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Brett Hatchstone
06-13-2012, 03:33 PM
Hopefully I'm posting this in the right section -- if not, whoops!

Hi, my name is Brett, and I'm looking to purchase a new kitchen knife. While doing my research, I stumbled upon this forum and saw that y'all have a dedicated sticky for this express purpose, so I figured I would give it a shot. I just got a new job at a mediterranean restaurant, and a big part of my job is the prep work, which consists mostly of: shredded and salad Romaine lettuce, julienne Roma tomatoes, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, julienne onions, and julienne roasted bell peppers, and fresh thyme, rosemary, and parsley. Plus some various other herbs and veggies for soups of the day, salad specials, and so on. I do not regularly work with the meats, so they are of little concern to me.

The kitchen knives at my restaurant are, in a word, terrible. They are cheap, stamped, nameless chef's knives ranging from 7 to 10 inches. They clean their knives in the dishwasher, and store them by piling them up in a 1/3 hotel pan. None of them are sharp enough for me to feel comfortable using them without fear of cutting my fingers. I haven't worked there for long enough yet to know whether they use a sharpening service like my previous jobs, but I doubt it. It's really, really awful. I asked my boss if I could bring my own knife in to work instead. He told me that that was fine, and recommended that I never, ever let anyone else so much as touch it (like I need to be told that!).

My primary goal is to get a knife that I can use at work without constantly thinking to myself "FML FML FML". Secondarily, it would be nice to upgrade my knife I use at home, which is an 8-inch Victorinox chef's knife (I'm pretty sure it's this one (]http://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-47521-10-Inch-Fibrox-Handle/dp/B0000CF8YO)). My Victorinox treats me okay, for such a cheap, janky knife -- but only because the rest of my kitchen at home is just as bad :O.

I imagine that any recommendations would be for online stores, which is fine, but if anyone happens to know a place/guy in the Santa Cruz / San Jose, California area, that would be even better.

On the the questionnaire!

---

What type of knife(s) do you think you want?
I'm looking at getting either traditional chef's knife or perhaps a gyuto or santoku. I only have experience with chef's knives, but the gyuto seems similar enough, and the santoku seems to be more geared towards my needs (I think?).

Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing?
Like I said, I'm trying to replace the super-crappy chef's knives. However, in order to really answer these questions and give you all some good info, we can assume that I'm replacing my Victorinox.

What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already?

Aesthetics- I think it's plain-looking, if a bit on the ugly side. Aesthetics are not my main concern with the knife, but it does count for something.
Edge Quality/Retention- It came very sharp out of the box, but rapidly slipped into Dullsville. I had it professionally sharpened once, and was dissatisfied with its retention. I steel it before, after, and during use in order to keep it reasonable sharp -- which is to say, sharp enough to be safe, yet dull enough to be annoying.
Ease of Use- It's easy enough to use, as it's basically the same as the knives I learned to use at previous jobs (medium-sized chef's knives). When it's sharp, I like it; when it's dull, it's obviously difficult to use.
Comfort- It's not particularly comfortable. The hard plastic does not conform to my hand, and the grip it seems to want me to use is what y'all call the hammer grip. Unfortunately, when I hold it in this way, I cannot use it for a damn. So, I just use my pinch-grip on it, which works okay because the "ledge" from the handle to the blade makes a nice big spot for my index finger to hand out on.

What grip do you use?
I usually use the pinch grip, but I occasionally find a reason to use the finger point (mincing a few cloves of garlic comes to mind).

What kind of cutting motion do you use?
My favorite motion is push-cutting, but that doesn't always work for everything, so I'll rock or walk on a case-by-case basis.

Where do you store them?
I'd probably store my new knife in my locker at work.

Have you ever oiled a handle?
Never. But, if it's simple/easy, I would be happy to learn.

What kind of cutting board(s) do you use?
At work, I use those roughly 24"x30" hard plastic, color-coded cutting boards that are common to restaurant kitchens. Y'all know the ones.

For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing?
I've only really use a honing rod, but I have tried pull-thoughs before (I was not impressed). I've never tried a strop.

Have they ever been sharpened?
Like I said, my Victorinox was sharpened once by a pro at the Farmer's Market. I have no idea about the work-knives, but I doubt it.

What is your budget?
Hopefully around $75, but $100 would be okay.

