Tip of the Week-Sharpening knives
Of course when a knife is brand new it's usually very sharp, but how sharp you can keep them? Learning to sharpen knives is a mystery to some and I hope this article and video will go some way to debunk the myths and offer you help in understanding more about knives and how to keep them razor sharp.
The word whet stone is often mistaken as a reference to the water often used to lubricate such stones, the word "whetstone" is a compound word formed with the word "whet", which means to sharpen a blade, not the word "wet". The process of using a sharpening stone is called stoning.
Stones are available in various grades, which refers to the grit size of the particles in the stone.
Sharpening stones-Water v Oil stones
The point of using a water or oil in the knife sharpening process is to reduce the friction, because
too much friction can de-temper a knife. Traditionally Western Europeans used oil stones to sharpen knives and Japanese used water stones. As Japanese knives have become more and more popular it is quite natural that Japanese sharpening methods would also become more popular. Me, I've used both but these days I prefer water stones because Its less messy making the clean up is easier. Generally speaking, water stones are softer than oil stones and do tend to wear faster.
Natural versus Manmade
Natural stones are much less common than they used to be. Historical demand has exhausted most known natural quarries and little effort has gone into discovering new ones, because of the mass production of manmade sharpening stones. Artificial stones are usually made from Aluminium oxide or silicon carbide (carborundum).
Choosing a stone
It is better to have a dual stone if possible (two stones bonded together) giving you a coarse surface and a fine surface. You'd start the sharpening process on the course stone if your knife is blunt and then move to the finer grit to "finish” the knife.
Finer grits cut more slowly because they remove less material. Grits are often given as a number, which indicates the density of the particles with a higher number then finer the surface.
A diamond stone is actually a steel plate that has been impregnated with industrial diamond grit.
The plate may have a series of holes cut in it that capture the swarf cast off as grinding takes place, and cuts costs by reducing the amount of abrasive surface area on each plate.
Unlike traditional stones that can become rounded and uneven as the stone wears down (which decreases their effectiveness) diamond plates remain flat. They also do not require the use of a lubricant but you will never get your knives razor sharp on this kind of sharpener.
You can buy just the Diamond plates or you can buy them already mounted on a block. I bought one such block a few months ago from Lidl for £5.99 which has 4 sides going from very course to very smooth. As I've already said a diamond sharpening block will never make your knives razor sharp but if your on a tight buget this will do a good job.
The diamond steel plates can also be used to sand down and flatten natural stones when they have become rounded or hollowed.
Eden Demask 20cm Carving Knife Review
Eden Damast Carving knife 20 cm (8 inch) carving knife
This is not a brand I am familiar with so I was quite keen to give it a "test drive”. You can see from its appearance that is a quality knife that is aimed at both the professional and the keen amateur cook.
Damascus steel is used for the visible part of the blade and it gives the knife that very pleasing patina appearance. This type of steel is extremely rustproof and was traditionally used in middle eastern sword making and gets its patina because the steel is folded again and again a similar method was adapted for the making of Samurai swords.
In this modern day carving knife the inner core (which is the cutting edge) is an exceptionally hard Japanese VG10 steel and this helps the blade keep it's sharpness a long time.
When assessing any product out of a possible 10 (which I have so far never given) here are my marks.
Quality of manufacture: 9
Value for money 8
The length of the blade is my one gripe about this knife.
At 8” (20cm) it is 2 inches short of being long enough for most chefs to carve all size joints of meat. This knife is not on its own in being an 8” carving knife. Other knife companies who manufacture in Japan also make this mistake. An 8” carving knife may be fine in Japanese cuisine but not so good carving something large like a Turkey.
This knife is obviously a quality tool and would be definitely be a welcome addition in most kitchens and therefore I give it an overall score of 8/10 and at current price of £39.95 it is cheaper than other 8” carving knives in its class.