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Thread: What knives would be good for opening coconuts?

  1. #1

    What knives would be good for opening coconuts?

    Hello! This is my first post here and I hope someone here can help me out. I know very little about kitchen knives and I am shopping for a new knife for a specific purpose: opening coconuts. My g/f and I like to eat coconuts bought from the grocery store, but they have to be opened by cutting the top off and my current J.A. Henckels International hollow-edge santoku is totally inadequate. It takes me ages to get one open with that knife and every time it feels like the knife is going to break on me.

    A couple weeks ago though I saw a pro opening a coconut with a knife that looked kind of like a cleaner. He chopped down on an angle into the top of the coconut with the near end of the blade, then rotated and repeated three or four times, and that was it! And I'm like "oh my god I need a knife like that." Except I don't know what kind of knife it was.

    I am guessing that I probably need something hard, sharp, durable, and heavy (so that it has momentum). I don't mind spending a lot to get the right tool for the job, but I certainly don't want to spend a lot on the wrong tool for the job and then destroy it from misuse.

    I read that Japanese knives are harder than European ones and I found that the Shun Elite series is made from an especially hard kind of steel and is discounted now due to being discontinued ... but then I found with tons of other makes with vastly different price ranges and now I have no idea what I need.


    What type of knife(s) do you think you want?
    Hard, sharp, durable, heavy. Japanese maybe?

    Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing?
    To cut open coconuts. Replacing J.A. Henckels International 7" hollow-edge santoku.

    What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already?
    Aesthetics-Bleh, they look very utilitarian.
    Edge Quality/Retention-They've never seemed very sharp, even right after I sharpen them.
    Ease of Use-Fine, except the paring knife can only be used near the edge of the board.

    What grip do you use?
    Not sure what this means ...

    What kind of cutting motion do you use?
    In regular cooking, mostly slicing and chopping. For the coconuts, my knife barely makes a dent so I usually end up pounding the coconut into the knife blade on the floor over and over ...

    Where do you store them?
    Wooden block.

    Have you ever oiled a handle?

    What kind of cutting board(s) do you use?
    Two wood, one thick plastic, four thin plastic.

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

    Have they ever been sharpened?
    Yes, I sharpen them myself whenever they start feeling dull.

    What is your budget?
    If I buy something ultra-expensive then I'll probably be scared to use it so ... probably no more than $350.

    What do you cook and how often?
    Mostly vegetarian food and the occasional fish. Cook at home usually about 4-5 times per week (between me + g/f).

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

    Last edited by tschmelcher; 07-24-2011 at 12:11 AM. Reason: Added how often I cook

  2. #2
    Senior Member goodchef1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    as far as the "what grip do you use" question, think back to your adolescence. There was a thread awhile back that consisted of frozen coconuts, and I believe there was a consensus that kitchen cutlery does not do well in that category. Koki and his wife have another website japaneseknifedirect you can hunt for stuff that would shred a coconut. Kikuo Matsuda comes to mind.

    More will chime in and help you with your journey.

  3. #3
    Adolescence? Oh, ha ha. Err, I guess I just use a closed grip around the handle, as if I'm making a fist.

    Never thought of buying a weapon for opening coconuts, but that actually kind of makes sense ...

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    You are talking about young coconuts right? This sounds like a good job for a decent machete I wouldn't bother with expensive knives in this case; that kind of abuse will definitely chip the edge or worse. You do not want a hard steel in this case; generally harder=more brittle. IMO if it's a young coconut, you could probably use a german meat cleaver and get a nice gyuto+petty for your regular cooking needs. As for sharpening, make sure that you're holding the same angle throughout the blade (henckels santoku is something like 17 degrees) and deburring properly on some cork or something. I'm pretty sure the international version can get sharp seeing as how I was able to shave some arm hair with one after sharpening it

  5. #5
    Yeah, young coconuts. I didn't know about deburring at all, glad I learned that! Going to look into machetes and cleavers.

  6. #6
    Engorged Member El Pescador's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    + 1 on the machete...

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Pretty cool reason to buy a machete! Gotta start buying more coconuts. BTW I recall watching some cool coconut opening techniques on iron chef. Maybe try searching youtube for some cool techniques to impress (or frighten) your guests.

  8. #8
    I found a place that carries machetes intended for opening coconuts (or at least markets them that way), made by some Thai company called Lek. I'm thinking about getting the "CM1" but there's so little info available on this company's products. The Amazon page at least says it is 5160 steel which I gather is good stuff. I guess I'll just have to buy one and see ...

  9. #9
    Senior Member NO ChoP!'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Clayton, NC- surrounded by lots of trees
    Use the point of the heel of any tall blade; About four or five good cracks around the nut usually will do it....just remember to not twist at all with the blade, as it may damage it....
    The difference between try and triumph is a little "umph"! NO EXCUSES!!!!!!!

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Mar 2011

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