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sally benes
10-29-2011, 11:59 PM
A while ago, I bought a most amazing carbon steel petty knife that everyone was saying is the best bang for the buck and "semi-stainless" and thin and sharp. I also bought a King combination sharpening stone that I'm still a little scared to use. Anyway, lately, I've been thinking about spending a little more on a chef knife to get something special from one of these custom knife makers. I can't seem to decide. I don't want to spend a fortune but I do want it to be as good as the Carbonext that I already have. Maybe I should just stick with what I know is good.

Benuser
10-30-2011, 12:44 AM
Please forgive me if I'm wrong but I got the impression you haven't got yet a large experience with advanced knives. It might be relevant because therefore you can't know what you want and what you expect from a custom regarding profile, edge, weight, balance, steel, handle. You still have to find out for yourself. And sharpening experience will help a lot in understanding the maker's options.

About the gyuto you were looking for: depending on your wishes - steel, handle type - expect to pay between EUR 80 and EUR 250 to get a great non custom performer.

tk59
10-30-2011, 01:56 AM
Benuser has a point. You either have to know what you want or you may have to be willing to modify what you do to get the most out of your knife. I'm assuming you've been around but customs even for smaller knives are going to run you a few hundred bucks or more, depending on what you mean by "nice." What's your budget?

jaybett
10-30-2011, 03:40 AM
It sounds like you have gotten bit by the knife bug.

A common fallacy is that a $300 knife is twice the performer of a $150 knife. They are actually much closer in performance. I'd say maybe a ten percent difference. Above $300, the emphasis is on fit and finish, and upgraded handles. Custom knives $500 and up, will be the makers ideal vision of that type of knife, with excellent fit and finish, and a great handle.

While much of the conversation on the forum is about different brands, the important thing is to learn how to sharpen and develop good knife skills. A person who knows how to sharpen and has good knife skills will out perform a person with an expensive knife but little skills. The person with the best knife skills, that I've seen, used a cheap Chinese cleaver, and sharpened it on a coffee cup.

Jay

Cadillac J
10-30-2011, 11:27 AM
the important thing is to learn how to sharpen and develop good knife skills. A person who knows how to sharpen and has good knife skills will out perform a person with an expensive knife but little skills.

+1 Boo-ya

RRLOVER
10-30-2011, 12:23 PM
If you can afford a custom I would say get one.Jay is correct as they really don't work that much better,but if I could afford a BMW instead of a honda I would go BMW.

Cadillac J
10-30-2011, 12:48 PM
if I could afford a BMW instead of a honda I would go BMW.

I don't think a BMW vs Honda comparison makes sense in this case, as the general performance factor is much different between these brands.

Maybe more like a Corvette ZR-1 vs any exotic Italian sports car...the raw performance is very comparable, but the interior refinement on Ferraris/Lambos/etc is on another level.

oivind_dahle
10-30-2011, 12:59 PM
If you can afford it, go custom.

The performance is like a ferry line vs a Formula 1 race ;)

Timthebeaver
10-30-2011, 01:15 PM
The performance is like a ferry line vs a Formula 1 race ;)

hyperbole much?

echerub
10-30-2011, 01:17 PM
I have to side with those saying get to know what you like and what works best for you first. I know it took me a while and a number of good-but-not-super-expensive knives to figure it out. There's no substitute for your own hands-on experience with different knives to get to know what works for you. I think it makes much more sense to go custom once you know yourself, your style, and your preferences well. That's when you'll get the most enjoyment and the greatest thrills from custom pieces.

Vertigo
10-30-2011, 01:22 PM
Nevermind.

tk59
10-30-2011, 03:03 PM
After thinking about it some and reflecting on what I've done, I'd consider getting a great custom knife or other high end knife as long as you really get to understand how to use it and take care of it. I think you can adapt to using it as many here have adapted to using different styles of knives. If you don't feel you need ultimate performance or appearance, etc., stick to the CN since you like it so much.

