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  1. #1

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    Nouveau technique.

    May I ask a question of the people of this board? It is a bit involved, I am sorry to say.

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    I came to this board to learn more about kitchen knives. Strangely enough, the thread that has taught me the most has been not the Kitchen Knife Knowledge subforum, but the "Youtube Knuckleheads" thread in the media subforum. This is because it has been my experience that the best way to understand someone is to listen to them when they are mocking someone. This is not an insult, a lot of those video's are horrific(especially those ones from expertvillage), it just seems that, when someone is being negative, it is easier to understand what they value, how they think.

    In particular, around page 22-26, especially this post:
    http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/sh...ll=1#post82384

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    Again, this is the uninformed opinion of a neophyte. I actually taught myself how to cook through reading cookbooks, trying recipes from books and allrecipes, and watching Good Eats on youtube(I like the in depth descriptions, the science and reasoning behind what is being done helps my apply the lessons to other situations, and it is always better to see a technique, than read about it). Heck, I taught myself the claw, pinch grip, and common cutting motions through youtube and several books.
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    I get the feeling that the users of this forum(I could be way off base):
    1. Prefer the profiles of gyuto knives, with less belly, thinner, lighter blades that are not as tall.
    2. Dislike the germanic profiles, seen in the majority of knives, from Wusthof to Shun to Rachel Ray's Furi(ick).
    3. Prefer push cuts and tap chopping to rock chopping, view it as more efficient and economical.
    4. Think the majority of video's teaching knife skills, as well as the traditional views of knife skills taught in class rooms are incorrect.
    5. Dislike the dedicated kitchen stores, like Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table, viewing them as being staffed with people with inferior skills and filled with bad knife products.
    6. Many(not all) view those who haven't worked professionally in kitchens as having terrible technique(I don't disagree ).
    7. View knives like Shun and Wusthof, Global and Henckels, as flawed knives, for their germannic design.
    8. Consider most people as having terrible sharpening skills and/or dull knives.
    9. Consider the methods of determining sharpness seen in many youtube video's(shaving hair, cutting paper, easily cutting tomatoes, Murray Carter's three finger technique, push cutting through paper, nicking thumb nail with no pressure) as being incorrect ways to determine sharpness, due to the possibility that it could be just because of a wire edge left on knife and/or they are just bad methods of testing.
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    With those(possibly erroneous) conclusions I have made in mind:

    A. How does one cut in the proper way? Are there any video's/books with dedicated information on the proper way to cut with gyuto style knives, with different profiles? It seems that if I took any knife skills classes at schools, they would have the same information/teach the same style y'all view as outdated.

    B. How does one correctly determine sharpness, in your opinion?

    C. I chose "nouveau" purposefully, because of its connotations of "trendiness." These types of knives seemed to be very new. Are these techniques and designs superior, or merely a fad? I am actually curious. I would tend to the former, rather than the latter. It seems that the germanic profiles and rock chopping is easier to learn, but the french/gyuto profiles and styles are more efficient, if you have the skill. However, because of its newness, I thought it best to bring this up.

    D. Because most sharpening video's are bad, it seems, how does one still learning separate the wheat from the chaff?

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    Sorry for the length of the post and its terrible structure. This was the best way I could express myself.
    I am learning to sharpen, I hope, correctly. I first learned to sharpen folding knives on my grandfather's badly dished whetstone, and tools on his belt sander.
    As someone who enjoys woodworking, I fell hard into the you-must-have-four-or-five-different-waterstonesat-least-camp. Also into the sharpening-at-too-high-an-angle camp. Watching Murray Carter's, Dave Martell's three video's posted on youtube, and the video's of Tom from Japanese Knife Imports, I learned to use two(1k, 6k), at most three stones, and to lower the blade greatly, lift at the tip, etc. I am still nowhere near proficient, though. I can sharpen my knives to the point where they can shave hair cleanly, and push cut(not slice, that is too easy) paper easily; I don't know if this is the proper method of testing, though.
    Full disclosure, I guess I am part of the evil empire, too. Being a university student, I got a part time job at Williams-Sonoma. I guess I am the bad guy, since I am considered the "knife guy" as I know the products, and am the only one that knows how to sharpen and maintain edges. I don't lie about the downsides of the more brittle Shun knives, though. I also, because of the discount, have shun knives, though I got a Tojiro Shirogami Gyutuo 240mm, that I am thinning. Heck, I teach the cooking classes. Don't know what that says about the cooking skills of the employees.
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    Am I in the right ballpark, or way off-base?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Crothcipt's Avatar
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    I myself wouldn't mind working at W&S. The knives are nice to look at. But the biggest problem is like you said you have done your home work but everyone else hasn't. Most sales people don't care about what they are selling.

    Most and biggest problem I see with that video is someone told her how she should use the knife and wasn't proficient with it. Also you don't want to drag on the board at all, you should only "kiss" the board at all times. There is quite a few books on technique (with pictures) that will be better. Also most vid's on youtube is more about selling you the product than about the correct way to use it.

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    Yes, I understand. I was cringing seeing how that lady was holding the pepper when slicing it. But my question was more about the comment, that:
    This is just standard kitchen store B.S. It's outdated, it's not all true, it's wrong for about 40-60% of cooks, and it's going out of style fast--I'm doing my part to speed that along.
    I take that to mean that rock chopping(which I like to use, am comfortable using) is not the best way to cut. That tap and push chopping are better. But where would we learn these better techniques? All the other video's, books, and summaries of knife skills classes push rock chopping as the preferred method. Where can we learn these better techniques? I know some people will say, "just cook enough with gyuto's, which force you to use those other method's, and you will learn it."
    However, most people are home cooks, and simply don't put in enough hours to develop those techniques. I only have one gyuto, and several germannic style knives, most people have none. And practice doesn't make perfect, wrong practice, as anyone who has used knives without a claw technique, and tries to unlearn it/learn the claw knows, is worse than no practice. Where can we learn proper methods?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Johnny.B.Good's Avatar
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    Hi PB,

    I think you are in the right ballpark with many of your points (perhaps with the exception of number nine). That said, I happen to like Williams-Sonoma (except for the prices). I am no longer interested in any of the knives that are for sale there (and have heard some amusing conversations between WS employees and customers on the topic of knives), but Williams-Sonoma is a nice store that sells (generally speaking) nice things.

