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Namaxy
04-19-2012, 11:50 PM
Still a relative newcomer to this site and my first time asking for advice so bear with me :) I've been interested in a Usuba for a while now. I realize it's not high on the list of priorities for a non-pro chef, but I love working with veggies and have been practicing making thin cucumber and daikon sheets (Katsuramaki sp?).

I have the sense that because these are somewhat specialized knives that there are less choices available. Given that, I'd prefer to stay fairly traditional. Are there compelling reasons to go with one shape vs. another...IE the rounded Kamagata style vs. the non-pointed rectangular shape? Similar question regarding steel - are single forged steels more classic in this style than layered? I somewhat fear that my preference for a classic knife puts me in a high price bracket, but I'd rather do that, or nothing at all, than buy a knife that performs poorly and/or can't be sold/traded. Any advice, including specific recommendations would be much appreciated!

jm2hill
04-20-2012, 12:17 AM
you'll get lots of advice but the one you'll here the most is - cheap single bevel knives can be extremely poorly ground. Its better to spend more then to try work the waves and spots out yourself. You really want one with a dead flat edge and good transitions.

I have a kamagata - people say the tip is more useful on a kama - I don't use the tip all that much with it but it does give it a bit more versatility.

180 - 210 are the most used sizes-- gives good size for daikon sheets as well as just general use. 165 is common as well, I find that size small tho.

Have you used single-bevels before?

knyfeknerd
04-20-2012, 12:24 AM
Great thread. I'm in the market for an usuba as well. Am going Kamagata for purely aesthetic reasons. Would love to hear any and all input from members responding to your questions. I've really been keen on a 210 Suisin Inox, but also really like the Gesshin Hide Blue as well. Now that I'm comitted to spending(Saving) that amount of money, I'm not really sure which one to go with.

schanop
04-20-2012, 12:34 AM
There are a couple of recent threads on usuba:

http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/3291-Usuba
http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/5348-Should-I-buy-an-usuba-Which-one

plus another older one:

http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/1008-Is-Usuba-really-necessary

Am loving these usuba talks :-0 Just don't go too cheap.

Seth
04-20-2012, 12:41 AM
I don't know about compelling reasons but kamagata style seems to be more popular and maybe more useful. If by single steel you mean honyaki then you are talking major bucks. If you mean kasumi vs suminigashi then I think you will see more kasumi. That's a layer of soft and a layer of hard. Regardless, if you are thinking traditional you probably want carbon, though the suisin inox is a nice knife. As far as resale I think you can't be too expensive or too cheap. I have a suisin ginsanko, about $400, and a Nenohi, about $850. I think I would have trouble selling the Nenohi. Talk to Jon at JKI for some good guidance and look at his site and also Korin to get an idea of the range of choices. Blue steel, white steel, stainless, etc. Name brands will be easier to sell: Masamoto, Suisin, etc.
s.

Namaxy
04-20-2012, 01:19 AM
Thanks for the responses, and sorry I missed the referenced threads....I tried the search function but didn't find those discussions...search fail on my part.

On the the single bevel question, yes I've been using a yanigba for almost 2 yrs now, and it's what I've been using for sheets so far. As for steel, yes I meant honyaki. I've been looking at the knives mentioned..the Gessin blue, the Suisin, on JKI, as well as a white carbon steel on EE.

Thanks again for the responses, and I'll go through those other older threads.

AFKitchenknivesguy
04-20-2012, 01:28 AM
One piece of advice, as the others have said, don't go cheap. I sold all mine years ago, good luck!

Crothcipt
04-20-2012, 02:20 AM
Ty for posting those threads I found it very useful. I have been thinking about single bevels for a few weeks and this has me thinking a little more.

JKerr
04-20-2012, 09:43 AM
I own 3 usuba atm, 21cm Mizuno kamagata, 21cm tadatsuna azumagata and a 24cm Shigefusa azumagata. I prefer the azumagata (sqaure) style, but I reckon this comes down to personal preference more than anything. I have no doubt that the kamagata has a more versatile profile, I just feel like I need to be more delicate with the kamagata due to the tip, though I think this is just a a mental thing on my behalf. Having said that, it could be down to what I've used and when; the mizuno was the first I owned and I was pretty clueless back then, I got the tadatsuna at least a year later when I was a bit more knowledgeable, and the Shige recently (which is friggin' awesome).

As for length? What size are your other knives? I have a preference to 27cm gyutos and a while back got right into full size cleavers, and I find 21cm+ comfortable with an usuba. I don't think you would go wrong with 21cm, IMO it can feel a little small on the board if you're use to larger knives, but it does feel better for "in-hand cutting".

