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Wedding Registry: Knives 101

The cutting edge: Get sharp with our indispensible knife guide.

Photo: Andrew McCaul

Do you crave the cutting edge? Maybe you're sick and tired of the same dull knives that have been in your drawers since college, or maybe you want to register for some shiny new knives you otherwise couldn't afford. Whatever you're after, we have the basics to get you started.

How to Choose

The first step in choosing cutlery is to pick it up. The heavier the knife, the higher quality it is. Look for balance and even weight distribution, and examine the tang -- the part of the blade that fits into the knife handle. The farther it extends toward the handle's end, the better.

tip

The heavier the knife, the higher quality it is.

Construction

Knife blades are made of steel and carbon. There are different ratios of steel to carbon, and two basic methods of construction, forged and stamped (see below). Higher carbon ratios produce the sharpest-edged knives.

Forged vs. Stamped

Forged cutlery is made by pouring molten metal into a knife-shaped mold, then striking it several times with a heavy weight to compress the metal's molecular structure. Think about the village blacksmith forging horseshoes. This process gives the resulting blade a dense, resilient character that guarantees greater edge retention.

Stamped knives are produced cookie-cutter style from a large sheet of quality steel and are cut out by machine. Stamped knives are considerably less expensive and of lower quality.

Cutlery Care

  • After each use, wash knives separately from the rest of your dishes and utensils and dry thoroughly.
  • Do not put knives in the dishwasher -- heat and detergent have a corrosive effect on the blade, and knives may be dulled by contact with other items.

Keep it Sharp

  • Use a sharpening steel to keep knives in tip-top shape. A sharpening steel is a rod made of harder metal than the knife blade. Sharpness is maintained by stroking the blade over the rod on a regular basis.
  • Ideally, a knife should be sharpened after each use. It's much easier to maintain sharpness with regular steeling than to re-sharpen a dull blade.
  • To keep your sharpening steel in good shape, use a scouring powder with a scouring pad (but avoid steel wool). Using long, vertical strokes and medium pressure, scrub parallel to the steel's lines. After scouring and cleaning, rinse the steel with clear, cool water, dry it thoroughly, and store it in a dry place.
  • Use a sharpening steel to keep knives in tip-top shape. A sharpening steel is a rod made of harder metal than the knife blade. Sharpness is maintained by stroking the blade over the rod on a regular basis.
  • Ideally, a knife should be sharpened after each use. It's much easier to maintain sharpness with regular steeling than to re-sharpen a dull blade.
  • To keep your sharpening steel in good shape, use a scouring powder with a scouring pad (but avoid steel wool). Using long, vertical strokes and medium pressure, scrub parallel to the steel's lines. After scouring and cleaning, rinse the steel with clear, cool water, dry it thoroughly, and store it in a dry place.

-- The Knot

See More: Registering for Wedding Gifts