View Full Version : Help a guy out with a deba

08-03-2012, 02:20 PM
Hi all.

Little intro here.
I am a university student in victoria.
I enjoy cooking poultry and fish a lot since i have access to a pretty good selection of fresh fish and know some local farmers that i can get nice chicken off of.
I have been working with a western style knife for all my fish and poultry work.
After visiting my family my mom showed me a gift from her brother who visited japan a few months back and brought her a 4 inch deba. Which I sharpened nicely before giving it a go. Basically I fell in love. It was a bit small but i liked the feel and the single bevel is something new to me but I just loved it.
So I have been looking into these knives for a couple weeks. Been learning about the different metals and such and sizes and uses. The thing is I am a little unfamiliar with the world of Japanese knives. I have looked at and drooled over many knives but I am not sure which one would be the best buy and from which maker.

What type of knife(s) do you think you want?

Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing?
Being purchased to deal with particularly rowdy fish and chicken.

What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already?
Aesthetics- I think the shape of a deba is pretty darn sexy
Edge Quality/Retention- I want good edge quality. Retention would be nice but I have stones and love sharpening my knives as is.
Ease of Use- I have taken fish and chicken apart with western style knives and im sure the same general principle works with the deba.
Comfort- I like a comfortable knife.

What grip do you use?

What kind of cutting motion do you use?
Dpends on the knife and whats being cut

Where do you store them?
Knife block or knife drawer

Have you ever oiled a handle?

What kind of cutting board(s) do you use?
Bamboo or the softer plastic ones

For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing?
I have sharpening stones so I plan to use those.

Have they ever been sharpened?
My knives are all sharp.

What is your budget?
What do you cook and how often?
I am near the ocean so fresh fish is something I do enjoy as well as chicken.
Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)?
Wood dosnt really matter.
I was hoping for a Japanese knife.

I was aiming for something between 6 and 8 inches.

If you have any more questions feel free to send me a message.

Thanks all :)

08-03-2012, 02:30 PM
Hi there! Welcome aboard!

I know there's occasionally mention of using a deba for chicken, but I don't think I'd ever use my own deba on a chicken. It's not really what it's made for - it's a specialized knife for fish. However, it *is* really nice on fish ;)

165mm or 180mm ought to do ya nicely I think (so yeah, 6-8" is about right but deba are measured in mm)

I'll leave it to the other guys to suggest specific makes. Once again, welcome aboard!

Mucho Bocho
08-03-2012, 02:33 PM
Welcome CowPow. You'll get a lot of good feedback here but a Deba is really a fish butcher knife. I'm sure it could double duty as a chicken knife too but its not designed for that. You'll want a Honesuki for that task. I have a blue #2 from Ichimonji sold here http://www.ebay.com/itm/Japanese-SAKAI-Blue-Steel-Deba-Knife-180mm-/230770221192?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35bafa2088

Except that I have the 195 length. You choose the length depending on what sized fish your cutting.

I bought mine about six months ago for a fishing trip that never materialized. To date the knife has not been used. I'm ok with that cause I'm a knife-nut and thats what we do. Buy expensive knifes to look at and use them sometimes. As in the case of Salty. He has posted a $4000 knife for sale that he hasn't used. Thats not a typo that a four with three zeros after it. He's our hero. LOL

08-03-2012, 02:41 PM
Jon sells nice cheap entry level Yoshihiro debas that are actully very functional and get very good edge.

Ebay has some to offer also, but Jon is a reliable vendor.

There is this honkasumi brand on Epicurean edge and you just cannot beat the price!

Depends on what you want really, dropping 300 is quite an expense...

08-03-2012, 02:53 PM
Welcome and good luck in your search! Oh yeah, what Bieniek said! Link is http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/ Jon is very knowledgeable and most helpful, more importantly he will not push you to buy something you don't want/need--give him a call.

08-03-2012, 02:54 PM
Thanks for the fast replies :)

From what I have seen on youtube and read online many people have suggested using it as a chicken knife that is why I assumed it would do the trick as well.

Sorry about the inches thing but ya 165-185mm is what Im looking for.

I am a knife fan too so spending some money on a knife is ok but I do want it to be functional. As well I have a fetish for sharp pointy things so if i can get a scary sharp edge on it I will be happy.

On my search I came across this one dosnt seem to be too expensive and what not. http://www.ebay.ca/itm/Japanese-sushi-chef-knife-YOSHIHIRO-Hongasumi-Deba-16-5cm-/390367260040?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5ae3b3ad88#ht_5301wt_1216

Any comments about that.

Also feel free to post links if you have them :)

Mucho Bocho thanks for the link that thing looks pretty darn sexy. I think I hear it calling me :P

08-03-2012, 03:05 PM
I think the thinking behind using a deba for chicken is that it's a heavy stout-looking blade. I happen to love using deba... on fish... and I really wouldn't pick up any of them for chicken. If I'm sectioning out the chicken, it's not really the right profile shape to me and I don't really want to use a single-bevel edge on the ribs of the chicken. If I'm actually scraping meat off bone, no way I'm using a single-bevel knife like that. I wouldn't even do that with some of my thinner-edged double-bevels.

