Advice sought in the quest for a first 240 gyuto

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by LostHighway, Oct 11, 2018 at 4:20 PM.

  1. Oct 11, 2018 at 4:20 PM #1

    LostHighway

    LostHighway

    LostHighway

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    Type of knife Gyuto
    Right or left handed Right
    Handle type Wa, strongly preferred
    Length of blade ≤240 edge length
    Stainless required No, but stainless clad very slightly preferred
    Max budget $325.00

    Usage
    Home
    Main usage/tasks Slicing, chopping and mincing herbs and soft vegetables (primarily Alliums, Brassicas, and Solinaceaes plus spinach and chard), occasionally slicing already filleted fish. Winter squash, celeriac, turnips, and other really hard veg aren't a major part of our diet.
    Which knife are you replacing Addition rather than replacement
    Grip Primarily pinch, occasionally finger point or a pointer/pinch hybrid, rarely hammer
    Cutting motions Primarily push, some slicing, chopping and draw cuts, rocking on rare occasions when I lapse into old habits
    Knife characteristics sought Light to mid-weight but not a laser, reasonably flat profile, good balance, good food release. I want a knife that feels responsive and maneuverable but not fragile
    Aesthetics I don't really like KU finishes (although it isn't an absolute deal killer) but anything else works: Migaki, Nashiji, Tsuchime,...
    Comfort
    Light to midweight, good balance, relieved or rounded choil and spine, not too short a neck
    Ease of use Decent flat spot, prefer a higher grind without a very abrupt shoulder
    Edge retention I'm willing to do a touch up with a strop or a 2k to 6k stone once a week but full sharpening should be infrequent. I have no experience with steels other than W2, B2, AS and AUS-8. Great edge retention but a pain to sharpen is not a great trade off for me, nor is great abrasion resistance at the cost of chippiness.

    Board Primarily Tenryo Hi Soft but occasionally subjected to San Jamar polymer or edge or end grain cherry or maple wood boards
    Sharpening I have an EdgePro with 220 to 4k stones (mostly Shaptons some ********), starting to learn freehand sharpening and acquire stones, currently stropping on denim or newsprint but plan to buy better materials, wine corks for deburring

    All my existing knives are 215 (edge, heel to tip) or shorter. This will be my first experiment with a longer knife. I do have a somewhat confined prep area although it isn't super tiny and the Hi Soft board is 11.5" x 16" (San Jamar larger). I think I'm looking for a knife of medium height (47 - 52mm), with good distal taper, and not an oversize (244 - 250) length. I would consider lengths as short as 220. B2, B1 or W2 preferred but would consider AS and could easily be persuaded to take a look at Ginsan, AEB-L, SKD and R2. SRS-15 I know nothing about. Fully reactive is totally acceptable but I'd slightly prefer stainless clad.
     
  2. Oct 11, 2018 at 4:35 PM #2

    Jon-cal

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    My first 240 was an Anryu hammered in blue 2. It does everything well and is sort of middle of the road as far as specs go. Nothing too extreme. It looks nice too. The spine and choil aren’t crazy rounded but not sharp either. I’ve collected a bunch of different knives since then, but I could probably do everything with just the Anryu.
     
  3. Oct 11, 2018 at 6:03 PM #3

    btbyrd

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    +1 for the Anryu 240. Like Jon, this was my first 240 and it's a great all-arounder. Classic profile middleweight, shimmery aesthetic, and great F&F for the price. I have many gyutos now, but it remains my favorite workhorse. It's the only knife I've gotten rehandled; not because it needed it (it didn't) but because I loved the blade immediately and it sort of felt like "the one." I got mine for $200 from District Cutlery, which still has it cheaper than anywhere else I've found. A hell of a blade for the money. Anryu's knives in aogami are all a good value. I also have have the honesuki, nakiri, bunka, and a 300mm suji. I kind of want the 210. I keep kicking myself in the face for not buying Ashy2Classy's rehandled Anryus when they came up for sale recently. There was a hammered 210 and a couple of petties that I should have just immediately said yes to... but I digress.
     
