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Cutting boards dull knives?

  • BobB Oct 8, 2013 03:06 PM
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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. 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. <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

        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

          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

            thanks for this - makes sense!

          2. re: iyc_nyc

            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

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

            2. re: iyc_nyc

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

              1. re: John Francis

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

          3. 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

              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. 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

                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. 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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        excellent visual with words! thanks!

                  2. 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

                      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

                        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. 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

                        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

                          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. 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

                          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

                            "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

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

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                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

                                  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

                                    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

                                      <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

                            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. 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

                              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

                                <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

                                  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

                                    <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

                                      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

                                    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. 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. 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

                                        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

                                          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

                                          <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

                                            "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

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

                                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                                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

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

                                                2. re: Tom34

                                                  <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

                                                    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. 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

                                                < 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

                                                  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

                                                    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

                                                      :( 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

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

                                                        1. re: chefhound

                                                          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

                                                          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

                                                          "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

                                                          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

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

                                                            1. re: andabien

                                                              <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

                                                                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

                                                                  'Very sharp' means different things to different people.

                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                    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

                                                                      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

                                                                        Abbo-so-LUTELY!!! (IMHO)

                                                                2. re: andabien

                                                                  I find that hard to believe, sorry.

                                                                  1. re: andabien

                                                                    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

                                                                    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

                                                                      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

                                                                        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

                                                                      Hi, Alfred:

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

                                                                      Aloha,
                                                                      Kaleo

                                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                        Every day. I use the steel before every use.

                                                                        1. re: Alfred G

                                                                          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

                                                                            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

                                                                              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

                                                                        "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. 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. 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. 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. 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

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

                                                                              1. re: jwk714

                                                                                "Knife" is far from being controversial.

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