What do you cook and how often?
I would typically use this knife for various veggies and herbs, like I said at the top. Probably little to no use with meats.

Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)?
Preferably a wooden handle, because they seem to reduce the stress on my cutting (right) hand, and plus they're pretty. But it's not a deal-breaker.

---

Thanks a lot for your time, and I hope to hear back soon.
- Brett

jm2hill
06-13-2012, 03:39 PM
Welcome!, you 'll get lots of great advice here.

Do you want Stainless, semi-stainless, carbon? or do you not care?

SpikeC
06-13-2012, 03:53 PM
Welcome to the Knut House! If you could manage a trip down to Venice Beach to visit Jon at Japanese Knife Imports you would greatly benefit.
You have come to a great place for guidance, though!

Brett Hatchstone
06-13-2012, 04:16 PM
Welcome to the Knut House! If you could manage a trip down to Venice Beach to visit Jon at Japanese Knife Imports you would greatly benefit.
You have come to a great place for guidance, though!
Unfortunately, I very rarely find myself in the LA area. I might, however, be passing through while en route the the grand canyon later this summer. If so, I'll definitely keep him in mind.


Welcome!, you 'll get lots of great advice here.

Do you want Stainless, semi-stainless, carbon? or do you not care?

I'm not real picky between the three. I've never had to care for a non-stainless knife, but I understand that it's mostly a matter of keeping it clean and dry, right? I always do that, regardless.

Crothcipt
06-13-2012, 04:33 PM
First of all welcome.

You will get some great idea's here, and some you don't want to even look at. (just because you know they are to high of a price) I got my current work knives from ebay. They are Tanaka's santoku and petty in blue steel. They seem to hold a edge well enough that I only have to strop on leather about 2x a mo. I recommend that you do not use a rod on them. I ended up ripping of the cutting edge on the santoku.

There are a few others out there that will be brought up, and seem just as good. This is just what I have when I started. Good luck on the search

obtuse
06-13-2012, 05:26 PM
It sounds to me like a carbonext and a king combo stone would be a good start.

tk59
06-13-2012, 05:56 PM
Yeah. For under $100, Fujiwara will also do. If I were you, I'd push into the $150 range where a lot of nice options reside.

Brett Hatchstone
06-14-2012, 01:32 PM
Awesome, thanks for the replies. I've looked up each of the recommended knives, and found a couple others as well... has anyone here heard of Yamawaku? He's a Japanese guy, forges the knives by hand, and I get the feeling that he works out of his garage and uses Google Translate extensively. Anyway, he has 210/240mm gyutos for $63/$90 at his eBay store (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Japanese-hand-weld-YAMAWAKU-water-proof-chestnut-Gyuto-chef-knife-Houchou210-/160823411830?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2571d28476#ht_5491wt_1037). Also, there's a guy selling a used 8" Shun for $75 over at KnifeForums' sales forum (http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/showtopic.php?tid/923151/). From what I gather, this is a very good price for a Shun; my question is, is it a very good price for a knife? In other words, how much of that $75 is buying me the Shun name as opposed to a quality knife? One of my coworkers and the Kitchen Store lady up the street both seem to worship Shun, but I'm a little more reserved to jump the gun on it.

For reference, I found a Fujiwara for $83 (http://www.**************.com/fujiwara2.html), and a CarboNext for $105-$128 (http://japanesechefsknife.com/KAGAYAKICarboNextSeries.html).

jm2hill
06-14-2012, 01:48 PM
Shun are good knives, but you are paying quite a bit for a name/warranty/F&F. 75 dollars is a good price tho maybe 50 off the original. I would rather have a Carbonext tho. Most people that worship Shun or any big name brand (Cutco, Henckels, Wusthoff...) have never really experienced anything else. When they do they change their mind.

As far as dealing with 330Mate (ebay) for the yamawaku its pretty damn hard. It takes a while to respond to messages, and if he send you the wrong thing I've had bad experiences trying to get the right one. I would stay away from him. I also believe he badly represents some of the stones he sells, so I would just avoid it. My one experience was bad and I'll avoid doing it again for as long as I can.

chinacats
06-14-2012, 02:08 PM
+1 on the fujiwara and buying a good starting stone--king combo has been the stone choice of many beginners, inexpensive and does the job. You can feel good about practicing your sharpening skills on that blade, and for the price the fit and finish is very nice. Stone likely will matter more than the knife...you will wind up replacing the knife eventually, but learning how to sharpen is a priceless skill. Good luck.

