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skiajl6297
08-10-2012, 05:02 PM
Hi all - in my newly found desire to own a kitchen knife, I thought I'd seek everyone's opinion. I am just familiarizing myself with the forums and will certainly be scouring all of the information available.

First - I have zero background with knives. I currently own a set of cutco knives bought from brother in law, and a Shun Classic 8" Santoku. I also own a very flexible boning knife from Wustof (I believe).

I am interested in buying a chefs knife for daily use. I read the sticky on the important questions to consider, and my thoughts follow below. Any input or guidance or recomendations would be very much appreciated. Looking forward to the info, and thank you in advance for your input.

What type of knife(s) do you think you want?
All purpose knife - preferably an 8+" chefs or asian style knife. I know next to nothing about Japanese knife styles.

Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing?
Splurge gift for myself. I want one go-to knife that I adore and care for and use every day. I will keep my existing knifes.

What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already?
Aesthetics-
Never owned a "beautiful" knife, anything with damascus patterning, anything with wood handles. All of it intrigues me.
Edge Quality/Retention-
I hate my knives edge quality and retention. I want a knife that is lazer sharp and extremely durable.
Ease of Use-
I am comfortable with my knives, and particularly like the Santoku since I use the pinch grip and it seems to suit my right handed cutting well. I want a knife that floats through veggies like butter.
Comfort-
I like a knife that I can use for hours. Nicely weighted and sturdy.

What grip do you use?
Pinch

What kind of cutting motion do you use?
push cut, rock, slice, chop

Where do you store them?
In a drawer - horozontal wood knife block drawer insert.

Have you ever oiled a handle?
Never - I have a wood handle on my Shun but have never oiled it and wouldn't know where to begin.

What kind of cutting board(s) do you use?
When we recently remodeled our kitchen I installed a 6' long Boos Block 3" end grain maple counter, and set the cabinet height to better suit my prep work (I am tall and usually have to slouch on traditional heighted counters.) I do nearly all of my cutting on that counter - and I oil it every other month. When cutting raw meat, I typically use a plastic composite cutting board on top of my block.

For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing?
Still learning how to use a wetstone, and also have a honing rod which I am decent with. Still not 100% comfortable that I am using them correctly.

Have they ever been sharpened?
Yes - I factory sharpened cutco recently, and attempted to sharpen my other knives with wetstone and steel. Factory sharp knives are what I yearn for.

What is your budget?
I am hoping to spend splurge money on myself towards year-end - and would consider spending up to $1200 for something truly special. I know custom knives can be extraordinarily expensive, but I am not yet a collector. I am a home chef with some training that likes to cook as often as my 9-5 allows.

What do you cook and how often?
American cuisine, ranging from family staples I grew up with (still a sucker for mom's meatloaf) up to more formal meals like my favorite local summer dish of a fried green tomato topped with virginia ham, a gently poached farm egg, maryland jumbo lump crabmeat, topped with homemade old bay hollendaise made from clarified butter. Cook dinner 4-6x a week, and cook all weekend.

Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)?
Love the look of a clean, simple, functional, elegant handle. Not into hunting knife style, antlers, horns, coarse wood, etc. (unless polished smooth). I love the complex damascus blades and have a hunch I'd like to go down that road. But I am not opposed to other types of steel. I want a one-of-a-kind feel, and am heavily leaning towards a custom knife, if that is feasible with my budget. I am in no rush to buy, just trying to begin to understand what is out there beyond what I can find at my local Sur Le Table or Williams Sonoma. Prefer darker wood generally.

Looking forward to your input!

obtuse
08-10-2012, 08:29 PM
I think you should save the damascus for your first custom knife. Also, you definitely want a 240mm gyuto/chef's knife--unless your kitchen is tight. The balance of the blade and the added length make 240mm the choice for most of us on the forum. For now I would look into the Gesshin Ginga line at http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/kitchen-knives/gesshin-ginga/gesshin-ginga-240mm-stainless-gyuto.html it comes in swedish stainless and hitachi white no.2 carbon steel, also a choice of western or japanese Wa handle. Both the Swedish stainless and White no.2 are very easy to get stupid sharp, an important consideration for a beginner. The Fit and Finish on this line is about as good as it gets in this price range. Jon at JKI just released the new Gesshin Kagero line http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/kitchen-knives/gesshin-kaegro/gesshin-kagero-240mm-powdered-steel-gyuto.html this knife may be the perfect knife for you if you intend to send your knife off for professional sharpening because it should have excellent edge retention.
If you intend to learn how to sharpen you cant go wrong with a Bester 1200 http://www.japaneseknifesharpeningstore.com/Bester-1200-Sharpening-Stone-p/bstr1200.htm or Gesshin 2000 http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/sharpening-supplies/naka-toishi-medium-stones/gesshin-2000-grit-stone.html.
All you really need is a good gyuto and maybe a few stones to get you started. You'll end up spending about 300 bucks, but it will be worth it.