JBroida
10-30-2011, 03:09 PM
really? I think the best time to get a custom is when you have a clear understanding of what works for you in a knife. Think back and take a look at the custom knives you have. Are the first ones better than the more recent ones? As you learn more, your ability to "pick" knives that suit you will get better. I say take a look at what you like/dislike about what you have. Then look around and find something that fills in the weak areas of your current knife. If that happens to be a custom, cool. If it happens to be something thats already out there, that works too ;)

Peco
10-30-2011, 03:15 PM
really? I think the best time to get a custom is when you have a clear understanding of what works for you in a knife. Think back and take a look at the custom knives you have. Are the first ones better than the more recent ones? As you learn more, your ability to "pick" knives that suit you will get better. I say take a look at what you like/dislike about what you have. Then look around and find something that fills in the weak areas of your current knife. If that happens to be a custom, cool. If it happens to be something thats already out there, that works too ;)

Wise words J ...

tk59
10-30-2011, 03:20 PM
really? I think the best time to get a custom is when you have a clear understanding of what works for you in a knife. Think back and take a look at the custom knives you have. Are the first ones better than the more recent ones? As you learn more, your ability to "pick" knives that suit you will get better. I say take a look at what you like/dislike about what you have. Then look around and find something that fills in the weak areas of your current knife. If that happens to be a custom, cool. If it happens to be something thats already out there, that works too ;)If I was rich (or crazy) I would follow this advice. It is what I did and I spent somewhere upwards of $10k on this stuff in a couple of years, give or take. I'm not saying you'll be that extreme but you might just get a great knife and be done. As your technique improves (assuming it needs improving), you'll grow into it. As I've been told numerous times, you can sell it if you don't like it. If it's a great knife, someone will take it.

JBroida
10-30-2011, 03:25 PM
hey, i never said you HAD to buy a custom... she's just asking here :p

tk59
10-30-2011, 03:27 PM
hey, i never said you HAD to buy a custom... she's just asking here :pGee, thanks, Jon. You have no idea what the peer pressure is like on this end. ;)

Eamon Burke
10-30-2011, 03:28 PM
Here's some massive generalization about pricing chefs/gyutos:
0-50 it's garbage.
50-120 solid workhorse, probably needs some work/alteration, may not last forever in pro setting.
120-400 Ripping performance, looks to match.
400+ Looks precisely the way you want it to, love to hold/look at/use it, and performs in a manner that is suited exactly to how YOU use a knife and for what you are using it on, and hopefully shows character that is unique to the maker.

Of course there are exceptions(CCK1303, Shigefusa gyuto, etc etc), but the way I see it, knives under $50 are unrealistic and basically props, and knives over $400 should be heirloom quality. Buy nice or buy twice, and if you love and care about your cutlery, buy custom when you can.

Cadillac J
10-30-2011, 04:36 PM
After thinking about it some and reflecting on what I've done, I'd consider getting a great custom knife or other high end knife as long as you really get to understand how to use it and take care of it. I think you can adapt to using it as many here have adapted to using different styles of knives. If you don't feel you need ultimate performance or appearance, etc., stick to the CN since you like it so much.


If I was rich (or crazy) I would follow this advice. It is what I did and I spent somewhere upwards of $10k on this stuff in a couple of years, give or take. I'm not saying you'll be that extreme but you might just get a great knife and be done. As your technique improves (assuming it needs improving), you'll grow into it. As I've been told numerous times, you can sell it if you don't like it. If it's a great knife, someone will take it.

I think you might be taking your experiences too much in account with your thought process of what someone who is just starting out should do...hindsight is always 20/20, but it was everything leading up to now that shaped your current views.

Yes, anyone can adapt or grow into any knife...but is that what they would actually prefer? I could adapt to a Shun Classic curved profile if that is all I had, but it is not what I would naturally prefer and like after trying many different knives and styles through my experiences. You bought your first carbon blade just over a year ago, and that opened up your experiences to non-stainless blades...but if you purchased a custom stainless at the time (and didn't buying anything else), then you wouldn't of known that carbon might be your preference over stainless for that particular custom.

I've always thought that the most rewarding part of this obsession/hobby is the journey itself...building up your knowledge, skills and tools along the way to fit your specific needs and wants. I guess it really doesn't matter which route the OP chooses, as most knives can be sold off here for a small loss, but I think there is something great about taking the journey...it makes you appreciate all the higher-end knives that much more, don't you think?

Customs are not for everyone either--I am perfectly happy with all of my current knives and don't feel a need or itch to go custom right now, if ever. This shouldn't make me any less of a knut.

JBroida
10-30-2011, 04:55 PM
also, the concept that all customs are good is a misconception... there are good customs and there are not good customs (and both might be expensive). Just getting a custom knife doesnt ensure that you will get a good knife. Not only do you need to make sure you buy from a knifemaker you trust, but you also need to make sure their knife design/style mesh well with your cutting style and preferences. You could buy a knife from a great knifemaker and still be unhappy with it. Actually, the same rings true for non-custom knives.

