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View Full Version : Knife recommendations and a few quick questions



Scrap
07-17-2013, 01:26 AM
I've found myself in need of a chef's knife, and after much research have come to the realization that I'm going to need a bit of help finding the right (Japanese of course) replacement. in proper questionnaire format:




LOCATION

USA, near the Charlotte, NC area


KNIFE TYPE

Gyuto

Are you right or left handed?

Right

Are you interested in a Western handle (e.g., classic Wusthof handle) or Japanese handle?

Japanese

What length of knife (blade) are you interested in (in inches or millimeters)?

I don't think anything too far above 8 in would be comfortable, though I'm open to try something.

Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no)

I would rather my knife be carbon, but again, I can give other suggestions a shot

What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife?

This is the troublesome bit. I can spend a max of about $100, but would prefer something in the $50-70 range.


KNIFE USE
Do you primarily intend to use this knife at home or a professional environment?

Quite a bit of both

What are the main tasks you primarily intend to use the knife for

vegetable cutting mostly, but I need a solid multi-tasker.

What knife, if any, are you replacing?

A JWU standard issue mercer 8" chef knife, though my current multi-tasker is a cheap Chinese cleaver

Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use?

Pinch grip

What cutting motions do you primarily use?

Push cut and drawing mostly

What improvements do you want from your current knife? If you are not replacing a knife, please identify as many characteristics identified below in parentheses that you would like this knife to have.)

Mostly not being lost to the abyss and overall quality - I don't have the experience to know too many specific characteristics I like. It does need to be sturdy, but I definitely don't mind high maintenance if I'm getting a better knife.

Better aesthetics ?

I find things like damascus/hammering a bit...much. something simple and traditional with just a few engravings will suffice.

Comfort?

Not much to say here - I've held quite a few knives and been bothered by few.

Ease of Use

Easy sharpening would be nice since I'm still learning.

Edge Retention ?

I'd place this ahead of ease of sharpening


KNIFE MAINTENANCE
Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board?

Yes

Do you sharpen your own knives?

Yes

If not, are you interested in learning how to sharpen your knives?

Still yes

Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives?

No



SPECIAL REQUESTS/COMMENTS


so two quick questions so I don't just flood this whole forum with more question threads - I've seen decent looking knives with black blades - I believe I've heard this is just the blade not being polished for those who don't care, but I'd like to know If this is ever going to matter for anything but aesthetics. Also, how am I supposed to safely transport my knives including those more difficult to find guards for like my deba?

greasedbullet
07-17-2013, 02:35 PM
There are a couple of different forms of black blades. There are Kurouchi finish which is just the remnants of it being forged, then there are some that are etched or something that make them a shiny black, but I have no experience with those and as far as I know they are way out of your price range.
As far as transportation I would get a knife roll with some edge guards. Gyutos and other more common knives are easy to get guards for, but a deba you will need to get a saya for, I think they make universal deba sayas.

Now to the subject of the knife. I used to think that 210mm (8.25) was the biggest knife I could reasonably use, but then I got a 240mm (9.4inch) and never went back. That length is amazing and so comfortable to use. Unless you are really tiny I would suggest 240mm, but 210 isn't bad either.

There is a Yamashin 210mm gyuto in White #1 for around $90, but I have never seen or used one before.

There is also a Tosa funayuki at Hida Tool that is 210mm for $42. My coworker has one that is a little smaller and is in love with it. The stock handle probably needs to be oiled or something before you let it get wet.

Scrap
07-18-2013, 01:30 AM
How are the tojiro white steel gyuto's? I'm seeing good things but haven't seen mention here - plus blueway has them for a fair price. any thoughts?

franzb69
07-18-2013, 02:44 AM
How are the tojiro white steel gyuto's? I'm seeing good things but haven't seen mention here - plus blueway has them for a fair price. any thoughts?

they're incredibly reactive. so reactive that they're not very worth to play with. i think you should just look into tosa style knives like on hidatool and japan woodworker. i have a couple, couldn't be happier.

James
07-18-2013, 03:14 AM
Fujiwara FKH is pretty popular in that price range. If you want to splurge, Tanaka blue #2 is a good choice.

Brad Gibson
07-18-2013, 05:10 AM
I have a tojiro kiritsuke gyuto and I love it. I removed the KU finish and polished the whole thing and its barely reactive. For 80 bucks I doubt you will find a white #2 flat profile 240mm gyuto that compares. I would buy it again, if I only had 80 bucks. I bought that as one of my first knives and was very happy. But it is just like marijuana, it is the gateway drug. Be prepared to get yourself addicted to Japanese knives if you buy a cheap one. It won't be nice enough for you and then you will have to find something that is nicer.

