Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Dec 5, 2012 11:24 PM

Know knives?

I have a set of Chicago Cutlery knives I bought in early '80's, used daily ever since. About six months ago I got several sharpened at Farmer's market but they didn't come back super sharp. Is it time to get new set? Are they at the end of their lives? Yes, they are steel blades, wooden handles.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't know this brand of knives, but a good knife should last a lifetime. Maybe get them sharpened again or do it yourself? I use this contraption to sharpen my (stainless steel) knives:

    1. Seems like the person at the farmers market didn't do such a hot job. No reason they couldn't get your knives razor sharp. How long they stay sharp is dependent on many factors

      1. Have you had them sharpened before? And if so, did they come back sharp then?

        Chicago Cutlery can be inconsistent. Some sharpen well. Some seem to be tempered badly and don't take an edge well. You haven't told us quite enough to tell whether the problem is the knife or the sharpener.

        Also, how dull is 'not super sharp'? Does it shave arm hair? Slice paper? Cut tomatoes? Barely cut potatoes?

        11 Replies
        1. re: cowboyardee

          I agree with your assessment of Chicago Cutlery, but I've never seen a knife that couldn't be made to shave hair. Some seemed to dull instantly, but they should get shaving sharp, at least momentarily.

          I'd guess that the person sharpening at the market didn't do a very good job or, depending on the knives' history, didn't take the necessary steps to rehab the edge.

          1. re: jljohn

            I've definitely seen knives that aren't worth the effort to make em shaving sharp, especially sharpening freehand. Knives where the edge is gone by the time the knife gets home, poor grain structure that takes a ton of fussing to get em sharp in the first place, etc.

            1. re: cowboyardee

              I understand and agree. In these cases, there is often an, "Is it worth doing?" question. I was only making the point that most can be made sharp. However, you are right that many are not worth the effort.

              In the OP's situation, I'd hope a reputable sharpener would (1) assess the knife honestly, and (2) either (a) sharpen it to a truly sharp edge, or (b) give it back and not accept the cash, Putting a poor edge on bad steel is not the mark of a skilled (or honest IMO) craftsman.

              1. re: jljohn

                I seriously doubt this guy broke out a coupla stones and spent an hour or so with these knives...he was at a farmers market, and prolly had some sort of half-assed machine to "sharpen." Most likely over heated them

                1. re: BiscuitBoy

                  Machines don't overheat blades, people do.

                  I rehab knives all the time with machines or stones to the same end result. However to your point avoiding heat build up is critical with any machine.

                  Not all machines are created equal though.

                  FWIW I do sharpen at a farmers market but some blades I need to take home for time consuming stone work.


                  1. re: knifesavers

                    "Machines don't overheat blades, people do"

                    Ha! Yes, I made a very left of center comment. What type of machine do you use? What do you usually charge for a simple sharpening, i.e. no grind, no reprofile, no repair

                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                      $5.00 for just dull 8: chef knives. Up and down depending length and damage. Stone work and Japanese blades are extra.

                      Primary machines are a belt sander with a slew of different belts and a Tormek T-7.


                2. re: jljohn

                  "or (b) give it back and not accept the cash, Putting a poor edge on bad steel is not the mark of a skilled (or honest IMO) craftsman."
                  I tend to agree. There are some things even a professional just can't do while still keeping his/her time investment low enough to make a profit - major, time-consuming repairs on cheap knives (unless the customer likes the idea of paying more than the knife is worth for the job), sharpening poor steel to a razor's edge. But it's not hard for an experienced sharpener to tell when he's getting nowhere fast, so the honest thing to do is hand the knife back, explain the issue, and refuse payment.

                  All that said, I'm still curious whether the knife has come back sharp after other sharpenings, and how the OP defines 'not very sharp.'

            2. re: cowboyardee

              The OP did say that the knives have been used daily for around 30 years - I think that eliminates that the knives themselves are a problem.

              1. re: FrankJBN

                Not necessarily. Some people don't sharpen and just use dull knives.

            3. Old American made Chicagos are good blades and should take a good edge. I have done lots of those and they always can get a good edge.

              Some are fussier like Coyboyardee said but in the end they come out nice.

              If used for many years and never sharpened they may need a fair bit of work.


              1. I have a large slicer of this brand that was given to me. Looks really nice, wooden handles, shiny steel. A pain in the ass to sharpen like stainless, but doesn't hold an edge. It lives in my gardening bucket now. If you've used yours all these years, they must perform better than mine, and must be made of better material. Go have them re sharpened, avoid the farmer market guy