Chicago Cutlery

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Jul 10, 2014
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317
Just looking for some opinions. I currently have a set of Chicago Cutlery kitchen knives. I'm not really unhappy with them but have been thinking lately about upgrading. The ones I have take a nice sharp edge on my Sharpmaker and seem to hold it quit well when I touch it up regularly with a steel.
That being said, what is the general opinion of the Chicago Cutlery brand?
Can anyone give me a list of quality kitchen knife brands. I'm not looking to spend a fortune on a new set but I certainly don't want a cheap set. I won't give a price range simply because I don't have a set range in mind at this point in time.

Appreciate all opinions.
 

Brian.Evans

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The Victorinox Fibrox knives are standard in many pro kitchens worldwide. They usually come up as punching well above their price class.
 
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I wouldn't buy a whole set unless you actually use all the different knives. For the past year I've used a paring knife and a nakiri (vegetable knife) exclusively until recently when I bought a new 240mm chefs knife and a new paring/small utility knife. Since then I've only used those two for food and my old paring knife for opening food packages. I'll probably start using the nakiri again, but right now I'm just using the chef's knife for those tasks.

I don't know anything about Chicago Cutlery kitchen knives, I'm afraid. It's not a brand that's sold over here. I just thought I'd mention the thing about not getting a whole set.
 
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Chicago Cutlery used to be a very well respected brand. I have one knife from about 17 years ago made in USA. But about 10 years ago I think they went to all China manufacture (like many others) and it was reported that they were using 420 steel at the time. Since then they've been overshadowed by the German and Japanese brands in popularity.
 

me2

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I have one Chicago Cutlery knife my wife prefers above all the others iin the kitchen, their short Santoku, called a Partoku. . It was about 7 dollars at the local market. I rebeved it to 12 degrees per side with a 15 degree microbevel and tried to see how much cardboard it would cut before it stopped slicing paper. I quit at 3000 feet. It would still slice paper and cut a folded piece standing on the corner of the table. It wouldn't leave the bottom sitting on the table, but both pieces landed in a pile on the floor just at the table base.
 
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I have worked on a couple of CC chef knives recently, and they are decent for the price. On Ebay the chef knives routinely go for $15 or less, and at that price they are better then most. The edges are not that thin, so they don't cut very well compared to higher end knives, but if you thin the edge to 15° or less per side, they should cut just fine. I did some thinning and rehandles on a couple to get some practice in, and now they are very serviceable. They also make pretty good gifts because of the low price. Like I said, thin the edge quite a bit and they will be nicer than most anything else under $20.

Here are the CC's that I got off Ebay. 44S and three 42S chef knives.
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44S after being worked on. Now cuts much better than stock. I did all this on a cheap knife for practice to build my skill level.
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Here is a 42S after a rehandle. Also a choil shot to show the grind. This was the best out of the 3, so I kept this and gifted the other two. After some thinning of the edge it turned into a good cutter.
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As for recommendations for an overall good kitchen knife. Look at the Tojiro DP series from Amazon. Not sure what your price range is, but they are highly recommended as one of the best values in kitchen knives on a budget.
 
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I did just re-profile my CC knives to 15 degrees and they are like new knives. I'm happy enough with them that I've decided to keep them.
The 15 degrees made a world of difference.
 
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Oct 12, 2021
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I have one Chicago Cutlery knife my wife prefers above all the others iin the kitchen, their short Santoku, called a Partoku. . It was about 7 dollars at the local market. I rebeved it to 12 degrees per side with a 15 degree microbevel and tried to see how much cardboard it would cut before it stopped slicing paper. I quit at 3000 feet. It would still slice paper and cut a folded piece standing on the corner of the table. It wouldn't leave the bottom sitting on the table, but both pieces landed Olin a pile on the floor just at the table base.

Well Me2, I've had just the opposite experience with Chicago. Purchase a set in '82. Used the 8" Chef Knife off and on over the years and never put a new edge on it, just steel it. Now, it's dull and steel will not bring it back. So, new edge (Arkansas Whetstones, first soft, medium, fine, steel. Still dull, I call it dull because it cuts paper but not good. Oh yes, I also thinned it about 3 degrees on the soft and now it's edge is about 22. Any suggestions?
 

me2

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I’ve sharpened a few knives like that that were maintained with a steel for LONG periods. The edge is fatigued and damaged and a new crisp edge won’t form until you get past the damaged portion.

I recommend taking it to a coarse stone like a Norton Coarse India or something similar. Take the knife and cut lightly into the stone. You’re trying to make an even flat along the edge that is visible as a reflection along the edge, but barely. That will show you any small dents or dings in the edge. They’ll show up as dark spots along the reflective edge.

After that, sharpen one side of the edge until you get a burr. Then cut into the stone again to make a new flat. Then sharpen the other side until you get a burr. Then cut into the stone a third time and look for any dents and dings again. If they are reduced to your satisfaction or gone completely, sharpen as normal. If a sharp edge still won’t form, repeat the process. It might take five or six times through to get to good steel, but it’s worth it.

I’m going through the same process with a neglected kitchen knife now. I’m on the 4th round through and just starting to remove enough dings and dents and damaged metal that a good sharp durable edge is forming.
 