I would recommend the tojiros, they are really easy to sharpen and I've seen a couple ootb.... Some have nicer handles than others. It's a dice roll when you buy a knife this cheap. I would recommend going to a store to buy one if at all possible so you can see the quality in person and make a choice off of the feel as well as the looks.

Seb
07-18-2013, 05:22 AM
Yamawaku?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Japanese-hand-weld-YAMAWAKU-water-proof-chestnut-Gyuto-chef-knife-Houchou210-/390626960663?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5af32e6517

Scrap
07-18-2013, 01:29 PM
I've heard a few rough stories about the KU finish - Does it cause any problems to be left on? and what problems exist wth bad handles? The Yamawaku looks nice but can anyone tell me anything about them? the store looks kinda iffy.

chinacats
07-18-2013, 01:45 PM
I've heard a few rough stories about the KU finish - Does it cause any problems to be left on? and what problems exist wth bad handles? The Yamawaku looks nice but can anyone tell me anything about them? the store looks kinda iffy.

KU finish is not a problem but also not all created equal. Seems each makers are all different. Eventually it will wear/scrub off, usually exposing fairly reactive cladding (iron).

Tojiro white steel has poor fit/finish and often horrible grind issues--from experience.

I would suggest one of: Fujiwara, Suisin, Misono or Carbonext for the budget you described. Of these I've only tried the budget line of Fujiwara (carbon) and it was a very nice knife for the money.

franzb69
07-19-2013, 12:42 AM
i've heard of good things about the yamawaku but it's more of a project knife if you have the time from what i've read. nice and cheap though. i'm considering them to play around with.

=D

don
07-19-2013, 02:00 AM
Tojiro white steel has poor fit/finish and often horrible grind issues--from experience.

Agree. The knife has poor fit and finish, thick and pretty bad grind issues. That said, if you're willing to work on the knife, it can be a pretty fun knife. It takes a nice edge.

The issue is that there aren't many sub $100 wa-gyutos.

easy13
07-19-2013, 12:40 PM
Misono Swedish Carbon 210 with 15% off at korin right now makes it right about at 100 dollars. Done and Done

mhlee
07-19-2013, 12:53 PM
Misono Swedish Carbon 210 with 15% off at korin right now makes it right about at 100 dollars. Done and Done

Unfortunately, the OP is looking for a knife with a wa handle.

Scrap
07-19-2013, 01:05 PM
anyone have anything to say on the yamashins? they look to be of good quality - also, for these so called "project knives" what kind of work would that entail?

easy13
07-19-2013, 01:09 PM
Any of the handles on a sub 100 carbon wa are gonna shoddy not to mention the blades being a project. Was giving an option of a solid carbon for 100 with good f&f that will come out the box ready to roll.

Scrap
07-19-2013, 01:23 PM
Any of the handles on a sub 100 carbon wa are gonna shoddy not to mention the blades being a project. Was giving an option of a solid carbon for 100 with good f&f that will come out the box ready to roll.


I'm definitely still considering it - it looks to be a great knife, but I can't afford to be buying another for a while after this and really want to weigh my options, as well as get the knife I'll be happiest with. Your input is appreciated though, this one is probably topping my list for knives if I give up on getting a wa handle.

mhlee
07-19-2013, 02:36 PM
I'm definitely still considering it - it looks to be a great knife, but I can't afford to be buying another for a while after this and really want to weigh my options, as well as get the knife I'll be happiest with. Your input is appreciated though, this one is probably topping my list for knives if I give up on getting a wa handle.

I really don't think there are many good options for you at $100 by the lack of responses. Personally, I can't think of a good wa handle gyuto option in the sub $100 range.

I think there's a real difference in quality between just under $100 and going to $150. That being said, if you want to get a good knife that you're going to be happy with for a while, if you go up to the $150 range, you could get this:

http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/kitchen-knives/gesshin-uraku/gesshin-uraku-210mm-stainless-wa-gyuto.html

It comes with a saya, is a very good performing knife for the price, and something that I think you'd be happy with for some time. I've used the 240 and found it to be a very good performing knife, so much so that I gave a 240 as a wedding present.

If you go with something cheaper, IMHO, you're taking chances. If you buy something cheap that you're not happy with and use it, you may not be able to return it. And, if you have to thin or do other things to it to get it to work well, you're definitely not going to be able to return it and, even then, it might not be as good as you hoped it would be. Just food for thought.

In fact, I think if you asked people for options in the up to $150 range, you'd see a lot more options. I can think of several more options off the top of my head if you're willing to go up to $150, but I would still recommend the Uraku in that price range. There are also options on B/S/T here.

