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  1. #1

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    Looking for new knives - need suggestions!

    Hey All,

    I know this stuff has been asked a ton of times, but...perhaps you can help with my situation. I'm a noob when it comes to high end knives, although I know the basics. I have also done enough reading here and elsewhere to make my head swim.

    I'm getting married soon and am looking into getting some good knives. My fiancee and I enjoy cooking together fairly regularly, although we certainly are not expert chefs. I've looked at a bunch of the Wustof and Henckels knives (at various stores), but after reading a whole lot here, it sounds like I could do significantly better. I also came across some Robert Welch knives that were very comfortable to hold, but given that they're about 55-56 Rockwell hardness, they sound a bit soft. I want some knives that will last and give good performance, as well as being comfortable in my hand.

    One thing to note, my significant other is left handed and I'm right handed, so whatever I end up with must be comfortable for both hands.

    I'm thinking of a fairly basic set of knives, but would welcome input on what I should/shouldn't have. I included a bread knife as I do eat unsliced loaves of bread fairly regularly. It sounds like the Tojiro ITK bread knife might be a good option for that.

    I found a questionnaire on this forum to help give a good profile of me, so I thought I'd fill it out:

    ***********************
    -What type of knife(s) do you think you want? Paring, ~5" Santoku, 6" Chef's, 8" Chef's, Bread knife (these are guesses based on what I use now)

    -Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing? I would like a quality set of knives to replace the cheap stuff that I have now. I have a decent cleaver that I'll probably keep.

    -What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already?
    Aesthetics- Not too concerned with aesthetics, although it's always a plus!
    Edge Quality/Retention- Current knives are cheap metal with poor edge retention and sharpness.
    Ease of Use- Edge quality makes current knives difficult for some chopping/slicing tasks. They do ok though, as I regularly use a honing rod.
    Comfort- Current knives are ok on comfort. Not bad but not great.

    -What grip do you use? Pinch grip/choked up often, but not always.

    -What kind of cutting motion do you use? Slicing, chopping, rocking

    -Where do you store them? Knife block currently, but looking at other options, particularly a magnetized wooden strip on the wall (no exposed metal).

    -Have you ever oiled a handle? Never needed to, but able to do so if needed (I'm a woodworker).

    -What kind of cutting board(s) do you use? Mostly wooden endgrain boards that I have made. Also a cheap plastic one.

    -For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing? Currently use a mediocre honing rod regularly. Open to suggestions for a decent one!

    -Have they ever been sharpened? I have not sharpened my current cheap knives, as my cheap honing rod tends to be aggressive enough to sharpen the soft steels. I am willing to sharpen knives though. I currently sharpen the blades to my hand planes (woodworking) so they can shave arm hairs. Open to suggestions on a good stone or sharpening method for kitchen knives!

    -What is your budget? Willing to spend a bit extra for a good set, but also don't want to break the bank. Maybe $500ish for all of them.

    -What do you cook and how often? Variety of dishes. Plenty of veggie slicing and meat cutting. Like to try new things. Cook a few times a week (just home cooking).

    -Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)? Nope

    ***********************

    That's all I can think of for now.

    Thanks!
    Tyler

  2. #2
    Senior Member ThEoRy's Avatar
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    Welcome!

    You could slim that list down a bit as a few items are redundant if you ask me. 8" chef 6" chef AND santoku all serve the same purpose really. If you DO need 2 similar knives for when the both of you will use them at the same time well, I would suggest a 240mm gyuto for you and a 210mm gyuto for the lady. After that a 150mm petty, a 70-90mm pairing are all you really need but since you asked about a bread knife.


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    Other than that, a sharpening stone is all you need to get you started.
    Starting this harvest I'm a starving startling artist/
    Lyrical arsonist it's arduous spitting this smartest arsenic/

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by OneStaple View Post
    Hey All,

    I know this stuff has been asked a ton of times, but...perhaps you can help with my situation. I'm a noob when it comes to high end knives, although I know the basics. I have also done enough reading here and elsewhere to make my head swim.

