Your recommendations for a first knife?

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RogerMasson

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Hello everyone,

For some time know I've been thinking about buying a quality chef's knife to make prepping a bit more fun and to be more efficient. These past days were spent trying to look for informations on knives styles, blade composition, maintenance etc. but I still don't really know what knife to choose in the sub 200$ area...

Well, I know that, style-wise, I'd like a japanses Gyuto, and I also really like the tsuchime finish on the blades paired with "damascus" layers like this one https://www.hocho-knife.com/sakai-t...us-hammered-japanese-chefs-gyuto-knife-210mm/

but...

regarding the "damascus" layers I'm also a bit sceptic about their authenticity since a lot of ~100-150$ knives have "X" layers but is the blade really layered or is it made with chemical etching? For ex:

- https://www.hocho-knife.com/iseya-g-series-33-layer-vg-10-damascus-chef-knife-gyuto-210mm/

- https://www.hocho-knife.com/sakai-takayuki-45-layer-damascus-hammered-chef-knife-gyuto-210mm/

I found it really hard to find any informations concerning the making of these damascus blade on an industrial scale or how the hammered effect is applied. Would you have informations about that as well?

I'm really trying to find a quality knife that will hold it's edge, and that would be durable with proper care.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Cheers
 

Nemo

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You should fill in the questionairre:

https://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/index.php?threads/12791/

Copy & paste it into this thread and answer the questions.

Damascus claddings add a fair bit to the price without improving performance. In fact, they can make maintaining the knife a bit of a pain as you'll need to re - polish and re- etch after thinning the knife. Your price range is at the lower end of where you will find some good performing knives. But at this price point, few of the good knives will have damascus cladding.

If you are looking at stainless knives, a lot of the cheaper ones will be VG10. A lot of people think that the heat treatment (HT) is particularly important for this steel. Good HTs will be much easier to deburr (the critical final step in sharpening). Tanaka and Ryusen are said to do a good HT of VG10.

Speaking of Tanaka, you may be interested in Tanaka Nashiji. It's available in Ginsanko (stainless clad stainless) or in stainless clad blue2 (carbon):

http://www.knivesandstones.com/tanaka-blue-2-nashiji-gyuto-240mm-stainless-clad/

Excellent bang for your buck and a great first knife. Nashiji means "pearskin" which refers to the very fine pattern on the top of the blade.
 

RogerMasson

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Thank you Nemo for your input! I find damascus patterns really appealing but to be honnest I didn't know you had to re-polish or re-etch this type of blade. Also I think I'd be sad if my mirror polished knife got scratched. In this case, does it mean that all if not most knives with damascus/polished finish are more prone to scratches and would need more maintenance? If so should I opt for a more "rustic", satinated or Kurouchi-style finish? Thanks again for your advices!

LOCATION

Switzerland


KNIFE TYPE

What type of knife are you interested in ? Chef Knife

Are you right or left handed? Right-Handed

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

What length of knife (blade) are you interested in (in inches or millimeters)? Around 210mm

Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no) Yes and No, I'll try to take care of it after each use, but I'm reffering to your advices for my first purchase

What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife? 250$



KNIFE USE

Do you primarily intend to use this knife at home or a professional environment? At home.

What are the main tasks you primarily intend to use the knife for ? Mainly for chopping/slicing/dicing vegetables, slicing meat, filetting fish and evenetually slicing/dicing fruits but less often.

What knife, if any, are you replacing? None, it's going to be my first purchase.

Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use? Not really

What cutting motions do you primarily use? Since I only have basic office knives, I use a slicing cutting motion most of the time.

What improvements do you want from your current knife? For this first purchase, I'd want the knife to be sharp, not too hard to sharpen for a beginner like me, for it to be made of quality steel or just to be of good quality (coming from a trustworthy brand or with good feedback from consummers), to be able to hold its edge for some time, to be rust/corrosion resistant and I'd love to use it for a few years.

Aesthetics: I'd love for my knife to have beautiful finishes like a damascus pattern, hammered finish (tsuchime?) or Kurouchi finish. But I'm just afraid that the damascus pattern or the mirror shine would get scratches quickly after some use and I wouldn't want to re-polish it too often. Also I don't know how to re-etch the damascus blade...

Comfort (e.g., lighter/heavier knife; better handle material; better handle shape; rounded spine/choil of the knife; improved balance)? Something not too big in size, not too heavy...

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)? A knife that would be easy to sharpen, I

Edge Retention (i.e., length of time you want the edge to last without sharpening)? A few weeks, months if possible, but since I'm going to use it daily I'd still want it to hold its edge for some time.



KNIFE MAINTENANCE

Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board? Right now I'm usign a basic synthetic board, but I'll change it to something else if need be.

Do you sharpen your own knives? (Yes or no.) Not yet.

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

Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives? (Yes or no.) yes.
 

Qapla'

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Perhaps a Takamura Chromax? Tsuchime finish, stainless-clad semistainless steel.
https://www.**************.com/tachgy21.html

Forumites also consider the Ryusen Bontenunryu to be recommendable, but I wasn't aware of specifics regarding maintenance of damascus-cladding; I'd be interested in learning more about that aspect too.
http://www.knivesandstones.com/ryusen-bonten-unryu-gyuto-210mm-bu-104/

Unfortunately, beyond Victorinox I have no idea who the major Swiss knife-makers are; would be interested in hearing about them.
 
