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Heiji Gyuto Carbon vs Semi-Stainless
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Thread: Heiji Gyuto Carbon vs Semi-Stainless

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    Heiji Gyuto Carbon vs Semi-Stainless

    So I am really interested in getting a Heiji gyuto, ideally somewhere in the 255-260mm length range. While it's likely I could be very happy with either, I am undecided about the carbon vs semi-stainless issue. The purist in me says to go carbon, but I guess I am little concerned about just how reactive it's going to be. My current workhorse is a Honsho Kanemasa 27cm carbon gyuto made of SK4 which I've had for 4+ years. My experience with it has been very positive. It's developed a nice patina, doesn't stink or react with food, and has never had any rust issues. I suppose I'm wondering if the lack of rust is due to my adequate knife care regime, or due to something special Kanemasa has done to the SK4. Will that same level of care be sufficient for the Swedish carbon steel?

    As for a little background, I live in central Tokyo, from here the Heiji workshop is about 2-3 hours away. My plan is to contact them, and if possible actually visit the workshop. I'll be heading off to Europe for about 3 weeks at the end of January, but once I get back I intend to start working in earnest on this project.

    My main request is for feedback about Heiji carbon vs Heiji semi-stainless, but beyond that anything else you'd like to share about Heiji knives, or about dealing with the Heiji people would be sincerely appreciated! Thank you in advance!
    Fudoushin Bujinkan Dojo: http://fudoushin.com/

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    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
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    i haven't used the Heiji carbon, but i have a Shigefusa, which is the same steel. that level of care would be just fine for the carbon Heiji. i would get the Semi-stainless, however. i have two of the SS Heiji gyutos (a 250 and a 270), and the semi-stainless steel sharpens and cuts like extremely good carbon, and still builds some patina. it also holds its edge much better against acidic food. i love my carbon knives, and most of my knives are carbon, but i just haven't seen any drawbacks to the SS knives, in comparison.

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    This is great feedback, EdipisReks, thank you! That's a pretty strong endorsement of the semi-stainless! Where (if anywhere) do you feel the Iwasaki carbon in your Shige is superior to the SS? Anything else you'd like to share about your Heiji's?
    Fudoushin Bujinkan Dojo: http://fudoushin.com/

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    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
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    the Iwasaki carbon takes a prettier patina. that's about it... the Heijis are both difficult and easy to sharpen. they have large secondary bevels, so you work them like a yanagi, but on both sides. this makes it easy. the "shinogi" lines are not as linear as on a yanagi, however, and there is a particular geometry to the knives. that makes them hard. if you are comfy sharpening a yanagi, you'll be fine. they are killer cutters, and great knives. i love mine.

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    Wow, only a prettier patina? That's definitely not a significant selling point for me. As for sharpening, it's the unique geometry that's exactly what appeals to me about the Heiji. I don't have any experience with yanagi's but have an idea of what to expect with the Heiji's based upon the advice Jon Broida gave here: http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/sh...-a-Heiji-Gyuto. It sounds straightforward enough. I'm looking forward to trying and learning!

    BTW, nearly all my extended family lives just over the river from you in northern Kentucky. I'll be there again in September.
    Fudoushin Bujinkan Dojo: http://fudoushin.com/

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    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
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    If you don't have any Heijis by then, I'd be happy to show you mine.

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    I definitely hope to have one by then, but maybe you'd be up for sharing some of your sharpening experience and expertise!
    Fudoushin Bujinkan Dojo: http://fudoushin.com/

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    I just want to second what Edipis has already said about the SS heiji.

    I've got two and love them a whole lot. I use them at work and they hold an edge nicely for a long time, they also strop up toothier and for longer than any other knives I've owned. Any knife hits a point where not matter how much stropping you do the edge just won't really come back to life. My Heiji's have no problem being stropped 8-10 times and holding that stropped edge for a long time (an entire shift for sure). I had not experienced this with other carbon knives I've owned (Konosuke, Zakuri, Fujiwara (the cheap ones), moritaka, hiromoto and Mizuno) 3-4 stroppings and its time to put a new edge on. This is weird but I also sometimes feel that the stropped edge 3 or 4 stroppings in is better than what I could attain off the stones...I'm sure this has more to do with carbides and yada yada yada and not necessarily Heiji but it is noticeable.

    Also I think there is something you ought to know about maintaining one of these knives. You cannot just sharpen the edge of this knife over and over again and expect it to perform the way it was meant to (feels more like wants to sometimes...). Many knives are thin enough even 4mm behind the edge that you can sharpen just the edge, as opposed to also thinning the knife or "raising the cladding", and not miss too much performance. Of course eventually you will need to thin any knife you sharpen but you cannot just sharpen the edge for a while and then thin when you feel performance is dropping with these knives. The steel abrades easily and quickly, much more like carbon than stainless. This includes the cladding. It is not gummy like some stainless steel (I'm looking at you Hiromoto!)
    I have certainly spent time thinning and thinning the blade to where I want it and then begin to raise a burr only to work too hard at getting a nice even bevel on the back side and feeling like I have just screwed up all of my thinning...I believe the steel does abrade that quickly. I'm not even necessarily talking about low grit stones either...though mine are all gesshin (400, 2k, 5k) and cut much faster than say naniwa's super stones. So Just know that this knife is in some respects easy and straightforward when it comes to sharpening and in some ways requires some finesse.

    One other opinion...I have not been able to sharpen this knife past 5k and find improvement. I have an Ozuku Asagi from that website we don't talk about. Any simple carbon steel gets blazingly sharp off of it and yet still retains some tooth. It's my only experience with a j-nat and I do believe it is rather soft, especially for an Ozuku Asagi. It's probably just this particular stone.

    Also my 10k Super Stone "dulls" the edge as well. I don't know if it is large carbide size (Heiji's steel SKD11 I think, having a larger carbide size) and thus the finer particles not really abrading the steel, or what but I haven't found it made a positive difference. Note though that Jon Broida has videos demonstrating the Takashima Awasedo's sharpening ability on a heiji 210 suji and I definitely trust that guy so...ymmv

    I should note though that there is no real reason to take it beyond 5k. I always cut cloth towels off the 5k stone when I wipe the swarf and water off the blade. It gets plenty sharp at 5k.


    Buy one...you won't be sorry. Not only does it cut like the dickens it is incredibly beautiful. It's got soul to it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
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    the best edge i've gotten on my Heijis was with the 30k Shapton Pro, and i love the edge off the 8k Gesshin followed by a strop. it does get very sharp off a 4k Shapton glass or Rika followed by a strop.

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    Great stuff G-rat, thank you! The semi-stainless is getting some serious love! You guys are making it really difficult to go carbon!

    Regarding sharpening and thinning, I have to apologize, but I am not 100% sure I am getting what you are saying. Can you please clarify a bit? The basic gist as I understand it is 3 step process. 1) Thin by removing metal from the shinogi line down (the upper bevel) to the top of the primary bevel, 2) sharpen the primary bevel/the edge, 3) gently round/soften the line between the primary bevel and secondary bevel. It sounds straightforward enough. My main point of curiosity is the order of steps 2 & 3. Does this technique sound correct?

    Just for the record my sharpening kit consists of Atoma #140, Shapton Pro #320, #1000 & #5000, and an unloaded leather strop. I don't have any plans to go to any higher stones, but am probably going to try a hard felt strop loaded with something at some point.
    Fudoushin Bujinkan Dojo: http://fudoushin.com/

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