James
08-10-2012, 09:15 PM
+1 to everything obtuse said. I would also get a higher grit whetstone (suehiro rika 5k, arashiyama 6k, gesshin 6k), as something in the 4-6k region will really help you realize the sharpness potential of your gyuto. Save the custom for when you know exactly what you want; try out a few other japanese knives first and see what you like and don't like.

sachem allison
08-10-2012, 09:52 PM
welcome!

Zwiefel
08-10-2012, 11:27 PM
In addition to Obtuse's comments, I would say to consider the Suisin Inox Honyaki 240mm Gyuto. I got one earlier this year and it's a fantastic example of the "Laser Gyuto"...as is the Gesshin Ginga. I don't know how the two compare though.

http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/suisin-inox-honyaki-240mm-wa-gyuto.html

skiajl6297
08-13-2012, 11:20 AM
Thank you all for your quick and thoughtful responses. A few questions:

1. I have never owned a Wa handled knife - and am comfortable with the Western styles - how difficult is it to get comfortable with a Wa handle using a pinch grip right handed? I am sure it is entirely user preference, but I am intrigued by this handle, and also nervous that I may regret it. Since I presume it is lighter, is it better for longer cutting sessions?
2. What will be the day-to-day differences in maintaining, sharpening, and cutting between swedish stainless and hitachi white no. 2? Are either considered high-carbon and do either require maintenance other than keeping clean and sharp?
3. Is the Gesshin Kagero line more difficult to keep sharp on my own? Obtuse mentioned that if I intend to use a pro sharpener they would be perfect - just curious if they will be prohibitively difficult to learn how to sharpen on my own due to the steel?
4. Zwiefel, what is a "laser gyuto"?

Zwiefel
08-13-2012, 11:53 AM
Thank you all for your quick and thoughtful responses. A few questions:

1. I have never owned a Wa handled knife - and am comfortable with the Western styles - how difficult is it to get comfortable with a Wa handle using a pinch grip right handed? I am sure it is entirely user preference, but I am intrigued by this handle, and also nervous that I may regret it. Since I presume it is lighter, is it better for longer cutting sessions?
2. What will be the day-to-day differences in maintaining, sharpening, and cutting between swedish stainless and hitachi white no. 2? Are either considered high-carbon and do either require maintenance other than keeping clean and sharp?
3. Is the Gesshin Kagero line more difficult to keep sharp on my own? Obtuse mentioned that if I intend to use a pro sharpener they would be perfect - just curious if they will be prohibitively difficult to learn how to sharpen on my own due to the steel?
4. Zwiefel, what is a "laser gyuto"?

1. I have never owned a Wa handled knife - and am comfortable with the Western styles - how difficult is it to get comfortable with a Wa handle using a pinch grip right handed? I am sure it is entirely user preference, but I am intrigued by this handle, and also nervous that I may regret it. Since I presume it is lighter, is it better for longer cutting sessions?

My adjustment time was zero. If you are primarily using a pinch grip, I find that the western-style handles get in the way more than wa-handles. If you are using a hammer-grip, I think it's more of a wash or a slight edge to western-grip.

2. What will be the day-to-day differences in maintaining, sharpening, and cutting between swedish stainless and hitachi white no. 2? Are either considered high-carbon and do either require maintenance other than keeping clean and sharp?

Not qualified to answer this one.

3. Is the Gesshin Kagero line more difficult to keep sharp on my own? Obtuse mentioned that if I intend to use a pro sharpener they would be perfect - just curious if they will be prohibitively difficult to learn how to sharpen on my own due to the steel?

or this one.

4. Zwiefel, what is a "laser gyuto"?

These are the REALLY thin (at the spine) gyutos that are supposed to be "the best" for typical slicing/dicing type work. They are thin behind the edge, if only b/c they are thin all over :) The better ones also have a very good taper from the spine to the edge so that they are quite thin behind the edge as well. B/c of this thinness, they need to be given a bit more care against rough use than a thicker knife though. But only a bit. In practice the only things I have changed are that I don't use the side of the blade to smash + grind garlic anymore...I get out my trusty Henckel's for that.

