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View Full Version : Help me choose/critique my first "custom" knife set!



Jaarx
06-29-2011, 10:36 PM
Hi everybody!

First time post on these forums. I've already done a bit of research because I was looking into buying a knife set for my new apartment, and stumbled purely by chance into this forum which quickly convinced me of the following: a. Don't buy a set, b. Buy Japanese, c. Carbon is god. I'm not comfortable enough with my experience to fully follow the carbon trend, so I'll be sticking with stainless for the moment. In any case, given the couple hours research I did browsing the archives of this forum, I've come to the following conclusion:

Hattori HD 240mm Gyuto
Fujiwara FKM Petty 150mm
MAC Superior Bread Knife

Extras:
Shun Bamboo Block
Totally Bamboo Congo Cutting Board
Tojiro Kitchen Shears

The only thing that's truly left in the air is sharpening stone recommendations.

Experience: To be completely honest really not that much, I'm not a professional and I've never had training, I just have a passion for cooking. Before somebody says "You can get pretty good stuff for much cheaper", I'm the type of person who's perfectly willing to shell out a few more bucks if it's pretty, and the Hattori HD 240mm was a beauty.

Budget: I'm aiming for a total of around $500-600. With the exception of the sharpening stone(s), the above clocks in at about ~$470.

Criticize/suggest away!

Jim
06-29-2011, 10:40 PM
Welcome to KKF J!

Vertigo
06-29-2011, 11:56 PM
Welcome to the forums!


I'm not comfortable enough with my experience to fully follow the carbon trend, so I'll be sticking with stainless for the moment.

Carbon isn't a trend, it's the way knives have been made for centuries. Plastic handled ceramic Food Network santoku are the "trend." :jumpy:

And remember: carbon steel knives do not require any more attention, care, love, or maintenance than any other tool you respect.

tk59
06-30-2011, 12:02 AM
I don't haven any qualms about the knives but I'd get the Tojiro breadknife at CKTG and I'd consider a Kikuichi TKC (Performance) which is semi-stainless or a CarboNEXT (clone?) for the 240gyuto. I'd skip the shears. I have a really nice pair and I never use it (Actually, I never use a breadknife either.). I might get a nice 270 or 300 suji instead (depending on the block, this length may not fit). I find bamboo eats my edges up faster than plastic. I'd definitely go with an endgrain board of some material other than bamboo.

jm2hill
06-30-2011, 12:04 AM
welcome.

if your interested in doing some more reading check out the book "Edge in the Kitchen" truly will answer quite a few questions you have and its fun read as well.


All those knives are great knives and if your comfortable using a petty as a parer then you really have a great set of the "big three". I may skip the mac bread knife and go for the tojiro tho. Just preference for me as I would hardly use a bread knife and tojiro would be cheaper.

For me I would personally add a parer in the mix because I prefer it over a petty. don't have to go fancy or anything tojiro sells a parer for 30-40. which would take your total to 500.

Obviously the stones are a big part and can get expensive, but you can pick up a good starter set for 120-150ish so not gonna break the bank on those either.
if you aren't comfortable with sharpening (and I'm not at all ... but learning is half the process) there are sharpening systems like the "edge pro apex" "lansky" "spyderco" all well worth the check out.

welcome to the addiction.

most important part: listen to what the guys here have to say. They know their stuff.

Jaarx
06-30-2011, 12:06 AM
Welcome to the forums!



Carbon isn't a trend, it's the way knives have been made for centuries. Plastic handled ceramic Food Network santoku are the "trend." :jumpy:

And remember: carbon steel knives do not require any more attention, care, love, or maintenance than any other tool you respect.

That actually intrigues me quite a bit. Given my basic understanding of metallurgy (aka common sense), a non-stainless steel knife should in theory be more likely to rust. However, I am a generally careful kitchen keeper (i.e. I like keeping things clean and pretty), so given that I wash the knife immediately after using it, wiping it dry, and placing it back in a knife block, it will last as long as a stainless steel knife? What if, hypothetically, I don't use the knife for a long period of time? Also, I was under the impression that high-carbon steel is harder but therefore more brittle than stainless: fact or fiction?

Eamon Burke
06-30-2011, 12:08 AM
Welcome!

Why not get a sani-tuff board, and then upgrade later to a Boardsmith?

Bamboo has it's allure, and I"ve never used that brand, but the glue in bamboo boards is hard on knives...real hard. Also, the sound they make when chopping is unbearable.

mc2442
06-30-2011, 12:13 AM
I would second the end grain board as opposed to bamboo. The boardsmith seems to be the default, I definitely like my maple cutting board from him.

Eamon Burke
06-30-2011, 12:15 AM
That actually intrigues me quite a bit. Given my basic understanding of metallurgy (aka common sense), a non-stainless steel knife should in theory be more likely to rust. However, I am a generally careful kitchen keeper (i.e. I like keeping things clean and pretty), so given that I wash the knife immediately after using it, wiping it dry, and placing it back in a knife block, it will last as long as a stainless steel knife? What if, hypothetically, I don't use the knife for a long period of time? Also, I was under the impression that high-carbon steel is harder but therefore more brittle than stainless: fact or fiction?

