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Cutting boards dull knives?

BobB Oct 8, 2013 03:06 PM

I have a variety of cutting boards, including several of the almost paper thin flexible plastic ones. Someone told me that they dull your knives - is that true? (kaleo, I'm guessing this question is right up your alley).

What differences among various types of boards have people observed, other than pure aesthetics?

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  1. sherrib Oct 8, 2013 04:24 PM

    All knives dull eventually with use. Some materials will speed the process up. Don't use your knives on materials that are harder than they are (ie glass, granite, stainless steel, ceramic.) Plastic and poly boards are not as bad, but still are a bit rough on the knife's edge. Best are wood and hard rubber.

    I was confused too:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/857418

    1. Chemicalkinetics Oct 8, 2013 04:34 PM

      <I have a variety of cutting boards, including several of the almost paper thin flexible plastic ones. Someone told me that they dull your knives>

      All materials will dull knives overtime, but some more than others. In my experience, wood cutting boards play very well with knife edges. Any wood boards really, end grain vs edge grain...etc. Hard wood, soft wood...etc.

      . Plastic cutting boards are pretty good too. Rubber cutting boards are not as nice as wood cutting boards. The worst are glass cutting boards and stone cutting boards...etc.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
        i
        iyc_nyc Oct 8, 2013 05:23 PM

        Probably a clueless question -- but how can materials softer than the knife blade dull the knife blade? I believe it - but would love to better understand how that works.

        1. re: iyc_nyc
          firecooked Oct 8, 2013 07:28 PM

          Its the Third law of physics: When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body.

          When you put force on a very small area like the edge of a knife, there is tremendous pressure (another example is the pressure under a stiletto heel), that first cuts through what you are cutting, then compresses the material under it to a point that that material under it is now hard and pushing back. Add to that that knives also are dulling because the edge bends, which is a factor of material strength, which is different than hardness

          1. re: firecooked
            i
            iyc_nyc Oct 11, 2013 05:50 PM

            thanks for this - makes sense!

          2. re: iyc_nyc
            Chemicalkinetics Oct 8, 2013 07:48 PM

            A knife edge is very fine, and a great deal of pressure is exerted at the tiny edge. In time, the knife edge will roll and will chip. These very tiny chipping causes the knife gets dull.

            Think about it. A wood saw made of steel. Steel is definitely harder than wood, but a wood saw will get old and get dull over time.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
              i
              iyc_nyc Oct 11, 2013 05:50 PM

              Yes, I'd forgotten about the force exerted on the knife and the thin edge.Thanks Chem!

            2. re: iyc_nyc
              j
              John Francis Oct 9, 2013 09:27 AM

              Cutting meat and vegetables eventually dulls knives too. It's a fact of life.

              1. re: John Francis
                Chemicalkinetics Oct 9, 2013 10:09 AM

                True, but, for most home cooks, the boards are the main cause of knife edge deterioration, not the foods.

          3. m
            mikie Oct 8, 2013 05:28 PM

            If it were only as easy as hardness numbers. The obvious has already been stated, don't use boards that are harder or nearly as hard as your knife. Most people don't think about it much but as thin as an edge is, there is a lot of psi of pressure on a knife edge. As such, some plastic boards are not as edge friendly as they would seem based on the numbers. The problem is the knife edge penetrates too deeply and then wedges into the board. Wood boards are typically better and end grain is better yet. Just the nature of the wood fibers.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mikie
              e
              ellabee Oct 12, 2013 01:33 PM

              What's your assessment of where bamboo belongs on the "don't use, dulls knife edge" scale?

              Kaleo puts it over with glass and stone, apparently.

            2. C. Hamster Oct 9, 2013 05:21 AM

              Those wafer thin mats are not cutting boards and they will dull your knives faster than a plastic or wood cutting board because they essentially make your hard countertop into a cutting board. The harder the surface you use to cut on, the faster you dull your knives.

              1 Reply
              1. re: C. Hamster
                e
                ellabee Oct 12, 2013 01:23 PM

                On the occasions I use the thin mats to cut on, they're lying on a maple cutting board. Still an especially dulling surface, or does the 'give' of the wood beneath mitigate the harm?

              2. kaleokahu Oct 9, 2013 10:37 AM

                Hi, BobB:

                Yes, all "boards" will dull knife edges to varying degrees, even ones that are much softer than the steel. Even water can cut stone and steel over time. The harder and more abrasive the board, the faster that will happen.

                Bamboo, even though it's a grass, is especially hard on blades. This is because it is very high in silica (think sand).

