone. And this time, hone the opposite direction you normally hone in. That is, if you normally hone starting at the heel of the knife and pushing the edge down while pulling the knife toward you, finishing at the tip, this time start at the tip and finish at the heel, pulling the edge upward (if this is too awkward, start at the tip and finish at the heel but use your normal downward stroke). Give it maybe 6-10 strokes per side that way. Then repeat the tomato tests.

                                                                To be fair, I should let you know I'm advising you to screw around when really I think you most likely just need a good and full resharpening of your blade to fix all your knife woes. But I'm curious, since you've got a rather interesting problem. If you're ever near Pittsburgh, I'll buy you some tomatoes.

                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                  HAHAHA, thanks for the offer! If I was near Pittsburgh I'd drive over to you just to prove I'm not crazy!
                                                                  Good think I hit the market today. I was going to make some crostini for my GF tomorrow but I might be low on tomatoes after all of this.
                                                                  Ok, what the heck, I'll give this a try. Couldn't hurt after all and if it helps, why not. It may take me a while to figure out how to do it but I'll let you know what happens.
                                                                  Oh, I'm deburring on a wooden spoon,softest wood I have around I'm guessing. And I'm just doing a few strokes like in the video.

                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                    HAHAHA, thanks for the offer! If I was near Pittsburgh I'd drive over to you just to prove I'm not crazy!
                                                                    Good think I hit the market today. I was going to make some crostini for my GF tomorrow but I might be low on tomatoes after all of this.
                                                                    Ok, what the heck, I'll give this a try. Couldn't hurt after all and if it helps, why not. It may take me a while to figure out how to do it but I'll let you know what happens.
                                                                    Oh, I'm deburring on a wooden spoon,softest wood I have around I'm guessing. And I'm just doing a few strokes like in the video.

                                                                    Ok, well I did it and lo and behold, it now push cuts, but DOESN'T pull cut. What does this tell us?

                                                                    1. re: Nocontact

                                                                      "Ok, well I did it and lo and behold, it now push cuts, but DOESN'T pull cut. What does this tell us?"
                                                                      ________
                                                                      Ha! It tells us that you have angered Krunh, God of Blades, and he is now tormenting you just because he can.

                                                                      Seriously, assuming I understand you right, you deburred and honed in the opposite direction, and now the blade push cuts better than it pull cuts, opposite of what it was doing before.

                                                                      I don't know for certain what this tells us, but I have a hunch. You have an edge, but it's very weak and folds easily. This is sometimes called a wire edge, but in your case it may involve a little more metal than wire edges typically do (or else deburring would have left it cutting better in both directions).

                                                                      The edge, like all edges, is serrated microscopically. When you honed, or possibly in part by deburring, you changed the scratch pattern at the edge. So whereas before, the microscopic saw teeth were shaped like this:
                                                                      \| \| \| \| \|
                                                                      now, they're shaped more like this:
                                                                      |/ |/ |/ |/ |/

                                                                      My thinking is that when you cut WITH the scratch pattern, the edge starts to bite into the tomato and the rest of the edge is actually kind of pulled straight into line as you cut. And it cuts well in that direction. When you cut AGAINST the scratch pattern, the little 'teeth' meet more resistance, and the edge crumbles - it's like rotating a circular saw in the wrong direction.

                                                                      Please correct me if I've misunderstood you.

                                                                      At any rate, I still think you mainly just need a full resharpening.

                                                                      This is fun, yes?

                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                        <When you cut AGAINST the scratch pattern, the little 'teeth' meet more resistance, and the edge crumbles - it's like rotating a circular saw in the wrong direction. >

                                                                        I was thinking something like, but it is just so unlikely that it would cut perfect in one direction and none at all in the other. On top of that, he just got his knife touched up by Eugene what 1-2 weeks ago? I don't see the serration/scratched pattern develop deeply in 2 weeks. I think you and I have read many knife problems on this forum. This is probably the most unusual I have read thus far.

                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                          "I don't see the serration/scratched pattern develop deeply in 2 weeks."
                                                                          ________
                                                                          IMO, Nocontact's hone is applying the scratch pattern. Presumably, it is at least as coarse as whatever Eugene last polished the edge with, probably coarser, perhaps significantly so.

                                                                          Also, in my thinking, it's not that he has a very deep scratch pattern or huge serrations - the flap of metal at the edge of his knife probably looks something like the dorsal fin of a fish. It's just that the scratch pattern determines whether the larger wire edge is being pulled straight and cutting or meeting more resistance and folding/staying folded. In this scenario, we have an edge so pliable that it is folding or straightening (at least parts of it) with each cut of the knife.

                                                                          "I think you and I have read many knife problems on this forum. This is probably the most unusual I have read thus far."
                                                                          _______
                                                                          Yeah, I think this one takes the cake.

                                                                        2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                          Fun in a sense, maddening in another. I guess I'll go explain the issue and see if a full resharpening does the trick. I may contact Henckel about their warranty too....
                                                                          I think you're getting what I'm saying, as best as I can explain it. A knife that changes it's mind that is....

