Is there a knife for me

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by MarkC, Jul 9, 2019.

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  1. Jul 9, 2019 #1

    MarkC

    MarkC

    MarkC

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    I volunteer in a kitchen that prepares primarily vegetarian meals for people that are recovering from difficult diseases like cancer. I work two - three days per week in 3 hour shifts. Our primary duties are to prep vegetables and some fruit. The prepped food is organized for the afternoon shift of mostly high school students that are taught to cook the food and an evening set of volunteers drive the meals to those in need.

    The kitchens are organized and managed by professional chefs but the knives and plastic cutting boards are not sharp or ideal. I am new to Japanese knives and only have a few MAC knives in my home kitchen. I have followed several threads and found a couple of profiles and price points that I thought would work from Wakui, Mazaki, and Tanaka. I have exchanged a few emails with sellers that are known on the boards and several have raised concern over the cutting boards and the fact that I would likely experience chipping. I also have questions over materials. Prefer carbon knives and can wipe my knives and properly wash them, but need to be sure that I do not cause blackening on foods like onions or apples for example.

    So after my initial excitement, I am now hesitant to move forward due to the concerns raised over chipping / damaging the knives. I do not have the choice of using a rubber / soft wood cutting board in the kitchen.

    Any recommendations, suggestions are appreciated for a newby that is trying to sort things out.

    Thanks,

    Mark

    LOCATION
    What country are you in?
    US


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

    Are you right or left handed? Right

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

    What length of knife (blade) are you interested in (in inches or millimeters)? 240mm

    Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no) Not sure

    What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife? $300


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

    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 and fruit

    What knife, if any, are you replacing? Victorinox type

    Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use? (Please click on this LINK for the common types of grips.) Pinch

    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.) Chop and push cut

    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.) Sharp, made for pinch grip, balance, ease of chopping

    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)? Scratch resistant

    Comfort (e.g., lighter/heavier knife; better handle material; better handle shape; rounded spine/choil of the knife; improved balance)? lighter, balance, shape (longer flat spot), sharp tip for mincing

    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)? push cutting, less wedging, food release, low reactivity

    Edge Retention (i.e., length of time you want the edge to last without sharpening)? multiple shifts between sharpening



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

    Do you sharpen your own knives? (Yes or no.) yes

    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.) no
     
  2. Jul 9, 2019 #2

    slickmamba

    slickmamba

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    Use the macs you own for work, pick up any of the three carbons you mentioned for home. They're all great
     
    labor of love, daveb, McMan and 2 others like this.
  3. Jul 10, 2019 #3

    Nemo

    Nemo

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    No, there is not a knife for you. There are many .

    Agree that all 3 are great knives. Some have noted inconsistency in Mazaki HT, but mine is great.

    My Mazaki is ironclad, and qiute reactive, less so (but still a little) with a patina. the other 2 are stainless clad.

    Tanaka blue2 or ginsanko will probably have the better edge retention than the white2 im the other two. The blue2 is not quite as sweet to sharpen as white2 but still pretty good. The ginsanko is pretty easy to sharpen for a stainless, but getting the last skerrick of burr off still requires more patience than a good carbon steel does.

    Plastic boards will definitely reduce edge retention. If you notice chipping, one solution is to add a microbevel. Look at the JKI videos on this. If say a 30 degree microbevel doesnt stop chipping, it could be increased up to around 45 degrees.

    On the specific knives that you mentioned:

    My mazaki from KnS has a pretty flat profile, a heavish middleweight wide bevel grind (with a significant taper) but is still fairly thin behind the edge. A great all rounder. The spine came rounded but there is still a bit of angle (which has been eased) with the blade face. The choil came eased.

    My Tanaka Nashiji is a much thinner wide bevel, with a much more curved profile and almost no taper. Food release is not as good. The KnS variants have nice handles and a rounded spine and choil for comfortable pinch grip.

    My Wakui is the Tsuchime (hammered) from KnS. It's a heavier wide bevel with excellent food release and a notable taper. Some vendors in USA are said to have much thinner Wakuis which are renowned for being pretty thin behind the edge. The profile is fairly flat. The spine and choil are well rounded.

    It's also worth looking at Yoshikane Tsuchime SKD. Quite similar in many ways to the Wakui Tsuchime but in stainless clad semistainless which sharpens almost as nicely as carbon steel, is almost as corrosion resistant as stainless steel and has longer edge retention than any of the knives you have mentioned. There are some other Yoshikanes around, and some of the white steel ones (maybe the ones from Bernal?- you'd have to ask the vendor) are said to be quite thin.

    hope this helps.

    Oh, and good on you for volunteering.
     
