Tool/Powder Steel Santoku

Kitchen Knife Forums

Help Support Kitchen Knife Forums:

dalai_lamer

Member
Joined
May 26, 2021
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Location
Germany
Hi,

quick question. As per the title, I'm looking for a specific type of Santoku, roughly around €150 or $180. Flexible on the price though. The knife will be for a novice knife user, not myself, so the edge retention and rust resistance makes these types of high-tech steels ideal IMO. Also, the only drawback of being annoying to sharpen is irrelevant, as he won't be sharpening by himself.

I already asked for recommendations over at cheftalk, but the only knives we were able to identify, and which match these criteria, are the JCK CarboNext and the Mac Professional Santokus. I'm leaning towards the CarboNext, but before I pull the trigger I quickly wanted to make sure whether these two choices really are the only two options out there.

For completeness, please find the Questionnaire in the spoiler below.

LOCATION
Germany

KNIFE TYPE
Santoku

Right handed

Western handle preferred, although every handle is fine as long as it's not raw wood (no oiling, ease of maintenance)

Regular Santoku lengths

Stainless required

€200/$240


KNIFE USE
Home use

Everything for your average home cook would do, so no bones or fish filleting

IDK, probably some crappy ones

Pinch grip

Thrust cutting

Better edge retention and general performance is the main intention behind the purchase, as well as to have a knife you can give away to have sharpened and not have it go dull within a month of home use (hence high HRC tool steel)


KNIFE MAINTENANCE
Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board?
Yes

Do you sharpen your own knives?
No, professioal sharpening service

If not, are you interested in learning how to sharpen your knives?
Maybe later down the line

Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives?
Maybe later down the line


SPECIAL REQUESTS/COMMENTS
As above


So anyway, really not looking to open a discussion on the ins and outs of this choice, so if you could just quick fire suggestions in case any knives come to mind, that'd be great. I'll do the rest.

Best,
Lamer
 

HumbleHomeCook

Team Iceberg
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2020
Messages
1,121
Reaction score
1,843
Location
PNW USA
You'll probably get a lot of suggestions for knives in SG2/R2 so I'll toss out something different.

North Arm Knives and Warther Cutlery use S35VN:


Keep in mind, the trade off for edge retention is loss of toughness. S35VN is a cutlery steel that is a decent compromise of both.
 

Jovidah

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2016
Messages
1,684
Reaction score
827
Location
Netherlands
Your categorisation seems vague at best. Tool steels and powder steels are not the same. Carbonext is the first but not the latter. It's also not necessarily the summum of rust resistance, since it's only a semi-stainless steel. It's main virtue is ease of sharpening, while still having some rust resistance (it's like carbon with training wheels). If your main priority is edge retention and rust resistance it wouldn't really be my first suggestion.

Since you're in in Germany imports from the US is rather uneconomical so I'd make that a last resort.

What are the reasons for preferring a santoku by the way? Does it have to be a santoku or could it also be a gyuto?

It's kinda hard to make recommendations when you're not really sure how abusive someone is about their knives. For example, I'd happily suggest a Takamura Migaki or a Robert Herder for my parents, but if it was for my brother I wouldn't go any further than a Victorinox... :/ There's a similar problem with 'professional sharpeners'. I wouldn't trust all of them with a high hardness thin behind the edge Japanese knife.
 

dalai_lamer

Member
Joined
May 26, 2021
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Location
Germany
Thanks, I'll look into the recommendations.

The Warther knives have an interesting finish, never seen a knife like this. Kinda pretty. Reminds one of the finish a nice watch's internals would have. Is it from routing and not polishing? Nevermind, I found their Youtube video "The Warther Way | Spotting". Cool company. Not supposed to post links as of now, so you'll have to google in case you're interested.

Hi Jovidah, thank you for taking the time to type out a reply. I don't want to sound like a d*ck, but I'm aware of the issues you brought up and again, I don't want to start a discussion about the reasoning behind this, as I've already discussed everything in detail with the future owner, and I've arrived at my conclusion.

US imports aren't necessarily uneconomical, depends on the product, really. It's a casy by case situation, especially with the exchange rate being so favorable right now. Japanese knife availability in EU isn't as good as in the US in my experience, and many US products just flat our aren't available at all or at inflated prices. Additionally, consumer goods tend to be priced more competitively for decent quality, hello food processors looking at you.

And yes, a Santoku would be strongly preferred. Nothing encroaching on 18 or 20 inches blade length.