                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                            I can't make head or tails out of it....

                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                              Fun in a sense, maddening in another. I guess I'll go explain the issue and see if a full resharpening does the trick. I may contact Henckel about their warranty too....
                                                                              I think you're getting what I'm saying, as best as I can explain it. A knife that changes it's mind that is....

                                                                              1. re: Nocontact

                                                                                I don't see any major reason yet to return the knife (at least not for another of the same brand and model). I still think you have the same essential problem that I described several days ago - a very weak edge that folds easily, most likely caused by a quick, high-grit touch-up sharpening when a full sharpening would have been more appropriate and also POSSIBLY related to your sharpener making the edge more acute (which isn't a terrible thing, even if that is what he did - you'd just need to readjust the edge a bit). In either case, the knife isn't likely defective - you're just experiencing what is at heart a common problem that can be corrected by sharpening.

                                                                                In your case, your weak/wire edge is behaving in a very strange (and interesting) way. But the underlying problem is probably still just a weak/wire edge.

                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                  It's hard to imagine, maybe because I can't picture it on the edge of a knife, how it can go one way and not another, and then with a little honing I can reverse it. It's perplexing. But I'll head over to the sharpener asap and explain the problem. See if he can make sense out of it.
                                                                                  I don't know that I could return it if I wanted to. I know warranties are never easy to try and deal with.

                                                                                  1. re: Nocontact

                                                                                    "But I'll head over to the sharpener asap and explain the problem. See if he can make sense out of it."
                                                                                    _______
                                                                                    Bring a tomato and let him try it out. I can practically guarantee that any professional sharpener will get a kick out of this.

                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                      <Bring a tomato and let him try it out. I can practically guarantee that any professional sharpener will get a kick out of this.>

                                                                                      And then, like always, the phenomena cannot be reproduced in front of the person (knife sharpener). Now, Eugene will be like "Are you high?"

                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                        That's what I'm afraid of!! But if it is just something I'm doing wrong, I'd welcome that as a fix. Hey, wait, my GF is here, Im going to see if she can replicate it!

                                                                                      2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                        My poor knife has been turned into a sideshow act.

                                                                                        1. re: Nocontact

                                                                                          Look on the positive side: There's been no talk of starvation or lost fingertips.

                                                                                          Ask Eugene to show you what he does to deburr the edge, and LOOK at the edge under magnification. If there's no wire edge there, it CAN'T be bent back and forth.

                                                                                          Good Luck, I'm out.

                                                                                          Aloha,
                                                                                          Kaleo

                                                                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                            I'm not going to in all honesty know what he's looking for. Unfortunately I don't know what I'd be looking for even if I had a magnifying glass, and I'm still confused about the whole "wire edge" thing.

                                                                                            1. re: Nocontact

                                                                                              OK, others can probably describe it better, but a wire edge is a *foil* of metal that forms at the very leading edge of the blade as it's ground. It sounds counterintuitive, but the foil grows AGAINST the direction of the belt or wheel. It's a very thin *flap* of metal that CAN'T be ground away at the same grit and grinding angle. It can (and should be) taken off, and the easiest way is to reverse the direction of the grind and make the angle more obtuse--you run OFF the edge, but on a belt you just kiss it. The resulting friction (it doesn't take much) fatigues the foil and breaks/polishes it completely away, ideally leaving you with the plane intersection that we all think of as a sharp edge.

                                                                                              This problem you're having (if it can be understood at all, especially if you stop "honing" and the problem still persists) seems to be about a wire edge that is getting bent back and forth as you either "hone" or cut.

                                                                                              Eliminate that variable by LOOKING at the edge under magnification. Is the "flap" polished away, or is it still there waiting for the next tomato and your (and our) frustration to push it over? Until you know... you don't know squat. And neither does Eugene, I think.

                                                                                              Aloha,
                                                                                              Kaleo

                                                                                              PS: Call me codependent for even posting this!

                                                                                          2. re: Nocontact

                                                                                            <That's what I'm afraid of!! But if it is just something I'm doing wrong, I'd welcome that as a fix.>

                                                                                            Good luck with Eugene or whoever you bring the knife. Hopefully, you will able to reproduced your experience in front of him, and that he can find the cause of this problem.

                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                              My GF recreated it for me last night (another tomato RIP) so at least I'm not crazy.

                                                                        3. re: Nocontact

                                                                          <Pull cut ok when held normally, push cut not. Held with the tip towards me, the opposite is true. It seems like it's the knife.....>

                                                                          This is really odd. I mean really really odd. I have used Henckels, Wusthof, Tojiro, Shun... and I have simply never seen or heard of this before. I don't have a realistic answer for it. I can imagine a few, but none of them are likely. I think cowboyardee has the bigger picture correct. At this point, it may be nice to figure out why, but at the end you clearly need the knife resharpened/realignment. So maybe just focus on that.

