Getting my feet wet - beginner recommendations?
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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Maryland, USA

    Getting my feet wet - beginner recommendations?

    What country are you in?

    USA - Maryland

    What type of knife are you interested in (e.g., chef’s knife, slicer, boning knife, utility knife, bread knife, paring knife, cleaver)?

    Primarily interested in chef's knife recommendations, but I'm also looking for other general use kitchen knives (see comments below)

    Are you right or left handed?
    Right handed

    Are you interested in a Western handle (e.g., classic Wusthof handle) or Japanese handle?
    Probably Western due to familiarity

    What length of knife (blade) are you interested in (in inches or millimeters)?
    Looking for a recommendation on this too - from what I've read, 210mm or 240mm? My hands aren't teeny, but they aren't large man hands either - average-sized woman hands?

    Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no)
    Yes please

    What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife?
    $150-ish max for the chef's knife (see comments below)

    Do you primarily intend to use this knife at home or a professional environment?


    What are the main tasks you primarily intend to use the knife for (e.g., slicing vegetables, chopping vegetables, mincing vegetables, slicing meats, cutting down poultry, breaking poultry bones, filleting fish, trimming meats, etc.)? (Please identify as many tasks as you would like.)
    Slicing/chopping vegetables, mincing vegetables, slicing meats, cutting down poultry, trimming meats... debating buying an inexpensive cleaver for heavier applications?

    What knife, if any, are you replacing?
    None - I've only really worked with an old Martha Stewart battleax of a chef's knife before

    Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use? (Please click on this LINK for the common types of grips.)
    Not currently

    What cutting motions do you primarily use? (Please click on this LINK for types of cutting motions and identify the two or three most common cutting motions, in order of most used to least used.)
    Haven't developed much in the way of knife skills or commonly used motions yet

    What improvements do you want from your current knife? If you are not replacing a knife, please identify as many characteristics identified below in parentheses that you would like this knife to have.)
    I'm looking for a baby's-first-chef's-knife, where 'baby' will be learning knife skills, sharpening, general maintenance, etc. all at once

    Better aesthetics (e.g., a certain type of finish; layered/Damascus or other pattern of steel; different handle color/pattern/shape/wood; better scratch resistance; better stain resistance)?
    Don't really care

    Comfort (e.g., lighter/heavier knife; better handle material; better handle shape; rounded spine/choil of the knife; improved balance)?
    Anything would be better than dear old Martha

    Ease of Use (e.g., ability to use the knife right out of the box; smoother rock chopping, push cutting, or slicing motion; less wedging; better food release; less reactivity with food; easier to sharpen)?
    A forgiving blade - I need to learn how to sharpen, learn general knife skills, etc.

    Edge Retention (i.e., length of time you want the edge to last without sharpening)?
    I'll take what I can get

    Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board? (Yes or no.)

    Yes, though recommendations on a nice large cutting board are welcome

    Do you sharpen your own knives? (Yes or no.)
    Not yet

    If not, are you interested in learning how to sharpen your knives? (Yes or no.)

    Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives? (Yes or no.)
    Yes - beginner-friendly recommendations welcome


    Alright! So here's the low-down - I've always loved food, cooking, etc. I'm good at following recipes, becoming better at wingin' it, and generally looking to amass both tools and skills to make the whole food prep experience that much more awesome.

    I'll be moving out of my current residence soon and I've volunteered to provide the bulk of the kitchen supplies for the new (shared) home. TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross's, and Home Goods have become my second home in sniffing out bargains on good cookware. I've amassed an excellent selection of general items and now I'm turning my attention towards knives. Here's what I'm looking for:

    1. Knives for the household

    I'm the most food-enthused among us, hence my volunteering to provide a well-appointed kitchen. I need a bread knife, a paring knife or two, and a chef's knife for the masses (there's three others). They need to be reasonably priced and durable. I'm looking for function over aesthetics and budget over style. I've been told to check out Victorinox Forschner knives for clearance online - thoughts?

    2. Chef's knife for ME

    I want to be selfish and have a nice knife all to myself. Since I am a beginner and need to work on all knife-related skills, I need a chef's knife that will forgive me while I learn to slice, chop, sharpen, etc.

    3. Sharpening Tools

    Good deal on a ceramic honing steel? Beginner-friendly and reasonably priced sharpening stones? I'd welcome input.

    Thanks for your help! I've generally found that it's smarter (and way more fun) to consult with people passionate about a subject before dropping a wad of cash.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Erilyn75's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Edwards AFB
    Welcome to KKF!

    Those ol Martha's, I remember them well lol.

    I see these recommended a lot as introductions to Japanese knives. The first 2 I've never used but the last one I have and I really enjoy it.

    Hirimoto G3: 210 is out of stock but I highly recommend a 240. There's only 3.5cm difference between the 2 sizes and it really makes a difference without it being too big or hard to manage.


    Fujiwara: http://japanesechefsknife.com/FKMSeries.html#FKM

    Hirimoto AS: The 240 is a half cm shorter than the stainless but a little heavier since it's a cladded knife. It's very easy to care for and the carbon edge takes a great patina. This is one of my favorite knives not only in looks but performance as well.


    If you get one and decide you like it and it's a keeper, you can also send it to Dave for a dead sexy spa treatment. Mine just got done and I can't wait to get it back! http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/sh...l=1#post294848

    ETA:For the household, I'd recommend the Victorinox for sure. Especially if it's going to be abused. In my house I've got my knives and then a Victorinox for everyone else lol. It's a good inexpensive blade that I won't mind having to replace if needed.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Matus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Welcome aboard!

