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  1. #1
    Senior Member skiajl6297's Avatar
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    New Knife - First Post

    Hi all - in my newly found desire to own a kitchen knife, I thought I'd seek everyone's opinion. I am just familiarizing myself with the forums and will certainly be scouring all of the information available.

    First - I have zero background with knives. I currently own a set of cutco knives bought from brother in law, and a Shun Classic 8" Santoku. I also own a very flexible boning knife from Wustof (I believe).

    I am interested in buying a chefs knife for daily use. I read the sticky on the important questions to consider, and my thoughts follow below. Any input or guidance or recomendations would be very much appreciated. Looking forward to the info, and thank you in advance for your input.

    What type of knife(s) do you think you want?
    All purpose knife - preferably an 8+" chefs or asian style knife. I know next to nothing about Japanese knife styles.

    Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing?
    Splurge gift for myself. I want one go-to knife that I adore and care for and use every day. I will keep my existing knifes.

    What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already?
    Aesthetics-
    Never owned a "beautiful" knife, anything with damascus patterning, anything with wood handles. All of it intrigues me.
    Edge Quality/Retention-
    I hate my knives edge quality and retention. I want a knife that is lazer sharp and extremely durable.
    Ease of Use-
    I am comfortable with my knives, and particularly like the Santoku since I use the pinch grip and it seems to suit my right handed cutting well. I want a knife that floats through veggies like butter.
    Comfort-
    I like a knife that I can use for hours. Nicely weighted and sturdy.

    What grip do you use?
    Pinch

    What kind of cutting motion do you use?
    push cut, rock, slice, chop

    Where do you store them?
    In a drawer - horozontal wood knife block drawer insert.

    Have you ever oiled a handle?
    Never - I have a wood handle on my Shun but have never oiled it and wouldn't know where to begin.

    What kind of cutting board(s) do you use?
    When we recently remodeled our kitchen I installed a 6' long Boos Block 3" end grain maple counter, and set the cabinet height to better suit my prep work (I am tall and usually have to slouch on traditional heighted counters.) I do nearly all of my cutting on that counter - and I oil it every other month. When cutting raw meat, I typically use a plastic composite cutting board on top of my block.

    For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing?
    Still learning how to use a wetstone, and also have a honing rod which I am decent with. Still not 100% comfortable that I am using them correctly.

    Have they ever been sharpened?
    Yes - I factory sharpened cutco recently, and attempted to sharpen my other knives with wetstone and steel. Factory sharp knives are what I yearn for.

    What is your budget?
    I am hoping to spend splurge money on myself towards year-end - and would consider spending up to $1200 for something truly special. I know custom knives can be extraordinarily expensive, but I am not yet a collector. I am a home chef with some training that likes to cook as often as my 9-5 allows.

    What do you cook and how often?
    American cuisine, ranging from family staples I grew up with (still a sucker for mom's meatloaf) up to more formal meals like my favorite local summer dish of a fried green tomato topped with virginia ham, a gently poached farm egg, maryland jumbo lump crabmeat, topped with homemade old bay hollendaise made from clarified butter. Cook dinner 4-6x a week, and cook all weekend.

    Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)?
    Love the look of a clean, simple, functional, elegant handle. Not into hunting knife style, antlers, horns, coarse wood, etc. (unless polished smooth). I love the complex damascus blades and have a hunch I'd like to go down that road. But I am not opposed to other types of steel. I want a one-of-a-kind feel, and am heavily leaning towards a custom knife, if that is feasible with my budget. I am in no rush to buy, just trying to begin to understand what is out there beyond what I can find at my local Sur Le Table or Williams Sonoma. Prefer darker wood generally.

    Looking forward to your input!