                                                                          At the end, it really does not matter if your knife has some strange serrated patterns, or that it has a strange burr or that what you observation is simply your hand, you still have the problem that your knfie is not cutting well compared to before. So we know it cut well before, but it is not anymore.

                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                            It did cut well before, but to be honest, now that I've gone through this whole thing, I think it always was better at pull cuts than push cuts. Now that I honed and deburred the opposite way, I've changed this. But shouldn't it cut the same way push or pull? Does this say something more about the blade itself?

                                                                            1. re: Nocontact

                                                                              Hey, Nocontact:

                                                                              Once more into the breach...

                                                                              I see scubadoo stole my thunder below, but many times with a half-assed sharp or hone job, you will have sharper places at one or two spots along the edge than at other places. IME, these sharper areas are usually (a) near the tip; and (b) near the heel (read significance: WHERE YOU NORMALLY LEAVE THE ORIGINAL SHARPENING JOB ALONE).

                                                                              What may be happening with all those push/pull tomatoes is that the sharper parts are breaking the skin, giving you the (wrong) idea that the entire blade is cutting better with the push or the pull as it is drawn through the tom. Heck, if you have one centimeter of sharp on a 24cm blade, you can put frigging masking tape over the rest of the edge and still cut a tomato.

                                                                              Did you look at the edge under a microscope or high-powered loupe as I suggested?

                                                                              One more thing to try... Have you tried the 'yellow pad" trick? It's just a crude stropping, but take a yellow legal pad, turn it over on the bench, and holding the blade at TWICE the edge bevel angle, draw the edge against the cardboard, backing AWAY from the edge. The idea is that the abrasive cardboard will remove the vestiges of the wire foil and impart some polish. You can do the same thing with a muslin wheel on a buffer, buffing OFF the edge at twice the angle. Count your toes before and after if you try that way...

                                                                              Aloha,
                                                                              Kaleo

                                                                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                I do see what you're saying, but if that was the case, wouldn't the sharp part cut at the same point during a push or a pull?

                                                                                1. re: Nocontact

                                                                                  If you were doing it exactly the same way every time and not steeling in between, yes.

                                                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                    Exactly, and that's not happening so it's a matter of it working one way and not the other.

                                                                              2. re: Nocontact

                                                                                <It did cut well before>

                                                                                I know. That makes it more interesting, doesn't it? Anyway, as I was telling cowboyardee, I cannot think of any realistic explanation. It should cut very similarity pushing forward or pulling backward -- if we take away the human factor. So I really have no idea. Good luck.

                                                              2. re: petek

                                                                LOL! LOL! LOL! Knives "R" RELIGION....!

                                                                Let me just say that EUROPEAN and EURO-INFLUENCED chefs have been steeling their knives and getting on with their slicing and dicing since "haute" met "cuisine." I will repeat myself here: I have been using my 10 inch stainless steel Sabatier chef's knife DAILY since I bought it in 1961. It has NEVER been professionally sharpened. I steel it EVERY TIME I use it. Sometimes I steel it again during extended uses. I wash it by hand. I store it in a wood knife block. I take care of it. And you are right. In steeling it, I AM REMOVING METAL! There is enough metal left in the blade (heel to haft) to last me another 3 or 4 hundred years, at least, before I have to start worrying about not being able to slice a tomato or dice a turnip. I can live with that just fine.

                                                                Some people enjoy honing and pampering their knives. Some people relish just steeling the damned knife and getting on with COOKING.....!!! To each his/her own. '-)

                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                  "Some people enjoy honing and pampering their knives. Some people relish just steeling the damned knife and getting on with COOKING.....!!!"
                                                                  ________
                                                                  In the interest of accuracy, I must point out that the Eastern school of knife maintenance (waterstones, possibly use of strops or ceramic honing rods) doesn't necessarily take any more time than the Western school (infrequent sharpenings, daily use of a steel).

                                                                  Consider - for my main knife, I strop about once a week (~30 seconds, if I bother). I touch up on waterstones about once every 2-3 weeks, which takes me 3 or 4 minutes. If you spend 30 seconds steeling every day, you're not actually saving a significant amount of time.

                                                                  Now, I admit I do use waterstones that don't need to soak, and a knife that sharpens very easily and which has small bevels that sharpen quickly. Also, I deliberately spend less time on very fine stones than many other sharpeners do, saving me a couple minutes per session. Still, even without these advantages, it's entirely possible to sharpen a knife in well under 10 minutes. Yes, you sharpen more often, but since the knives are less prone to folding, the daily maintenance is less.

                                                                  The real time investment if you maintain knives like I do is in learning to sharpen in the first place. I remember well seaking out instruction, spending half an hour sharpening a single knife, second guessing myself, etc. It took a good while to learn to the point where I could sharpen quickly and confidently. This is admittedly and understandably much more effort than some people want to put forth, especially considering that steeling aggressively or using an electric sharpener or even an Accusharp will leave a knife sharp enough to work reasonably well with almost no learning curve. But once someone learns to sharpen well, buys a few stones, and invests in a Japanese knife that rewards one's efforts with improved edge retention and a more acute edge, you don't particularly have to pamper it or spend an absurd amount of time maintaining it to enjoy its benefits.