From my reading on this forum, I understand that there are considerably thicker knives that perform just as well b/c of the quality of the grind (taper from spine to edge), but I think those are going to be more expensive than a laser for the same level of performance (I could be wrong about that though).

obtuse
08-13-2012, 12:26 PM
IghLWa vs western is strictly a matter of personal preference, I own and like both. Wa handles will generally bring the balance of the knife forward,which I like.

The Swedish stainless in the gesshin ginga line will be easier to maintain day to day, just because it is stainless. Also the edge retention will be better than white no.2 in most cases. Both are very easy to sharpen. If you get white no.2 you will want to learn sharpening a little sooner.

A laser is a knife with a maximum spine thickness no greater than 2.5mm and ground thin at the edge. They will fall through food with minimal effort, but they are more delicate. I'm sure others have a better definition of what a laser is.

The steel in the gesshin kagero is a highly alloyed particle metallurgy high speed tool steel. It will hold a working edge for a long time, but because of its high wear resistance takes a little longer to sharpen. It is by no means impossible to learn sharpening on this knife, but Swedish stainless or white steel will
Be more rewarding at first.

I'm sorry I can't go into this in more detail. Typing this on my phone at work. More will chime in to correct me shortly

Johnny.B.Good
08-13-2012, 12:45 PM
Welcome to the forum skiajl6297,

I don't know where you are in the world, but I would pick up the phone and call Jon at Japanese Knife Imports (http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/about-us).

Jon is extremely knowledgeable (as well as patient and kind on the phone); I'm certain he will happily answer all of your questions and get you pointed in the right direction.

Let us know what you decide and good luck!

Zwiefel
08-13-2012, 01:10 PM
IghLWa vs western is strictly a matter of personal preference, I own and like both. Wa handles will generally bring the balance of the knife forward,which I like.

The Swedish stainless in the gesshin ginga line will be easier to maintain day to day, just because it is stainless. Also the edge retention will be better than white no.2 in most cases. Both are very easy to sharpen. If you get white no.2 you will want to learn sharpening a little sooner.

A laser is a knife with a maximum spine thickness no greater than 2.5mm and ground thin at the edge. They will fall through food with minimal effort, but they are more delicate. I'm sure others have a better definition of what a laser is.

The steel in the gesshin kagero is a highly alloyed particle metallurgy high speed tool steel. It will hold a working edge for a long time, but because of its high wear resistance takes a little longer to sharpen. It is by no means impossible to learn sharpening on this knife, but Swedish stainless or white steel will
Be more rewarding at first.

I'm sorry I can't go into this in more detail. Typing this on my phone at work. More will chime in to correct me shortly

The Suisin Inox Honyaki is similar steel to the Gesshin Ginga (well, at least similar in that they are both Swedish Stainless), and should be similar in sharpening/edge retention properties. Odds are you'd be happy with either, but the SIH would probably keep you happier for longer :)

James
08-13-2012, 01:38 PM
SIH is 19c27 and ginga is aeb-l. yep, both swedish stainless, but steel composition and properties are a bit different. check out this thread - http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/7395-AEB-L-steel-knives

Zwiefel
08-13-2012, 02:27 PM
SIH is 19c27 and ginga is aeb-l. yep, both swedish stainless, but steel composition and properties are a bit different. check out this thread - http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/7395-AEB-L-steel-knives

Thanks James! Looks like the AEB-L on the Ginga is marginally better than the 19c27 on the SIH. What happens when you factor in the grind, thickness, etc.? Also, what about the ~$150 price gap (SIH > Ginga)?

I know Jon has said that he is still very fond of his SIH, even with all of his other toys...I mean tools. :)

James
08-13-2012, 04:31 PM
Haha, I don't have experience with either knife (or steel for that matter) so the only thing I can say is that grind is probably the most important factor. I don't think the OP could go wrong with any of the knives mentioned in this thread. Lemme just throw another knife into the mix - sakai yusuke swedish stainless from bluewayjapan. It's got a bit of a curve, extraordinarily thin, made from aeb-l, and with a blond ferrule, it's a sexy knife. You also have the option of increasing the hardness from 58 to 61 for ~$7 if you contact the seller.

Zwiefel
08-13-2012, 04:43 PM
I don't think the OP could go wrong with any of the knives mentioned in this thread.

+1

skiajl6297
08-15-2012, 09:13 AM
Thanks everyone! Since I am not looking to buy immediately, I am going to monitor the forums, take some time to learn more about the various types of steel, and then engage vendors when I am closer to making a purchase. I also am going to try practicing sharpening my shun on my shun whetstone, if only for additional time getting comfortable with trying to make a knife sharp at home. I will certainly keep everyone updated on the eventual purchase. Leaning towards Gesshin Ginga 240mm stainless with wa handle. (currently out of stock on JNI website, but I registered to be alerted when it is back in stock.)