    I'm getting married soon and am looking into getting some good knives. My fiancee and I enjoy cooking together fairly regularly, although we certainly are not expert chefs. I've looked at a bunch of the Wustof and Henckels knives (at various stores), but after reading a whole lot here, it sounds like I could do significantly better. I also came across some Robert Welch knives that were very comfortable to hold, but given that they're about 55-56 Rockwell hardness, they sound a bit soft. I want some knives that will last and give good performance, as well as being comfortable in my hand.

    One thing to note, my significant other is left handed and I'm right handed, so whatever I end up with must be comfortable for both hands.

    I'm thinking of a fairly basic set of knives, but would welcome input on what I should/shouldn't have. I included a bread knife as I do eat unsliced loaves of bread fairly regularly. It sounds like the Tojiro ITK bread knife might be a good option for that.

    I found a questionnaire on this forum to help give a good profile of me, so I thought I'd fill it out:

    ***********************
    -What type of knife(s) do you think you want? Paring, ~5" Santoku, 6" Chef's, 8" Chef's, Bread knife (these are guesses based on what I use now)

    -Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing? I would like a quality set of knives to replace the cheap stuff that I have now. I have a decent cleaver that I'll probably keep.

    -What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already?
    Aesthetics- Not too concerned with aesthetics, although it's always a plus!
    Edge Quality/Retention- Current knives are cheap metal with poor edge retention and sharpness.
    Ease of Use- Edge quality makes current knives difficult for some chopping/slicing tasks. They do ok though, as I regularly use a honing rod.
    Comfort- Current knives are ok on comfort. Not bad but not great.

    -What grip do you use? Pinch grip/choked up often, but not always.

    -What kind of cutting motion do you use? Slicing, chopping, rocking

    -Where do you store them? Knife block currently, but looking at other options, particularly a magnetized wooden strip on the wall (no exposed metal).

    -Have you ever oiled a handle? Never needed to, but able to do so if needed (I'm a woodworker).

    -What kind of cutting board(s) do you use? Mostly wooden endgrain boards that I have made. Also a cheap plastic one.

    -For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing? Currently use a mediocre honing rod regularly. Open to suggestions for a decent one!

    -Have they ever been sharpened? I have not sharpened my current cheap knives, as my cheap honing rod tends to be aggressive enough to sharpen the soft steels. I am willing to sharpen knives though. I currently sharpen the blades to my hand planes (woodworking) so they can shave arm hairs. Open to suggestions on a good stone or sharpening method for kitchen knives!

    -What is your budget? Willing to spend a bit extra for a good set, but also don't want to break the bank. Maybe $500ish for all of them.

    -What do you cook and how often? Variety of dishes. Plenty of veggie slicing and meat cutting. Like to try new things. Cook a few times a week (just home cooking).

    -Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)? Nope

    ***********************

    That's all I can think of for now.

    Thanks!
    Tyler
    Are there reasons why you you want a 5 inch santoku, 6 inch chef's AND an 8 inch chef's knife? There a lot of redundancy there, especially with the santoku and 6 inch chef's knife being so close in size and similar utility . . . NEVERMIND. See post above.

    The reason why I'm asking is to see if we can cut down the number of knives so you can buy better ones because, if you buy a Tojiro ITK Bread Knife, you're already down to a little over $400 for 4 knives. It can be done, but your choices will be somewhat limited as most 8 inch/9 inch chef's knives start at a little over $100.

    And when you've decided on what model knives you're interested in, call Jon at Japanese Knife Imports since you're here in the US. He'll be able to help.
    Last edited by mhlee; 02-19-2013 at 07:42 PM. Reason: I'm being redundant.
    Michael
    "Don't you know who he is?"

