Kitchen Knives Don’t have to be dull

I have a confession to make. See if this sounds familiar. I take meticulous care of the knives I use for everyday carry, hunting, and general woods wandering. I wipe them down with an oily cloth after use and I never let them get too dull.

Seldom do I have to restore a damaged edge. Most of the time I simply touch up the edges of my pocketknives with a few careful strokes across the rough bottom of a ceramic coffee cup. That’s usually all that’s needed. I don’t use my knives as screwdrivers or pry bars.

As a matter of fact, I still have the very first knife I ever owned, an old Boy Scout knife that was handed down from my older brother. The blades have a deep patina that comes with using carbon steel over the years, but the knife is very usable still.

So, what’s my confession? In this issue, we have a special section on knives for food prep, covering blades you might use in camp or kitchen. That led me to assess my own kitchen knife drawer and immediately I felt embarrassed.

There I was confronted by a jumble of neglected, mostly cheap knives, including a couple I had as a bachelor a lifetime ago. Some of the blades were bent and most were so dull, there was little difference between the cutting edges and the spines.

A really good kitchen knife

While maybe not as exciting as getting your first knife, it’s easy to be enthusiastic about a really good kitchen knife.

I think my problem is that in the past, it was easy for me to get excited about the latest tactical folder or fixed blade survival knife, but I always had a ho-hum reaction to kitchen knives. But I’m cooking more now.

Over the last few years, I’ve elevated my cooking on camping and hunting trips beyond opening a can of beans. And I’ve been cooking more at home for myself recently with my wife picking up more long shifts at the hospital.

I don’t meddle in the kitchen much when she’s home because she’s not fond of my cooking, which she would characterize as experiments in culinary terrorism.

Still, as a result of being more involved in food prep, I’ve taken more of an interest in the knives needed to get the job done. My kitchen knives wouldn’t have to be dull, as in not sharp, if I cared for them the way I do my other knives. And they don’t have to be dull, as in boring. The knives showcased in this issue attest to those truths.

As a self-proclaimed knife devotee, it’s sad that I can whittle utensils, chop kindling, and build a shelter in the wilderness, but I have trouble slicing a tomato at home without turning it to mush.

Throwing away any knife sometimes seems like a sacrilege to me, but I think I’m going to box up everything in that kitchen knife drawer and toss that box in the trash.

I think I need to start clean and build a good selection of quality, sharp kitchen knives that will forever remove that dull impression I once had when it comes to household cutlery.

Steven Paul Barlow