What's your favorite steel for a Honesuki?

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by JustinP, Mar 14, 2019 at 6:41 PM.

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  1. Mar 14, 2019 at 6:41 PM #1

    JustinP

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    I'm looking to add a honesuki to the growing collection. I'm thinking a slightly softer/less brittle stainless would be good for this application. Never had any issues with my stainless Froschner boning knife. I don't do a ton of breaking down chicken etc, so edge retention is not paramount, and don't want to worry about chipping if I hit harder bits.

    What do you all prefer?
     
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  2. Mar 14, 2019 at 7:01 PM #2

    tgfencer

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    I wouldn't worry to much about the exact steel as I would about as a good heat-treat and grind. Highly asymetrical double-bevel is generally preferable for most users to single-bevel in this style of blade. In my experience, most butcher knives tend to either be low-cost beaters or higher cost show knives. Personally, if I wanted a good in between option I'd go for Heiji's semi-stainless direct from the maker.

    There's also this garasuki that's been on BST for a while. Might be able to come to an arrangement.
    https://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/...heiji-ss-garasuki-cck-1111.40155/#post-601423
     
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  3. Mar 14, 2019 at 7:07 PM #3

    JustinP

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    Thanks for the info. I'm leaning towards the low cost beater :). The garasuki there is out of league.
     
  4. Mar 14, 2019 at 7:08 PM #4

    tgfencer

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    Smart man. That's the direction I went as well when I was in your shoes. Plenty of good stuff out there.
     
  5. Mar 14, 2019 at 7:08 PM #5

    Paraffin

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    I've been wanting to try a honesuki, mainly to spare my other knives when there might be light contact with bone. I bought my first one recently, so I'm no expert but I like this one. It's a Kohetsu 150mm in Aogami Super, clad with stainless.

    I wasn't looking for stainless clad, but I did like the idea of an AS edge. I have other knives in AS so I'm very familiar with sharpening it. I didn't want to spend much money, because I wasn't sure how often I'd use it. This one was only $145 at CKTG, so I decided I'd live with the stainless cladding to get the AS edge. If the edge chips, it should be that hard to grind it out and re-sharpen. It's had a few months of use, and so far no problems with chipping while breaking down chicken, or cutting around fish bones.

    P.S. I agree with the above post that grind is more important than steel. Any decent Japanese steel should work, and I wouldn't personally go for soft stainless on the edge. If it chips, I'd rather be working on carbon steel to fix it.
     
  6. Mar 14, 2019 at 7:14 PM #6

    HRC_64

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    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019 at 10:43 PM
  7. Mar 14, 2019 at 7:30 PM #7

    CoteRotie

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    I got a Kohetsu HAP40 honesuki (about $165 $US) . I was initially concerned about HAP40 as it's a very hard PM steel, treated to 65 Rockwell for this knife. However, out of curiosity I tried it.

    I decided not to baby it as a test, so I've had some accidental bone contact, and I've used the edge to scrape where I might have normally used the spine. I've done a bunch of chickens with no chipping at all, and the edge has maintained its sharpness well.

    It's a symmetrical double-bevel knife which I wasn't expecting, but because of that I find other uses for it from time to time.

    Hap40 I think has cobalt added for heat resistance, so not sure why it has made its way into knives, but I can't really complain about it based on this one sample. Harder to sharpen, but a diamond loaded strop seems to work to keep it sharp for a long time.

    It's also billed as semi-stainless, but my experience is that it's more than semi. Doesn't seem to rust or patina, but I take care of it like carbon.
     
  8. Mar 14, 2019 at 8:04 PM #8

    JustinP

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    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019 at 8:35 PM
  9. Mar 14, 2019 at 8:57 PM #9

    Paraffin

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    One thing I forgot to mention about the Kohetsu is that mine has an unusually large (wide) ho wood handle. Easily the largest handle of any of my Japanese knives. Took a bit of getting used to, but my hands are large, and maybe it helps the balance on a relatively short 150mm blade. If nothing else, it's easy to identify in a row of other ho wood handles in the knife drawer.
     
  10. Mar 14, 2019 at 9:17 PM #10

    parbaked

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    My HAP40 has a large burnt chestnut handle...same size as the ho handle on my 210 Kaeru.
    I think most honesuki have large handles for better grip when wet.
    I certainly notice it on the basic western handled butcher knives from Misono or Tojiro compared to the same length petty.
     
