PDA

View Full Version : Cheap way to practice sharpening on single bevel knives?



heirkb
05-06-2011, 07:52 PM
Just like the title says, that's what I'm looking for. I usually like to pick up one really nice thing and then stop (at least when it comes to blades), but I can see how this might be a problem with something like yanagis, since they have a learning curve with regards to sharpening and use. Is there a really cheap yanagi that I can buy just to practice the basics of sharpening these knives (hamaguri edge, perhaps flattening the bevel, kasumi finish, etc.)? I don't know if the super cheap (30-70 USD) yanagis are even clad in the traditional way, so they might just not work for me. If possible, I'd rather get something on the cheaper end and then move on to one nice one I'll stick with (like a Shigefusa or something like that) instead of buying three mid-range blades to practice on. I would hope there would be such an option. Am I dreaming? What would some of you guys do?

Examples of mid-range yanagis I've seen are the Tojiro and Tanaka (blue steel) ones. If a Yoshihiro actually popped up for auction, I'd probably pick up a 300mm one, since the price wouldn't be too bad. With regards to the other two, I just don't know if I really want to spend 200 bucks for a knife that I'd be likely to mess up since I'd be learning basics on it.

Dave Martell
05-06-2011, 08:18 PM
I used to sell a real inexpensive mini-yanagi for just this purpose. Try hitting ebay and searching for something similar.

Lefty
05-06-2011, 08:20 PM
If it's purely for practicing the method/technique, you could try a local Asian market.
The one by me has $20 Chinese made yanagis....

heirkb
05-06-2011, 08:21 PM
I used to sell a real inexpensive mini-yanagi for just this purpose. Try hitting ebay and searching for something similar.

Dave, these cheaper ones were still clad? I want to practice making a kasumi finish, so that's one thing I'd want in a cheap practice knife. The reason I'm asking this so specifically is that I've seen some knives that were frosted to look clad (faux-clad).

JohnnyChance
05-06-2011, 08:23 PM
http://cgi.ebay.com/Japanese-YAMAWAKU-Yanagiba-Sashimi-chef-knife-Houchou-/200546367027?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&var=&hash=item746ae3a48f#ht_5666wt_905

How about a 270mm for $82? I have a 180mm version, it's not bad. The very end of the tip (1mm or less) was broken off during shipping due to poor packaging. I think he offers an upgrade to better shipping, which would also get it there faster than the 6 weeks or so it took me to get mine.

Dave Martell
05-06-2011, 08:24 PM
Dave, these cheaper ones were still clad? I want to practice making a kasumi finish, so that's one thing I'd want in a cheap practice knife. The reason I'm asking this so specifically is that I've seen some knives that were frosted to look clad (faux-clad).


Yeah clad and pretty much with all the usual problems too but fixable and great for learning the kasumi finish thing too.

heirkb
05-06-2011, 08:39 PM
Thanks for the replies guys. I'll look at some stores near me to see if I can pick up a super cheapy to learn on, since it seems to be possible to get clad ones. Maybe I'll even get two so that I can get a lot of practice.

JohnnyChance
05-06-2011, 08:46 PM
My local Asian super market "A Dong" usually just carries cleavers, but every now and then they have yanagis and some other styles as well.

heirkb
05-06-2011, 08:53 PM
http://cgi.ebay.com/Japanese-SAKAI-CarbonSteel-YANAGIBA-Sashimi-Knife-240mm-/380334674835?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item588db69393#ht_2967wt_907

I'm considering that one right there. A 240 is not particularly useful for a yanagi, though, right? I mean that in terms of learning to cut with them as well as learning to sharpen them. That would mean that 240 would be mostly useful for learning to sharpen a yanagi.
I also found the one Dave had pictures of. 330mate sells them for 25 bucks, but I figured that those might be so small that I don't get a real feel for sharpening the bigger ones.

JohnnyChance
05-06-2011, 09:03 PM
http://cgi.ebay.com/Japanese-SAKAI-CarbonSteel-YANAGIBA-Sashimi-Knife-240mm-/380334674835?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item588db69393#ht_2967wt_907

I'm considering that one right there. A 240 is not particularly useful for a yanagi, though, right? I mean that in terms of learning to cut with them as well as learning to sharpen them. That would mean that 240 would be mostly useful for learning to sharpen a yanagi.
I also found the one Dave had pictures of. 330mate sells them for 25 bucks, but I figured that those might be so small that I don't get a real feel for sharpening the bigger ones.

