Lee Zierten's Knife Skills Workshop - Part Two

So you finally bought that fab set of Wusthof kitchen knives. Now what do you do? 

Lee Zierten not only makes beautiful decorative and functional knives; he also does professional sharpening and restoration. We caught up with Zierten at his most recent Knife Skills Workshop this past Sunday at Practical Art in Phoenix to get some tips on knife selection and upkeep.

So far, we've talked materials, construction and daily care. Here are a few more tidbits. 

Dishwashers Leave You All Wet

Ever since you lived in that pitiful college dorm-esque shack with no dishwasher, you've never been without one. While it might be tempting to put your new tools in your trusty Whirlpool, don't. "Dishwashers are death for knives," Zierten explains. "The heat; although it's not the same kind of heat you use when you're making the blade, it's enough to soften that wire edge so that the knife becomes useless and you have to go through a serious sharpening."

All Work and No Care Gives Jack a Dull Knife

Zierten brought three sharpening stones with him: a simple $10 diamond sharpener he picked up cheap at Harbor Freight Tools, a traditional whetstone and a pricey Japanese sharpening block.

After a year of regular maintenance, you can use a sharpening block or have the knife professionally sharpened. Zierten's not a big fan of electric sharpeners. "If you don't like your knives or you don't care about them, just keep grinding them away in an electric sharpener," he quipped.

The Amazing French Santoku Knife, Yours for Only...

Ok, there's no such thing as a French Santoku knife. At least, there wasn't until Zierten invented one. Zierten's hybrid culinary tool combines the long, lean profile of a French chef's knife with the thickness and rounded front edge of a Santoku knife.

He created it by purchasing a standard culinary knife blank and rounding off the tip himself. The end result looks like a slightly skinnier Santoku knife, minus the oval divots. "The divots are worthless, unnecessary," says Zierten. That's the cool thing about buying custom knives (or making your own). You can choose one that fits your hand, and your preferences, like a glove.

Custom knives by Lee Zierten are available through Practical Art in Phoenix. 

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Wynter Holden
Contact: Wynter Holden