I’m about to make a couple of guesses that I suspect are not far from reality.
First, I’m willing to bet that 99% of the homes in this country have kitchen knives that are not nearly as sharp as they could (or should) be.
Second, the person who invents a low-c0st, idiot-proof and simple mechanism to sharpen knives will be a gazillionaire.
I’m a pretty good home cook, and because so few people really cook much anymore, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I’m in the top 5% of home cooks. I’m not saying this to be arrogant, please understand, but I’m trying to make a point. And even though I’m a pretty good home cook, Imust confess that my knives were, um, not very sharp. Oh, I thought that I maintained them fairly well. I’d try to sharpen them from time to time, and I’d use my steel to align the edge, but I never really knew how dull they were. Until I had knife-guru Chad Ward over for dinner, that is. He offered to help with some prep work, started using my “good” knife — a fairly expensive damascus steel Shun — and asked, “Do you have anything else?”
I then pulled out an old cheapo Forschner blade, which he ran over my crappy steel for a minute or so. He then proceeded to shave the hairs off his arm. Seriously. And that Shun? Chad had to take that home to sharpen, as it was in very bad shape.
If I, a pretty good home cook, had grown accustomed to dull knives, I’m betting that a very tiny percentage of American homes have knives that are even close to being as sharp as they could be.
Why is that? First of all, because it is not easy to teach yourself how to sharpen a knife properly. It’s something that you have to learn by doing it, and if you learn improperly, then your knives won’t be very sharp. Heck, read this awesome tutorial Chad Ward wrote and tell me that knife sharpening is simple. Second, it’s because there is no simple, inexpensive and effective knife sharpener on the market. Oh, there are a ton of sharpening devices and machines available. Some are quite inexpensive and others are pricey. But most of them are crap. And the ones that do a great job usually cost a fair amount (i.e., over 50 bucks) or are not easily operated — at the very least, their operations are not that intuitive. If someone could come up with a knife sharpener that worked, cost only 20 bucks and was so easy to operate that even my mother could use it, well, that person would make a buttload of money. People have tried plenty over the years, without success.
Now that I have two sharp knives, I’m not willing to ever go back to “Dullsville.” I’m going to see if Chad will teach me how to sharpen these suckers. I may have to bribe him with lunches or beers or sacrifices of virgins, but damn it, I am going to learn. And if it works, I’ll teach you, too, and it won’t cost you a virgin.