My first Kitchen Knife Santoku or Bunka Damascus or not etc...

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Gurle

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Hi everyone, I would like to buy a Japanese knife and I would be oriented in choosing a Santoku or a Bunka. I would prefer it to be Damascus but I also consider the "normals". As a first knife I would like a vg10 or a sg2 or a mixture of both... 16-18,5 cm max 300 euro.
I have see: Yaxell Gou 101 - Miyabi Birchwood 5000 MCD (a little expensive) - Kasumi Damascus series -Tojiro’s Flash Dp Damascus - Enso SG2 - KAI Shun Nagare (a little expensive) - Takamura Knives R2/SG2 (not Damascus) -Yoshimi Kato red handle - Sakai Takayuki - Takeshi Saji R-2 (a little expensive) - Kato Damascus Black -
it's not a problem if the steel is hard to sharpen because I prefer to have it done by a specialist. I need your help ... I also evaluate other brands I would like the knife (handyman) to accompany me for the rest of my life.
Thank you !

Dave
 

KitchenCommander

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Greetings.

I like Bunka over Santoku, because I like a bit of a tip. Though not all brands have a 165mm Bunka availalbe. The forum favorite out of your list is likely the Takamura R2, which is a nice knife. It is very thin and will provide a really impressive cutting experience. I don't recognize most of the others. Tojiro is a fine brand on the budget end, but if the price is near the Takamura, I'd go Takamura.
 

Gurle

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thank you for your answer!
I have read good things on this forum about the Takamura R2...
I would have preferred it to have been an r2 steel then covered with layers of damascus...
I forgot to mention that I would like a western or d-handle
Dave
 

blokey

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Hi, Dave

Out of your selections I highly recommend Shiro Kamo R2, I managed to buy one for $180 on Knives and Stones with discount, thin with a good distal taper, Shiro Kamo's treatment of R2/SG2 is really good. Takamura R2 is also a excellent choice, I have their gyuto, very thin knife, no Damascus tho.


Personally I would also consider Kobayashi Kei or Makoto kurosaki Damascus knife, those are barely within your budget but they are nice knives. JCK also have a western handle R2 santoku you can consider.


One thing about Damascus though is you will eventually have to sharpen and thin your knives, thous scratch the finish, to bring them back like new need alot of elbow grease.
 

Gurle

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Thank you blokey for your answer!!! Shiro Kamo R2 is beautiful but don't like the handle... I prefer a classic handle.. the jkc is perfect but i don't know the brand ... isn't he a craftsman?
Dave
 

blokey

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Thank you blokey for your answer!!! Shiro Kamo R2 is beautiful but don't like the handle... I prefer a classic handle.. the jkc is perfect but i don't know the brand ... isn't he a craftsman?
Dave
JCK original is their house brand, made by Gotou cutlery.
 

Gurle

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Ok thanks... is very good... is better that a kai Shun Nagare or Takeshi Saji?
Dave
 

superworrier

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Let me throw one in the ring: Yoshikane SKD Nashiji Bunka 16 cm, € 295,00

Not sg2 or vg10, but I think most people would prefer SKD. Not full stainless, but pretty stain resistant. I think this is one of my best performers (although I have the white 2 version) and it ensures you won't have upgrade-itis. They also have a santoku version.

Other vendors have this too (Knivesandstones etc), not sure what is the best price for you considering import taxes etc.

The Takamura and Shiro Kamo are also fine choices if you'd rather spend less.

Keep in mind most sharpening services are not by specialists, so if you go for professional sharpening you probably want to go to a knife store that specializes in high-end or Japanese knives.
 

blokey

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I do not have experience with those knives so I can’t tell, sorry
 

Gurle

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Thank you superworrier.. it's very nice but I don't like the type of handle ...
 

Benuser

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One thing about Damascus though is you will eventually have to sharpen and thin your knives, thous scratch the finish, to bring them back like new need alot of elbow grease.
Exactly. A good sharpening is started by thinning behind the edge, as the new edge comes in a slighter part of the blade. So, scratches are inevitable. Most Damascus knives don't look that pretty after half a year of home use.
 
