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JBroida
08-05-2012, 09:22 PM
There are a lot of things i hear on a daily basis from my customers or read online and every once in a while, i come across commonly misunderstood things or myths relating to japanese knives. I thought i'd start a thread where i can post things like that when i remember (or when someone asks me about them). If you have something to add, please feel free (just do a little fact checking first ;) )...

so here we go...

Myth- Japanese single bevel knives have hollow ground edges because they are ground on big round wheels.

Truth- While the rough grinding is done on the large grinding wheels, much of the sharpening and finish sharpening is done on flat surfaces (like the waterwheel i have in my shop and also normal waterstones like you and i sharpen on). This doesnt mean that there cant be high and low spots. They can occur just the same (as they do on belt grinders with flat platens as well). No knives that i can think of off the top of my head are finished on the large wheels people always see in knife making videos. In fact, more often than not, knives are given convexed (or hamaguri) edges from the factory.

Myth- Japanese Single bevel knives need to have the bevels flattened and this is the way things are done in Japan.

Truth- ALL single bevel knives from japan (*that i know of or have seen),even cheap ones, have hamaguri edges. This doesnt mean that its always well done, and often times cheaper knives have poorly done ones. Even usuba and yanagiba. Its not just something done to strengthen an edge, but its also part of the way the knife interacts with food and food release. This is THE recommended way of sharpening single bevel knives by every japanese sharpening professional and/or knife maker that i have met. Flat ground bevels can sometimes be recommended to chefs to help keep things simple in their sharpening, but this is done with the understanding that they are sacrificing some of the performance aspects we look for from single bevel knives.

Myth (or misunderstanding or just cultural difference)- Microbevels are bad for your knife and an unnecessary sacrifice.

My opinion (cant really say truth on this one... its kind of subjective)- Americans (and many other western based cultures) tend to look for the maximum in things. Maximum sharpness, most acute angle a knife can hold, highest hrc, etc. However, you will see many chefs in Japan (the vast majority) use microbevels (koba) on their knives. They understand the small sacrifice in maximum potential sharpness is easily made up for by the increase in edge retention, increase in chip resistance, and ease in touching up the knife during a shift. This stands true for pretty much all single bevel knives i can think of- Usuba, Yanagiba, Deba, kiritsuke, etc. A lot of people seem to think this is just something for debas, but as it turns out its even more important on knives like usuba and yanagiba. Just remember, when you put on a microbevel, use light pressure and make sure to remove the burr.

What microbevels do is remove the very thin and brittle edge of the edge. This is one technique that can be used to get rid of wire edges.

Anyways, thats all for now. I'll probably add more later.

Customfan
08-05-2012, 11:03 PM
Thanks for posting this Jon, I for one am learning a lot from this, please keep it up! :doublethumbsup:

jaybett
08-05-2012, 11:10 PM
Thank you for the myth buster post.

It would be helpful to have clarification of the purposes of traditional Japanese, especially the hybrid ones, such as a Mioroshi Deba, Kiritsuke. Also the Usuba is misunderstood.

Thanks,

Jay

jackslimpson
08-05-2012, 11:14 PM
Myth- Japanese single bevel knives have hollow ground edges because they are ground on big round wheels.

Truth- While the rough grinding is done on the large grinding wheels, much of the sharpening and finish sharpening is done on flat surfaces (like the waterwheel i have in my shop and also normal waterstones like you and i sharpen on). This doesnt mean that there cant be high and low spots. They can occur just the same (as they do on belt grinders with flat platens as well). No knives that i can think of off the top of my head are finished on the large wheels people always see in knife making videos. In fact, more often than not, knives are given convexed (or hamaguri) edges from the factory.



How is the hollow ground side made?

Cheers,

Jack

JBroida
08-05-2012, 11:28 PM
the hollow ground side is cut in on that big wheel and cleaned up with a series of other wheels and buffers (and sometimes by hand as well). izuka-san also uses a sen to do the hollow ground side.

I guess i should have been more specific in referring to the front bevel versus the ura (back side)

JBroida
08-05-2012, 11:49 PM
Myth/Misunderstanding- The ever-fabled single bevel gyuto (with the exception of HHH's most recent one). People come to me all the time asking for a single bevel gyuto, sujihiki, etc. They think this will cut better, faster, easier, etc. than what they have.

Truth- People dont make these in Japan. They sometimes make extremely asymmetrical gyutos, sujis, etc., but not single bevel ones. They dont have hollow ground backs or other characteristics of true single bevel knives. Moreover, sharpening a gyuto as if it were a single bevel knife is rarely a good idea. I've been there and done that (as have many of us). The knives cut great, but they can steer horribly and the edges become fragile and brittle. Sticking to something a little less extreme in most cases will be much better (and in many cases is just flat out necessary).

Myth- Kiritsuke is the all-purpose knife of a Japanese kitchen

Truth- Kiritsuke is a hybrid blade... it is intended to combine the functionality of a yanagiba (for slicing) and an usuba (for veggies). It is not to be used as a deba (to fillet fish). Likewise, mioroshi is a combination of deba (for filleting fish) and yanagiba (for slicing). It is not to be used as a gyuto or usuba. People pick knives like these because they can carry/use one knife instead of two. However, they realize that while these knives can do both tasks, they wont be as good at either as the knife that should be doing the job (deba for filleting fish, yanagiba for slicing fish, etc.). Moreover, kiritsuke is NOT a gyuto (or a version of a single bevel gyuto). There are many kiritsuke-shaped gyutos out there now days, but dont confuse "kiritsuke-shaped" with kiritsuke.

Myth- Deba is great for breaking down chicken

Truth- Deba is not at all ideal for this, nor is this the intended purpose of deba. The japanese have knives for breaking down chicken- Honesuki and Garasuki. Deba is a fish filleting knife. That is what it is made to do and that is what it does best. Between all of the professional sharpeners on here, i'm sure there are more than a few stories of debas that needed fixing because someone decided it would be a good idea to split a chicken in 2 with one.

markenki
08-05-2012, 11:53 PM
Great information, Jon. Thanks for these posts.