  2. #2
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    I think you should save the damascus for your first custom knife. Also, you definitely want a 240mm gyuto/chef's knife--unless your kitchen is tight. The balance of the blade and the added length make 240mm the choice for most of us on the forum. For now I would look into the Gesshin Ginga line at http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/...ess-gyuto.html it comes in swedish stainless and hitachi white no.2 carbon steel, also a choice of western or japanese Wa handle. Both the Swedish stainless and White no.2 are very easy to get stupid sharp, an important consideration for a beginner. The Fit and Finish on this line is about as good as it gets in this price range. Jon at JKI just released the new Gesshin Kagero line http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/...eel-gyuto.html this knife may be the perfect knife for you if you intend to send your knife off for professional sharpening because it should have excellent edge retention.
    If you intend to learn how to sharpen you cant go wrong with a Bester 1200 http://www.japaneseknifesharpeningst...p/bstr1200.htm or Gesshin 2000 http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/...rit-stone.html.
    All you really need is a good gyuto and maybe a few stones to get you started. You'll end up spending about 300 bucks, but it will be worth it.

  3. #3
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    +1 to everything obtuse said. I would also get a higher grit whetstone (suehiro rika 5k, arashiyama 6k, gesshin 6k), as something in the 4-6k region will really help you realize the sharpness potential of your gyuto. Save the custom for when you know exactly what you want; try out a few other japanese knives first and see what you like and don't like.

  4. #4
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    welcome!
    I haven't lived the life I wanted, just the lives I needed too at the time.

  5. #5

    Zwiefel's Avatar
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    In addition to Obtuse's comments, I would say to consider the Suisin Inox Honyaki 240mm Gyuto. I got one earlier this year and it's a fantastic example of the "Laser Gyuto"...as is the Gesshin Ginga. I don't know how the two compare though.

    http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/...-wa-gyuto.html
    Remember: You're a unique individual...just like everybody else.

  6. #6
    Senior Member skiajl6297's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your quick and thoughtful responses. A few questions:

    1. I have never owned a Wa handled knife - and am comfortable with the Western styles - how difficult is it to get comfortable with a Wa handle using a pinch grip right handed? I am sure it is entirely user preference, but I am intrigued by this handle, and also nervous that I may regret it. Since I presume it is lighter, is it better for longer cutting sessions?
    2. What will be the day-to-day differences in maintaining, sharpening, and cutting between swedish stainless and hitachi white no. 2? Are either considered high-carbon and do either require maintenance other than keeping clean and sharp?
    3. Is the Gesshin Kagero line more difficult to keep sharp on my own? Obtuse mentioned that if I intend to use a pro sharpener they would be perfect - just curious if they will be prohibitively difficult to learn how to sharpen on my own due to the steel?
    4. Zwiefel, what is a "laser gyuto"?

  7. #7

    Zwiefel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiajl6297 View Post
    Thank you all for your quick and thoughtful responses. A few questions:

    1. I have never owned a Wa handled knife - and am comfortable with the Western styles - how difficult is it to get comfortable with a Wa handle using a pinch grip right handed? I am sure it is entirely user preference, but I am intrigued by this handle, and also nervous that I may regret it. Since I presume it is lighter, is it better for longer cutting sessions?
    2. What will be the day-to-day differences in maintaining, sharpening, and cutting between swedish stainless and hitachi white no. 2? Are either considered high-carbon and do either require maintenance other than keeping clean and sharp?
    3. Is the Gesshin Kagero line more difficult to keep sharp on my own? Obtuse mentioned that if I intend to use a pro sharpener they would be perfect - just curious if they will be prohibitively difficult to learn how to sharpen on my own due to the steel?
    4. Zwiefel, what is a "laser gyuto"?
    1. I have never owned a Wa handled knife - and am comfortable with the Western styles - how difficult is it to get comfortable with a Wa handle using a pinch grip right handed? I am sure it is entirely user preference, but I am intrigued by this handle, and also nervous that I may regret it. Since I presume it is lighter, is it better for longer cutting sessions?

    My adjustment time was zero. If you are primarily using a pinch grip, I find that the western-style handles get in the way more than wa-handles. If you are using a hammer-grip, I think it's more of a wash or a slight edge to western-grip.