Eamon Burke
10-30-2011, 04:59 PM
also, the concept that all customs are good is a misconception... there are good customs and there are not good customs (and both might be expensive). Just getting a custom knife doesnt ensure that you will get a good knife. Not only do you need to make sure you buy from a knifemaker you trust, but you also need to make sure their knife design/style mesh well with your cutting style and preferences. You could buy a knife from a great knifemaker and still be unhappy with it. Actually, the same rings true for non-custom knives.

I agree with that categorically, but I have to add that the makers that have sub-forums on this site have all been exceptional in my experience. Judging their qualities, I feel less like I am choosing what is good and bad, and more like I am measuring every quality starting at perfect and moving backward. They really are in a class apart.

Wagstaff
10-30-2011, 05:00 PM
did you really say "rings true"?

Marko Tsourkan
10-30-2011, 05:16 PM
But what is a custom knife? When I read about custom knives, I come across two definitions.

1. Knife is made to a user preference and specification.

2. Knife is made by one artisan from the beginning to an end (custom vs mid-tech).

Should a knife that is not made to a user's preferences be considered a custom knife? What do you guys think?

M

JBroida
10-30-2011, 05:52 PM
But what is a custom knife? When I read about custom knives, I come across two definitions.

1. Knife is made to a user preference and specification.

2. Knife is made by one artisan from the beginning to an end (custom vs mid-tech).

Should a knife that is not made to a user's preferences be considered a custom knife? What do you guys think?

M

I guess i think of the first as custom and the latter as hand crafted

tk59
10-30-2011, 06:22 PM
My original response suggested the OP check go with CN, if she didn't care about the bells and whistles. I'm working off the assumption that the OP is not a knut and just wants something that cuts exceptionally well AND is "heirloom quality" as Eamon pointed out. I think there are plenty of people that go to SLT or something and buy Shun Kramers or whatever because they think that is exactly what they are getting. Why not get a real custom instead? I don't think most people buy a series of inexpensive washing machines to figure out what kind of washing machine they like. They get what they think they want and then deal with it. Lastly, I'm not suggesting the OP call up Devin and give him specs. I'm suggesting she ask him to send her something that will blow her away. My guess is he'd come up with something better than what most of us would dream up. Last, most people have horrid cutting skills and need retraining anyway.

BTW, I very much agree with Jon on the "not all customs are created equal."

Eamon Burke
10-31-2011, 12:51 AM
I guess i think of the first as custom and the latter as hand crafted

:plus1:

EdipisReks
10-31-2011, 01:09 AM
Christ, i don't even have a custom knife. you don't need, or want, a custom knife. all my knives are hand crafted. my knives are all ground how i like them, but i did it. if you can't grind a hand crafted knife to your preference then you should buy a standard J-knife.

oivind_dahle
10-31-2011, 01:35 AM
99,9% of those who buys a million + car, can't drive it.
Should they not buy it?

If you can afford, go bigh end from an western maker. Support your western blade makers. According to most here, handcrafted knives are bs, but they are not :)

EdipisReks
10-31-2011, 01:56 AM
Should they not buy it?

no, they shouldn't.

Lefty
10-31-2011, 04:51 AM
This is tough...my only full custom is the best cutter I own (tied with a Carter), is by far my most "special" knife, is my prettiest knife, and I have zero regret for getting it. I commissioned the maker fairly early on in my J-knife life, but I had been a fan of high-end knives for a very long time, and was reading/studying Japanese kitchen knives feverishly as I waited for my knife to be made. The maker and I tweaked the design repeatedly, and luckily for me, he wouldn't send it out until it performed like we were dreaming it should. My best knife is the result of a modest, patient craftsman, not my design abilities.
However, I feel customs are only worthwhile if you have a solid knowledge base, and you allow the maker to fix things as he sees fit. Are they for everyone? Definitely not! Am I getting more? You're damned right I am.

evanjohnson
10-31-2011, 01:02 PM
Figure out how much money you have to spend and then spend 30-50% more than that amount and you should do fine. :biggrin:

maddog
11-03-2011, 08:04 AM
Figure out how much money you have to spend and then spend 30-50% more than that amount and you should do fine. :biggrin:

we talking engagement rings?

Spend whatever you desire on a knife. Beware of buyer's remorse.