Vertigo
08-06-2012, 12:15 AM
Jon - doesn't "kiritsuke" really just refer to the shape of the tip of the knife, like a "tanto" tipped knife (but angled back instead of forwards)? So anything (including a pocket knife) with that particular shape is a "kiritsuke?"

JBroida
08-06-2012, 12:23 AM
not when it comes to kitchen knives (though there may be some maker out there that uses it in a way different from what i am saying here... just havent met that person in japan yet). Based on the kanji 切付, one might guess that is refers to 切付ける as in a verb of cutting, but really it just refers to this specific knife. It has nothing to do with the tip shape. Thats why when people do something in that shape, they call it "kiritsuke-shaped" (or should call it such at least).

Tristan
08-06-2012, 03:03 AM
Jon - doesn't "kiritsuke" really just refer to the shape of the tip of the knife, like a "tanto" tipped knife (but angled back instead of forwards)? So anything (including a pocket knife) with that particular shape is a "kiritsuke?"

I'm guessing that this sometimes gets the same treatment as damascus in western knife maker's terminologies

stevenStefano
08-06-2012, 06:19 AM
I understand why you say it isn't really a good idea to sharpen knives totally asymmetrically, but one instance where I think it is a great idea is if you are a lefty and you're using a righty knife (so basically all of them). I have noticed food release on basically all of my knives improve massively when sharpening them with very strong asymmetry

Salty dog
08-06-2012, 06:22 AM
Myth: The Japanese knife gods will strike you dead if you use a knife for something other than it's designed purpose.

bieniek
08-06-2012, 08:22 AM
Myth: You have to apprentice for at least 400 years to be respected sharpener

Mucho Bocho
08-06-2012, 09:13 AM
Salty, good to hear but I'm still afraid to use my deba for anything else other than butchering whole fish, as a result the knife has remained unused even once. Its been sitting on my wall looking bad ass but un touched. I must be loosing perspective, there is nothing else I can think of that I have ever bought that cost $300 that I haven't even used once. heck, even my 12" Falk saute pan has been used a few times.

maxim
08-06-2012, 12:08 PM
I use my small 150mm Deba for chickens too :newhere:

Eamon Burke
08-06-2012, 12:18 PM
Jon, I cannot imagine the patience it takes to not just put a giant sign in your store telling people that a Deba is not for splitting chickens.

BTW, in English-speaking knife circles, a Kiritsuke-style-tip is often referred to as "reverse tanto". Still inaccurate and half-Japanese, but there should be a word for Kiritsuke-Style-Tip.

JBroida
08-06-2012, 12:42 PM
Myth: The Japanese knife gods will strike you dead if you use a knife for something other than it's designed purpose.

lol... never said you cant do things with the knives they arent intended for... just stating that thats not what deba is designed to do, so if you pick one up and think you can hack a chicken in 2 with one because its a really thick blade, dont be surprised if there are some chips in the blade. I know people who use deba for chicken and done have problems. I also know that sometimes people gear their choice of steel/heat treatment so the deba will be tougher and can handle this kind of task better. Anyways, honesuki and garasuki are still better for the task. But at the end of the day, they are your knives and you can do with them as you please. That doesnt mean that deciding to use usuba to take the head off a 100lb tuna is a good idea, but feel free ;)

JBroida
08-06-2012, 12:43 PM
Myth: You have to apprentice for at least 400 years to be respected sharpener

:doublethumbsup:

maxim
08-06-2012, 01:04 PM
lol... never said you cant do things with the knives they arent intended for... just stating that thats not what deba is designed to do, so if you pick one up and think you can hack a chicken in 2 with one because its a really thick blade, dont be surprised if there are some chips in the blade. I know people who use deba for chicken and done have problems. I also know that sometimes people gear their choice of steel/heat treatment so the deba will be tougher and can handle this kind of task better. Anyways, honesuki and garasuki are still better for the task. But at the end of the day, they are your knives and you can do with them as you please. That doesnt mean that deciding to use usuba to take the head off a 100lb tuna is a good idea, but feel free ;)

:plus1:

dmccurtis
08-06-2012, 01:24 PM
I see it as a letter of the law vs. spirit of the law situation. A deba was not designed for breaking down chicken, but it takes off chicken breast and goes through leg joints as easily as it fillets tai and cuts between fish vertebrae. Similarly a yanagiba was never designed for skinning pork belly or portioning tenderloin, but it performs those tasks with aplomb. I would never split a chicken carcass with a deba, nor would I suggest a deba as first choice for breaking down chicken, but used within its parameters, it does the job extremely well.

wsfarrell
08-06-2012, 01:25 PM
Not exactly a myth, but:

As I understand it, a kasumi finish is the result of grinding through a rough forged finish, so a kurouchi blade will be black at the top, gray kasumi towards the middle, and naked steel towards the edge--as in this thread that Jon contributed to:

kurouchi (http://www.cheftalk.com/t/70299/uneven-finish-on-moritaka-210mm-wa-gyuto)

What I don't understand is faux kasumi finishes. At 2:25 in this video a guy is using a jig to apply a faux kasumi finish. Is this the way it's usually done? Is he using a stone or something else?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXWrnVvqmsQ

Eamon Burke
08-06-2012, 01:36 PM
I'll let Jon address the question, since it is his thread. But I really want one of those knife-pinning arms.

JBroida
08-06-2012, 02:44 PM
Not exactly a myth, but:

As I understand it, a kasumi finish is the result of grinding through a rough forged finish, so a kurouchi blade will be black at the top, gray kasumi towards the middle, and naked steel towards the edge--as in this thread that Jon contributed to:

kurouchi (http://www.cheftalk.com/t/70299/uneven-finish-on-moritaka-210mm-wa-gyuto)

What I don't understand is faux kasumi finishes. At 2:25 in this video a guy is using a jig to apply a faux kasumi finish. Is this the way it's usually done? Is he using a stone or something else?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXWrnVvqmsQ

Kasumi just means mist. Kasumi finishes are applied in a number of ways. I would not call what you saw there a faux kasumi finish. Really, nothing we see is a faux kasumi finish. What might be more appropriate is to refer to faux kasumi finish for cheap kurouchi double bevel knives, where they have the kasumi look, but where the bevels dont follow where the kasumi finish.

