Tomato Knife Show and Tell

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TXTravis
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Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#1

Post: # 23965Unread post TXTravis
Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:40 pm

In addition to growing tomatoes I make knives, and I thought it'd be worthwhile to start a thread about the most important characteristics of a tomato knife. Personally, my main requirement is that it be SHARP, and secondarily that the handle be comfy to use with my sausage fingered, carpal tunnel syndrome inflicted hands. I dislike serrations. A sharp knife doesn't need them, IMHO, but if you aren't great at maintaining an edge, I can see why serrations would help. I think some sort of texturing about a third of the way up from the edge (divots, hammer marks, or "S grinds") is ideal to help the tomato slices disconnect from/not stick to the side.

What features are most important to you? Show us a pic of your favorite 'mater blade! Your ideas might just end up part of my next design.

Here's a picture of a knife I finished this weekend, which meets the first (EXTREMELY sharp) requirement, but the handle is too slender for me and shorter than I'd like. It's made from the same stainless steel as the razor blades I shave with (Aeb-L), and the handle is Texas mesquite from my grandmother's place in Schleicher County, TX. It's more of a general chef knife and thus isn't a perfect tomato knife, but it's the one that got me thinking about this question.

Image

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worth1
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#2

Post: # 23970Unread post worth1
Mon Jun 29, 2020 4:30 pm

The knife looks fantastic love the handle.
I made a tomato knife for a lady on the tomatoville forum and sent it to her for free.
She said she loved it but stopped posting for personal reasons at home.
Here is what I did I took a store bought santoku knife and used a checkering file to make I think 40 or 30 serrations per inch all down the blade on both sides.
Then finished it with a triangle file I made safe on one side with a grinder years ago when I checkered steel on gun parts.
This allowed me to cut the final grove in each serration.
By doing this you can still sharpen like a regular knife both sides.
Very tedious hand work and not something you would normally do in one sitting at the bench due to eye strain.
You will make mistakes and they will tick you off.
The only complaint she had was it was extremely sharp and dangerous but you can cut a tomato paper thin.
My checkering file I think came from Jantz supply years ago.
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#3

Post: # 23972Unread post KathyDC
Mon Jun 29, 2020 4:38 pm

Nowhere near my kitchen to take a shot but I love my Wusthof tomato knife (similar https://www.amazon.com/Wusthof-4109-7-C ... B00005MEGP on Amazon). It has long-spaced serrations and sharp tines on the end to pick up slices without getting your fingers dirty. I don't use the tines too much but the long serrated blade makes quick work of tomatoes, where my other knives struggle to get through the skin without squishing the fruit.

Your comment about knives that are sharp enough don't need serrations is probably true, but I don't sharpen my knives as much as I should. So it's a lifesaver for me!
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#4

Post: # 23974Unread post PlainJane
Mon Jun 29, 2020 4:43 pm

A4023C64-6331-43BE-8097-B3F576276420.jpeg
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Mine gets a workout especially this time of year.
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TXTravis
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#5

Post: # 23975Unread post TXTravis
Mon Jun 29, 2020 4:46 pm

Worth,
For some reason I'm not surprised at all that you've made/you make knives. I already have a 20lpi checkering file for thumb grooves/grip on knife spines (I think I got it at Brownells, but I'm planning a Jantz order soon for other stuff). What you did would make a pretty aggressive edge, but I like the idea of finer serrations to allow normal sharpening. Also, I am strongly considering checkering the front and back straps of a pistol of mine. My hands go numb after about 20 min of any of that kind of work, so it'd take me a while, but would make the gun a better shooter.

Kathy,
I was googling tomato knives, and wondered if those forks were really all that useful. From the knife making perspective it wouldn't be too hard create them. I hear you about serrations--they're good for what they're for. My bread knife is better for them, but most of my kitchen knives easily can shave arm hairs and don't need them.

