If you cook at all you use knives, and if you use knives you know the frustration of dull knives. At this time of year when tomatoes are in abundance, nothing annoys me quite as much as a knife too dull to slice smoothly through a ripe, juicy tomato.
So they are irritating, but did you also know that dull knives are considered more dangerous than sharp knives? The idea is that with a sharp knife you cut easily in one or two strokes, but with a dull knife you have to cut and cut and hack away. . . the more cuts you make,the more chance for an accident.
For both of these reasons I like to have a way to keep the knives I own sharp and useful.
A big part of the frugal philosophy is to buy decent quality items and then maintain them so that you don’t have to replace them often (or ever!). Well cared for, decently made knives can last a long time. Truly well made knives can be passed down to your grandchildren some day. I’ve only ever had “decent” knives–like the Chicago Cutlery knives that I bought just after college that I’ve been using and sharpening for over 20 years. A few years back (5 now?) hubs bought me a nice little set of additional knives that included a Japanese Santoku style knife that I like using and sharpen as needed. With knives, it’s not “worn out” until you can’t sharpen it any more. . . or the handle falls off, which is why I like knives where the metal of the blade goes all the way down through the handle.
I do my sharpening with a simple hand held knife sharpener from Smith’s. These cost under $10 and do a decent job of putting an edge back on your knife with a few passes.
The little V shaped section on the sharpener is what does the actual work (sorry it’s a bit blurry). I really like that this sharpener has such a robust plastic handle–there really is no way you are going to accidentally cut yourself while sharpening.
I like to hold the knife handle firmly on the counter with my left hand, the blade facing up and hanging over the edge. Then with the sharpener in my right hand I give a couple of passes over the entire blade from the handle to tip. I try not to stop but do it all in one motion and make sure that I follow the slope of the tip down so the entire blade is sharpened.
When I’m done, I wipe the knife gently with a dry cloth to remove any metal dust or burrs. I don’t usually see anything, but it’s sharper so I assume some minute amount of metal has been removed from the blade and I don’t want that going into whatever I’m cutting.
The final step is to store your knives so that they aren’t dulled or damaged–tossed in a drawer, knocked around every time you pull it open is NOT a good method. I like having mine in a knife block on the counter where I can grab them mid recipe without having to open a drawer. I’ve also seen folks with some nice magnetic knife racks that keep them right at hand. If you must keep them in a drawer and don’t have any kind of divider or holder in there, you can consider purchasing knife sheathes.