Kasumi finish does not necessarily mean the knife has been finished on natural stones (at least in the traditional methods of sharpening we often do).

Moreover, the term kasumi (and hon-kasumi) have really become marketing terms more than anything else. Retailers use these terms to indicate the quality level of the blade (i.e. the relative skill of the blacksmith and sharpener, the amount of time the sharpener spends making the knife perfect, etc.). Kasumi are generally lower quality with regard to these areas when compared to hon-kasumi.

With regard to what you see in the video, that is one common way of finishing a bevel. You may also see people doing this in a more traditional sharpening method on stone or applying the look with a sand blaster. They would all be kasumi (as they look misty).

jackslimpson
08-06-2012, 02:47 PM
lol... never said you cant do things with the knives they arent intended for... just stating that thats not what deba is designed to do, so if you pick one up and think you can hack a chicken in 2 with one because its a really thick blade, dont be surprised if there are some chips in the blade. I know people who use deba for chicken and done have problems. I also know that sometimes people gear their choice of steel/heat treatment so the deba will be tougher and can handle this kind of task better. Anyways, honesuki and garasuki are still better for the task. But at the end of the day, they are your knives and you can do with them as you please. That doesnt mean that deciding to use usuba to take the head off a 100lb tuna is a good idea, but feel free ;)

Great thread.

I eat chicken and fish; I break down whole chicken and fish. If I thought it was ok to use one knife for both tasks, I would have one knife for them. Therefore, I like this rule, one knife for fish, another for chicken, because it allows me to get ANOTHER KNIFE. More rules, more knives.

Rationalizatingly yours,

Jack

JBroida
08-06-2012, 02:47 PM
I understand why you say it isn't really a good idea to sharpen knives totally asymmetrically, but one instance where I think it is a great idea is if you are a lefty and you're using a righty knife (so basically all of them). I have noticed food release on basically all of my knives improve massively when sharpening them with very strong asymmetry

converting a knife from righty to lefty can be simple or complex depending on the grind of the sides of the knife. I see where you are going here and it makes sense to an extent. Just make sure you're not going too extreme with clad blades and if the edge starts to get very thin, maybe use a microbevel, a compound bevel, or a hamaguri edge. FWIW, huge flat grinds from "single-bevel-style-sharpening" on double bevel knives arent the best for food release, so a slight hamaguri edge is a smarter way to go for food release.

wsfarrell
08-06-2012, 03:26 PM
....You may also see people doing this in a more traditional sharpening method on stone or applying the look with a sand blaster. They would all be kasumi (as they look misty).

A lot of kasumi finishes look like they're sandblasted, but this is the first time I've had any evidence that they actually are.

JBroida
08-06-2012, 03:34 PM
Myth- Kitchen Knives made by swordsmiths

Truth- There are a few (and i mean VERY few) exceptions to what i am about to say, and even with those knives, they are not production knives (honestly, more often that not they are gifts from that craftsmen to a friend). Sword making is a very competitive field. Very few people are successful within this field in japan. With the Meiji restoration (1868), making swords became tightly controlled and is pretty much just an artistic traditional craft now. All but the most successful and talented sword making families/companies stopped making swords. Some moved into other fields, including making tools and knives. For generations now, families that have their roots in sword making have not made swords.

The construction of philosophy behind swords and knives are very different as well. For example, swords are designed to be able to cut through people and armor whereas knives are designed to cut precisely though foods and meats of much softer composition (and with less bone and armor in the way ;) ). Swords have soft steel in the core (for toughness and to resist chipping and breaking) and harder steel on the outside (for stability and strength). Their edges are constructed in a way so as to be able to cut through someone and still be ok to cut again. Kitchen knives are designed with hard cutting edges (for both honyaki and awase- or clad- knives). They also have softer steel on the outside (or at the spine in the case of honyaki blades). They are designed to cut precisely, but not to be able to withstand the same kind of abuse swords can take.

In my conversations with a sword smith (who happens to be a family friend and a provincial treasure), he always mentions how different swords and kitchen knives are (as i often try to pick his brain for knowledge in forging and sharpening).

So, in conclusion- making good swords ≠ making good knives or visa versa. Making good knives = making good knives and making good swords = making good swords. :pirate1: This is probably oversimplified, and i'm sure there are one or two guys out there who make great swords and great knives, so take this for what its worth.

Oh... and just because a blade has damascus cladding doesnt make it the same as katana. :moonwalk:

JBroida
08-06-2012, 03:37 PM
A lot of kasumi finishes look like they're sandblasted, but this is the first time I've had any evidence that they actually are.

you might be surprised at some that look sand blasted and are not or visa versa. FYI, sand blasting is more common on cheaper blades but sometimes can be used on more expensive blades. People like pretty things, no?

Also, there are still a lot of craftsmen out there using more traditional methods, so dont be disheartened.

wsfarrell
08-06-2012, 04:02 PM
you might be surprised at some that look sand blasted and are not or visa versa. FYI, sand blasting is more common on cheaper blades but sometimes can be used on more expensive blades. People like pretty things, no?

Also, there are still a lot of craftsmen out there using more traditional methods, so dont be disheartened.

Far from disheartened, I'm just trying to figure out which Harbor Freight sandblaster would have the horsepower to do a kasumi finish. :laugh:

Seriously, though, do you have any sources for that blade clamp/polishing jig/pinning arm in the video?

JBroida
08-06-2012, 04:07 PM
most craftsmen make most if not all of their own tools

also, just sandblasting is not enough... there is much more prep work that goes into the knife before that point. I feel very comfortable saying its not the easiest way to get a nice kasumi finish.