Do folks find it hard to shop knives online in terms of fit and comfort? Are knife retailers generally return-friendly if you make a purchase and don't like it?

stevenStefano
08-15-2012, 07:54 PM
Do folks find it hard to shop knives online in terms of fit and comfort? Are knife retailers generally return-friendly if you make a purchase and don't like it?

If you buy from reputable vendors like the guys here you don't need to worry about fit and finish issues I'd say. I'd imagine they'd also be ok about taking returns or if not you could sell a knife you don't like here and probably get very close to the value you paid for it

GlassEye
08-15-2012, 08:04 PM
Do folks find it hard to shop knives online in terms of fit and comfort? Are knife retailers generally return-friendly if you make a purchase and don't like it?

Also, the vendors here can work with you to find what you are looking for, need, or want. If you have discussed what you are looking for, you will likely be very satisfied with what you end up with.

Namaxy
08-15-2012, 10:15 PM
Do folks find it hard to shop knives online in terms of fit and comfort? Are knife retailers generally return-friendly if you make a purchase and don't like it?

It was mentioned before, and I'll restate it.....this is where you need to CALL a helpful vendor like Jon, instead of looking at specs on the website. I truly hope that doesn't sound like an admonishment...it's just that a conversation is better than online shopping.

Zwiefel
08-15-2012, 10:20 PM
It was mentioned before, and I'll restate it.....this is where you need to CALL a helpful vendor like Jon, instead of looking at specs on the website. I truly hope that doesn't sound like an admonishment...it's just that a conversation is better than online shopping.

+1

I was really reluctant to call, felt like I would be intruding or something :beatinghead:

I had a really good conversation with Jon and realized he REALLY means it! He prefers phone, it speeds things up and you get a better result, faster!

skiajl6297
08-16-2012, 09:15 AM
It was mentioned before, and I'll restate it.....this is where you need to CALL a helpful vendor like Jon, instead of looking at specs on the website. I truly hope that doesn't sound like an admonishment...it's just that a conversation is better than online shopping.

I completely understand and agree. (And no admonishment taken!) I just don't want to waste the guy's time just yet - I would feel better discussing after some more substantive research, as well as a more honed (pun intended) sense of what items I am interested in (including stone) and also knives that are well suited to some of the kitchen tasks I like to perform - beyond the every day stuff. (Interested also in fish and meat slicing, as well as stones.)

Speaking of which - holy hell - I had no idea stones could be so unique, important, and one of a kind. This forum has honestly blown my mind. I have frequented forums on cars and consumer products, but never one so fundamentally awesome. You guys are arguing about the composition of different types of steel and stone for gods sake.

I love it. Thanks to you all for your insight. At the moment I feel sort of like a highschooler in grad school. I hope to get into this - the more I dig down the more it intrigues me.

pitonboy
08-16-2012, 12:33 PM
If you go to Buy/Sell/Trade, there is a post for a Blazen 240 for about $180; this will be light years better than what you are using; Chuck will likely get it professionally resharpened, and you will be happy. I have the same knife and it is not as exotic as some you may get to (God help you) but it will do the most for the least amount of money, for now.

obtuse
08-16-2012, 01:00 PM
If you go to Buy/Sell/Trade, there is a post for a Blazen 240 for about $180; this will be light years better than what you are using; Chuck will likely get it professionally resharpened, and you will be happy. I have the same knife and it is not as exotic as some you may get to (God help you) but it will do the most for the least amount of money, for now.

I was going to suggest this too. it's a great deal for a newbie .

skiajl6297
08-16-2012, 01:26 PM
Thanks for the heads-up - I just PM'd Chuck! Will keep everyone updated...

I love a good deal. :D Any good reading available on this knife?

pitonboy
08-16-2012, 05:13 PM
I think Epicurean Edge has a blurb on the Blazen

skiajl6297
08-20-2012, 08:41 AM
You are the man. Thanks for sharing this insight. Blazen should be shipping today or tomorrow. Very excited!!

I really appreciate the help from everyone! (And piton is the man.) :doublethumbsup:

I'll report back once I have it, along with my impressions!

Next step... first stone!

Johnny.B.Good
08-20-2012, 10:24 AM
Any good reading available on this knife?

Here (http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/2528-What-are-Your-Game-Changing-Knives?p=38482&viewfull=1#post38482) is a vote of confidence that should make you feel good about your new knife.