                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                    Caroline, you should STILL have your Sabatier 'corrected' from time-to-time. This past Spring I fixed a friend's 40 yr old Sabatier that had only ever seen a steel. The problem became the bolster, which forced a re-curve into the blade. That is, since you can't steel all the way to the heel, you end up with the bolster being the 'high point' & losing contact against your cutting board for the majority of your blade length. A proper repair will shorten the bolster to an appropriate height & remove the recurve from the blade so that you can make contact against your cutting board along its entire length.

                                                                    Here are 'before' and 'after' pictures showing what I'm talking about.

                                                                    (BTW, I'm guessing you meant to say "heel to tip"? There's no blade between the heel & haft of a knife.)

                                                                     
                                                                     
                                                                    1. re: Eiron

                                                                      Good point.

                                                                      Even without a bolster, you can get a pretty significant recurve after a while. Example:
                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/808731

                                                                      1. re: Eiron

                                                                        Eiron,

                                                                        Beautiful photos. Man, it is time to get stop helping people and charge them for your service. :)

                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                          Soon, my friend, very soon.... :-)

                                                                          Actually, I've already done a couple of paid jobs, & have a couple more lined up for friends who want to pay me (although I haven't decided yet if I'll accept their money). And I'm hoping to have my first round of prototype knives done before the end of the year.

                                                                          I was told I'd be out of a job by Thanksgiving, so I was planning to be in 'small business mode' this week. But then my work came back & said they needed me until the end of the year. So.... who knows what'll happen next? All I know is, working 45 hrs/wk really cramps my business model! :-D

                                                                          1. re: Eiron

                                                                            "All I know is, working 45 hrs/wk really cramps my business model! :-D"

                                                                            Yep sure does but that security allows you to build up with steady income. I've been doing sharpening on the side for over a year.

                                                                            Wanna talk shop, PM me on Cheftalk.

                                                                            Jim

                                                                        2. re: Eiron

                                                                          I fully appreciate what you 're saying, Eiron, but.... '-) You just KNEW there would be a "but", didn't you? If you go to my photos on my profile page, there is a picture of my lovely Sabatier there. After sixty years of use, I'm showing a bit of a "re-curve" in the blade, but it's just below the bolster, NOT toward the center of the blade , as your photos show. I still have excellent contact when slicing a tomato, or a chiffonade, or whatever.

                                                                          And THAT is another factor that enters into knives; a given cook's preference, and whether one follows the Eastern or Western School of Knives. And for Westerners, there's even French chef's knives versus German chef's knives. And possibly most important of all in either school is the metals that are alloyed into the steel. It's what makes my aged Sabatier fantastic!

                                                                          I've tried to find out what the components of the steel "recipe" for my knife are, but to no avail. It was manufactured in the very late 50s, or in 1960, and I bought it in the U.S. in early 1961. It has "Sabatier Professional" stamped into the forged blade, and the steel is so very hard it is difficult to read the stamp. Yet it takes an edge like a dream. I am now 79 years old, and based on how little I've honed out of the edge, and how close it is to the bolster, I suspect the knife is good for another 20 years before I have to have the cutting edge "corrected." I'll do it then... '-)

                                                                          I'll also add that my personal knife skills are served best by French knives, rather than German, OR Japanese. My blade is ALWAYS in contact with the cutting board. And after all of these years, I still have all of my fingers and thumbs. Life is good....!!!! Never having drawn blood from myself with a kitchen utensil of any sort, I am constantly dumbfounded by the number of TV chefs who cut themselves on Chopped, and TNIC! They cut the wrong classes when they were in culinary school! (Pun intended.) '-)

                                                                        3. re: Caroline1

                                                                          "Let me just say that EUROPEAN and EURO-INFLUENCED chefs have been steeling their knives and getting on with their slicing and dicing since "haute" met "cuisine"

                                                                          If you want to go there, man has been sharpening things on stones since he could walk upright! So....... :D

                                                                      2. re: Caroline1

                                                                        No, he's not a hard sell kind of guy at all. He's real cool. And he did the tuneup for free because he felt the knife was in fact still sharp, and didn't want to charge me for a full sharpening. He's totally not what you're thinking. Never tried to sell me a thing.

                                                                        1. re: Nocontact

                                                                          Hi, Nocontact:

                                                                          If Eugene is a standup guy, take the knife back again. Does he have a microscope? Look at the edge with him. There should be no foil or burr edge at all. Let him touch it up again if he thinks it needs it, and *look again*. Then go home and keep using it for awhile. DO NOT HONE IT. If it dulls, take it right back and *look again*. A good pro sharpening should last any home cook 6 months to a year if (a) they're not abusing it; (b) the heat-treat was not botched; or (c) the edge bevels weren't ground 'way too thin. If it dulls again quickly and you're sure no one in your house has abused it, you probably should replace it (or have Eugene grind you a more-obtuse-than-normal edge bevel and try that).