Thanks y'all. Keep the ideas and pictures coming!
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#6

Post: # 23978Unread post worth1
Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:21 pm

Here is a 4 panel checkering job I did on a custom mauser rifle I did years ago.
My first attempt.
The blueing job is nitric acid slow rust blue I did myself.
The starting lines for the checkering was accomplished with a thread fixing file.
Took forever.
Thought you might like it.
I have yet to find anyone to pay my asking price for this type of work.
Somewhere around $ 75 a panel.
Not including blueing.
I think it is a fair price or they can go to Walmart.
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#7

Post: # 23979Unread post KathyDC
Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:25 pm

TxTravis, I do use the tines sometimes to pick up and move slices if I am slicing a lot of them, or if I want to arrange them precisely, and especially if I am doing it for other people - it looks elegant to pick them up and place them that way and also I think it's nice for guests to see that you aren't grubbing on the slices with your hands. But for me, or just us in the house, I don't typically bother. I like it, but wouldn't say it's a necessity. The serrations are for me though, that's what really makes the knife.
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#8

Post: # 23982Unread post worth1
Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:31 pm

KathyDC wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:25 pm
TxTravis, I do use the tines sometimes to pick up and move slices if I am slicing a lot of them, or if I want to arrange them precisely, and especially if I am doing it for other people - it looks elegant to pick them up and place them that way and also I think it's nice for guests to see that you aren't grubbing on the slices with your hands. But for me, or just us in the house, I don't typically bother. I like it, but wouldn't say it's a necessity. The serrations are for me though, that's what really makes the knife.
You're in need of one of my serrated knives.
You would fall in love. :lol:
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#9

Post: # 23988Unread post KathyDC
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:59 pm

@worth1 it sounds like it!!
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#10

Post: # 24004Unread post pepperhead212
Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:46 pm

Wonderful craftsmanship, @worth1!

I have a knife - my 10" Henckel's 4 star chef's knife - that will cut through tomato skins effortlessly without honing it for months. I don't know what makes that knife metal so good - I got it in the 70s, but it's no longer the same in their knives (I got one years ago to put in Mom's kitchen, and returned it, as it did not hold an edge - the company could not answer the question about why). Most of my knives with work, as long as they have been recently honed.
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worth1
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#11

Post: # 24016Unread post worth1
Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:10 am

pepperhead212 wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:46 pm
Wonderful craftsmanship, @worth1!

I have a knife - my 10" Henckel's 4 star chef's knife - that will cut through tomato skins effortlessly without honing it for months. I don't know what makes that knife metal so good - I got it in the 70s, but it's no longer the same in their knives (I got one years ago to put in Mom's kitchen, and returned it, as it did not hold an edge - the company could not answer the question about why). Most of my knives with work, as long as they have been recently honed.
i suspect it is Rockwell hardness.
The Zwiing knives are a better product as they show Rockwell hardness.
Same company.
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#12

Post: # 24029Unread post TXTravis
Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:18 am

pepperhead212 wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:46 pm

I have a knife - my 10" Henckel's 4 star chef's knife - that will cut through tomato skins effortlessly without honing it for months. I don't know what makes that knife metal so good - I got it in the 70s, but it's no longer the same in their knives (I got one years ago to put in Mom's kitchen, and returned it, as it did not hold an edge - the company could not answer the question about why). Most of my knives with work, as long as they have been recently honed.
I think it's a "great products make great reputations, cheaply made products make great profits" thing. Wider availability of cheaper steels, increasing automation in manufacturing, lack of consumer knowledge--all of these things contribute. On the other hand, relatively low quality, high priced production knives and monumental advances in steel production and alloying technology have opened the door for custom makers to step into the market. There are an awful lot of steel types out there that make better knives than you can get from most major name brands.
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#13

Post: # 24042Unread post Mark_Thompson
Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:02 pm

Man that knife that started this thread is pretty!

Here’s my all around kitchen knife. High carbon, high maintenance, but fits the hand just right. There are no serrated knives in my knife block. My every day pocket knife is full serrated for gnawing through ropes, but that’s the only one I have.
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TXTravis
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#14

Post: # 24047Unread post TXTravis
Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:15 pm

@Mark_Thompson, that looks like it'd be real comfortable to use. Is it a custom? Looks like it might be, but hard to tell.

