PDA

View Full Version : A few questions/concerns



longhorn
08-08-2011, 10:40 AM
Hi everyone, I am a long time reader of this and other cutlery forums (don't be surprised if you see this post on those forums as well)--but a first time poster.

Without spending too long on the details, my situation and knife kit looks more or less like this. I graduated from culinary school about 2 months ago and as part of my school's curriculum I am nearly halfway into my 6 month stage in a small, michelin-rated restaurant in Paris, France.

My obsession with knives goes back to my teenage and college days when I would just cook at home. I amassed quite a set of cheap knives during those years. Shortly before leaving for school I picked up my first J-knife, a 270mm Hiromoto AS. Initially I didn't use it at school and decided to give the school knives a shot, as well a few French knives I picked up here and there.

In my stage now I work mainly in the Garde Manger during service, but during prep I am pretty much a floater--which I really like because I get to practice my knife skills on all kinds of protein and veg. My Hiro AS has served me fairly well but there are a few issues with it that have made me decide to pick up a new gyuto.

First, it is on the thick side of J-knives from what I have seen and read. I feel this too, because I have a chef knife or too that is the same thickness or maybe slightly thinner, albeit the quality of the steel is not as high and they are closer to a 210 than a 270.

This brings me to my next problem--I feel like the cladding makes the cuts not quite as smooth as some mono-steel knives i have and as result I reach more and more often for my K-Sabatier tranchelard/slicer for the finer cuts.

I have read obsessively across all the forums about people's opinions, reviews, and discussions regarding steel, shape/profile, thinness, etc. and I think I have narrowed my choices down to two very solid performers. The Kikuichi Performance TKC and the Konosuke HD.

I am torn between the two for their differences in handle, and thinness. I know that the Kikuichi is not a mighty knife by any means, but the Konosuke seems to be much thinner throughout--I am worried that not having much experience with a knife that thin that my productivity my suffer, not to mention the fact that should chipping occur I do not normally have the time to take my knife to the stones in the middle of prep.

I have never used a wa-handled knife that was longer than 150mm, and I am concerned how the balance of the knife will be affected and how the handle would fair in a pro kitchen environment. If anyone could shed some light on the differences in maintenance for wa-handles I would greatly appreciate it…perhaps this is a dumb question, but yo-handles just seem so much more sturdy in my mind.

I am sorry to have rambled, and i know that very similar questions have been asked before--but basically what is your input on someone just starting out in pro kitchens trying to make a switch to a wa-handled laser gyuto such as a Konosuke HD.

Dave Martell
08-08-2011, 11:05 AM
Welcome to KKF! :)

tk59
08-08-2011, 11:47 AM
I just checked out my 270 TKC vs 270 Kon HD. TKC is marginaly thicker at the spine, tapers sooner and ends up slightly thicker at the tip. The edge at the heel is slightly thicker. They flex nearly the same amount with roughly equal lateral pressure is applied. The KonHD is a better cutter out of the box and comes with comfortably rounded choil and spine but a few minutes of thinning and an hour of sandpaper work will bring the TKC approximately up to par. The TKC is about 7 mm longer at the edge and is easily your best bang for the buck choice in stainless/semistainless. I definitely feel the same way about western handles seeming more durable but there are plenty of pros that use wa-handles on their main knives.

Benuser
08-08-2011, 02:54 PM
Have you ever thinned your Hiromoto? I guess it's relatively thick behind the edge which can be solved. Of course it will never become a laser, but it's easy to make it perform much better by severely thinning the front blade.