                                                                          My friend Bob Kramer always says the crock stick shouldn't be needed to be used more than once a month, and a steel no more than once a week in a home kitchen. I get into this beef all the time with the knife geeks here, but steeling and stick-honing is not that easy to do right, and conversely, it's very easy to do wrong. We all have a dominant eye and a dominant hand, and maintaining the constant, correct angle while freehanding and holding the stick and drawing the knife in three dimensions is pretty much a working definition of imperfection.

                                                                          Finally, I need to ask you to clarify... Are you "honing" at 22 degrees per *side* or a *total* (11 + 11)? And how, on God's green earth do you know it's 18 or 22 or 24? Don't believe me? Tape a matchbook to both sides of the knife (thin edge toward the cutting edge) and try "honing". Feel any different from the way it felt doing it freehand?

                                                                          Aloha,
                                                                          Kaleo

                                                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                            I think he is a stand up guy from my dealings with him, for sure. Again, I don't know that it dulled, because I thought it had dulled before when I took it in for the touch up, but it wasn't super sharp like it was when I brought it home after one or two uses. And again, my rubric for sharp was the glide through a tomato without pulling or sawing which after a few uses it wouldn't do.
                                                                            22 degrees is obviously approx. 90/45/22 But as close I imagine as I can get at home.

                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                              "

                                                                              My friend Bob Kramer always says the crock stick shouldn't be needed to be used more than once a month, and a steel no more than once a week in a home kitchen"

                                                                              Hey Kaleo..
                                                                              What in tarnation is a "crock stick"???

                                                                              1. re: petek

                                                                                Hi, Pete:

                                                                                In my world, a crock (originally from "crockery") stick is synonymous with a ceramic rod. Lansky plasters the name all over all its skinny 2-rod/angle-holder models, but that's just what I call the rods themselves whether set in a base or not. Sorry for the confusion.

                                                                                Aloha,
                                                                                Kaleo

                                                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                  Hey Kaleo
                                                                                  No apology necessary..It's always nice to learn something new from the forums.. :)

                                                                        2. re: Nocontact

                                                                          For true Japanese knives a steel is not used so your guy is not wrong but honing steels have been used for a few hundred years on European knives.

                                                                          Different steels and different approaches, neither is wrong.

                                                                          Cowboy and Chem have covered all the probabilities but nobody can diagnose your blade sight unseen.
                                                                          If it had a wire edge that folded over and doesn't move to the other side when steeled it needs to be ground away. If it moves try running the blade through a cork

                                                                          FWIW I find Henckels do tend to hold the burr more so than other Germans.

                                                                          Jim

                                                                          1. re: knifesavers

                                                                            "If it had a wire edge that folded over and doesn't move to the other side when steeled it needs to be ground away. If it moves try running the blade through a cork"

                                                                            This was the first thing that popped into my decidedly non expert mind when I heard his problem. Sounds like a wire edge to me.

                                                                      3. re: Nocontact

                                                                        Hi NoContact,

                                                                        <So if I continue to use the honing rod am I at risk of doing any damage? >

                                                                        Sorry not able to reply right away, but I think cowboy is correct. It sounds like the edge has a burr or a folded edge, and it is consistently maintaining on that one side. This usually means the knife edge has hit something hard, and has seriously folded -- a large folded edge (a small burr will likely move from one side to another, a large burr tends to stay on one side). This normally means you are not using enough force. Try to hone the knife with even numbers of strokes on each side. Maybe even put a bit more force or more strokes on the side which you can feel the folded edge/burr -- since you want to straighten it.

                                                                        Here is the thing. There are at least two kind of problems. In one case, the folded edge was moving back and forth (left to right) when you honed the knife from one side to another -- that is one problem. It is another problem that the folded edge remained on one side (not moving) when you honed the knife from one side to another. If the problem is latter as you have implied, then you will need to put a bit more force. If the problem is the former, then you may have to remove the burr.

                                                                        <*Sigh* I just want a sharp knife!>

                                                                        I know. It is tough depending on your definition on sharpness, and ultimately the knife owners have to develop the personal skill to create and to maintain the knife edge because it becomes impractical to constantly send out the knife for sharpening. In other words, you may eventually have to learn to sharpen your knives if you want a truly sharp knife. A few of us had fun slicing Yellowpages after watching a video. This is one case which illustrates that it is difficult to have our knives professionally sharpened. A few photos/post/videos:

                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8283...
                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8283...
                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8283...
                                                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yzeg1H...

                                                                        < I can't really afford the range of stones right now or have the opportunity to learn how to use them properly>

                                                                        As for using a stone to sharpen a knife, it can be expensive, but it can also be inexpensive. The effort to learn is usually the real intimidation factor. You can usually get a reasonably good 1000 grit waterstone for $35 or less. I got a stone for $6 at a local H-Mart (Korean) store (not sure if it is a standard waterstone because it did not build up much mud, but it does require water).

