PLEASE Recommend Me Three Knives

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PINEHEEL

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Little background info: New bride and I are looking for three new knives. I was all set on three Shun Kaji's (8" chef, 6.5" nakiri, and 4.5" paring) until I came across this wonderful forum of knowledge and now my whole world and decision-making process have been shattered and I'm more confused than ever. Neither one of us are professional chefs or anything close to it. She's a vegetarian and while I eat a lot of meat, the hardest thing I'm going to be slicing through 95% of the time is boneless chicken breast. Need three knives but they certainly don't need to be the same brand. Without further ado, the questionnaire that no one asked for and none of you have been waiting on...


LOCATION
What country are you in?

United State of North Carolina


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

I was thinking an 8" chef's knife (could easily be talked into a 10"), a nakiri (recommend me a size), and a paring. Was thinking Japanese but am open to German, or any other suggestions.

Are you right or left handed?

Both of us are right-handed.

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

You tell me.

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

Was thinking 8" for the chef's, but could easily be talked into the 10". Maybe 6.5 for the nakiri? No clue on paring.

Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no)

I want the best knives I can get for the money, and I won't be putting them in the dishwasher. So, I guess yes?

What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife?

Call it $800 max for all three combined. Don't mind going cheaper on the paring for a nicer Nakiri and Chef.

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

Home

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, and mincing vegetables. Slicing boneless chicken, steak, and pork.


What knife, if any, are you replacing?

Victorinox 8" chef

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

We both use a hammer. Again, not expert chefs here.

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.)

We're both rock choppers, but would be willing to change if that alone would force us into a German over a Japanese.

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.)

I just want some really sharp, high-quality knives that will last a long time. I take great care of things I spend a decent amount of money on, and neither of us are clumsy or careless in the kitchen even though we're not expert knivesmen.

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)?

Prefer a solid handle color, open to wood or other. Not sure on Damascus. Is that just aesthetics?

Comfort (e.g., lighter/heavier knife; better handle material; better handle shape; rounded spine/choil of the knife; improved balance)?

I think I would prefer a slightly heavier knife, but again I don't want that to pigeon hole me into German over Japanese. As long as it's sturdy I don't mind it being light.

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)?

I don't know what any of this means, if that gives you a glimpse into my knifing abilities.


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

How often should I be sharpening them with something other than a honing steel? Will probably have them professionally sharpened as necessary so...the longer the better?



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

Yes

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

No

If not, are you interested in learning how to sharpen your knives? (Yes or no.)

Not really, unless you advise me that they need to be sharpened fairly often, in which case I can get a whetstone and learn how.



SPECIAL REQUESTS/COMMENTS

In summary, I just want the best three knives we can get for the price point ($800 total max). Focused on a chef, nakiri, and paring, but can be talked into anything else you may feel would be better. We're not expert chefs, but we're not morons, either. Neither of us are going to cut off a finger, but we're also not going to work in a hibachi restaurant. Leaning towards Japanese because that seems to be the prevailing suggestion in this and all other forums I've looked at, but not opposed to German. I do prefer the aesthetics of the J-knives, but I guess ultimately aesthetics should be low on my priority list.

I'm also interested in learning more about the differences in a 210 vs. a 240. Have primarily used an 8 inch, but if there's a compelling argument to go to a 10/240, I'm all ears. I get what I would be gaining (whom among us wouldn't appreciate two extra inches?), but what am I giving up?

Thank you for any and all suggestions. Consider it your wedding gift to the friends you'll never actually meet. We won't be sending thank you notes, however.
 

aszma

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A couple things you really dont need to spend 800 dollars to get some high quality knives. Nakiris are also pretty redundant if you also want a gyuto as a gyuto can do everything a nakiri can. Lastly any knife can be a sharp knife and how long it stays sharp really depends on how you treat it.

My personal opinion is that you really only need two knives and depending on how much kitchen space you have i recommend either a 240mm gyuto and 180mm petty knife or a 210mm gyuto and a 150mm petty knife. The gyuto will be for pretty much 90% of tasks while the pairing knife will be used for smaller tasks and butchery.