Timthebeaver
07-19-2013, 03:14 PM
http://www.phoenixknifehouse.com/sugimoto/cm-wa-gyuto/sugimoto-cm-wa-guyto-8-3-210mm.html


Good cutter, thin with highly asymmetric grind and basic wa-handle - $78. Reasonably hard, fine-grained easy-to-sharpen stainless, considerably cheaper than the 240/270 from this maker.

mhlee
07-19-2013, 03:39 PM
http://www.phoenixknifehouse.com/sugimoto/cm-wa-gyuto/sugimoto-cm-wa-guyto-8-3-210mm.html


Good cutter, thin with highly asymmetric grind and basic wa-handle - $78. Reasonably hard, fine-grained easy-to-sharpen stainless, considerably cheaper than the 240/270 from this maker.

Nice find!

keithsaltydog
07-19-2013, 05:15 PM
The Yamawaku Seb's post has a Resin Collar & burnt chestnut handle.It is not Buff. horn which which you will not get in a sub. 100.00 knife.But the wood & collar are better than the Tojiro which has that crap soft plastic collar.

don
07-20-2013, 01:05 AM
I haven't used a Yamawaku gyuto much, but out of the box, it's decently finished, has rounded spine and choil, and is thinner behind the edge than the Tojiro shirogami. As keithsaltydog noted, the Yamawaku's resin collar and burnt chestnut handle is better than Tojiro's plastic and ho handle.

Scrap
07-21-2013, 02:51 AM
Okay so...if I AM willing to go up to $150...then what are my options? Keep in mind I'd prefer carbon steel, especially at this price point where I've been told there remains a marked difference.

Talim
07-21-2013, 04:38 AM
There's the Tanaka Blue#2 from metalmasters. His ebay store list it cheaper than his website store. It's need a bit of work but at that price point it's hard to beat. You can search for panda's thread and read more about it.

greasedbullet
07-21-2013, 12:03 PM
Tanakas are good. Just round the spine and choil with some sand paper and oil the handle and they act like much more expensive knives. I have a 270mm. But the cladding will rust pretty quickly. You can just scrub it with barkeepers friend every time you use it until a good patina forms and it will be good.

mhlee
07-21-2013, 03:38 PM
Okay so...if I AM willing to go up to $150...then what are my options? Keep in mind I'd prefer carbon steel, especially at this price point where I've been told there remains a marked difference.

http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/kitchen-knives/zakuri/zakuri-210mm-blue-1-kurouchi-gyuto.html#

I've never used one, but I've held and seen most of the line carried by Jon. They're just not my thing. But, they're generally well regarded by the community.

Is there a specific reason why you want to buy a carbon steel knife?

Scrap
07-21-2013, 04:14 PM
I've just gotten used to carbons - my main knives have been a carbon cleaver, and a century old carbon chef knife handed to my by my grandparents. I like the look, the feel, and how carbon takes and maintains an edge vs. stainless. True, I haven't really used any really high end stainless for comparison, but I've just found I like carbon knives a lot.

bikehunter
07-21-2013, 04:45 PM
http://www.phoenixknifehouse.com/sugimoto/cm-wa-gyuto/sugimoto-cm-wa-guyto-8-3-210mm.html


Good cutter, thin with highly asymmetric grind and basic wa-handle - $78. Reasonably hard, fine-grained easy-to-sharpen stainless, considerably cheaper than the 240/270 from this maker.

Seems hard to go wrong with this one.

easy13
07-21-2013, 07:20 PM
Handles on the Tanaka Blues are horrible

Timthebeaver
07-21-2013, 07:28 PM
Handles on the Tanaka Blues are horrible

Really? - They are perfectly functional in my experience. Some perspective is needed when discussing $100 gyutos.

Pensacola Tiger
07-21-2013, 07:33 PM
Handles on the Tanaka Blues are horrible

Plain, yes; horrible, not so much.

My Tanaka petty has a ho wood D-handle with a horn ferrule. There is no step between ferrule and handle, unlike the bargain basement handles found on Tojiro ITK's.

Rick

GlassEye
07-21-2013, 08:00 PM
Plain, yes; horrible, not so much.

My Tanaka petty has a ho wood D-handle with a horn ferrule. There is no step between ferrule and handle, unlike the bargain basement handles found on Tojiro ITK's.

Rick
I agree. I have two Tanaka with ho wood/horn d shape handles, that are rather decent.

bikehunter
07-21-2013, 08:56 PM
I agree. I have two Tanaka with ho wood/horn d shape handles, that are rather decent.