Cheers

skewed
06-14-2012, 02:52 PM
...learning how to sharpen is a priceless skill. Good luck.

Cheers

Very true. A bester 1200 and some course sandpaper on a marble tile (to flat the stone) would be a great starting stone.

Best of luck,
rj

SpikeC
06-14-2012, 04:39 PM
I repaired a Shun paring knife for my sister that was chippy as all get out and had small holes in the steel. Based on that experience I would not buy one. Others have had different experiences, so YMMV.

JohnyChai
06-14-2012, 08:06 PM
Whatever you decide upon, get a sharpening stone to accompany...

Japan Woodworker is in Alameda and while you might not like their knife selection, they have a decent stone selection. Not Jon's place but a decent shop. You might get a chance to handle a Shigefusa and Yoshikane as well... just for kicks...

Justin0505
06-15-2012, 01:55 AM
Awesome, thanks for the replies. I've looked up each of the recommended knives, and found a couple others as well... has anyone here heard of Yamawaku? He's a Japanese guy, forges the knives by hand, and I get the feeling that he works out of his garage and uses Google Translate extensively. Anyway, he has 210/240mm gyutos for $63/$90 at his eBay store (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Japanese-hand-weld-YAMAWAKU-water-proof-chestnut-Gyuto-chef-knife-Houchou210-/160823411830?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2571d28476#ht_5491wt_1037). Also, there's a guy selling a used 8" Shun for $75 over at KnifeForums' sales forum (http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/showtopic.php?tid/923151/). From what I gather, this is a very good price for a Shun; my question is, is it a very good price for a knife? In other words, how much of that $75 is buying me the Shun name as opposed to a quality knife? One of my coworkers and the Kitchen Store lady up the street both seem to worship Shun, but I'm a little more reserved to jump the gun on it.

For reference, I found a Fujiwara for $83 (http://www.**************.com/fujiwara2.html), and a CarboNext for $105-$128 (http://japanesechefsknife.com/KAGAYAKICarboNextSeries.html).

I have not used a Yamawaku before, but there are some members on here that have them and the feed-back seems to be generally good. The knives actually look pretty good in the photos and videos: the profiles and grinds both look good and the materials and specs sound good as well.
However, there are some potential issues that can be very difficult to detect unless you've used and sharpened the knife for awhile such as low spots/ over grinds that will cause a "hole" in the edge. The seller (330mate) does not have a reputation for good customer service / returning your emails after he has your money. So, if you DO have a problem, good luck getting help with it.

I have experience with 2 knife lines that are in a similar range: Tojiro's "ITK Shirogami Series" in white #2 and Zakuri Kurouchi finish in blue #1. Both are very good value and "cool" if you like the whole basic, rustic, made with fire and hammers and manliness. CTKG sells the Tojiro and I have never had a problem with Mark's customer service, but Jon at JKI sell the Zakuri and his customer service is as good as it gets.
The only thing that I don't like about either is that they do this sandblasted "frosted" thing on the bevel to try to make it look better in pictures/ save time on finish polishing and it adds drag to the cut and clings to moisture, so step #1 for me is always sanding / polishing that out. But hey, passing the relatively easy to do finishing work on to the customer is something that helps to keep the cost down.

One last possible suggestion is something from Murray Carter's "Stainless Fukugozai, Riveted Handle" line. Normally these knifes would be way out of your price range, but he just had a really huge sale. If you call him up and explain your situation (explain being a poor working pro, looking for a first good knife) , mention missing the sale, talk about what you're looking for, he will likely cut you a deal. He's a good guy, but also a smart businessman and he knows that if he can get people to try his knives, they will buy more / tell other people to do so. The way that his knives cut may be equaled by other's but I don't think I've yet found one (at any price) that I could say is significantly better. He's got the last of his "old stock" blue steel knifes on his site now. Edge retention is better than with white steel and once they're gone, he's not making any more in blue.