My personal recommendation for a gyuto would be the JKI 240/210 gesshin stainless ive had one for over 2 years and have used it a ton in professional kitchens. Super durable and fairly easy to sharpen while not breaking the bank


For your petty JKI also has a 150mm gesshin stainless petty


If you really are set on a third knife id recommend either a bread knife or a sujihiki

For bread knives a tojiro or mac bread knife are hard to beat both can be found on amazon

If you think your gonna be cutting a lot of large proteins than a sujihiki would be better over a bread knife

Ive used a kaeru one before which i really liked heres the link


But honestly i would save the money on a third knife and buy a whet stone instead as if your gonna buy some nice knives you should learn to take care of them which includes learning to sharpen them. Almost any combo stone of 1000/3000 or 1000/6000 should work.
 

wombat

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Nakiris are also pretty redundant if you also want a gyuto as a gyuto can do everything a nakiri can.
Not that I necessarily disagree, at least not with the second part, but a good nakiri can be very rewarding to use. You could equally argue that many gyutos can do what a sujihiki does.

The OP didn't say so in this case, but some vegetarians like having dedicated utensils and cookware that doesn't touch meat.
 

aszma

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Haha i actually deleted the last sentence before posting but i was gonna mention how nakiris are really fun to use and do have their benefiets and i completly agree a gyuto can do pretty much what a sujihiki can do thats why i only recommended one if he really wants three different knives
 

rickbern

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I’d consider getting Mac knives. I think they’re pretty great for non knife nuts and are sturdy enough for everyday use. I’m assuming you two cook together so you need two knives?

Here’s an 8” chefs knife from them. A 240/10” is great if you’re regularly cutting large quantities but many people find the 8” size adequate. Personally, I prefer 240s but I find 270s overly large and cumbersome for what I do.


A utility knife. We tend to recommend these over paring knives because they’re better on boards but not as good for in hand work.


And a sweet little nakiri


Every knife needs to be sharpened. Get a pair of shapton pro stones, 1000 and 5000 grit to maintain them. Use the5000 only to touch it up from time to time and the 1000 when that’s not working. Add a 500 grit if you want to bring your victronix back to life, which would be great to practice on.
 

rstcso

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I'll preface by saying I'm new to the world of Japanese knives. There is great wisdom to be found in this forum (present company excluded).

My first exposure was a small cutlery store. The owner asked what I was looking for which was #1, something to cut sweet potatoes and #2, something fun for other vegetables. That part was easy... a Nakiri. Tried out several and settled on a lightweight 175mm (as mentioned, other knives will easily do the job, but this knife is fun).

The knife she showed for cutting sweet potatoes is a German/Japanese hybrid, the Messermeister Kawashima 8" Chef's Knife. It was unlike my old German friend, the Henkel's Pro, I'd been using for twenty years. This knife's blade was Japanese... thin, made of SG2, weighed a lot less than my German friend, and didn't have a bolster to protect me from myself. Admittedly, Messermeister doesn't immediately conjure up images of Mount Fuji, but then she said those magic words: "This is the knife I use at home." Her embroidery on her apron should have raised my suspicions - "Michele, Professional Enabler" - but I took the bait hook, line, and sinker. To make a really long story slightly less so, I bought some sweet potatoes on the way back home and it's a damn-good knife for them and anything else it gets near.

I've bought several more knives since with one of my favorites being a 150mm petty. If I'd bought it before the Nakiri, the Nakiri probably wouldn't exist in my house... yet.

My latest purchase was from Jon at JKI (Japanese Knife Imports). Give him a call and he'll give you good, solid advice based on what you want/need and not his making the most money from a sale. I hadn't spoken to him before placing my order online, and the next morning he called to make sure I knew what I was getting into with my selection. I told him absolutely... for someone who's read a lot and watched too many videos to the point I really don't have a clue, but willing to accept the risks. He then questioned me as if I was going through an adoption process rather than buying a knife. He's passionate about what he sells and I'll be buying more from him.

Good luck on your quest. It looks like you're already having fun on the journey.
 

PINEHEEL

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Not that I necessarily disagree, at least not with the second part, but a good nakiri can be very rewarding to use. You could equally argue that many gyutos can do what a sujihiki does.

The OP didn't say so in this case, but some vegetarians like having dedicated utensils and cookware that doesn't touch meat.
Good point I hadn't thought of, but that's not an issue for us. Wife isn't that picky.
 

MrHiggins

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My first Japanese knife was a Sukenari gyuto in a steel called Hap40. If I were to go back in time and do it all over again, that would still be my choice for a one-and-done japanese knife, and I think it would suit your needs perfectly. I'd get a 210 if I were you. They're in stock at the japanese store Japanese Chef Knife, and that's a great shop to deal with. While you're there, I'd pick up a Fu-Rin-Ka-Zan White#2 petty. That's my wife's favorite knife, by far. For the paring knife, I'd go for a Mac.

