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View Full Version : Now in search of Henckel alternatives..



Elcee
03-12-2012, 12:58 PM
I'm hovering over the buy button on a Henckel Twin Cermax 7" Santoku and a paring/utility knife (for the missus) from **************, however I'm not 100% on it yet and was hoping for some alternatives. Whilst I can read up on metal composition etc I can't find much to read on blade shapes, so was hoping for some suggestions.

Why I like 7" Twin Cermax Santoku? It's the right length (for now..), looks more useful than a Nakiri (although I do love the looks of those) and the material sounds like a good option (Thanks to reading up more on metallurgy than I ever watned to, thanks to Penscol Tiger and zknifes). The paring/utility knife to go with it is as much for the missus and peeling as much as the free board CKTG will throw in.

At this point I realised I'm at $300 (which seems to be lower end of the price range for imported customs) for a brand many frequent posters round here seem to hate with handles I hate on that shape blade, I thought I'd throw it open.

- Does the Henckel-Hate extend to their full range?
- Are there any other ZDP189 options round this price point?
- What is the main alternative/competitor to ZDP and what's the arguement for/against?
- If I'm go for a bottom of the range custom, is there any guarantee it'll perform better than a mass-produced blade?
- I enjoyed zknives, are there any other resources that come recommended?

(My first ever post here suggested CarboNext knifes, however reading up on the promotional material for their metals it might as well have said "Made by magic and sprinkled with pixie dust")

slowtyper
03-12-2012, 01:09 PM
(My first ever post here suggested CarboNext knifes, however reading up on the promotional material for their metals it might as well have said "Made by magic and sprinkled with pixie dust")

I'd go by recommendations and not be swayed by how sites describe steels. These guys aren't marketing gurus. IMO no point getting too much into steel research. I think its better to compare knives, not steels, especially if you're not one of the crazies on here who buys 5 gyutos a year.

Elcee
03-12-2012, 01:17 PM
Well that was my problem; it sounded more like marketing blurb than a technical specification which resulted in me losing a bit of faith. There also seems to be a lack of real world testing and experience beyond the anecdotal, although thinking about it I suppose that's pretty much all you're going to get.

I don't mean to get caught up on the metal specs but details about the material is about the only differentiator I can use. I can't say if profile A is better than profile B (or even by looking at a knife, which is A and which is B), but I can tell that a harder material will (should?) hold an edge longer.

tk59
03-12-2012, 01:17 PM
ZDP knives: Nope. Cermax is the only one in your range. I have one that has been thinned and converted to a wa-handle. It is now a much nicer knife and I like it quite a bit.
ZDP steel vs others: It's a nice steel. Somewhat low on the ultimate sharpness and high on the wear resistance. It is somewhat chippy. So it's great if you are gentle with your knives and don't want to sharpen.
Cermax vs other knives: Cermax is not a particulary good performer in terms of pure cutting ability. The steel is easily the best part of owning this knife in it's stock form.
Cermax vs CarboNEXT: Whatever the magic and pixie dust is, it is good stuff. You'll need to sharpen it more often but it takes a nice keen edge easily. I've used nearly every knife we talk about on this forum and CN is easily in the best buy category and I'd rather use it than a stock Cermax any day.

Andrew H
03-12-2012, 01:20 PM
At this point I realised I'm at $300 (which seems to be lower end of the price range for imported customs) for a brand many frequent posters round here seem to hate with handles I hate on that shape blade, I thought I'd throw it open.

- Does the Henckel-Hate extend to their full range?
- Are there any other ZDP189 options round this price point?
- What is the main alternative/competitor to ZDP and what's the arguement for/against?
- If I'm go for a bottom of the range custom, is there any guarantee it'll perform better than a mass-produced blade?
- I enjoyed zknives, are there any other resources that come recommended?

(My first ever post here suggested CarboNext knifes, however reading up on the promotional material for their metals it might as well have said "Made by magic and sprinkled with pixie dust")

I can't tell if you mean custom made by a maker here (designed to your specs, handle choice, one of a kind), or custom made I.E. hand made in japan (Konosuke, CarboNext, Yoshihiro).

- Does the Henckel-Hate extend to their full range? No. The steel in the cermax is better than their normal line and the profile of the blade is more attractive, but not ideal (for me).
- Are there any other ZDP189 options round this price point? Not that I know of, maybe someone else can come up with one.
- What is the main alternative/competitor to ZDP and what's the arguement for/against? ZDP doesn't have many alternatives. Cowry-X (Hattori KD line) of course, but that will cost you more than you want to spend and will be very hard to find.
- If I'm go for a bottom of the range custom, is there any guarantee it'll perform better than a mass-produced blade? If you are talking about a maker here or a hand made blade in Japan the answer is the same, no. There is no guarantee at all that the knife will perform any better than the Twin Cermax. I will say if you get a knife from a maker here you won't be disappointed, and a blade from Japan has more potential than the cermax.