                End grain boards of whatever wood are kinder than straightgrain, quartersawn, etc. With these, the food gets full support (think of a bed of nails or a bristle-type dartboard), and the blade is cutting between (and splitting) wood fibers, not across them when it bottoms out.

                It's a very common (and for a knifemaker, sobering) test of sharpness and edge retention to cut across 1/2-inch sisal rope. If you can make 80 clean cuts before the blade dulls, that's pretty good. 100-200 and you're really making blades. Now think about how many times, over the course of a year, you're drawing or pressing your kitchen knife hard into your board. Heck, I probably make more than 200 cuts through cardboard in a year!

                My personal favorites are walnut and olive wood. But IMO, as long as you avoid glass, stone/ceramic and bamboo, the similarities are greater than the differences. In all cases, you resharpen when it needs it.

                Aloha,
                Kaleo

                4 Replies
                1. re: kaleokahu
                  r
                  ricepad Oct 9, 2013 11:52 AM

                  Whoa, really? I was about to spring for some fancy bamboo boards on account of their eco-friendliness! Thanks for saving me some $$!

                  1. re: kaleokahu
                    rmarisco Oct 9, 2013 04:36 PM

                    kaleo, do you have any pics or links to show what you're talking about EXACTLY (picture worth a thousand words..). thanks.

                    1. re: rmarisco
                      m
                      mikie Oct 10, 2013 12:30 PM

                      I'm not sure exactly which part of Kaleo's post you would like a picture of, but if it's something to do with the grian direction I have another example. Think of a wood cutting board as a bristle paint brush, the bristles representing the wood fibers in the cutting board. When the brush is laid on it's side, you have what is commonly refered to as "face grain" or "plain sawn", when the brush is on it's edge, you have edge or "quarter sawn" grain, and when you stand the brush up on the handle, the bristles represent "end grain". Now, take your knife and see what happens to the bristles when you cut into the paint brush. When cutting either face or edge grian you cut the fibers, but when you push the blade into the end grain, they simply part and then return once the knife is removed. The fact that you're not cutting the end grain, but rather moving the fibers, is what makes the end grain more knife edge friendly. The differences here are minor compared to the other extremes of potential cutting surfaces, such as glass or stone. I hope this makes it a bit more clear.

                      1. re: mikie
                        rmarisco Oct 10, 2013 03:22 PM

                        excellent visual with words! thanks!

                  2. g
                    GalinaL Oct 9, 2013 12:57 PM

                    I just inherited my grandma's thick teak cutting board, it is still excellent after more than 50 years of use, but I noticed knives hardly leave any marks in it , unlike on my previous bamboo one. I guess, it should dull my more knives well too. Whatever, it is a keeper.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: GalinaL
                      m
                      mikie Oct 9, 2013 02:58 PM

                      As Kaleo mentioned above for bamboo, teak has a similar issue, it's loaded with fine grit (silica) and is extremely abrassive to cutting tools. Teak is very difficult to work with hand tools because it dulls the edge so quickly. Woodworkers will use carbide on teak almost exclusively because it holds up better against the abrasion. Teak is a dense wood as you have already noticed, but that's not as much the issue as the grit. The grit is pulled into the wood as it grows, it all has to do with the unique properties of the wood and the location where it grows.

                      1. re: mikie
                        g
                        GalinaL Oct 10, 2013 01:46 PM

                        Yes,mikie, it makes perfect sense, after so many years of intense use it didn't worn out at all, just not new with some not deep cutting marks which should be from hacking bones.

                    2. tim irvine Oct 9, 2013 05:11 PM

                      With the usual suspects bringing scientific information to bear I shall weigh in with my usual voice from the nontechnical end: I apply the clack test. If chopping produces too sharp a clack, I assume I am operating on a surface my knives do not like. So I go gently until I can get back onto my old maple board. Also, if the surface is too soft and I feel the blade grabbing it, yuck. I find a Epicurean and bamboo boards to be more clacking and plastic to be more grabbing.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: tim irvine
                        chefhound Oct 18, 2013 09:35 AM

                        This is quite interesting. I have an Epicurean and I was initially put off by the clacking. It took some getting used to but I like it mostly because the composite material (I think that's what it's made of) doesn't absorb oils/liquids as much as wood does. I've always found it annoying when you chop something on your board and it come up smelling like onion or garlic.

                        I hadn't considered its effect on my knives. So then what is the best material for your knives that also doesn't absorb too much odor?