    2. What will be the day-to-day differences in maintaining, sharpening, and cutting between swedish stainless and hitachi white no. 2? Are either considered high-carbon and do either require maintenance other than keeping clean and sharp?

    Not qualified to answer this one.

    3. Is the Gesshin Kagero line more difficult to keep sharp on my own? Obtuse mentioned that if I intend to use a pro sharpener they would be perfect - just curious if they will be prohibitively difficult to learn how to sharpen on my own due to the steel?

    or this one.

    4. Zwiefel, what is a "laser gyuto"?

    These are the REALLY thin (at the spine) gyutos that are supposed to be "the best" for typical slicing/dicing type work. They are thin behind the edge, if only b/c they are thin all over The better ones also have a very good taper from the spine to the edge so that they are quite thin behind the edge as well. B/c of this thinness, they need to be given a bit more care against rough use than a thicker knife though. But only a bit. In practice the only things I have changed are that I don't use the side of the blade to smash + grind garlic anymore...I get out my trusty Henckel's for that.

    From my reading on this forum, I understand that there are considerably thicker knives that perform just as well b/c of the quality of the grind (taper from spine to edge), but I think those are going to be more expensive than a laser for the same level of performance (I could be wrong about that though).
    Remember: You're a unique individual...just like everybody else.

  8. #8
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    IghLWa vs western is strictly a matter of personal preference, I own and like both. Wa handles will generally bring the balance of the knife forward,which I like.

    The Swedish stainless in the gesshin ginga line will be easier to maintain day to day, just because it is stainless. Also the edge retention will be better than white no.2 in most cases. Both are very easy to sharpen. If you get white no.2 you will want to learn sharpening a little sooner.

    A laser is a knife with a maximum spine thickness no greater than 2.5mm and ground thin at the edge. They will fall through food with minimal effort, but they are more delicate. I'm sure others have a better definition of what a laser is.

    The steel in the gesshin kagero is a highly alloyed particle metallurgy high speed tool steel. It will hold a working edge for a long time, but because of its high wear resistance takes a little longer to sharpen. It is by no means impossible to learn sharpening on this knife, but Swedish stainless or white steel will
    Be more rewarding at first.

    I'm sorry I can't go into this in more detail. Typing this on my phone at work. More will chime in to correct me shortly

  9. #9
    Senior Member Johnny.B.Good's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum skiajl6297,

    I don't know where you are in the world, but I would pick up the phone and call Jon at Japanese Knife Imports.

    Jon is extremely knowledgeable (as well as patient and kind on the phone); I'm certain he will happily answer all of your questions and get you pointed in the right direction.

    Let us know what you decide and good luck!

  10. #10

    Zwiefel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by obtuse View Post
    IghLWa vs western is strictly a matter of personal preference, I own and like both. Wa handles will generally bring the balance of the knife forward,which I like.

    The Swedish stainless in the gesshin ginga line will be easier to maintain day to day, just because it is stainless. Also the edge retention will be better than white no.2 in most cases. Both are very easy to sharpen. If you get white no.2 you will want to learn sharpening a little sooner.

    A laser is a knife with a maximum spine thickness no greater than 2.5mm and ground thin at the edge. They will fall through food with minimal effort, but they are more delicate. I'm sure others have a better definition of what a laser is.

    The steel in the gesshin kagero is a highly alloyed particle metallurgy high speed tool steel. It will hold a working edge for a long time, but because of its high wear resistance takes a little longer to sharpen. It is by no means impossible to learn sharpening on this knife, but Swedish stainless or white steel will
    Be more rewarding at first.

    I'm sorry I can't go into this in more detail. Typing this on my phone at work. More will chime in to correct me shortly
    The Suisin Inox Honyaki is similar steel to the Gesshin Ginga (well, at least similar in that they are both Swedish Stainless), and should be similar in sharpening/edge retention properties. Odds are you'd be happy with either, but the SIH would probably keep you happier for longer
    Remember: You're a unique individual...just like everybody else.

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