Some of the folks around here have the Yoshihiro honkasumi knives from the eBay seller. JKI has a line (Gesshin Uraku?) made by Yoshihiro but to their specifications using white steel hagane and finished at a honkasumi level. Best thing with JKI, if you decide to go with a Yoshihiro deba is that Jon will make sure you're getting a good blade whereas I'm not sure the eBay sellers are quite as careful about their wares.

08-03-2012, 03:51 PM
I see. I have looked on Jons site and there are some in my price range for sure and after hearing all that good stuff about him I will definitely be looking more into his site.

I know this is a bit off topic but what knife would be suggested for chicken.

Here is kind of where I got an idea to use a deba on chicken.

08-03-2012, 03:58 PM
please dont do that with a deba :(

08-03-2012, 03:59 PM
I use my yoshihiro on really hard bones and was chopping some badarse halibuts bones with it and never got a chip.
Its all in the microbevel for me.

I wouldnt mind scraping chickens and chopping chicken bones with it but I just think the shape of deba doesnt really fit the job.
More a pettys job for me. But did it with chefs knife also :doublethumbsup:

08-03-2012, 04:02 PM
I just watched the chicken video.

Worst chicken job ive seen I think? The best part of the meat left on the carcass... Belongs in knuckleheads imho

Marko Tsourkan
08-03-2012, 04:06 PM
I see. I have looked on Jons site and there are some in my price range for sure and after hearing all that good stuff about him I will definitely be looking more into his site.

I know this is a bit off topic but what knife would be suggested for chicken.

Here is kind of where I got an idea to use a deba on chicken.

That move at 1:29 will put a nice chip on your deba (unless you have a wide microbbevel there). A deba would have heat treated to 58-60RC to withstand that kind of abuse. There is a poultry boning knife - garasuki.

08-03-2012, 04:08 PM
Ok no using deba on chicken hope I didnt upset anyone too much.

Just as a heads up this will be my first japanese knife so I do not know as much about all the finer workings. I have had more experience with European knives.
So if I am barking up the wrong tree with a deba then by all means let me know. :)
Been checking out the selection on Japanese knife imports... Good thing I have a ducked in case I drool a little too much.

08-03-2012, 04:30 PM
Don't know much about single bevel knives myself, but agreed no excuse for wasting the best part of the chicken.

08-03-2012, 04:31 PM
If you want to filet fish, the deba is a wonderful, wonderful instrument. Split the fish head in half too, if you're gonna use it ;)

So... do you want a knife for fish more or a knife for chicken more?

I happen to like using a garasuki for chicken, but I wouldn't consider it a must-have. I wouldn't want to be without my deba for fish though. I'm personally biased towards deba, in case you can't tell ;)

08-03-2012, 05:21 PM
Welcome to the forum

08-03-2012, 05:23 PM
I think the way the deba looks is sexy. plus I have not had any fish in about 3 month because of the lack of being near the ocean currently (land locked hours upon hours of driving to get to the nearest ocean:( ). So I think when I get back to victoria that my fish craving will get me making lots of it :) So the deba is first on the list.

With that all cleared up would anyone be able to suggest one or a couple?

All the input has been very helpful, I appreciate it a lot and am learning lots :)

Gesshin Uraku 180mm White #2 Deba Is the one i was looking at.

08-03-2012, 09:25 PM
You can get a nice, tough Ikkaku honesuki for chicken from Jon while you're at it. I can't compare it to other honesukis, but I really love this thing at work. It's great to have a knife that can take a beating while staying decently sharp.

I'm probably gonna pick up a Gesshin Uraku 195 deba as well one of these days.

08-04-2012, 11:47 AM
If you are looking for something with the same size as a Deba to break down chicken you might look at Chinese cleavers. Martin Yan makes short work with chickens with one of those.

08-05-2012, 01:41 PM
The Honesuki is the other Japanese knife for chicken. The Garasuki is a larger version of the Honesuki. The edge on a Honesuki is either biased heavily on one side, or single edged. The Garasukis I've seen are single edge. I'm sure there is an exception, but its not common.

People looking to add variety to their knife bags will pick up a Honesuki. That is how I got mine. After using the knife for a while, some people will wonder what is so special about a Honesuki? Other's don't care for them and would rather use a western style boning knife.

The western style is breaking a chicken down into pieces. Almost any knife can be used for this purpose, from a paring to a petty. The eastern style emphasis is on de-boning the chicken. They will use a variety of cuts, and scrape the bones, to prepare the meat, so it can be pulled cleanly away from the bones.

This video demonstrates the technique. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRc2TL1C3KQ&feature=endscreen

The Chinese will use a similar technique, or I should say Martin Yan does, with a cleaver.

The popular choice for a Honesuki on the forums is the one by Tojiro.


08-05-2012, 02:15 PM
Has anyone mentioned yo-deba yet? Seems like that might be good consideration.

08-05-2012, 02:59 PM
Maybe the point is, one wouldnt like to take chix apart with a knife heavier than the chicken itself? :)

08-05-2012, 03:18 PM
Who needs a frikin knife!! :D


08-05-2012, 03:24 PM
Who needs a frikin knife!! :D


Awesome...I'll be using that.

08-05-2012, 03:29 PM
Pepin is the Boss....