    The Chef's knife for you:
    You did not mention whether you want stainless knife, or would also consider carbon blade. Carbon is easier (and more enjoyable) to sharpen, usually holds the edge longer, but obviously needs to be taken care of to avoid rust. Patina is not really avoidable though. For the same money the carbon steel will probably perform 'better', but that should be taken with grain of salt as there is lot of personal preference behind that. Also western knifes cost in general more than the ones with wa handles as the western handle is more work&material. wa handle makes the knife also somewhat lighter (50-70g usually since there is much less metal in the handle) wa handles are actually very nice to use - in particular if you find you enjoy also the pitch grip.

    Have a look at some of the Gesshin offerings from Jon @ JKI (http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com), or Maybe Fujiwara CarboNext (semi stainless steel) from JCK (http://www.japanesechefsknife.com), but there are many others. I would drop Jon and email - he is very friendly and helpful guy. He has all possible knives to offer - all the Gesshin knives are made-to-order to his specifications and you can be sure you will get a good knife with good fit&finish.

    You may also consider getting a used knife here in the B/S/T section - you could either save a few $$ doing so, or get yourself a better knife for the same money.

    Concerning the size - I second the advice of Erilyn - 210 seems like easier to handle at the beginning, but if it is going to be your main (largest) knife you will in relatively short time find out that it is on the short side. 240 is usually a sweet spot for most users.

    If you are on budget you could consider King 1000 and 6000 stones or bester 1200 and Rika 5000. But do not hesitate to browse this forum for stones recommendations - there are only as many stones and you will find a lot of interesting information here. You do not really need a ceramic rod if you get 2 stones. Once you get the stones check out some videos on youtube - for example those from Jon from JKI or Maksim from JNS (http://www.japanesenaturalstones.com). You can also get some commercially available videos (e.g. from Murray Carter - I personally started with that one. I liked it and it was helpful, but the videos you will find on you tube are very good too)

    Free hand sharpening on Japanese natural stones is not that hard - just give it some time to lear the technique. Use some of your cheaper knife to learn. After first few hours (not necessarily in on sessions ) you will start to get the feel.

    And do not forget to enjoy the process

  4. #4
    I am happy with the CarboNext 240. It is 135$ with shipping. You will probably have problems with the initial edge - mine came pretty dull, but it is relatively easy to sharpen - I managed to do it and that says a lot. It has yet to develop patina or rust. So it seems it is more on the right side of semi stainless.

  5. #5
    Senior Member daveb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Just outside Tampa
    "Anything would be better than dear old Martha" That pretty well sums up all things Martha... I'll move to knives before I bump the rules here.

    For the shared knives the Victorinox (sp?) will work well. A good value, they will withstand abuse, they will never be good knives but they don't try and be.

    For your individual chef knife I like the Suisin Inox a lot. Stainless, western, pretty sharp as delivered, and not hard to look at. I've gifted a couple of these to friends (I want them to own one decent knife so I can use it) and one to mom for much the same reason. They are available within your budget from Japanese Knife Imports and Korin - both supporting vendors here. Splurge a little and get the paring for yourself as well.

    Regarding size the 240 will be about the same length as an 8" chef. (Will prob weigh less and balance more forward) I buy wimins the 210, and in one case a 180. Length is primarily a personal preference and more based on height over the cutting surface than hand size.

    Good luck in your search.
    Older and wider.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Benuser's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Amstelveen, The Netherlands
    I would second Erilyn75 about both the size question and the value of both Hiromotos. Both have a remarkable steel in their categories. Just curious how she would compare them to the Misono 440 series I tend to recommend in this price category as well.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    new recommendation as of late is the Gesshin Gonbei (western) or the Gesshin Uraku (Wa) from Japanese knife imports

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Maryland, USA
    Thank you to everyone for the excellent replies so far! I'm going to go ahead and order some basic Victorinox knives for the household, since they're moving in before I am, and start putting together a list of chef's knives to consider for myself. I also need to do my research on stones...

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Maryland, USA
    Alright! You're all wonderful. I don't think I'm ready to dive into the world of carbon steel at this point in time, so I'm going to focus my search on stainless blades.

    I've listed recommended blades below along with links and price. Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time really distinguishing between them - what makes the Gesshin Urako nearly double the price of the Fujiwara, for example? I've been reading threads and reviews, but I'm still having a hard time parsing the information.

    Does anyone have particularly strong feelings (one way or the other) about a knife on this list?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Erilyn75's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Edwards AFB
    Quote Originally Posted by Benuser View Post
    I would second Erilyn75 about both the size question and the value of both Hiromotos. Both have a remarkable steel in their categories. Just curious how she would compare them to the Misono 440 series I tend to recommend in this price category as well.
    Ohhhhh I forgot the Misono! I did like my 440 a lot and would have kept it if it were bigger. It stayed sharp for quite awhile. I think I sent it out for sharpening after 6 months or so. I haven't tried the Hiro G3 knife yet. I thought about getting the santoku to play with but the 190 has been out forever it seems. The AS however is what got me interested in carbon. It feels differently than stainless when cutting, more smooth. The blue patina is beautiful as well and with it being clad, much easier than full carbon to care for. Basically the best of both worlds.

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