    WPerry likes this.
  4. Jul 10, 2019 #4

    HRC_64

    HRC_64

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    Mac Pro or similar should be fine for the volunteer work...
    sometimes sharpening them will work wonders if that's not already
    been properly/fully explored....eg inthe case of house knives.
     
  5. Jul 10, 2019 #5

    HRC_64

    HRC_64

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    I don't like to mix lots of fruit with Iron Cladding.

    maybe its just personal preference, but thats
    a huge PITA in terms of wiping the blade
    (alot more) vs even carbon monosteel.

    In general, fuit is very acidic and needs
    to be kept off knives to keep sharpness,
    so you need to dilute (water) and wipe
    (ALOT)...and even then the IRON cladding
    is much more of a hassle (porous iron)
    to keep truly dry in the presence of
    corrosives.

    Ginsanko is your friend here...:)

    For regular vegetable work, iron + carbon are fine,
    of course.
     
    labor of love and stringer like this.
  6. Jul 10, 2019 #6

    WPerry

    WPerry

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    I recently picked up a Yoshikane SKD from epicureanedge.com (I hear that they're no longer a forum sponsor, but I still got the 10% off by providing my KKF user name in the Comments section) as an intro to "real" Japanese knives and am extremely happy with it.

    I was initially somewhat frustrated to find that it would wedge a bit in apples and carrots, 'specially if you insist on using the more meaty back half of the blade, but found that it's easy enough to work around and that it's a wonderful all-arounder otherwise. There was also a bit of micro-chipping before my initial sharpening, but it hasn't been a problem since, even with a lot of synthetic board use. Takes a great edge, even from a novice hand, and holds it really well. The tip is very good: goes through onions nicely and is borderline sentient/telepathic when it comes to things like separating a head of broccoli - think about what you want it to do and it seems to do it with exceptionally little effort (recently picked up a Mazaki 180 Petty and it's curious how much better the Yoshi is in this regard - I really don't get it). Food release seems good, though I don't have a reference for best-in-class in that regard. Doesn't need much by way of special care. Balance is slightly forward of the pinch, but in a way that (to me) feels like it lends authority as opposed to being unwieldy.

    Oh, and I think that it looks pretty damn nice.
     
  7. Jul 10, 2019 #7

    Nemo

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    Yeah, my Yoshi is also a food release style of workhorse. Definitley not a laser.
     
  8. Jul 10, 2019 #8

    stringer

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    I will second the fruit warning. And mention that it isn't just about discoloration/dulling of the knife. A carbon knife will sometimes cause a delayed discoloration process in the fruit. The other day I cut up some mangoes and strawberries with an iron clad nakiri. My wife packed them in her lunch, when she went to eat them they were black. A patina helps, but even a well patinated blade can make fruit look like crap.
     
  9. Jul 10, 2019 #9

    McMan

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    This was going to me my suggestion too. Macs are stainless, so no problems with fruit/onions/etc. They're not overly hard, so no issues with chipping. And they take hard use, so no problem with poly boards. I'd suggest a ceramic honing rod--I use a Fallkniven FNC10 black; they're inexpensive and work well. There was a thread on them here a little while ago:
    https://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/threads/fallkniven-black-ceramic.39723/

    So... Now you'll need to post a new questionnaire about the new knife you'll need for home :)
     
  10. Jul 10, 2019 #10

    MrHiggins

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    You're feeding immuno-compromised individuals. You need knives that can be sanitized.
     
  11. Jul 10, 2019 #11

    slickmamba

    slickmamba

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    Yep, exactly what I was thinking. Especially when you consider that others might use them as well. Macs are great prof. kitchen knives
     
  12. Jul 10, 2019 #12

    MarkC

    MarkC

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    Thank you for all of the great information. I have received a recommendation from a store here in the S.F. area that also recommended the Yoshikane Tsuchime SKD. I don't know much about them so any additional information you might have is appreciated. The profile looks like something that I would chose and the stainless cladding should be helpful in my environment. I have not done a microbevel before so will take a look at Jon's video on that subject. I am just happy when I get a smooth sharp finish. Thanks again.
     
  13. Jul 10, 2019 #13

    lowercasebill

    lowercasebill

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    Just published this morning.
    Korin's recommendation knife for vegetarians.
     
  14. Jul 10, 2019 #14

    lowercasebill

    lowercasebill

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    $128.50 USD
    Leaves money for a second knife.
    I priced MAC on ama.....
    You can get 2 knives and be under budget.
    Let us know what you decide
     
  15. Jul 10, 2019 #15

    HRC_64

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    This cannot be emphasized enough...
    OP only you can be responsible for this part.

    If you're not going to use a technically NSF certified knife, do your research...
    you should at least follow reasonable precaution on knife construction.

