Old steel knives vs disposable blades
Vinnie's techs would probably all cringe at the thought of going back to steel knives. The first real histo lab I worked in was at UTMB in Galveston and we had to sharpen our own knives. Each tech (about 15 of us) had about 4 long steel knives apiece and one Hacker knife sharpener, the kind with the spinning wheels. It did a swell job, was quick, but it tended to wear the steel away after a while and then they need to be sent out to be reconditioned. So with the cost of the knives $300? and the tech time and reconditioning cost, I don't know if it is really cost effective. Techs in a busy lab don't want another thing to have to do at the end of the day. Maybe a lab assistant could do that task. But it is best if everyone sharpens their own, less complaining.
No doubt, the old knives cut better if sharpened well. Sharpening is a fine art and not everyone is good at it. We still use them in the cryostat, but for everything else we use the disposables. I even use disposables for celloidin sections.
Also, the cost of supplies to sharpen knives using the Shandon Autosharp is high. I've just placed an order for the diamond compounds for $800.00 and I need a plate reconditioned $160.00. But it does put a fine edge on with minimal wear to the knife.
Probably, the most practical solution is to buy the less expensive disposable blades. Does anyone remember when it was the fad to put the knives under a pyramid to resharpen them? That was a bit bizarre... ;)
Oh, the joys of being a supervisor with a consultant, Vinnie. Hang in there! Sarah
Sarah Jones HT(ASCP)
Dept. of Vet. Anatomy & Public Health
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-4458
>>> Barry R Rittman 06/26/03 10:46AM >>>
I must agree with Raoul
Non-disposable knives can generally be sharpened to a finer edge and
often maintain that edge better than disposable blades. Additionally for
hard tissue sectioning there is much greater rigidity to a non
disposable blade that is essential for sectioning teeth.
An additional point is that when sectioning celloidin blocks, sections
have to be kept wet and large sections cut with a more uniform thickness
when they curl as they are being cut. The best blades are those that
have the side on which the sections are cut being slightly concave to
aid the sectioning - hence they have to be non-disposable blades.
Having said that it is too time consuming and expensive to sharpen
knives by hand and inconvenient to send those out for sharpening.
I think that it is best to consider that, other than for research
applications, the emphasis is generally on numbers and that for most
services, the ultimate quality that could be obtained from a block of
tissue is not number one on the list. This means that the best quality
sections are produced within the limited time available, if time were
From: Regnault, Raoul [mailto:Raoul.Regnault@interiorhealth.ca]
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2003 10:08 AM
To: 'Vinnie Della Speranza'; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: RE: Blades
Costs and best blades.
All of us that have used non-disposable blades know that good steel and
well sharpened non-disposable blade will cut best, period. Invoice costs
maintain a non-disbosable knife system are minimal but non-disposable
require large labour input. The labour input is not so easily quantified
are adding up invoices for disposable blades.
Suggest to your consultant that your lab switchs back to non-disposable
Yes disposable blade costs can amount to a significant number but
disposable blade costs to non-disposable blade costs would be eye
for the consultant.
From: Vinnie Della Speranza [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 26 Jun 2003 6:25 AM
To: DArquette@aol.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: Blades
When I asked all of you earlier in the week to give me your views on the
best microtome blade, I neglected to tell you that we have a consultant
(there's that dreaded "C" word) here who is identifying where we can
save the hospital money. I didn't share this because I didn't want to
start a rant about consultants. We currently use the Accu-Edge blade
which so many of you recommend as the best, but of course we all know
that they are pricey. By the way, all of the histonet responses have
been stuffed in his email inbox. Wonder what blade he shaves with and
whether he'd consider switching to a less expencsive brand?? :)
Choosing the best blade is tough because one blade may be sharp but not
hold its edge, another may seem to last much longer even though it may
cost more initially. It is tough to know in this area whether you always
get what you pay for. are all blades the same length? do you get the
same amount of edge in each cartridge? of course the answer to these
questions is NO, they are not all the same size ( in case you haven't
checked). over the course of a 50 blade cartidge how much less usable
edge did you buy with that bargain blade?
Dennis gets a star for the most original and amusing response. But I
will be happy to tally the responses if others would find this helpful
thanks to all who participated in this poll. I appreciate your sharing
your expertise with me.
Vinnie Della Speranza
Manager for Anatomic Pathology Services
Medical University of South Carolina
165 Ashley Avenue Suite 309
Charleston, SC 29425
>>> 06/26/03 01:09AM >>>
I like a rusty pocket knife, or a straight edge of paper. I think to
define what is best would be.
1. The kind of paraffin used
2. Type of tissue you are cutting
3. How was it processed
4. How was the blades stored prior to shipment
5. How are the blades stored now
6. Now compare the blades at one location
I just think personnel preferences is the best blade (pocket knife or
I sure hope you lets us all know what the best blade was.
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