Help buying new knife, home use, mostly for vegetables.

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by oeysteinlo, Nov 1, 2019.

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  1. Nov 1, 2019 #1

    oeysteinlo

    oeysteinlo

    oeysteinlo

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    Hello! I'm back after many years asking for advice again. The last advice I got here was superb, so I'm trying again.

    LOCATION
    Norway

    KNIFE TYPE
    I probably want a Gyuto. I have a Sakai Yusuke 240mm wa-gyuto that I'm very happy with, but I'm leaning towards getting something in stainless. I can get an almost exact same knife in stainless, and I'm seriously considering that. But I want some other opinions as well. I have looked at getting a nakiri or a thin cleaver, and I've really liked the look of the Big Boy from fell knives that Brad at Bon Appetit has, but that's sold out and probably overpriced anyway (from what I've read).

    I'm right handed.

    No real preference on handles in my experience. I like the wa-handle, but i also like western handles. I do like the aesthetic of japanese handles better, most of the time.

    Depends on the type of knife. If I get a gyuto, I would like it laser-ish, and about the same lenght as the one I have now.

    Yes, stainless steel

    Absolute maximum is 250 USD

    KNIFE USE
    The knife is meant solely for home cooking, and mostly for vegetables. I don't like how the carbon steel knife i have now reacts with a lot of different vegetables, it creates a smell that can sometimes still linger when I eat the finished food. I'll probably still use the carbon steel knife for meats as it doesn't react much with that.

    It probably won't replace any knives, it will be an addition to my set. I currently have the aforementioned gyuto, and a home-made small knife (~8cm in lenght) created with the leftovers of a santoku that had a big flake shatter off it when I tried cutting a frozen piece of chicken with it (I was young and ignorant back then...).

    I mostly use the pinch grip, and sometimes the hammer grip when I need more power.

    I primarily use push- or rocking cuts.

    Improvements:
    I want it to be stainless, like I've said. I'd like it to be a bit taller. That's the reason I liked the Fell Knives Big Boy. I use a bench scraper to scoop food into where it needs to go, and having a knife that can do that job would be more efficient. I'm not very particular about lenght, as that depends a lot on the type of knife.

    Aesthetics matter to some degree, but performance is king. But of course, an awesome-looking knife that performs awesomely as well would be great.

    Comfort
    I like a lighter knife, but it's not a requirement. A rounded spine is a must.

    KNIFE MAINTENANCE
    I mostly use an oak cutting board, sometimes bamboo and plastic ones.

    I sharpen my knives myself.
     
  2. Nov 1, 2019 #2

    Carl Kotte

    Carl Kotte

    Carl Kotte

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    Are you looking for a thin object?
     
  3. Nov 1, 2019 #3

    oeysteinlo

    oeysteinlo

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    I generally like thin blades, I feel like they work better for many vegetables as they are often hard and dense. But if anyone has god arguments against thin blades for a knife that will be used mostly on vegetables, I'm all ears.
     
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  4. Nov 1, 2019 #4

    Carl Kotte

    Carl Kotte

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    So I was thinking of different blades made of SG-2. It is stainless, very hard, pretty nice to sharpen and takes a very nice edge. From what I can recall, I have only tried SG-2 knives from Tojiro and Takamura (of course there are other makers working with that steel) and both, especially the latter, is really thin and nice. Both are within your price range, so long as you buy from an EU vendor. Hope you'll find something.
     
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  5. Nov 1, 2019 #5

    Hz_zzzzzz

    Hz_zzzzzz

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    Takamura sg2 is on my BF/CM list. If you like tall and thin knife and you push cut vegetables a lot, a $30 Mercer 8 inch Chinese cleaver/chef’s knife might be worth considering. It’s super light and super thin (<1.5 mm spine thickness, very thin behind the edge). And it works as a scraper as well. I know it’s cheap and it uses the soft X50 steel so it doesn’t hold the edge as long, but I honestly think it cuts really really well.
     