UglyJoe
08-08-2011, 03:11 PM
Welcome! I should note a couple of things. First, it sounds like you are in a situation where productivity is going to trump experimenting. In this case I wouldn't take a new knife into work until you've put it through its paces at home. Secondly, I want to address the wa vs. yo issue. The two knives really don't behave the same. I personally prefer a wa handle. In your case, since you would already be experimenting, I'd say go with a wa handle. Particularly since you are talking about Konosuke. They offer a "stabilized" handle now, which I think comes standard with the HD line. Talk to a Konosuke dealer to be sure, but you can get a Kono HD with a stabilized wa handle that will hold up in a pro environment well, and you shouldn't have to worry about it. I have one on my Kono petty and it doesn't stain with anything that has been on it (blood, soy sauce, vegetable juice, etc., etc.), and I think would be a perfect option for you. If you go with the HD, I wouldn't worry too much about chipping myself. Yes, they are thin. But you can always put a significant microbevel on one, and everything I remember reading on the steel says it's pretty tough stuff, and as long as you are cutting well and not using a station with a lot of salt or the like scattered all over the board you shouldn't have a problem there. Again, practice at home on similar prep for a week or two before taking it in to your workplace, and you should have acclimated yourself completely to the thinness, different heft of the wa style, etc. and I think you'd be fine. Finally, I think a Kono gyuto has more resale value than the TKC, so you should be able to sell it for not much loss if you really hate the knife. It certainly would have a higher demand on the used market than a TKC - at least, from what I've seen in the FS forums. Might be wrong.

Finally, I think the Kono HD wa would really compliment the Hiro. You could thin the Hiro if you wish, but having a "mighty" gyuto that is much heavier and ready for heavy tasks would be a perfect compliment to a laser like a Konosuke.

Cadillac J
08-08-2011, 06:13 PM
Maybe I missed it in your text, but do you sharpen your Hiromoto? If so, by what means?

Noodle Soup
08-08-2011, 06:53 PM
I really like my Hiromoto 270 AS but then I have a knife for every situation. It is my "I need a thick heavy blade for this" knife. With a little thinning of the blade it would still be good for an all round chef but it isn't a laser by any means. As for wa versus yo, I think you should pick one or the other. I find it really hard to switch back and forth as the balance is completely different feeling. But then I do it anyway, so what do I know. :)

longhorn
08-08-2011, 07:02 PM
Maybe I missed it in your text, but do you sharpen your Hiromoto? If so, by what means?

At the moment I have 1000 grit King and a 4000 Shapton glass, with this upcoming purchase I would like to add something at a higher grit like a Kitayama 8000 and something at a very low grit for real grinding work, and from what I have read it seems like the Beston 500 is the way to go for that.

I am hardly a very experienced sharpener and I know that I am still learning, but thats how it is in the kitchen everyday too and that is one of the best parts of my internship for me. Ditto with knives and sharpening. I know most of you would consider the edges on my knives pretty elementary and that is true, but I would like to think that I work my knives pretty hard and I have only had to sharpen them once in my two months of work.

As per thinning my Hiromoto--this does indeed sound like an attractive idea, but at the moment I really don't have a stone coarse enough to take that much metal off easily nor do I have one fine enough to buff out all the scratches. Does anyone have any experience with thinning clad knives, I imagine it might be a bit different than thinning a monosteel knife, but i could be wrong.

As far as keeping my Hiromoto around for the rougher work, yes I think I would definitely leave it around for chopping tougher veg like for stocks, etc. but I already baby it when it comes to bones and really tough things. But i have a nice japanese-made heavy cleaver for that work anyways, and I only paid 12 Euro for it at a flea market.

SpikeC
08-08-2011, 07:59 PM
"Does anyone have any experience with thinning clad knives, I imagine it might be a bit different than thinning a monosteel knife, but i could be wrong."

Somebody around here might!

tk59
08-08-2011, 11:02 PM
"Does anyone have any experience with thinning clad knives, I imagine it might be a bit different than thinning a monosteel knife, but i could be wrong."

Somebody around here might!

Thinning clad knives is just like thinning any other with one exception. You can't do extreme asymmetry because your edge needs to stay close to the middle of the hardened core. I always thin these symmetrically and then put an asymmetric cutting edge bevel on them.

JBroida
08-08-2011, 11:21 PM
its actually often easier because the cladding is softer

Citizen Snips
08-08-2011, 11:27 PM
i heard that on the hiromoto the cladding is too soft and it can be a heck of a time trying to thin it as the stainless can "gum up". not sure if that is true as it has not happened on mine with the little thinning i have done. i prefer leaving it a little thicker and using it as a heavier knife (when i can get my hands on it as my wife has taken it on as her work knife) while my HD 270 is my laser that is super thin making it a tad more delicate.

