Saturday, March 8, 2014

How to Repair Kitchen Equipment

Sometimes it's the little things that make a difference. And it can make a big difference in your kitchen if you know how to take care of some of the little things by yourself. In this article, we provide clear instructions for sharpening those knives that need attention, repairing your broken china and glassware, polishing up your metalware, and even using those old towels for something new
-- your own handmade potholders. These instructions won't help if a major appliance breaks down, but they'll definitely make your kitchen a more pleasant place to work.
We’ll begin in the next section with a simple step that most home chefs ignore -- sharpening their knives. 
For more information on do-it-yourself kitchen improvement projects, try the following links:
To create a whole new kitchen, see our article on How to Design a Kitchen.
If you're shopping for ideas, you might find some good ones in A Guide to Kitchen Remodeling Materials. 
For suggestions on ways to enhance an existing kitchen, see our article on How to Build Kitchen Improvements.

How to Sharpen Knives

Even the best steel dulls eventually, and inexpensive knives and scissors are usually not too sharp to start with. Keep fine steels sharp and salvage dulled blades with periodic honing.
Tools: ­
Deep pan
Fine-grit silicon carbide slipstone
Sharpening steel
Screwdriver or hammer
Household or light machine oil
Soft cloths
Mineral spirits
Box with lid or sealable plastic bag
Time: About 15 minutes to 1/2 hour
Preparing the Whetstone
Buy a whetstone with one coarse and one fine side. To prepare the stone for use, put it in a deep pan and cover it with household or light machine oil; let it soak overnight. Remove any dirt or loose particles with a soft cloth soaked in mineral spirits. Between uses, store the prepared whetstone in a box with a lid or a sealable plastic bag.
Sharpening Knives
To sharpen a very dull knife, use first the coarse and then the fine side of the whetstone; to sharpen a blade in better shape, use only the fine side. Have badly chipped or serrated knives professionally sharpened.
Oil the surface of the whetstone lightly. If you can see the cutting bevel on the knife blade, keep the knife at this bevel as you work; otherwise, hold the knife with the blade at a 30-degree angle to the stone.
Holding the knife blade firmly at the bevel angle, push the full length of the blade gently but firmly away from you, at a diagonal across the stone. Lift the knife blade at the end of the stroke, turn the knife over, and repeat, stroking the blade away from yourself across the stone. Repeat, using alternating strokes on the two sides of the blade, for the same number of strokes on each side. These alternating strokes remove any tiny burrs caused by the sharpening. For very dull blades, follow this sharpening procedure on first the coarse side and then the fine side of the stone. Remove debris from the knife blade with a soft cloth.
To sharpen carving knives and other fine stainless steel blades, use a fine-grit silicon carbide slipstone instead of the whetstone. Holding the slipstone at the proper bevel angle to the knife blade, whet the cutting edge of the knife with tight circular passes of the stone. Whet both sides of the blade alternately to keep the cutting edge even.
To touch up the cutting edge of a carving knife, use a sharpening steel. With the blade of the knife away from you, pull the edge of the knife blade lightly down the length of the steel, stroking the entire length of the blade from handle to tip. Repeat on the other side of the knife blade. Stroke the sides of the blade alternately along the steel to produce the desired cutting edge; about six strokes per side are usually adequate.
Sharpening Scissors
Sharpen scissors on a lightly oiled whetstone, maintaining the existing bevel on the outside edge of each blade. Unless a scissors is very dull, use only the fine side of the whetstone. Don't try to sharpen pinking shears; have them taken care of professionally.
Open the scissors wide, and set the outside beveled face of one blade flat on the whetstone. Angle the blade back at a slight diagonal. Holding the scissors firmly, stroke the blade firmly but gently away from you, at a diagonal across the stone; stroke from handle to tip of the blade. Lift the scissors at the end of the stroke, and repeat, working only on the beveled side of the blade, to produce an even cutting edge. Wipe the blade clean with a soft cloth; then sharpen the other blade of the scissors the same way.
When both blades of the scissors have been sharpened, open and close the scissors once or twice. The blades of the scissors should touch lightly all along their cutting edges. If the blades are too tight against each other, slightly loosen the pivot screw that holds them together. If the blades are too loose, tighten the pivot screw. If the blades of the scissors are held together by a rivet instead of a pivot screw, tap the rivet lightly with a hammer to tighten the blades.