All depends on what you are cutting. Generally you see yanagibas in 300 and 330mm because when slicing fish you want to make an entire cut in 1 slice, so there is no sawing motion to disturb the structure of the sliced piece. If you are slicing smaller pieces, or do not have the room on your counter to be maneuvering a 12" blade, a 240mm could work for you.

Eamon Burke
05-07-2011, 12:28 AM
Just a word of insight(before Jon B shows up and offers it. :P)

But those cheapo $20 ones will be the same shape, but the shape is not what is tricky about traditional Japanese cutlery. It's the steel that makes the shape work, and if you learn on cheap, soft steel you will need to develop a whole new skill set because the only thing they will have in common is that they lay flat on a blade road to sharpen.

I learned on a Tanaka yanagi, and it did me fine. I screwed it up(or so I thought) a few times, but after a year of owning it, I realized that it wasn't even ground properly at the factory. Between me and that Yanagi, the student had become the master.

Potato42
05-07-2011, 12:34 AM
I agree best thing to do is just go for it with something half decent at least. When I started I thought $125 was a lot for a knife. Now it feels like chump change. You might mess it up a little but more than likely you'll learn how to do it right eventually and then you'll have not just a decent knife but a great knife.

UglyJoe
05-07-2011, 12:43 AM
I'm going to disagree and say I would go with the cheapo $30 knife to learn to sharpen. The techniques are basically the same. Will you learn how to cut with it properly? No, but then you can learn the cutting technique on the more expensive "full-size" down the line. Cutting incorrectly won't damage the knife! At least not cutting incorrectly for anyone who knows how to use double bevel knife. Sharpening though, is of course a different story. I'd say save the money on the knife and get the cheapo, then get a good natural finisher from maksim or one of the other reputable vendors. Of course sharpening a 300 mm is different than a 150, but if you know how to handle the 150 and troubleshoot all the issues of a single bevel, then moving up to 300 won't be a huge issue. IMO.

JBroida
05-07-2011, 12:50 AM
I'm going to disagree and say I would go with the cheapo $30 knife to learn to sharpen. The techniques are basically the same. Will you learn how to cut with it properly? No, but then you can learn the cutting technique on the more expensive "full-size" down the line. Cutting incorrectly won't damage the knife! At least not cutting incorrectly for anyone who knows how to use double bevel knife. Sharpening though, is of course a different story. I'd say save the money on the knife and get the cheapo, then get a good natural finisher from maksim or one of the other reputable vendors. Of course sharpening a 300 mm is different than a 150, but if you know how to handle the 150 and troubleshoot all the issues of a single bevel, then moving up to 300 won't be a huge issue. IMO.

its certainly not the worst thing to do to practice on a cheap knife, but i have seen many times where people pick up bad habits due to crappy steel, improper initial grinding, etc. In general though, my opinion is that the first single bevel knife you get should at least be something you can get some real use out of. Learning how to sharpen and learning how to use the knife go hand in hand. When you understand why the knife is shaped and ground the way it us (through using it), it makes your sharpening a lot better.

UglyJoe
05-07-2011, 01:05 AM
I understand, but my point is that for $30 you can start to get the basics down. I mean, even a "cheap" kasumi 300mm Tanaka is getting close to $200, which (for me at least) is pretty expensive to have a first go at for sharpening single bevels. Would you immediately be able to put a professional finish on said Tanaka after learning on the cheapo knife? No, but you'd be a hell of a lot closer and in less danger of doing real damage to the Tanaka if you'd spent several hours sharpening the cheapo knife.

slowtyper
05-07-2011, 01:09 AM
How much damage can you do to a single bevel knife while learning to sharpen on it? any good recommended resource to start learning?

JBroida
05-07-2011, 01:34 AM
I understand, but my point is that for $30 you can start to get the basics down. I mean, even a "cheap" kasumi 300mm Tanaka is getting close to $200, which (for me at least) is pretty expensive to have a first go at for sharpening single bevels. Would you immediately be able to put a professional finish on said Tanaka after learning on the cheapo knife? No, but you'd be a hell of a lot closer and in less danger of doing real damage to the Tanaka if you'd spent several hours sharpening the cheapo knife.

