Ben Chinn

Slightly nerdy ramblings and linkage

Keeping a Sharp Edge

I just got a new chef’s knife and it’s made a huge difference to my experience in the kitchen. The knife I had before was of good quality and I took decent care of it through frequent honing and even sharpening with a stone. Still, recently I had begun to notice that it wasn’t keeping as sharp an edge as it used to. Prepping food took a little more effort, not much but a noticeable amount. There was a little less precision to what I was doing.

Then I saw the chef’s knife reviews on The Sweet Home and decided on buying their recommendation: the eminently affordable Victorinox Fibrox. I’ve been using it for several weeks now and this knife is super sharp, sharper than my old chef’s knife by a significant margin. I also recently purchased a Kuhn Ricon paring knife which was also an upgrade for me (and a steal at less than $10). At this point I’m seriously considering chucking all my other kitchen knives (except my bread knife of course).

A really sharp blade has made a big difference. Tasks that were a serious challenge before (e.g. segmenting a pummelo) are now enjoyable. I use less muscle and more finesse and feel more confident with every slice and chop. I also feel like a schmuck for putting up with knives that were good, but not great.

There’s a larger lesson here. Tools make a difference. The environment in which work happens can have an impact on the quality (and quantity ) of the work itself. Using the best tools makes work pleasurable, decreases stress and friction and opens up new possibilities.

Only a bad carpenter blames his tools, true. But good carpenters don’t use shitty hammers.