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SomeCoolGuy
03-23-2012, 01:20 AM
Hey all,

I'm at that point in life where it's finally time to move out of the parents' house post-college and finally looking to buy the set of kitchen basics everyone needs, but I've been stymied by the choice of knife. I'd consider myself a pretty good home cook, though certainly not up to any sort of chef standards.

The knives I've been most experienced with thus far are a Wusthof Grand Prix 8" Chef and Shun's Ken Onion 8" Chef, though I've had some limited hands-on time with a half-dozen or so others. I've found that I vastly prefer asymmetric edges, though don't have enough experience to feel the difference between 100/0, 80/20, etc. I've found a pinch grip to be far and away the most comfortable option, and find it quite uncomfortable to use a knife with a bolster that doesn't run the full height of the return (my apologies if I'm confusing my terms here; I like the bolster setup on the above-mentioned Wusthof, not on the Shun, and definately not on something like the Shun Classic, with the bolster set back from the return).


General usage will be on end-cut rock maple boards for generic home-cook vegetables and whatnot.

Based on this rather limited experience, I believe that the set of features I'm looking for are:
--Somewhere around 210mm/8" range. Anything under 7" doesn't play well with me. A bit longer would be fine, though anything over 270mm is going to be too big for my board, I think.
--Asymmetric edge
--Bolster running the full height of the return


I'm not overly concerned about price, but would generally like to keep it under $500 or so if that's a reasonable target. Still, I'd rather buy a good knife once and have it last me than twelve mediocre ones.

Thanks very much!

sachem allison
03-23-2012, 02:25 AM
welcome!

JKerr
03-23-2012, 08:24 AM
Welcome!

You'll probably have a hard time finding a good (by the standards of most KKF users) knife with a full bolster. I'd be inclined to say a Sabatier carbon would be the best option, off-the-shelf anyway, if you don't mind the extra maintanence. Personally I can't think of any Japanese makers producing a knife with a full bolster, though I'm sure there must be some. Otherwise there's always the option of going custom, which I'm sure you could find something in your budget.

Out of interest, are you sharpening your knives at the moment and if so, how?

Cheers,
Josh

Benuser
03-23-2012, 08:59 AM
+1 on French carbon. Otherwise: "1922" by Robert Herder, Solingen.

stereo.pete
03-23-2012, 09:09 AM
Maybe I missed it but I don't believe you mentioned how you plan on sharpening said knife. My advice would be to hold off on the $500 knife and buy a cheap but nice Japanese knife and learn how to sharpen that before you destroy a true beauty. I started with a Fujiwara FKH (Carbon) and if I had to do it over again, there would be no change. Relatively easy to sharpen and the $70 you will pay get's you decent steel (way better than anything German) and if you screw it up with sharpening you won't be depressed.

Once you get the hang of how to use Japanese Whet Stones then you can start buying badass knives and maintaining them like a pro.

tk59
03-23-2012, 11:05 AM
Maybe I missed it but I don't believe you mentioned how you plan on sharpening said knife. My advice would be to hold off on the $500 knife and buy a cheap but nice Japanese knife and learn how to sharpen that before you destroy a true beauty...I agree but I would stick with stainless since that is your experience. If you want an all around carbon steel knife, I'd go with something in a different steel than Fujiwara. I'd go with a Fujiwara stainless or a Suisin INOX line. Tojiro is another decent one but it chips more easily than other options.

heirkb
03-23-2012, 11:25 AM
Full bolsters like that are a pain in the a** to sharpen. Maybe the reason you haven't liked your Shuns is because that area on the knife (what you call the return, which I'm assuming is what we call the choil) is not well finished and rounded. It can dig into your hands a bit and get uncomfortable if it isn't smoothed out on the edges.

Here's what I mean.

A well finished choil in the first photo: http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/5560-Shigefusa-Available?p=92396&viewfull=1#post92396
And photo five here shows a choil that hasn't been rounded and is sharp at the edges: http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/kitchen-knives/suien/suien-vc-240mm-gyuto-81.html#

The rounding is very easy to do yourself.

