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mpukas
10-20-2011, 04:41 PM
I've been craving a usuba for a while now, and Jon's new JKS vid's are making it worse. :scared4:

What to look for in a usuba? Length, brand, type of steel, price, etc.

Jon - can you elaborate a bit on the design and intended use(s) for a usuba? Re: bevel and sharpening - is the bevel on a usuba similar to that of a yanagiba in that it's two bevels blended together or is it one large flat bevel? How is the back side sharpened?

Many of the techniques and principles in Jon's new vid's I already use with a gyuto; I'm looking for a usuba to learn katsuramuki and improved fine veggie work. I realize a usuba is a very specialized knife, but honestly I'm surprised they aren't discussed/used around here more often. Cheers! mpp

echerub
10-20-2011, 04:56 PM
Not everyone on KKF uses single-bevels, and some who do only have an interest in yanagiba (or at least that's what the situation seems to be). Usubas just aren't sexy around here :)

DwarvenChef
10-20-2011, 04:58 PM
I LOVE my konusuki usuba, but it's a bit off from what most want in one lol.

http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a190/DwarvenChef/DSCN2118-Copy.jpg

G-rat
10-20-2011, 06:02 PM
DC
So thats a Konosuke Kuro-uchi usuba?

UglyJoe
10-20-2011, 07:13 PM
I +1 this discussion. Been thinking about asking for a Usuba to round out the beginning of my collection of single bevel knives. Would love to hear some opinions on this topic!

G-rat
10-20-2011, 07:27 PM
DC
So thats a Konosuke Kuro-uchi usuba?

Sorry I should explain that comment. I asked for two reasons:
1. The spelling is different and 2. If it is the same company I mentioned I had no idea they made KU finished knives.

UglyJoe
10-20-2011, 08:01 PM
Yeah, it's the same company. If I remember right DC picked this up in the big group buy that happened a couple of years ago. It's Fujiyama series, I think, and they will do just about anything in that line, including Kurouchi.

jm2hill
10-20-2011, 08:09 PM
Love my Artisugu Hon-Kasumi. Takes a screaming edge. Still learning to use it properly and efficiently but is going to be part of my collection for a long time!

DwarvenChef
10-21-2011, 12:46 AM
Yes same maker... sorry I'm dyslexic and misspell stuff all the time... sue me

Yup big group buy :) They don't advertise (or didn't at the time) this option till we asked about it, they said they would enjoy making it for me :) I still have not seem many more KU pieces from them.

l r harner
10-21-2011, 01:36 AM
i messed mine i was workig on up so it will be a while
least for a harner

G-rat
10-21-2011, 01:55 AM
Yes same maker... sorry I'm dyslexic and misspell stuff all the time... sue me

Yup big group buy :) They don't advertise (or didn't at the time) this option till we asked about it, they said they would enjoy making it for me :) I still have not seem many more KU pieces from them.

Yeah that was why I clarified my question in case something like that we're true. You never know though with Sakai this and Sakai that. Thought I might have found yet another new one. Sorry.

DwarvenChef
10-21-2011, 03:47 AM
What to look for in a usuba? Length, brand, type of steel, price, etc.


One of the key factors in usuba is a dead flat edge. There are 2 basic styles also rounded (kamagata?) and square. From what i have seen the rounded one is thinner and taller than the square one. I have only used mine for a few things and have not had the drive yet to do some sheets with it, but I love the feel of the knife and will someday get going on that lol

Mine is a 165 and think longer would be better, but if I do sheets on smaller veggies than the length will not be an issue. I would have to get a rounded one to compare them side by side to find what I prefered... But the rounded ones seem to out number the square tips.

As for steel... I will always go for carbon over stainless, however the industry seems to point toward a stainless blade.

