View Full Version : Great Cutter

12-18-2012, 05:58 PM
The phrase "Great Cutter", is often used to describe a knife. If I understood Sara's article about craftsmen, sharpness in a knife is a given. Craftsman are searching for features, that will enhance the over all cutting experience. Sara noted that the overall cutting experience is subjective.

Is a great cutter a knife, that falls effortlessly through food? I've got knives, okay cleavers that will wedge somewhat in thicker foods, but easily chop tomatoes all day. Tomatoes are my test, for knife performance.

Is a great cutter a knife, that feels natural in hand? I picked up a Tadatsuna gyuto, not expecting much. The brand became popular over night, and just as quickly fell out. I'd always been curious about the knife, and currently they are inexpensive, so why not try one? I was surprised to find that it felt very good in hand, all the cuts felt natural.

I had a similar experience with a FH gyuto. I thinned the knife a little. It feels good in hand and all the cuts feel natural and easy.

I've wondered at times, if I enjoy the Tadatsuna and FH because they were relatively inexpensive? I'm more comfortable sharpening them, and I don't worry about them as much, when using them in the kitchen.

What role does sharpening play? Some knives are fairly sharp out of the box and get very sharp following the makers bevels and edge. Other knives, need to thinned a little before they take off. A few knifes, have to sharpened multiple times, before they start to perform. When my sharpening skills go to another level, it feels like I get new knifes.

What role does technique play? There are some knives, that for whatever reason I put away. When I go back to the knife, a lot of times, I am surprised how well they perform.

What role does comfort play? I've admired custom handles, but at the end of the day, the knife is a tool that is getting used in a harsh environment. I just couldn't see the value of a flashy handle.

Andy777 has talked about for years, that a new handle can make all the difference. I was still skeptical, but finally sent him a knife to be re - handled. When I got the knife, back I was amazed. It was like getting a new knife. In addition to the handle he improved the fit and finish of the knife. The knife is so much more comfortable in hand, it feels easier to use.

So what makes a great cutter for you?


12-18-2012, 06:34 PM
I test my knives on carrots and potatoes. I try to take sharpness out of it (my knives are all fairly sharp), and I try to take technique out of it (I have no technique). The easier a knife goes through carrots, and the less it wedges in potatoes, the better it is for me. My single best cutter at the moment is a 240 Konosuke Fujiyama. It's very thin, and it's ground asymmetrically, so the back is close to being flat, and it borders on being a single-bevel knife. My 240 Shigefusa gyuto is a small step below that, and the 240 Kato is another small step below, as it tends to wedge a bit in potatoes.

Looking forward to trying a Heiji some day, as I hear they have great geometry.

12-18-2012, 07:42 PM
Not to derail, but Tadatsuna's have gotten less expensive? they seem to be the same price as when I bought mine a couple years ago.

as for the actual topic, it's all about geometry, as far as thickness, for me. no matter what the blade shape/profile, if it's too thick at the wrong place I will never get over it.

Noodle Soup
12-18-2012, 08:00 PM
Not being able to afford to chase every favorite brand of the week, I've stuck with a Tad and it remains one of my all time favorite knives. Feels perfect in my hand, cuts like a laser and holds its edge well enough to satisfy me anyway.

12-18-2012, 08:18 PM
I'm so far from being an expert it's funny...but I have played with a fair number of knives praised by this board. Of my current gyutos nothing even comes close to the Carter I bought here about a year ago. It defines great cutter to me. Most knives that I have take and hold a great edge but NOTHING sticks to this Carter. The only thing that comes close to sticking to it is a super dense yam. To me, that's a great cutter. It helps that it has a custom handle that's super comfy too. It also looks totally bada$$ to me. I still use an FH, Konosuke and Artifex quite a bit and like them all in their own ways. Great cutter wise I would rank them Carter>>>>>FH>>Konosuke>>>>Artifex (great steel on artifex but essentially flat ground). Even better is my Carter single bevel but it's uses are more limited (and my Edge Pro can't sharpen the damn thing).

12-18-2012, 08:26 PM
there are lots of attributes to a great cutter. my Gengetsu and my Singatirin are probably my best.

12-18-2012, 08:57 PM
Not to derail, but Tadatsuna's have gotten less expensive?

New, they on the expensive side. Since they are no longer in style, they don't sell very well in the Buy/Sell/Trade forum. I picked up an inox gyuto, for $175.00. The same knife was listed on Tadatsuna's site for over $500. Even with the significant discount, it took a while to sell the knife.


12-18-2012, 09:12 PM
Steel, heat treat, and blade geometry in no particular order.

12-18-2012, 09:14 PM
Steel, heat treat, and blade geometry in no particular order.

i think the blade geometry is, far and away, the most important factor in a great cutter. a blade with a great geometry will be a great cutter even when not particularly sharp.

12-18-2012, 10:01 PM
I forgot about stickage. How important is that in evaluating a knife?

Another area, I forgot about is the tip of a knife. Some members have mentioned searching for a knife with the ideal tip. Cleavers, nakiris, santokus are criticized for the lack of a tip. The phrase tip work is often used, when evaluating a knife.

Part of my problem is that on vegetables, I don't see why a tip is necessary. I can dice an onion, faster with a cleaver, nakiri, or even a santoku for that matter, then a gyuto.

A tip makes much more sense, when working with proteins. The Hankotsu, is all about putting a tip on a very strong base.

The tip on a slicer, helps to finish the cut.

The tip of a gyuto, would be helpful in slicing and working with proteins, which isn't the strength of a cleaver, nakiri, or santoku.

Any insights into why the tip of a gyuto is such an important feature of the knife would be appreciated.

Also how does one evaluate a tip? By cutting up onions?


12-25-2012, 09:32 AM
Not being able to afford to chase every favorite brand of the week

I love that one ;)

Haha I cannot afford them either and its for the best.

Great cutter, for me its the knife that can give me the best satisfied/dissatisfied ratio getting various jobs done during a week in pro kitchen.
Every knife can do it somehow, But lets take one of my favourites, carbon misono. Doesnt matter how thinned and sharp this knife is, it just cannot do overally as good job as Shig, not mentioning Kato. So when we talk great cutter, one of the things I have on my mind is versatile-at-cutting.
I dont check my knives with one carrot in my hand.
But to turn the question qround, what doesnt make great cutter? Stickiness. When shite get stuck to the blade, its properly annoying.
As for the sharpness so wild it worries you, nothing beats Masamoto/Kato.

Hard to determine what that means when Im at home, cause the tempo is lower. And so is stress and annoyance levels.

NO ChoP!
12-25-2012, 12:05 PM
Thin behind the edge, thinness at the tip, proper curves etc...
It all has to be balanced. There are many variables, and playing with one can affect another. When that balance is right, you get a great cutter; effortless, deliberate, graceful, with little stiction or resistance. Few find the perfect balance; I think its what we all search for....

12-25-2012, 01:50 PM
I think the way I tell if a knife is a great cutter is how it performs when it isn't very sharp. I have a couple of knives that even if they haven't been sharpened for a long long time they still just work, there is a little resistance but they still do a great job