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  1. #1

    Any advice for a newbie?

    I have only just started my interest in kitchen knives so my knowledge is quite poor. Was wondering if you have any advice on what brand and type of knives should I start with?

    I have noticed that there's a bit of "gang war" between the Japanese and German knives although I still am not that much wiser on why and who's winning.

    My first "baby steps" into this hobby include the following:

    I saw a Henckels Four Star slicing knife (20cm blade) on sale for half price the other day and went ahead and bought it. Is Henckels as good a brand as the adverts say?

    I need to get a carving fork as well and I'm presuming that a Henckels one would do just fine?

    I also got a Michigan Maple end grain cutting block (20x15x3.5 inches) and some butcher's block oil and bee's wax.

    What do I need in terms of sharpening and maintenance of the knives?

    Also do I need to pay quite a bit of attention when I get a knife block? Does it need to be a particular wood, brand, etc? Or would a cheap simple wood block do the job?

    Apologies in advance for the endless questions...

  2. #2
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    Hi, and welcome to the forum!

    The best advice I can give you at this time is to buy and read Chad Ward's book, "An Edge in the Kitchen". It is full of good information and answers to questions you probably haven't thought of yet.

    Since you're in the UK, I'll give you the Amazon UK link:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Edge-Kitchen...0338823&sr=8-1

    Henkels, Wusthof and Messermeister are all good knives, just not great knives, as you may come to find out on your journey. I started out with a few Wusthof knives several years ago, but they are packed away in storage now, supplanted by Hattori, Masamoto, and Hiromoto knives.

    Storage of your knives is a personal decision. Many kitchen countertops are cramped so a block just takes up space. If that's true in your case, you may want to look into an in-drawer block like this one:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Robert-Welch...0339394&sr=1-2

    or a magnetic knife strip if you have a place to mount it:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Natural-Magn...339612&sr=1-13

    You can also store your knives loose in a drawer if you use edge guards:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bisbell-Magn...0339552&sr=1-3

    Whatever you choose, block, in-drawer, magnetic or edge guard, make sure the knife is clean and dry first.

    Good luck!

    Rick

  3. #3
    Hi! Welcome. I am currently working on several things for new guys just like yourself, including a glossary and a questionnaire. I might as well try out the questions as they sit! Here ya go:

    ---------------------------

    What knife to buy???

    If you are considering creating a thread to ask for suggestions for what knife to buy, you've come to the right place! Many of us here are very well versed in knives and their use and are willing to help people find tools that will suit them best and make for satisfying purchases.

    This questionnaire is designed to help us understand your wants/needs, perhaps better than you know yourself. We have all seen many of these threads, and there are a huge amount of solutions to problems with cutlery—you may have good cutlery for you, though it might be time to learn to sharpen them(or have it done for you), or you might need to learn to do some things a little differently. You may just need a new cutting board. By filling out as much of this as possible, you will save a lot of time and possibly money.

    If you are looking to buy a gift for someone, just fill this in with your best guesses for that person, based on what you've seen. If you aren't sure, you might want to read these questions, then spend some time standing in their kitchen, to see how they use their knives.



    Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing?

    If first time purchase, reference the knives you have used the most in the past(your parent's, house knives, etc)

    What do you like and dislike about your knives already?
    Aesthetics-
    Edge Quality/Retention-
    Enjoyable to use?-
    Comfort-

    What grip do you use?

    What kind of cutting motion do you use?

    Where do you store them?

    Have you ever oiled a handle or cutting board?

    What kind of cutting board(s) do you use?

    For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing?

    What is your budget?

    What do you cook and how often?

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

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by johndoughy View Post
    Hi! Welcome. I am currently working on several things for new guys just like yourself, including a glossary and a questionnaire. I might as well try out the questions as they sit! Here ya go:

    ---------------------------

    What knife to buy???

    If you are considering creating a thread to ask for suggestions for what knife to buy, you've come to the right place! Many of us here are very well versed in knives and their use and are willing to help people find tools that will suit them best and make for satisfying purchases.

    This questionnaire is designed to help us understand your wants/needs, perhaps better than you know yourself. We have all seen many of these threads, and there are a huge amount of solutions to problems with cutlery—you may have good cutlery for you, though it might be time to learn to sharpen them(or have it done for you), or you might need to learn to do some things a little differently. You may just need a new cutting board. By filling out as much of this as possible, you will save a lot of time and possibly money.

    If you are looking to buy a gift for someone, just fill this in with your best guesses for that person, based on what you've seen. If you aren't sure, you might want to read these questions, then spend some time standing in their kitchen, to see how they use their knives.



    Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing?

    If first time purchase, reference the knives you have used the most in the past(your parent's, house knives, etc)

    What do you like and dislike about your knives already?
    Aesthetics-
    Edge Quality/Retention-
    Enjoyable to use?-
    Comfort-

    What grip do you use?

    What kind of cutting motion do you use?

    Where do you store them?

    Have you ever oiled a handle or cutting board?

    What kind of cutting board(s) do you use?

    For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing?

    What is your budget?

    What do you cook and how often?

    Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)?
    Great questionnaire there. Prolly add "Carbon, Semi-Stainless, Stainless?" to the list.

    I think you should make a post and sticky it!!

  5. #5
    Thanks! I want to get it stickied soon, but I want it to be perfect first, hopefully the OP's answers will help. I wanted it to be as simple as possible for the person filling it out, and lacking any specific terminology when possible. I had that question on there and deleted it! I think we can deduce from their other answers if they are going to put a knife in the dishwasher, but aside from that, I always say that carbon steel will behave no differently(other than aesthetically) than stainless as long as basic knife safety and hygiene is applied. I grew up with antique carbon steel knives and we never had a problem--I also never had to stick my hand into a sink with a knife in it.