I share your concern towards "professional sharpeners", but we've good a couple good shops which carry *** knives with in house sharpening, they'll do fine. I hope :)
 

HumbleHomeCook

Team Iceberg
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2020
Messages
1,121
Reaction score
1,843
Location
PNW USA
That finish is called jeweled or jeweling. It used to be more common, especially on gun parts and such.
 

JayS20

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
364
Reaction score
577
Location
Germany
Some stuff which kinda fit your description
 

dalai_lamer

Member
Joined
May 26, 2021
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Location
Germany
Sorry for the late reply, have been held up.

That's a ton of great suggestions so far, awesome!

Do I understand correctly that you would generally recommend those knives OVER the JCK CarboNext?
 

JayS20

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
364
Reaction score
577
Location
Germany
Sorry for the late reply, have been held up.

That's a ton of great suggestions so far, awesome!

Do I understand correctly that you would generally recommend those knives OVER the JCK CarboNext?
Can't recommend them over the JCK since I have never used one but I expect the stuff from JCK to be solid from all I've read. If you are lucky ordering from JCK will just slip through customs but I wouldn't expect it. So you will pay on top of shipping 19% plus a postage fee of 6-15€. Mine are just further suggestions which quite fit your demands and readily available from a good German shop as well as overall solid stuff.
 

Nemo

Staff member
Global Moderators
Joined
Oct 16, 2016
Messages
5,745
Reaction score
1,814
Location
NSW (Aus)
I found Carbonext to be reasonably nice to sharpen but it has fairly terrible edge retention.

I could have gotten a bad one I guess but IME, there are much better semistainless blades.
 

dalai_lamer

Member
Joined
May 26, 2021
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Location
Germany
@JayS20 True, it would certainly make sense to order within Europe. I actually ordered from JCK two times already, and didn't have to pay VAT and import tax, iirc. Seems like I was really lucky!

@Nemo Oh wow, alright. Didn't expect that, thanks for the heads-up. Can others confirm that this is indeed the case and you didn't just get some from a bad batch?
 

Jovidah

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2016
Messages
1,684
Reaction score
827
Location
Netherlands
I really didn't bother explaining it further since you seemed to think you already had all the answers... but that's pretty much what I said in my post. Edge retention is not it's strong suit; something like VG-10 will outperform it in edge retention. Not that it's terrible, but there's plenty of other steels that are better at it, even in the same price range.

The main virtue of a Carbonext it's that incredibly easy and fast to sharpen for a steel that will still have decent-ish rust resistance (still wouldn't leave them wet overnight by any means) and has at least okay-ish edge retention. It's great for a knife to practise sharpening on, or as a 'carbon knife with training wheels'. But if your main goal is edge retention and you're just passing it on to someone else to sharpen I would look for other options.

Regarding customs... it can vary by country and by your amount of luck. I've ordered from JCK several times (for the record; I own a few Carbonext knives) and I've always been lucky, but I've heard this isn't the case for others, especially in Germany. That's also the main issue with ordering from the US; sure it looks cheap... until you factor in the cost of shipping + customs, etc. and especially US packets tend to not slip through.

If you're able to put a sturdu microbevel on it upon receipt, the Takamura Migaki is worth considering (sold on www.meesterslijpers.nl , also on www.japan-messer-shop.de). But keep in mind this is considered somewhat on the fragile side - especially with the out of the box edge. In the past they were also sold under the brandname ASAGAO; should be some reviews on that one floating around in German.
A Robert Herder K5 in stainless is worth considering. Not the best food release (like most lasers I guess), but Herder stuff cuts really well. The profile is somewhat between a 180 gyuto and a santoku I guess. I'd gravitate towards a POM handle on those; not exactly sexy, but IMO with the wood handles you'll be facing long term issues due to the design.
Both of these have the advnatage that they're at least proper thin behind the edge, which has a significant impact on cutting performance. They'll still keep cutting half-decent even after their edge starts to fade.

Otherwise I guess 'something in VG-10' is pretty much it. Not really sure about the state of the market there though. They don't get a lot of love around these parts because most people around these parts prefer something that sharpens easy and VG-10 has a reputation - whether deserved or not - that it doesn't.
 

Delat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2020
Messages
265
Reaction score
467
Location
Phoenix
Totally agree VG10 edges last for ages. It has a well-deserved reputation for losing the fresh off the stones edge quickly, but then holding a usable edge for quite a long time. I used a Shun VG10 exclusively for about 10 years before getting into j-knives and sharpening. I’d only get it sharpened once or twice a year and it was very usable in-between (I’m a weekend cook though, not daily and not huge meals). I suspect R2 would be similar but I have no plans to let the edge on my R2 go that long! So you could basically say I was exactly like OP’s friend and VG10 was perfect for me at the time.