I'd also recommend getting a gyuto (210mm or 240mm).

EDIT: I'd go with the carbonext also.

GlassEye
03-12-2012, 01:22 PM
one of the crazies on here who buys 5 gyutos a year.
Only 5, I thought that was sane for here.

Would you rather pay for marketing or knife performance?

Mingooch
03-12-2012, 01:37 PM
If u are set on a santoku, here is a pretty nice one for a reasonable price, it is a Birchwood Miyabi
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Miyabi-Birchwood-7-Santoku-Knife-BRAND-NEW-IN-BOX-/180831241621?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a1a61c595

slowtyper
03-12-2012, 01:57 PM
$300 budget is not really that low. Should be lots of options

stevenStefano
03-12-2012, 02:05 PM
I'd get a Carbonext like everyone else says. If not that, if you are looking for a Twin Cermax have you tried this one at Eden Werbshops? (http://www.edenwebshops.co.uk/en/pt/-zwilling-henckels-twin-cermax-santoku-7.htm) Might be a bit cheaper than having to get it from tje US

slowtyper
03-12-2012, 02:12 PM
I'm also considering picking up a carbonext as well, more to be used as a line knife. Thinking a 210 gyuto, 240 suji, or maybe even trying out a santoku...never really been interested in them before but might be worth a shot.


Only 5, I thought that was sane for here.


Yes same for here, crazy for normal people!

Elcee
03-12-2012, 02:24 PM
Thanks for all the input :)

@ Mingooch: Mmm now that handle looks a much better fit for that shape knife (although at the end of the day the prettiness of the handle is waaaaay down on my priorities). However I'm not set on anything (if I was I'd have hit the Buy button by now ;) ) ... I'm still trying to digest all the options and work out where paying more gets an improvement in cutting power vs improvments in marketing

@tk59: Thanks for your input, great to hear from someone who has used what we're talking about. So is the CarboNext your regular go-to knife? Or would you buy another in the future? (If not, why not etc)

@ Andrew: Either/or/Both I guess?. "Knife shop site A" currently has a Devin Thomas knife for ~$300-$400 (which is close enough to my current idea of a budget to perk my interest but the size/shape in stock isn't necessarily what I'm after at this point. There was a something Carter which looked promising but was out of stock) whereas "Knife Shop B" have a long list of "Customs" which they make sound like they were hand crafted by a wrinkly old Japanese grand master who was locked in a cave for 7 generations to develop his style or something (Misono/Mizuno/etc). I gather from your post that in your opinion the Devin/Carter/similar will outperform the cermax, whereas the wrinkly man in a cave option has the potential to be incredible or average and I won't know for sure unless I get my hands on one, or garner the advice of someone who has used a knife previously made by Mr Wrinkles?

Although looking at the prices, I'm guessing the "Devin Thomas" one is more likely a mass-produced item he's initialed (ala oem) rather than something he's put his own blood and sweat into?

Elcee
03-12-2012, 02:26 PM
@ slowtyper: Well that was the figure I got from 2 knifes I'm interested in. If I was going to spend that on *one* knife for now then it would need to be something special. I can always find uses for left over budget, especially if the <$100 CarboNext really is as good as people say.

slowtyper
03-12-2012, 02:32 PM
Check out some of the knives at japaneseknifeimports.com, well recommended around here. The owner also is on the forums and is very helpful with questions and not pushy at all (which is probably why he won't post in here touting his products).

ajhuff
03-12-2012, 02:56 PM
I have a 300mm Ashi from JKI that I use sparingly due to space constraints. I think you would like an Ashi knife as much or more than the Henckles for the same price you are talking. And it comes with service behind it that is second to none.

-AJ

ajhuff
03-12-2012, 02:57 PM
Actually same price or less on $US. Not sure after shipping though.

-AJ

tk59
03-12-2012, 03:06 PM
Just a clarification: The Cermax line is produced in Japan by Japanese people using Japanese steel, IIRC.