                        1. re: chefhound
                          tim irvine Oct 18, 2013 05:19 PM

                          I just use the maple board and if I have just chopped something funky I squirt a little dish soap on it, scrub it with the dish brush, rinse, swipe it with a towel, and continue. Of course the dish soap scrubbing is drying; so I oil it fairly often.

                      2. c
                        chefwong Oct 10, 2013 03:58 PM

                        One more for the soapbox...

                        Subjective thoughts on endgrain verus Edgegrain

                        I personally like wood boards. Nice think 2" as I prefer the feel of the steel of it. Sharpening aside (just added 2 new whetstones on order), I might try using a endgrain versus the *go to endgrain* to err on possibly a lesser margin of contamination *holding* of a edgegrain board.

                        Granted, anything is always as good as how you wash things

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: chefwong
                          Chemicalkinetics Oct 10, 2013 04:35 PM

                          I know a lot of people have said end grain boards are gentler on the knives than edge grain boards. In my experience, they have been about the same. I have not noticed that my knives get dull faster using edge grain boards as opposed to end grain boards. However, I have noticed that they get dull quicker on a rubber cutting board.

                          <I might try using a endgrain versus the *go to endgrain* to err on possibly a lesser margin of contamination *holding* of a edgegrain board.>

                          Why do you think there is more contamination for edge grain boards?

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            c
                            chefwong Oct 10, 2013 10:49 PM

                            "Why do you think there is more contamination for edge grain boards?"

                            Just merely due to how the cell structure is , aka, what makes end grain more knife friendly versus the edge graining and how it runs more from side to side, versus facing <UP on the end grain. More <fingers if you want to say, that may hold stuff IF Improperly washed.

                            The board, ultimately, is only as clean as the person who cleans it ;-)

                            1. re: chefwong
                              Chemicalkinetics Oct 11, 2013 12:29 AM

                              So which one do you think can hold more stuffs again? e.g. more difficult to clean.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                c
                                chefwong Oct 11, 2013 08:17 AM

                                I did make the comment on cleaning.....

                                But to answer you question, the endgrain. Just due to grain orientation facing the steel.

                                A terrible terrible analogy, but take a piece of 2x4. Cut a small piece off. Smother it with a dark stain oil. Which side get's considerably more darker than the other even though it's the same stain on all sides

                                1. re: chefwong
                                  Chemicalkinetics Oct 11, 2013 09:45 AM

                                  I see. I thought you said edge grain is more difficult to clean (based on your very first message).

                                  < might try using a endgrain versus the *go to endgrain* to err on possibly a lesser margin of contamination *holding* of a edgegrain board.>

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                    c
                                    chefwong Oct 11, 2013 10:10 AM

                                    One more thought for the soapbox....

                                    The majority of my experience is cutting on edgegrains.

                                    Eons ago, I had a 2" thick 30x24 Endgrain. I never did have any issues with Wear on the board. The *theory* is that it does not wear well - as you cut on it, the top splinters off. I've yet to observe such wear.

                                    For all you edgegrain users , care to share how well or not well your boards wear over time - relative to your chopping action or not (if you prefer a food processor) and or how sharp your knives are.

                                    I am looking at 1 1/2" boards for my wifey am and looking at End Grain Boards

                                    1. re: chefwong
                                      Chemicalkinetics Oct 11, 2013 10:23 AM

                                      <Eons ago, I had a 2" thick 30x24 Endgrain. I never did have any issues with Wear on the board. The *theory* is that it does not wear well - as you cut on it, the top splinters off. I've yet to observe such wear.>

                                      I have never seen my endgrain cutting board splinter off, and I have not even heard of this theory.

                                      <For all you edgegrain users , care to share how well or not well your boards wear over time - relative to your chopping action or not (if you prefer a food processor) and or how sharp your knives are.>

                                      I would say that my endgrain cutting board looks better over time, and there are a lot of cut marks on my edge grain board, but it is that it becomes a functional problem. I almost always use a push cutting motion instead of the rock chopping motion. My knives are very sharp compared to most people.

                          2. re: chefwong
                            m
                            mikie Oct 10, 2013 07:46 PM

                            Although I have seen wooden cutting boards of just about every wood possible, typically they are made from woods with a fine grain structure. The reasoning being that the tight or closed grain structure is less likely to hold contamination.

                            Based only on grain direction and structure, in other words, the same wood variety, the differences between edge or end grain are subtle with regards to both contamination and knife edge frendly.

                          3. a
                            andabien Oct 12, 2013 03:55 PM

                            This is an interesting discussion, but the statistician in me wants know, how many people actually get a cutting board derived illness each year? Are they a problem?