Almost none of the knives that have been recommended have the full bolster that you want. Yoshihiro might also be a good option if you decide to forgo the full bolster. I'm liking mine and it's pretty asymmetric.

Shinob1
03-23-2012, 11:33 AM
Yoshihiro might also be a good option if you decide to forgo the full bolster. I'm liking mine and it's pretty asymmetric.

I've purchased a Yoshihiro myself and am enjoying it. You may want to contact Jon at Japanese Knife Imports. Give him a ring and he'll steer you in the right direction.

SomeCoolGuy
03-23-2012, 12:36 PM
Thanks for the feedback!


Maybe I missed it but I don't believe you mentioned how you plan on sharpening said knife.

Ah, good point, I knew I was going to forget something. Obviously, I'm not really that experienced in sharpening particularly good steels given my experience. That said, I've been maintaining my existing knives with a ceramic rod and occasional use of 400 and 1200 grit waterstones. I'm reasonably confident from what I know that those specific stones wouldn't be right/sufficient for a good knife and aren't right for those knives, but I figured I could learn on and possibly destroy the Wusthof for like $50 and not care too much. I haven't done any damage to that yet, but then it's not a good enough knife that I would necessarily notice any slight damage to it. Still, I've sharpened it every few weeks for the last couple years and I think I've got a feel for it -- I'm by no means a pro at it, but enough to get started.

Still, if that admittedly limited level of experience places me squarely in the "you know just enough to make you confident enough to severely ruin a good knife" category, that's good to know =P



Full bolsters like that are a pain in the a** to sharpen. Maybe the reason you haven't liked your Shuns is because that area on the knife (what you call the return, which I'm assuming is what we call the choil) is not well finished and rounded. It can dig into your hands a bit and get uncomfortable if it isn't smoothed out on the edges.

That's an interesting point, and you're probably correct about the Shun being unsarpened and thus uncomfortable. Still, the part that has tended to annoy me about the blade being set away from the bolster by a significant distance has more to do with my relatively largeish hands. When there's a half-inch gap between the return/choil and the bolster, I feel like I don't have enough of the handle secured to maintain proper tip control. Maybe that's just a mediocre grip on my part.


Thanks for the recommendations, I'll definately look into all of those!

Pensacola Tiger
03-23-2012, 12:53 PM
Are you using a pinch grip?

http://www.foodwoolf.com/2007/12/knife-skills-illustrated.html


Still, the part that has tended to annoy me about the blade being set away from the bolster by a significant distance has more to do with my relatively largeish hands. When there's a half-inch gap between the return/choil and the bolster, I feel like I don't have enough of the handle secured to maintain proper tip control. Maybe that's just a mediocre grip on my part.

SomeCoolGuy
03-23-2012, 02:32 PM
Are you using a pinch grip?

Yes, exclusively. I've only noticed the bolster distance thing annoying me when it's particularly overstated, beyond 1/4 inch or so. At that point getting a decent pinch on the blade seems to necessitate bringing my hand up to where the middle finger no longer has any real contact with the handle.

Eamon Burke
03-23-2012, 02:45 PM
Sounds to me like you just want a knife with a tall bolster area, and a rounded choil, to accomodate a grip with longer fingers/larger hands--and you want a fuller feel.. The full bolster thing is really onerous. If you really want a knife with a full bolster, those carbon sabatiers are the best I've used, but the bolster area is really tiny on those.

What's your budget. I know you've only used a ken onion and sharpened casually, but you seem like a quick study. Ever consider going for a custom?

Johnny.B.Good
03-23-2012, 03:10 PM
What's your budget. I know you've only used a ken onion and sharpened casually, but you seem like a quick study.

From his first post:


I'm not overly concerned about price, but would generally like to keep it under $500 or so if that's a reasonable target. Still, I'd rather buy a good knife once and have it last me than twelve mediocre ones.