I'd definitely skip the nakiri. No matter how many I try, I can never get them to feel comfortable. The lack of a tip is a real negative for me. And I completely agree with others that a gyuto can do everything that a nakiri can do, just much better.

Finally, I'd get a 2000grit stone and watch a few videos on how to use it for touch ups. Keeping your new knives rasor sharp is one of the main points of having them. A dull fancy knife is just as bad as a dull cheap knife, so why bother?!?
 

PINEHEEL

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My first Japanese knife was a Sukenari gyuto in a steel called Hap40. If I were to go back in time and do it all over again, that would still be my choice for a one-and-done japanese knife, and I think it would suit your needs perfectly. I'd get a 210 if I were you. They're in stock at the japanese store Japanese Chef Knife, and that's a great shop to deal with. While you're there, I'd pick up a Fu-Rin-Ka-Zan White#2 petty. That's my wife's favorite knife, by far. For the paring knife, I'd go for a Mac.

I'd definitely skip the nakiri. No matter how many I try, I can never get them to feel comfortable. The lack of a tip is a real negative for me. And I completely agree with others that a gyuto can do everything that a nakiri can do, just much better.

Finally, I'd get a 2000grit stone and watch a few videos on how to use it for touch ups. Keeping your new knives rasor sharp is one of the main points of having them. A dull fancy knife is just as bad as a dull cheap knife, so why bother?!?
For you and others mentioning the whetstone and sharpening, I'm certainly not opposed to that at all, but curious on how often you're suggesting sharpening them? Are we talking after every 5 uses? ...10, 50, 100?

Thanks for your recommendations as well. Looking at them now.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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No offense to anyone, but if you're thinking about dipping your toe into sharpening, I personally would not start with HAP40. Yeah, it will hold an edge for a really long time but sooner or later it'll need sharpening and it can be more challenging than a lot of other steels.
 

rickbern

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No offense to anyone, but if you're thinking about dipping your toe into sharpening, I personally would not start with HAP40. Yeah, it will hold an edge for a really long time but sooner or later it'll need sharpening and it can be more challenging than a lot of other steels.
I’m not sure that a carbon petty is a great starting kit either. Easy to sharpen but also easy to ruin by leaving it wet.
 

Ochazuke

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I second the Gesshin Stainless option for the gyuto. Lightweight but tough enough. You won't have to learn new things or change the way you cook just to use the knife either.

For petty knives used at home I recommend stainless and nimble. There's a lot of classics in this area that you should take a look at: Misono, Takamura, Blazen (if you really want to shell out).

Nakiri tend to shine the most when they're carbon. If you get the bug and want to buy one later by all means go for it! I love nakiri and use them often. I think you should start with just a petty, gyuto, and sharpening stone though.
 

Delat

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For you and others mentioning the whetstone and sharpening, I'm certainly not opposed to that at all, but curious on how often you're suggesting sharpening them? Are we talking after every 5 uses? ...10, 50, 100?

Thanks for your recommendations as well. Looking at them now.
Frequency of sharpening depends on the type of steel, the way the knife is sharpened, how often you use it, and how much you tolerate a less than super-sharp edge.

In general, high alloy steels like VG10 and SG2/R2 will last the longest. They’ll lose the “freshly sharpened” feeling at some point, but after that they’ll remain useably sharp for months. When I used a Shun VG10 as my main knife I only sent it out for sharpening a couple times a year. VG10 and SG2/R2 are usually around HRC 61-63 in terms of hardness.

Softer steels below HRC 60 (most german knives like Henckels and Wusthof) will dull faster and will need to be sharpened more often. The benefit is that softer steels are more forgiving to beginners and less prone to chipping.

High carbon steels mentioned like White and Blue are able to get sharper in an absolute sense due to their grain structure and they’re easier to sharpen, but they don’t retain the edge as long as VG10 and R2 and they can rust if not cared for. They’re usually around HRC 62-64.

If you really don’t want to sharpen your own knives then personally I’d go with something in VG10 or R2 and search for someone locally who sharpens by hand with whetstones and not with power tools. You can also buy a whetstone and give sharpening a whirl too - it’s really not too hard. Easy to learn, hard to master - you can get a decent edge at a low skill level with lots of room to improve, so it’s a rewarding skill to learn.

