I’m a knife geek. Don’t get me wrong. I know squat about knife steels, except that there’s a whole bunch of stuff you can mix with steel to make a knife and that every ingredient is a tradeoff, degrading one attribute to enhance another. I’m the same way with sharpening. I sharpen knives compulsively, the way some people do Sudoku. And yet I’m still no good it—knife sharpening or Sudoku. I have days I can freehand a blade to hair-shaving sharpness and days when I might as well be trying to sharpen a pillow.
But I love knives, the feel of them, the primacy of them as our species’ first tool. They speak to me. Yada, yada, yada.
Anyway, if you are a fellow knife geek with access to a computer at work, I’ve just stumbled across a website that can reduce your productivity to just about zero. Zknives.com is the ultimate rabbit hole of knifedom. It’s the deepest knife site I have ever seen. Dive right in.
Here’s the crazy part. It’s not trying to sell you anything. It has no political agenda. It’s just a rabbit hole of all things knife-related by a software engineer who is as crazy about knives as anybody you’ve ever met. You can learn stuff here—such as the difference between “strength” (to resist deformation or rolling) and “toughness” (ability to resist chipping or breakage). And you can get more confused than at any time since you signed up for health care. The difference is that this is a good kind of confused.
Or you can just be humbled—something everyone should try now and then. Think you know about knife steels? The sites interactive “Knife Steels Chart,” which analyzes scores of different steels by dozens of criteria, should set you straight. If not, try the “Knife Steel Analyzer” graph. Think you have the lowdown on sharpening? Check out the entries on Japanese Whetstones, Diamond Stones, Abrasive Films, Leather Strops, Ceramic Sharpeners, Steeling Rods, and reviews of Sharpening Systems. It will take you a few days, but you will end up with a far lower opinion of yourself—but, again, in a good way.
If nothing else, Zknives.com fulfills a man’s fundamental desire to sound more knowledgeable than he is. I can’t wait, for example, to dismiss somebody’s Kraton-handled blade by saying, “Well, it’s fine if you actually like a thermoplastic rubber polymer, but I’m more of an epoxy resin laminate man myself.”