                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8540...

                                                                        Good luck.

                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                          Is it wrong to want a knife that can cut through a phone book? Because yes, that's what I mean when I say sharp. (Half kidding. Half serious)

                                                                          1. re: Nocontact

                                                                            :) I doubt you need a knife sharp enough to cut through a phone book in one stroke. Most don't, but I did have a point to bought that up. The case is to illustrate that it is nearly impossible to create and to maintain this level of knife sharpness if we cannot sharpen and maintain the knives on our own. In your case, there may come a time you have to decided between (a) learning to sharpen and to maintain your knife, or (b) accept that the daily knife sharpeness of your knife is not going to be as sharp as you wish.

                                                                            It is a balancing act. How much effort you want to put in the knives, and how much performance you want to get out of the knives. There really isn't a right and wrong answer here.

                                                                            Unfortunately none of us is around you, so we cannot for sure know your knife trouble. Your best bet is to have a conversation with Eugene and find out what makes your knife "dull". Is the edge really gone? I doubt that. If not, is it because the edge is folded. If so, how bad is the folding? Good luck.

                                                                            1. re: Nocontact

                                                                              I'm extrapolating quite a bit here, and may be off-base, but here is a guess at your real problem:

                                                                              You're caught in between a professional sharpener who is of the Eastern school of knife maintenance and a softer Western knife along with Western knife maintenance practices. Whereas the Eastern school uses high-grit sharpening on waterstones, quick touch-ups using stones on a failing edge, possibly even lower edge angles - the end result being a very sharp knife - the Western school subscribes to infrequent professional sharpenings and use of a honing rod, the focus being more on maintaining of a functional degree of sharpness. And whereas Japanese knives are made of harder steel that doesn't fold easily and holds onto a more polished edge longer, a Henckels 4 star knife tends to lose that initial degree of sharpness more quickly, tends to fold its edge when the edge angle is particularly acute, and tends to need more than a touch-up when the edge is failing because the weakened steel at the edge (which was already comparably soft in the first place) tends to fold more easily.

                                                                              I'm not trying to malign your professional sharpener by the way - I prefer the Eastern methods myself. But my thought is that the quick touch-up sharpening he did most recently probably didn't remove enough of the fatigued metal. And as I mentioned, I wouldn't be surprised if he was sharpening at a lower angle than is commonly applied to your kind of knife. Either would tend to cause an edge to fold quickly.

                                                                              You have a bunch of options from here.

                                                                              - As others have mentioned, a Japanese knife would hold onto the more polished, sharper edge that you seem to like better and longer. Nothing against your current knife, but it doesn't seem to match your other preferences for sharpness and edge retention. There are some good Japanese knives available for under $100.

                                                                              - You can teach yourself to sharpen by hand at home. This also requires an investment in time and in stones. But by sharpening more often (as needed), you can keep a sharper edge, Western knife or not.

                                                                              - You can take your knife to your pro more often. If you do, I'd recommend asking that he do a full resharpening each time to remove fatigued steel. If that alone isn't giving you the kind of edge retention you hope for, you might also ask him to a apply a microbevel and see how that works out for you.

                                                                              In any of the above, your ceramic honing rod should be fine to use, as long as you're using it well. Though a strop is a good alternative, as mentioned below.

                                                                              - You can give up on that extreme sharpness and learn to use a honing rod more effectively. This can keep your knife sharp enough to cut, say, a ripe tomato. But if you do this, the high-polish finish your pro is (probably) applying to your knife is mostly wasted, because it just won't last. If you go this route, a honing steel might actually be more appropriate for you than your ceramic honing rod.

                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                My Gf bought me the knife last Christmas, admittedly I may have done more research but because of that I guess I don't want to ditch it for sentimental reasons too. I guess if it's a matter of not having it razor sharp I'll make do and appreciate the gesture.

                                                                                1. re: Nocontact

                                                                                  Understood.

                                                                                  Though your henckels isn't the ideal knife for fine edge retention, there's no reason you have to settle for an edge that fails after one cutting session. My advice -

                                                                                  As others have mentioned, you might try a quick deburring on cork or soft wood to see if that helps your immediate problem. I'm a little doubtful that it will leave you with the kind of very sharp edge you're hoping for since the most recent sharpening was a`quick one using only a fine stone and a strop (meaning there is no reason for there to be much of a wire edge)... but it won't hurt anything to try.

                                                                                  If that doesn't fix the edge, take it back to your pro and describe your problem to him. Ask for a full resharpening and see if he thinks a less acute edge or a microbevel would help as well (no way for me to know because I don't know what angle he's been sharpening at). He sounds like a reasonable guy and you trust him - he should be able to fix the problem and eventually customize your edge to your ideal compromise between sharpness and durability.

