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Thread: Looking for Sharp Knives

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2013
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    Looking for Sharp Knives

    Summary: beginner, looking for 2 Knives, I care more about them being sharp than any other factor ~$500 total

    LOCATION
    What country are you in?
    Canada


    KNIFE TYPE
    What type of knife are you interested in (e.g., chef’s knife, slicer, boning knife, utility knife, bread knife, paring knife, cleaver)?
    Based on what I've read on this forum
    Gyuto
    Nakiri (petty?)

    Are you right or left handed?
    right

    Are you interested in a Western handle (e.g., classic Wusthof handle) or Japanese handle?
    don't care

    What length of knife (blade) are you interested in (in inches or millimeters)?
    Gyuto - at minimum 210mm
    Nakiri - leaning towards 165mm but don't care

    Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no)
    no - but given my inexperience I'm guessing it makes sense to have one

    What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife?
    looking to keep my total budget under $500 but it's flexible



    KNIFE USE
    Do you primarily intend to use this knife at home or a professional environment?
    home

    What are the main tasks you primarily intend to use the knife for (e.g., slicing vegetables, chopping vegetables, mincing vegetables, slicing meats, cutting down poultry, breaking poultry bones, filleting fish, trimming meats, etc.)? (Please identify as many tasks as you would like.)
    Mostly cutting chicken (some beef), vegetables and fruits

    What knife, if any, are you replacing?
    I have a cheap set of international Henkels and one 9' Henkels TWIN profection which I mostly use

    Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use? (Please click on this LINK for the common types of grips.)
    Hammer, but I guess I should learn pinch

    What cutting motions do you primarily use? (Please click on this LINK for types of cutting motions and identify the two or three most common cutting motions, in order of most used to least used.)
    Mostly Draw, some push-cut and slice

    What improvements do you want from your current knife? If you are not replacing a knife, please identify as many characteristics identified below in parentheses that you would like this knife to have.)
    I want much sharper knives

    Better aesthetics (e.g., a certain type of finish; layered/Damascus or other pattern of steel; different handle color/pattern/shape/wood; better scratch resistance; better stain resistance)?
    don't care too much but I think I'd prefer not to have a wood handle

    Comfort (e.g., lighter/heavier knife; better handle material; better handle shape; rounded spine/choil of the knife; improved balance)?
    don't know enough to say

    Ease of Use (e.g., ability to use the knife right out of the box; smoother rock chopping, push cutting, or slicing motion; less wedging; better food release; less reactivity with food; easier to sharpen)?
    easier to sharpen would be nice, but I care more about how it cuts

    Edge Retention (i.e., length of time you want the edge to last without sharpening)?
    care more about it being sharp than how often I have to sharpen it


    KNIFE MAINTENANCE
    Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board? (Yes or no.)
    Yes, bamboo (but I can buy new ones)

    Do you sharpen your own knives? (Yes or no.)
    Yes, using a rod and I'm no expert

    If not, are you interested in learning how to sharpen your knives? (Yes or no.)
    yes

    Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives? (Yes or no.)
    yes



    SPECIAL REQUESTS/COMMENTS
    Looking for knives that will last me 10 to 20 years and be razor sharp with proper maintenance. I'm open to suggestions on cutting boards and knife sharpening equipment as well.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Egger. Welcome to the forum. Just a few quick comments as I see that your biggest concern is sharpness. You would prefer a stainless blade but carbon blade will generally serve you better where sharpness is concerned. Almost without exception carbon blades can take a keener edge than stainless. You'll also have to drop the idea of using a rod. Japanese steel is extremely hard thus allowing it to be sharpened to more acute angles and hold an edge better. The result of the harder steel is that it is more brittle. Using it on a steel rod usually spells disaster for the edge. Some people use ceramic rods for maintenance but they are not generally recommended. You would at least need a basic Japanese whetstone setup which you should consider in your budget. Most Japanese knives do not come out of the box sharpened to their full potential either and there can be a steep learning curve when it comes to sharpening a knife freehand. I would suggest watching Jon's (JKI in the vendor section) videos and get a hold of some stones and a practice knife first. You would also want to consider swapping out your bamboo board for an end grain wood board. Bamboo is extremely hard and tough on edges. Especially if you are an aggressive cutter. The vast majority of handles are wood. Especially wa (Japanese handles). In Japanese knives the handle takes a back seat to the blade so they are pretty basic.

    Lots of very good advice to be had on this forum. The folks here won't steer you wrong. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Well, if you are coming from Henckels, you can get much sharper knives and still have a lot of variation in geometry, comfort, etc. And how it cuts will have a lot to do with geometry, not just edge sharpness. So those other factors that you aren't giving a lot of importance to right now, will probably become important once you've tried a few sharp knives.