  4. Oct 11, 2018 at 6:17 PM #4

    jacko9

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    My first 240 Gyuto was the Konosuke HD2 Semi-Stainless that has held up greatly for the past 5 years. They call it a laser but, It seems quite sturdy to me and even though it cuts like a laser I don't feel the need to baby this knife.
     
  5. Oct 11, 2018 at 10:12 PM #5

    Keith Sinclair

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    The Anryu hammered blue is a nice blade. The oval handles with horn are not bad at all. The hammer pattern looks good too.
     
  6. Oct 12, 2018 at 12:24 AM #6

    Godslayer

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    Buy a tanaka from james at knives and stones, either ginsanko with nashinji or blue #2 with stainless cladding
     
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  7. Oct 12, 2018 at 1:05 AM #7

    parbaked

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  8. Oct 12, 2018 at 7:59 PM #8

    JaVa

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    Hard to argue against the aformentioned Tanaka, it’s just lovely, but there’s no flat spot, the grind is high like the OP wanted, but the shoulder is quite pronounced. Anyway, great middleweight kitchen warrior. It’s become my most used knife for some time now.

    But sounds like another case where the Wakui seems like a good fit and ticks just about all the boxes for the OP. The Bernals thinner version sounds about perfect, but if you want a bit more meatier spine get the EE version.
     
  9. Oct 12, 2018 at 8:37 PM #9

    parbaked

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    It's actually the Yoshikane SKD, not the Wakui, that may be thinner at Bernal. The Wakui are comparable from both vendors.

    According to their websites:
    Wakui 240 EE: 6.6 oz (187 g)
    Wakui 240 Bernal: 184 g (6.5oz)

    Yoshi 240 SKD EE: 6.72 oz (190 g)
    Yoshi 240 SKD Bernal: 147 g (5.2 oz)
     
  10. Oct 12, 2018 at 8:53 PM #10

    HRC_64

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    I'm getting the sense this isn't OPs first gyuto, just OP is looking for his/her first "pro-size" or "full-length" one?

    If this is correct I'd suggest some more discussion on shapes/weight/profile etc.

    Something can have a proper steel, great HT, great grind and amazing value but not be a fit based on its shape/wt.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018 at 9:09 PM
  11. Oct 12, 2018 at 9:04 PM #11

    Godslayer

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    Didn't notice that, in that case I'd go Masashi sld? Beautiful blade, not too pricey and available. Basically a big ol' santoku
     
  12. Oct 12, 2018 at 9:41 PM #12

    Barmoley

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  13. Oct 12, 2018 at 10:51 PM #13

    LostHighway

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    Thanks for all the responses thus far.
    HRC_64 correctly called it, this isn't my first gyuto, just my first (nominally) 240. Also, my preference for stainless clad is, at most, very slight. I'm certainly open to fully reactive knives. I had sort of expected Wakui, Yoshikane and perhaps Mazaki and (Mutsumi) Hinoura to come up more often.
    I don't know the JKI range very well but I have communicated with J.B. and Kochi (Migaki), Genegtsu, and (both oos and a financial reach) Kagekiyo W2 are on my radar too. Does anyone here have experience with AFT Tesshu Shiraki B2 or W1 knives? A 240 measured Sakai-style to the machi is not too short to consider.
     
  14. Oct 12, 2018 at 10:53 PM #14

    jacko9

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    I do have the Kagekiyo W#2 Sujihiki that I bought at JNI and it is has held up very well with great edge retention.
     
  15. Oct 12, 2018 at 11:24 PM #15

    Nemo

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    A few points to clarify and suggestions:
    1) When you say "higher grind", do you mean a wide bevel knife? If so, how important is this?
    2) Thinness and food release are generally a tradeoff. That is to say, you have to choose. Yes, there are some clever grinds that maximise the food release per thickness, but there is a limit. Which is more important to you?
    3) Get stuck into freehand sharpening. I began with an Edgepro and I think I actually learned a lot about edges from it. It was a pretty easy step from Edgepro to freehanding. But the Edgepro is not versatile. For example, it's pretty useless at thinning which an important part of maintaining good knives. Did you watch the JKI and/ or knifeplanet videos?

