Why does sharpening a knife seem so hard?

It does.

Let’s say you’re like me and don’t come from a family with a lot of money or a tradition of superior home cooking.  Not to say there wasn’t any; there just wasn’t this tradition.  We were making it all up as we went along.  Anyway, my first knife set had serrated edges, so it would stay sharp longer.

I got tired of those and bought a chef’s knife from Chicago Cutlery.  Which was nicer than flip-floppy serrated knives.  I didn’t sharpen that thing for like, four years.  I thought it was great.  Then I moved one time too many, and my “good” knife disappeared.

So I bought another knife.  Having more money and spending more time around Margie and Jackie, I bought a low-end Henckel’s.  Wow!  Talk about impressed.  I was thrilled with that knife…for six months.  And then it got dull before I’d forgotten how much I’d liked it when I bought it.

So I bought a cheap knife sharpener, with two steel washers and two ceramic washers and a plastic guide.  And I sharpened the Henckel’s with it.  Zowie!

Later, I begged a Kershaw Shun (left-handed) for Christmas from Lee.

Oh, my GOD.  The first thing I did with that knife was draw my own blood with the tip of the knife, and not on purpose, either.  The habit of curling my fingers under that I’d been playing around with in order to dice under became a necessity the first few weeks, because I could loose fingernails a lot less painfully than I could lose my skin.  Potatoes slid apart without crunching.  Tomato skins fled from that edge.

And then the knife started to get dull.

And the cheap knife sharpener just wasn’t doing it, not the way I wanted.

So I bought a sharpening steel and started using it.  I like it, but the Shun still isn’t as sharp as it was when I took it out of the box.

I sharpened all of Margie’s knifes on her ceramic V-shaped sharpener one Thanksgiving (and have been doing it ever since), but the knives at their sharpest aren’t as sharp as the Shun, out of the box.

So here I am, trying to figure out how to sharpen the knife the way I want it.  I’m afraid of ruining my knives.  I’m afraid I won’t understand unless I have someone show me.  I’m afraid of…I don’t know, taking responsibility for sharpening my own knives, I guess.  Changing from someone who doesn’t do a lot of maintenance to someone who does.

Here’s a good article on how to sharpen your knives.  I’m going to pick up a sharpening stone and a half-dozen cheap knifes at Goodwill and practice on them until I feel safe enough to work my way up my knife chain.  I’m also considering taking a class from Picnic Basket, so I can feel what it should feel like, but there’s a hundred bucks I could spend on a new knife or a good waterstone.

But I will be brave.  After all, after I learn how to do it, I can sharpen everyone’s knives.  It’ll be a conspiracy of sharpness.