Dave Martell
08-06-2012, 04:30 PM
Great thread Jon

Eamon Burke
08-06-2012, 04:58 PM
Is it a myth or not that double beveled Japanese knives(Santoku, Sujihiki, Gyuto, etc) are Japanese in design, but of western origin? I.E. did they take western knives and alter them through a Japanese lens, or were these independent developments?

JBroida
08-06-2012, 05:04 PM
that kind of thing has a bit more merit... a lot of interesting things happened during the meiji restoration (1868-1912)... much of this time period was about japan going out into the world and learning about how other countries did things. They adapted educational systems, military systems, clothing systems, etc. Knives were also greatly influenced. Specifically, gyuto, sujihiki, petty knife, etc. Santoku and nakairi are less clear to me and i would be overzealous to say anything with 100% confidence here.

JBroida
08-06-2012, 05:07 PM
FYI, i am keeping this whole list updated on my blog too... sometimes these things get a bit cluttered with questions and answers, so the myth/truth part without interruption is available here:
http://blog.japaneseknifeimports.com/2012/08/dispelling-myths.html

brainsausage
08-06-2012, 05:22 PM
Great thread Jon. I've been fascinated by Japanese culture since my early teens, and it's very refreshing having a western mind disseminating said culture in an informative and unbiased manner.

mpukas
08-06-2012, 05:30 PM
Is it a myth or not that double beveled Japanese knives(Santoku, Sujihiki, Gyuto, etc) are Japanese in design, but of western origin? I.E. did they take western knives and alter them through a Japanese lens, or were these independent developments?

Didn't you say that santoku was was introduced after WWII to Japanese house-wives as a way of being more Western in their kitchen? Prior to this, Japanese knives were single-purposed, and satoku was marketed to them as being multi-purpose, more like the Westerners use? Santoku being three treasures or merits - I've seen/heard them dubbed as chop, dice and slice, but that sounds stupid to me, as all three of these tasks are related and can be done w/ a usuba, etc. Vegetable, fish and meat seems more appropriate as these three traditionally required three (or more) specific knives (usuba, deba, yanagiba, honesuki & honkatsu).

Sara@JKI
08-06-2012, 05:36 PM
Is it a myth or not that double beveled Japanese knives(Santoku, Sujihiki, Gyuto, etc) are Japanese in design, but of western origin? I.E. did they take western knives and alter them through a Japanese lens, or were these independent developments?

I'm referring two renowned Japanese books for the comment I'm about to make here...

According to the books, Deba and nakiri used to be around for every house hold for a long long time.. then from around Meiji Restoration, wa-gyuto, santoku etc (primarily double bevel knives) have become more popular among home cooks, and eventually replaced deba and nakiri (once again, at home kitchens, not in professional environments). This indicates some double bevel knives have been around....

FYI: regarding their design, in most cases, santoku and nakiri are categorized as wa bocho, and sujihiki is yo bocho...

Eamon Burke
08-06-2012, 07:01 PM
Didn't you say that santoku was was introduced after WWII to Japanese house-wives as a way of being more Western in their kitchen? Prior to this, Japanese knives were single-purposed, and satoku was marketed to them as being multi-purpose, more like the Westerners use? Santoku being three treasures or merits - I've seen/heard them dubbed as chop, dice and slice, but that sounds stupid to me, as all three of these tasks are related and can be done w/ a usuba, etc. Vegetable, fish and meat seems more appropriate as these three traditionally required three (or more) specific knives (usuba, deba, yanagiba, honesuki & honkatsu).

That is how I've understood it on all counts(except it was prior to WWII IIRC, just post globalization). I guess I stated it in a strange way, but just wanted exactly the kind of clarification that Sara and Jon have provided. A lot of times, you see Gyutos being explained as being different from a Chef's and they get credit for their origins being in the Katana. But it has been my understanding, and it seems re-affirmed here, that the Gyuto is a Western knife concept(the hard-use, low maintenance, all-rounder design) processed through the Japanese knife making mindset--like a cover version of a song that is better than the original. Nothing to do with weapons.

I did not know, however, that the Nakiri is a Japanese double bevel design. That is interesting, I did not know they ever made a double bevel independently.

mpukas
08-06-2012, 07:34 PM
FYI: regarding their design, in most cases, santoku and nakiri are categorized as wa bocho, and sujihiki is yo bocho...

Thanks for the info Sara.

In the case above, "wa" meaning "Japanese style" and "yo" meaning "Western style", regardless of handle style? What is gyuto - wa bocho or yo bocho? And, does the term "gyuto" come from - is there any relation to cow?

I'm curious about the origins and intended uses of double bevel knives, as they are (except now for nakiri) what I call non-traditional (as opposed to traditional knives, those being single bevel and developed in Japan for specific uses/tasks). It seems, as Eamon pointed out, that <most> double bevel knives are Japanese interpretations of Western knives. Thanks!

JBroida
08-06-2012, 07:43 PM
wa and yo can describe both both handle and blade style. However, naming things can be a bit more complicated due to trying to make things sound good. For example wa-gyuto is clearly a yo-bocho with a wa-handle. But no one calls a yanagiba with a western handle yo-yanagiba (maybe because its so uncommon).

maxim
08-07-2012, 02:47 AM
I will like to add something about Jnats :D

Many think that sword stones or sword polishing is same as knife polishing, but in fact that is very very different things !
They have to use very different stones as steel is much softer then on our knives ! Stones they need to have very little cutting power and be very different shape.

Many sword smith is NOT sword polishers so dont think that is you are sword smith you have to be good at sharpening things or polish it !

Crothcipt
08-07-2012, 02:56 AM
Great thread.

I eat chicken and fish; I break down whole chicken and fish. If I thought it was ok to use one knife for both tasks, I would have one knife for them. Therefore, I like this rule, one knife for fish, another for chicken, because it allows me to get ANOTHER KNIFE. More rules, more knives.

