Something of a turn for me: this is a knife review. But it’s not a fancy Japanese knife, oh no. It’s an IKEA 365+ paring knife.
My wife recently informed me that she wanted a decent paring knife. We used to have a Wusthof, but somewhere in the course of moving and whatnot, it went missing. It had a bent tip anyway, so no big deal there. Besides, I hated the fat finger-guard, which got in the way of sharpening, and I also hated the fact that the weight was back in the handle.
Well, I was in IKEA picking up stuff for the new place, and I spotted this thing.
Costs $9.99, which is a very good price if the knife does the job.
I have long held that a paring knife is a paring knife. So long as it’s cheap, you use it, keep it sharp, and when it’s worn out you turn it into a box-cutter. So I figured, hey, this thing looks nice enough, and what the heck?
Out of the box, it’s reasonably sharp. Not sharp, the way I want my serious cooking knives, but my wife doesn’t want something she’ll be afraid of. On the sly, next time I do a sharpening session, I’m going to take it up a couple notches, but it’s basically fine. (For this quality of steel, I figure I’ll take it to 2000 JIS, maybe 5000 if I’m feeling frisky.)
The metal is molybdenum/vanadium steel, so it should be reasonably durable; I don’t have definite information on the Rockwell hardness, but a number of online comments suggest that it’s probably somewhere around 58, which is just fine for a western-style basic knife.
The handle is comfortable and stylish looking. The blade is shaped properly for a paring knife. There is no finger-guard (sometimes improperly called a bolster), so there’s nothing to get in the way when I do sharpen. The balance is pretty much centered around the line between the blade and the handle. The whole thing is single construction, like a Global knife, so no worries about unseating blades and so on. And the total weight is pretty light, which in my view is a good thing with a paring knife: you want it to be easy to handle, deft, and an easy extension of your hand.
For the sake of this review, I did a couple of basic tasks. In particular, I cored, peeled, split, hollowed, and sliced an apple. The knife performed exactly as expected. No surprises, which I figure is a good thing in a paring knife.
The Ikea Manual
What prompted me to write this brief column was the manual. Here’s what it has to say (in about 18 languages):
- Knives prefer to be washed by hand. The knife is unlikely to be rendered useless if washed in a dishwasher, but the edge can be damaged and the blade may corrode.
- Wash and dry the knife directly after use. That prevents any risk of bacteria spreading from, for example, raw chicken to fresh vegetables.
- To avoid unsightly marks on the blade, dry the knife immediately after it has been washed.
Sharpening and whetting
- A sharp knife is safer to use than a blunt one. Although the molybdenum/vanadium steel used in this knife stays sharp longer than ordinary stainless steel, you should still sharpen the knife at regular intervals. Once a week is usually advisable for ordinary household use.
- Remember that the sharpener must be made of a harder material than the steel in the blades. For this reason you need to use a knife sharpener made of ceramic, diamond or a whetstone. Never use a sharpener of stainless steel.
- If a knife has become very blunt as a result of long use or carelessness, you may need to have the blade professionally sharpened to restore its edge.
Storing and using your knife
- Avoid cutting through frozen or very hard foods (for example, bones), because this can cause the edge to bend or shards to loosen in the blade. If you cut into hard foods: Pull the knife back and forth through the food. Do not rock the knife from side to side.
- Always use a chopping board made of wood or plastic. Never cut on a surface of glass, porcelain or metal.
- Store your knife in a knife block or on a magnetic strip on the wall. Storing knives in the right way protects the edge and prolongs the life of the knife.
Source: Ikea Paring Knife Manual
Well, I don’t know about you, but I was delighted by this. Let me recap in brief:
- Hand-wash, never dishwasher. Wash constantly between ingredients. Dry immediately after cleaning.
- Keep it sharp. This will require sharpening: just because it’s molybdenum/vanadium steel doesn’t mean it’ll stay sharp magically.
- Don’t cut straight down on hard things. Don’t use a garbage cutting board. Store the knife properly.
The only mild irritation is that it implies that honing (or whetting) is the same as sharpening, which of course it isn’t. That said, assuming we grant that using a hone counts as “sharpening” for present purposes, it’s saying you’ll need to hone it roughly weekly on basic home use. Furthermore, it says that you will ultimately have to grind it, because it will eventually get dull no matter what you do.
I really couldn’t have asked for better. Short and sweet, accurate, and no nonsense. Score one for IKEA!
If you’re looking for a basic paring knife, I see no reason not to get this one. I would not on this basis advise the utility knife or chef’s knife in the same series: that’s quite a different kettle of fish. But for a paring knife?
At ten bucks, I don’t see how you can go wrong here.