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Are Long J Knives hard to use?

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Kevin Tran

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I know a longer knife is supposed to be harder to handle compared to a shorted one, but Japanese knives are really light so would a 9 inch knife be relatively easy to handle?
 

ian

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One man’s sister is another man’s relative.

Many (most?) people here use 9” or 9.5” Japanese knives. Yes, they’re lighter than their western counterparts, but lots of people use 10” western knives too. Balance matters more than weight.
 

SeattleBen

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Training and practice matter as well. I personally find a lot of 210 (8") knives to be a bit more difficult to use but also had the use of 240's (10") drilled into me pretty seriously both in kitchens and in school. Smaller knives, (petty/utility) were for very fussy and limited applications. Also as Ian said, these knives most commonly discussed here are much lighter and easier to use once acclimated.
 

M1k3

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No, not really. It might seem a bit awkward at first. Just cut some stuff. Pinch grip would definitely be preferred starting off. For smaller stuff, like mincing a single shallot, I'd grab a petty or something. But the first time you cut something big about the size of a head of cabbage or many things at once, instead one at a time, you'll have that "A-ha!" moment.

 

josemartinlopez

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Some are beautifully balanced (or just lighter) such that a 270 is hardly unwieldy. It depends.

Also, some knives can be light but can have a heavier handle, especially a Western, which affects the balance and how the knife feels in hand.
 

captaincaed

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A knife about 260 feels real nice for big produce. My partner likes to make huge batches of pineapple coconut fruit leather. An entire fruit turns into just three rolls after dehydration (enough for 4 hungry people for maybe a day), so the 260 gets a workout during the summer. It covers the entire length of the fruit in one cut, no faffing about. A 210 feels small for that much work, but just right for bachelor night dinner prep. More excuses to try something new.

We say in the woodshop, "every new project is an excuse to buy a new tool".

A full sized board does help.
 

slickmamba

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If you consider yourself dexterous it should be fine. Do you use a pinch grip?
 

mlau

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It's all in your technique. If you use it like a Japanese chef will, you'll have no problems (pull cuts/draw cuts, not much rocking, etc).
 

DitmasPork

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I know a longer knife is supposed to be harder to handle compared to a shorted one, but Japanese knives are really light so would a 9 inch knife be relatively easy to handle?
Size is relative, some friends of mine consider a 9 inch knife to be really short. For me, a home cook, 225 to 255 are very comfortable lengths, easy to handle in my tiny apartment kitchen.
 

DitmasPork

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@Kevin Tran Also, depends greatly on what you feel most comfortable using and what you're using it for. For me, if cutting down a big pile of greens, a bigger knife is easier to to handle than a smaller knife. I've often used bigger knives on relatively small cutting boards without issue in my small kitchen.
 

tostadas

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If your cleanup area is very small, then a really long knife would be easier to bump into something if you are not careful. For actual cutting of things, it's just a little bit different. I prefer the longer blades because they can get thru things with one motion. The reason I reach for my smaller ones are because I don't feel like washing something larger.
 

josemartinlopez

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Just waiting for someone to say you need to have stropped a 270 gyuto to answer
 

GorillaGrunt

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Depends on the space and the task set. I worked at a place where my station board space was very small, volume was not large, and high precision was demanded; I used 150-180mm petties there more than anything else and more than anywhere else. I have some 30” x 60” block top prep tables at home and tend to use a 210 or 240 when cooking for one or two although there’s nothing to bump a 270 into, just not a lot of room to maneuver. The grill station at my current workplace has a massive board, probably 10-12’ x 6’ so I can use whatever the hell I want including the 300mm katana-shaped sujihiki with big flourishy sweeping slices, but we don’t do enough volume to really need to prep with a gyuto bigger than 250. I remember reading a thread where someone was talking about I think a Toyama versus some other 270 in reference to prepping pallets of squash at a time...

But the only knife I remember feeling was just too big to use effectively was a 360mm Misono Dragon gyuto and that was before the big board place.
 

Mingooch

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Home cook here, reasonable sized kitchen and boards ranging from small to huge. I use a 270 mm most of the time.
 

Kevin Tran

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Thanks for all of the replies. I was asking because I was getting a 9 inch knife as a wedding gift for my friends. I was worried that a larger knife might be harder to use for a woman. The tricky part now is to find out if she is comfortable handling a larger knife without revealing what the gift is.
 

spaceconvoy

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If it weren't pandemic times, you could invite them over for dinner and make a point of showing them one your longest knives. Tell them you just bought it and ask what they think of it. But it'd be pretty weird to pull out a big kitchen knife to show off over Zoom.
 

josemartinlopez

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it's all about laying the predicate. people have been cooking more at home.
 

nwshull

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I think it depends on a number of factors.

1) What is your grip? I have one 270 (gyuto... not counting yanagibas and sujihikis). My brother has adopted it and he has a two finger on the blade pinch grip and loves it. My moderate pinch grip, its a bit long a lot of times though not unusable.
2) How big a cutting board are you willing to wash? I don't think a 270 on anything less than an 18 inch width cutting board, and that feels cramped. Its fun house on my 40 inch hisoft, but I'm only willing to break that out so often.
3) How big is your sink/ wash space. Similarly, it really is a bummer when you ding your knife's tip, and if you have a small apartment size sink, that is not uncommon with a 270, even when trying to be careful.

9 inch I think is a little easier, but you have some of these issues still if your not used to it.
 

jacko9

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My wife refuses to use my longer knives and I have had to buy her a collection from 80mm to 150mm that she uses on a daily basis.
 
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