                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                    Thanks for the advice. I'll give this a try. I've been using the ceramic steel and it's made a significant difference already. I'm not sure if stropping is a good idea too. I don't want to go backwards. If this is as good as I can expect at least I know what the limitations of this type of knife are and I can keep my eyes out if something comes on sale like the Tojiro. (Unfortunately, living in Canada limits what we have to choose from and of course, it's all more expensive.)

                                                                                    1. re: Nocontact

                                                                                      "I've been using the ceramic steel and it's made a significant difference already."
                                                                                      ______
                                                                                      At heart, a ceramic hone is just a long, narrow, dry sharpening stone. If you use it enough, you're basically just sharpening your knife.

                                                                                      "I'm not sure if stropping is a good idea too."
                                                                                      __________
                                                                                      A strop is a good piece of equipment and it's quite cheap and easy to make one. But there's no overwhelming need for you to have one, especially if you're not diving deep into the world of super fine edges, home sharpening, and knife nerd-dom like a few of us here.

                                                                                      In any case, hope your problem is fixed in short order. Happy cutting.

                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                        I'd like to dive into this world! But maybe for now my knife is limiting me from joining it. Nonetheless, thanks to everyone. After some prolonged use of the ceramic steel I think it's made a noticeable difference already.

                                                                                        1. re: Nocontact

                                                                                          The reason it requires prolonged use is that it's a ceramic honing rod, not a "steel." You need a steel honing rod. After honing with a steel, you can use the ceramic rod for a finer finish to the edge.

                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                    Ok, so maybe this will help to solve what the issue is. For some VERY strange reason, when I try a push cut through a tomato, no luck. But when I pull cut, it goes through fine! What does that mean? Isn't the edge the same going forward as going back???

                                                                                    1. re: Nocontact

                                                                                      Honest answer: I've sharpened a respectable number of knives and fixed quite a few edge problems, but I've never heard of that one.

                                                                                      I could come up with a hypothesis or two about the direction of the scratch pattern in your knife's edge or maybe a wire edge folding on the push stroke and unfolding on the pull stroke, but they'd be nothing more than hypotheses.

                                                                                      Did you try deburring yet?

                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                        Unfortunately I don't have any cork handy (that's what I need for deburring, correct?). This is an issue I think I've noticed before with the knife and it really does make a difference. Forward push cut, not so good, pull back cut, nice and smooth.

                                                                                        1. re: Nocontact

                                                                                          Generally speaking, a pull cut works better on tomatoes than a push cut. And this effect can be exaggerated a bit by the German (more curved) profile of your knife. But if the knife cuts tomatoes easily on a pull cut and barely cuts at all on a push cut, something is off.

                                                                                          You don't need cork to deburr. Any soft piece of wood will do. I've deburred on clothespins, on the back of my homemade strop, on the handles of wooden spoons. You have plenty of options.
                                                                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5stV_1...
                                                                                          Look at 2:15-2:45 on this video - he talks about and demonstrates deburring. It's easy. Just use the weight of the knife.

                                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                            Alright, thanks, I'll give this a try. But yes, something is clearly off, because the difference between push and pull on a tomato is VERY noticeable. Night and day really.

                                                                                      2. re: Nocontact

                                                                                        Could it be the back end of the knife got less use and is sharper so in the pull cut it broke the skin of the tomato to allow the blade to slice through with ease while the push cut used the more used front part of the blade which had lost its edge so slides on the skin and doesn't break through?

                                                                                        1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                          But I was able to reverse this with just a little honing.

                                                                        2. re: Nocontact

                                                                          If it's ceramic, it's not a "steel." Do you have a steel?

                                                                      4. There are many possible causes of your problem. A defective knife is plausible, but highly unlikely. If the knife's temper was bad, it would be more likely that the knife just wouldn't take a good edge in the first place than that it would wind up so soft as to regularly fail after one cutting session, especially at the conservative edge angles of the Henckels 4 star series.

                                                                        Slightly more likely is the possibility of errors by your sharpener. It is possible that he sharpened the edge at too acute an angle, leading to quick and easy failure. It is also possible that the knife needed a full resharpening the last time you took it in to him, and his quick touch-up resulted in a sharp edge formed of fatigued (weakened and softened) steel, which can cause premature failure. It is also possible that he built up a big burr on one side of the knife but didn't remove it (though burrs are not hard to remove when sharpening Henckels' 4 star line), resulting in an edge made of weakened steel. Upside is, all of these things are fixable, so if all else fails, try another sharpener and see if that fixes the problem.

                                                                        But to be honest, the most likely explanation is user error (no offense). Unfortunately, there are many forms of user error to choose from, and we don't know which you might be guilty of. The other guys asked about your cutting board because a hard cutting surface is the most common cause of premature edge failure. But a wooden board wouldn't give you problems. So what's left? Might you be...
                                                                        - cutting into bone, frozen foods, or other hard things?
                                                                        - using your honing rod with especially bad technique (especially common in people who try to hone very quickly like flashy chefs/idiots on TV)?
                                                                        - chopping wildly, with much force, and a sloppy stroke?
                                                                        - throwing your knife in a dishwasher and letting the edge bang against other implements?
                                                                        - throwing your knife loosely in a drawer and letting the edge bang against other implements?

