European knives ?
It seems that almost all discussions in the forum are about Japanese knives.
are European knives so inferior to Japanese knives, or is it just a matter of taste of most people here?
I am personally fascinated by Japanese knives and other cutting tools, but I use European knives for daily cutting.
Am I missing out on something?
European are not inferior per se, i am not expert but the way i look at it is, japanese blades are intended for precise cutting, therefore they are using different steel that is harder, thinner, sharper, and usually lighter than European blades. Although the japanese blades will chip rather than have the edge roll on the european blades.
I woudlnt say either is better unless your intending it for a certain purpose.
I for one like using japanese knives over european in the kitchen for me the keenness the knives take, along with edge retention, and the way the cut over wedging like others is just superior for me, of course i have to be a little more careful not to push a knife too hard to where it will chip but i tend to like that over having to sharpen and hone my knife constantly.
I think of it in two dimensions: Audience and Purpose.
Audience: European knives are really for anyone interested in doing work in the kitchen; jKnives are more for the enthusiast, whether they are amatuer or pro, someone who looks at the knife as more than a tool, and doesn't mind spending a little time on tune-ups to keep it operating at its peak performance.
Purpose: European knives are pretty simple, and designed to absorb a fair amount of abuse without becoming unusuable; jKnives are more high-performance/precision tools, designed to do a narrow(-ish) range of tasks extremely well when maintained regularly.
So...if I was going to walk the appalacian trail and prep food along the way, I'd probably go with a european type of knife. If I'm going to be in my home kitchen, I'd go with a jKnife.
That's a bit of an oversimplification, but I am trying to draw distinctions instead of commonality.
I used European knives and was an enthusiast especially for vintage sabs. Those were really the gateway knife for me. Then I tried a few j-blades and fell in love. They are on another level if you appreciate the skill, culture, geometry ect.
Originally Posted by turbochef422
and welcome joels747!
As everyone here said, they're not inferior and it really depends on how you intend to use it. I've had customers who like their heavier and easier to maintain knives. It's easier to fix an edge that rolls than a harder knife that you need to use a sharpening stone to sharpen or fix a chip after being poorly honed with a steel.
Most Japanese knives have a 70/30 bevel, which is impossible to make with a soft thick steel; but because it has a harder steel, its more prone to chipping. Traditional Japanese knives (i.e. yanagi) chip like crazy if you don't know how to use it, because pure carbon is much harder... Especially if it's white steel #1 or honyaki. To most people who don't understand knives, it just looks better if you can beat up a knife and it never chips. But to cooking or knife enthusiasts it's a whole lot easier to use, even if it require more maintenance.
I really think its a question of who is using it and what they're looking for in a knife.
There are thousands of custom knife makers in Europe that compete with the best Japanese and American smiths. The reality is most people here have never heard of them nor been exposed to their knives.
The two brands that tend to be (exclusively) associated with "European knives" are Wusthof and Henckels, which is unfair.
Sabatier knives have gained a following in recent years, and are great knives. Robert Herder also makes great knives--thin with a good temper.
After owning knives from Shigefusa to Sabatier, Wusthof to a custom Rodrigue, I have realized three things over the years whilst shattering three illusions (or myths?!?)...
1) Geometry is more important than steel type when it comes to cutting food.
2) Hardness is overrated as a sole characteristic and often purported by arm-chair enthusiasts. More important is the blending of geometry, steel qualities/tempering with desired function.
3) The knives that I have owned/used in the past with the best combination of geometry and steel/tempering for cutting food have come from North American and European cutlers.
Europeans perfected the geometry of western style knives long before the Japanese started producing gyutos, pettys and sujihikis.
Unfortunately, High quality Japanese knives are simply more accessible than their western counterpart. The tides seem to be turning though.
One thing I like about some of the japanese knives is that they are amazingly light weight. I have some that will just glide through things like potatoes, carrots, and onions. I'm getting some arthritis in my hands and wrists, and when I used to use heavier german knives it was painful to make dishes that involved a lot of chopping. Now it doesn't hurt.
And the Japanese knives are pretty, too. :D
It's a matter of taste, personal style, belief in what a knife "should do" and what you think sharp really means. I ca get old American carbon steel just as sharp as anything I've ever used, but the edge retention just isn't there. Also, if you try to push it too far, it'll roll or chip on you, and there's no benefit to having a "broken knife". However, these knives have soul, look amazing and perform very, very well with regular light honing.
Japanese knives are (generally) thinner, harder, sharper, more effortless to cut with and have a great amount of character and tradition to them...even new styles like gyutos and pettys. In general, the performance is even better than almost every other knife out, but extra care and attention are needed.
Lastly, great North American and European bladesmiths have learned A LOT from crazy people like us, and by studying quality Japanese blades. I truly believe that the makers here (Butch is included, regardless of status) can make just as great, if not better knives than Japanese smiths. Of course, this is not saying that the same can't be said of Japanese makers.
For me, what makes "our makers" so great is out ability to have ongoing, progressive discussions with them to ensure we get what we are asking for. I wanted a pure performer with toughness and great materials - insert Pierre Rodrigue. I wanted a knife that I can literally dig in the dirt with and cut branches with - insert Mike Davis (his kitchen stuff is great too). I wanted pure sharpness and fun performance - insert Murray Carter. Etc, etc. Marko, Randy, Will, Bill, Del, Mario, Butch, Rader, etc, etc and you will be happy, no thrilled, assuming you know what you are after.
SORRY IF I MISSED ANY MAKERS, but you get the idea.