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Thread: Noob in need of education and suggestions.

  1. #1

    Noob in need of education and suggestions.

    My current knife selection leaves a lot to be desired and as a National Supermarket is currently offering a "70% off Professional Knives" promotional offer I thought I'd take advantage of it. I started reading up yesterday on which of the blades available would be of most use to me, leading me to this forum and ultimately to the conclusion that aforementioned supermarket can take their no-name "Professional" knives and park them somewhere dark and uncomfortable whilst I go buy a Great Knife. Unfortunately I'm now a little over-whelmed by choice and options (and inexperience).

    How much should I be looking to spend in order to get the highest quality/best steel? (Also, I am willing to bet "highest quality steel" is a subjective question, so what are the choices? I've heard terms like VG-10 and er NDP189 or something, but these terms are meaningless to me.)

    Blade profiles; what should I look for? Or is it best to pick a length of blade and budget and ask you folks for specific suggestions?

    I think I want something somewhere in the region of 160-180mm (+/- 30mm). I don't rock the blade, so a straighter edge is preferable. I'm a total novice when it comes to maintenance so I think I should be aiming for stainless?

    What type of knife(s) do you think you want?
    Something for chopping Veg and the odd cut of meat. From what I can tell, any of the 3 main Japanese "types" would do it for me, but 10" (Over 210mm) is too long for me. I'm having trouble working out the differences in use and capabilities between the Nakiri, Santoku and Gyuto
    Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing?
    I currently have one sharp knife. It's about 2.5" and used for everything from chopping veg to carving last Sunday's roast chicken.

    What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already?
    If pushed, I guess I could say I like that they match? I think it was a £6.99 set of 6 from IKEA...
    Aesthetics-
    I first saw Damascus steel yesterday and I think I have a problem.
    Edge Quality/Retention-
    Unless I'm missing something (and I hope I am) all knifes should be able to take and retain a good edge? Ease of Use-
    I'm not sure I understand this question. As long as it's sharp, not too long to handle or too short to do the job then aren't most blades easy to use?
    Comfort-
    I'll be using this in the kitchen, not cuddling up to it at night, therefore this isn't a primary concern of mine.

    What grip do you use?
    A variant on the Hammer that I call The Woodsaw.

    What kind of cutting motion do you use?
    I naturally tend towards a push or pull. Never had any success trying to Rock out, but that could be as much due to my blades as anything else.

    Where do you store them?
    I believe if I answer this truthfully I should get banned from this site (Hint: Don't open my top drawer). A better question would be "Where *will* you store them?" to which I'll reply I'll probably look into a nice wooden block or a mag strip once the kitchen has been decorated.
    Have you ever oiled a handle?
    Nope, but then I've never had a wooden handle.
    What kind of cutting board(s) do you use?
    Glass. Is that good or bad?
    For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing?
    I've used pull throughs in the past, but generally nothing. Learning how to sharpen and maintain a decent blade will form part of the buying process.

    Have they ever been sharpened?
    If I was posting this from home I'd post a close-up of the edge of what should be passing for my chef's knife. In short; I've seen sharper spoons (I used the previously mentioned 2.5" blade to carve last Sundays roast because the chefs/carving knife wasn't up to the task).

    What is your budget?
    I'm going to struggle with this until I get the answer to my question about how much I'd have to pay to get the best quality steel. To be honest I have 2 budgets. There's one for the ideal functional knife and then there's another budget for the ideal damascus steel knife. However it seems as though my tastes in damascus steel are hard to cater for. I have developed a love at first sight unhealthy infactuation with the more regular patterned steel (Devin Thomas, Del Ealy, some others). I've not been as taken with what seems to be the Japanese style of patterning i.e. the blobs turning into wavy lines (with the exception of Hattori KD ~drools~) but I have seen exceptions on http://japanesechefsknife.com/SPECIALS.html such as the those headed "VG-10 Multi Color Damascus Custom Line" (but I dislike the handles immensely), "Core-Less Special Damascus Series From Echizen Japan" but I don't know if Core-Less is a good thing or a bad thing (I guess gives more flex in the blade?) and "JCK Exclusive !! ZDP-189 Damascus Custom Line
    " (Mostly sold out or over budget). Also not as fond of the handles as others I've seen (but the pattern in the damascus is real nice). However the price of those seem to be round the price of some of the custom manufacturers I've seen (unfortunately always sold out)


    What do you cook and how often?
    No sushi, but just about anything else is fair game.

    Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)?
    No Ivory handles!

    If I've been too vague or non-specific please say or push me in the right direction for working out the answer.

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the forum. Yes, bewilderment is often the reaction when you first get involved with good knives, but the good people here will do their best to guide you.

    My first suggestion is to read the book "An Edge in the Kitchen" by Chad Ward, not so much as to get recommendations for a particular knife, but to give you some knowledge with which to understand the replies you get here. It's available from Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/An-Edge-Kitche.../dp/0061188484

    To answer some of your specific questions, there really is no such thing as "best quality steel". Each steel used to make a kitchen knife has its pros and cons. You can read more about knife steels at Gator's website:

    http://zknives.com/index.shtml

    I share your fascination with damascus blades, but I'd suggest that you start with an inexpensive gyuto as your first knife, as you will likely scuff the sides as you learn to sharpen.

    Rick

  3. #3
    Senior Member Shinob1's Avatar
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    I'm not the most experienced member here, but for what it's worth, I think a Gyuto may be the best fit for you. Definitely invest in a new cutting board, wood is the way to go. Sharpening is something that you need to be willing to learn; so consider that you will need a stone or two shortly after purchasing your knife along with a honing rod. Pull through's are not going to cut it and if you want to invest in a good quality blade, hand sharpening is something that comes with it. Alternatively, you could send it out to be professionally sharpened and just do touch-ups, but if you're in for a penny, might as well be in for a pound.

    A budget number would probably help the more senior members in recommending specific knives to you. Also, you may want to contact some of the supported vendors and or visit their websites.

  4. #4
    Thanks for the reply shinob1. Learning to sharpen and maintain my new toy is part of the fun As I don't know the difference between a £100, £150 and £200 knife its hard to know what I should budget (although I think I'm sure that the difference between a £200 and £400 knife is aesthetic/branding.. can the same be said for a £150 knife?). I'm looking for a knife set that will last me until my arthritic fingers can no longer lift them (or we're all living on food in pill form) so I'm willing to be flexible on my budget now if it means I won't be too tempted to replace them in a couple years time (however adding to it is definitely the plan)

    I'm shunning Pensacola Tiger for giving me a perfectly reasonable reason as to why there won't be a damascus blade in my immediate future! I'm going to go console myself with reading zknives .cry. (However if a certain someone over in the Knifemaking vendor forum posts an available <240mm blade I don't think I'd be able to resist, even if it means I'll have to buy another knife to practice on)

  5. #5
    Senior Member stevenStefano's Avatar
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    I am assuming you are based in the UK. Therefore I'd recommend reading this post from dragonlord from a little while ago, a lot of the recommendations and advice in that would probably help you too

  6. #6
    I don't have as much expertise as most of the others guys here, i agree with pensacola Tiger about damascus, however if you are set on it i'd have a look at http://japanesechefsknife.com/HDSeries.html 210mm Gyuto, http://www.axminster.co.uk/ice-bear-...%20waterstones the 1000/6000 stone, some sandpaper for flattening the stones and most importantly a new chopping board! Go for anything End-grain/

  7. #7
    Yeah I'd read dragonlord's post, but he was after something much longer than I'd feel comfortable using. I read the "CarboNext" marketing blurb and was feeling a little cynical about whether it was accurate.

