Can a kitchen knife be too sharp?

One would say, a knife should always be sharp, but a knife that is too sharp? Is this even possible? I mean, what does too sharp even mean?

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A knife, in fact, can be too sharp, depending on what it’s used for. There are various reasons for this, and one of them is actually the edge of the knife. 

Many years ago, this question would never even have crossed my mind. In my logic, a razor-sharp blade could cut through everything, and that is all to it. Why would someone even want to have a “duller” knife right? Well, back then, we were thought that a dull knife was dangerous and you should always avoid it, period! 

Once I started to use my super sharp knife much more often, I started noticing that some tasks I had a much more significant advantage using a “dull” blade. Surprised? So was I!

Polished edge Vs. Toothy edge.

I will cover two types of edges in this article. The first one is the polished edge, and the second is the toothy edge. But there are many other applications for knives of varying degrees of sharpness.

You see, most of us go for a polished edge because most of us think having a polished edge means it is sharp, so this means it will cut through anything like butter. But having a polished edge is not always as advantageous as you might think.

And the reason for this is because, for some tasks, a polished edge cannot cut through as easily or fast as a toothy(dull) edged would. Although we always strive to have the proper knife for the right task, sometimes we are not even aware we might be using the wrong knife or at least the wrong edge. 

What is a polished edge?

Polished means refining the edge of a knife to make it wickedly sharp, and as a result, you get this clean mirror finish.

What is it best used for?

A polished edge is usually used for push cuts. However, you can also use it for slice cuts, but the more you use it for slice cuts, the more you will realize you can do much better with a toothy edge.

Are there any disadvantages to having a super sharp edge? 

Many people experienced their knives getting dull much faster with a polished edge over a toothy edge. And I guess this is normal, it is much more difficult to maintain a supersharp edge instead of a less sharp edge.

How do you get a polished edge? 

Many think of it as removal of nicks and imperfections, but the end goal is to get the edge as sharp as possible. 

It is very hard or almost impossible to get a polished edge with a pull-through or electric sharpener. So if you are trying to get one, you will need sharpening stones. Finally, you will also need a decent leather strop.

What is stropping? 

Stropping means polishing the edge of a sharp knife. Usually, one would use a leather strap, mostly applied to a hard surface.

What stropping does is removing the last imperfections of the cut, which produces a much better sharpness as a result. Stropping also makes the edge shine like a mirror, which is also why they give it the name “mirror-edge”. This technique is often associated with classic razors, but also kitchen knives benefit greatly from stropping.

Can you use a belt as a strop?

This is a commonly asked question and yes it is possible but only recommend at a pinch. Depending on how it’s built the results may vary. SO I would keep this option as a last resort.

What is a toothy edge?

Toothy is considered “less” sharp because, during the sharpening process, the sharpening stones used usually are much lower grid. Toothy kitchen knives are more often used for slice cuts than push cuts. For example, a tomato can be cut much more comfortable with a toothed edge than with a polished one. Also, a toothy edge is better for edge retention compared to a polished one.

What is it best used for?

A good example would be: butchers use a “dull” knife to remove silverskin from beef. They first make a small cut, and the remainder slides through. If they would use a super sharp knife, they will eventually cut through the skin. 

Are there any disadvantages to having a toothy edge? 

Well, this might sound a little simple, but if you try to do a push cut with a toothy edge, you might have some difficulties completing your task. Not only that, but it is actually dangerous to do a push cut with a toothy knife. The more pressure you put on a knife, the more chances you have to cut yourself in the process.

On the other hand, if you try to do a push cut and you manage to cut through, you will hit your cutting board much harder, which leads to your blade to dull faster. 

How do you get a toothy edge? 

Getting a polished edge is straight forward, the higher you go with your sharpening stone, the more polished edge you will have. But what about the toothy edge? Is there a way to get a toothy edge blade? 

Well, it is actually not that hard at all. You can obtain a toothy edge with a coarse 100-120 gritstone then finish/refine it very little on a 280 grit SiC stone, and you do not do any stropping and that’s it.

So, when do I use which?

As mentioned previously, it depends on what your task is. Basically, if you follow the rule of using the right knife for the right job, you should always go for a toothy edge knife when you wish to do a slicing cut and use a polished when you do a push cut.

The best thing you can do is have one super sharp knife and another toothy one. This way, you can switch easily in between them whenever you need without having to resharpen your knives several times, which as a result would shorten its lifespan. 

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