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Thread: Help! So much to learn!

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 2012

    Help! So much to learn!

    Hello, and thanks for all the great info! I've been lurking for some time and finally decided to join up. I'm a Newb in the truest sense: not a kitchen pro, own a bunch of garbage; but as GI Joe says, "knowing is half the battle." So I am trying to arm myself before jumping into fine knives. I'll attempt to answer the questionnaire, and any input is greatly appreciated.

    What type of knife(s) do you think you want?
    Six weeks ago I would have told you that Shun made the finest knives on Earth, and Wusthof Classics were more than enough for me. I have never handled a Japanese-style knife, but I am interested in trying.

    I *think* I want the following:
    All purpose 8" chefs
    8" Santoku
    ~6" Utility
    8-10" Bread
    set of steak/dinner knives

    Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing?
    I started this journey because my crappy santoku is finally beyond the ability of my crappy dual-sided sharpener to make useful. I stopped using my chef's knives as anything other than backups.

    After several weeks of reading, I am starting to learn how much I have to learn. Primarily:
    Sharpening - how to properly do it, finding an efficient method that I only have to do 2-3x/year
    Technique - grip and chopping/slicing

    What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already?
    I am most familiar with Euro styling, but am not opposed to Japanese. Weight is a factor since my wife will also be using them.

    Edge Quality/Retention-
    If I knew how to sharpen/hone correctly I could probably get more out of my knives. But as it stands now, this is where my current group fails most.

    Ease of Use-
    I do a fair amount of vegetable slicing, which is why I use the santoku. It is tall enough to get through potatoes and it releases wet slices of veggie well. I always thought this was due to the pocketing on the blade.

    I don't mind a little heft, but I'm intrigued that I can get both sharper and lighter with a better knife.

    What grip do you use?
    Hammer. Willing to branch out.

    What kind of cutting motion do you use?
    Primarily push-cut or rocking (with herbs)

    Where do you store them?
    Wood block, though I'll be upgrading to a mag-blok soon.

    Have you ever oiled a handle?

    What kind of cutting board(s) do you use?
    Calphalon branded butcher block. Thinking about upgrading this as well; those BoardSmith boards look mighty fine.

    For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing?
    Nothing now. Would prefer to learn. Do you all frown on using a honing steel? Or is it just because the blade steel in your preferred knives are too hard for honing?

    Have they ever been sharpened?
    Only with a pull through. I want to learn how to do this properly, but hope to only have to sharpen 2-3x/year.

    What is your budget?
    I only plan on getting a few, and I plan on patiently acquiring. So ~$200/knife is a fair guess for a ceiling.

    What do you cook and how often?
    Mostly chicken, veggies and pasta. 3-4x/week.

    Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)?
    A knife that releases potato slices and can stop smashing the bejesus out of cherry tomatoes would be awesome. We also use steak knives with a slightly serrated edge on a near daily basis, and I'd like to upgrade those as well.

    Thanks for suffering through my newb-ish-ness!

  2. #2
    The alleles created by mutation may be beneficial

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Hampton Roads, VA
    Welcome aboard!

    Looking at your want to buy list I would remove the 8" santoku and change the 8" knife to a 9.5 (240mm). There is not much point in having a santoku in the same size as your chef's knife. Next you need to get something to sharpen on. The majority of the forum uses Japenese waterstones to keep their knives sharp. A 1000 grit stone will suit you just fine for awhile, if you poke around here you can find lots of information.

    The next main question is: Are you willing to use a carbon knife?

  3. #3
    Engorged Member
    El Pescador's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Welcome. Call Jon Broida at JKI. He's a good guy to bounce stuff off of.


  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Newport Beach, California
    Welcome out of the shadows. Until you start reading these boards, you really don't know of your desire to start accumulating sharp instruments, even if you already have some that are more than adequate (although you said you were about out of options). I have started thinking that having a few petty's is a totally natural thing to want.

    Friends and family look at me a bit oddly, but do insist that I sharpen their knives, even though I am just beginning to improve.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    San Diego, CA
    Well, I'd say keep your crummy serrated steak knives. You and others will be cutting on ceramic which will instantly kill any non-serrated edge. I still have mine...

    I'd just start with a 150+ petty or 210/240 gyuto and go from there. I'd recommend looking at Fujiwara or Kantesugu Pro M or CarboNEXT or Yoshihiro. If you really don't like them, it won't matter because what you really need is to learn to sharpen. You need abrasives for that and you might start with a MAC 2k rod and a 1k stone of some kind like the Gesshin 1k or a Bester 1.2k and/or a 3-6 k stone like a Gesshin 5k, 4k, Suehiro Rika, etc. Choseras and superstones are also excellent choices although Superstones are less forgiving of sloppy technique.

  6. #6
    Senior Member PierreRodrigue's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Alberta, Canada
    Welcome to the forum! The guys here have all the good advice you will need. Enjoy!

    Feel free to visit my website,

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    echerub's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    Welcome aboard!

    One thing caught my eye there - "Sharpening - how to properly do it, finding an efficient method that I only have to do 2-3x/year". Does that mean that you don't want to do anything more than 2-3x per year? The reason this jumps out at me is because learning to sharpen yourself really does take practice - and that means more than 2-3x per year. A lot of what folks around here will recommend can hold a nice edge in a home kitchen environment for at least 6 months, if not more. There are good folks - I can think of at least one on each side of the US - who can do a really nice occasional sharpening job for you so that's not an issue. It's just that if you want to learn to sharpen yourself, that opens up a whole slew of things that cost a few more $.

    BTW, I like and use santoku as well, but a 240mm/9.5" gyuto/chef's really is far more versatile and efficient.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by echerub View Post
    Welcome aboard!
    Does that mean that you don't want to do anything more than 2-3x per year? The reason this jumps out at me is because learning to sharpen yourself really does take practice - and that means more than 2-3x per year.
    The 2-3x/yr was assuming I had already learned the proper way to sharpen and acquired some basic materials. I'm just trying to head another obsession off at the pass; I can see how easy it is to develop a collection that goes WAY beyond the practical!

    Andrew - yes, I'm willing to go carbon if the superior edge is worth it. I'll probably have to keep the patina under control, though... not convinced yet that my wife will understand!

    Thanks everyone for the responses. For someone new, the variety of Japanese types and brands is overwhelming.

  9. #9
    SpikeC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Welcome to the Knut house! The deal with sharpening is that once you realize what kind of control that you can exert over the cutting characteristics of your knife it's hard to stay away from the stones!
    Spike C
    "The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain."

  10. #10
    Senior Member Cadillac J's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by OCD View Post
    The 2-3x/yr was assuming I had already learned the proper way to sharpen and acquired some basic materials.
    Your cadence will change once you start putting on edges that blow your a minimum, I sharpen or touch-up my knives 2-3 times per week--not because I need to, but I have a compulsion to do so. In fact, just an hour ago I rebeveled and sharpened my 300 suji, touched up my 240 gyuto and nakiri, and put a new edge on my gf's Global, all to the most ridiculous edges they've all ever had...and loved every second of it even after years of sharpening.

    I agree with everything TK said in his post, get a few knives to cover most bases and then start trying to sharpen. If you are coordinated and have some dexterity, you will be putting on serviceable edges within 1-3 weeks...surprise yourself with how sharp your edges are after 2-4 months...and your definition of sharp in a year from now will be on another planet...and it just gets better and better after that.

    Good luck, and we are here for your questions along the way. This is good read to get you started:

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