    Check out this video from Salty Dog:

    http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/sh...hlight=strokes

    And I am new to sharpening freehand, but there seems to be universal agreement (rare here on any topic) about the quality of Jon Broida's instructional videos on the Japanese Knife Imports site and/or YouTube.

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    1. A $100 knife will no longer last you the rest of your life. Not if you cook as much as my family, or have any family that abuses them, such as by putting them in the dishwasher.
    2. A full tang is not a sure sign of a well made knife. Nor is the fact that it is forged to shape.
    3. The idea that "well balanced" means "always 3/4 of the way up the handle" is a stupid idea. Everyone is going to want it in a different place. If I use a knife that is balanced like that at work, my arm gets sore by the end of the week.
    4. How is the tang style and balance being in the handle going to do the work for you? They are unrelated concepts.
    5. Standing with the knife askew to your body and whipping it off the board, leaning in terror of the flying edge is not a safe way to use a knife.
    6. Draw cutting without a pronounced claw is a good way to lose a fingernail or three. Ask me how I know.
    7. While you should not death-choke the knife, loosely hammer gripping the knife is not a good idea. You need to be able to control every direction of movement.
    8. A honing steel is not $20. Not one worth owning. The one I suggest for the cheapest beaters is $30, the rest are more like $50.


    Some things(like her treatment of the claw grip, her advocacy of not scraping with the edge, and the motion of the cuts, etc) is all pretty solid. It's not the worst I've seen, that's why I said it was standard--it's what you hear in Bed, Bath and Beyond. But it's what kept me from getting anywhere with my knife skills for years!


    As for where you can learn proper methods, I'm working on that. I have a passion for this kind of thing, and am working toward putting together a series that will provide accurate, helpful, clear, accessible, and graduated information. I've found that the problem is that either you are being told the "whatever works for you, just do this old thing, here's the magic grip/angle/position", or else it's a complex, scholarly dissertation imploring the audience to become kitchen athletes. I think there is room for a middle ground. A great example is my wife. She's not a ninja in the kitchen, but over the past several years she's gone from terrifying me every time she picks up a knife, to being used to having knifework be an easy and un-intimidating part of the meal. She cooks 3 times a day, and I haven't been asked to cut something up in over a year.

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    Eamon, I may be wrong, but the impression that I get from watching official company video is that very few of the "forged to shape" German knives actually are made that way anymore. The videos that I have seen appear to show strip steel being fed from a huge roll into a stamping die and then into a drop forging press where the bolsters are forge welded onto the blade and the blank is then trimmed in another stamping die. In the Wusthof video, they only heated the area right where the bolster goes. Doesn't seem a whole lot different than the way the Japanese do things, but for the whole still using cheap steel thing.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Johnny.B.Good's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BurkeCutlery View Post
    8. A honing steel is not $20. Not one worth owning. The one I suggest for the cheapest beaters is $30, the rest are more like $50.
    Not to get off topic here, but what do you recommend? I have seen the Idahone Ceramic recommended highly and that's $28.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny.B.Good View Post
    Not to get off topic here, but what do you recommend? I have seen the Idahone Ceramic recommended highly and that's $28.
    +1...watch chinese cleaver videos on youtube...

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    Quote Originally Posted by ******* View Post
    Eamon, I may be wrong, but the impression that I get from watching official company video is that very few of the "forged to shape" German knives actually are made that way anymore. The videos that I have seen appear to show strip steel being fed from a huge roll into a stamping die and then into a drop forging press where the bolsters are forge welded onto the blade and the blank is then trimmed in another stamping die. In the Wusthof video, they only heated the area right where the bolster goes. Doesn't seem a whole lot different than the way the Japanese do things, but for the whole still using cheap steel thing.
    Yeah, I am not 100% either, but I am fairly certain that Wusthof doesn't forge them to shape as we know it. Maybe some kind of high tech stamping process. But that is neither here nor there, because the fact that a knife was forged to shape wouldn't make it good intrinsically. A sign of a good knife is a reputable maker(and therefore HT) and a good grind. Being Forged to shape does have it's advantages, but just being so doesn't make it good. She said that if a knife is full tang, balanced where she said it 'should' be, and forged, it is a good knife. I've got a knife I paid $6 for that's full tang and they said it was drop forged, it's balanced just like that. It's a piece of crap. I use it to test sandpaper finishes to match grit size.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny.B.Good View Post
    Not to get off topic here, but what do you recommend? I have seen the Idahone Ceramic recommended highly and that's $28.
    That's the one that I recommend for cheap beaters, I carry it with me every day at work. On carbon steel, you can get a real nice edge off of it. My CCK 1303 responds well enough to it that I can shave arm hair with it after weeks and weeks of not being sharpened(which means the edge is gone, because CCK steel is C.R.A.P.). It's a 1200 grit rod, and you need to keep an eraser near it because it loads through use.

    However, it doesn't bring out the best in harder knives or thicker blades. I've been meaning to try out a smoother one, but just haven't gotten around to it. I tend to be the "if the edge don't last all day, I did it wrong" type of guy, though I do want to check some out, like the Hand American Borosilicate rod. Just got no dollars for it.

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