I have one as well, and it was damn cheap. One of my favorites.

Scrap
07-22-2013, 12:25 AM
You all very nearly have me sold on this Tanaka. I may very well appreciate that stainless considering the environments I'll be using it in. This has proven to be more difficult than anticipated, but I greatly appreciate all of the help everyone has provided.

don
07-22-2013, 01:26 AM
Tanaka Blue Damascus are nice knives for the price, but they are thin and lightweight knives. Don't know if that's a factor for you.

keithsaltydog
07-22-2013, 04:06 AM
Before you pull the trigger Scrap,you might give Jon a call at Japanese Knife Imports.At around 150.00 the Gesshin Uraku is a good workhorse blade,around 60 Hrt.Wa Handle wt Buff. Horn collar,holds a good edge,easy to sharpen,not a Lazor but thin behind the edge where it counts.It has inscribed Kanji & a Saya.I have been using this knife awhile & think it is a great choice in the 150.00 range.

Timthebeaver
07-22-2013, 04:44 AM
You all very nearly have me sold on this Tanaka. I may very well appreciate that stainless considering the environments I'll be using it in. This has proven to be more difficult than anticipated, but I greatly appreciate all of the help everyone has provided.

Just a note that Tanaka's Ginsanko and VG10 are stainless clad, stainless core knives. The Blue #2 is carbon core, soft iron clad and quite the opposite of stainless - it's very reactive.

Scrap
07-22-2013, 05:35 PM
Just a note that Tanaka's Ginsanko and VG10 are stainless clad, stainless core knives. The Blue #2 is carbon core, soft iron clad and quite the opposite of stainless - it's very reactive.

Ah. Iron clad sounds like it could be troublesome, thank you for the correction, It gives me more to consider. I looked at the damascus and have trouble getting past the pattern, but it looks to be worth it too. The Uraku looks right up my alley too - any other thoughts? also, how comfortable are octagon handles? The seem like they wouldn't be the greatest...

Timthebeaver
07-22-2013, 05:45 PM
Ah. Iron clad sounds like it could be troublesome, thank you for the correction, It gives me more to consider. I looked at the damascus and have trouble getting past the pattern, but it looks to be worth it too. The Uraku looks right up my alley too - any other thoughts? also, how comfortable are octagon handles? The seem like they wouldn't be the greatest...

Some people acid etch their soft-iron clad knives to attenuate the reactivity. The VG10 Tanaka is clad with stainless damascus, the ginsanko has a matte, non-damascus textured finish called Nashiji (Pear-skin finish, after the fruit). All quite different knives, the Blue is typically thinner than the Ginsanko. You can't go wrong with the Uraku in the up-to $150 category.

I like both Octagon and D-shaped handles, generally octagon is preferred. Ymmv.

mhlee
07-22-2013, 05:47 PM
Did you look at the Zakuri that I posted the link for in my previous post? I also previously posted a link for the Uraku in one of my earlier posts.

keithsaltydog
07-22-2013, 05:57 PM
Ah. Iron clad sounds like it could be troublesome, thank you for the correction, It gives me more to consider. I looked at the damascus and have trouble getting past the pattern, but it looks to be worth it too. The Uraku looks right up my alley too - any other thoughts? also, how comfortable are octagon handles? The seem like they wouldn't be the greatest...

Personally I like Octagon handles,many makers don't leave sharp edges,rounding them slightly.If you want to round them more,easy wt. a little sanding.Nice thing about the Uraku is a saya so classy transport for your knife bag.I used a mix of 50/50 tung oil & bullseye amber shellac on the handle & saya.The tung oil is good for the wood,but slow drying.The amber shellac speeds drying & adds a amber color to the wood.

Scrap
07-23-2013, 07:08 PM
I did look at thez akuri, actually - how do the zakuri and the uraku compare? I'm pretty torn between the two, both seem of high quality so I'm guessing it'd mostly be preferential variations. Also, are there any other oils good for handle care? as in...do I need to purchase some form of mineral oil, or will some kitchen oils I have around already do?

greasedbullet
07-23-2013, 10:44 PM
I would not use kitchen oils because they go rancid. I use butcher block oil from Lowes. It penetrates the wood and forms a layer on the outer surface so it can almost be treated like a stabilized wood. Takes like 4 days to do properly, which isn't too bad compared to things like tung oil and is more permanent in my opinion.

chinacats
07-23-2013, 10:50 PM
The Zakuri is carbon and so will stain, the Uraku is stainless. I have a Zakuri and think it is a very good knife, though very rustic. The Uraku which I've not used has a reputation for being much better f&f--I would definitely call Jon and get his thoughts.

Cheers