                            If you use common practices in keeping your cutting board clean, whether it's used for vegies or meat, what is your actual probability of getting sick?

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: andabien
                              cowboyardee Oct 12, 2013 04:19 PM

                              There actually are some studies on the incidence of bacteria on different kinds of cutting boards over time - essentially, how sanitary they are. Wood fared well in these tests compared to surfaces like plastic.

                              As for how many people get sick each year from cutting boards: it's essentially impossible to say. You can't really isolate the source of contamination well enough to point toward something specific like a cutting board when someone gets sick. Heck, a lot of times when someone gets sick, you never even find out whether it was food poisoning or what kind of food poisoning it was in the first place.

                              This discussion is more about how boards affect knife edges, but there is an open discussion about cutting boards and cross contamination right now also.

                              1. re: andabien
                                Chemicalkinetics Oct 12, 2013 05:07 PM

                                <This is an interesting discussion, but the statistician in me wants know, how many people actually get a cutting board derived illness each year? Are they a problem?>

                                That is a very tough question to answer.

                                Initially, people thought wood cutting boards are not as safe as plastic cutting boards because wood is pores and plastic is not. It turns out this thinking is misleading because wood being pores actually help it pull the harmful bacteria inside the wood and slowly kill them, while plastic boards are not as pores as one may think.

                                There are some studies which show wood to be safer and some show plastic to be safer.

                                Based reading a few of these articles, my take home message is that plastic and wood boards are about equally safe when they are brand new. Plastic may have an edge. Overtime, an old wood board is safer than an old plastic board.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                  a
                                  andabien Oct 12, 2013 08:14 PM

                                  Yes, I understand that wood cutting boards may be safer than plastic ones, under certain circumstances. That Is not my question.

                                  I am interested in what the real, actual risk is, of either one. If 2 people in a million get sick from plastic cutting boards, and 1 person in a million gets sick from wood cutting boards, then obviously wooden boards are twice as good as plastic ones. Still, the whole risk is minimal. My question is, is either one of them a high risk health concern, or even a mild risk.

                                  If we simply keep our boards clean, can't we use whatever board we happen to prefer, without any health hazards?

                                  1. re: andabien
                                    Chemicalkinetics Oct 12, 2013 08:31 PM

                                    <That Is not my question.>

                                    But cowboyardee and I did answer your question. He said " it's essentially impossible to say", and I wrote "That is a very tough question to answer. " It is a more difficult question than you may think. Keep in mind that it is difficult to determine if a person get his food poisoning from restaurant A vs restaurant B. Let's alone if he got it from the fish or tomato or the cutting board.

                                    <If 2 people in a million get sick from plastic cutting boards, and 1 person in a million gets sick from wood cutting boards, then obviously wooden boards are twice as good as plastic ones.>

                                    That is the thing. It cannot be determined. This is like asking how many get sick each year because they took shower instead of bath.

                                    1. re: andabien
                                      g
                                      GeneTee Oct 18, 2013 01:17 AM

                                      The solution to your problem is pretty straight forward. Any and all food, handling, etc. contaminate the surface of cutting boards. So, keeping them clean is important regardless of the surface. I use a plastic cutting board that will fit in the dishwasher for meat, fish and cheese. The wooden cutting board that can't go in the dishwasher is used only for fruits and vegetables. Take care of your wood cutting board by rubbing it with the mineral oil (NOT vegetable oil). This also helps maintain sanitation of your board.

                                  2. re: andabien
                                    s
                                    saleger Oct 18, 2013 06:27 AM

                                    I was confused by Chemicalkinetics answer until I realized that the word pores was actually porous. I was totally mixed up until I realized the spelling was wrong. lol

                                  3. g
                                    GeneTee Oct 18, 2013 01:22 AM

                                    Boards dull your knives! The movement of the blade against the board causes the metal at the edge to move around and "dull". Thus we sharpen. I own three different kinds of boards and don't really notice any difference in how they affect blade sharpness. Then again I have an electric knife sharpener on my countertop so my knives are always very sharp.

                                    Interesting piece in this month's Cook's Illustrated found that the process of inserting your knife into the knife block dulls your knives too. Assuming you have the style of block with vertical slots (mine are horizontal) they recommend setting your blades upside down in the block.

