Throw away society-knives

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by cudgee, Sep 7, 2019.

  1. cudgee

    cudgee Gold Member Gold Member

    May 13, 2019
    I heard a very interesting radio interview the other day and would like to hear everyone's comments. There is a well known chef over here who has a segment every week on a radio program, he has a very successful business, is well spoken and articulate and comes across as a very intelligent person. He was talking about kitchen knives which sparked my interest, he talked about buying quality knives, how to look after them and keep them sharp. Everything he said was correct, and spoke in language that even anyone who knew little about knives could understand. Then it went all downhill, in my opinion. He said, the average home cook would be better off buying cheap knives from a supermarket, and when they go blunt, bin them and go and buy another one. I was taught by my father to buy the best tools you can afford and look after them, and they will last a life time. Quality, always wins. Now i understand that there are people who cannot buy expensive knives, but buying cheap stuff in not the answer. And this idea of buying cheap cooking equipment from a supermarket was not restricted to just knives, he said you can buy cheap pots and pans and utensils. So where this interview became hypocritical was, this same person goes on about food production and food wastage causing landfill and pollution, and here he his advocating buying throw away utensils and dumping them in landfill. The throw away society we live in now, seems to have a 2 sided thought process, depending on what suits you at the time. I just thought it was interesting, and would like to hear other members opinions.
  2. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I generally use less expensive knives in the kitchen. I wouldn't go as far to say they are throw aways, but if I lost one or my wife bent one up opening a can or something I wouldn't loose any sleep. I think most people have little idea how to sharpen a knife or they conceptionaly know, but don't want to. They probably think they have to buy one of those $100 electric sharpeners.

    My kitchen knives would be considered inexpensive to middle cost range overall. The most used knives are Vic paring knives that run under $10 each.

    I just started collecting my plastic stuff (clorox bottles, laundry detergent bottles, milk jugs, and so forth) to recycle. I didn't know that the recycle place accepted plastic. Now I will add that to my list of things I collect to drop off every couple of weeks. No they don't pay you anything. I guess the next thing is glass, but I don't use many glass bottles. They take clear and colored glass. I don't believe in filling up a landfill with stuff that is recyclable if it isn't too much trouble to recycle.

    My garbage collection service wants to charge you to recycle. No thanks.

    Added: I think it depends on how much pride and interest you have as far as cooking goes. Is it something you enjoy or just something you do to eat? For me, it is mostly something I have to do to eat.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
    cudgee likes this.
  3. NWPilgrim


    Aug 1, 2019
    Funny, I was just thinking this as I yet again pulled paring knives out of a jar in the sink with a jumble of silverware jammed in it with the knives. Everyone in the family knows I value a good knife and like to care for them and keep them sharp. But my wife and grandkids treat all knives like they were spoons or something. An edge lasts about one day before it is battered dull. Cutting on porcelain plates, jamming them in with spoons and forks, tossing them in the miscellaneous drawer with can openers, spatulas, leaving in the sink do plates get stacked on them, etc.

    Hardly seems worth having anything more than semi-disposable knives. I was thinking to keep a quality chef and paring knife tucked away for my use and then just buy $5 knives every 3 months for the family. They may not even notice!
  4. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    You missed the thread with the guy who went home for a visit and put a razor edge on his parents kitchen knives.

    They then proceeded to cut themselves a couple times and roll the edges on the glass cutting board they have.

    I'd guess he's seen enough ruined "nice" knives.
  5. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    I was taught to buy the "best" I can afford that meets the needs for what I have to do..
    Buying cheap junk might be cheaper in the short term, but definitely isn't in the long term.
    As for dedicated "kitchen cutlery" ... I only have a vintage/antique Old Hickory 3 1/2 inch paring knife.
    Truth to tell, it has seen some cutting duty outside of the kitchen. It makes for a pretty darN good patch knife when I'm shooting me .54 calibure muzzle loading rifle and .50 calibure pistol. :)
    jbmonkey likes this.
  6. James Y

    James Y

    Feb 18, 1999
    The kitchen knives I use are all Victorinox. I have 4 of them, but two or three of them get the most use. They are easy to care for, and easy to touch up when the edges start to go. They are fairly inexpensive (the most expensive one, the 7” Santoku, cost around $40), but I love them and have zero plans to “trash” them.

  7. GIRLYmann


    Nov 7, 2005
    i figure a knife is always going to be
    considered a tool first.
    edge holding is a perennial problem for
    folks who actually have to use knives on
    a daily basis.
    sharpening is a skill that not everyone has
    the time nor the aptitude for.
    understandably, most might end up not having achieved an edge keeness like a good factory edge should,
    many may have in the process, ruin their knife's edge or bevel in the frustration.
    for a lack of proper sharpening technique
    ot evrn the proper sharpening equipment
    whih inevitably leads to some of these knives being labled as "useless" and thus becomes the likely cause of disposal.
    imho, buying knives on a regular basis might be entirely necessary if the knife has better than average edge holding quality.
    wastages is a flaw not easily corrected
    when it is the main driver to material consumption propelled by those in business
    of vastly affordable mass produced goods specializing in quantity over quality.
  8. cbrstar

    cbrstar Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 7, 2015
    My folks bought a set of Ginsu II knives back in the 80's and those things stayed sharp for decades!! They only finally wore out a few years ago. I should try sharpening them with my spyderco sharpener.
    BITEME likes this.
  9. Murdamook