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Dave,

Are you’re going to be using your knife in your kitchen? There’s no question to the beautiful knife will inspire your cooking sometimes.

I think Damascus steel can be quite beautiful. It is also a real pain to maintain the knife and the Damascus cladding to “look like new”. I have quite a few that I find beautiful, but I will use a Ku or migaki finished knife more often to avoid the inevitable work in restoring the damy finish.

Stainless Damascus does not require as much work to maintain. But I personally find it to be less attractive than the delicate appearance of its reactive counterpart.

I find that the most beautiful knives are the ones that cut better than the rest.

I am inspired by the ability to make cuts that I am unable to make or make as well with other knives. So for me the true beauty of a knife is in its function.

One of the things that that is critical to good function is that it is kept sharp. That is why almost anyone, with experience, is going to recommend that you learn to sharpen your own knives.

It’s really not hard. You can get a basic kit for around $150 it will last quite a while. You’ll save money not sending it out to other people. You’ll develop a sure sharpness that you won’t get by sending it to various sharpeners.You’ll also increase the lifespan of your knives.

Best of luck in your quest.
 

Gurle

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Thanks for your answers!
Dull_Apex unfortunately I don't like the handle of the knife you reported ... I prefer the western or at least D-shaped handle.
Benuser and Midsummer understand that a damascus knife can be more delicate ... now I'll bother you with more questions. Thank you for your kindness
Dave
 

Gurle

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hello, on the jck site I saw some knives that interest me ... I would like your opinion if you feel like it...

- Kagayaki R2 Damascus: JCK Original Kagayaki R-2 Damascus Series KGRP-2 Santoku 175mm (6.8inch, Polished Blade)

- Takeshi Saji R2 Damascus: Takeshi Saji R-2 Custom Black Damascus Wild Series Bunka 180mm (7 inch, Ironwood Handle) SRD-2BBI little expensive for me)

- Kagayaki R2 Laminated (not Damascus): JCK Original Kagayaki NOVEL Series | R-2 Laminated KN-2 Bunka 175mm (Kiritsuke, 6.8 inch)

- Hattory Forum Custom limited edition (not Damascus): Hattori Forums Custom Limited Edition Year 2021, FH Series FH-4SP2021SM Santoku 170mm (6.6 Inch, Sugarite Malachite GemStone Handle) (a little expensive for me)

- JCK Natures Blue Could Series Blue Steel n.2: JCK Natures 青雲 Blue Clouds Series BCB-2 Blue Steel No.2 Nashiji Bunka (Kiritsuke) 190mm (7.4 inch)

- Shiki Solid R-2 (not Damascus) SHIKI Solid R-2 Blade "SR2-8" Santoku 180mm (7 Inch, Quince Wood Handle)

- Takamura R2 (not Damascus): Santoku

If I had to choose the one that I like most aesthetically I would take the Saji but someone does not speak well of it and it costs a little expensive (for me) the Hattori is also expensive but qualitatively it is perhaps better? Is Kagayaki better value for money? Does the Blu Steel # 2 I have reported require a lot of care? Which knife would you recommend for brand / quality / price / durability?
Thank you
Dave
 

BoSharpens

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I am of the firm opinion that amongst the better knives with hard edges, there is likely little difference in the blades as the hardest edge you can get away with and still be strong enough for kitchen use & not be overly prone to chips is very well known to blade makers. I'm sure if you want to push the limits of edge hardness and angle you absolutely must have a thermo-plastic elastomer cutting board, but you have to be real careful about keeping very light edge contact with a board.

I have a Shun Santoku over 10 years old now, a Christmas present from my wife. The knife has never had a scratch on the Damascus sides, so I don't know what other people are doing to muss-up their finishes. A bit of crocus cloth on the finger (maybe with WD-40) can clean up a stain on such a blade in a hurry without scratching the surface patina.