This was my first japanese knife after using a Shun for ages. It’s a tough midweight knife, holds an edge for a long time, low maintenance, and a good introduction to the genre. I taught myself how to sharpen on this one and the Shun. I’ve since moved on to high carbon steels as my sharpening skills and confidence have improved.

Here’s some other knives I haven’t used personally but I frequently see recommended for beginners.
 

Dan-

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It kinda looks like you're looking for a knife for you and a knife for her. If that's the case, here's some recommendations based off my experience. First off, I'd get 4 knives, which slightly reduces your available budget per knife. You did not say if you wanted a coordinated set or were comfortable with a mix of handles, either.

Get a bread knife. Tojiro or Mac are both good. This eats only $60-$90 of your budget. The handle won't match, but I don't think it's worth a few hundred dollars or restricting your choices to full lines (especially with today's prices or availability) just for this.

Get a 240 gyuto for yourself. You've got an 8" beater already, so you don't really need a 210. Also consider that chopping up leafy greens begs for a longer knife. As a veggie, dark leafy greens are essential. Budget around $300-$350 here. Sukenari can rock chop but is at the higher end of the range. K&S's house brand may also work here.

For her, I don't think she'll think of a nakiri as a knife since you don't use cleavers. If you had every knife size and type, she'd probably still reach for the santoku and the petty. Or your steak knives, which is a really annoying habit to break. After 15 years, we're still not there...anywho, consider this santoku from K&S for $195.

For a petty, I don't have a recommendation other than my wife is happy with the Mac Superior one. I don't personally like it and am going to replace it with a Takamura R2. You then stay under $800, leaving some funds for a combo stone.
 

brimmergj

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If you get the bug and want to buy one later by all means go for it! I love nakiri and use them often. I think you should start with just a petty, gyuto, and sharpening stone though.
As someone that just got into j-knives about a year ago and who bought a nakiri as my first, I completely agree. Wait a bit before picking one up. I figured we eat a lot of veggies and it would be perfect. I reach for my gyuto without thinking, every single time. I have to make a conscious effort to grab the nakiri. It's fun to use, but the longer blade of my 210 gyuto and tip just make it more useful for general purpose.
Use the nakiri budget and pick up a stone for sharpening.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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Meh. It's all personal preference. I use the hell out of my nakiri.
 

tostadas

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The Tanaka Ginsan from Knives & Stones would be a perfect transition between western knives and Japanese. It's stainless and well finished for the price. They have a bit more belly than many other Japanese makers, but not overly so like you would find in a German knife. It's a really good balance of thinness and robustness. I recently picked one up and loaned it to a friend to replace his Vic 8". It hits all of your criteria. The 210's are currently out of stock, but I did see 240's up the last time I checked.
 

JASinIL2006

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I'd go for a 240 gyuto, ditch the nakiri and get a nice santoku instead. A petty would be nice third knife. Specifically:
Konosuke HD2 240 gyuto (about $320) - semistainless, so pretty easy to care for (from CKTG)
Masakage Kumo 170 santoku (about $300) - stainless damascus - easy to care for, and pretty! (from CKTG)
Gesshin Stainless 150 Wa-Petty (about $120) - nice little stainless petty (from JKI)
 

TokushuKnife

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It seems like there are a lot of great recommendations. My two cents. A Moritaka Aogami Super Gyuto or Kiritsuke, is an amazing investment. They are one of very few makers that still make their own stock, and their heat treatment is impeccable. They have a 700 year history, and are on the 28th generation of blacksmiths. Their methods minimize carbon leeching from the core steel to the cladding. This is a carbon steel knives, and needs appropriate maintenance, however I usually sharpen them once every 6 - 12 months for customers. Its one of my favorite knives!
 

Manwe

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For nakiri I would consider kiwi Nakiri - cheap as hell, made from really soft steel but brief to sharpen, thin, light and extremely fun to use. I'm surprised myself how much I'm (over)using this one.

Also, at this price point you can always replace it if it gets broken (unlikely), lost (likely), stolen by relative that used it once in your kitchen (very likely).
 

