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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.

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  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: https://www.vulkanus-company.com/cata...

    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

                1. Pictures? That would be immensely helpful in providing feedback regarding the quality of your CCs.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Eiron

                    What good would a picture do? Could you say that the knves used daily for 30 years were never any good? Maybe say that these knives will work well for 30 years?

                    Say the brand wasn't identified but the rest of the facts remained the same. Would you think it impossible "to provide feedback" without knowing make and model of knives?

                    I ask because my daily use for more than 35 years chef's knife is some make, but I couldn't say what. I don't know that I ever knew what make the knife set is. It was cheap enough that I could afford it in my 20s. Sharp as the dickens (sharpen at home).

                    1. re: FrankJBN

                      As pointed out by knifesavers (Jim), some CCs are of better quality than others. A simple picture would tell people familiar with this brand (particularly, knifesavers & cowboyardee) whether or not it was worth investing any further time and/or money into additional sharpening. Manufacturer's markings on the handle and/or blade can provide some of the story, & edge condition can potentially speak to the quality of sharpening performed.

                      And I can tell you that yes, you can use less than adequate knives for decades without realizing there's anything wrong wrong with them. Before becoming interested in kitchen knives myself, I used a poor quality Farberware chef's knife for 25 years. The thing would take a not-dull edge, but nothing like what I'm using now. Even though I used this knife successfully for that long, I wouldn't recommend anyone spend a great deal of time or money trying to get it sharp.

                      I'm including a picture of my (former) Farberware, & also a picture of a Chicago Cutlery handle that provides clues as to its potential for useful sharpening.

                  2. <About six months ago I got several sharpened at Farmer's market but they didn't come back super sharp>

                    Unfortunately, this can easily mean (1) your knives are not as great as you remember, and it is time to get better knives or (2) the guy just did not do a good job. Needless to say, your action may differ between these two situations. Here is the real challenge, if you are a knife expert, like cowboyardee, scubadoo, Eiron, knifesaver..etc here, then you can verify the job. But if you are a knife expert, then you probably won't send out the knives.

                    So here is my honest advise, if these knives have sentimental value to you, then give them to another knife sharpener. If they are just old knives which you don't care for, then it may not be a bad idea to start looking for some new knives anyway.

                    1. K.I.S.S. Go to your local Ace hardware, spend 10 bucks for a smooth/medium grid stone, Youtibe "How to sharpen a knife correctly" and I'll wager you a large McDonalds coffee you'll be slicing thru tomatoes in a half hour. My wife got me a Chgo cutlery chefs knife for our wedding 31 yrs ago and although it no longer is my "finest" knife, I can bring it to a very, very keen edge in moments.

                      1. I had a set of CC knives in the 90s. They were so so, not like good German steel but durable.

                        If you have the $, I'd get some German or Japanese steel. If less, Victorinox Fibrox, if less, sharpen those babies up.

                        1. I know this is anathema to knife junkies, but it isn't the end of the world to run them through a Chefs Choice or the like when they need it (mine are usually in need around July fourth and this time of year) and hone them with a smooth steel with each use. On the sharpener a couple of light passes on both settings seems achieve a good and durable bevel. As for the knives themselves, I have had some experiences with Thiers Issard carbon knives. My large chef and my Nogent paring definitely take and hold and edge better than my slicer, no idea why.you just notice it and deal with it, my point being are all of Your knives having the same issues?

                          1. From your description you have the Chicago Cutlery Walnut Traditions knives. These are the same knives that my parents bought all those years ago and are the knives we first bought and still use. The old CC knives are still good knives. I would not recomnend the Chicago Cutlery knives sold new these days. You just need to either find someone who knows what they are doing when tbey sharpen the knives, or buy yourself one of the ele tric sharpeners suggest by Tim. That's the beauty of CC knives, they are decent knives yet not so expwnsive that you need to worry about trashing them. (We have a Chef's Choice sharpener and use them on CC knives but not on our Wusthof knives).