  11. Mar 14, 2019 at 9:21 PM #11

    DitmasPork

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    Gotta Misono Swedish carbon honesuki that I've been happy with—think they run about $120-ish. The less expensive Rinkaku semi stainless at JKI seem like a good basic option—when working with chickens my honesuki stays wet, I'm less inclined to wipe the chicken-fat covered blade down, so I do like the sound of a semi-stainless.
     
  12. Mar 14, 2019 at 9:29 PM #12

    gman

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    mine is clad AS and i sharpen it less acutely near the heel. i break down a lot of chicken and also use it for frenching rack of lamb. never had a problem with chipping or rust.
     
  13. Mar 15, 2019 at 1:16 AM #13

    Xenif

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    I was looking all over for the "right" honesuki a few months back, but I realized what I wanted was more of a generalized butchers knife that can breakdown chickens (on average I breakdown 2-4 chickens a week), debone ribs, and other general butchery. I tried a few different shapes like classic Victorinox butchers, flexible boning knives of different types, then I tried a Munetoshi Butchers knife and I fell in love. The steel (shirogami) is real tough but not difficult to sharpen, it is iron clad so its pretty reactive but since its cutting meat only its not a huge problem.
     
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  14. Mar 15, 2019 at 1:40 AM #14

    Ryndunk

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    The tojiro DP is a good option without breaking the bank. I bought one just to see if I liked using a honesuki. I used it for 3 years or so before gifting it to a coworker. It has been used to breakdown at least 4000 birds and still going strong. It's a tough little knife.
     
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  15. Mar 15, 2019 at 1:54 AM #15

    JustinP

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    I guess you did like using a honesuki then :D.

    The Tojiro DP is def on my short list. But that MASAHIRO Bessaku Garasuki is calling my name strongly lol.
     
  16. Mar 15, 2019 at 1:59 AM #16

    Michi

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    I know what I'm about say is tantamount to heresy. But I would consider a Wüsthof or similar:

    https://www.amazon.com/Wusthof-4603...nife&qid=1552614803&s=home-garden&sr=1-1&th=1

    These are stiff and solid, have a substantial handle, and the steel doesn't mind bone contact. Damn near indestructible unless you do something truly stupid. You can get them extremely sharp with just a 1000 k stone, and they are comparatively cheap.

    The full tang (to me) is actually an advantage here: with smaller knifes, I find that the exposed corner of the heel makes it more likely that I cut myself, especially when constantly re-gripping and moving a knife that, likely, is slippery now because of all the grease from deboning chicken.
     
  17. Mar 15, 2019 at 2:24 AM #17

    Luftmensch

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    QUICK! GET HIM!! (pitchfork etc at the ready)

    :D
    One could be forgiven for thinking this forum might be better named japanesekitchenknifeforums.com :p:p:p
     
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  18. Mar 15, 2019 at 2:27 AM #18

    JustinP

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    Heretic or not, a good suggestion :D. I already have a western style boning knife I use for this. Want to try a honesuki now. Just because :).
     
  19. Mar 15, 2019 at 2:40 AM #19

    HRC_64

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    Honesuki allows for push and draw cutting (on the board),
    has heel-height for hand clearance, etc...definitely a different animal.
     
  20. Mar 15, 2019 at 2:43 AM #20

    Cashn

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    I will back the bessaku garasuki. That line at least for a rough duty butcher knife. It is a beast and what I decided to keep for a chicken/rough duty knife over the Heiji garasuki tgfencer mentioned earlier (thank you btw). The bessaku sharpens super easy and I will put it through chicken breast bones no problem, problem there is that it’s not really tall/long enough to put your palm on and press down comfortably to do so. Compared to the yo Deba I use for the most part now. The Heiji is like a beefy surgical instrument if that makes sense.
     
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  21. Mar 15, 2019 at 2:44 AM #21

    Xenif

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    Hope that pitchfork is hand forged in Japan

    Nothing wrong with those wustofs Michi, but if you are worried about the handle being slippery, Ho wood Wa handles are probably the less slippy when wet/greasy.

