Extending the Life of Your Grinder Plates and Knives
Hi guys this is Jon from Meatgistics. We are going to start posting more things that are going to show you how to properly care for your equipment. We are doing this in the hopes of helping you get many years of enjoyment out of your equipment! Today we are going to talk about how to properly care for your grinder plates and knives.
The first thing to know is that there are two basic types of plates and knives, Disposable and Sharpenable. Before we talk about the differences in these plates let talk about how you want to care for both of them. You may have heard that you want to “marry” a plate and knife, this means that you should only use a specific knife with a specific plate. This is important because it allows the knife and the plate to wear at the same rate, if you have a sharper plate and a duller knife or vice versa both will dull prematurely and you will not get as good a grind.
We also want to make sure that we are always using white oil on the plates and knives, white oil is a highly refined packers tech oil that will not gum up and is 100% food safe. If you do not oil your plates and knives before you use the grinder then when you turn on the grinder and that knife starts spinning you are going to have un-lubricated metal grinding against metal and that is going to cause a lot of friction. This friction is going to heat up your grinding surfaces and your product is going to slightly cook as it is pushed through the plate. You also want to oil your plates and knives when you are done cleaning them as this will help prevent rust on the plate and knife and extend their life.
Now the sharpenable plates and knives can be used until they are dull and then sent in to us or another company for resharpening and when you get them back they will be as good as new! We sharpen the plates by grinding the entire surface of the face down so all the round holes have squared edges again and a square metal edge is a sharp edge! The knives are a little more difficult, with those we sharpen the leading edge and grind an angle onto them so that only the leading edge comes into contact with the plate. This allows less of the plate to be worn away during your grinding. Before choosing a company to send your plates and knives to ask them if they send back your plates to you or if they rotate stock. We send you back the same plates and knives that you sent in to us because plates and knives can only be sharpened so many times and there is no good way to ensure you are getting a plate that has the same number of sharpenings left as the one you sent in.
The disposable ones are just what they sound like, you use them until they are dull and then throw them out. The disposable ones are cheaper but in the long run the extra money you pay for the resharpenable ones can be made up as the cost of resharpening is far lower than the cost of a new set of plates and knives!
Another good tip to extend the lives of plates and knives is to only hand tighten down your grinder head ring. You might have a wrench for the grinder ring but this is only designed to be used to remove the ring if it can not be removed bu hand. If you use a wrench to tighten down the ring then the plate and knife will pressed too tightly against each other and will dull quicker.
Sharpening a plate!
Sharpening a knife!
Thanks, we are wanting to do more and more on maintenance stuff here so people can take care of their equipment. There is no rule that is 100% accurate but almost all plates with a hub like this on one side are going to be resurfaceable, some are two sided plates so they are resurfaceable without a hug though. A really good indication is how much you paid for them, if you spent 20 something on a plate for a #32 then they are probably disposable, if you spent $50 or so then they probably are. Knives are even harder and have less rules but the cost thing holds true, if you spent less then $20 for a knife of any size then probably disposable $25 or more then probably resharpenable. If you want to take pics of any knives or plates you have questions on I should be able to look at them and tell you!
Jonathon I recall being told once that, in general, stainless steel plates are not resharpenable and carbon steel ones will be resharpenable. I have no idea whether that is accurate information or not. Thoughts on that?
It seems like smaller size plates and knives are more likely to be disposable vs. the larger sizes. This makes sense when you consider the higher initial purchase cost of new plates and knives of the larger sizes.
Any other insights on how to identify a disposable knife or plate vs. a resharpenable one?
I seem to accumulate plates and knives, mostly the #12 size, as I buy sell and trade used equipment.
My experience with tools… they often say stainless is not resharpenable, due to how much harder it is than carbon steel. The normal sharpening stones don’t grind it as well, and the binders holding hard garnet chunks together end up failing if normal pressures are used.
However, stainless can be sharpened easily using diamond grit as it is well harder and works well to polish stainless edges. If you try to sharpen the dies on normal stone or wheels, no good. But industrial diamond papers can be used, or silicon carbide papers. You just have to go slow and light on pressure, so you don’t strip the abrasive from the papers.
I have a sheet of glass I use. Spray back of the carbide sandpaper with contact cement, stick on glass for extremely flat surface. Use water to wet it and float away steel powder. Place your stainless dies or knives face down, move them around lightly with little pressure. Takes 4 or 5 minutes.
My brother was the first employee and later operations manager at Chefs Choice, the guy who invented cheap diamond plating for knife sharpening using nickel solution electrolysis to firmly hold the diamond grit in place.
Dave in AZ
That has been my experience as well.
I have a 4 inch stationary belt sander with a milled cast iron bed. Using silicon carbide belts and moderate pressure, I have had good success resurfacing plates and knives. A surface grinder with the correct wheel would be better, but this method has worked surprisingly well. I have used your method of silicon carbide paper on a glass plate and it works well too, just slower.
Stainless steel alloys are so varied that I don’t think you can make blanket statements about their hardness or sharpen-ability.
Heat treatment methods vary too. Some steel is just surface hardened and others are hardened all the way through.
I found an old German-made R.H. Forschner grinder plate that was clearly made of carbon steel but was extremely hard alloy based on the time it took to resurface it.