Shirogami (White) No.1 & No.2 Questions...

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bradmacmt

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I've had exactly one White no.2 knife. I didn't really have it long enough to form any definite opinion about it, though my example worked well on everything I used it on. My experience has mainly been with Blue Super, Blue no.2, VG10, SKD, and a variety of other stainless's. I've seen that Murray Carter thinks it's "the" knife steel (can't remember which White he prefers - maybe no.1?), and I've seen another poster here who doesn't think it's made for, or ideal for any knife blade.

What's your take on these two steels, and which do you prefer? All things being equal, how do you like it in relation to Blue no.2? Obviously a lot of it comes down to how the smith treats and tempers it I assume.

Thanks for your input - I'm still learning.

For the "Americans," Happy Thanksgiving :)
 
It's a simple, low alloy steel. How it behaves is heavily dependent on the heat treatment, so knowing the smith who crafted it is important. Certainly more important than the difference between whites 1, 2 and 3.

It is easy to make very sharp but not really that different to blue steels.

It has less edge retention than blue steels.

It is very sensitive to edge degradation by acidic foods, so rinse these off Immediately.

It's a good steel to see how a smith's heat treatment affects the behaviour of the steel. I guess this is why Mr Carter is so fond of it?
 
Interesting. So it doesn’t hold as durable an edge, and is more affected by acids. Doesn’t sound all that great to me. A friend has a $1200 Carter knife. I’ve used it, and while I liked the Damascus cladding (which is just eye candy), I couldn’t see what all the hype was about.
 
It is easy to make very sharp but not really that different to blue steels.

It has less edge retention than blue steels.

It is very sensitive to edge degradation by acidic foods, so rinse these off Immediately.

This sums it up pretty well for me. All else equal, I can't say I'd ever choose a white steel or equivalent for a gyuto or other all-around knife over aogami, 52100, etc. The difference in ease of sharpening vs something like blue 2 is very marginal but the lost retention (especially on tomatoes and the like) is noticable. I've had a handful of shiro knives and passed on all of them except an Ashi suji (which I use quite rarely so edge retention isn't much of a concern).
 
Interesting. So it doesn’t hold as durable an edge, and is more affected by acids. Doesn’t sound all that great to me. A friend has a $1200 Carter knife. I’ve used it, and while I liked the Damascus cladding (which is just eye candy), I couldn’t see what all the hype was about.
Carter's HT is said to be pretty good. Never touched one, so not sure.

Some of the harder HT have noticeably longer edge retention (Mazaki, some honyakis, even my Kippington 1095 - which is a pretty similar steel to white2) but still not at the same level of retention as blue2.

All of my white2 knives are a pleasure to sharpen. Some are really nice. Hinoura white2 is one of my favourite to sharpen. To my mind, this is the main advantage of white paper (and similar) steels.
 
I've had exactly one White no.2 knife. I didn't really have it long enough to form any definite opinion about it, though my example worked well on everything I used it on. My experience has mainly been with Blue Super, Blue no.2, VG10, SKD, and a variety of other stainless's. I've seen that Murray Carter thinks it's "the" knife steel (can't remember which White he prefers - maybe no.1?), and I've seen another poster here who doesn't think it's made for, or ideal for any knife blade.

What's your take on these two steels, and which do you prefer? All things being equal, how do you like it in relation to Blue no.2? Obviously a lot of it comes down to how the smith treats and tempers it I assume.

Thanks for your input - I'm still learning.

For the "Americans," Happy Thanksgiving :)
If i was going to pick white 1 or 2. I would pick 2.

i cant remember the carbon content of white 3, but would be better also than white 1 i think, the only reason i could see white 1 being good, is if you are going to clad it, and its going to end up loosing a bunch of carbon to carbon migration, and potentially end up with a more reasonable ammount by the end)

Both are very high in carbon for something with no alloying.

I would probably pick blue 2 personally if i was going for one of these steels for myself. Or better yet v-toku2.
 