SomeCoolGuy
03-23-2012, 05:17 PM
The full bolster isn't necessarily a sticking point, it's just the conclusion I'd come to from handling a small variety of options. Most of the reason I had been looking for a forum full of knowledgeable people like this is that I had been completely unable to find a japanese edge knife with a full bolster, and all of the readily available options that I could easily put hands on to feel (eg, things at most kitchen supply stores, mostly meaning the Shuns) had a rough/unfinished/uncomfortable feel around the choil that I knew would drive me insane. For some reason I never thought of just rounding it off myself. Still, I rather assumed that most of the stuff in the stores was overpriced/overhyped and not all that good at the end of the day.

As for budget, as was quoted, I'd like to keep it under $500 or so -- I feel relatively confident in buying a pretty decent knife, but I freely acknowledge that it may be the confidence of the uninformed. Given that, I'm not in the market for anything too much more expensive (unless it's really worth it) until I'm sure that I both know what I'm doing and that I could appreciate something of that quality without ruining it.


From what people are saying, I'm thinking the decision comes down more than anything else to my sharpening skills. Unfortunately, having never tried on quality steel, I can't really gauge myself, though I have certainly given it a go on some poorer knives and had it turn out fine. If my experience is wanting, then the Fujiwara FKH mentioned seems like a good starting place -- it looks like it would work quite well for my needs for now, and give good practice to be confient in a high-end purchase later. If my experience is a reasonable amount to move into a better knife, then that's fine too.

The Robert Herder 1922 looks like what I was searching for, but if it really is that impossible to find a full bolster blade then there's probably something to be said for getting used to working without one.

As for a custom, yeah, I'd love to get one sooner or later, but it's going to depend heavily on price. I'm willing to spring for quality, but ultimately I'm still a rather poor just-out-of-college type. Add in that I'm not 100% sure I'm up to the task of maintaining it perfectly yet, and I'm not sure that's a good way to go just yet. Still, you're the experts.

Shinob1
03-23-2012, 10:42 PM
The full bolster isn't necessarily a sticking point, it's just the conclusion I'd come to from handling a small variety of options. Most of the reason I had been looking for a forum full of knowledgeable people like this is that I had been completely unable to find a japanese edge knife with a full bolster, and all of the readily available options that I could easily put hands on to feel (eg, things at most kitchen supply stores, mostly meaning the Shuns) had a rough/unfinished/uncomfortable feel around the choil that I knew would drive me insane. For some reason I never thought of just rounding it off myself. Still, I rather assumed that most of the stuff in the stores was overpriced/overhyped and not all that good at the end of the day.

As for budget, as was quoted, I'd like to keep it under $500 or so -- I feel relatively confident in buying a pretty decent knife, but I freely acknowledge that it may be the confidence of the uninformed. Given that, I'm not in the market for anything too much more expensive (unless it's really worth it) until I'm sure that I both know what I'm doing and that I could appreciate something of that quality without ruining it.


From what people are saying, I'm thinking the decision comes down more than anything else to my sharpening skills. Unfortunately, having never tried on quality steel, I can't really gauge myself, though I have certainly given it a go on some poorer knives and had it turn out fine. If my experience is wanting, then the Fujiwara FKH mentioned seems like a good starting place -- it looks like it would work quite well for my needs for now, and give good practice to be confient in a high-end purchase later. If my experience is a reasonable amount to move into a better knife, then that's fine too.

The Robert Herder 1922 looks like what I was searching for, but if it really is that impossible to find a full bolster blade then there's probably something to be said for getting used to working without one.

As for a custom, yeah, I'd love to get one sooner or later, but it's going to depend heavily on price. I'm willing to spring for quality, but ultimately I'm still a rather poor just-out-of-college type. Add in that I'm not 100% sure I'm up to the task of maintaining it perfectly yet, and I'm not sure that's a good way to go just yet. Still, you're the experts.

You could buy a Dave Martell knife with your budget or call Jon at JKI. His customer service is tops and he will recommend a good knife for you.

SomeCoolGuy
03-24-2012, 12:46 PM
Sounds like I have a phone call to make then.