...So is the CarboNext your regular go-to knife? Or would you buy another in the future? (If not, why not etc)...
No and yes. No because I have about fifty nice knives that I try to use and a handful of them are nicer than the CN for what I like to do. The CN is a bang for the buck option. My go-to knives are a Devin Thomas gyuto, a Carter SFGZ funayuki, a Heiji gyuto and a "Rottman" suji. I will be adding a Gengetsu to that mix, at some point. Why? The steel is nicer, they are thinner near the edge or they release food better or any combination of these.


..."Knife shop site A" currently has a Devin Thomas knife for ~$300-$400 (which is close enough to my current idea of a budget to perk my interest but the size/shape in stock isn't necessarily what I'm after at this point. There was a something Carter which looked promising but was out of stock) whereas "Knife Shop B" have a long list of "Customs" which they make sound like they were hand crafted by a wrinkly old Japanese grand master who was locked in a cave for 7 generations to develop his style or something (Misono/Mizuno/etc). I gather from your post that in your opinion the Devin/Carter/similar will outperform the cermax, whereas the wrinkly man in a cave option has the potential to be incredible or average and I won't know for sure unless I get my hands on one, or garner the advice of someone who has used a knife previously made by Mr Wrinkles?

Although looking at the prices, I'm guessing the "Devin Thomas" one is more likely a mass-produced item he's initialed (ala oem) rather than something he's put his own blood and sweat into?

Devin and the wrinkled cavemen all do some part of the blade producing process themselves. Nearly all the knives you will find at either site are likely to be very good. The difference is the idea of value whether that is real or imaginary. That and differences in how the actual blades are used (food objects and technique) is where you are going to get differences in opinion.

tk59
03-12-2012, 03:07 PM
...I think you would like an Ashi knife as much or more than the Henckles for the same price you are talking. And it comes with service behind it that is second to none...+1

kazeryu
03-12-2012, 04:20 PM
...whereas "Knife Shop B" have a long list of "Customs" which they make sound like they were hand crafted by a wrinkly old Japanese grand master who was locked in a cave for 7 generations to develop his style or something (Misono/Mizuno/etc).

I had a good laugh at this - It is so completely true!

Andrew H
03-12-2012, 09:42 PM
Thanks for all the input :)
@ Andrew: Either/or/Both I guess?. "Knife shop site A" currently has a Devin Thomas knife for ~$300-$400 (which is close enough to my current idea of a budget to perk my interest but the size/shape in stock isn't necessarily what I'm after at this point. There was a something Carter which looked promising but was out of stock) whereas "Knife Shop B" have a long list of "Customs" which they make sound like they were hand crafted by a wrinkly old Japanese grand master who was locked in a cave for 7 generations to develop his style or something (Misono/Mizuno/etc). I gather from your post that in your opinion the Devin/Carter/similar will outperform the cermax, whereas the wrinkly man in a cave option has the potential to be incredible or average and I won't know for sure unless I get my hands on one, or garner the advice of someone who has used a knife previously made by Mr Wrinkles?

Although looking at the prices, I'm guessing the "Devin Thomas" one is more likely a mass-produced item he's initialed (ala oem) rather than something he's put his own blood and sweat into?
I would say that both have the potential to be better than the cermax but neither is a guarantee. Probably any brand you hear talked about much at the same price point as the cermax (Konosuke, CarboNext, Ashi / Gesshin Ginga) will perform better than the cermax. The Devin Thomas ($400-$500) is ground by him and heat treated in his shop, but I don't think he forges the steel out or puts on the handles.


Just a clarification: The Cermax line is produced in Japan by Japanese people using Japanese steel, IIRC.

Yup, sorry if I gave a different impression from my post.

Cadillac J
03-12-2012, 10:39 PM
Hate to be blunt, but get some stones and learn to sharpen...if this doesn't sound like something you'd be into, then get whatever knife you like that fits your budget and call it a day.

Doesn't matter what knife you buy, it is going to get dull. Stone(s) will keep a great entry knife performing at peak conditions versus a high-end custom or whatever that will get dull and you are back to square one.

I love the Carbonext and think it performs better than knives 2-3 times its price...but that is because I put my own edge on it. Stock out of the box it was like any other knife, worse actually (edge only).

The reality is that you are buying your first new knife, so you don't have any real preferences yet, so trying to figure it out is a moot point until you try something. Buy a decent knife and a stone(s).

NO ChoP!
03-12-2012, 11:42 PM
Twin Cermax is on clearance at cutleryandmore.com....I think the petty is $49...also, Amazon has good deals on the Gyuto; speaking of which, I have a 240 I'd let go for pretty cheap.....

It really is a good knife, though....