Never used a cheap usuba myself so I can't comment on that but I'd recommend not getting carried away. I spent almost $400 on my Mizuno and while I try to convince myself I liked it at first, I found it incredibly frustrating and it got little use, I've since come around to appreciating the usuba and while I enjoy using them, they're not the first knife I reach for and probably never will be (again, as much as I try to convince myself otherwise. They're just so cool).

Personally, if I had the benefit of hindsight and was buying my first usuba again I would look at: The Sakai blue steel options from Blueway Japan (heard the white steel single bevels can be hit-or-miss); yoshihiro range from Jon at JKI; the Monzaburo ranage at Aframes and finally; I would consider the tanaka from Japan Tools Metalmaster, heard the fit and finish can very sketchy on these, but I recall Kcma on FF saying good things about them. And I'd probably just go carbon as a first, cause (good) stainless usuba are ***** expensive.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Josh

Mucho Bocho
04-20-2012, 10:01 AM
Great post. I'm considering a Usuba as well. Just purchased a hon-sumi 195 Yusuke Deba in Blue2. The second knife I bought from Keiichi (BluewayJapan). I'm strongly considering a 210 Usuba in blue# hon-sumai myself.

Namaxy
04-20-2012, 10:35 AM
I own 3 usuba atm, 21cm Mizuno kamagata, 21cm tadatsuna azumagata and a 24cm Shigefusa azumagata. I prefer the azumagata (sqaure) style, but I reckon this comes down to personal preference more than anything. I have no doubt that the kamagata has a more versatile profile, I just feel like I need to be more delicate with the kamagata due to the tip, though I think this is just a a mental thing on my behalf. Having said that, it could be down to what I've used and when; the mizuno was the first I owned and I was pretty clueless back then, I got the tadatsuna at least a year later when I was a bit more knowledgeable, and the Shige recently (which is friggin' awesome).

As for length? What size are your other knives? I have a preference to 27cm gyutos and a while back got right into full size cleavers, and I find 21cm+ comfortable with an usuba. I don't think you would go wrong with 21cm, IMO it can feel a little small on the board if you're use to larger knives, but it does feel better for "in-hand cutting".

Never used a cheap usuba myself so I can't comment on that but I'd recommend not getting carried away. I spent almost $400 on my Mizuno and while I try to convince myself I liked it at first, I found it incredibly frustrating and it got little use, I've since come around to appreciating the usuba and while I enjoy using them, they're not the first knife I reach for and probably never will be (again, as much as I try to convince myself otherwise. They're just so cool).

Personally, if I had the benefit of hindsight and was buying my first usuba again I would look at: The Sakai blue steel options from Blueway Japan (heard the white steel single bevels can be hit-or-miss); yoshihiro range from Jon at JKI; the Monzaburo ranage at Aframes and finally; I would consider the tanaka from Japan Tools Metalmaster, heard the fit and finish can very sketchy on these, but I recall Kcma on FF saying good things about them. And I'd probably just go carbon as a first, cause (good) stainless usuba are ***** expensive.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Josh

Thanks for good advice Josh. My knives are pretty varied....gyuto in 270, 240 and 210, yanagi in 240, 150 petty etc. I think 21 would be the right size given I hope to use it for 'in hand' work. I tend to think I'll limit it to specialized work, and to be honest the azumagata style appeals to me more from an aesthetic point of view.

Mucho Bocho
04-20-2012, 10:56 AM
I just pulled the trigger on this Kama-Usuba. It will be here Wednesday. Reviews and porn to follow. Seems like an amazing deal for a Blue#2 Steel Kama-Usuba Knife 210mm that is officially Inspected and Hon-Kasumi from Sakai Ichimonji-Kichikuni. What do you guys think? Its being shipped with a 195 Deba in same configuration. Exciting times.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/230738170649?_trksid=p5197.c0.m619

Seth
04-20-2012, 12:38 PM
I think spine thickness is something to pay attention to. My ginsanko is thick, the Nenohi is much much bigger but still thinner and so the bevel is much more acute. For in hand and delicate work in general you probably want a thin spine. Suisin does most things toward the robust side which is fine for on the board. When I practice rotary peeling (someday I will learn to spell katsawhosey) I go for the thin Nenohi or even a thin yanagi.

schanop
04-21-2012, 06:41 AM
Any progress Namaxy?