Rationalizatingly yours,

Jack

+10

keithsaltydog
08-07-2012, 04:58 AM
Interesting some history of Japan Gyuto's.I always thought that the more traditional Japan Gyuto is drop nose wt. flatter edge profile.Like the Takagi Honyaki Gyuto, Kamagata Usuba,& the Santoku.The Santoku is a good design for tight spaces.

I also like the looks of the Kiritsuke tho I have never used one.I may end up wt. one of these yet.What kind either the Gyuto double bevel or the more pricy true carbon single bevel hollow grind Kiritsuki.

Sara@JKI
08-07-2012, 10:55 AM
I will like to add something about Jnats :D

Many think that sword stones or sword polishing is same as knife polishing, but in fact that is very very different things !
They have to use very different stones as steel is much softer then on our knives ! Stones they need to have very little cutting power and be very different shape.

Many sword smith is NOT sword polishers so dont think that is you are sword smith you have to be good at sharpening things or polish it !


Yeeeeees! Thank you for adding that!

Jay
08-08-2012, 03:41 PM
This is one of the best knife threads I read in the last ten years.

JBroida
08-08-2012, 11:31 PM
Myth- Deba is for hacking off fish heads and other similar techniques

Truth- Deba is for taking off fish heads, but the technique is anything but hacking. Deba is not built for the kind of crazy abuse people seem to think it is (due to the blade thickness and heft i would guess. It does hold up to cutting through fish bones, but its also important to use proper and clean technique. See here:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrBjgFfeo4A&feature=plcp


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox2wgKuV_X0&feature=plcp


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmCzfeiqjj4&feature=plcp

Notice that none of the above videos feature rough or careless technique with the knife. While deba is thick, it doesnt mean its abuse friendly.

On a similar note, i see many people looking for cheaper debas and significantly softer steels. Many people do this because they think deba is just a knife for rough use in breaking down things. Cheaper debas feature many of the same problems other cheap single bevel knives do... poor grind on the ura, poor grind on the bevel, significant warping problems, poor heat treatment. I'm not against being budget friendly, but i am of the mind that it is necessary to buy a good tool that does its job well over saving some money and buying a tool that doesnt do the job as well. Just like other single bevel knives, white #2 and #1 and blue #2 and #1 are the best carbon options from japan. White #2 works better for beginners and people who value ease of sharpening. Blue #1 works best for those who are skilled with the knife and value edge retention. Softer steels (SK steel and sub-par white #3) will not hold an edge well enough, and deba does require a good edge to be able to do its job well. Its not just there to hack things up.

mpukas
08-09-2012, 11:55 AM
Are debas sharpened to the same level of acuteness as yanagibas and usubas?

Is the heel of debas sometimes sharpened with a lower angle, and possibly a micro-bevel, so the heel portion is used for tougher taskes and the tip is used for finer tasks?

JBroida
08-09-2012, 03:41 PM
They arent sharpened to the same acute angle, as the blade is thicker so the angle is less acute. However, many chefs use the same finishing stone on their deba as they do on their yanagiba (something in the 4-6k range... sometimes 8k). Some chefs will use a back bevel (like a microbevel but on the ura) towards the heel of a deba. Most people use microbevel's along the entire edge. Also, not everyone uses the back bevel. The toughest task that knife will do is taking off the head and this is done by finding a joint between vertebrae, placing the knife gently there, putting your hand on the spine of the knife, and pressing firmly through it (without twisting)... not harsh at all.

Zwiefel
08-09-2012, 03:48 PM
They arent sharpened to the same acute angle, as the blade is thicker so the angle is less acute. However, many chefs use the same finishing stone on their deba as they do on their yanagiba (something in the 4-6k range... sometimes 8k). Some chefs will use a back bevel (like a microbevel but on the ura) towards the heel of a deba. Most people use microbevel's along the entire edge. Also, not everyone uses the back bevel. The toughest task that knife will do is taking off the head and this is done by finding a joint between vertebrae, placing the knife gently there, putting your hand on the spine of the knife, and pressing firmly through it (without twisting)... not harsh at all.

Jon, if you aren't careful you're going to leave people with the impression that you know what you're talking about. :)

Very interesting thread, thanks!

bieniek
08-09-2012, 03:57 PM
Myth: Every single japanese citizen have a vast knowledge about kitchen cutlery since the day theyre born.

JBroida
08-09-2012, 04:36 PM
Myth: Every single japanese citizen have a vast knowledge about kitchen cutlery since the day theyre born.

lol

Truth: Most japanese people dont even know the name of the style of knife they use. Nakiri, santoku, and petty are most common (in the 165mm size and under) as is deba. Also, lately, german knives have become popular in home kitchens for ease of care and lack of skill required to be able to be used. Very few people know how to sharpen. Most people dont even know a lot of the vocabulary we use here on a daily basis (uraoshi, kamagata usuba, koba, machi, etc.)

The vast majority of what we talk about here are professional knives used in professional kitchens in japan or knives specifically designed for the western market.

Zwiefel
08-09-2012, 04:45 PM
lol

Truth: Most japanese people dont even know the name of the style of knife they use. Nakiri, santoku, and petty are most common (in the 165mm size and under) as is deba. Also, lately, german knives have become popular in home kitchens for ease of care and lack of skill required to be able to be used. Very few people know how to sharpen. Most people dont even know a lot of the vocabulary we use here on a daily basis (uraoshi, kamagata usuba, koba, machi, etc.)

The vast majority of what we talk about here are professional knives used in professional kitchens in japan or knives specifically designed for the western market.

I have a Japanese employee and this is exactly what I have discovered in my discussions with him over the last couple of weeks. He knows "gyuto" and that's it.

Chefdog
08-12-2012, 11:58 PM
MYTH:
A Samurai can turn an entire case of artichokes with one swing of his Katana.

ThEoRy
08-13-2012, 12:17 AM
MYTH:
A Samurai can turn an entire case of artichokes with one swing of his Katana.

That part is true though.