Unless I chip the edge slightly, which I've done on the Shun once, I only do a full re-sharpening about every 2 years or so.

My typical honing was 2 days ago when I detected a bit of resistance a month or two after my last honing. I use a soft then a hard Arkansas followed by a flat quartz polishing stone & leather strop to just effectively polish the edge. Takes about 5 min. max and I'm back in business for another month or two. I do the same with my Wustoff blades and they have a much longer life before re-honing. I've used the same Wustoff for 38 years now.

Since I sharpen for other people, I have seen a few knives that are a *****. Fine fillet knives for fishermen are rediculously thin, flexible and with very narrow angles not suitable for kitchens or touching any cutting board. I've run into overly narrow angle MIyabi's that have "flakey" edges due to narrow edge angles and maybe metal edges that are too hard where the narrow angle makes it worse. Some el-cheapo knives are so soft I charge more to sharpen them. Quite a few knives are ruined or require a large amount of metal to be removed from prior sharpening that removed more metal in the center of the blade leaving a scimitar wavy shaped edge.

I am sure KKF members here will provide good notes on special knives, but remember that stainless blades are never going to be as hard or as tough as carbon steel blades can be. Everything with edges is a balancing act.
 

blokey

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hello, on the jck site I saw some knives that interest me ... I would like your opinion if you feel like it...

- Kagayaki R2 Damascus: JCK Original Kagayaki R-2 Damascus Series KGRP-2 Santoku 175mm (6.8inch, Polished Blade)

- Takeshi Saji R2 Damascus: Takeshi Saji R-2 Custom Black Damascus Wild Series Bunka 180mm (7 inch, Ironwood Handle) SRD-2BBI little expensive for me)

- Kagayaki R2 Laminated (not Damascus): JCK Original Kagayaki NOVEL Series | R-2 Laminated KN-2 Bunka 175mm (Kiritsuke, 6.8 inch)

- Hattory Forum Custom limited edition (not Damascus): Hattori Forums Custom Limited Edition Year 2021, FH Series FH-4SP2021SM Santoku 170mm (6.6 Inch, Sugarite Malachite GemStone Handle) (a little expensive for me)

- JCK Natures Blue Could Series Blue Steel n.2: JCK Natures 青雲 Blue Clouds Series BCB-2 Blue Steel No.2 Nashiji Bunka (Kiritsuke) 190mm (7.4 inch)

- Shiki Solid R-2 (not Damascus) SHIKI Solid R-2 Blade "SR2-8" Santoku 180mm (7 Inch, Quince Wood Handle)

- Takamura R2 (not Damascus): Santoku

If I had to choose the one that I like most aesthetically I would take the Saji but someone does not speak well of it and it costs a little expensive (for me) the Hattori is also expensive but qualitatively it is perhaps better? Is Kagayaki better value for money? Does the Blu Steel # 2 I have reported require a lot of care? Which knife would you recommend for brand / quality / price / durability?
Thank you
Dave
Most of them are fine, personally I'd still go for Takamura R2, not the prettiest knife but really thin behind the edge and generally good geometry. If you perfer thicker knife that can take more abuse other knives on the list maybe better for your needs. The particular Blue steel knife on the list is stainless cladded so not much care other than wipe dry between sessions is needed.

It is kind misleading to say stainless knives are never gonna be as hard or tough as carbon blade, modern stainless are as good or even better at edge retention, some like AEB-L are tougher than many carbon steel and tool steels,. and harder and more carbides in stainless steel often lends to better edge retention . Larrin did a good test on edge retention and toughness, you can see them here.


 

Gurle

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thank you for answer! Why one person take a blu steel knife and not a r2 or vg10 (for example)?
 

blokey

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thank you for answer! Why one person take a blu steel knife and not a r2 or vg10 (for example)?
Ease of sharpening is a primary reason, with all the advancement in stainless steel most carbon steel still sharpens much easier than stainless steel, especially something hard like R2 or VG10. Some people are more sensitive to cutting feel can find carbon steel knife more crisp in cutting, and perfer iron cladded or mono-steel carbon knives. Also patina looks nice.
 