Elcee
03-13-2012, 09:09 AM
Blunt is fine with me Cadillac (in this context at least ;p) Yes, I intend to get a stone (and probably rod/steel) and will be teaching myself proper sharpening and maintenence techniques, beginning with my current collection. I gather optimum sharpening technique varies by blade and tbh I think I'm looking forward to it :)

I'm not sure I completely agree with you when you say "first new knife, so you don't have any real preferences yet" .. I've been cutting up my meat and veg for oh lets say a decade or two ;) and from that experience I can say that I wouldn't feel comfortable wielding 240-300mm and that I seem to prefer a pretty straight thin blade (although I admit that could just be because the sharpest knife I currently own is very straight and thin..)

Mingooch
03-13-2012, 09:39 AM
Elcee, most japanese knives are best maintained on stones, even touch ups. I never use a steel/rod and most here dont, some even cringe at the thought as it can chip blades in some cases. On knife size, with the right knife, it is very thin, light and nimble so a larger knife actually makes it easier to use. I used 240's until I went to the japanese knives I learned about here and other sites. Now I almost always grab a 270 gyuto. It is easier to control, use, do fine work with than the old german stuff I used to use years ago.

Also, I think Cadillac was referring specifically to the japanese knives, not all knives. Meaning that they are so different than what you are used to that it is your first in this style. From there, most of us here take a while to develop preferrences in shape/profile, thickness/thin, steels, and more aspects that can vary from knife to knife. Even after all of that, I know I tend to want different knives at different times. For example, I love my laser Del Ealy 270 gyuto for most things, cutting meat, herbs, etc, but dont like it for things that stick like potatoes. It is an early version of his knife that has a flat grind, and sticky stuff is hard to get off. In those cases I reach for my Hiro Itou or Kumagoro gyuto with a nice convex grind and potatoes etc dont stick nearly as much.

Elcee
03-13-2012, 10:12 AM
Can you hone on a stone? Or does the harder steel of japanese knives eliminate that need as it will chip rather than dent? Or have I missed something completely?

Mingooch
03-13-2012, 10:40 AM
I use a high grit stone to hone or I strop on leather loaded with diamond spray to hone.

stereo.pete
03-13-2012, 10:45 AM
I use a high grit stone to hone or I strop on leather loaded with diamond spray to hone.

What he said. If the blade is starting to get dull I'll do a couple of swipes on my leather strop and if that stops working then I'll break out the old Shapton Pro 5k stone and polish it up a bit.

Elcee
03-13-2012, 11:28 AM
Is asking about the pros/cons of strop vs steel opening a can of worms I'm not prepared for?

Andrew H
03-13-2012, 11:39 AM
Is asking about the pros/cons of strop vs steel opening a can of worms I'm not prepared for?

Steels as you know them are used to realign an edge that has folded over during use. The edge folded (or rolled) because it was made with soft steel, whereas the knives we talk about here don't roll their edges much because their steel is much harder.

Some here use a rod with a grit rating for quick touch-ups, but unless you're a pro I don't see the point.

Elcee
03-13-2012, 12:14 PM
Gotcha, Cheers :) Do you (or anyone else for that matter) have a decent resource to read up on stropping? I'm vaguely familiar with the concept of steels from working in a slaughter house a lifetime ago, but stropping isn't anything I've encountered outside of the Barber in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

I guess from the context it involves the removal of metal, so more of a fine sharpening device than what I would call honing (to me honing doesn't remove metal) ?

Cadillac J
03-13-2012, 03:02 PM
Stropping is kind of a generic term, but it generally refers to edge-trailing strokes on a variety of mediums like leather/felt/newspaper with or without a substrated loaded on them or just strop on a whetstone. Because you aren't really trying to remove much metal in the process, people normally use 1-mircon or less (~15K grit and up) compounds or their higher-grit polishing stones.

If one of my edges looses just a bit of its bite, I will either strop on my 5K Naniwa or use leather that is sprayed with 1-micron diamond abrasive which takes about 30 seconds.

Deckhand
03-13-2012, 03:11 PM
Hesitated putting this, but I love my 270mm Sakai Yusuke in Swedish stainless I bought from Pensacola Tiger. I like it better than my more expensive knives. I know the collective knowledge on this forum will put you in the right direction. Also, you can't go wrong buying from Jon.

slowtyper
03-13-2012, 05:26 PM
This video helped me figure out what stropping meant. 2 parts:


http://youtu.be/-HNO8sPhz4Y


http://youtu.be/fAdyOP7IDMc

SpikeC
03-13-2012, 05:37 PM
Honing is removing metal by definition. Steeling is not honing, but is steeling.