                                    1. Robj Oct 18, 2013 04:59 AM

                                      What a load of old cobblers. Boards don't make dull knives. I have been in the professional cooking game for over 25 years and I can categorically tell you in 99% of cases it is a dull knife and not the board. How many cooks at home sharpen their knives before and after using them? Probably not many. I have used wood, plastic, ceramic, glass and granite and never had a problem. As some have said knives over a period of time will get dull through use but the user doesn't know how to keep their knives sharp and there lies the problem. Spend time learning how to sharpen and strop a knife and most of the battle is over.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: Robj
                                        b
                                        Ballydugan Oct 18, 2013 05:09 AM

                                        Exactly - now please explain how to correctly sharpen a knife and using which tools. I have seen people sharpening one knife against another. I have seen those gadgets that you draw the knife through. I have heard they were not very good for the knife. You can also use a knife sharpener but you have to be careful not to sharpen 1 side. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated!

                                        1. re: Ballydugan
                                          cowboyardee Oct 18, 2013 06:12 AM

                                          Depends on what kind of knives you have and your personal standards for sharpness, ease of use, budgetary concerns, etc.

                                          Here is a basic comparison of different kinds of sharpening devices you can use as a reference:
                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7971...

                                          Though I've tried many setups, I personally sharpen using waterstones, and I could give you pointers if you're interested in learning that. Pull-through devices can vary quite a bit in price, effectiveness, and other factors, so whether it's 'not very good for the knife' depends on which device we're talking about, and also what kinds of knives you use. When you see people 'sharpen' one knife against the spine of another knife, they are usually using the second knife as a steel to realign a folded edge rather than sharpening (i.e. removing metal to form a new edge).

                                          By the way, Robj is wrong about cutting boards. Glass and granite boards will definitely dull a knife much quicker than a wooden board (though cutting with a 'drawing' motion can compensate to some extent). Sharpen a few hundred knives for people who use different kinds of boards, and this conclusion becomes inescapable - and heck, I've seen sharp edges fail just about immediately when cutting on ceramic plates. He is right however that sharpening is very important and often overlooked.

                                        2. re: Robj
                                          Chemicalkinetics Oct 18, 2013 08:47 AM

                                          <Boards don't make dull knives.>

                                          Cutting boards can make knives dull. In fact, it is an important factor. For many people, the cutting board is the hardest material during a cutting process. Just imagine chopping celery or tomatoes on a cutting board. The board is where the hardest impact the knife will make, not the celery and not the tomatoes.

                                          <how many cooks at home sharpen their knives before and after using them? >

                                          No one I know sharpen their knives before and after, not even sushi chefs I know do that. Honing a knife before and after? Yes. Literally take out a waterstone before and after cooking? No.

                                          <I have used wood, plastic, ceramic, glass and granite and never had a problem>

                                          It depends a lot on the type of knives you have. For example, you will notice a bigger difference if the knives were sharpened at 10o angle as opposed to 20o. I have a rubber cutting board, and it dulls my knives noticeably quicker than my wood boards -- at least 3 times.

                                          You may not notice the difference between wood and plastic, but I am very surprised that you don't notice the difference between wood vs glass.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                            t
                                            Tom34 Oct 18, 2013 06:39 PM

                                            "Wood vs glass" .......I don't understand how somebody could compare these cutting surfaces either.

                                            A glaring example would be steak knives cutting against plates. Invariably the edge gets flattened immediately and when held up to the light the flat spots are quite apparent. While I don't use them, serrated steak knives dominate the market these days because they keep the cutting edge off the plate.

                                            I think of glass boards as something to put a hot item on but never as a cutting surface. Could you imagine how easy it would be to chip a steep angle 60 plus hardness blade on one. No thanks. Also think it would be dangerous having no bite into the board.

                                            1. re: Tom34
                                              C. Hamster Oct 18, 2013 06:43 PM

                                              There's no such logical thing as a glass cutting board

                                              1. re: C. Hamster
                                                t
                                                Tom34 Oct 18, 2013 07:00 PM

                                                Agree 100%. Cooking lends itself to some pretty complicated theories at times, but this doesn't seem to be one of those times :-)

                                                1. re: C. Hamster
                                                  g
                                                  GH1618 Oct 18, 2013 07:04 PM

                                                  It's a tradeoff. The glass boards are the most sanitary. The polyethelene boards have been shown to harbor bacteria.

                                                2. re: Tom34
                                                  Chemicalkinetics Oct 19, 2013 03:59 PM

                                                  <Also think it would be dangerous having no bite into the board.>

                                                  Yet, I am very concern about that. In fact, I am slightly less worry about "the knife not biting into the board" than the "food can slide around". Both can happen on a glass cutting board.

                                                  When I was in college, one of my roommates love his glass cutting board. I think his reason was that the glass boards do not get scratched.

                                                  In readily, when two objects collide (especially hard object), one has to take damage if not both.