1. A non-stainless knife will rust faster. All steel will corrode/rust/oxidize.
2. ANY care that a knife prefers does not require a preening kind of treatment for the tool. There are other reasons to not abuse knives. Knives left in sinks are dangerous. Knives left dirty are unsanitary. Knives left on a counter are destructive. If you wipe the food off of it in a reasonable amount of time, and rinse it, dry it with a towel, and pop it back on the knife rack, it'll never be an issue. A good patina helps, but if you live in a humid climate, and don't use a knife for a week or more, you'll want to oil it with mineral oil(or something like it).
3. Brittleness is not a carbon vs stainless issue. To be categorized as fully stainless, a knife needs to be 13% Chromium. Chromium carbides are big and crappy, and stainless knives were popularized in the 60s and 70s with soft steel with so much chromium you could put them in the dishwasher. That is not the case now. Fine example: vg10. Stainless? Yes. Brittle? Yes. In the range of knives you're discussing, the big difference between carbon and stainless, in my opinion, is patina--it's almost purely cosmetic, because there are great steels of both kinds, and even more varieties of each and in between with cool traits depending on who treats them and how.

tk59
06-30-2011, 12:18 AM
1. a non-stainless steel knife should in theory be more likely to rust. However, I am a generally careful kitchen keeper (i.e. I like keeping things clean and pretty), so given that I wash the knife immediately after using it, wiping it dry, and placing it back in a knife block, it will last as long as a stainless steel knife? 2. What if, hypothetically, I don't use the knife for a long period of time? 3. Also, I was under the impression that high-carbon steel is harder but therefore more brittle than stainless: fact or fiction?

1. True but that really shouldn't be a problem if you wipe it down after use and it will be even less when you develop a patina (which some find unsightly). The major issue is that it will discolor and impart a stink to certain raw veggies and fruits esp if you are slow and/or use a less pure steel. For this reason, I tend to prefer semi stainless.
2. I haven't had any problems BUT you can smear some mineral oil on it and you're good indefinitely.
3. Some carbon steel knives are harder and more brittle but it sounds like you're not the type to have issues with brittleness (plus they aren't THAT brittle unless you go REALLY hard). I would make sure you stay in the 60 hrc range and you'll be fine.

+1 to the irritating bamboo board knocking...

Jaarx
06-30-2011, 12:28 AM
Very interesting stuff, thanks a lot guys.

Conclusions so far:

Switch from MAC bread knife to Tojiro bread-knife.

Switch from bamboo board to Boardsmith. Any recommended wood/size? Right now I'm looking at the Maple 12x18.

What I really need a suggestion for is sharpening stone(s): any particular ones I should get as somebody new to sharpening (eager to learn, mind you, I have a penchant for these kind of things) e.g. number of stones, grit for these said stones, recommended brands etc.

Also, what is the difference between a sharpening stone and a knife steel? I was once told a knife steel doesn't actually remove metal and instead only re-aligns the blade and my current impression is that a sharpening stone will actually remove material from the edge, but the more I see these forums talk of sharpening stones I feel like I'm getting something wrong here.

jm2hill
06-30-2011, 12:33 AM
Very interesting stuff, thanks a lot guys.

Conclusions so far:

Switch from MAC bread knife to Tojiro bread-knife.

Switch from bamboo board to Boardsmith. Any recommended wood/size? Right now I'm looking at the Maple 12x18.

What I really need a suggestion for is sharpening stone(s): any particular ones I should get as somebody new to sharpening (eager to learn, mind you, I have a penchant for these kind of things) e.g. number of stones, grit for these said stones, recommended brands etc.

Also, what is the difference between a sharpening stone and a knife steel? I was once told a knife steel doesn't actually remove metal and instead only re-aligns the blade and my current impression is that a sharpening stone will actually remove material from the edge, but the more I see these forums talk of sharpening stones I feel like I'm getting something wrong here.

I think a good starting stone set it that gets good reviews and the one I have ordered is:

beston500, bester 1.2k, rika 5k

A sharpening rod (honing rod) will realign your edge if the metal splits or wires it will not sharpen! it will also bring your edge down to its grit. so try to get a 1.2 or 2k rod. great for quick go but if you think your knives are dull use the stones.

edit things to consider: you really don't need the beston500 unless your knives are really dull or you want to re profile the edge. You will also want a flattening stone (DMT or Atoma). Flat stones are important. Jbroida has some good videos out there. youtube jknifeimportant I believe.

edit edit: for anyone who is as excited as me. my stones should be in tomorrow!

ThEoRy
06-30-2011, 12:55 AM
I second the TKC 240, tojiro itk breadknife and sanituff or boardsmith over bamboo. Or is it third them? I'm thirding them.

FryBoy
06-30-2011, 11:46 AM
...Switch from bamboo board to Boardsmith. Any recommended wood/size? Right now I'm looking at the Maple 12x18....
Good choice, but I'd go larger. Get the biggest board that will fit comfortably on your counter top. You won't regret the extra space, but you will regret not having enough room to work comfortably.

mc2442
06-30-2011, 03:37 PM
I think I got the 16 x 22. Love the size for working on it, though it is not something you can just tuck away when not using it.

