You've finally purchased that great knife set you've always wanted. Your new knives cut through chicken breasts like butter and slice tomatoes with ease. But now that you've got your dream set of blades, how do you keep them sharp?
Steve Bottorff, author of "Sharpening Made Easy" and operator of Steve's Knife Sharpening
Service, a traveling service based in Mentor, has a few tips.
It's important to use home sharpening devices to touch up your knives. You can employ a bench stone (a rectangular coarse stone to drag your knives across) or a steel (that long rod that came with your new knife set).
Of course, with both of those touch-up methods you'll need to know how to hold your knife. Chopping knives should be held at a 25-degree angle, slicing knives at 20 degrees and a filet knife at 18 degrees. Though you may not be able to nail those angles precisely, the point is that you should not simply drag your knife across the rod, holding it level. If you're not up on basic protractor skills, electric sharpeners do the angle work for you. Bottorff recommends the Chef'sChoice sharpener in this category.
But no matter how well you maintain your knives, to keep them as sharp as the day you bought them you'll need to take them to a professional.
"If you keep up on touch-ups, knives should only have to be professionally sharpened once a year," Bottorff says from his perch under an awning at the North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square, surrounded by sharpening wheels and blades of various sizes.
"First, I regrind the bevel of a blade on a wet-grinding wheel." He holds the knife at a precise angle on the spinning wheel. "The wheel is wet to keep the knife cool. Too much heat ruins the temper and steel of your knife."
After he's created an edge, Bottorff polishes the blade on a finer-grained wheel, which makes a smoother edge. All that's left after that is a quick cleaning with paint thinner.
From hedge trimmers to scissors to kitchen knives, Bottorff handles it all. You can find him at Shaker Square the second and fourth Saturdays of September, and you can pick up his book at any local bookstore to learn the tricks of the trade.