                                                                        You get the idea. Even a good edge on a good knife can fail if subjected to some practices.

                                                                        Also, just to be sure I understand you - how dull is it? Dull like it doesn't fall effortlessly through a tomato using only the weight of the knife and a gentle slicing motion? Or dull like even with an exaggerated sawing motion, the tomato gets more crushed than cut? The rest of my post assumes the latter.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                          I would err on the side of user error also, but I have to answer "no" to all of the questions on your list. This is another reason I'm confused. Dull may not be the right word, but it will not "fall effortlessly through a tomato using only the weight of the knife and a gentle slicing motion". And if I'm trying to dice the skin side it doesn't work out so well. It's not sharp enough to go through. It will cut paper but it won't take the hair off my arm so I guess it's somewhere in between, but like I said, not as sharp as it was after the initial sharpening or the tune up.

                                                                          1. re: Nocontact

                                                                            Generally speaking, the sharper a knife is right after sharpening, the quicker you'll notice deterioration of the initial sharpness - that initial extreme sharpness fades quickly, and settles into more of a medium degree of sharpness that lasts much longer.

                                                                            That said, your description in the other post makes it sound more like your edge is actually a bit folded. If you really can't think of any obvious knife 'sins' you've been committing, I'd lean toward the problem being either errors in sharpening, poor technique with the honing rod, or some combination of the two.

                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                              Totally agree. The sharper edge is not as toothy so may not cut through the tomato as well long term as a more crudely sharpened toothy edge. Think serrated or a Cutco and how well they go through tomatoes forever and never needs sharpening. Finely sharpened polished edges need more maintaince but when they are sharp they will pass through something like it wasn't even there

                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                "that initial extreme sharpness fades quickly, and settles into more of a medium degree of sharpness that lasts much longer. "

                                                                                Agreed.

                                                                                To the OP, you'll need to steel it often if you expect to keep that razor sharp edge. Butchers and fishmongers are constantly steeling their knives through the day to keep their cuts clean.

                                                                          2. Got an old leather belt? Loop it around something sturdy and gently pull the blade, backwards, across the back of the leather. A belt makes a decent strop in my experience. A soft strop saves from banging the blade into a ceramic or steel rod.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: JayL

                                                                              This is something he does too to finish off the sharpening. What does this actually do? And you use the opposite side of the leather?

                                                                            2. I have retired my henckels now, but they were my introduction to knives and cooking. The four star should be able to keep a decent edge for awhile. When I used my henckels I steeled them with a diamond steel relatively often. At work I would steel before or after certain tasks. If I had just cut a bunch of carrots for instance I would steel, if I was about to cut tomatoes or do some butchery I would steel. It worked out to multiple times a day. At home a bit less. You might just need to steel more often to help maintain the edge. I would have no problem using a ceramic rod.

                                                                              If you explain the problem at knife he may be able to offer more suggestions such as a micro bevel. He is definitely a good guy.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: TeRReT

                                                                                Good to see you drop by. How goes everything over the land of the rising sun? Got any more knives as you had originally planned?

                                                                              2. Sorry to learn of your cutlery problem. Years ago I had to make a trip to IL where my mother lived. She was ill, so I did some of the cooking. She did not have a decent chef's knife. Knowing that I would not need one at her home for long. I bought an inexpensive ($10) Ekco Waverex stainless steel knife that had a serrated edge on one side of the blade. Now many years later I still have that knife and It still does a great cutting job whether it is meat or tomatoes. My mother has not needed it since 1996 when she passed away. This knife has never been sharpened because of the serrated edge, and one of the selling points was that it did not need to be sharpened.

                                                                                I surfed the 'net to see if that model of knife is still available, but I did not find it. However, maybe less expensive is better than the overpriced, highly advertised cutlery.

                                                                                1. Not sure if this is the same shop, but I would try http://www.knifesharpeningtoronto.com/ in Mirvish Village.

                                                                                  I also bought a ceramic steel (Ivan's advice) and have found it helpful.

                                                                                  As others have mentioned, if you don't sharpen them yourself, the edge will never be as sharp as you'd like. Honing the edge though, makes a big difference. (I have yet to invest/learn how to sharpen myself.. one day)

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: mikefly

                                                                                    I went there first, before finding knifetoronto and I was not to happy with the way the woman who works there did the sharpening. I had to take it back the next day to get it redone because she left a huge burr on it.

                                                                                    1. re: Nocontact

                                                                                      It's also a decent store but I would stick with eugine til the problem is solved anyways

                                                                                  2. What a rich and hilarious and obsessive story. But what's the ending? Did you ever get your knife fixed? Ever get it back to normal?