My favorite kitchen knife is carbon steel also. I picked up a broken tipped blade for a couple of bucks at an antique store while back because I could tell the steel was good and the edge geometry was right. I reground the blade profile and added a handle, and even though it's grey with occasional rust spots it's be best knife we have in the kitchen.
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#15

Post: # 24053Unread post heirl00m
Tue Jun 30, 2020 2:00 pm

Just picked up this Shun Sora 5.5" serrated knife, as I had been using a jamonera knife last year, which was not at all appropriate for tomatoes beyond its sharpness.

https://www.amazon.com/Shun-VB0722-5-5- ... B07214JV45
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#16

Post: # 24101Unread post Mark_Thompson
Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:38 am

That Shun is a nice little knife.

Yes, mine is custom, was surfing around instagram one night and saw a knife maker doing work I liked. I do love knives. If I had the funds for it I would probably have way too many of them. One day...
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#17

Post: # 24110Unread post worth1
Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:47 am

I have a lot of carbon steel knives.
It is all I had for years and still use them on mostly meat.
When finished I wash dry and wipe down with food grade mineral oil.
The spray can of CRC 2-26 at home depot is a good one but expensive.
Another option is the stuff you get in the pharmaceutical section in the grocery store or drug store.
By doing this every time your carbon steel wont get rusty or turn blue or grey on you.
If you cut citrus or acidic tomatoes game over on a highly polished carbon steel will start to blue out on you.
Save stainless for that if it bothers you.
Many if not all of the Japanese chefs use carbon steel from what I have seen on the fish.

The slow rust blueing you may see in my pictuer is many coats of rust, boiled carded and let rust again over and over.
The protection is far superior to any caustic bluing on modern parts.
I have seen a few knives done this way too.
The only part that is shiny is the edge and a very good option for carbon steel.
I love good carbon steel.

Another option I have seen knives made with is High Speed Steel.
The beauty of it is it wont lose its temper till you get to the critical red stage when grinding, this is where it will lose it's ability to attract a magnet.
That means if it turns blue while grinding no worries.
I have made a lot of profile cutters for machinery with high speed steel and it is what I use on my metal lathe for the most part.
Cutting steel with steel.
The stuff is tough hard to machine and is very costly to mass produce knives with it.
RC hardness of around 63 to 65 where as regular good knife steel is around 53 to 58 from what I have read.
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#18

Post: # 25020Unread post Donnyboy
Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:20 pm

I have quite a few kitchen knives of various quality and design. When I want to cut any vegetable including tomatoes or removing the peel from a melon, I use a small ceramic knife I bought five or six years ago for less than ten bucks. It has never been sharpened because it has never been dull. It has a red, plastic handle which has a pebbled surface which makes it easy to grip when wet. It also cuts bread slices easily without compressing the bread. It has no serrations and is very thin and as sharp as a new razor blade. I don't have a photo of it because it is totally unimpressive in looks and I am too lazy to get up and take a photo.
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#19

Post: # 25041Unread post TXTravis
Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:09 am

@Donnyboy I've heard mixed reviews about ceramic knives. Everybody seems to like the sharpness, but I've heard they can be brittle. I have 3-4 steel kitchen knives that I keep that sharp and can do without serrations as a result, but I realize that's not an option for everyone. Your pebbled handle comment reminds me of a new material (for the knifemaking world at least) made up of layered G10 and hard rubber. Makes for a nice grippy surface, especially if you bead blast it. I haven't used it yet, but I'm pretty sure it will be standard on my kitchen knives going forward.
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Re: Tomato Knife Show and Tell

#20

Post: # 25044Unread post Sue_CT
Fri Jul 10, 2020 10:32 am

I have a Kyocera ceramic Chefs knife and I do love the sharpness, but after several years of use, I did somehow break the tip. I was pretty careful of it most of the time, but I might have put something on top of it in the sink or something. It still works, just doesn't look as good. But it works great for veggies, inlcuding tomatoes. You do have to be careful with them. You can't stick them in a drawer with a bunch of other stuff. Mine stays in a knife block. They are amazingly light weight and I think they are fun to use. But if you are looking for something that you can throw in a drawer or sink or use to cut through bone or really hard items like a metal knife, its not for you. I probably could but I don't usually even use it for for hard stuff like butternut squash, large carrots, etc. If I bought another one I might use the old one on some of those things just to see what it could do, experiment. But I don't think they can be your only knives. You still metal for the tough jobs.
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