Cutty Sharp
08-13-2012, 01:03 AM
Truth: Most japanese people dont even know the name of the style of knife they use. Nakiri, santoku, and petty are most common (in the 165mm size and under) as is deba. Also, lately, german knives have become popular in home kitchens for ease of care and lack of skill required to be able to be used. Very few people know how to sharpen. Most people dont even know a lot of the vocabulary we use here on a daily basis (uraoshi, kamagata usuba, koba, machi, etc.) The vast majority of what we talk about here are professional knives used in professional kitchens in japan or knives specifically designed for the western market

Very true! First, you see plenty of German knives around there. Maybe sometimes they're seen as foreign and therefore possibly better/more interesting/different? Psychology, I guess. Meanwhile, things like the Henckels Made in Japan Miyabi line seem pretty common - and so ironic, a Western company selling Japanese knives back to the Japanese.

Yes, if you go talking about kurouchi/hagane/jigane/santoku/yanagiba, etc, to the average Japanese they will be bemused, not really know what in the world you're on about, and find it odd a foreigner would know and care about such things. Even in knife shops they might be surprised.

Also, I'd say there's no special reverence for knives amongst the general public there. Just as elsewhere, knives are just things you need and not really interesting, and not something to spend much time or money on. Kitchen tools. Although sometimes nice knives are also seen as a good gift.

Sara@JKI
08-13-2012, 02:06 AM
lol

Truth: Most japanese people dont even know the name of the style of knife they use. Nakiri, santoku, and petty are most common (in the 165mm size and under) as is deba. Also, lately, german knives have become popular in home kitchens for ease of care and lack of skill required to be able to be used. Very few people know how to sharpen. Most people dont even know a lot of the vocabulary we use here on a daily basis (uraoshi, kamagata usuba, koba, machi, etc.)

The vast majority of what we talk about here are professional knives used in professional kitchens in japan or knives specifically designed for the western market.

yes, true... especially among younger people (including my generation). I must admit some of my friends even had knives from 100 yen shop (Japanese version of 99c store).

JBroida
08-13-2012, 02:14 AM
yes, true... especially among younger people (including my generation). I must admit some of my friends even had knives from 100 yen shop (Japanese version of 99c store).

i know...i remember seeing them when you were in college :P

maxim
08-13-2012, 05:28 AM
Another one i just discovered :) Thick spine knifes will always wedge in vegetables and lasers will not

Cutty Sharp
08-13-2012, 08:23 AM
Another one i just discovered :) Thick spine knifes will always wedge in vegetables and lasers will not

Woo... I'm a think-spined type, and so like to hear this. It's true too.

phan1
08-14-2012, 01:04 AM
I have a question that's been bugging me for a while:

For traditional Japanese, single beveled carbon steel knives, why do people use such a reactive steel for the jigane? Wouldn't it make sense to use a stainless steel for the jigane and keep, say, white #2 for the hagane? It would seem like the most "Duh" thing to do, but for some reason it's just not done. I'm assuming I'm totally missing a point on how these knives are made...

JBroida
08-14-2012, 02:21 AM
I have a question that's been bugging me for a while:

For traditional Japanese, single beveled carbon steel knives, why do people use such a reactive steel for the jigane? Wouldn't it make sense to use a stainless steel for the jigane and keep, say, white #2 for the hagane? It would seem like the most "Duh" thing to do, but for some reason it's just not done. I'm assuming I'm totally missing a point on how these knives are made...

i can give a few reasons...

one, stainless and carbon are hard to put together and generally require large equipment and/or massive amounts of force (not to mention the skill level involved). Two, the soft iron is used because it is easy to sharpen, makes blade repair and straitening easier, is readily available, was traditionally used, and cost effective. And three, many people associate the way a knife is kept by the chef with that chefs ability to work clean etc. Carbon knives force this habit and even to this day in japan many people look at chefs who use stainless single bevel knives as a joke (not to say there arent awesome stainless single bevel knives out there, but its an uphill battle against a long standing stigma).

Cutty Sharp
08-14-2012, 03:57 AM
... many people associate the way a knife is kept by the chef with that chefs ability to work clean etc. Carbon knives force this habit and even to this day in japan many people look at chefs who use stainless single bevel knives as a joke (not to say there arent awesome stainless single bevel knives out there, but its an uphill battle against a long standing stigma).

Whew - great observation! Very interesting.

phan1
08-15-2012, 01:08 AM
Whew - great observation! Very interesting.

Yeah it gets pretty intense. I've been in some sushi bars where guys don't even let their knives patina, and their carbon knives look pristine every second of every day. Lots of AJAX and polishing their knives down with a cork. I swear these guys spend about 40 minutes taking care of their knives every day.

Cutty Sharp
08-15-2012, 01:56 AM
Yeah it gets pretty intense. I've been in some sushi bars where guys don't even let their knives patina, and their carbon knives look pristine every second of every day. Lots of AJAX and polishing their knives down with a cork. I swear these guys spend about 40 minutes taking care of their knives every day.

I take it you're living there?

This would make sense, I guess, as I've seen decades-old, retired blades, severly thinned and sharpened down, yet still surprisingly silver and shiny.

bieniek
08-15-2012, 10:19 AM
i think its a pain to thin down soft stainless...

Messy Jesse
08-15-2012, 10:31 AM
How about the myth that bigger is better when I comes to knife length? Guys are always recommending getting the longest blade you can, but I find that most times, a really sharp, nimble shorter blade works better. And whenever I see old sushi guys they always seem to be using shorter blades...

maxim
08-15-2012, 10:45 AM
In EU i tend to sell much smaller knives not over 210mm and yeah in Japanese sushi bars or restaurants i have only seen smaller blades 180mm or 210 Yanagi.
I my self use only under 210 blades even when i was pro, i don't know its just feels more comfy even if i chop larger things

stevenStefano
08-15-2012, 10:55 AM
How about the myth that bigger is better when I comes to knife length? Guys are always recommending getting the longest blade you can, but I find that most times, a really sharp, nimble shorter blade works better. And whenever I see old sushi guys they always seem to be using shorter blades...