    With that being said, some suggestions.

    As suggested, Tanaka Najishi from KnS fits your bill nicely, except that it doesn't have much taper and, as mentioned, it doesn't have much flat spot. A fairly thin wide beveled knife with great fit and finish (rounded spine and choil And nice handle are special KnS features). Food release is pretty good for its thinness.

    Kurosaki Syousin Chiku Migaki is a similar profile and great fit and finish with a pretty mean taper. It's also a thinnsh wide bevel (but the bevels are a little convexed IIRC). Unfortunately, I think all of the non KU 240s are sold out.

    Sakai Jikko Akatsuki from KnS is worth a look. It's an iron clad white2 narrow bevel forged by Ikeda and sharpened by Tosa. It has a reasonably flat profile and a middling taper. Very thin behind the edge (thinner than Tanaka, almost laser thin) but not so thin at the spine, so performs pretty thin and feels pretty robust. Quite heavy given how thinly it performs. Spine and choil are very well well eased but not quite rounded (but really don't need any more work). If you were to go a step further, to Akebono (a bit more expensive), you get blue2 forged by Shiraki, an even flatter profile and rounded spine & choil. Food release is quite good for a thin knife but that is not saying much.

    You really should have a look at Yoshikane Tsuchime. Mine is a thicker grind SKD stainless clad hammered semistainless. This stuff sharpens nicely and has good edge retention. It's a convex wide bevel with a super flat profile and very good taper. Attractive regular, large hammer pattern. Rounded spine and choil, basic Ho D handle. Very blade heavy. A great workhorse withnexcellent food release. As mentioned in a precious post, is said that the Bernal Cutlery ones might be a thinner grind. If so, I assume that the flat profile and taper and fit and finish would carry over and it might not be as blade heavy. I suspect food release might not be as good. Yoshikane's treatment of SKD, SLD and white2 are pretty well regarded.

    You also ougtta have a squiz at Gesshin Gengetsu. Mine is stainless clad (unspecified) semistainless which sharpens pretty well. Also available in stainless clad White2. A narrow bevel with some kind of clever grind (to my eye it just looks convexed but some have said that there is a sublte S grind) which gives it excellent food releaee for a thin middleweight. It's a little bit thicker than the Tanaka but has noticibly better food release. It still ain't no workhorse grind, though. A pretty flat profile and a reasonable taper. The spine and choil are eased but could do with a bit more work if you prefer them rounded. The burned chestnut handle is a bit rustic and to me, this suits the aesthetic of the knife well. It is a tiny bit over budget but worth every cent.

    As a wildcard, you may want to consider asking Kippington to make a blade for you. He generally makes monosteel knives in simple carbon steels such as w2 (not white2), 1095 and 52100. His steel is pretty nice to sharpen. His standard grind is often quite thin and differentially hardened, often with a pretty harmon. Kip has a huge knowledge of profiles and grinds and the knives tend to have a decent flat spot. He makes knives with an incredibly wiked taper. The fit and finish on the blades is superb. The handles were initially a bit basic but he seems to have been making huge strides in this area recently. His hook grind has the most amazing workhorse like food release for a middlewight knife. With the current parlous state of the Aussie dollar, it may be close to your budget (but you would need to confirm this with Kip)
     
  16. Oct 13, 2018 at 4:01 PM #16

    LostHighway

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    "Higher grind" was a poor choice of words, thin behind the edge is probably a more accurate characterization. I don't feel that I have enough experience to have an educated preference among the various types of grinds, but evenness of grind/good q.c. on the grind does matter.