                                                  Come to think of it. I just have a nice analogy. Think of Cinderella. Can you image how uncomfortable it is to wear real glass (very hard) shoes?

                                                  Since the glass shoes do not "give", the feet will take all the impact. Since the glass boards do not "give", the knives take the damage.

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                    t
                                                    Tom34 Oct 20, 2013 03:24 AM

                                                    I have used glass boards at shore houses and if the knife is reasonably sharp you can actually hear a grinding type noise during the rocking motion as the blade slowly moves from one side of the board to another. After a week the edge is as dull as a butter knife.

                                                    For cutting problematic food like chicken I use 3/4 inch thick polly boards cut out of an old slab from a restaurant that I sanded down and cleaned up. They get hand scrubbed and then put in the dishwasher. Everything else gets cut on wood.

                                            2. t
                                              thymewarrior Oct 18, 2013 09:19 AM

                                              Lot's of varying opinions and some obviously very passionate ones. I personally use wood for veggies and plastic for meat. I don't notice any difference in edge wear with either. I wash the wood with soap and water and throw the plastic ones in the dishwasher. Never in 40 years of cooking have I had food poisoning which I imagine would be the symptoms of bad board-keeping. I agree that any board will dull a knife eventually but then, the knife edge is meant to be sharpened routinely. I bought some relatively inexpensive IKEA knives about three years ago and after using them for a while I threw away my old Henkels (which I bought back in the day they were still being made in Germany and supposed to be quality) that I couldn't keep an edge on no matter what I did. I never could use a whet stone properly so I use a pull through sharpener on my knives every two or three uses and the IKEA chef's knife will slip through a soft tomato.

                                              27 Replies
                                              1. re: thymewarrior
                                                Chemicalkinetics Oct 18, 2013 09:24 AM

                                                < I bought some relatively inexpensive IKEA knives about three years ago and after using them for a while I threw away my old Henkels (which I bought back in the day they were still being made in Germany and supposed to be quality) that I couldn't keep an edge on no matter what I did. >

                                                Interesting observation -- assuming I read it correctly.

                                                1. re: thymewarrior
                                                  y
                                                  youareabunny Oct 18, 2013 09:30 AM

                                                  I would've gladly taken those henckels!

                                                  FWIW I heard that scraping your knife against the board - like scooping food into the pot - supposedly dulls them faster, so I scrape with the back of my knife now.

                                                  1. re: youareabunny
                                                    a
                                                    andabien Oct 18, 2013 10:18 AM

                                                    I know a personal chef (who's from Germany, for whatever that's worth). He buys cheap knives and when they get dull, he throws them away and buys new ones.

                                                    1. re: andabien
                                                      Chemicalkinetics Oct 18, 2013 10:21 AM

                                                      :( So sad.

                                                      Of course, it is his money, his knives. He can do whatever he wants.

                                                      Still, it is sad to hear people throw away a whole lot of knives.

                                                      1. re: andabien
                                                        chefhound Oct 18, 2013 10:36 AM

                                                        That's terribly wasteful. So there's a whole stack of dull knives in the landfill?

                                                        1. re: chefhound
                                                          t
                                                          thymewarrior Oct 18, 2013 10:51 AM

                                                          Ok, sorry. So I really didn't throw them away, I gave them to my daughter who appreciated them because her hubby is a hunter-type who loves to wield whet stones.

                                                        2. re: andabien
                                                          a
                                                          andabien Oct 18, 2013 11:59 AM

                                                          Well, I don't know how often he buys a new knife, but I see some reason in his method.
                                                          If he throws out (recycles) 2-3 knifes a year, that's not really very much waste in the scheme of things. If that costs him $30-45/year and keeps him with a sharp knife at all times, maybe that's better than either resharpening them himself, or paying someone else to do it.
                                                          It's just another strategy.

                                                        3. re: youareabunny
                                                          t
                                                          Tom34 Oct 18, 2013 06:47 PM

                                                          "Scrape with the back" .....still have not gotten through to my wife on this one. I can be in another room with background noise and instantly recognize the sound of that blade being scraped across the board. Fortunately, she really only uses 1 knife so its a battle not worth fighting.

                                                        4. re: thymewarrior
                                                          a
                                                          Alfred G Oct 18, 2013 11:58 AM

                                                          I have had Henckel's knives for more than 25 years and all they ever need is a quick swipe on my steel. I have never had to use a stone or grinder. Perfect edge.

                                                          1. re: Alfred G
                                                            a
                                                            andabien Oct 18, 2013 12:18 PM

                                                            That's interesting. So, if one uses a good knife, it never needs resharpening, if one uses a steel regularly?

