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View Full Version : Scimitars: Practical or just for show?



linecook854
02-20-2013, 12:48 AM
Are scimitars actually better in some way than a slicing knife or sujihiki for portioning meats or are they really just for show? Are scimitars actually used for anything other than portioning meats and what is the proper motion for using one?

jgraeff
02-20-2013, 12:50 AM
I used one a while back and loved it both for meat and fish, want to get mike Davis to make me one once I save up some money :)

Canadian
02-20-2013, 01:02 AM
There's a reason why they've been the gold standard in butchery for over a millennia.

For a home cook they are a little superfluous.

Deckhand
02-20-2013, 01:06 AM
I have big blue handled forschner one i have used for years on fish, and Salty's scimitar is still my favorite knife ever.

linecook854
02-20-2013, 01:07 AM
I'm asking because I'm a professional cook and and cut a lot of steaks and do some other simple meat fabrication. I usually use a slicer or a chefs knife depending on what type of fabrication I'm doing. I cut beautiful filets with a slicer but if a scimitar would work better I'd be interested in getting one.

Chuckles
02-20-2013, 01:13 AM
They are capable of making board contact from a much broader range of angles than a slicing knife. When butchering very thick pieces of meat or separating primals on a carcass this is very helpful. Also when making long draw (pull) cuts through dense proteins the ability to use the knife in a reverse grip increases leverage significantly. This turns what would be two or three cuts with a slicer into one continuous cut which reduces the chances of damaging valuable proteins during fabrication.

I don't think you would notice any appreciable advantage on fillets but if you get into larger butchery tasks you might want one around.

Plus they look cool.

Salty dog
02-20-2013, 01:31 AM
Depends what you're cutting. I use one for larger cuts of beef. (Ribeye, top sirloin butts, etc) I use a boner on beef tenderloins and anything smaller. The curved tip has many benefits.

Chuckles
02-20-2013, 01:34 AM
I'm sure you knew it was coming.


The curved tip has many benefits.

That's what she said.

sachem allison
02-20-2013, 01:35 AM
pretty much what Salty and the clown said.

tkern
02-20-2013, 01:37 AM
Wasn't "Salty and the Clown" a buddy cop show in the '80s?

brainsausage
02-20-2013, 01:37 AM
[QUOTE=Chuckles;182773]I'm sure you knew it was coming.

That's also what she said...

tkern
02-20-2013, 01:40 AM
She probably thought that, but the guy had no idea.

ThEoRy
02-20-2013, 01:45 AM
I cut filet with a honesuki, for portioning strips and ribeyes a scimitar works well.

franzb69
02-20-2013, 02:00 AM
been looking into these as i'm thinking of taking up butchery classes.

brainsausage
02-20-2013, 03:29 AM
I love how this devolved into baser comedy- then back on topic without skipping a beat. Have I mentioned lately how cool this forum is?

I've been talking about scimitars all day seems like. Butchery type knives are high on my list right now... Things are changing...

franzb69
02-20-2013, 03:52 AM
i can't seem to find any good bull nosed butcher knives except for butch harner's semi custom stuff which are well..... too expensive for my wallet. i know they'll work well but i don't think i'll ever be able to afford those til i actually get a job. lol. there are old hickory ones of course, but the newer ones are too short. can't find any vintage ones at the moment.

scimitars too. i want me one.

Chuckles
02-20-2013, 04:01 AM
Butchery type knives are high on my list right now

I can understand if your using a Kato everyday how you might stop drooling over gyutos for a bit. :)


i can't seem to find any good bull nosed butcher knives

There does seem to be a huge void in the middle of the market for some reason. It seems to go from Forschner to Fowler with nothing in the middle except the odd vintage piece.

franzb69
02-20-2013, 04:13 AM
There does seem to be a huge void in the middle of the market for some reason. It seems to go from Forschner to Fowler with nothing in the middle except the odd vintage piece.

yessir! nothing so far in the middle or even in the low-mid bracket either....

just goes to show that there aren't enough folks in the butchery industry and not enough demand for the knives. the decline of traditional butchers is quite disturbing. i see this as an opportunity to get into it though. as there is a slight showing of interest of people getting back into butchery and more traditional vocations.

brainsausage
02-20-2013, 04:38 AM
You're spot on with the Kato comment Chuck :D

I've been effing with a bull nose for about 2 weeks now, that I picked up off eBay about a year ago. Spaced it off(as well as the slicer/mini scimitar, and the weird giant nakiri/cleaver thing that came with it), until I found it in a drawer the other day. I've been thinning/reprofiling/cutting in new bevels every couple nights after work. Tonight I thought I'd screw around with finishes. Kinda broke right now, so I just tried polishing with a cork and some slurry from the Rika 5k, over a 325 scratch pattern. Interesting results. High contrast with some nice gloss. I left a little of the ancient patina on. Gives a weird kurouchi-esque effect. Not gonna stick with this finish, but its fun to experiment on a relatively inexpensive knife, that's made to get beaten on.