    I was aware of the trade off of thinness and food release. Since I'm not cooking/prepping them to any substantial (edit: extent) the potential advantages of lower, thinner knives going through winter squash, watermelons, or big hunks of meat don't mean much to me. Thin leek, onion or potato slices piling up on the back of the blade isn't a massive issue but it can be at least minor aggravation. I'm really not looking for a laser and sub 155 - 160 gram 240s also start to worry me a bit. Speaking purely theoretically, without the opportunity to actually handle these knives, the sweet spot for me feels like it would be in the 170 - 198 range for "true" 240s. At the other end the weight of some of the knives does concern me a bit, especially Sakai nominal 240s (measured to the Machi) that actually run closer to 225 - 235 heel to tip. A few of those have published weights over 205 grams and that feels closer to heavyweight than middleweight to my sensibilities. The 240+ (heel to tip) gyutos like the Tanakas, Akebono, and some Mazakis (published weights are all over the map on these knives) that run over 225 grams also feel closer to heavyweight, or at least cruiserweight, to me and also give me some pause. I'm a bit out over my skis here and I'm guessing with regard to a number of parameters.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018 at 5:19 PM
  17. Oct 13, 2018 at 5:08 PM #17

    ob-gym

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    So what I'm hearing is you want a true middle weight with good distal taper and thin behind the edge, that's tough enough to stand up to a variety of tasks including some rock chopping - gotta be Wakui. I have a stainless clad White #2 from Bernal, it's 51mm at the heel and about 190grams. It's been the same price since around 2015, and currently it's an absolute steal for the performance and some of the best heat treatment of White #2. It comes in several flavors, the cheapest one being Nashiji finish from Aframes, but I really like the rosewood handle and thinner grind of the one from Bernal.

    Tesshu gyutos are phenomenal for tip work and flicking through onions. The grind stays around 3mm until the final 1/3 of the blade, which tapers from 3mm to <1mm @ 1cm from the tip. Wakui has a continuous taper from heel to tip. Height may be an issue, as they come 46-48mm at the heel.
     
  18. Oct 13, 2018 at 10:55 PM #18

    Nemo

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    Just to confirm, are you more concerned about the weight than the performance (in terms of thinness and food release)? Weight is not always a good surrogate for performance.
     
  19. Oct 13, 2018 at 11:41 PM #19

    HRC_64

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    I think 165-185 grams is about right for a lt middleweight 240

    Essentially that is in-between a KS (165g) and a TF (180-190g)
    heavier than say Kono HD at (145g) and lighter than Takayuki Ginsan (195g)
    or Toyama (220g).

    Within that range performance is sort of arbitrary,
    (above all are classic 'performers'...)
     
  20. Oct 13, 2018 at 11:49 PM #20

    LostHighway

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    Not such an easy question to answer without actual hands on experience. In addition to not be used to >215 lengths I'm unused to >160gm/5.6oz knife weights. I'm concerned that adding both substantial weight (potentially 65+ gms or well over two ounces) and 40 odd millimeters in length that I'm going to end up with a knife that feels unwieldy. I'm off the map of my experience here. Something like a 240 (Sakai measurement) Gesshin Kagekiyo Shirogami #2 is the modest step in both length and weight if the published numbers are accurate but is both oos and a bit of financial reach for me.
    At the moment Wakui, Mazaki, and Yoshikane are had the head of the pack (in that order) with Akatsuki and Hinoura a bit further back but not out of the running.
     
  21. Oct 13, 2018 at 11:59 PM #21

    Nemo

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    Yes they are all knives that perform well. But they perform differently.

    I was asking whether the weight was more impotrant than the qualatative aspects (specifically thinness/ lack of wedging vs food release aspects) of performance.
     
  22. Oct 14, 2018 at 12:16 AM #22

    Nemo

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    The weight balance/ distribution is important in the perception of nimbleness. A heavier/ denser (think: ebony) handle will balance a heavier blade rearward (and will increase the weight of the knife without affecting its thickness or food release). Indeed, 240mm gyutos often have larger handles than 210mm gyutos for exactly this reason.

    Blade taper affects weight distribution out of proportion to the reduction in weight because the weight is all lost at the distal end of the blade.

