Something I realized several years ago, is that I would almost always rather cook at home than go out to a restaurant. It's an opportunity to do just a little bit of creation, with the instant gratification of enjoying the meal afterward. For me, that was often the perfect antidote to a day of frustration at work.
Good kitchen tools help prevent cooking from becoming yet another frustration. Primary among them is good quality knives. Not expensive knives, necessarily - my favorite cost me five euros in 2003 - but decent steel, kept sharp. And while my general chef's knives are among the most important, my bread-baking habit has quickly rocketed the serrated bread knife to the top of the blade hierarchy. Both my father and my father-in-law commented on how nicely my knife slices bread this year, so for Christmas, they each got their own.
No, despite trying knife making last christmas, I did not attempt to make bread knives. But, to keep the edges in that sharp, effortless, non-frustrating state, I made blade guards to protect them. The back is cherry with a recess approximately as deep as the knife's spine. The edge guard along the front is a thin strip of white oak.
In the back of the recess, I added two small rare-earth magnets. These will keep the guard on just well enough to keep other utensils from banging into the knife as it shifts around a drawer.
The ends of the guards are open. This both allows the guard to be put on in either direction, and gives crumbs or water an easy way out.
The finish is a simple brush-on shellac. That makes the guards easy to wipe down when needed, but should keep them from drying out and splintering or cracking.
I baked a rye sourdough to include with one of the knives. I have reports that it sliced very nicely. Merry Christmas, Dads!
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