    To be honest, I'd recommend starting with a solid set of peripherals (stones, flattener, board, etc) and an entry level knife that you might plan on replacing (certainly there's the risk of damaging it while learning to sharpen, even if you take your first sharpening lessons on your existing Henckels knives). My first couple of choices would be Fujiwara FKH or the Tojiro Shirogami -- try a carbon steel blade and see if it works for you. If you are like most newbies to j-knives, any of these knives will make you think "OMG, these are so freakin' great" . . . then 3 months later, you'll be looking to upgrade, and you'll have a better idea what you want in your next knife. Maybe you just don't want the maintenance of carbon (or maybe you have houseguests who don't dry them), or maybe you want to try a cleaver, or maybe you want a thinner knife, or maybe you really want a rounded spine & choil (though this latter can be done by any decent professional sharpener).

    How does your 9" Henckels feel? Just right, or a little large, or a little small? Because it's dead center between 210mm and 240mm. As a home cook, I often prefer 210mm unless I'm working with larger items like cabbage or chard. All else equal, I'd recommend your first knive be 210mm -- less expense to replace if it's not right for you.

  4. #4

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    Thanks Tripleq for the warm welcome.

    I'm fine with going with carbon steel, I assume that just means I have to dry them right after I wash them. I figured I'd require a stone from what I've read on the forum. Thank you for the advice on the cutting board seems like a worthwhile investment. I won't lose any sleep over a wooden handle if it has a superior blade.

  5. #5
    Senior Member ChuckTheButcher's Avatar
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    You can also get a San mai knife that has a carbon edge and a stainless cladding. Like on this carter. You can see hthe wavy line right above the edge. That is the two different steels.Click image for larger version

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    All normal people love meat. If I went to a barbeque and there was no meat, I would say 'Yo Goober! Where's the meat?'.- Homer Simpson

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    I agree with tripleq--you should definitely get some stones. They'll do a lot to keep you sharp. And Jon Broida's sharpening vids are great.

    Getting a less expensive knife to practice sharpening on isn't a bad idea. Up to you if you want to do that, or just jump right in. Spending some time figuring out what you like or dislike, and what you want in the long run, will serve you well.

    A stainless clad carbon is a good combination for someone who wants carbon-sharp, but most of the convenience of stainless.

    BTW, beware. There are a lot of people here whose gateway was, "I just want a good knife." (emphasis on "a", as in a single knife). But it's a good obsession.

    There's a good bit of overlap between a gyuto and nakiri. A petty would serve as a better complement to a gyuto for someone starting out. (Of course you could always get all three! See, it's starting already!). Just a bit of food for thought to help you figure out what you want.

  7. #7
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    Welcome to the forum.

    Among reputable knife makers, a knife being sharp is a given. Makers are looking for traits or characteristics, that set them apart from the competition. Traits being edge retention, cutting performance, stain resistant, fit and finish, etc....

    Learning how to sharpen is key to getting the most out of a knife. Since we learn from our mistakes, how much do you want to pay for a learning experience? While higher end knifes are very good at cutting, they require some skill to sharpen. A good knife can be had in the $80 - $200 range.

    Jon at Japanese Knife Imports has a nice selection from Suisin to Gesshin Ginga. The advantage of dealing with somebody like Jon, is that he can make recommendations based on your needs and experience. Also he sharpens knives before sending them out. So you can experience a Japanese knife at its best.

    The gyuto is a general purpose knife that meets the needs for a majority of the members on the forum. While I appreciate the gyuto, its not my first choice. Most of my cooking involves chopping vegetables. With a gyuto half the knife is off the board as I cut up vegetables.

    A nakiri is as long, if not longer then most of the flat areas on a gyuto. A nakiri is smaller, lighter, and thinner then a gyuto. It will go through vegetables easily and accurately. The downside is the lack of traditional tip. Typically people will pick up a petty or small suji, for detailed tip work. Even gyuto owners will do this.

    Good luck in finding your knife.

    Jay
    I'm a over-sized, under-educated, two onions a month, cutting fool.

  8. #8

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    Thanks for all the feedback, it looks like to start it makes sense to buy a Fujiwara FKH Gyuto (last chance to talk me into something else) and buy better knives after.


    For the stones recommended for a beginner can I get away with combo #1000 and #4000 on JCK or do I need a more diverse range? What's a flattner I haven't seen that listed on any of the knife sites and I don't recall Jon from JKI mentioning it in the handful of videos I watched. Is there any other peripherals I'd need other than a proper board?

    Thanks again everyone for your insight

  9. #9
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    I remember when I just wanted a sharp knife... and still had some money.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Egger View Post
    What's a flattner I haven't seen that listed on any of the knife sites and I don't recall Jon from JKI mentioning it in the handful of videos I watched.

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