    The other thing that affects weight without affecting thinness is blade height.

    I recall thinking that a 240mm would be unweildy. My first 240 (Ryusen Blazen) was perfectly balanced and nimble while my second 240 (Yoshikane Tsuchime) was quite blade heavy. It didn't really take very long to get used to it, though. YMMV, I guess

    Note that I suspect that a thinner Yoshikane than mine would be significantly less blade heavy.

    All of the knives that you have shortlisted are quality.
     
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  23. Oct 14, 2018 at 12:27 AM #23

    HRC_64

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    Fair enough, I'm all for supporting that type of conversation and didn't mean to cut it off.
     
  24. Oct 14, 2018 at 12:30 AM #24

    Nemo

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    Didn't feel like it was cut off. I just wasn't sure that I'd got my point across wery well.
     
  25. Oct 14, 2018 at 1:06 AM #25

    LostHighway

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    I would sort of like to avoid stamped mono steel blades which rules out the KS and some of the clones. The Shibata Kashima R2 was a thought and is sort of in the vein of KS clone albeit in a different steel and not quite the same profile. Current pricing and the somewhat roll of the dice q.c. have kept the TF knives off my list. Yoshikane (either SKD or Shirogami #2) and Wakui are both in the pocket, Mazaki probably too although the profiles/versions/weights confusion sort of clouds the issue. The Gasshin Genegtsu is probably a contender as well but pushing the upper end of my pricing comfort. Mutsumi Hinoura in Shirogami is another possibility but not much discussed for whatever reason. Akatsuki also remains in the running although pushing the upper end of weight given being a short Sekai "240".
     
  26. Oct 14, 2018 at 1:11 AM #26

    LostHighway

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    Nemo, lest I seem churlish I really do appreciate your efforts to try to distinguish performance differences.
     
  27. Oct 14, 2018 at 3:12 AM #27

    Spipet

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    I am starting to sound like a broken record, but 240 new mazaki from JNS may be a good option
     
  28. Oct 14, 2018 at 3:27 AM #28

    Nemo

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    Not seen as churlish, just want to make sure that we have an accurate picture of what characteristics you are asking for and that you have an accurate picture of what characteristics we are describing.
     
  29. Oct 14, 2018 at 3:49 AM #29

    Nemo

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    Which Hinoura are you looking at? I have the Hyakuren and can discuss that if you like.

    The Hinoura and the Akebono (which is a little longer and taller than Akatsuki, so if anything a smidge less nimble) are an interesting case in point.

    My Hinoura is 202g with its burned chestnut handle. My Akebono is 229g with its quite wide ebony handle. Both have a similar width spine with similar moderate taper but Akebono is much thinner behind the edge. Akebono balances at or just behind the pinch grip and feels more nimble than Hinoura which balances about an inch further forward.

    FWIW, I love using them both but they are different (which is why the both have just spent 6 months in my rotation). Hinoura is a bit sturdier and has slightly better food release but wedges more.
     
  30. Oct 14, 2018 at 1:13 PM #30

    LostHighway

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    I was looking at the Hyakuren from KnS, preferably the Migaki version although the Tsuchime KU is entirely acceptable. Given your description, however, I'll probably strike that knife from the current list. My current short list includes the Mazaki (probably from KnS given the free saya and the fact that the photos and published specs don't suggest a significantly different knife from the JNS version to my eye), Wakui probably from BC, Yoshikane SKD probably from BC if truly thinner than the EE version, and the Shirogami #2 Yoshikanes sold by CKtG either as the Yahiko Ice (taller and thinner) or the Yahiko Nashiji. Your comments about the Yoshikanes tending to be blade heavy concerns me. While it is fixable with a custom handle I don't have the disposable funds available. I would prefer a knife that balances at the pinch, not ahead, in stock form. The KnS Sakai Jikko Akatsuki remains the dark horse in the hunt. Edit: the Shirogami Gengetsu would be in the running too but it is just enough more expensive than the other contenders to give me pause.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018 at 1:23 PM

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