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  1. #1

    First Good Knife Advice

    Hey all,

    I'm at that point in life where it's finally time to move out of the parents' house post-college and finally looking to buy the set of kitchen basics everyone needs, but I've been stymied by the choice of knife. I'd consider myself a pretty good home cook, though certainly not up to any sort of chef standards.

    The knives I've been most experienced with thus far are a Wusthof Grand Prix 8" Chef and Shun's Ken Onion 8" Chef, though I've had some limited hands-on time with a half-dozen or so others. I've found that I vastly prefer asymmetric edges, though don't have enough experience to feel the difference between 100/0, 80/20, etc. I've found a pinch grip to be far and away the most comfortable option, and find it quite uncomfortable to use a knife with a bolster that doesn't run the full height of the return (my apologies if I'm confusing my terms here; I like the bolster setup on the above-mentioned Wusthof, not on the Shun, and definately not on something like the Shun Classic, with the bolster set back from the return).


    General usage will be on end-cut rock maple boards for generic home-cook vegetables and whatnot.

    Based on this rather limited experience, I believe that the set of features I'm looking for are:
    --Somewhere around 210mm/8" range. Anything under 7" doesn't play well with me. A bit longer would be fine, though anything over 270mm is going to be too big for my board, I think.
    --Asymmetric edge
    --Bolster running the full height of the return


    I'm not overly concerned about price, but would generally like to keep it under $500 or so if that's a reasonable target. Still, I'd rather buy a good knife once and have it last me than twelve mediocre ones.

    Thanks very much!

  2. #2
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    sachem allison's Avatar
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    welcome!
    I haven't lived the life I wanted, just the lives I needed too at the time.

  3. #3
    Senior Member JKerr's Avatar
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    Welcome!

    You'll probably have a hard time finding a good (by the standards of most KKF users) knife with a full bolster. I'd be inclined to say a Sabatier carbon would be the best option, off-the-shelf anyway, if you don't mind the extra maintanence. Personally I can't think of any Japanese makers producing a knife with a full bolster, though I'm sure there must be some. Otherwise there's always the option of going custom, which I'm sure you could find something in your budget.

    Out of interest, are you sharpening your knives at the moment and if so, how?

    Cheers,
    Josh

  4. #4
    Senior Member Benuser's Avatar
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    +1 on French carbon. Otherwise: "1922" by Robert Herder, Solingen.

  5. #5
    Maybe I missed it but I don't believe you mentioned how you plan on sharpening said knife. My advice would be to hold off on the $500 knife and buy a cheap but nice Japanese knife and learn how to sharpen that before you destroy a true beauty. I started with a Fujiwara FKH (Carbon) and if I had to do it over again, there would be no change. Relatively easy to sharpen and the $70 you will pay get's you decent steel (way better than anything German) and if you screw it up with sharpening you won't be depressed.

    Once you get the hang of how to use Japanese Whet Stones then you can start buying badass knives and maintaining them like a pro.
    Twitter: @PeterDaEater

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by stereo.pete View Post
    Maybe I missed it but I don't believe you mentioned how you plan on sharpening said knife. My advice would be to hold off on the $500 knife and buy a cheap but nice Japanese knife and learn how to sharpen that before you destroy a true beauty...
    I agree but I would stick with stainless since that is your experience. If you want an all around carbon steel knife, I'd go with something in a different steel than Fujiwara. I'd go with a Fujiwara stainless or a Suisin INOX line. Tojiro is another decent one but it chips more easily than other options.

  7. #7
    Full bolsters like that are a pain in the a** to sharpen. Maybe the reason you haven't liked your Shuns is because that area on the knife (what you call the return, which I'm assuming is what we call the choil) is not well finished and rounded. It can dig into your hands a bit and get uncomfortable if it isn't smoothed out on the edges.

    Here's what I mean.

    A well finished choil in the first photo: http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/sh...ll=1#post92396
    And photo five here shows a choil that hasn't been rounded and is sharp at the edges: http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/...gyuto-81.html#

    The rounding is very easy to do yourself.

    Almost none of the knives that have been recommended have the full bolster that you want. Yoshihiro might also be a good option if you decide to forgo the full bolster. I'm liking mine and it's pretty asymmetric.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Shinob1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heirkb View Post
    Yoshihiro might also be a good option if you decide to forgo the full bolster. I'm liking mine and it's pretty asymmetric.
    I've purchased a Yoshihiro myself and am enjoying it. You may want to contact Jon at Japanese Knife Imports. Give him a ring and he'll steer you in the right direction.

  9. #9
    Thanks for the feedback!

    Quote Originally Posted by stereo.pete View Post
    Maybe I missed it but I don't believe you mentioned how you plan on sharpening said knife.
    Ah, good point, I knew I was going to forget something. Obviously, I'm not really that experienced in sharpening particularly good steels given my experience. That said, I've been maintaining my existing knives with a ceramic rod and occasional use of 400 and 1200 grit waterstones. I'm reasonably confident from what I know that those specific stones wouldn't be right/sufficient for a good knife and aren't right for those knives, but I figured I could learn on and possibly destroy the Wusthof for like $50 and not care too much. I haven't done any damage to that yet, but then it's not a good enough knife that I would necessarily notice any slight damage to it. Still, I've sharpened it every few weeks for the last couple years and I think I've got a feel for it -- I'm by no means a pro at it, but enough to get started.

    Still, if that admittedly limited level of experience places me squarely in the "you know just enough to make you confident enough to severely ruin a good knife" category, that's good to know =P


    Quote Originally Posted by heirkb View Post
    Full bolsters like that are a pain in the a** to sharpen. Maybe the reason you haven't liked your Shuns is because that area on the knife (what you call the return, which I'm assuming is what we call the choil) is not well finished and rounded. It can dig into your hands a bit and get uncomfortable if it isn't smoothed out on the edges.
    That's an interesting point, and you're probably correct about the Shun being unsarpened and thus uncomfortable. Still, the part that has tended to annoy me about the blade being set away from the bolster by a significant distance has more to do with my relatively largeish hands. When there's a half-inch gap between the return/choil and the bolster, I feel like I don't have enough of the handle secured to maintain proper tip control. Maybe that's just a mediocre grip on my part.


    Thanks for the recommendations, I'll definately look into all of those!

  10. #10
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    Are you using a pinch grip?

    http://www.foodwoolf.com/2007/12/kni...lustrated.html

    Quote Originally Posted by SomeCoolGuy View Post
    Still, the part that has tended to annoy me about the blade being set away from the bolster by a significant distance has more to do with my relatively largeish hands. When there's a half-inch gap between the return/choil and the bolster, I feel like I don't have enough of the handle secured to maintain proper tip control. Maybe that's just a mediocre grip on my part.

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