I've been spending a ridiculous amount of time searching forums, and browsing some of the online stores (chefknives, japanesechefsknives, cutleryandmore, and korin mostly) but I'm feeling overwhelmed so I figured I should make a post and see what the experts recommend. Most of the threads I've seen refer to Western style handles but I'm looking more for a Wa (traditional Japanese) handle. My wife does most of the cooking and I'll be doing the sharpening but our cutting methods and grips are similiar. Anyways here's my info land I apologize in advance, I tend to ramble.
What type of knife(s) do you think you want? I'm looking at a Gyuto (undecided between a 210mm and 240mm) and possibly a Nakiri (for now).
Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing? I've wanted to replace out current knife set for quite a while or at least piece by piece with the most used knives being the first. We have a set of Henckels International (Chef's, Bread, Paring, Utility, Steel Rod), as well as a Henckels 5 Star 8" Chef's that was lent to us indefinitely (about 6 months ago).
What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already?
Aesthetics- Looks aren't a big concern for me, other then I can tell the Internationals are cheaply made and Wa handles have a cool look to them.
Edge Quality/Retention- The edge quality was decent at first however besides honing we haven't had them sharpened since we received them as a wedding gift 2.5 years ago.
Ease of Use- Neither of us have handled anything other then Henckels.
Comfort- My wife likes the smooth end of the handle of the five star over the Internationals which is why I'm leaning more towards a Wa style handle.
What grip do you use? My wife uses a pinch grip and I've always used a hammer grip. I've realized with all the reading I've done lately my technique is lacking to say the least so I'm switching to a pinch grip.
What kind of cutting motion do you use? Push-cut and Rock. For the Nakiri I would learn to chop for no other reason then I it amuses me
Where do you store them? Knife Block
Have you ever oiled a handle? No, I'm going to google that as soon as I post.
What kind of cutting board(s) do you use? Wood only.
For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing? Rod.
Have they ever been sharpened? No.
What is your budget? I'm looking at around $100-200 for the Gyuto, $100-$150 for the Nakiri, and around $200 for stones.
What do you cook and how often? We eat mostly chicken (breasts and thighs) and nearly every kind of vegetable. We're purely home cooks, but we like to try new recipes often. We cook every evening.
Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)? None.
As I said above my wife prefers a smoother handle butt(?) on the Henckels 5 Star, or Twin Cuisine as apposed to our Internationals or the 4 Star. For this reason I think a Wa handle would better suit her needs and I do prefer the look of the Wa handle if anything. Weight is also something I am concerned with as my Wife has problems with her wrist when dealing with a lot of cutting and a heavy knife. This was one of the reasons that really drew me to Japanese Knives in the first place, the lack of weight and better edges (less pressure required to cut). Something I also want to mention is I am not looking at anything NON-stainless. The knife most likely will get left on a board after chopping tomatoes and it would kill me to see an expensive knife rust, so stainless only please.
I have never sharpened a knife but I'm willing to learn and will buy the proper stones. My question is are good stones really worth the price, i.e. what makes a Chosera 1000 warrant double the price of a Arashiyama 1000? I don't know how hardcore I plan to get into sharpening, if anything I just want to be able to keep a really nice edge. For this reason a 1K and a 3K or 4K or 5K seems like a good route, again though which of the last 3 would you recommend? Also would a ceramic rod be worth it as well?
Now for knife brands I have no loyalty I'm just looking for the best bang for your buck. The Tojiro seems to be highly recommended with the only caveat being VG-10 seems a little more difficult to sharpen (if someone could give a simple explanation why I'd really appreciate it) and is more prone to chipping. Originally this seemed like the knife to get but I would rather just spend a little more money to buy a less chip prone blade. This is where I've been getting a little overwhelmed with Tojiro selling a VG-10 for a certain price and Masamoto selling a different VG-10 for a different price. Is VG-10 VG-10 or can the same steel vary from one manufacturer to another?
We live close to Edmonton, Alberta and I know somewhere in town that carries Global which should give me a better idea of the weight difference between a Japanese and German knife as well as Miyabi for the feel of a Wa handle. Speaking of the Miyabi it doesn't seem to be a highly regarded knife (the Gyuto 7000 MC for example). On paper this seems like a really nice knife with the Japanese style and MC66 steel at the price you can pick one up for. Is it the weight that pushes so many away? Thanks in advance for helping out a newbie.