    A more specific question.. Comparing the $109 CarboNext 210mm Gyuto http://japanesechefsknife.com/HONKO-2.jpg to the $350 Hattori HD Damascus blade ManateeAndy linked to. How much of the price difference is down to the Hattori name, how much is down to the pretty factor and how much is down to using a "known" steel? (Do you pay for geometry or just assume anything recommended here is a right enough shape?)

    Would the Hattori get sharper and hold it's edge longer than the CarboNext due to harder steel with more vanadium (Thanks Pensacola..) with the downside that it would be more effort to get that edge and being more prone to rust/oxidise ?

    Is a glass chopping board that bad? I'd heard tales that wood boards are unhygenic, is there a third option?

  8. #8
    Senior Member stevenStefano's Avatar
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    I am pretty sure the Carbonext would hold and edge longer and get sharper than the HD. If you really want damascus the Inazuma line at JCK also looks good and is very very cheap

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elcee View Post
    Yeah I'd read dragonlord's post, but he was after something much longer than I'd feel comfortable using. I read the "CarboNext" marketing blurb and was feeling a little cynical about whether it was accurate.

    A more specific question.. Comparing the $109 CarboNext 210mm Gyuto http://japanesechefsknife.com/HONKO-2.jpg to the $350 Hattori HD Damascus blade ManateeAndy linked to. How much of the price difference is down to the Hattori name, how much is down to the pretty factor and how much is down to using a "known" steel? (Do you pay for geometry or just assume anything recommended here is a right enough shape?)

    Would the Hattori get sharper and hold it's edge longer than the CarboNext due to harder steel with more vanadium (Thanks Pensacola..) with the downside that it would be more effort to get that edge and being more prone to rust/oxidise ?

    Is a glass chopping board that bad? I'd heard tales that wood boards are unhygenic, is there a third option?
    Glass chopping boards are terribly hard on knives, wood boards are not unhygienic in the slightest, but their owners can be.

    The "Hattori" HD isn't even a Hattori. It's a rebadge, made by Ryusen, available as many brands (also known as an OEM blade). It's VG-10, which many dislike here, but it's a perfectly competent cutlery steel. Some think that "Hattori's" heat treat of VG-10 (usually when referring to the FH series) makes it superior to other VG-10 blades. As I mentioned though, the HD ain't a Hattori.

    The carbonext is a clear value leader, made from a semi-stainless tool steel that is highly regarded here. Tough, hard and easy to sharpen by all accounts.

    Inazuma is a good call for the Damascus look. 19C27 is a well regarded steel too. This is also an OEM knife, offered by may brands - Yoshihiro hammered damascus, Togiharu hammered damascus, Kanetsune hamm.... etc etc.

  10. #10
    The alleles created by mutation may be beneficial


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    Quote Originally Posted by Elcee View Post
    Yeah I'd read dragonlord's post, but he was after something much longer than I'd feel comfortable using. I read the "CarboNext" marketing blurb and was feeling a little cynical about whether it was accurate.

    A more specific question.. Comparing the $109 CarboNext 210mm Gyuto http://japanesechefsknife.com/HONKO-2.jpg to the $350 Hattori HD Damascus blade ManateeAndy linked to. How much of the price difference is down to the Hattori name, how much is down to the pretty factor and how much is down to using a "known" steel? (Do you pay for geometry or just assume anything recommended here is a right enough shape?)

    Would the Hattori get sharper and hold it's edge longer than the CarboNext due to harder steel with more vanadium (Thanks Pensacola..) with the downside that it would be more effort to get that edge and being more prone to rust/oxidise ?

    Is a glass chopping board that bad? I'd heard tales that wood boards are unhygenic, is there a third option?
    $350? I see the HD 210 gyuto listed at $172. I would go with the CarboNext but both are good knives. Glass cutting boards are terrible on knife edges, practically anything else would be a better choice. Wood boards are extremely safe, but if you want you can go with a wood composite (Epicurean) or rubber (Sani-tuff). That being said BoardSMITH end grain boards are the cream of the crop.

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