I think it really depends on the kind of learner you are. However, i happen to believe that sharpening isnt that tough, so if you have an understanding of the basics from reading about it, watching videos, or something like that, you arent too likely to mess things up too bad unless you go crazy with a coarse stone or you totally ignore the fundamentals of what you should be doing. I really do believe that learning how to sharpen the knives and learning how to use them go hand in hand. Around $200 is the lower end of single bevel knives and its pretty normal for beginners... it kind of sucks that the cost of entry is so high, but almost every "cheap" blade (under that range) that i have seen has so many problems with the grind, forging, heat treatment, and/or shape that its just not worth trying to save a buck or two in my opinion.

I've spent a lot of time teaching people how to sharpen at this point and i dont think i've had anyone yet who couldnt do at least a decent job after just a couple of hours.

Anyways, i do think what you are saying has some merit and it may very well work for many. But my preferred method of teaching people is just to have them get a decent knife, explain the basics and have them go at it. When they make mistakes (and i think to most its clear when they have made a mistake), come back and ask questions. So far no one has so royally screwed up their knife that it cant be fixed (though i'm sure at some point it will happen :( ).

heirkb
05-07-2011, 11:52 AM
Jon, do you think the Yoshihiro knives are good enough to learn on and use so that I can get both experiences? I don't know if you've heard much about them. Edit: just checked and saw you sell them. :lol2: There's a different line on eBay from the white 2 ones you sell. Are there any differences in qualities between the different lines?

Oh and to the person who mentioned a stone, don't worry about me. I've been into stones (for razors) since before I got into knives so I already have a stone for knives coming from Maksim. :)

UglyJoe
05-07-2011, 12:14 PM
Jon, do you think the Yoshihiro knives are good enough to learn on and use so that I can get both experiences? I don't know if you've heard much about them. Edit: just checked and saw you sell them. :lol2: There's a different line on eBay from the white 2 ones you sell. Are there any differences in qualities between the different lines?

Oh and to the person who mentioned a stone, don't worry about me. I've been into stones (for razors) since before I got into knives so I already have a stone for knives coming from Maksim. :)

Nice.

The Yoshi's are supposed to be good knives. The ebay seller sells a Kasumi version and a Hongasumi version. The main difference is steel (Blue #2 for hongasumi), handle (octagonal/hongasumi vs. D-shaped/kasumi), and F&F is better on the hongasumi. The line Jon sells, which I'm sure he won't comment on in this thread, is kind of a hybrid of those two. Octagonal handle, better F&F, but white steel. If you want to know more about them I'd suggest sending him a PM or start a thread on them in his sub-forum.

heirkb
05-07-2011, 04:44 PM
So if you guys were thinking of a starter yanagi, would it make a difference if the steel were white or blue steel? The Tanaka is blue steel and the Yoshihiro is white, but I don't really know what the differences would be or which I should start out with. Given what Jon has said, I'm thinking I might pick up a mid-range yanagi and stick to that for a good while just to learn sharpening and use at the same time. Something like a Tanaka, Yoshihiro, or Masamoto KK. If anyone has any recommendations for knives in the price range of these three, please let me know.

Dave Martell
05-07-2011, 04:47 PM
White steel (especially #1) has less alloying elements and is a bit easier to move into shape with the stones, I'd consider this option if you have the choice in the price range you can afford.

Mattias504
05-07-2011, 06:12 PM
I'd say avoid the cheapo option. Get something of decent quality to start off with and you will have a much more rewarding experience. It should be easier to sharpen than a garbage $30 yanagi. Most of them aren't really single bevel anyway.

heirkb
05-08-2011, 09:08 PM
White steel (especially #1) has less alloying elements and is a bit easier to move into shape with the stones, I'd consider this option if you have the choice in the price range you can afford.

Are there any benefits to the blue steel? I think the Yoshihiro blue steel option is the hongasumi one as UglyJoe said, which is about a 1/3 more expensive. I'm just leaning towards the cheaper option because of the price.

