Until the reign of Queen Elizabeth the best knives were all imported from abroad; but about that time the Sheffield cutlery was much improved. A table-knife in its manufacture passes through sixteen hands, in one hundred and forty-four stages of workmanship; but all the movements are so rapid that the knife is shaped in a few minutes; the blades being made of "double shear" steel, the sharp part which penetrates into the handle, and which is called the "tang," being made made of iron.
Good knives are invaluable in a house. A good bread-knife with a broad, sharp, well-shaped blade; carvers that do their work easily, and sharp vegetable knives, are a daily saving of time and patience. To preserve the temper of a knife, it should be kept away from heat. After a knife has been used for anything acid, it should be cleaned at once, as the stain comes off then quite easily.
If knives are to be put away for some time, the blades should be rubbed with a few drops of sweet oil, and folded one by one (blade and handle alternately) in a piece of flannel, baize, or chamois leather, to keep off rust.
STEEL FORKS are shaped on an anvil; the prongs being stamped out, tempered, and ground upon a dry stone. They are to be cleaned in the same manner as knives. Useful carvers may be bought from about 10/6 upwards. Good white-handled table-knives usually range from 17/- upwards per dozen. Black-handled kitchen knives and forks can be purchasedfrom 9d. a pair.
1. If very greasy, rub first with a piece of paper and burn it.
3. Rub each blade and handle with a dishcloth, and dry at once. Hot water, if it touched the handles, would melt the resin, loosen the handles, and discolour white ones. The less a knife is in water, the longer it will last.
A little whiting moistened with lemon juice will remove recent stains from ivory handles.
Heat the tang and press it into the handle, previously filling the hole with the following mixture : resin, 4 parts; beeswax, 1 part; and plaster of Paris, 1 part.
1. If the blades are badly stained, rub them with a damp flannel and brickdust, and dry before polishing.
2. Scatter a little emery powder, or crushed bathbrick, on a knife-board, and clean both sides of the knife, holding it quite flat, being careful to clean the bolster, and remembering that to hold a knife sideways, or rub the edge, blunts it.
3. Dust with a rough knife-cloth, and then a clean cloth, to secure that every particle of the powder is removed. A piece of board covered with carpet is very useful for giving a brilliant polish, the knives being quickly rubbed over it.
The blades must be quite free from grease, or they will not take a high polish. The back of the blade must be attended to, and the knives must be placed in the box with all the handles the same way, to avoid accident.
Wire knife-trays with three divisions are useful for the dirty knives; they cost about 1/- each. Wooden boxes with divisions can be bought at the 6 1/2d, shops, and form convenient receptacles for the clean ones. Medium-size boards cost about 1/-.
Take two ordinary corks; damp one and dip it in powder or bathbrick, and rub it on the blades to remove stains, which it very quickly does. Use the remaining cork and dry powder to obtain a polish; then dust the blades and handles thoroughly.
To remove the smell of onions from a knife, it should be pushed once or twice into the earth.
EMERY paper is prepared from a hard, heavy ore, which comes from the Levant and the Isle of Naxos. The stone is ground very fine, and then sprinkled evenly on sheets of paper with an adhesive surface. Two sheets are usually sold for 1 1/2d.