    Then again, I feel my knife hand should never ever touch anything but knife handle (I remember a thread talking about this ... )
     
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  22. Mar 15, 2019 at 2:46 AM #22

    HRC_64

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    10 inch butcher bullnose for splitting backs with 2 hand = :)
     
  23. Mar 15, 2019 at 2:53 AM #23

    Michi

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    Yes, absolutely, it's a completely different shape.

    You can draw cut with a Wüsthof though (quite well actually); it's just that the draw cut happens more towards the tip. I can cut chicken into cubes or strips easily with it, and food release is really good. I've deboned a lot with the Wüsthof and I still enjoy using it for that.

    I also have a ZDP-198 prep knife that is similar in shape to a honesuki. It debones chicken just fine but, overall, I prefer the Wüsthof. Partly because I don't have to watch out for the heel all the time, and because I don't have to worry about hitting a bone and taking out a chip.

    Which shape works better is mostly a matter of personal preference I think. But I'd be inclined to go for softer and more chip-resistant steel. Stainless cladding also seems useful, especially when doing a whole bunch of chicken. I don't want to incessantly wipe down the knife with everything getting progressively greasier, including the towel to wipe down the knife…
     
  24. Mar 15, 2019 at 4:05 AM #24

    GorillaGrunt

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    Grand Chef AEB-L works great, and I’d try the Bessaku too. For carbon I’d want to try something in White 3 - there was a Sadayasu on Aframes, but those were no more by the time I got into this a couple years ago.

    For cutting through leg bones, keel bones, and backs, I use a Tosa butakiri.
     
  25. Mar 15, 2019 at 4:44 AM #25

    Luftmensch

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    I see two use cases here. Breaking down carcasses and deboning. Are there knife profiles that do both equally well?

    Similarly. I haven't tried a honesuki or western boning knife. A while ago I picked up an older Takeda double-bevel deba (it is blue #1 not AS) specifically for breaking down chicken. It has a stainless or semi-stainless cladding so it is fairly low maintenance. It does the job just fine. I use a fairly obtuse edge angle so I don't have to angst over chipping and a bit of heavy handed use. My majority use case is breaking down chicken for soups and stocks - I don't spend a lot of time separating meat from bone. I let the magic happen in the stock pot! The knife is too unwieldy for this. There is too much steel behind the edge to get into nooks and crannies. It is not ideal but when I have wanted to do this in the past I have just used my petty with caution.

    I see these being more specialised towards stripping meat off an already broken down carcass? Perhaps I have that wrong? If I did more of this, I'd love to give honesuki a go! Heck... I'd love to give one of these a go regardless. It is just that I don't have much of a practical justification for that desire! :p
     
  26. Mar 15, 2019 at 5:03 AM #26

    Luftmensch

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    Damned straight!

    For me? I only settle for tamahagane garden/mob tools. Of course, hand-polished using the best selection of nihonto-grade natural stones. I purchased these from an old man in Tokyo who said they held the kami of past samurai. This is what imbues my tools with both sod-busting power and the authority of mob-justice

    :D
     
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  27. Mar 15, 2019 at 5:03 AM #27

    JustinP

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    Thanks for the feedback. I think this 180mm Bessaku garasuki is at the top of my list now:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Japanese-MASAHIRO-Bessaku-Garasuki-Butcher-Knife-180mm-25024-/233149658772

    Do you have the 180mm version and find you can't get a palm on it well? Looks like a pretty beefy knife.
     
  28. Mar 15, 2019 at 5:08 AM #28

    JustinP

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    Yup, when I break down a chicken I don't care if I miss any because it'll just make my stock better :D. I just break down chickens for home use, nothing fancy.
     
  29. Mar 15, 2019 at 6:36 AM #29

    Luftmensch

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    Nice! (plus carcasses are so cheap!)

    Then definitely go for a low-cost beater if you are set on the honesuki/garasuki profile. If not, then I can't recommend a double-deba enough! Chunky but you can wail down on the small bones with relative impunity!
     
  30. Mar 15, 2019 at 7:29 AM #30
    I have a cheap SLD honesuki from JCK. Jon has a somewhat similarly looking SLD honesuki for less than $100. If you do not want to invest too much, I would go that route. With a proper HT (read - also not too hard) the SLD is more than tough enough and holds a very good edge. The next choice would be probably the Gesshin Ginga (though I would ask Jon how the white#2 compares to the stainless one).
     

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