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RogerMasson

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Also, I've been wondering if "hand-forged" knives made in small workshop with Aogami or Shirogamo steel without any finish were "better" edge-retention wise than semi-industrial knives like Kai or Yaxell?

I found these quite interesting and their rustic finish looks really nice:

https://www.japanische-kochmesser.c...Shigeki-Aogami-2-Black-Gyuto-210mm::3095.html

And also, would these more "rough" looking knives be as sharp and durable as a, let's say, Shun Premier with it's fancy finish?

Cheers!
 

Nemo

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The issue with damascus cladding is NOT that it scratches during use. It is that when it comes time to sharpen it, you may scratch it. When it comes time to thin it (some in the forum feel that this should be done a little with every sharpening on a medium or coarser stone) , you will definitely scratch it. A lot. It will then require refinishing and etching if you want to maintain the look of the knife. Note that if the knife is a wide bevel, this is much less of an issue.

I'd suggest getting a damascus knife once you already know how to sharpen and thin a (cheaper) knife. Then you can experiment with refinishing.

If you are going to learn to sharpen, consider getting a stainless clad carbon steel knife. It will be easier to sharpen and deburr you will get better results faster.

It is difficult to suggest entry level knives in EU as I don't know how the price is affected by import duties. The aforementioned Tanaka Nashijis are good options if you can make that work. Also commonly recommended are Gesshin stainless.

The Kaeru from JNS is in EU. It is a stainless clad semistainless knife. This should make it almost as easy to sharpen as carbon (I haven't sharpened this particular knife yet But this is certainly tha case with most well heat treated semistainless) but almost as corrosion resistant as stainless. Mine is a fair bit thicker than my Tanaka Nashiji. It has better food release but noticibly more wedging in hard foods.

The Tanaka and Ryusen VG10 lines are available in damascus if your heart is set on damascus.

Hopefully some EU members will chime in soon with some recommends.
 

Michi

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I think the Kaeru is a good recommendation. Good steel, won’t rust every time the neighbors fill their sink, very sharp out of the box, and a good middle-of-the-road profile that works for everything. And the price-performance ratio is outstanding.
 
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daddy yo yo

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I found these quite interesting and their rustic finish looks really nice:

https://www.japanische-kochmesser.c...Shigeki-Aogami-2-Black-Gyuto-210mm::3095.html

And also, would these more "rough" looking knives be as sharp and durable as a, let's say, Shun Premier with it's fancy finish?
Not a huge fan of Shun/Kai/Yaxell knives. But this Tanaka is quite nice! Although no KKF-supporter, you can call at the shop linked above. They're in Switzerland, they know what they are doing, and they are trustworthy (recently purchased an Ashi wa-petty there in 180mm length). Seriously, that knife checks quite many of your requirements, and it is not only a good starter knife but a very decent knife in general. I would even say that most of the knife nerds would recommend and enjoy that knife.

Would those "rough looking knives" be as sharp? Well, this "rough" look is called Kurouchi (KU; = "Schmiedehaut" in German) and has nothing to do with the sharpness. However, I dare say that the linked Tanaka will be sharper than the Shun Premier...

In your price range, I would definitely skip the damascus requirement. In your desired price range you should go for the best bang for the buck. Damascus cladding (be it real or fake) only drives the price up, nothing else...
 

Corradobrit1

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That tang looks awfully thin. Doesn't look very comfortable in the pinch grip. I prefer Wa knives with a machi.
 

Julian

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Hi Roger, I am also in Switzerland. I hope you don't mind a little advice. Buying a $200 Japanese knife when you haven't learned how to sharpen is a bit overkill. You wouldn't buy a new car to learn how to drive. You will abuse that knife and once the factory edge is gone you will not be able to put anything close to it back until you perfect your technique, thus negating the benefits.

Knives from Wüsthof or Zwilling are a really well priced in Switzerland and the steel will already be a lot harder than what you are used to, while easier to sharpen and maintain. The Wüsthof Ikon 200 mm is in the 80 CHF range on Galaxus right now.

Cheers,
Julian
 

Cbt

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AT5760

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Roger, welcome to the forums! It's a great place to learn about kitchen knives - and plenty of other things. You will get a lot of great recommendations. My advice, just jump in! Buy something that you like at the lower end of your budget and save the rest for a basic sharpening setup. You will learn as you go, and whatever you choose will likely be much, much better than the knives you have used in the past. You can find very good sharpening advice here on the forums, including links to helpful videos.
 

M1k3

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If you're looking for something that's more "easy" maintenance, looks wise, I'd suggest a wide bevel knife.
 

GorillaGrunt

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Yoshikane SKD tsuchime, or Tanaka (Shigeki), or Wakui. I don’t have experience with a Shiro Kamo or Kaeru but both seem pretty well regarded.

Don’t worry about carbon maintenance if you go carbon, just don’t leave it wet or dirty and if you get a rust spot sand it off with sandpaper or stone mud or a sabitori.

Don’t worry about not knowing how to sharpen, you learn to sharpen by sharpening. The nice thing about knives is that they’re difficult to ruin; a bad sharpening job can be fixed with a good sharpening job.

Are you looking for a first stone or a long term stone? If just a first stone, something like a King 1k/3k or 1k/6k combo stone will be fine. I wouldn’t go below 1000 so you don’t grind away too much of it while learning to hold the angle and hit the edge, and I wouldn’t go above 5-6k before you learn to keep the same angle from stone to stone. Think of getting it back to as sharp as it came as a milestone, not as a requirement for the first try at it.
 
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