Saturday, January 8, 2022

Sharp Side

With the dust settling on this years butchering, it's fun to reflect on what all we've learned. I've found some new cuts and gotten more proficient with my time. But I've really gotten an education on sharpening knives.  

You've got to have good quality and sharp knives if you want to be safe and effecinet in cutting meat. I've been running mainly Victorinox inside the shop. By far the sharpest knives I've ever owned. 

Here's where it gets interesting. So much can be said about putting a good edge on a knife. Most knives in the kitchen have a 15 degree angle to them. The ones I use in the field are 30. I've found that when you are sharpening you are really not removing metal from the blade, as much as you are straightening out what's called the wire edge. The wire edge is the very tip of the blade edge. From cutting it can start to roll over to one side or the other. The point of a stone is to straighten it back out and even remove it. For a long time I wasn't being aggressive enough with the stone. You have to put the tip of that edge right on the stone, and cut the stone, as I like to say. In other words, keep tipping it until you see bits of stone start to come up with the oil. Anther tip I learned, is to make one pass forward on the left side, moving the blade across the stone as you push it along, followed by the same procedure with the right side. It's best to go back and forth, one side and then the other, in order to get an even edge. 

A steel is then used to keep the wire edge straight while you are cutting. Most are actually not intended to sharpen. The concept is basically the same, consistent angle, one side at a time, and often. 

This is my favorite boning knife: 8 inch blade and I use it for everything. 

This 10" steaker is only used for clean cutting, mainly for steaks. With a deep curved blade you easily push through the fattest of meats. 

This little 5 inch is great for fine tune cutting. Being small, it is easier to control.

Most of the time. These knives are made for cutting flesh and it doesn't matter who's. 


It really has been a good and fun butchering year. 12 cows were purchased in the spring. And 12 have now made their way to the freezer. Hard to say how many cows worth of beef is here, but should be enough to get us to the summer when we start all over again. I'm tired. I think I'll go to Hawaii for a break.  

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