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This place is crazy...help?
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  1. #1

    This place is crazy...help?

    Well, my son in now hooked on "sharp things." I came here thinking I'd be able to figure out what two knives would be the best bang for the buck. What I got was way too much information and my son now tells me that we need MUCH bigger knives than anything we've used before and we need whetstones and strops and other sharpening gizmos... He's also telling me that new knives aren't even sharp. I haven't bought too many knives but they are pretty much all sharp when you them, aren't they? Anyway, I've never used anything bigger than a chef's knife but I'm open to learning new ways to do things, if they are going to be better. Some of the videos of you guys cutting things up are amazing. What would it take to be able to do that? Oh, this is getting too long... Sorry!

  2. #2

    JohnnyChance's Avatar
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    You don't have to use knives larger than you are comfortable with. Most tasks you can do with a petty. But for professionals or people here who do a lot of home cooking, the larger and longer blades make prepping a lot of food easier. It seems daunting to switch to a 4-6" petty to a 10-12" chefs knife. Instead try something a little bigger than you are used to. The more you use it, the more you will get used to it, and the less giant it will seem. You'll be confident with it in no time, and then if needed, you can get another chefs knife or a slicer in something even longer the next time.

    How old is your son?
    "God sends meat and the devil sends cooks." - Thomas Deloney

  3. #3

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    Welcome. +1 on using what you're comfortable with. Most people only need a chefs knife/gyuto and a petty. It is easier to use a larger knife when prepping things but don't rush it and if you do decide to go for one the more you use it the better it will feel. As for the need for stones and such, well yes they are needed but not in the amount people on here use (also myself) you can get away with a simple 1000/6000 King stone that runs about 40$ and something to keep it flat and that's about all you really. Over time you can add stops and stone but I lived off of that combo stone for a good 5 years and got good results. Also it's very good for beginners.
    Now onto the question about new knives aren't sharp. In most cases yes that is rather true. Most knives are ground to about a 800 grit stone or there abouts, but most knives preform much better after taken to higher grit stones (you'll find that some of us here like our knives VERY sharp). So to sum that up yes after some practice on the stones you can easily get a knife much sharper than most anything out of the box.
    As for the slicing and chopping videos you've seen. It all boils down to practice sorry but there is just no way around it. Much like sharpening knife skills are a skill that you have to work at. Hope this helps.

  4. #4
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    bprescot's Avatar
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    JC is right on the money. We're all a little nuts here and a lot of our members are pros or very avid amateurs that prep a lot of food. You absolutely don't need a huge knife, and you should absolutely not get one longer than you feel comfortable with. We've got a ton of pros here too that use shorter knives because their work space makes a larger knife impractical. So think about what you're comfortable with and what might work best in your cooking area. As for your other questions, in practical terms most decent retail knives will come sharp enough for most right out of the box. But we here are sharpness and performance junkies, so we've got a slightly different definition of "sharp". Most here will usually immediately put their own edges on a knife but the original edge should be enough to get the job done. Now, to sharpen we usually use Japanese Water stones. But that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to as well. There are plenty of professional sharpeners out there if you want to go that route. But it's pretty simple to learn how to use a cheap waterstone, and it's probably the cheapest route in the long run. Strops can keep edges alive longer (kinda like steels for German knives), but aren't absolutely necessary. It's a pretty good and cheap investment, though, if you ask me.

    Can you tell us a bit about what you're looking for, home cook or pro, etc? It would also be good to figure out how much you care about cranking that last little bit of performance out of your knives and if the idea of maintaining them yourself appeals to you.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Cadillac J's Avatar
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    I don't remember the last time I purchased a knife and didn't immediately put my own edge on it.

    Factory edges can sometimes be serviceable straight out the box, but none have been close to near what they are capable of in my experience.

    Get yourself some stones and a j-knife and eventually your eyes, heart and wallet will soon be open to what is possible.

  6. #6
    Hiromoto 240 as Guyot and a King combo 1000/6000 is a good start :P
    And surf the web for sharpening vids

  7. #7

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    Size is totally a matter of preference at home. Get whatever size you like.

    There is a questionnaire that I made, its stickied in the "kitchen knife" forum. It is designed with YOU in mind, exactly in your situation--a casual user who wants to find the perfect fit without educating themselves on a fairly complex subject. I highly recommend you fill it out, the words like "grip" and "cutting motion" are links to the Glossary that explain what they are.

    As far as care for your knives, I'd suggest a honing rod or a simple strop, depending on your knife and board. Get a good board, as good as you can afford. It's a one-time purchase.

    I also think you should buy one knife at a time, you would be amazed at how much you can do with one great knife.

    Final point, almost NO knives come sharp. It's a tedious process and how you sharpen them depends on how they will be used and cared for, so they just slap an edge on and call it a day. I've never seen a new knife sharpened without need for improvement(though I'm sure they do exist, from certain custom makers).

  8. #8
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    Welcome to the black hole....

    Though I'll differ from the rest in length recommendations, and say a 9" or 10" (or 240mm or 270mm) blade is "better" for your chef's knife (or what you'll use as a chef's knife). OK, it's NOT if you don't have room, don't have a deep enough board... and it might not be if your cutting technique is pure vertical push. So it depends. But if you're doing "classical" (western) cuts, it really does help to have something a little longer. Not that there aren't great cutters who use things shorter.

    If you're getting a lighter knife than a German forged knife, especially, the agility is improved and the extra length easy to handle.

    Caveats again -- there are reasons for a shorter knife, but I think you need not fear a longer one if you have the room and a big enough board.

    There are lots of videos on cutting technique as well as sharpening technique. Some are good, some not, but if you see a bunch and figure out more specific questions, there'll be more help. You can go from completely-incompetent-silly to a relatively efficient beginner incredibly quickly. I have no idea how long it takes to be a great technician, if that's a goal ('cause I'm not there).

  9. #9

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    Sally, welcome to the forums, I hope you find the information you need.

    Are you currently looking to replace some of your current knives?
    Buying knives for your son?
    Just looking for the "best bang for the buck"?
    Just looking to expand your knowledge base?

    If the knives you have are currently filling your needs, I suggest you stick around for a bit relax, read some and ask plenty of questions before making a decision about which knives to purchase.

    If you need an immediate answer I would say the best budget knife is the CarboNext from Japanese Chef Knife, or the Yoshihiro from Japanese Knife Imports. But the question can go many different ways; bang for the buck means something different for everyone.

    In terms of getting to the point of being able to cut like some of the videos...years of 10 plus hour days working in the business we all love.

  10. #10
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    El Pescador's Avatar
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    I would call Jon Broida at Japanese Knife Imports and see what he has to say. I find his advice invaluable. He'll lead you to the right purchase with out overselling you. Just don't let him talk you out of a knife, he's done that to me a couple of times!

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