  6. Nov 1, 2019 #6

    oeysteinlo

    oeysteinlo

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    @Carl Kotte Nice, I will have a closer look at these later today! And also have a look at other knives using that steel. I have a knife using VG-10 steel but it's not a kitchen knife. It's a pain to sharpen well. (made in Sweden btw, can you guess what it is? :p )

    @Hz_zzzzzz BF/CM? I will have a look at this cleaver. May end up buying something like that just to try one even if I get a more expensive knife as well.

    I mentioned the Big Boy from Fell Knives in my first post. Does anyone have any experience with the knife that inspired it? That's apparently a Lamson Sharp Westernized Chinese Cleaver. Being relaunched now as the Lamson 8" Chinese Santoku Cleaver/Slicer.
     
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  7. Nov 1, 2019 #7

    Hz_zzzzzz

    Hz_zzzzzz

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    Black friday/cyber monday. You know it's already November so some U.S. retailers will start the annual big sales event soon...
     
  8. Nov 1, 2019 #8

    mozg31337

    mozg31337

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    I would highly recommend Watanabe Nikiri (either their standard 165mm from the Pro range or their 180mm). They are blue#2 cladding, so it is fairly low maintenance, but I would still clean and wipe it right away after use as the core is blue steel. It cuts veggies like no other knife I've owned and it is so nice in hand. The only thing that I would avoid cutting with it is hard veggies like Butternut squash, pumpkins and similar veggies which are very hard. From what I remember I've paid around 200 use for my 165mm version.
    Please note that as with a lot of artisan knife makers the final finish of the knife might need a slight touch up if you would like to prettify it. The knife came extremely sharp with 1-2 degrees sharpening angle. You might want to change that depending on your knife skills and what produce you cut. I've had to resharpen my knife after 6 months of use only because I chipped it a bit when I tried to cut a small pumpkin. Otherwise, what I tend to do with Watanabe knives is do a 3-5 passes on a strop after each use and the knife stays as good as new.
    I've also not noticed any metallic taste after cutting veggies, not even lemons or limes. All good.
     
  9. Nov 1, 2019 #9

    Carl Kotte

    Carl Kotte

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    Hmmm, I prefer not to. I don’t want to be associated with it, whatever it is!
     
  10. Nov 1, 2019 #10

    oeysteinlo

    oeysteinlo

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    Lol, I just read a description of one of these Takamura SG2 knives on an online store. Apparently it's easy to sharpen despite using an HSPS steel because it's a laminated blade. So I guess you sharpen the sides of the knife as well? That makes sense. And it's "unusually" sharp, so they had to put a warning on it that the customer may not be able to handle it safely.
    I mean, I'm sure it's a good knife and all, but this is a bit over the top.

    I don't really like the look of these knives though. I'm not sure why, I think maybe it's the shape of the handle. The damascus steel ones look amazing, but they are also a lot more costly.

    The Sakai Yusuke doesn't really get affected a lot by those either. It really doesn't like red onion and red cabbage for example. I use both of those things quite often.
     
  11. Nov 1, 2019 #11

    Hz_zzzzzz

    Hz_zzzzzz

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    You don't have to sharpen the sides unless it's time to thin the knife. You can find some youtube videos made by Jon from JKI explaining what thinning is and when you need to do it. SG2 is not difficult to sharpen simply because it's not difficult to sharpen, not because it's laminated in soft steel. It's still HSPS and more difficult to sharpen than some easier ones like white/blue/ginsan. For example, you can sharpen a white 2 knife in 2 minutes, but it might take you 10 minutes to sharpen a SG2. It's more time consuming, but not terrible. And VG10 is more difficult to sharpen than SG2 based on my own experience and many others' even though it's not HSPS.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
  12. Nov 1, 2019 #12

    Carl Kotte

    Carl Kotte

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    Yeah, I think that you have to look beyond the aesthetics with some takamuras. And the blurb of that online story was just silly. Still, none of that detracts from the quality of the knife.
     
