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More help with knife sharpening

March 21, 2007|Russ Parsons

AS with all important journeys, when I set out on my path toward hand-sharpening, my first step was searching the Internet. It probably won't surprise you to learn that there are a lot of knife geeks on the Web, and there is no shortage of advice. Here's what I found most helpful:

* The best sharpening guide for beginners I found was the one Chad Ward wrote for the website E-Gullet (, look on the last page of the E-Gullet Culinary Institute). It is complete yet surprisingly accessible; so much so that Ward spun his primer into a book on the topic, which will be published by William Morrow next spring. Be forewarned, though, that even the most basic sharpening lesson can get pretty deep pretty quick.

* Some things can be demonstrated much more easily than they can be explained. Knife sharpening is one. A half-hour of watching "The Chef's Edge," sold by New York City knife mecca Korin and featuring its co-founder and in-house sharpening master Chiharu Sugai, is a better instruction than almost any manual. Sugai doesn't go into great detail, but his calm, matter-of-fact presentation makes knife sharpening seem much more like something you can actually do. He takes a relaxed approach to sharpening. Rather than fret over exact numbers of degrees, he uses three pennies stacked under the blade to establish a sharpening angle.

"The Chef's Edge," $29.95 from Korin, (800) 626-2172;

* A video by knife-making legend Murray Carter (his hand-forged knives sell for thousands of dollars) is packed with good information, but watching almost three hours of the earnest Canadian speaking extemporaneously on the intricacies of knife sharpening was a little much (though it was really cool when he sharpened a knife with a cinder block). Word on the Web is he's recording another one, hopefully more tightly edited.

"Introduction to Knife Sharpening With Murray Carter," $35 from Arizona Custom Knives, (904) 826-4178;

* For clear explanations of a lot of the jargon you'll run into, go to Blade Forums (, click on General, then under Forum, click on "The Toolshed," and under Thread, click on "Sticky: Steel FAQ") and check out Joe Talmadge's primer.

-- Russ Parsons

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