Knife Impressions

In addition to baking artisan bread, I also accumulate knives. I’d say I collect them but might be a strong word as I buy knives to use them and not to let them sit in a case and be admired. It’s similar to how I collect guitars. I have a bunch of them, but I use them all, especially when I’m in the studio recording and need to get a specific sound.

It’s the same way with knives for me with culinary knives. I don’t have a huge collection; just the set you see to the left. And I didn’t pay over $200 for any of them, having gotten almost all for either half-off or at a serious discount. Like I am with my guitars, I buy great gear for a reasonable price.

For instance, the third knife from the right is my workhorse Messermeister Mu Fusion Santoku. Brand-new, it sold for $159. Not a bad price considering it is a relabeled Japanese knife by Suncraft Knives. It has become my go-to knife for 80% of what I do in my kitchen (yes, I cook – a lot). But here’s the rub: I got it on sale for $89 as it was a discontinued line, plus another 25% because the store wanted to move the knife.

As for my everyday carry (EDC) knives, I only have a few, but I’m probably going to start collecting them. I love ’em. And no, they’re not weapons. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always carried a pocket knife, be it a Swiss Army Knife or a little box cutter. You just never know when you’ll need a knife.

So, given that I like to talk about my obsessions, here’s yet another one… The posts you see here will be separate from my baking blog, which is the main reason for this site’s existence. But I welcome you to check back here occasionally to see what knives I’ve acquired.

And No… I Don’t Sniff Steel

Though I’ve geeked out on knives, and I definitely know what I like with respect to blade style, I made the conscious decision not to be a steel sniffer; that is, get in the snobbery of this steel is better than that steel. What I look for with respect to steel is how easy it is to sharpen (I sharpen all my blades myself), how well it holds an edge, and how tough it is. And I try to get knives that strike a good balance between the three.

Now, I know there are very high-end steels out there. But for the budget-friendly EDCs I buy or will be buying, for the most part, the blade steel tends to be in the budget to mid-range classifications. But cheap steel doesn’t necessarily mean bad quality. Take, for instance, one of my workhorses, a Kershaw Volt II Serrated, which is made with 8Cr13MoV stainless steel. This is a Chinese steel that is considered fairly budget.

Most steel enthusiasts consider this steel kind of meh. According to those who know far more than me, this doesn’t do anything particularly good, but it doesn’t do anything particularly bad either. From my own experience, being a little on the softer side, the blade requires a little more attention than my D2 knives, but touch-up is typically minimal. I recently cut up a bunch of boxes, and it wasn’t until the last few boxes that I felt a pronounced resistance. After I was done – it was a lot of boxes, by the way, I ran the blade on my ceramic rod and gave it a few strokes on my strop and it was as good as new.

And maybe I’m a little less sensitive to steel type right now because I maintain my knives myself, and I actually enjoy sharpening so putting my knives to my stones isn’t really an issue for me. Plus, my EDC use is not in a commercial setting whatsoever. I’m more of a gentleman knife carrier. And especially to the last point, since my use is nowhere near someone who will take their knife to the extreme, steel grade is much less important to me.