  13. Nov 1, 2019 #13

    parbaked

    parbaked

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    A lot of people cut themselves
    People who are used to dull knives can cut themselves badly the first time they handle a really sharp knife or even the first time someone correctly sharpens a knife they are familiar with...
     
  14. Nov 1, 2019 #14

    oeysteinlo

    oeysteinlo

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    @Hz_zzzzzz Yes, I know. I was trying to lay on the sarcasm heavy there, but, as we know, it's difficult with text.

    @Carl Kotte Yeah, I guess that's true. I've seen some other pics of them now where they look better as well, so I guess it depends a lot on the way you look at them. I'm starting to lean a bit towards a nakiri or something similar as having two large gyuos feels a bit redundant.

    @parbaked Obviously. But the way it was worded made it sound like this was a step above almost anything out there. Most new knives you buy will be a lot sharper than what most people keep in their drawers, especially in these price ranges.
     
  15. Nov 1, 2019 #15

    mozg31337

    mozg31337

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    Yeah, I've seen this happen countless times with people who try to use my knives. Now, I warn them from the beginning that my knives can easily cut their finger off if they are not careful. :D
     
  16. Nov 1, 2019 #16

    parbaked

    parbaked

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    The edge on the Takamura is a step above almost everything out there.
    Takamura ship the R2 Migaki with the most extreme edge angle, as if to demonstrate how sharp their R2 can get.
    Experienced users know to resharpen a new Takamura R2 to put a more durable edge and reduce chipping...
     
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  17. Nov 1, 2019 #17

    oeysteinlo

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    It's definitely a good idea to warn people that new knives like these will be very sharp. But again, this made it sound like this specific knife is like excalibur.

    Sure, but does that make it warrant an extra warning? Most new knives like this will be VERY sharp. So much so that an inexperienced user could be surprised. I just reacted to the way this sounded like an ad for this specific knife instead of a general warning for people new to sharp objects. It sounded like the ads on TV shops.

    Now, do you have anything constructive to add to my original question? I need help choosing a new knife. The Takamura is a nice option, but I want some options in nakiris as well. Any experiences with stainless nakiris out there? Other options are also very welcome.
     
  18. Nov 2, 2019 #18

    oeysteinlo

    oeysteinlo

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    I am liking the Takamura R2 more and more when I come back to it. I've never owned one before. You say it needs resharpening to get a more durable edge. What kind of angle would you recommend? And given the shallow grind angle they come with when new, how much would I have to remove to get a proper angle? I have some ceramic bench stones, so doing the work won't pose much of a problem, but I don't want to remove a lot of metal off a new knife.
     
  19. Nov 2, 2019 #19

    Carl Kotte

    Carl Kotte

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    My experience with taka r2 (others here say the same thing) is that the factory edge chips a lot yes. All you have to do is to raise a Burr the way you usually do it, then remove, etc etc. nothing special really.
     
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  20. Nov 2, 2019 #20

    LostHighway

    LostHighway

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    The Shibata Koetetsu 180 bunka might be worth a look. It is more suitable for chopping and push cutting than rocking, and perhaps too small for you purposes (180/51)? The owners I've communicated with seem to like them with the caveat that knife is quite light (130g), too light for some. Shibata fit and finish tends to be better than many sub $250 knives.
     
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  21. Nov 2, 2019 #21

    oeysteinlo

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    That's what those are called! Bunka! I really like the look of this one. But yeah, not optimal for rocking. Then again, I could just get used to doing push cuts more frequently. I think the size is fine. It's not often I need the length of a 24 cm blade, and in those cases, i already have a long knife. It's also about 1cm taller than the Sakai Yusuke that I have, so it would work a bit better for scooping up food after I've cut it. I will look at more bunkas.
     
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  22. Nov 3, 2019 #22

    Hz_zzzzzz

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    My bad. Obviously I didn’t read your comment carefully so misunderstood it.