Price is up in the air, not enough of them being made can cause higher prices or drop them like a rock. Mine was very reasonable and I would buy it again given the choice, although I may have pushed the length out lust a bit more... but I'm ok with it and happy :)

UglyJoe
10-21-2011, 10:18 AM
Any other sushi chefs out there have opinion on steel type and length for an Usuba?

stevenStefano
10-21-2011, 10:25 AM
I got a 210 kamagata usuba on Wednesday. Mine is Sakai Ichimonji Kichikuni white steel and I got it through Keiichi at BluewayJapan because I'm a lefty and it wasn't super expensive. Hard to really describe what I think of it because I am very unfamiliar with single bevelled knives, but I don't find the steering that annoying to be honest, seems fairly easy to compensate for it. The bevel on mine isn't totally flat but it ain't too bad either, hopefully after a couple of sharpenings it should even itself out

JBroida
10-21-2011, 12:12 PM
i'm about to hop on a plane to st. louis, but when i get there i should have some time to respond to this... sorry for the delay guys

UglyJoe
10-24-2011, 07:34 PM
So anyone else with usuba experience out there want to chime in?

mpukas
10-24-2011, 08:28 PM
Seems like usuba don't get much love around these knife knut forums.

JBroida
10-24-2011, 09:04 PM
alright, i'm sorry i couldnt get to this over the weekend. Should i just go for the questions in the original post or is there a revised list of questions

mpukas
10-24-2011, 09:55 PM
Hey Jon - thanks for checking in on this. How about start w/ the original quesitons and see where we go from there. I'm sure more will arise. Cheers! mpp

slowtyper
10-24-2011, 10:13 PM
My usuba is probably my favourite knife. For me I use it mostly for katsuramuki cucumber, thinly slicing green onions, and other vegetable prep.

Not really much to say about it. If you do a lot of vegetable work, go for it.

UglyJoe
10-24-2011, 10:25 PM
I'm particularly interested in steel type and length, for starters. Also Kamagata (sp?) vs. square tipped. Jon, I know you prefer the kamagata style for its more useful tip, but I really like the look of the sqaure tipped usuba, and am not planning on using the usuba as an all purpose knife anyway. What specific cuts benefit from the tip of the kamagata usuba?

geezr
10-24-2011, 10:59 PM
I've been craving a usuba for a while now, and Jon's new JKS vid's are making it worse. :scared4: ............Many of the techniques and principles in Jon's new vid's I already use with a gyuto; I'm looking for a usuba to learn katsuramuki and improved fine veggie work. I realize a usuba is a very specialized knife, but honestly I'm surprised they aren't discussed/used around here more often. Cheers! mpp

Bought this usuba from Jon because I did not own a kamagata usuba - http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/kitchen-knives-by-type/usuba-kamagata-usuba/gesshin-hide-180mm-blue-1-hon-kasumi-kamagata-usuba.html#.
Use it for vegetables all the time now - shaved chives for omelet at breakfast today :hungry:
No intentions to do katsuramuki or fine veggie stuff but really enjoy this kamagata usuba - it feels good :thumbsup:.
It is one of the most used single bevel knives along with the "practice" yanagi, which received Dave's magic on the blade and has Stefan's cool handle. :knife:

Dave Martell
10-24-2011, 11:17 PM
My only advice with regards to buying an usuba is to not go cheap if you're at all interested in keeping it around and getting serious with it. Of all the knife styles I've worked on these are the ones with the most problems from the makers and it's pretty apparent that price makes a difference here.

Oh and noobs should think twice before going down this road, this is a hell of a knife style to learn how to sharpen single bevels on.

JBroida
10-25-2011, 02:10 AM
I've been craving a usuba for a while now, and Jon's new JKS vid's are making it worse. :scared4:

What to look for in a usuba? Length, brand, type of steel, price, etc.

Jon - can you elaborate a bit on the design and intended use(s) for a usuba? Re: bevel and sharpening - is the bevel on a usuba similar to that of a yanagiba in that it's two bevels blended together or is it one large flat bevel? How is the back side sharpened?