Benuser
08-09-2011, 11:30 AM
The stainless clad is not exactly a problem: it is very, very soft and can be thinned easily without a very coarse stone. I've used a Chosera 400 with the carbon steel, and an 800 with the stainless. I'm not sure you will ever have to touch the clad as long as you stay above 8 degrees with the front blade. I didn't thin the back side as I prefer it to remain as flat as possible.

UglyJoe
08-09-2011, 11:52 AM
i heard that on the hiromoto the cladding is too soft and it can be a heck of a time trying to thin it as the stainless can "gum up". not sure if that is true as it has not happened on mine with the little thinning i have done. i prefer leaving it a little thicker and using it as a heavier knife (when i can get my hands on it as my wife has taken it on as her work knife) while my HD 270 is my laser that is super thin making it a tad more delicate.

I think this is referring to some thinning work that Dave did on these knives. From what I recall, the soft stainless tended to gum up his belts on his grinder, not stones.

BertMor
08-09-2011, 12:33 PM
Just something to consider.... For hundreds of years, European chefs have been using European style chef knives and have been getting beautiful cuts. Think more along the lines of knife skills as opposed to knives. A knife will not make you better at your cuts, no matter what you think.

I had a CMC at school who had these little piggy sausages for fingers (actually quite a few of them can be described thus). And trust me, they were the equal of all but the most skilled of Japanese chefs when it came to decorative cuts and standard knife skills.
Now with that said, get as many nice expensive knives as your heart and wallet can afford (we all have). Love them and use them. Just don't expect them to flawlessly do your paysanne cuts on their own

Cadillac J
08-09-2011, 01:32 PM
I thinned my 300 Hiromoto AS gyuto a while back about 1/3 or so up the blade, and cutting performance improved drastically that it was worth the time put into it (only time I've used the XXC on a knife). Sold this a while back, but I miss it from time to time.

old pic I just found on my work computer during the thinning process
http://i56.tinypic.com/2cxsqkw.jpg

jmforge
08-09-2011, 04:37 PM
Gumminess can be as much, if not more of an issue of the stainless steel itself as is the hardness. 303 is as gummy as nickel silver when you try to drill or machine it IMO, whereas 416 in an annealed state is a dream to work with.
I think this is referring to some thinning work that Dave did on these knives. From what I recall, the soft stainless tended to gum up his belts on his grinder, not stones.

Citizen Snips
08-09-2011, 07:42 PM
ya, like i said i dont remember exactly the conversation and i thought i remember jon or someone saying its not a great idea to thin them but i may be mistaken. i think there are plenty of thinner AS or blue 2 options out there if thats what you are looking for. for someone that is not experienced in thinning a knife, starting to learn how to thin on a hiro AS would be a terrible choice. there are a lot of reasons to do a thinning job on a knife, but i just dont see a reason to buy a knife to thin...

longhorn
08-09-2011, 08:00 PM
Just something to consider.... For hundreds of years, European chefs have been using European style chef knives and have been getting beautiful cuts. Think more along the lines of knife skills as opposed to knives. A knife will not make you better at your cuts, no matter what you think.

I had a CMC at school who had these little piggy sausages for fingers (actually quite a few of them can be described thus). And trust me, they were the equal of all but the most skilled of Japanese chefs when it came to decorative cuts and standard knife skills.
Now with that said, get as many nice expensive knives as your heart and wallet can afford (we all have). Love them and use them. Just don't expect them to flawlessly do your paysanne cuts on their own

I completely agree with you regarding the knife skills, I know I have a long way to go. And I got through a good bit of school using the supplied knives, the Victorinox/Forschner rosewood series--so I do agree whole-heartedly. And the more I use the Hiro AS the more I like it for what it is, but I would like to try something different, and I don't plan on picking up a Wusthoff. The Konosuke is looking better everyday I think about it.

Does anyone think it would be a worthwhile experiment to try and pick up an inexpensive knife somewhere with a wa-handle and try it out for a bit, or would the quality and finish of such a knife just be so under that of a Konosuke that I would not get the right idea at all?

tk59
08-09-2011, 10:32 PM
I'd see if there was some place nearby where I could pick one up or I'd wait for something to pop up in the for sale section.