For someone who doesn’t plan on sharpening themselves, VG10 is probably the way I’d go. I suspect R2 and ZDP would be solid alternatives as well in terms of edge retention.
 

dalai_lamer

Member
Joined
May 26, 2021
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Location
Germany
Fair enough, I see what you're saying, Jovidah. Sorry if I came off as a know-it-all, that wasn't my intention and isn't in the spirit of this thread/my request at all, quite the contrary. I very much do appreciate the advice towards steels and knives, and simply not wanted this thread to derail into a discussion on whether or not Santokus are the right choice or the user would be able to take care of nice knive. Will communicate more clearly in the future.

Guess the CarboNext is out of the question then, as edge retention is crucial.

The Takamura Migaki is very interesting, although I do share your concern towards this knife being a bit too much of a laser. Will have to consult with the intended owner on this one, but a Herder or the S35VN knives would probably be a better choice. Would going for S35VN/Herder give up a bit of edge retention for a lot more toughness?

Regarding toughness at 60.7 HRC, knivesteelnerds writes "The VG10 ended up averaging 5.8 ft-lbs and the SG2 6.5 ft-lbs. This puts it in line with other high carbide stainless steels. SG2 is a bit higher in toughness than S30V but below S35VN, putting it about in line with S45VN.", while measuring better edge rentention as well (again, not supposed to post links, but you can just google my citation ofc). ZDP-189 again has a lower toughness (albeit at a much higher HRC) and superior edge resistance, but most knives I find seem to be a bit too expensive.

So if Delat says he has been really happy with his VG10 knife in a similar use case, S35VN probably should be the safest bet as well as the sweet spot between good edge retention and decent toughness? What do you guys think? It is a bit tricky to interpret measurements without me having any real world experience with any of these steels.
 

Jovidah

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2016
Messages
1,684
Reaction score
827
Location
Netherlands
I haven't used the Herder stainless myself (I have a K5 but it's in carbon) so I'm not sure about the edge retention. They are 60 HRC so I wouldn't expect them to be total trash, especially considering they are ground proper thin so that they'll cut most things (except stuff that needs bite like tomato skin) even after they get dull.

I've seen at least a few people here who own(ed) Takamura Migakis; I hope they can chime in. If you google around there's also a bunch of reviews floating around if you look for either the Takamura or the rebranded ASAGAO. The main point of concern was always that the factory edge was rather 'ambitious', with an extremely low edge angle, which led to microchipping with the factory edge. Hence the virtual requirement of just giving it a microbevel straight away, which seems to make any problems go away in all the reviews I've seen. But hopefully someone with actual hands-on and long-term experience can chime in.

The Herder is a bit softer and more aimed for 'European market' so I'd expect it to be tougher and more idiot/abuse proof. Both are laser kind of knives.
Main weakpoint is the handle, hence my advise to get POM version. Food release is also not great, but that's kind of a given for lasers and frankly most knives in this price range.

The issue with picking knives based on steel alone is that it's only one part of a knife. Even the steel's performance can vary significantly based on heat treatment, but more importantly, I would say that geometry of the knife has far more of an impact on how well a knife actually cuts. Steel plays more of a role in 'how long'. Fancier steels often mean a higher pricetag, and getting them on a budget often means sacrifices were made elsewhere (for example it might be thicker behind the edge).
 

dalai_lamer

Member
Joined
May 26, 2021
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Location
Germany
Yes, that makes sense of course.

There was one post especially, made in a German forum, where the microchipping was pointed out. If "knife veterans" already encountered this issue, I wouldn't feel comfortable recommending the Takamura Migaki. I won't be able to look after proper maintenance, especially in hindsight of maintaining a microbevel, and frankly, I don't want to be the guy tasked with maintaining my friends knives 😅
 

Delat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2020
Messages
265
Reaction score
467
Location
Phoenix
I wouldn’t overthink it. If you just get a Shun VG10 locally he can return it if he doesn’t like it, and he can also send it direct to Shun for sharpening. Or get a JCK Natures VG10 for something a little more rare but inexpensive. Yu Kurosaki VG10 santoku or bunka if you like the guy and he likes some bling and you think he won’t destroy a lighter knife. Makoto Kurosaki, Y Kato, Masakagi all make VG10 santokus or bunkas for under $300.

Unless you know the guy’s specific preferences, just pick whichever looks best to you in VG10 or R2. Searching out a less common steel like S35VN is less important than getting something from a reputable manufacturer and narrows your options considerably. Weight and spine measurements will give you a rough idea of how delicate the knife is, although not always.
 