Many of the techniques and principles in Jon's new vid's I already use with a gyuto; I'm looking for a usuba to learn katsuramuki and improved fine veggie work. I realize a usuba is a very specialized knife, but honestly I'm surprised they aren't discussed/used around here more often. Cheers! mpp

Ok... i'm going to avoid price and brands for the obvious reasons, but i'll do my best on the rest of it.

Good beginner length is about 180. Up to 210mm is pretty useful in most respects. Much over that can be tough to use unless you have a lot of experience. Steel doesnt really matter as much as you might think here. All i can say about that is find a maker who does an awesome HT of the steel they work with. White steel, blue steel, etc.... i've used a bunch and have seen both bad and good from each steel type.

I prefer the kamagata usuba because i've always trained with people who worked in the kansai region. To be honest, kamagata usuba are just far more popular overall now days, much like how yanagabi is much more popular than takobiki. The tip like on the kamagata usuba allows for the usuba to be used for mukimono work as well as katsuramuki and ken cuts.

stevenStefano
10-28-2011, 10:05 AM
Bit late to this since I've had no internet since Saturday but I have a question. Anyone have any thoughts about how coarse to go in terms of evening the bevel? Mine isn't too bad, there's a little bit in the middle that isn't flat but otherwise it is fine. My plan is to just sharpen the whole bevel until it evens itself out, but should I go coarse or just use my 1200 Bester and have some patience?

slowtyper
10-28-2011, 11:44 AM
I've done it at 1200 grit and it was very fast.

JBroida
10-28-2011, 12:21 PM
i've done it at 220 before, but usually start at 400-500. As long as you have a clear picture of how you need to be sharpening, there shouuldnt be a problem. Most problems occur when people dont understand what the bevel should be like.

mpukas
02-17-2012, 08:45 PM
I have another question about usuba (still have not bought one yet...) kamagata usuba vs usuba shape - aside from the top of the blade being rounded on the kama from the spine to the tip, the tip on the kama (typically) seems to be pointed, or completely flat, whereas the tip on the regular (for lack of a better term) usuba seems to be slightly rounded, like on a nakiri. Why the difference, and what is one more useful for over the other? Thanks! mpp

AFKitchenknivesguy
02-18-2012, 12:47 AM
My only advice with regards to buying an usuba is to not go cheap if you're at all interested in keeping it around and getting serious with it. Of all the knife styles I've worked on these are the ones with the most problems from the makers and it's pretty apparent that price makes a difference here.

Oh and noobs should think twice before going down this road, this is a hell of a knife style to learn how to sharpen single bevels on.

You know Dave, I hate to argue because you have a heck of a lot more experience than me, but I suggest going cheaper ($80-150). This is because it is such a hard knife to learn, and many people get frustrated and sell theirs. Imagine dropping $300-400 on a nice one and having to sell it. They aren't popular, so not many are going to jump at it. But what do I know.

Dave Martell
02-18-2012, 01:06 AM
Hey you make a good point Jason, no arguments from me. :)

JBroida
02-18-2012, 02:28 AM
You know Dave, I hate to argue because you have a heck of a lot more experience than me, but I suggest going cheaper ($80-150). This is because it is such a hard knife to learn, and many people get frustrated and sell theirs. Imagine dropping $300-400 on a nice one and having to sell it. They aren't popular, so not many are going to jump at it. But what do I know.

jason, i really see where you are coming from here, but i have to disagree. More often than not, i dissuade people from buying usuba for similar reasons to what you stated. But if you do buy one, and you go with a cheap/bad one, the problems you often find make the blade much more difficult to use, sharpen, care for, and learn on. That alone can make people give up on learning the knife. You dont have to spend $400-500 on one, but i would say somewhere around $150-200 is the least i would ever spend on one. Twisting, bending, bad grinds, etc. show up big time in these knives due to their relatively thin nature.

