Tough vs. Sharp (or, how not to damage your knives on hard foods.)

Tough vs. Sharp (or, how not to damage your knives on hard foods.)

I've been sharpening knives for almost 10 years and without fail, after every Thanksgiving, a sad customer with a busted up santoku walks in asking me if I can resurrect the edge. Apparently, their Father in-law assumed that because it was "one of those dang sharp sushi knives" that somehow it would magically cut through turkey bones. Lo and behold, they ended up taking a big chunk (or multiple chunks if the said father in-law was particularly zealous) out of the knife instead of winning the fight against the holiday bird. Luckily, most of the time I can un-bury the dead, but every now and then the blade is so chipped that I would have to grind away half the knife to make it cut again.

Thing is, the culprit responsible for the hacked santoku probably got away with jabbing at a turkey or what-have-you plenty of times before with the Henckels knife they got for their wedding present in 1979. So what happened?

Simply put, the harder the steel, the more brittle it becomes. And Japanese knives are mostly made with harder steel, which is why they can be sharpened at a thinner angle, and hold their edge waaaaay longer than your usual German knives. Generally speaking, keep your Japanese knives away from bones, extremely hard squash, and basically anything you wouldn't want to bite with your teeth. Softer European knives can generally handle harder food with more ease, but I've still seen them damaged badly on these same foods, especially when the knife is twisted in the process of cutting through something very hard. So, if the knife isn't moving straight into what you are cutting, don't torque it or start hacking!

I recommend keeping a beater around for exactly these purposes, or using a knife that is made for bones or hard foods (carving knives, heavy cleavers, boning knives and large serrated knives all can handle a variety of tougher tasks that your go-to vegetable knives should not)

Reach out to us if you need any suggestions!

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