Thanks very much for the recommendations and insight, everyone!

Johnny.B.Good
03-24-2012, 01:24 PM
Sounds like I have a phone call to make then.

I talked to Jon (the owner of Japanese Knife Imports (http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/)) yesterday, and he told me that the store will be closed today (he's attending a knife show in Pasadena), so you may have to wait until Monday to speak with him. I can't recommend Jon highly enough. Absolutely first-class service and advice. I have purchased a number of things from him in the past, though yesterday I was calling about a knife for my mother. I had my eye on a $250 little gyuto, and after describing her likes/dislikes, skills, stature, etc., he talked me out of the pricey little gyuto and into an inexpensive $65 santoku! He will not steer you wrong, and I'm sure you will be pleased with whatever he recommends.

Dave Martell (in case you didn't know) is the owner of this forum, professional sharpener, and custom knife maker. You can see pictures of some (maybe all) of his knives in his subforum here (http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/2188-Martell-Knives-A-Gallery). Looks like you could order a 240mm gyuto from him for around $400.

Deckhand
03-24-2012, 01:42 PM
I talked to Jon (the owner of Japanese Knife Imports (http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/)) yesterday, and he told me that the store will be closed today (he's attending a knife show in Pasadena), so you may have to wait until Monday to speak with him. I can't recommend Jon highly enough. Absolutely first-class service and advice. I have purchased a number of things from him in the past, though yesterday I was calling about a knife for my mother. I had my eye on a $250 little gyuto, and after describing her likes/dislikes, skills, stature, etc., he talked me out of the pricey little gyuto and into an inexpensive $65 santoku! He will not steer you wrong, and I'm sure you will be pleased with whatever he recommends.

Dave Martell (in case you didn't know) is the owner of this forum, professional sharpener, and custom knife maker. You can see pictures of some (maybe all) of his knives in his subforum here (http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/2188-Martell-Knives-A-Gallery). Looks like you could order a 240mm gyuto from him for around $400.

+1 on Jon being a really nice and helpful guy.
Dave Martell makes great looking knives as do many in the knife vendor section. Do yourself a favor and look at lots of photos in that section. You can get a feel of styles and looks and find a knife that suits you or even ask for a hybrid of different knifes from a maker. I.e. I like profile and length of x knife and the handle on y knife, etc. it's a custom knife. Also, without trying some knives out it is hard to know length you will like, wa vs western handle, etc. I thought I knew until I did a test drive. For me I found I prefer wa handle and 270mm to start, but you might end up liking 210mm and western. Good luck on your journey.

Benuser
03-24-2012, 07:19 PM
I'm not sure it's a great idea to go custom yet. Before you should develop your preferences and experience what kind of handle, profile, steel etc. you like. And probably you will have to adjust your technique as well. With a Fujiwara, Hiromoto or Robert Herder (if you insist on having a bolster) you're dealing with technically great knives which meet all reasonable needs. Once you've acquired some experience with different options you may formulate your wishes for a custom made.

The Edge
03-24-2012, 07:46 PM
If you get a chance to hold a wa octagon handle, it may help that feeling of your middle finger not touching anything with your pinch grip. My only other advice, besides calling Jon, is not to go all out at first on the knife, but get something a little more economical. You may be thinking, yeah, but I want this knife to last me a lifetime, but seriously, if you get a decent, cheap starter knife that some are recommending here, you'll be able to sell it for most of what it's worth when you figure out more of what you want.

Shinob1
03-24-2012, 09:10 PM
If you get a chance to hold a wa octagon handle, it may help that feeling of your middle finger not touching anything with your pinch grip. My only other advice, besides calling Jon, is not to go all out at first on the knife, but get something a little more economical. You may be thinking, yeah, but I want this knife to last me a lifetime, but seriously, if you get a decent, cheap starter knife that some are recommending here, you'll be able to sell it for most of what it's worth when you figure out more of what you want.

+1. That's what I did and it really was the best way to go.