    Nov 3, 2010
    I can go to the dollar store locally and pick up a chef’s knife for a dollar that will last me a decade likely, maybe half a decade if I really thrash the thing. Most of the parts on it are fairly recyclable or biodegradable (steel blade, wooden handle). I am 31. Assuming I live a long life, I probably have another six decades in me. I could buy 20 dollar store knives over that same timeframe and still not spend as much as a good chef’s knife costs. You have to remember that most people will use a dull knife before they go buy a new one. My mother-in-law used a dull knife for literally years. Most don’t know or care enough to buy a knee one. Most metal is biodegradable. Steel utensils in a landfill are the least of our environmental problems.
  10. AntDog

    AntDog Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 3, 2001
    I do 99% of the cooking in my house and my wife washes the dishes. I love to cook and she doesn’t, so it’s a deal we made early on.

    I have a few knives I use in the kitchen and they are kept razor sharp. They are pretty much off limits to everyone else. I do keep all of the other knives in the kitchen sharp, but not like the few I use regularly.

    It’s completely asinine to me to throw a knife away when it dulls and buy a new one. Do you throw your car away when it needs a freaking oil change? o_O

    Sometimes I just whip out what I have in my pocket if it’s a good cutter. This Endura is, so I used it to cut up these green onions earlier:

    termite, jbmonkey, Hale Storm and 4 others like this.
  11. midnight flyer

    midnight flyer Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    I am one that grew up with the "my once, cry once" along with "you get what you pay for" and a couple of other crusty old gems. Depending on what I am buying, I still follow those rules.

    On the other hand, I buy lots of tools as a contractor and buying the best you can afford all the time simply doesn't make good sense. As in the home, the boys on the job don't really respect good tools. They like using them, but they don't really appreciate them and it best they take minimal care of my tools. It works the same way at my house.

    I have an elegant, and simple solution. I try to buy exactly the right tool for the job, not paying too much, but getting as much as I need. At home it is not unusual for me to cut up three or four pounds of vegetables, a couple of pounds of meat and anything else we need to have to have a nice dinner. I cook everything fresh so that means every single night. When we have company, it is the norm since I am the cook that I will be cutting up several pounds of meat, several pounds of vegetables, and anything else that might hit the menu. I buy bulk cuts of meat like whole pork loins, beef clods, packer briskets, etc., and cut them into manageable sized pieces for later cooking. I buy whole pork shoulders and butts so I can make my own sausage, which means 1" strips of a 13# piece of meat to fit in my meat grinder.

    I have given cooking classes, and even won a couple of chili contests. I can chop, slice, mince and do any other knife related kitchen chores better than anyone I know. Yet, my main chef's knives are very humble affairs. I bought them.not for the steel for the name, but how they felt in my hand when I used it. The steel in my chef the knife is strictly middle of the road, and that suits me fine. If I'm cooking dinner for me and the S.O., or having the extended family over I sharpen that knife every time I use it on my 1200 grit rod. It's all the knife I need and I enjoy it a great deal due to its comfort in my hand. So right tool for the job. And to keep things running smoothly with my knife care, I bought a second set of lesser quality knives (and expense!) for the lady of the house to use as she sees fit. She does not like them too sharp as she cuts herself on occasion, and does not have to worry about being in an argument if she put a good knife in the sink after using it, or in a drawer full of crap after it's washed.

    So I have the right knives for me, and she has the right knives for her. And there is peace in the valley. My favorite chef knife sold for about $100 when it was made. That's it! But as any dedicated cook will tell you, you reach for the knife that is most comfortable to use. If I took the example of buying the best I could get I would have someone make me some kitchen knives, or would buy some of the custom Japanese stuff that is out there and be spending a few to several hundred dollars. No thanks. My favorite chef knife has made thousands of meals (literally) and is now about 12 years old. I was lucky enough to find another one just like it on the 'bay, and bought it as a backup years ago, but haven't had any reason to use it.

    I remodel a lot of kitchens with my business. And for fun I go to people's houses to help them cook dinners and have a nice evening. Out of my clients, prospective clients and my friends I only have one friend that really takes care of his knives and keeps them sharp. The others have a drawer(s) full of crap, and since they don't want to learn how to sharpen a knife and maintain it, they might as well have a drawer full of butter knives. Since they won't put the effort into even buying an electric knife sharpener, there isn't any point for them to buy anything of any real value. It just isn't anything of interest for them, like my own extreme personal lack of interest in golf clubs, tennis rackets, or buying $150 bottles of Scotch to kill in an evening.

    So I agree with the chef on the radio show you heard. If someone isn't in to cooking and sees a knife only as a necessary evil, I get it. They have their own interests and sense of perspective and kitchen knives ain't it.

