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Thread: Should I switch to Western knives ?

  1. #1
    toyopl's Avatar
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    Should I switch to Western knives ?

    Hey guys, I'm thinking whether I should switch my knives to Western knives.
    I have Tojiro set (Chef, Utility, Pairing) and they are again asking to get sharpened, also if I look really close at the edge I see very tiny chips in the edge, you gotta look very close though.

    I'm not the kind of person that would sharpen the knives regularly, I said to myself that I wold when I bought these but I'm just too lazy to sharpen regularly, nor do I want to spend money on blocks.
    I had these sharpened by member from this board (Lefty) and he did an amazing job, but that was long ago

    I remember reading that Western knives hold their edge longer, and are better for abusive owners.
    Can you buy a sharpening steal with Western knives to keep the edge sharp ? Are they the lazy mans solution ?

  2. #2
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    If by "western knives" you mean German stainless (e.g Wusthof), they generally don't hold an edge as long, but they are tougher and are more amenable to steeling (be aware that steeling is not sharpening).

    Consider a MAC and a rollsharp.

  3. #3

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    If you are getting minor chipping a somewhat more obtuse edge may last longer.

    You may be able to steel the edge of your existing set without issue. As an experiment a user steeled his Carter white steel gyuto apparently without problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by ianevans
    I have a Murray Carter gyuto in white steel that I wouldn't mind trying to maintain with a steel for a while to see how it responds.

    ...

    I steeled it with every use for a month or so and noticed none of the edge damage that Japanese knife enthusiasts often warn about. I could never get the knife as sharp as when I started (qualitative, non-blinded judgment, so take that with a grain of salt) but the knife always returned to very easily slicing phone book paper cross-grain. Over time, I had to gradually increase the steeling angle and this eventually wrecked the cutting ability, so I ended the experiment and resharpened the knife back to 10 dps. For me, this is not the ideal way to maintain an edge, but for someone who doesn't want to learn to sharpen, I would tentatively conclude that this is a very nice way to maintain even high-end Japanese-style cutlery (thin, hard steel).
    Last edited by daveb; 01-19-2015 at 11:54 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member salmonkiller's Avatar
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    It's possible that a little tougher steel combined with lower HRC may be the answer for you.Typical western knives usually have a lower HRC along with a tougher steel.The trade off is less edge retention and increased toughness.The typical modern home use Western kitchen knife is in the 55-58 range from my observations.The knifes you own have a higher HRC around 61 most likely.The Western softer but tougher knife you mention will need to be sharpened more often, but will be tougher and less chip prone.You can try taking your edge angle down to between 15- 20 degrees and that may help with the chipping problems.I have found that VG10 is a chippy steel at 15 DPS or less, but if you take it down to 20 DPS or micro bevel the 15 DPS the steel is less prone to chipping.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mrmnms's Avatar
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    No matter what you own, you still need to accept the fact you need a sharpening solution. You can learn and do it yourself, which can be a great source of pleasure, or stick with a good guy like Lefty. A steel may restore an existing edge, and may provide some sharpening with certain knives. That may extend the time between sharpenings, but they'll still need to be done. I see as much damage done by improper steeling as I see improvement in edges. Do you own one tougher knife dedicated to rougher use? That will extend the life of your others.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrmnms View Post
    No matter what you own, you still need to accept the fact you need a sharpening solution. You can learn and do it yourself, which can be a great source of pleasure, or stick with a good guy like Lefty. A steel may restore an existing edge, and may provide some sharpening with certain knives. That may extend the time between sharpenings, but they'll still need to be done. I see as much damage done by improper steeling as I see improvement in edges. Do you own one tougher knife dedicated to rougher use? That will extend the life of your others.
    +1. this is very good advice.

  7. #7
    Senior Member chinacats's Avatar
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    Some knives need more than one sharpening to get to good steel. Not sure about Tojiros but I'm betting the edge was nice while it lasted I'd give them a few more rounds of sharpening before giving up on them.

    That said, if you want a knife with MUCH better retention, I would suggest looking into a pm steel knife such as a Gesshin Kagero or Akifusa.
    once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right

  8. #8
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    Don't know if going for a knife with a higher HRC and more delicate (like japanese knives) is the answer for someone that just said they want a set they can abuse and don't really worry about.

    Maybe keep your current set and get something like the Global Minosharp. Really easy to use and quick, even for the lazy person. I used them on my scanpan set of knives before I started to get into better knives and sharpening by hand, and got a decent edge out of them, and yes it may not last, but it is relatively easy to restore whenever you need to.

  9. #9
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    If you want sharp knives, you must learn to sharpen them or send them out to a good service. If you want to drive fast and hard, you have to have good tires on your car. These are facts of physics, no amount of wistful thinking or "repurposing" words is going to change them.

    Sharpening is not rocket science, a simple combination stone and a piece of drywall sanding screen will give you much better knives than steeling will, hands down. Tojiros are very decent quality knives, and a minimum of maintenance will keep them sharp in the home kitchen far longer than a German knife will hold an edge, steel or not.

    If you have chipping problems, you should address your knife skills -- "walking" the knife across a cutting board will roll or chip any steel knife, and rock chopping can chip a Tojiro too. Practice push cutting and avoid rotating the knife while the edge is in contact with the board and you will likely find you Tojiros will stay sharp a very long time -- I just sharpened my 210 mm gyuto after six months of use because it was dragging a bit in carrots. My soft stainless knives needed sharpening in less than a month under the same conditions.

    Peter

  10. #10
    Senior Member MrOli's Avatar
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    You have a good compromise in the Spyderco Sharpmaker. Decent product and results without the need for a solid technique.

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