                                                            1. re: andabien
                                                              Chemicalkinetics Oct 18, 2013 12:36 PM

                                                              <That's interesting. So, if one uses a good knife, it never needs resharpening, if one uses a steel regularly?>

                                                              I don't think so. I think -- even with a great knife -- you will still need to sharpen them about once a year (or every two years). Of course, this depends how often you cook and use your knives as well. It will be very different for a person who cook once week and a person who cook everyday. It also matters if you cook for a family of 8 vs cooking for yourself only.

                                                              1. re: andabien
                                                                m
                                                                mountainjack Oct 18, 2013 01:34 PM

                                                                I've found a steel used Every Time I use a knife / before I put the knife away, keeps them Very Sharp for a Very Long time. Try it, you'll like it.

                                                                1. re: mountainjack
                                                                  cowboyardee Oct 18, 2013 03:02 PM

                                                                  'Very sharp' means different things to different people.

                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                    g
                                                                    GH1618 Oct 18, 2013 06:09 PM

                                                                    Yes, but to put it in practical terms, if I touch up my knife with a steel, then slice a tomato without difficulty, I'm happy.

                                                                    1. re: GH1618
                                                                      cowboyardee Oct 18, 2013 08:01 PM

                                                                      Sharpness is practical.

                                                                      A knife sharpened only with a steel can sometimes have a semi-jagged edge that works reasonably well for slicing tomatoes. The same knife would tend to be bad for quick, efficient chopping of anything more challenging than celery.

                                                                      Many don't much care since they don't have the skill to use a very sharp edge efficiently. But keeping an extremely sharp edge is what allows you develop that skill in the first place.

                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                        max5d Oct 20, 2013 12:14 PM

                                                                        Abbo-so-LUTELY!!! (IMHO)

                                                                2. re: andabien
                                                                  C. Hamster Oct 18, 2013 04:45 PM

                                                                  I find that hard to believe, sorry.

                                                                  1. re: andabien
                                                                    k
                                                                    knifesavers Oct 20, 2013 09:38 AM

                                                                    Any honing rod will help maintain the edge but no matter the rod type it eventually doesn't restore it and the knife needs resharpening.

                                                                    I carry 4 F Dick steels and a Mac ceramic rod and use them all but tell every one that they are an essential part of knife maintenance.

                                                                    Every now and then someone brings a knife I sharpened a while back and all it needs is honing.

                                                                    Jim

                                                                  2. re: Alfred G
                                                                    t
                                                                    thymewarrior Oct 18, 2013 12:23 PM

                                                                    Alfred, your experience was exactly what I was told I could expect! I would have mine professionally sharpened at the knife shop where I bought my Henckels and within a month they needed it again. I used the steel they recommended and it didn't help. I don't know what the problem was but they sure didn't live up to my expectations.
                                                                    **************
                                                                    And, by the way, I did feel the fault was somehow mine, I just never could care for them properly. The point I was just trying to make was that you really don't need to have such an elegant knife to get a good cut.

                                                                    1. re: thymewarrior
                                                                      max5d Oct 20, 2013 12:22 PM

                                                                      you use the word "elegant". Do you mean "expensive"? Elegance is a word associated with DESIGN, and really has nothing to do with the quality of your cutting edge. I use a good quality steel blade, hone before each use, sharpen every year or so, sometimes twice in a year if lots of cutting, and have NO problems. I can shave each morning with my knives if wanted to. I work with a 28 year old set of Henckels. and they, like baseball, have been very, very good to me....
                                                                      I now use plastic board set I purchased at Costco

                                                                      1. re: max5d
                                                                        t
                                                                        thymewarrior Oct 20, 2013 02:45 PM

                                                                        Everyone has different expectations when it comes to kitchen tools but I think I am going to bow out of this if we are going to start discussing semantics, which is very obviously not the point.

                                                                    2. re: Alfred G
                                                                      kaleokahu Oct 18, 2013 12:34 PM

                                                                      Hi, Alfred:

                                                                      This is difficult to believe. How much would you say you use them?

                                                                      Aloha,
                                                                      Kaleo

                                                                      1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                        a
                                                                        Alfred G Oct 23, 2013 06:45 AM

                                                                        Every day. I use the steel before every use.

                                                                        1. re: Alfred G
                                                                          kaleokahu Oct 23, 2013 07:22 AM

                                                                          Hi, Alfred:

                                                                          If you truly have used your knives every day for 25 years without doing anything but steeling, and the edges are still "perfect", you have magical knives and you are a magician. You should be able to make a great deal of money teaching professional blade-handlers how to do it.