    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  12. eveled

    eveled Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 11, 2016
    It seems knives only get so dull then they stop. People are used to that level of sharp and they are happy. Ignorance is bliss.

    We knife nuts are used to a higher level of sharp and are constantly getting back to that level.

    People get married start a household and the kitchen knives last longer than the marriage. Indeed most are divorced before the knives are sharpened. Throwaway society indeed.
  13. singularity35


    Mar 1, 2010
    My kitchen knives are cheap, not even $5 where I buy them. Everybody at the house uses them. Only I know how to sharpen. I rebevel them them thin though and I have a SiC stone beside the wood block where they are. I use them daily and give them a few strokes each time I use them. They are usually much sharper than other folks kitchen knives. They last me around 3 years or so before the bevels are too thick to be worth my while to thin. I buy new ones at this point. This system works for me. Mileage may vary
    herisson likes this.
  14. davek14


    May 30, 2009
    If you enjoy yard saying or thrift storing, then a Henckels for a few bucks is not uncommon and a Victorinox is fairly common.
    People not knowing what a good knife is, can actually come in pretty handy.
    I load and empty the dishwasher and keep the knives sharp… and consider myself lucky as my lady is a fine cook.
  15. DB_Cruiser

    DB_Cruiser Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 17, 2018
    I prefer durable over disposable in most things. It is a tradition that I learned from my grandfather. He was an engineer and millwright who loved his tools. He taught me that taking care of things generally cultivates a more caring attitude toward everything and everyone. Responsibility. When everything is disposable, we tend to treat everything and everyone around us that way.
    In terms of knives, I do not own anything outrageously expensive. I buy the best I can afford and take care of them (including the kitchen cutlery). I pay more up front yet I reckon I save money in the long run. Sometimes I can even find a used knife or axe to salvage. It's like bringing a dog home from the pound. In any case, I can't think of a single knife that I have actually worn out. I mean used till it had no use left. I have lost some and broken some doing stupid things with them but never actually used one to death.
    The kitchen knives are a good example. The J.A. Henckles Zwilling knife set we got as a wedding gift is still in service after more than 20 years. They are not super expensive but they hold a good edge and I keep them sharp - still cutting stuff every day. Why would I throw them out? Some time ago I found a pair of Shun knives in a second hand store in dull condition, but otherwise great shape. $40 for a pairing knife and a chef's knife. Probably the victims of a disposable mindset but all they needed was some attention.
  16. Steely_Gunz

    Steely_Gunz Got the Khukuri fevah Moderator

    May 9, 2002
    My clutch of kitchen knives ranges from complete garbage to really nice (for me). I keep about half a dozen beater knives. They are used for mundane abusive chores. They were purchased for maybe 5 bucks at some point over the last 14 years of my marriage. I keep a few cheap but well honed Old Hickory knives on the magnetic strip. They are used when more exacting cuts are needed but I might bugger the edge on the side of a ceramic dish or something. Finally I have 2 really nice Shun knives my wife bought me over a couple anniversaries. These only get used by me. Only on a wooden cutting board. They get washed and dried by me, and I handle the esge maintenance on them.

    Its just like pocket knives. We usually keep a few really nice ones and then several hard use/loaners.
  17. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 9, 2018
    Kind of a weird little rant...

    Buying cheap knives and then throwing them away isn't the worst thing in the world. Or, so it seems to me. Wasting food is another story. Lots of people die every day because they can't get food. Knives are a luxury to these people. I don't like wasting food. I won't burden anyone with why.

    Everyone has been lectured at one time or another about how they should conduct their lives. Buy only the best. Don't eat whatever. Don't shop there for some reason. Most of the time these people don't have any interest in your wellbeing, they're just taking a moment out of their busy lives to let you know that they know better than you, you cretin.

    Best, in my opinion, to just let most of this stuff just go in one ear and out the other.
    singularity35, marcinek and Pomsbz like this.
  18. Jocephus1


    May 30, 2007
    Last year my wife and I bought a set of Shun knives for my mother-in-law. She still uses her Ginsu knives she's had forever.
    cbrstar likes this.
  19. specgrade

    specgrade Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 21, 2009
    I have never put much thought into kitchen knives. I guess I should but they aren't the ones I collect.
  20. rover


    Jul 9, 2004
    Throwing away cheap knives with little wear is wasteful--almost as wasteful as owning expensive knives with no wear! I have been guilty of both.

    Throwing away things isn't the answer but I don' know how many people need professional grade. A good example is my 3V Dozier Kephart. I'm pretty outdoorsy and rural, but the Buck my dad gave me 30 years ago still needs to be broken-in. And if I really needed a Kephart, did it need to be a Dozier? And 3V no less? That reminds me, my old Norton soft Arkansas won't be great for 3V, so I have the added expense of another stone.

    The ideal for me, economically, is looking at the tools I already have and then buying what I need. Buying the best usually only benefits the people selling the best. And the best always comes with added expense: homes, cars, knives.

    That's my boring, non-hobbyist answer.

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