Does Cutting Paper With a Knife Dull It?

(Or the Different Ways You’re Dulling Your Knife)

There is one very important fact which all home cooks should know:
A blunt blade is an accident waiting to happen.

But what causes the fast wear and tear of knives?

It’s important to understand that no single item can dull your knife immediately.

Even slicing paper now and then won’t do that. In fact, this is used as a test showing how well-sharpened and honed the edge is.

But if you do slice several reams of coupon bond for a whole day, expect to see some level of damage to the blade. After all, the knife isn’t the best tool for cutting paper.

And that is the first actual thing that will cause the degradation of this very important kitchen tool – using it for slicing anything other than food.

1. Improper Use

Admit it, you use your kitchen knives to tear open cardboard boxes, cut plastic ropes, and even tighten random screws.

These, admittedly, are the quickest tools to get to when you need something sharp and pointy because the rest of your tools are kept in a box in a cabinet in the basement or out in the shed.

But try to restrain that inclination because you will ruin it.

Here are the other possible reasons for the quick blunting of your blade.

2. Using the Wrong Knife for a Specific Job

Serrated ones should be used for bread and tomatoes and not on meat.

Thin and flexible blades are for fileting and shouldn’t be used to chop root vegetables.

The Chef’s variant is versatile but should not be used to disjoint bones on poultry.

There’s a reason why knives come in different shapes and sizes – each should be used for a particular task.

Follow this basic rule of thumb and these tools will retain their edges for a long time.

3. Washing Knives in a Dishwasher

Everything clatters in this machine once hot water sprays out.

Even first-rate steel can chip when it bangs against other materials – and take note, Japanese steel chips easily.

Also, most dishwasher detergent tends to be very abrasive so it can remove the dried food particles from your dishes.

Unfortunately, those microscopic coarse bits from the soap can mar your blade.

Doing this with your hand with a soft sponge and a gentle liquid soap won’t take a minute.

Do it and save yourself hundreds of dollars of professional resharpening services.

4. Keeping It Damp

High-carbon steel should never be soaked in water because it would rust.

It also follows that this shouldn’t be left in the sink wet or stored in your blocks damp.

The best way to do this is to dry it with a towel right after washing it.

Again, this won’t take much of your time, so go do it.

5. Improper Storage

Just as you shouldn’t leave your blades in the dishwasher, you also shouldn’t let the pieces clatter and bang against each other when you’re opening or closing the drawers.

This is precisely why knife blocks and magnets were invented. Get one and use it.
Top chefs keep theirs wrapped in a cotton cloth and then placed in individual slots in a roll bag.

6. Cutting Over Glass or Stone

Never chop or slice on a glass or stone surface. Believe it or not, the edge will dull after your second or third slice because those surfaces are just too hard.

Use the right chopping board, particularly those made of real wood or hard plastic.

7. Scraping the Blade Over the Board

Some people slice and dice their vegetables, carry the chopping board near the stove, and then scrape the ingredients towards the pot with their knives. Be conscientious of your knife and don’t do this.

Even when you’re using the proper chopping board, doing that can scratch the edges of the bevel.

Also, that’s not a very safe practice since you could drop the knife along the way and cut yourself accidentally.

Again, use the blade for what it is meant for – it’s for slicing and dicing, not scraping.

Go Ahead and Cut Paper with a Knife

As aforementioned, this is a test that some people do to see if they were successful with their re-sharpening task.

If the blade runs through the paper, you’ve restored the nice edge to your knife.

But don’t do this every day.

Remember: constant use will dull any knife – even if that’s the most expensive one in the market.

Just look at pro chefs – they need to resharpen their tools three to four times a year and hone daily because they use these almost 24/7.

But they also take extra care with these tools because they are practically nothing without those.
Just follow the advice listed above and you can effectively slow down the natural wear and tear of your steel.

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.