    Yea..it’s fair to not buy a product because you don’t like the production description. Their marketing/sales team surely plays a role in the configuration/specification of their knife, which does correlate the product description with the quality of the knife somehow. I mean they put the extremely acute edge out of the box at the expense of being prone to chipping. This looks more like a sales tactic than pursuing the perfection of a product. If we look at the price tag, Takamura’s chromax and r2 are both in the $100-$200 range, which makes them attractive to people who just want a small step up from the Wusthofs and Shuns. And nothing wows a new comer more than the laserish cutting performance of an extremely thin knife in an extremely acute edge angle. That also explains why they choose western handle and 210mm length. These all add up for a new comer, and it’s not a bad thing. I personally want a Takamura r2 as a guest knife because it’s so perfect for it. I have lasers from Konosuke and Shibata which would surely impress a guest by cutting performance, but they are both in 240 and both have a wa handle so an average person might find them intimidating.

    Going back to the knife recommendation, bunka is like Chinese cleaver plus a tip. I might grab one from Shibata or Takeda sometime.
     
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  23. Nov 3, 2019 #23

    oeysteinlo

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    @Hz_zzzzzz Yeah, that's how I read it, as a cheap marketing ploy that makes the knife sound extreme. It makes me uncertain about the knife.

    I just watched the video of the bunka on a website where you can buy chef knives. I'm a bit disappointed. It looks like it has a good flat area at the portion of the blade towards the handle, but it appears there's almost no flat area at all. I don't understand how it can work well for push-cutting when only a small area of the blade will touch the cutting board. Any advice on that anyone?

    EDIT: Apparently, store names are censored:waiting:
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
  24. Nov 3, 2019 #24

    Carl Kotte

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    Hmmm, you could always buy a Mac Pro! Macs are nice
     
  25. Nov 3, 2019 #25

    Hz_zzzzzz

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    Slight gentle curve throughout the edge shouldn’t negatively affect push cut significantly because our hand is not dead stable when a knife touches the board. A lot makers make their Bunka/Nakiri in this way. If you are not sure how a knife will perform in actual cutting, just watch some cut demo videos on YouTube. You can always find some if it’s a well known brand.
     
  26. Nov 3, 2019 #26

    oeysteinlo

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    @Carl Kotte Macs are nice enough. I've gotten to use one a few times. I really don't like how they look though. They feel very mass-produced with the way they are branded, kind of the same way as Global knives (although not to the same extent). I said in the OP that I don't care all that much about aesthetics, but I'm realising I have some hangups there xD

    @Hz_zzzzzz Yeah. I've never really thought about how the knife moves when it hits the cutting board, so I figured I'd experiment a bit. I got an old knife I had lying around what has a bit of a belly and tried push-cutting with it. It's quite difficult to keep the edge from rocking a bit every time it hits the board unless your knife hits the board on the heel. I have a tendency to do that as it means the flat spot on the Yusuke will cut through, but I can learn to do otherwise, so I guess that would be fine. Especially with how slight the curve is on that bunka. Also, I'm going to get a cheapish Chinese vegetable cleaver just to try one, good suggestion.
     
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  27. Nov 3, 2019 #27

    Hz_zzzzzz

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    Right, if the curve is more than slight the knife would surely rock, so it really depends on how curving it is. I have a gyuto that doesn’t have a single inch of flat spot but still push-cuts fine when I use the heel part as the curve is very slight there. A lot nakiris have a 2-3 mm gap between tip and board while they are meant for push cutting and chopping. Some Chinese cleavers are not flat throughout the edge either including the Mercer one I recommend.
     
  28. Nov 3, 2019 #28

    Hz_zzzzzz

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    Here’s a video for the Mercer cleaver. The real cutting demo starts from 4’50.
     
  29. Nov 3, 2019 #29

    Carl Kotte

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    I start to feel that I’m out of ideas. In particular since, as OP has himself recognized, the rules of the game seem to have changed and continue to change as the discussion proceeds. Why not browse around in the BST thread for ideas or even a nice catch?
     
  30. Nov 3, 2019 #30

    oeysteinlo

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    Yeah, I'm more uncertain about what I want now than before I asked xD
    Thanks for the suggestions though, I really appreciate the help!
     
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