Something I Can Do Even When I’m Not Prepared

When I was at the in-laws last week I had one of those chances you get every now and then to prove yourself either worthy or completely useless. The legitimacy of one of my hobbies was also involved.

I’ve mentioned before how the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 indirectly rekindled my interest in knives. Because of this one of the things I notice, especially at the in-laws, is the knives people use at home.

What I noticed about my in-laws’ knives wasn’t that positive

They have a couple Usaba-style knives that looked as if they’d been left out in a field for a couple months. They were rusted (common with the carbon steel in the blades) and were dull. Oddly, one of them was chipped badly enough that it kind of, sort of worked as a bread knife, if you didn’t mind a glaze of rust on your toast.

In the past I’ve mentioned to She Who Must Be Obeyed that “next time we visit” I’d bring some cleaning stuff and a couple sharpening stones and fix up the knives for them. Every “next time” though, we’d always set off without the stones and, except for a couple “next time” promises, I never got a chance to work on the knives.

This time, though, Mother of She Who Must Be Obeyed complained enough that She Who Must Be Obeyed mentioned my promise to her.

Because of that mention, I suddenly found myself in the middle of a  “put up or shut up” moment. The conversation went something like:

SWMBO: Can you sharpen these knives?
Me: Um, er, uh, yeah, sure.
SWMBO: Put up or shut up.
Me: Um, er, uh, yeah, sure.

A couple diamond sharpening steels suddenly appeared. They were about as badly designed as possible for the job at hand. The had six inch steels that were shaped like daggers. They were flat on one side and round on the other and were clearly intended for mower blades and oddly shaped tools. They were not intended for 7 inch blades.

However, because I was trapped, and had an audience, I had to perform which meant the dagger-shaped steels were perfect. They had rubber grips, though, which mean I had to hold them with one hand and sharpen the blades with the other. The tricky part was keeping the blades at the proper angle on steels without cutting off parts of my own body. (Which would at least prove how sharp the knives were.)

In the end, I took steel wool and cleaning powder to the blades to clean off the rust. I removed as much of the chipped edge as possible and got the edges where they could at least cut paper and not just rip it to shreds.

Mother of She Who Must Be Obeyed reported the knives were very good and gave me a compliment for doing a good job.

The problem is, now I’ll have to do it again next time I’m at their house. Now that they know what I can do, they’ll expect me to do it.


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