Eamon Burke
06-30-2011, 10:12 PM
Yeah, cutting boards are just better as big as possible. Cleanup isn't as quick, but who are you, Sandra Lee?

Stones...Well, usually I tell people to get cheap decent stones to learn on. But you seem the type to read the book, then jump into the middle of the pool, which is commendable. Here's the basic rundown: You need a coarse stone, fine stone, and something to maintain on(which in the case of these knives would be best as a strop).

There are a billion choices, but below 1k is a little aggressive for your needs, so your coarse stone, whichever you choose, should be between 800 and 1500 grit. Then your fine stone needs to be anywhere from 4k to 8k, depending on a lot of considerations.
You can choose if you want a stone that wears fast or slow, cuts fast or slow, is muddy or not, wide or narrow, requires soak time or not. There's a lot of choices, it's a fun part of the hobby to get lost in.

Your stropping setup ideally would be a good leather strop on a stable base, a fine but aggressive compound(.5 micron or less), and something to deburr on(URH felt, rubber, wine corks).

I got my start using what my sushi bar had lying around. Which sucked. I started my real journey with just a 2k shapton pro, and stropped on cardboard box flaps.

MadMel
07-01-2011, 05:46 AM
For stones, get a King combo 1000/6000 first, practice and then move on. I find the King combo best for starting out as you don't really need a 500 unless you have really dull/chipped blades. After that, either the tried and tested bester+rika or else Jon's gesshin lines have been well received.

PinkBunny
07-04-2011, 01:45 PM
Welcome!

Why not get a sani-tuff board, and then upgrade later to a Boardsmith?

Bamboo has it's allure, and I"ve never used that brand, but the glue in bamboo boards is hard on knives...real hard. Also, the sound they make when chopping is unbearable.

Making your own board is a bit of work, but worth it. And if you are worried abouts glue, you could always use hide glue.

goodchef1
07-04-2011, 02:10 PM
for cutting boards, bigger is better among a few other things :rolleyes2: I would get some cheap knife to practice on the stones though, until you develop muscle memory and coordination. I learned the hard way. :(

bieniek
07-04-2011, 02:51 PM
Why would you really need bread knife?

In sharpening, go cheapest way possible first. You may not like it, or you may find a guided system fits your ammount of time/space better. King 1k/6k combo is good to start.
Connect it with newspaper and you can get a knife decently sharp without having 3 separated stones. There is also 400/2000 combo stone from shapton, which is ceramic and would stand up better to learning-abusing, but I dont know where to buy one.

Seb
07-05-2011, 01:20 AM
++ Kikuichi Performance (TKC), Tojiro Breadknife, King #1000/6000 combo stone.

Lefty
07-05-2011, 02:20 AM
I'm a bit of a minimalist, I guess.
I'd go 210-240 konosuke gyuto (whatever makes you feel good), 120-150 petty (stainless...something like a Fujiwara fkm), and a 1k king stone, and a Rika 5k.
After experimenting a fair bit, I'm using only two stones and stropping on newsprint. I dropped any type of "compounds" for newspaper. It's cheaper, easier and I'm getting edges that are sharper than I'll ever need. I feel we get too hung up on buying success.
Develop your skills, experiment and know that what you get this time around will not be all you end up with. Don't worry about making the perfect set, because over time your perception of perfection will change.
Another thing...I prefer 12"x18" boards because they are easy to clean and as a result, you won't hesitate to use it.
I think if you were to buy my suggested "set", you'd only be out maybe $400 max.

mhlee
07-06-2011, 03:36 PM
I just have a few things to add.

I would purchase knife guards or sayas for whatever you buy instead of a knife block if you don't have adequate counter space (I don't) or if you ever intend to put your knives in a drawer. The LamsonSharp ones are the best, but not cheap.

I would purchase a higher grit stone - something around a 2000. I began with lower grit stones, a King 400 (bad idea) and a King 1000 (still a bad idea) and they both took away too much steel. I screwed up a few knives because of those stones and my bad technique.

As for knives, you've gotten a lot of recommendatoins here. But you should consider what kind of knives you want - japanese handle vs. western, thin vs. thicker, flexible vs. stiff, what kind of cutting you will be doing (lots of veggies vs. meat/chicken/fish fabrication vs. something durable enough to cut through cartilage. For example, it's my understanding that the Kikuichi Performance/Ichimonji TKC/CarboNext are stiff knives; the Konosuke has flex. The edge of a certain knife may be less prone to chips than others.

That being said, I absolutely agree with getting a decent cutting board. I have a Boos board that I've had for at least 10 years. It's gotten just a little warped, but still works fantastically, and was less than $60.

Other than that, I agree with the recommendations of a 210/240 Gyuto, and a petty or parer. A good bread knife is invaluable (the Tojiro is a really good bread knife) if you cut a lot of bread item. Personally, I would invest in a cheap stainless Chinese cleaver for hacking chicken, breaking down fish, and some kind of slicer.