Delat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2020
Messages
265
Reaction score
467
Location
Phoenix
Oh how could I forget Shiro Kamo (I own one 🤣 ). He’s commonly available in Europe, generally in stock, and makes a santoku in R2, My gyuto is a midweight grind (185g for a 210mm) and the edge is pretty tough. I’d say it’s a nice introductory j-knife given your requirements.
 

stickninjazero

Active Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2020
Messages
26
Reaction score
17
Location
Montana
I haven't used the Herder stainless myself (I have a K5 but it's in carbon) so I'm not sure about the edge retention. They are 60 HRC so I wouldn't expect them to be total trash, especially considering they are ground proper thin so that they'll cut most things (except stuff that needs bite like tomato skin) even after they get dull.

I've seen at least a few people here who own(ed) Takamura Migakis; I hope they can chime in. If you google around there's also a bunch of reviews floating around if you look for either the Takamura or the rebranded ASAGAO. The main point of concern was always that the factory edge was rather 'ambitious', with an extremely low edge angle, which led to microchipping with the factory edge. Hence the virtual requirement of just giving it a microbevel straight away, which seems to make any problems go away in all the reviews I've seen. But hopefully someone with actual hands-on and long-term experience can chime in.

The Herder is a bit softer and more aimed for 'European market' so I'd expect it to be tougher and more idiot/abuse proof. Both are laser kind of knives.
Main weakpoint is the handle, hence my advise to get POM version. Food release is also not great, but that's kind of a given for lasers and frankly most knives in this price range.

The issue with picking knives based on steel alone is that it's only one part of a knife. Even the steel's performance can vary significantly based on heat treatment, but more importantly, I would say that geometry of the knife has far more of an impact on how well a knife actually cuts. Steel plays more of a role in 'how long'. Fancier steels often mean a higher pricetag, and getting them on a budget often means sacrifices were made elsewhere (for example it might be thicker behind the edge).
I own a Takamura VG10 Migaki 210mm gyuto. I purposely abused it the first week I owned it, rocking it nearly every day for a week. I of course got some microchipping right at the fulcrum point. Sharpened it per Takamura's videos, so a very low angle with no micro bevel. Haven't had a real issue with it since. I can use it for anything I'd normally use a knife for, including butternut squash and pineapple. I'll agree they aren't very forgiving for newer users though, and in the US I often recommend the Ikazuchi for something a bit thicker behind the edge and more robust (I own the Takamura, a 240 Ikazuchi, and a 240 Ginga for comparison), while still being thin and convex ground. Anything thicker falls into the beginner knife category imho, so Fujiwara FKM and the like.
 

dafox

Supporting Member
Joined
May 27, 2017
Messages
2,049
Reaction score
983
Location
Northern Colorado
I own a Takamura VG10 Migaki 210mm gyuto. I purposely abused it the first week I owned it, rocking it nearly every day for a week. I of course got some microchipping right at the fulcrum point. Sharpened it per Takamura's videos, so a very low angle with no micro bevel. Haven't had a real issue with it since. I can use it for anything I'd normally use a knife for, including butternut squash and pineapple. I'll agree they aren't very forgiving for newer users though, and in the US I often recommend the Ikazuchi for something a bit thicker behind the edge and more robust (I own the Takamura, a 240 Ikazuchi, and a 240 Ginga for comparison), while still being thin and convex ground. Anything thicker falls into the beginner knife category imho, so Fujiwara FKM and the like.
Can you supply a link to those videos?
 

Benuser

from The Netherlands, EU.
Supporting Member
Joined
May 3, 2011
Messages
7,262
Reaction score
1,785
If it has to be a santoku, and you don't care about how it sharpens: I found the UX-10 180mm quite a decent one. Has a good retention, the steel is much loved by cooks who don't sharpen themselves, as it keeps its bite even when dull...
It has all to do with their conception of sharpness and the steel's structure: quite large carbides, evenly distributed. The steel, Sandvik's 19C27, has been developed for industrial purposes. Highly abrasion resistant.
Sharpening it is no fun at all. I must admit that it's one of the rare santokus I like by design. Haven't kept it, because sharpening fun is important to me. Misono UX10 Series No.781 Santoku 180mm (7 inch)
US$190 + shipping with JCK. €217 in The Netherlands.
Will benefit from a good stone sharpening out of the box.
 

Carlo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2020
Messages
172
Reaction score
153
Some stuff which kinda fit your description
I have handled some Sakon Ryuga knives and they seemed pretty sturdy. Definitely more so than a Takamura or a Shiro Kamo. Maybe not what I’d buy for myself but I would feel pretty comfortable choosing one for a newbie.
 
Top