Interesting. So it doesn’t hold as durable an edge, and is more affected by acids. Doesn’t sound all that great to me.
Every steel that is good enough for a kitchen knife (there are many) is a set of compromises.
White 1 gets very sharp, hard and is super easy to sharpen (I own a Carter).
1. Looking only at edge retention is not enough.
2. if edge retention is important, you want to maximize that and want stainless, you can get a knife in z-wear (example).
Big question is who is gonna sharpen that for you? Unless you are a very very good at sharpening 99% of cooks/users will be much better off with a simple low alloy steel
Of course there are many steel between white1 and z-wear. You choose your compromise(s) depending on use case.

I can totally understand your point though. White steels (among others) like acidic foods the least.
I prefer 52100 or blue steels for general purpose knives.
It is easy enough though to have a dedicated "tomatoe and citrus knife"
 
@Nemo summed up my thoughts pretty well. But, I wouldn't not buy a knife I liked just because it was in any flavor of shirogami. The edge degradation, in my experience, isn't terrible and not enough to keep it off my rack. It is so ubiquitous that ruling them out also rules out a lot of options. I was pretty done with it for a time but realized that was silly, at least as a blanket policy.

Unshu Yukimitsu does excellent shirogami.

All that said, I do prefer the aogami steels.
 
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Everybody hating on white 2 until Milan or Yannick drops a white 2 then they’re all pounding the f2 key.

j/k (I didn’t actually see any w2 hate) but honestly I pick the maker I want to try and just take whatever the heck they throw out there. I’ve only ever owned one knife where I didn’t like the steel and it was a white 2, but I have another in white 2 that I love - it definitely comes down to how the smith treats the steel.
 
If i was going to pick white 1 or 2. I would pick 2.

i cant remember the carbon content of white 3, but would be better also than white 1 i think, the only reason i could see white 1 being good, is if you are going to clad it, and its going to end up loosing a bunch of carbon to carbon migration, and potentially end up with a more reasonable ammount by the end)

Both are very high in carbon for something with no alloying.

I would probably pick blue 2 personally if i was going for one of these steels for myself. Or better yet v-toku2.

Interesting.

Why would you chose the lower carbon White 3 (~0.85%) over the higher carbon White 1 (~1.3%)?

In my experience with Y. Tanaka blades, I strongly preferred his White 1 over his White 2.
 
Interesting.

Why would you chose the lower carbon White 3 (~0.85%) over the higher carbon White 1 (~1.3%)?

In my experience with Y. Tanaka blades, I strongly preferred his White 1 over his White 2.
Because it would very likely have less plate martensite. Which would lead to it having better toughness. You could still get good hardness with white 3 without potentially but with better toughness.

The thing i said about it being san mai could effect things though. Depending how things were done white 1 could by the end have the ammount of carbon, white 2 or 3 monosteel would have left. So in that specific case its harder to say which would be best.
 
I feel White/Shirogami steels have enough edge retention for most people. I have no real complaints using it for work. Sure, in comparison to something like Z-wear, it doesn't last very long.

I feel it does have better edge retention than cheap, soft stainless though.
 
For me, I had a Kono FM gyuto in White2 and Kono FM nakiri in White1

The gyuto was fine until it wasn't. Sharpness dropped of a cliff, and I then had problems getting it back sharp.

The naikiri acted more like the blue knives I have - much longer retention with a more gradual drop in sharpness. I also found it easier to sharpen.

That gyuto turned me off White 2. Now part of the problem may have been my skills in sharpening at the time, but I could handle other steels with greater ease at that point.
 
Kitchen knife is designed to be slammed into a board over and over.

Personally I value toughness and the ability to take an edge over edge retention, but like anything if the weak link in the chain is too weak it will snap. I think 52100 and 26C3 offer better compromises but a good white 1 is my next favorite after those two.
 
For me, I had a Kono FM gyuto in White2 and Kono FM nakiri in White1

The gyuto was fine until it wasn't. Sharpness dropped of a cliff, and I then had problems getting it back sharp.