Logan A.

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thank you for answer! Why one person take a blu steel knife and not a r2 or vg10 (for example)?
I can’t speak for everyone, but many people on here simply love caring for their knives. They enjoy the sharpening process, and they love that they get to watch a patina develop as the knife is used. It makes it feel a little more like it’s theirs.
The blue and white steels are very traditional in the Japanese blade smithing world. People on this forum are often partial to them. There’s a myriad of reasons. Some like the edge holding ability/ease of sharpening, and I’m sure there are plenty who just like the more traditional approach.
I personally find that stainless knives can lack personality over time. You use the knife 100 times and it looks the exact same as the first time you opened it. I like that a low alloy knife builds character. Some people prefer stainless because they want their knife to look the same as when it was bought.
Sorry for the ramble! Your question honestly so many answers. All equally valid.
 

Gurle

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Thank you Logan!

is it possible a homogeneous blue patina on the whole blade or will the knife remain stained over time? I've read about people who used lemons or mustard to get a uniform blue patina. But if the blue steel (like the knife I posted) is covered with a layer of stainless steel it shouldn't get stained right? Does the fact that it is easier to sharpen also mean that it loses the edge more easily?
thank you
Dave
 

Logan A.

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From what I understand all patinas will normalize over time and go from their vivid colors to more of a gray. You can rush this process with mustard/lemons, yes. Generally at no point will you have a consistent blue patina.

Stainless clad steel is great because you have the edge of a nice reactive low alloy steel, but the rest of the knife is stainless. Great Way to introduce yourself to non-stainless knives.

On the matter of sharpening and edge retention; Sharpening easily doesn’t necessarily mean that a knife will hold its edge for a longer or shorter period of time.There’s absolutely some correlations, but it’s not that clear cut. What kind of edge retention are you looking for in a knife?

also, don’t think that I’m trying to dissuade you from going with stainless. There are some amazing stainless steel knives out there. R2, SG2, ATS-34, ZDP-189. The list honestly goes on.
 

Gurle

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forgive my ignorance ... what is meant by edge retention?
 

Logan A.

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forgive my ignorance ... what is meant by edge retention?
How long a knife will retain a sharp edge after sharpening. If you’re outsourcing sharpening then I’d assume you want your edge to last as long as possible? Many members who sharpen their own knives aren’t quite as concerned with edge retention as a primary goal. They’ll just sharpen their own knives as frequently as required.
harder steels tend to have longer edge retention.

I do strongly recommend looking at the links in this post to learn more!
 

Gurle

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Hattori is a good Knife? Is only VG10 but the price is very expensive... it is justified by the quality?
Dave
 

Gurle

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What are the differences between these two knives?
Dave
 
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Benuser

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What are the differences between these two knives?
Dave
The handle, in a limited edition.
 

Pie

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I can’t speak for everyone, but many people on here simply love caring for their knives. They enjoy the sharpening process, and they love that they get to watch a patina develop as the knife is used. It makes it feel a little more like it’s theirs.
The blue and white steels are very traditional in the Japanese blade smithing world. People on this forum are often partial to them. There’s a myriad of reasons. Some like the edge holding ability/ease of sharpening, and I’m sure there are plenty who just like the more traditional approach.
I personally find that stainless knives can lack personality over time. You use the knife 100 times and it looks the exact same as the first time you opened it. I like that a low alloy knife builds character. Some people prefer stainless because they want their knife to look the same as when it was bought.
Sorry for the ramble! Your question honestly so many answers. All equally valid.
Excellent ramble. Truths the whole way through 👍.

The line between carbon and stainless is no longer a clear delineation. More of a wavy line. Some stainless has mad edge retention or very very high hardness, but that has its downsides. Your needs will dictate what’s perfect, but most knives mentioned here will cut most anything well.
 
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