    IIRC this means stainless blade and a western-style handle that is water-proof.
     
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  16. Jul 10, 2019 #16
    Concur.

    This application calls for an NSF knife - and sani dishwashing - dishwasher or 3 compartment sink. MAC will work here, pakka wood and stainless. As will the Vnox, Wustie Pro genre. If subject to any inspection authority a clad knife will likely not pass.
     
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  17. Jul 10, 2019 #17
    I eat vegetarians. Moooooo
     
  18. Jul 11, 2019 #18

    Nemo

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    No worries.

    I assume this is Bernal Cutlery?

    I think that I recall reading that some of Bernal's Yoshis could be on the thinner side- you should check with them if this is important to you. Thinner has pros and cons. Lots of people (including me) love the "falls through hard foods with little resistance feeling of a thin knife. Many (also including me) like the food release (especially in wet foods) that is produced by grind features such as convexity which are only possible on thicker knives. There is of course a continuum from very thin ("laser") to very thick ("food relese workhorse").

    What I am saying is that there is a tradeoff between thinness and food release. This is good news because it means that there is no "perfect" knife so we must all buy lots of knives is order to appreciate the different grinds that are available .

    The Yoshikanes will be good knives with a great heat treatment of SKD (SKD means SKD-12, which is basically the Japanese version of A2 IIRC). They apparently also do a pretty mean SLD (aka SKD-11 aka D2) and white2.

    The Yoshis are made in Sanjo (as are the Wakuis and Mazakis) ant they have the taper typical of sanjo knives. Fit and finish is excellent (apart from the vey basic but very functional Ho wood handle). The profile is really flat and the blade is not especially tall (only about 50mm IIRC). The wide bevels are convex and should be maintained this way when jt comes time to thin the blade. Jon's JKI videos on sharpening single bevels are a good guide here. The thinness vs food release performance will vary depending on the width but I would expect a pretty good tradeoff between thinness and food release regardless of the thickness.

    DO NOT PUT A KNIFE LIKE THIS IN A DISHWASHER. If this is required, take your Macs (I must say, I would hesitate to put any good knife in the dishwasher) when you volunteer and get a nice knife for home to replace them with.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  19. Jul 11, 2019 #19

    MarkC

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    Yes, the shop is Bernal. They have been very straight with their responses. I am new to the board and didn't want to name someone that I shouldn't. I like the Yoshikane's specs just surprised that there is very little discussed about them on this forum. I can't stretch for the SLD though it sounds great. I think I like the Mazaki's taller profile so just wish the Yoshikane had that.

    Regarding care / washing, yes I understand the need to hand wash knives. In the kitchen we work in, we do hand wash the knives using a three-compartment sink and I would hand wipe the knife dry when complete. There have been some comments on needing to have that meets sanitation standards. I will check but have witnessed other wooden handled knives in the kitchen so we are either not in compliance or perhaps there is some exemption for the space.

    Thanks again for all that have taken the time to provide me with solid information. I will say, I am mostly confused at this point on how to move forward. It was my hope to not go with a MAC or some German knife partly because I wanted to experience and enjoy my time on the board but I am also aware that my role is to help get healthy food out to those that need it and I will always respect that mission.
     
  20. Jul 11, 2019 #20

    McMan

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    From what’s been said on the thread so far, it seems--Alas--that all signs point in one direction: NSF-certified knife (i.e. poly handle, can go in dw or be fully submerged in 3-sink).

    Others will be up to speed about regs, but it strikes me that this is not a “wiggle-room” situation because of the context (i.e. minimizing any risk is crucial). Others know much more about this than I do, though.

    If you are allowed to go forward with the Yoshi in the kitchen, you will definitely want to seal where the tang enters the handle. That little space is a gunk magnet.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
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  21. Jul 11, 2019 #21

    Eugene Chrysovergis

    Eugene Chrysovergis

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    I can't believe it. The 3 knives I have selected to buy from KNS. Thanks for the Yoshikane info!
     
  22. Jul 11, 2019 #22

    Nemo

    Nemo

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    I didn't know that the SLD was more expensive. Yes, the shorter blade height is the only thing that I would change about the Yoshi (which would, of course upset its balance).

    No problem on the info- just payin' it fwd.

    No need for confusion. Bottom line is that these are all great knives but all different in their own, fascinating ways.

    If you do need stainless/ pakkawood, there are some options so lt us know if this ends up being the case.

    Edited to add: There is an Akifusa on BST now which could fit thie pakkawood/ stainless bill pretty well.
     
  23. Jul 11, 2019 #23

    Nemo

    Nemo

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    No probs.

    These knives are all good starting knives (although the Mazaki will teach you to dry your knife with its reactive cladding ).
     

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