                                                                          I worked in my dad's slaughterhouse for a time with some very skilled butchers (with the best knives and steels in their scabbards), and no one could manage more than a month without a real resharpening.

                                                                          Aloha,
                                                                          Kaleo

                                                                          1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                            t
                                                                            Tom34 Oct 23, 2013 07:45 AM

                                                                            I think if a person has very good quality knives, only uses them for personal use on the proper surface, is very careful not to bang them around and regularly & properly runs them across a steel the dulling effect is extremely slow and can go unnoticed over time.

                                                                            The eye opener comes when you use them for the first time after you get them back from a true professional sharpener.

                                                                            I think its also worth mentioning that with the Edge Pro Apex sharpener I was able to get my old Wusthof Classics significantly sharper than the original factory edge and I am sure the pro's do the same. .

                                                                            1. re: Tom34
                                                                              kaleokahu Oct 23, 2013 07:54 AM

                                                                              Hi, Tom:

                                                                              Yeah, the operative language being: "...can go unnoticed over time."

                                                                              My friend Bob Kramer recommends professional sharpening once a year, a ceramic stick once a month, and steeling once a week. 25 years of just steeling doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

                                                                              But what do I know?

                                                                              Aloha,
                                                                              Kaleo

                                                                      2. re: Alfred G
                                                                        cowboyardee Oct 18, 2013 04:25 PM

                                                                        "Perfect edge" is arguably misleading - as I mentioned above, different people mean different things by 'sharp.'

                                                                        Usually a steel doesn't really sharpen a knife (removing metal and forming a new edge) but straightens out an edge that has warped or folded from use. With that said, it is possible for some people to use a steel to scrape/file enough metal off an edge to functionally sharpen it. How well this works can depend on your knife, your steel, and your technique. At best, it can keep the edge sharp enough to function reasonably well (often with a slightly jagged edge that can help it cut). Not as sharp as some other methods, but sharp enough to cut. At worst, it won't work at all after a few months and another method of sharpening would be necessary.

                                                                        Also, since a diamond or ceramic sharpening 'steel' is designed to actually remove metal, it can also functionally sharpen a knife. It is somewhat inefficient compared to a decent sharpening stone for anything beyond a touch up of an already-sharp edge though.

                                                                        In the end, it's your money and your kitchen, so what works well for you... works well for you. I will say that I don't see the point of buying especially expensive or nice knives if you're only going to maintain em on a steel. Henckles' Myabi line, for example, can take a screaming edge when sharpened well. Using only a steel on them is kind of like buying an expensive convertible and then driving it with the top up year round.

                                                                    3. C. Hamster Oct 18, 2013 05:27 PM

                                                                      I cook a lot and cater too.

                                                                      I just have 5 or 6 plastic boards that go in the dishwasher.

                                                                      I've had wood but can't be bothered with it anymore.

                                                                      1. SWISSAIRE Oct 18, 2013 07:23 PM

                                                                        I recall we had this conversation two years ago, but for those who are new to the discussion .....

                                                                        These knives, ( handwashed & magnet dried over the sink )
                                                                        This cutting board and mat combination (hand or dishwasher)

                                                                        Still require monthly, or as needed sharpening, using a Star tool.

                                                                        Apparently the photo upload is only accepting 1 of 4 photos tonight.

                                                                         
                                                                        1. Robj Oct 18, 2013 07:49 PM

                                                                          Again no matter what board you use and what you do with your knife they always need sharpening. Best practice is to strop your knife on a steel before you start and depending on how much use they get sharpen them on a stone at least once every two weeks and I have found going back to wood as the best to cut on but if you cut a lot of raw meat then poly plastic is best for that. If you don't know how to sharpen a knife find a Butcher or a Chef who is willing to show you.

                                                                          1. j
                                                                            jwk714 Oct 19, 2013 04:20 PM

                                                                            so the one thing we know for sure?? knives are the most controversial, debated, "opinionating" (my word) subject in the world of cookery. cutting boards not too too far beyond. dont stop!!

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: jwk714
                                                                              g
                                                                              GH1618 Oct 19, 2013 04:30 PM

                                                                              I'd say Teflon (and similar coatings) are the most controversial.

                                                                              1. re: jwk714
                                                                                Chemicalkinetics Oct 19, 2013 04:33 PM

                                                                                "Knife" is far from being controversial.

                                                                                The mention of Teflon, Aluminum and Induction cooktop, seasoning technique (cast iron).....etc beat knives or cutting boards.

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