MelaniePalmero
07-29-2011, 01:05 PM
Hi heirkb! Have you tried steeling? It's compatible for all types of knives, you just have to maintain the required angles between the knife and the steel. Got a sample video here (http://www.jesrestaurantequipment.com/jesrestaurantequipmentblog/knife-sharpening-101-chef-phil-knife-sharpening/). Enjoy! ;)

Vertigo
07-29-2011, 01:20 PM
.... Ugh ...

Adagimp
07-29-2011, 02:06 PM
Are there any benefits to the blue steel? I think the Yoshihiro blue steel option is the hongasumi one as UglyJoe said, which is about a 1/3 more expensive. I'm just leaning towards the cheaper option because of the price.

The blue steel should have slightly more wear resistance than the white steel, but extra cost of the hongasumi is also due to the better f and f + octagonal handle.

Eamon Burke
07-29-2011, 03:37 PM
Hi heirkb! Have you tried steeling? It's compatible for all types of knives, you just have to maintain the required angles between the knife and the steel. Got a sample video here (http://www.jesrestaurantequipment.com/jesrestaurantequipmentblog/knife-sharpening-101-chef-phil-knife-sharpening/). Enjoy! ;)

First off, Melanie, welcome to KKF. I hope you stick around.

But I have to say that the video you posted, as well as your advice, is massively under-informed. You simply cannot steel "all types of knives", especially harder, more brittle knives like the traditional Japanese single-bevel blades being discussed here. Harder knives can be honed on a smooth ceramic or glass rod, and can benefit from stropping, just like a hardened steel straight razor. The grind on a traditional single-bevel is not in any way suited to steeling, a honing rod should never, EVER touch a true single-bevel.

Also, I found it laughable that the guy in that video asserted that sharpening is "done by something like this" and held up a giant grinding machine, the likes of which I'd never put any tools I care about into. Sharpening is best left to caring hobbyists and professional sharpeners, but if your pro sharpener is shoving your knives into something like that and handing them back to you, I'd suggest you find someone who knows what they are doing.

chazmtb
07-29-2011, 04:44 PM
Very eloquently said.

SpikeC
07-29-2011, 05:39 PM
Wow. "Chef" Phil is --- interesting. And that grinder he held up---also "interesting".
How does an oval honing rod "automatically" provide a 22º angle? Magic magnetic impellduction??

Vertigo
07-29-2011, 06:02 PM
Chef Phil also posted this in a long-dead thread on FF, some sort of drive-by self promoting spammer. Bad information that I doubt he will return to defend.

¿Dónde está el supresión?

Seb
07-29-2011, 10:29 PM
I've been thinking of making the leap to single-beveled knives for a while too. While I am not quite there yet (lack of space being the main factor - having to safely store something that could take off a finger in the blink of an eye), I have been looking around and the best option seems to be these which are intended for the Japanese home user market. I already have a 180mm Yo-deba from this series and it's (as far as I can tell) perfect: blade is straight and it's properly convexed. I assume the steel is something inexpensive and of the SK-? variety at 58-59.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Japanese-SAKAI-CarbonSteel-YANAGIBA-Sashimi-Knife-270mm-/230626390912?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35b2677380

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Japanese-SAKAI-Carbon-Steel-Yanagiba-Knife-270mmAkebono-/380343873495?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item588e42efd7

You can get the cheap, plain handle for $59 or the lacquered (Akebono) handle for $71. I was planning on getting the lacquered at first because it's less likely to get all mucky with swarf but the plain handle may be more 'non-slip'.

For something more upmarket, Koki has some Masahiro carbon and stainless lines featured on his wholesale website (http://www.japaneseknifewholesale.com/MASAHIRO.html) (prices shown are wholesale but he will give you a retail quote on request); JCK's Fujiwara FKV series is another sound option - the steel is unspecified 'VG-something' - I asked but Fujiwara Kanefusa was not forthcoming on the specific variety - I have the nakiri from this series and it's a pretty good performer; good edge/decent retention.

Adagimp
07-30-2011, 01:13 AM
Seb, I'm fairly certain I have the 210mm version of the yanagis you listed (fairly certain because I acquired the knife second hand) and aside from an over grind near the heel the f and f is pretty darn good. The standard handle is definitely the worst part of the knife though.