I wouldn't say that is a myth, just some people have their own preferences

knyfeknerd
08-15-2012, 11:38 AM
I wouldn't say that is a myth, just some people have their own preferences+1
I used to be a 190-210 size user. I couldn't understand how anyone could comfortably wield a 270 blade until I actually got one. It took a little getting used to, but having the ability to knock out large prep quickly is a huge time-saver. I' be gotten rid of my smaller gyutos because I just don't use them anymore. Totally a personal preference.

stevenStefano
08-15-2012, 11:41 AM
If I could do it all again I'd only buy 270s from the very start

Cutty Sharp
08-15-2012, 12:35 PM
So much of it has to do with the space confines you have to work in, I think.

Messy Jesse
08-15-2012, 07:48 PM
Or the type of prep you're doing. Everyone talks about a 270 smashing through heaps of this or boxes of that... I work in a small, detail focused kitchen where you might only have to cut up one of this or 2 of these, you know?

Sara@JKI
08-15-2012, 08:56 PM
Putting a lot of effort in cleanliness is such a normal part of Japanese culture... For instance, school kids will have "cleaning time" everyday at school, and they are taking care of their class rooms, bathrooms, school yard, gyms, corridors, stairs and everything. We come from this type of environment where being clean and working clean is normal, and the opposite is quite shocking and even unforgivable... A lot of people, including myself, have an expectation for chefs cooking traditional Japanese food to be able to take good care of their own knives and other tools. We also read and watch a lot about chefs, and it's a common knowledge among us that anyone call themselves "professional" should take a pride in their tools and maintain them well.

Vertigo
08-15-2012, 08:56 PM
Or the type of prep you're doing. Everyone talks about a 270 smashing through heaps of this or boxes of that... I work in a small, detail focused kitchen where you might only have to cut up one of this or 2 of these, you know?

The size of the knife doesn't preclude you from focusing on detail. I peel fruit in hand and cube avocados in the skin with a 270mm, though I definitely wouldn't say that "bigger is always better." It's all about being comfortable and having the right tool for the job. At home I'm happy using a 210 (unless I'm slicing meats), but my kitchen is tiny, usually overcrowded, and I'm never in a hurry. At work though, when I see a new cook making gallons of mirepoix with a 6" santoku, doing a rib or two of celery at a time... well, then it's time to train them in being comfortable with something bigger. :D

MadMel
08-15-2012, 10:48 PM
Or the type of prep you're doing. Everyone talks about a 270 smashing through heaps of this or boxes of that... I work in a small, detail focused kitchen where you might only have to cut up one of this or 2 of these, you know?

Small, detail focus. Marque or Sepia? I know there are a few others out there but these spring immediately to mind.

phan1
08-19-2012, 12:40 PM
I got another myth-buster type of question:

Should the edge on a usuba really be DEAD FLAT? I always prefer a curve (sometimes even a big curve actually). Because I swear I've never seen any kitchen cutting board that's dead flat either. I'm often stuck using the side of the cutting board because the middle craters in and I can't cut through anything. Hugely annoying! I don't see how anybody could use a dead flat usuba...

SameGuy
08-19-2012, 01:24 PM
+1
I used to be a 190-210 size user. I couldn't understand how anyone could comfortably wield a 270 blade until I actually got one. It took a little getting used to, but having the ability to knock out large prep quickly is a huge time-saver. I' be gotten rid of my smaller gyutos because I just don't use them anymore. Totally a personal preference.This, except I'm not a pro. Heck, I'm not even very advanced, though I've been cooking since before I could ride a bike. I've only been serious about knives and knife skills for a short time (though I've owned good German and French carbon for 20 years or so), and the move from sub-nine-inch blades up to the 270s and 300s was a revelation. I'm not faster, but I'm definitely better.

JBroida
08-19-2012, 01:43 PM
I got another myth-buster type of question:

Should the edge on a usuba really be DEAD FLAT? I always prefer a curve (sometimes even a big curve actually). Because I swear I've never seen any kitchen cutting board that's dead flat either. I'm often stuck using the side of the cutting board because the middle craters in and I can't cut through anything. Hugely annoying! I don't see how anybody could use a dead flat usuba...

some chefs have a very gentle curve at the last centimeter or so of the tip on kamagata usuba, but the rest of the edge is flat.

knyfeknerd
08-19-2012, 04:20 PM
some chefs have a very gentle curve at the last centimeter or so of the tip on kamagata usuba, but the rest of the edge is flat.

Still want to see pics of yours. No, we haven't forgotten.

JBroida
08-19-2012, 04:33 PM
here's one of mine... 180mm blue #2 steel
http://img837.imageshack.us/img837/5836/img1114xa.jpg

knyfeknerd
08-19-2012, 04:39 PM
Thanks Jon, I've wondered about this. The tip on mine chips off easily every time. I'm going to give this a shot next time I sharpen. Thanks again for a picture to reference.

JBroida
08-19-2012, 04:40 PM
you can see its just slight, right?

knyfeknerd
08-19-2012, 05:00 PM
you can see its just slight, right?

It actually is a little more pronounced than I expected. I may start out even smaller than this.

SameGuy
08-19-2012, 05:01 PM
私は漢字が読めません。

Brand?

JBroida
08-19-2012, 05:06 PM
tsukiji masamoto... my first kamagata usuba... 180mm in blue #2

Its also engraved with the name of the restaurant i worked at in Japan

SameGuy
08-19-2012, 06:02 PM
Ah, so desu. Arigato gosaimasu [almost the extent of my Japanese]...

schanop
08-19-2012, 06:05 PM
Jon,

I drew a line on your photo. Is the gap between the line and the edge a good representative of the actual knife?

http://img821.imageshack.us/img821/8995/susubacurve.jpg

PS. what happened to your legs? :clown:

SameGuy
08-19-2012, 06:08 PM
He's trying out for the South Afrikan track team.