Stumblinman
02-20-2013, 04:43 AM
wildfire has some interesting ones. Not sure on the thickness though. Although since Franz is in the area, maybe you could pick up one of those older type swords for one. I'm thinking a pira would do good. :)

Chuckles
02-20-2013, 04:55 AM
There are a ton of people in butchery but with the industrialization of the commodity market and a transition to larger corporate conglomerates driving up production scale there is a corresponding downward pressure on wages to compete. Hence no nice knives for them. When I am left without a choice and must resort to large production sources I am consistently appalled with the quality of the meat cutting. There are, however, many many people in the restaurant industry and in small scale artisanal butcher shops that care deeply about proper practices and refined techniques as well as an affluent customer base providing for relatively livable wages. You would think that that dedicated community would be able to sustain demand for a maker to offer a line of knives suited to these tasks.

The question for me is what is it about a scimitar that makes it a project so rarely taken on? Amount of steel required? Difficulty in forging a long blade with a pronounced curve?

franzb69
02-20-2013, 05:00 AM
I'm thinking a pira would do good.

i don't even know where to get them locally. lol. i live in Manila, the main metropolitan center of my country. the pira sword is more of a muslim type of sword, most of them are from the southern part of my country. And as my country is, well, an archipelago.... travel is more....difficult. lol. my fellow countrymen and i would also have a bit of a language barrier as each province has their own dialect, so there's literally quite a few dialects that are spoken in each island. not everyone speaks tagalog, and english is much much less so. and then there's this long standing divide with us catholics and muslims....a few militant groups that like kidnapping people for ransom too....

there are sites that sell them if you really want one. they charge an arm and a leg in my opinion though since the finish on them isn't up there as one would like. basic tools and all that.

traditionalfilipinoweapons and kalahi custom blades are the ones that have of a more online presence so that's where i've actually found those. i can probably procure locally made balisongs as balisongs is made closer to where I live. Batangas, where they're made is actually my father's side of the family are from, which kind of is one of the reason why i'm really into knives. Most of them are either cops or in the army, or farmers or ice cream makers.


mora makes pretty good kitchen knives. they have a line of butchery knives. might be worth taking a look at. made in 12c27 if i'm correct. and in 58RC.


There are, however, many many people in the restaurant industry and in small scale artisanal butcher shops that care deeply about proper practices and refined techniques as well as an affluent customer base providing for relatively livable wages. You would think that that dedicated community would be able to sustain demand for a maker to offer a line of knives suited to these tasks.

this is what i wanted to be in, artisanal stuff. apparently there's not enough of them to have a demand. are there not enough knife knuts in the butchery world? =(

brainsausage
02-20-2013, 05:08 AM
Maybe cuz scimitars are kinda like swords? I'm only half joking...

And I agree- butchery is making a big comeback in regards to restaurants especially. As well as the concept of people looking to buy from a proper 'butcher'- someone who can cut, describe the cut in terms of texture/taste. The return of the deli is one of the most exciting concepts in our current gastronomical landscape IMO. it's my dream to own a place where we cut fresh every morning, do charcuterie on site, make messy sandwiches, and talk to customers face to face about meat.

franzb69
02-20-2013, 05:11 AM
it's my dream to own a place where we cut fresh every morning, do charcuterie on site, make messy sandwiches, and talk to customers face to face about meat.

if ever you do decide, i'd wanna be part of it. lol. i don't mind smelling like raw meat all day, though of course a long shower would be required, and maybe a good long soak in a hot tub after all that work. there aren't any good butchers here!

Chuckles
02-20-2013, 05:25 AM
Interesting results. High contrast with some nice gloss.

The pictures didn't show up for me for some reason. :bat:


The return of the deli is one of the most exciting concepts in our current gastronomical landscape

Funny. I am in the later planning stages of opening a place like you described. Although I prefer it when pretty girls are the ones "talking to customers face to face about meat."

chuck239
02-20-2013, 05:53 AM
wildfire has some interesting ones.

NOOOOO!!!!!!!! Sorry.... Stay away. Save your money and run.

-Chuck

NO ChoP!
02-20-2013, 09:01 AM
I use one to skin large sides of fish. The curve helps with skin that curves up, and doesnt lay perfectly flat.

skiajl6297
02-20-2013, 09:59 AM
If any of you are in the DC Metro area, try Stachowskis in Georgetown - it is pretty much precisely what brainsausage describes. (And mighty convenient to have within walking distance of the office). Epic grinders, delicious charcuterie (used in said grinder), helpful service, quality sourced meats, and occasionally, attractive greeters.

Lefty
02-20-2013, 10:31 AM
Butcher knives are what they are. They're perfect for butchering large portions of meat. A scimitar might be a bit much for a home chef, but then again, so are 4 gyutos, 3 sujis, 2 yanagi-ba and a partridge in a pear tree.