The naikiri acted more like the blue knives I have - much longer retention with a more gradual drop in sharpness. I also found it easier to sharpen.

That gyuto turned me off White 2. Now part of the problem may have been my skills in sharpening at the time, but I could handle other steels with greater ease at that point.
As I have said multiple times I feel the same way. Bad experiences with Tanaka white 2, while his white 1 has been great to me
 
Unless you are going with Honyaki as a rule of thumb the higher Cr low alloy steels offer better properties (both toughness and wear resistance). That being said especially if you are interested in Japanese knives I certainly wouldn't let any steel hold you back. The performance difference between differences will be easily washed out by the grind and sharpening.
 
Yeah.

I honestly believe in a double blind test. People likely wouldnt be able to tell them apart. And it doesnt matter enough to say, a white 1 knife is better or worse than a white 2 knife from another random maker or vice versa.

For me its just a discussion of which is better of the white steels specifically, in theory. The only real benefit i can see to that high of an ammount of carbon in white 1 is what i mentioned about loosing it in carbon migration. So especially if it was a honyaki, white 3 is the best option. Or a san mai knife with nickel shims to prevent carbon migration. Which would lead to more reliable results from knife to knife, i think.
 
Ive only used Tanaka and TF wh1 knives but man I’m pretty sure I’d take them over any wh2 (non Honyaki) around. Never had chipping issues, the retention is better and the edge taking still wonderful, might take an extra minute on the stones but even that feels trivial.
Wh2 is still fun but depending on the particular knife your edge can go from serviceable to non existent in a single shift.
 
I don't think I ever had a white 1 knife, but if I had to point at one thing I'd dislike about white 2 is that it seems to go from sharp to dull in like a weird rather non-linear instantaneous fashion. It'll be sharp, sharp, sharp, sharp, sharp, DULL AS A SPOON.
 
I don't think I ever had a white 1 knife, but if I had to point at one thing I'd dislike about white 2 is that it seems to go from sharp to dull in like a weird rather non-linear instantaneous fashion. It'll be sharp, sharp, sharp, sharp, sharp, DULL AS A SPOON.

This was my experience.
.
 
I dunno, this seems kind of like the white steel haters club to me. I have a gengetsu and a few wakui's in white steel #2, I think they're pretty terrific knives, stay sharp for a while. If I was working in a restaurant, maybe I'd prefer blue, I usually grab a stainless knife to cut lemons, but I'm a white steel fan for home use, and I often am cooking for a crowd.

I just got a mizuno in blue 1, I have to baby that to get a patina going in a way I never had to worry about that with my shiro knives (which, admittedly, are stainless clad)

Also, in my world, it's not that big a deal to grab a stone and give a couple of passes to a knife while I'm in prep mode to bring it back to life.
 
Echo above. Shirogami is easy to get wicked sharp, good heat treats on #2 like Munetoshi or Mazaki can extend the edge life to a pretty serviceable range. Aogami 2 is probably my favorite of the carbon steels and will hold its tooth longer/be a little more resistant to the acidic food degradation. I've only tried I think 2 knives in shirogami #1, but Unshu Yukimitsu makes it very hard and I can get it sharper than anything else in my inventory.
 
I dunno, this seems kind of like the white steel haters club to me. I have a gengetsu and a few wakui's in white steel #2, I think they're pretty terrific knives, stay sharp for a while. If I was working in a restaurant, maybe I'd prefer blue, I usually grab a stainless knife to cut lemons, but I'm a white steel fan for home use, and I often am cooking for a crowd.

I just got a mizuno in blue 1, I have to baby that to get a patina going in a way I never had to worry about that with my shiro knives (which, admittedly, are stainless clad)

Also, in my world, it's not that big a deal to grab a stone and give a couple of passes to a knife while I'm in prep mode to bring it back to life.

Wakui does a great job with white 2.
 

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