How to Repair Porcelain, and Glass

Careful assembly and clamping are the key to mending delicate objects. With patience and the right glue, you can repair even the most fragile china, porcelain, and glass.
Tools: ­
Small mixing dish and stick
Clamping supports
Masking tape
Pan filled with sand
Modeling clay
Rubber bands
Scrap wood and nails, or paraffin
Clear epoxy glue
Cotton swabs
Acetone (nail polish remover)
Time: 5 minutes or more, depending on damage
Because you'll need time to fit broken pieces exactly together, quick-bonding glue should not be used for mending delicate pieces. Buy clear epoxy glue, sold in two parts, resin and hardener; mix only as much glue as you need. Epoxy dries completely waterproof.
Before mixing the glue, prepare a clamp to hold the object together while the epoxy cures. Choose an appropriate method, as detailed below, to achieve a secure set. Don't apply glue to the broken pieces until the clamp is prepared.
To hold a glued cup handle or the stem of a glass, gently wrap strips of masking tape around the cup or glass. Use at least two vertical strips to encircle a glass with a mended stem; keep the pressure on the strips even so the mended joint doesn't slip.
To hold a cracked or pieced plate or similar object, fill a pan with sand. Embed the uncracked portion of the plate in the sand, with the broken edges straight up so that the glued pieces will be held in place by gravity. If necessary, use clothespins to clamp large pieces in place. For a mended teapot, cup, or pitcher, nestle it into the sand as necessary to hold the glued pieces in place.
Modeling clay is an excellent clamping material. Mold lumps of clay to support mended cups, glasses, or other objects with the broken part up. The mended pieces will be held in place by their own weight. Or set a mended plate on edge in a drawer, and support its bottom edge with a base of modeling clay.
Stretch rubber bands around a mended glass or cup; they should be tight enough to hold the pieces securely but not tight enough to stress the pieces. Or, to hold a flat or shallow object, use a piece of scrap board for a base. Set the mended object onto the board; at appropriate spots around it, mark points on the board. Remove the object and drive nails partway into the board at the marked points. Replace the object and stretch rubber bands from nail to nail over it to hold it in place.
To mend the broken object, clean the pieces thoroughly and let them dry completely. Before mixing the glue, fit the broken pieces carefully together so you'll be able to reassemble them correctly. Lay the pieces out in order on your work surface.
In a small mixing dish, mix only as much glue as you'll need to reassemble the object; stir together equal parts of resin and hardener, as directed by the manufacturer. With a toothpick, apply a very thin coat of glue to the raw edges of one broken piece; carefully join it to the main piece. Press the pieces gently but firmly together. Remove excess glue with a cotton swab moistened with acetone (nail polish remover).
Repeat to glue all broken pieces to the main piece, applying glue and removing the excess piece by piece. If the object is broken into many pieces, work from the inside pieces out to reassemble the object. Be sure you're confident of the assembly procedure before you start gluing.
Finally, clamp and support the mended object securely, as detailed above. Let the epoxy cure as directed by the manufacturer; curing usually takes about 1 week for maximum strength. Don't unclamp the object until the full curing period has passed.
If a plate, saucer, or platter is badly shattered, and you have another one like it, use the unbroken object to make a mold. In the top of a double boiler, carefully heat paraffin until it's soft or barely melted. Lightly oil the bottom of the unbroken object and pack softened paraffin over it, or set the object bottom up in a small deep pan and pour melted paraffin over it to cover the bottom completely. Let the paraffin set completely and remove the unbroken object.
To reassemble the broken object, apply glue as above and fit the broken pieces together inside the mold. If possible, work from the center of the object out and up. The wax mold will hold the pieces at the proper angle as you reassemble them. If desired, reassemble the object in several stages. Let the epoxy cure completely before removing the mended object.
In the next section, you will learn how to make a brass, silver, and copper cleaner.

Make Brass, Silver, and Copper Cleaner

Brass cleaner, silver cleaner, and copper cleaner -- this inexpensive mixture does the job for all of them.
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Mixing spoon
Mixing bowl­
Small saucepan
Small jar with lid
Oxalic acid
Powdered pumice
Tincture of green soap
Note: Buy tincture of green soap at a pharmacy; buy oxalic acid at a hardware store.
Yield: 3/4 to 1 cup
To 1/2 cup of hot tap water, add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 tablespoon of oxalic acid. Stir to dissolve and pour the solution into a mixing bowl.
Caution: Oxalic acid is poisonous. Handle it carefully, and wash measuring and mixing containers thoroughly before using them again.
Add 1 cup of powdered pumice to the solution and stir until smooth; add 1/2 teaspoon of turpentine and stir again. Melt 2 tablespoons of lard in a small saucepan and add it to the mixture with 2 tablespoons tincture of green soap. Beat briskly by hand to mix the oils into the paste completely. Spoon the cream into a small jar.
To use the cleaner, apply it with a clean cloth or sponge and rub gently; rinse with hot water and polish dry.
In our final section, you will learn how to make your own pot holders.

How to Make Pot Holders

To get the last mile of use from old towels and washcloths, turn them into pot holders. Your salvage will stand up better than most store-boughts.
Tape measure
Sewing machine
8-inch plate
Straight pins
Worn towels or washcloths
Scraps of cotton fabric
Prefolded bias tape
Time: 1/2 to 1 hour per pot holder
Measure and cut squares from the good parts of worn towels -- 8 inches is a good size, but make them larger if you prefer. Use at least two squares for each pot holder; if the towels are very thin, use three or more squares. Use worn washcloths as is. For strictly utilitarian pot holders, leave the towel layers uncovered; for fancier ones, cut cover squares the same size from scraps or new pieces of cotton fabric.
For each pot holder, stack two or more towel squares together; set a square of cotton fabric on the top and one on the bottom, right sides out. Quilt the stacked layers together on a sewing machine, making parallel rows of straight stitching about 1 inch apart, all across the square. Turn the stitched-together square 90 degrees and quilt again at right angles to the first lines of stitching, forming an all-over quilted square pattern. Or, if desired, stitch diagonally to make quilted diamond shapes, or use any free-form pattern.
When the square is completely quilted, trim the edges as necessary; use a straightedge and a pencil to get them square. Or, if you want a round pot holder, center an 8-inch plate on the quilted square and trace around it; carefully cut off the marked corners.
Finish the edges of the pot holder with prefolded bias tape. Starting at a corner, place the slightly wider side of the bias tape along the bottom edge of the pot holder, and bring the narrower side up over the raw edges of the fabric. Carefully miter the tape at the corners of the pot holder or ease it around curves; make sure you don't stretch the tape around corners or curves. Pin or baste the tape into place as you go. At the end of the pot holder, leave 21/2 inches of extra tape.
Beginning at the starting corner of the bias tape, stitch carefully over the folded-down bias tape, as close to the inside edge as possible. If your sewing machine has a zigzag stitch, use it. At the end of the pot holder, use the extra 21/2 inches of bias tape to make a loop for hanging the holder. Continue your stitching with a straight stitch all along the extra tape; then double the tape back and stitch its end to the edge of the pot holder with back-and-forth stitches. The loop should lie at the corner of the pot holder.

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