However, a good bullnose will come in handy even for a home cook (great for splitting, through joints and working with bone-in quarters). This is coming from a guy who got to do this while trying to stay in university, so trust me.

If it were up to me, I'd have a full set of butchering knives...oh wait, I do.

turbochef422
02-20-2013, 11:15 AM
I have an old foster bros carbon and its sick for cutting cowboy cut steaks butchering whole strip loin I love it

Mike9
02-20-2013, 11:28 AM
I love how this devolved into baser comedy- then back on topic without skipping a beat

Must be a guy thing - always spitin' distance from the gutter. :devilburn:

And yeah scimitars are wicked cool looking. My granddaughter calls it my "Pirate Knife" :doublethumbsup:

The thing I like about it is the length of cut is long yet compact because of the curve and I can get a little more leverage at the end of the cut by curving upwards. Great for slicing steaks haven't tried mine on a big fish yet.

Noodle Soup
02-20-2013, 11:40 AM
I use one for all the big game and occasional steer I home butcher. That said, it is kind of a 2 or 3 times a year knife for me. My last deer was was steaked out with a Chinese made Kershaw 12-inch cimeter (the other spelling) and I thought the knife worked very well for its intended purpose.

Salty dog
02-20-2013, 11:55 AM
My three. I picked up the vintage carbon Solingen on E-bay (top) Nice knife. Devin's and a Dick.

http://i1036.photobucket.com/albums/a442/Saltys_knives/IMG_6463.jpg

K-Fed
02-20-2013, 02:59 PM
I've got the same solingen scimitar and it is pretty great for the money. One tough mother. Use it often to dismember chicken's a la' Theory. Could just as easily take down small saplings and or the odd zombie.

http://i.imgur.com/t2woVcO.jpg?1

And the fowler

http://i.imgur.com/FfkoReo.jpg

Mike9
02-20-2013, 03:15 PM
That DT looks sweet - here's my Dexter.

http://i1214.photobucket.com/albums/cc489/mikel9nine/GEDC0644.jpg

Chuckles
02-20-2013, 05:31 PM
I'll take one of the Solingen's please.

Nice knives guys. Thanks for the pics.

brainsausage
02-20-2013, 06:06 PM
I've got the same solingen scimitar and it is pretty great for the money. One tough mother. Use it often to dismember chicken's a la' Theory. Could just as easily take down small saplings and or the odd zombie.

http://i.imgur.com/t2woVcO.jpg?1

And the fowler

http://i.imgur.com/FfkoReo.jpg

I still covet that Stephan scimitar. So awesome.

vicv
02-20-2013, 08:44 PM
http://www.chefsmall.net/Chan-Chi-Kee-Chinese-Butchers-Knife-Knives-L
Not sure if that's a scimitar but it'd be fun to cut some stuff with. These things are huge in person!

franzb69
02-20-2013, 10:04 PM
prolly chinese version of a gyuto =D

vicv
02-20-2013, 10:12 PM
It's over 1/4 at the spine. It's a big butcher knife. Far too thick for gyuto. I still want one though

franzb69
02-20-2013, 10:17 PM
i see. then it's a chinese version of a western deba.

brainsausage
02-20-2013, 11:18 PM
I've wanted to pick up one of those mini 'buster sword' looking choppers that CCK makes for a little bit now. Maybe I'll snag one next paycheck, and we can do a very specialized passaround:D

ThEoRy
02-20-2013, 11:19 PM
It's a pig sticker!!

tkern
02-20-2013, 11:26 PM
Pig sticker!

K-Fed
02-21-2013, 12:09 AM
I'll take one of the Solingen's please.

Nice knives guys. Thanks for the pics.

There's a couple up on the bay sub 50 bones without shipping. Go grab one ;-)

Miles
02-21-2013, 12:32 AM
I've got a nice old Dexter with plenty of patina. Great for portioning ribeye and strips.
Plus it just looks plain cool. You pull that out and everyone knows you mean business. :laugh:

brainsausage
02-21-2013, 01:10 AM
There's a couple up on the bay sub 50 bones without shipping. Go grab one ;-)

I just did! :spiteful:

Dardeau
02-21-2013, 03:16 AM
Try R. Murphy knives. The Bossman bought me a carbon bullnose from them for Xmas and I've liked it a lot. Brainsausage, if you ever make it to New Orleans the folks I work for operate a sandwich shop right up your alley, Cochon Butcher.

Chuckles
02-21-2013, 03:54 AM
Those Murphy knives look pretty cool. The sandwich place looks great! Didn't know there was a sandwich place associated with Cochon.

Dardeau, I think you need to start posting more. :thumbsup:

franzb69
02-21-2013, 06:16 AM
very enticing indeed those murphy knives

NO ChoP!
02-21-2013, 09:12 AM
I picked up................. a Dick.

http://i1036.photobucket.com/albums/a442/Saltys_knives/IMG_6463.jpg

Beavis and Butthead moment....

Those F'in Dicks!!!!