  4. #4
    Senior Member ThEoRy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhlee View Post
    . . . NEVERMIND. See post above.
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    Starting this harvest I'm a starving startling artist/
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThEoRy View Post
    You could slim that list down a bit as a few items are redundant if you ask me. 8" chef 6" chef AND santoku all serve the same purpose really. If you DO need 2 similar knives for when the both of you will use them at the same time well, I would suggest a 240mm gyuto for you and a 210mm gyuto for the lady. After that a 150mm petty, a 70-90mm pairing are all you really need but since you asked about a bread knife.
    As I mentioned, I appreciate guidance on knife purchases. It sounds like my initial selection is redundant, as was redundantly stated. I just mentioned those knives (8" chef's, 6" chef's, and santoku) because those are some of the most used knives in my block now. My fiancee and I often chop things at the same time, so having two knives in that range would be nice, perhaps something like the a 240mm gyuto and a 210mm gyuto as mentioned. Interestingly, I tend to prefer slightly shorter knives (6"ish) while she usually likes slightly larger ones (8"ish). Perhaps that's just because we're still learning with knives. We're talking about taking some knife skills classes to get better.

    Would the two gyuto's, a petty, and a paring knife be a good combo?

    As for the $500 budget, that's just a rough number. I'm willing to spend a bit more if that's what's required to get decent knives, but I'm also not looking to spend $500 per knife. I just wanted to give a ballpark figure. I'd rather spend the money and get something good the first time around rather than regretting my purchase later.

    Thanks!
    Tyler

  6. #6
    Senior Member ThEoRy's Avatar
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    Ok next questions, carbon or stainless? Western or Wa handled?
    Starting this harvest I'm a starving startling artist/
    Lyrical arsonist it's arduous spitting this smartest arsenic/

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by OneStaple View Post
    Would the two gyuto's, a petty, and a paring knife be a good combo?
    I'd do two gyutos, a paring and a bread to start. If you find that you need a petty, add later.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThEoRy View Post
    Ok next questions, carbon or stainless? Western or Wa handled?
    Oh boy, I'm not sure I have definite answers on these. I think I'd tend toward a Western handle, but only because that is what I'm used to and have used. I've read a lot of comments about people loving the wa style handles, especially on the larger gyuto knives, so I'm a little intrigued by those. But I'd also hate to buy a style that I've never tried and find out that I hate it. Of course, I'm sure I'd adapt to the knife.

    I'd probably lean toward stainless steels for ease of maintenance, although I understand the carbon steel knives are easier to sharpen and get sharper in general. Stainless is not a definite though. Either way, I'd take care of the knives. And, as I mentioned, I'm just someone who really enjoys cooking and is looking forward to many years of doing so, not a chef who is cooking day in and day out for a living.

    Quote Originally Posted by don View Post
    I'd do two gyutos, a paring and a bread to start. If you find that you need a petty, add later.
    That makes sense.

    Thanks,
    Tyler

  9. #9
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    only difference is that a wa handled knives are lighter, for lack of a bolster and a full tang. the balance is an inch or so above where the spine of the knife starts from the handle (usually, but it depends on the maker) instead of it being right at the bolster.

    most folks on here prefer wa handles because lighter knives give your hand less stress when cutting. and that makes for a lot less stress during hours and hours of cutting stuff.

    other people prefer western handles just coz it feels more solid, "more expensive" as there's more material put into the knife. but then that's all a matter of view.

    i'd wanna try out wa handles myself, but all i have that could even be considered wa handled knives are cheapo made in korea knives from ebay. lol. and from that experience i'd wanna try out real wa handled knives when money comes a little easier i'll get a couple.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Notaskinnychef's Avatar
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    I am still a little unsure why people buy bread knives, I just use my gyuto, slides through easy and basically no crumbs since it's so narrow and isn't serrated, granted not all bread knives are serrated but I've always gone back to my sharp chefs knife for any breads/loaves.

    I also agree with the dueling gyuto idea, more versatile.

    Welcome to kff too :-)

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