I guess in all of this, the one thing that I never mentioned was that a chef's knife might not be the only choice for you: if you're doing 90% veggies and already have a chef's knife, it might be worth trying a Nakiri or even a Chinese style chef's knife AKA slicing cleaver. Some people people think square is beautiful, and some people cant stand not having a traditional point on the end of the blade. If you think that they are at least interesting, then it might be worth trying out something different.

heirkb
06-15-2012, 01:58 AM
Japan Woodworker has the Akifusa knives, which I've heard are pretty nice. I looked at them in person briefly and they looked to have a decent grind and distal taper. They're also fairly well priced. I think they call them the "Artisan" series at Japan Woodworker. You could also pick up Bester stones, Kings (like the 1200), among some other stones if you go there.

jm2hill
06-15-2012, 02:28 AM
If you go the Carter route as Justin said (which I think is a great choice) Carter makes awesome knives. PM me first and I'll help you with the discount.

vai777
06-15-2012, 05:01 PM
You want an Ikeda

SpikeC
06-15-2012, 05:09 PM
Ikeda???

vai777
06-15-2012, 06:31 PM
Akifusa (Ikeda) http://www.epicureanedge.com/shopexd.asp?id=85649

SpikeC
06-15-2012, 06:53 PM
I think Akifusa is more helpful than Ikeda. That's like telling someone to buy a knife by Bill without giving a last name.

VoodooMajik
06-16-2012, 01:29 AM
I've been trying to decide between the Suisin Inox and the ******** Artifex myself, ones a little over the price range.

I've heard good things about Suisin Inox. And the Artifex is AEB-L steel

I bought a Shun and sold it recently because I didn't even want to look at it anymore. My Fujiwara hasn't let me down.

vai777
06-16-2012, 11:20 AM
I think Akifusa is more helpful than Ikeda. That's like telling someone to buy a knife by Bill without giving a last name.

I guess if you are new to these sort of things...

Vertigo
06-16-2012, 11:23 AM
I guess if you are new to these sort of things...

OH SNAP, EXCELLENT POINT.

vai777
06-16-2012, 11:27 AM
good thing I didn't say Ichimonji

SpikeC
06-16-2012, 04:01 PM
So a new person to J knives asks for advice and he is supposed to know the names of the men behind the brands?
Do you work for EE by any chance?

heirkb
06-16-2012, 05:32 PM
Great discussion.

Just to point out, JWW is a little cheaper than EE if I remember correctly. Those knives are still a little out of the 150 range, though.

vai777
06-17-2012, 04:41 PM
So a new person to J knives asks for advice and he is supposed to know the names of the men behind the brands?
Do you work for EE by any chance?

Well...type in Ikeda knives into google and let me know what you get...and...
I do not work for EE...I have no affiliation with any knife dealer online or brick and mortar for that matter...

vai777
06-17-2012, 04:45 PM
Great discussion.

Just to point out, JWW is a little cheaper than EE if I remember correctly. Those knives are still a little out of the 150 range, though.

yes Japan wood worker is cheaper...but you would have to get the "artisan brand" version of the Ikeda...I like the one with the kanji...though after grinding (thinning) mine the kanji is no longer visible...

vai777
06-17-2012, 04:46 PM
and I think the artisan is a little thicker....

Brett Hatchstone
06-17-2012, 05:04 PM
Thanks for the absolute boatload of advice, guys. I lurked around some other threads a little bit, and it seems that the guy from CKTG is legit, so I went ahead and ordered a Tojiro ITK, 240mm in the white steel #2 from there. The guy from zknives.com says this is a really hard, decent steel, so I'm stoked. Besides, this knife is quite pretty, and has a wooden handle, which I like. I also nabbed a King Combo stone to go with it.

I took a look at the Akifusa/Ikeda/"Artisan" knives, and they looked really awesome, plus zknives has a raving review on them. They seem to be your basic "awesome as hell," most possible bang for your buck knife around. Unfortunately, I couldn't find one online for much less than $200. Maybe I'll check 'em out again when I'm in the market for knife #2 some time in the future.

I kindof expected to see a sticky around here somewhere all about learning to use a sharpening stone, but was unable to find one. Any pointers, or a link to a writeup/video? Also, is it recommended for newbs such as myself to do the fun things like changing the angle of the edge, or maybe I need some practice with the basics first?

Johnny.B.Good
06-17-2012, 05:16 PM
I kindof expected to see a sticky around here somewhere all about learning to use a sharpening stone, but was unable to find one. Any pointers, or a link to a writeup/video?

Congratulations on the new knife Brett. Let us know what you think of it once it arrives and you have had a chance to use it a little.

For sharpening videos, check these out (Jon at Japanese Knife Imports, a vendor here): http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/media