AFKitchenknivesguy
02-18-2012, 11:43 AM
jason, i really see where you are coming from here, but i have to disagree. More often than not, i dissuade people from buying usuba for similar reasons to what you stated. But if you do buy one, and you go with a cheap/bad one, the problems you often find make the blade much more difficult to use, sharpen, care for, and learn on. That alone can make people give up on learning the knife. You dont have to spend $400-500 on one, but i would say somewhere around $150-200 is the least i would ever spend on one. Twisting, bending, bad grinds, etc. show up big time in these knives due to their relatively thin nature.

Hey, we didn't disagree, we both said $150! :)

Ontravelling
02-19-2012, 04:45 AM
I've been curious about this for a while now as I've often heard that these knives are a little difficult to learn. Why is that? I can see where the learning to sharpen it may be challenging, I'm just unclear on how using it would be. Can anyone help me out here?

JKerr
02-19-2012, 09:06 AM
I've been curious about this for a while now as I've often heard that these knives are a little difficult to learn. Why is that? I can see where the learning to sharpen it may be challenging, I'm just unclear on how using it would be. Can anyone help me out here?

I picked up my first usuba a few years ago after curiosity got the better of me reading threads on FF. At the time I thought "Pfft, how hard could it be. A knife's a knife. Right?" God, was I wrong. I pretty much destroyed any vege I tried to cut with it and caused an equal amount of damage to the blade. It just wedged in a lot of food and wanted to steer badly so to "counter" this I'd be applying excessive force when cutting and holding it pretty darn tight to try and prevent it steering; this only seemed to make things a lot worse. I then continued to make things worse when I'd try and sharpen it, cause back then I didn't really know the proper technique for sharpening single bevel knives so I really messed it up badly.

So the poor thing sat in the drawer for a good few months until I decided to fix it up (thankfully I was slightly better versed in single bevel knives by then), needs a bit more love, but it's good shape and gets the odd session at work. While I feel a bit remorseful for what I did to the poor thing, it was a good exercise in learning the limitations and strengths of such a knife. It'll probably never be the first knife I reach for if I need to dice a sh*t load of brown/red onions but for smaller/soft items like garlic, ginger, chillies, tomatoes, cucumber etc...I love using it.

Curiously, I've since added a Tadatsuna usuba to my collection which feels completely different. Taller blade, MUCH thinner behind the edge and the steering isn't particularly notable as with on the Mizuno.

Frankly, I reckon most people while have a trial and error period with their first usuba (hopefully not as catastrophic as mine), but they are fun when you get use to them. I'm still picking it up bit by bit. I think KC said something about not forcing the usuba and keeping a relaxed grip is essential and it certainly makes a difference to the steering. The vids from Japanese knife society and also great learning tools on this subject.

Hope you can make sense of my ramblin' :yammer:

Cheers, Josh

Gator
02-19-2012, 05:04 PM
Funny, I had pretty bad experience with Tadatsuna kamagata usuba, gave it away. Aritsugu, the same style, works for me just fine. Can't claim to be anywhere near required levels of usuba cutsmanship, but no destroyed edges or veggies. Learned couple relatively fancy things from Nozaki's book, whenever I am in the mood for that or training, it's fun. And for ultra thin slices it works very well. OTOH, katsuramuki remains a challenge. One day it works ok, another day I have troublez... Still no use for all the daikon mangled in the process. Trying to make more use of another, azumagata usuba, kitaeji from Shigefusa. That thing is a beauty though...

JKerr
02-19-2012, 07:03 PM
Out of the box, my Tadatsuna was very fragile, pretty much unusable in terms of the edge looking like a saw after a few veges. I tinkered about with it and ended up sticking a tiny micro bevel on it which seems to have done the trick. Can happily get through a couples days worth of prep before having to hit the stones (and that's to sharpen, not repair).

Speaking of Shigefusa though, Aframes has a 21cm kasumi azumagata available at the moment.....

Josh