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Thanks Me, it's a lot of work and I've already spent a good amount of time on it but I'm going to continue on and use your program. I have the necessary tools. I've since got it to cut paper pretty good now but the cuts are not as smooth as I would like, so more work. I now know that I was not putting enough pressure and angle on the soft stone, digging in as you would say.
 

me2

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It does take a bit of time, but since you’re just shaping and removing metal you can go pretty fast. What stone/system are you using?

If it were me, I’d start at 22 or 23 degrees, whatever it’s at now. Once the edge forms clean and you can get it sharp, start dropping the angle a little at a time.

Those Chicago Cutlery knives are pretty soft steel and will benefit from some geometry tricks. Take the angle as low as you can without the knife getting damaged during use. Then sharpen on the coarsest grit you can use to get a hair shaving edge.

I’d recommend coarse diamond (blue DMT 320 grit or black 220 grit). This is for the final edge only. I do not recommend diamond for reshaping a bevel or removing large amounts of steel, especiallly steels as soft as we’re talking about. If you don’t have diamond just use the coarsest you have. It’s not that critical.
 
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Arkansas with mineral oil. "Then sharpen on the coarsest grit you can use to get a hair shaving edge." The coarsest grit?
 

me2

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Yep the coarsest grit. It’s counter intuitive I know. I have a Norton Economy stone and for such an edge I would use the coarse side, which is about 120 to 180 grit sandpaper in appearance. I’ll try to make a quick video if you aren’t familiar with coarse grit sharpening.
 
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Well, this is really different as I have been finishing normally with a Arkansas Black Surgical/Mineral Oil.......live and learn. I purchased these knives in '82 and I don't think Chicago was in China then. Rockwell seems to me to be about a 53, so kinda soft and the factory edge appeared to be about a 22-23......kinda outdated but I thinned the blade some so now it's probably around 21. It now does the food prep. ok but requires high maintenance..strop on a steel after each use and before use, then a few more kitchen task over a couple of weeks and then a full ceramic rod. I don't really mind it that much because I like the sharpening aspect but you don't want more than 1 of these to deal with...time consuming.
 

me2

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It will benefit from a good sharpening on stones. Steeling and stropping repeatedly moves the edge back and forth and weakens it. You’ll get better edge holding after removing that metal and get a crisper sharper edge.
 

me2

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Edge holding increases as edge angle and grit go lower for many kitchen duties. As long as the use won’t just damage the blade, lower edge angles increase edge holding overall. Those softer steels really shine when the edge angle drops below 15 degrees per side and the grit is 220 or less.
 
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It will benefit from a good sharpening on stones. Steeling and stropping repeatedly moves the edge back and forth and weakens it. You’ll get better edge holding after removing that metal and get a crisper sharper edge.
Actually, I had not considered that but it seems reasonable. So much misinformation and sleight of hand, now you see me and now you don't on the internet youtube videos on knife sharpening. At the end of the day you just have to test yourself to really know.
 

me2

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A lot of people try to make sharpening complicated. For sharpening a kitchen knife it’s not that bad. You don’t really have to hold as consistent an angle as many want you to believe. You can get an arm shaving edge off a coarse stone. Softer steels like we are talking about don’t go dull after 5 cuts. You can’t really test everything yourself. There isn’t enough time. What you have to do is test enough that you can separate the good information from the bad. Try this if you have a chance.

 
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A lot of people try to make sharpening complicated. For sharpening a kitchen knife it’s not that bad. You don’t really have to hold as consistent an angle as many want you to believe. You can get an arm shaving edge off a coarse stone. Softer steels like we are talking about don’t go dull after 5 cuts. You can’t really test everything yourself. There isn’t enough time. What you have to do is test enough that you can separate the good information from the bad. Try this if you have a chance.

Thanks, excellent and simple with a minimum amount of time. I'm thinking you very seldom use a steel or ceramic rod but go directly to the stone, even for touch ups. Assuming that's the case, after the stone do you straighten the edge 1 time with a steel or just use it coming off the stone. Jonas Blade says to strop the steel like you would on a leather strop for the ultimate sharpness. I tried it and it works, really sharp. What are your thoughts on this?
 

me2

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I do most sharpening with a set of water stones and a Sharpmaker. I feel stropping is way over promoted. I don’t normally use a steel but I have tested edges sharpening with them. I don’t buy the notion you can touch up an edge on a knife with just a strop more than once or maybe twice on a knife that’s actually used.

I sharpen my Delica on a 1000 grit water stone at 12 degrees per side then use the medium rods on the Sharpmaker at 15 dps. That lasts a while and then I can touch it up on the Sharpmaker fine stones at 20 dps (degrees per side) 2 or 3 times before needing to go back to stones. After that it takes too long to reset the edge on the 1000 grit stone.

For kitchen knives I usually just go to the Coarse Norton Economy stone. They get beat up pretty bad so touching them up on a ceramic rod or steel doesn’t do much good.

Having a coarse enough stone to do the shaping in a reasonable amount of time is a neglected notion. It prevents frustration and resulting errors.
 
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