@mucho bocho, show us more knife pics when they arrive. A comment on blade straightness would be helpful to others too. Mine in white #2, usuba was great, straight, well finish, edge retention was so so compared with other better usubas that I have.

schanop
04-21-2012, 07:32 AM
And if we are talking about thickness/spine thickness and tapering. This shigfusa usuba spine shot is pretty darn sexy, I think:
http://pic20.picturetrail.com/VOL1620/2089642/24029383/401078744.jpg

Seth
04-21-2012, 11:19 AM
Are you selling that????

Eamon Burke
04-21-2012, 11:31 AM
:ubersexy:

JKerr
04-21-2012, 11:40 AM
I will vouch for the sexy distal taper on the Shig usuba:
http://i1259.photobucket.com/albums/ii557/Kerr27/IMAG0233.jpg
:D

Josh

Deckhand
04-21-2012, 11:42 AM
Wow really nice. Need to add this to my list of wants!
Not very easy to find on my web quick search.

Seth
04-21-2012, 11:45 AM
Apparently you have to go to Australia to get a single bevel nakiri...:)

JKerr
04-21-2012, 11:59 AM
Yeah, I think I got pretty lucky. I was just browsing the usual sites after work one night and while checking Aframes the two Shigs were added to his listings whilst I was flicking through his categories. At the time I wasn't actually interested in adding another usuba to my kit, but I'd always thought a 24cm usuba would be cool (and they seem to be pretty damn rare) and I'd been eager to try a Shig so it seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up. Very reasonable pricing too, I've got a bit of a crush on Aframes at the moment, great site.

Cheers,
Josh

SameGuy
04-21-2012, 12:21 PM
Hubba hubba!

Schanop: any possibility you can post similar pics of your other usubas for comparison? That white 2 Ichi-Kichi with which you got lucky has me quite intrigued.

schanop
04-21-2012, 06:00 PM
@seth, no, not setting this baby. It was one of my most recent acquisition.

@sameguy, for illustrative purpose, I've don't a group shot of my single bevel vegetable knives:

bottom to top: Shig kitaeji, Sakai Ichimonji-Kichikuni shironiko, Sakai Takayuki aoniko, Shig kasumi, A-type, and Kanemasa shironiko.
http://img26.imageshack.us/img26/5100/usubaspines.jpg

and a profile shot for comparision.
http://img688.imageshack.us/img688/5508/usubas.jpg

Seth
04-21-2012, 07:07 PM
Very nice collection!

Crothcipt
04-21-2012, 07:17 PM
:coolsign:wow very nice.

knyfeknerd
04-22-2012, 02:30 AM
If there is such a thing as a knife boner, I definitely just got one. I love chopping vegetables! Yes, seriously. Great collection. You are one lucky man.

Namaxy
04-22-2012, 09:51 PM
Any progress Namaxy?

@mucho bocho, show us more knife pics when they arrive. A comment on blade straightness would be helpful to others too. Mine in white #2, usuba was great, straight, well finish, edge retention was so so compared with other better usubas that I have.

Thanks for all the advice and great wisdom in this thread. Progress has been slowed considerably as this is school vacation week, we're in FLA, and there's lots of Patron and Knob Creek :biggrin: I've sent some inquiries to JKI, Aframes and Japan Woodworker - but not heard back yet.

The Shig photos are awesome - thanks for posting them!

Eamon Burke
04-22-2012, 09:55 PM
That's quite an expense you've got there!

slowtyper
04-23-2012, 01:15 PM
I would love to see some videos of those usubas in action.

Namaxy
04-23-2012, 09:21 PM
Anyone have any experience or knowledge of the Kumagoro knives offered at EE?

Namaxy
04-29-2012, 08:09 PM
Thanks for all the advice. I ended up ordering a Shigefusa. Obviously it will be ages before it comes but I have an operation on my shoulder upcoming, so at least part of the wait I won't be able to cook anyway.

Seth
05-01-2012, 10:56 AM
http://www.nenohi.co.jp/en/index.html

...something to look at while you recover and wait for your shig. Nenohi doesn't get much attention around here and I am not a fan of nenox but the nenohi seems to be a different animal all together. The only other person who ever mentioned these was Salty who has the kiri version of my usuba; hon kasumi which can be seen on Korin. My knife, with ebony handle, is like high end suisin with perfect f&f and has to be ordered with a wait of about six weeks. At $850, this is not a toy but they also have a honyaki version. With any usuba, btw, and especially a big one, you have to take your time sharpening checking the flatness of the cutting edge as it is easy to create an uneven profile. You will have to buy a quartz countertop to check the edge :)

The nenohi is about 54 mm in height, 225 on the edge, mirror polish on the table, 306g.