    To the Original Poster, I just realized that I didn't ask "what do you think you want to buy?", which should probably be question numero uno.

  6. #6
    Thank you very much for the fast replies everyone. i will certainly buy the book to read and I have tried to fill the questionnaire to the best of my abilities.

    What do you think you want to buy?

    At this point in time I want to buy a small number of knives that would cover the main areas of food preparation i.e. slicing/chopping/preparing raw meat and vegetables, cutting bread and finely slicing roast meats.

    Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing?

    If first time purchase, reference the knives you have used the most in the past(your parent's, house knives, etc)

    The reason for purchase is to have a set of good quality knives (not necessarily same brand) that would last me a long time (with appropriate care). The knives I currently own are one step above the cheap stuff. Here is the link http://direct.tesco.com/product/imag...2TPS283901.jpg I own a utility knife, santoku, chef's and a carving knife. I have also got a Henckels slicing knife (20cm).

    What do you like and dislike about your knives already?
    Aesthetics-
    Edge Quality/Retention-
    Enjoyable to use?-
    Comfort-

    I do like the above qualities of my existing knives but I am aware that they are still average when compared to what's out there. Whilst I haven't experienced the edge quality of other brands I can certainly say that in terms of aesthetics there's definitely a lot more better stuff out there.

    What grip do you use?

    i am new to the hobby so I am as they say a "blank slate". When chopping/cutting large items I tend to hold the handle whereas when chopping small items I tend to grip the end of the blade with index and thumb.

    What kind of cutting motion do you use?

    Again "blank slate" comes to mind. However I have started to use the rotating motion when chopping (onion, cucumber, celery, etc).

    Where do you store them?

    I have been storing them in a dawer but do prefer to use an upright knife block.

    Have you ever oiled a handle or cutting board?

    No, never had any wooden handle or cutting board so far. I have however just bought a maple end grain cutting board and purchased oil and wax for it.

    What kind of cutting board(s) do you use?

    I have been using glass so far but just purchased my first wooden board. I say first because I do intend to purchase a smaller wooden board in order to use exclusively for meat/poultry (cross contamination and all that).

    For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing?

    Never used anything at all and don't know where to start. I didn't want to buy a load of things to then find out I don't need half of them.

    What is your budget?

    Low end of average to start with. At this point I feel comfortable spending around US$100 on a knife as long as I buy only a few. Considering that I'm only a beginner I don't wish to make major investments and then end up ruining the knives whilst practicing with them.

    What do you cook and how often?

    I cook on a daily basis homemade food. I cook a variety of food from different cuisines but the dominant one tends to be Eastern European (Greek, Albanian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Czech) followed by Italian, German, English, French. Tomatoes are definitely a major ingredient of the majority of recipes I cook although at the moment I tend to use chopped tomatoes in tins.

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

    At this point considering my lack of knowledge I am not "fussy" but I certainly wish to own a Japanese Knife. First because from what I can gather they seem to be the best and second because the aesthetics (like everything else Japanese) are absolutely stunning. It would have to be a double beveled edge though (is that the term?). I would love to own a knife that has a gorgeous wavy pattern/reflection on the sides of the blade.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Aphex's Avatar
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    For a budget of under $100 you can't get much better than the Fujiwara FKM (stainless) and the FKH (carbon) take a look here http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/FKMSeries.html These knives are probably the best budget knives out there and will give you a good understanding about wether you like J knives.

    I would say spend the most of your money on a gyuto (that's a chef's knife) as that will get the most use. I would reccomend getting the 240mm version.

    As far as sharpening stones go, many people start with the king 1000/6000 combination stone. I think they cost about £30.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Aphex View Post
    For a budget of under $100 you can't get much better than the Fujiwara FKM (stainless) and the FKH (carbon) take a look here http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/FKMSeries.html These knives are probably the best budget knives out there and will give you a good understanding about wether you like J knives.

    I would say spend the most of your money on a gyuto (that's a chef's knife) as that will get the most use. I would reccomend getting the 240mm version.

    As far as sharpening stones go, many people start with the king 1000/6000 combination stone. I think they cost about £30.
    Aphex thank you for the advice. Was having a look at the website and the HKV series Yanagiba is a thing of beauty. It's shape is my favourite one (although I do realize that I won't be needing to buy one for a while. No wonder it is featured on the insignia of this forum..

  9. #9
    Senior Member Aphex's Avatar
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    If you want a knife that looks a bit more special, check out the JCK Inazuma half way down the page here http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/SPECIALS.html It's more expensive than the Fujiwara, but it sounds like the damascus (wavy pattern as you put it.) finish is what you like.

  10. #10
    Senior Member stevenStefano's Avatar
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    Someone else from the UK, not very many post here. I have an Inazuma petty and its quite nice though I don't use it much, but if you're after a flashy knife for not much money they are good value. There are very few places in the UK I'd buy knives from, they are generally hugely overpriced, and as Aphex pointed out, JCK is a great vendor and postage is only $7 to the UK and it only takes between 3 days to a week usually delivery. You're basically cutting out the middleman. One UK vendor I have used is Nippon Kitchen which sells Tojiro knives which are excellent. though the biggest size they do is 20cm which is a little small, I'd go for a 240 if I were you so a Fujiwara might be better

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