JBroida
08-19-2012, 06:17 PM
no... i think there's some funky angle thing going on with how i was holding the knife... its just a bit less than it looks there

schanop
08-19-2012, 06:20 PM
OK get it. Could be your lens' barrel distortion.

phan1
08-19-2012, 11:37 PM
OK, here's another question:

In Japanese culture, is a patina acceptable on a knife or is it considered undesirable? Like I said, I've been around some hardcore guys who have carbon knives that are kept pristine all the time. I always have some patina on my knife, particularly on ura, where it never makes contact with a stone.

JBroida
08-20-2012, 01:14 AM
no patina in japan... people think of it as dirty

SameGuy
08-20-2012, 04:03 AM
After seeing some really shiny knives lately, I'm not only tempted to scrub off the patina (which I do like), but to have a go at the machine finish on my knives with wet papers ( la Salty).

maxim
08-20-2012, 04:53 AM
Hmm Jon do you maybe mean in Pro restaurants ? Corse i have seen a lot of patinet knives in Japan, home kitchens, markets etc..


no patina in japan... people think of it as dirty

Cutty Sharp
08-20-2012, 08:12 AM
Hmm Jon do you maybe mean in Pro restaurants ? Corse i have seen a lot of patinet knives in Japan, home kitchens, markets etc..

Me too, actually. I think he must mean - in particular - sushi bars and resto kitchens open to public view.

JBroida
08-20-2012, 12:38 PM
yeah... sorry about that.

Sara@JKI
09-06-2012, 01:07 AM
i think patina often happens to knives used in home kitchens... for instance, my mom's have patina on them. but it doesn't mean it's a "preferable" for most home cooks either. My mom (and my relatives and friends) would rather have shiny knives and don't set patina on knives if it weren't too much of trouble. I've never seen anyone, pros and non-pros, develop patina intentionally.

Benuser
09-06-2012, 10:02 AM
If you deal with a stinking SK-4 you really have no choice, other than forcing a patina.

John Harper
01-13-2013, 08:01 AM
Hi JBroida,



However, you will see many chefs in Japan (the vast majority) use microbevels (koba) on their knives.

Allow me to introduce myself. Though I am new to this forum, I have been lurking for a while and was impressed by the many excellent threads, this one included. I am an enthusiastic sharpener, made a few knives, favour lasers over heavier blades, like my steels hard and prefer micro bevels over simple edges.

Did you ever get to measure or estimate the angle of Koba on single bevel Yanagis, Usubas and Debas that the pros use with top end knives? And how about domestic users?

Thanks in advance for your reply.

Cheers
John

eto
01-13-2013, 11:11 AM
Welcome to the forums.

JBroida
01-13-2013, 01:06 PM
Hi JBroida,



Allow me to introduce myself. Though I am new to this forum, I have been lurking for a while and was impressed by the many excellent threads, this one included. I am an enthusiastic sharpener, made a few knives, favour lasers over heavier blades, like my steels hard and prefer micro bevels over simple edges.

Did you ever get to measure or estimate the angle of Koba on single bevel Yanagis, Usubas and Debas that the pros use with top end knives? And how about domestic users?

Thanks in advance for your reply.

Cheers
John

sure... in my experience koba are generally around 30-45 degrees

John Harper
01-13-2013, 04:07 PM
Hi JBroida,

Thank you.

Something else: You mention that the Japanese have a general aversion to patina on their knives - How do they cope with those that are sold with a hammered black oxide coating or dark etched to reveal the layered steel? Or are these solely made for export?

Cheers
John

JBroida
01-13-2013, 04:56 PM
you dont see kurouchi knives in professional kitchens that often in general (much more often in home kitchens), and etched damascus tends to not be as popular in Japan in general.

John Harper
01-13-2013, 04:59 PM
Hi JBroida,

Again many thanks for your invaluable reply and excellent thread.

Cheers
John

JBroida
01-13-2013, 06:12 PM
glad to be of help

DerSnap
10-17-2013, 05:49 AM
lol

Truth: Most japanese people dont even know the name of the style of knife they use. Nakiri, santoku, and petty are most common (in the 165mm size and under) as is deba. Also, lately, german knives have become popular in home kitchens for ease of care and lack of skill required to be able to be used. Very few people know how to sharpen. Most people dont even know a lot of the vocabulary we use here on a daily basis (uraoshi, kamagata usuba, koba, machi, etc.)

The vast majority of what we talk about here are professional knives used in professional kitchens in japan or knives specifically designed for the western market.

There is a WMF store here in Dresden who sells their kitchen/house stuff amongst German/Miyabi knives. They hired a special Japanese lady to sell the German knives because most the customers are from Japan coming here for the Zwilling knives. I talked to her and the Miyabi knives they are not interested in very much, but rather the typical 4-5 stars.

banjo1071
10-17-2013, 06:48 AM
Same here
Japanese tourists buying lots and lots of german buttersteel productin knives (eg Zwilling or Forschner)....

XooMG
10-17-2013, 06:57 AM
This is a question a bit between some of the other topics mentioned...

I get that kurouchi knives are rare in pro kitchens and more common in home use. I also gathered a lot of home cooks are not really eager to throw big money at kitchen knives.

What placement would a brand like Takeda or other, even more expensive kurouchi knives have in the Japanese domestic market, or have they mostly found sales in export markets? Is the tool enthusiast niche strong enough?

Mucho Bocho
10-17-2013, 04:13 PM
Dam, lefty/Lucretia/Boom/Edipisreeks/Zwiefel/mrmmms/stereo.pete I wish somebody told that to me some $5,000 ago. ;-)



I also gathered a lot of home cooks are not really eager to throw big money at kitchen knives.

Anton
10-17-2013, 04:17 PM
Same here
Japanese tourists buying lots and lots of german buttersteel productin knives (eg Zwilling or Forschner)....




Could it also be that this day an age of IPHONE's and very good design there's no room for simple HO wood handles...?

Or maybe Patina is just "out"