Jovidah

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It's a bit hard to really narrow things down given that you're rather uncertain about your own preferences... but a few things that came to mind when reading:

-A nakiri is considered 'fun' by a lot of people, and some might prefer it, but it's not going to do anything your gyuto cannot do, so there's some redundancy there.
-You already have the Victorinox chef knive, so that can be retained for 'abusive' duties
-Knife length is pretty much personal preference. For every person who prefers 210mm you'll find someone preferring 180mm, 240mm (or even 270mm). I still can't make up my mind after using both 210 and 240 side by side for a few years. Lighter is more nimble, easier to use as an oversized paring knife, and easier to use the tip. Longer makes it easier and more comfortable to cut large, long and tall objects. Cutting board size comes into play (small board + big knife gets awkward) but even if you have a large enough board there isn't a clear cut answer for what size to get. I've basically given up and decided to just keep buying both.
-Damascus is indeed just aesthethics. And in the lower priceranges it's all going to be from pre-laminated industrial billets. I wouldn't go out of my way to look for it.
-Rock chopping doesn't necessarily rule out Japanese knives entirely, just certain ones.
-In the end a knife is only as good as its maintenance. Unless you're willing to either sharpen it regularly yourself, or get it sharpened regularly the gain from buying anything high-end will be limited.
-It helps if you decide in advance if you want to bother trying your own hand at sharpening or not.
-Although I can get behind suggestions to get a petty IMO they don't replace a paring knife entirely.
-As coxhaus mentioned, it does help if you have a more solid idea of what you're looking for in the knives that goes beyond 'more better'. :)
-There's a recent gateway knife thread that should be easy to find that has a lot of suggestions, but I think most were already mentioned here.
 

Morkandbert

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Hey. Just adding support that I am where you are.

Bought him an inexpensive santoku a couple years ago and now he has changed to push cutting. He switched to using it so much that I wanted to give him an upgrade and maybe a new petty along with it. That is when I found not only santoku but Nakiris and gyutos..and all the different makers, steels, grinds, profiles and lengths. I was reading and watching videos for days.(still am here and there)

We have to start somewhere so what we did is get a gesaian Nakiri (from a site that sharpens them before they send them out) and an end grain cutting board. We/he wanted something for just veggies and herbs, he likes the shape, and it seems to be easier (or at least less intimidating) for sharpening his first Jknife.
From there we can see what he likes. He is very happy about slicing the veggies, rather then crushing them. Everything else after that is an extra bonus.


So far a big theme really seems like much will be personal preference and what trade offs of performance/durability/cost you are ok with.

Japanese knife imports had a lot of helpful videos that we watched and a couple other names, I forget atm. (Just heard to avoid burrrfection)
 

Morkandbert

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Came back to post some link references.

This posts I bookmarked Kanehide as a good knives, durable and soild value for your money. Old Beater Meet New Beater

And videos like this from JKI on the kinds of steel was also helpful and interesting for me.
More technical (specifically talk about stainless steels at the end)

More general:

Keep in mind that no matter what you choose you will probably find it to be an upgrade. I've read several posts where even the VG-10 stainless steel knives (for example what the tojiro are made of) were still felt to be a noticeable upgrade over the western standard knives someone might already have. One of many posts I read on this: VG10 Steel, Opinions

lastly, I also second the options from JKI if you like any of those. No one specific link for that, but you just look around a moment to see great things about JKI in general. By many accounts, he cares about each and every knife he sends out.

I hope any of this is helpful. Of course I'm also new so if anyone sees something that needs correcting or clarifying, please do so.
 
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da_mich*

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For a paring knife i highly recommend a Robert Herder K3 / Carbon. If it´s to big buy a K2 / Carbon. It´s the best and most used knife in my kitchen. It´s a very thin and sharp blade. It has a blade shape called "Solinger Dünnschliff". Robert Herder is the only manufacturer in Germany left who sells the "Solinger Dünnschliff".

Solinger Dünnschliff description from knivesandtools.com:
Robert Herder has, in addition to the unusual choice of steel for the blade, its own tradition when it comes to sharpening. The knives have a thin grind (Dünschliff) and a blue polished finish. It requires a lot of manual labour to get the desired result, but it is worth it. The user benefits from the exceptional and long-lasting sharpness.




 
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Jovidah

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Not sure how affordable they are in the US, but even the cheaper models from Robert Herder have a good grind... kinda mundane looking handles but they do cut really well. Personally I'd pick K1 (or the cheap 'standard' models) over K2 or K3 though; I rather have less knife than more knife for a paring knife. The extra blade height just gets in the way for me.
 
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