Another advice/info request thread

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by kavik79, Apr 16, 2014.

  1. kavik79

    kavik79

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     Not sure where to really begin here....but right off that bat, I'm not a professional cook/chef, nor do I have any intentions to become one.  The reason I'm posting here is because I've spent the last two days sick on the couch and browsing the reviews here.  I've read more useful answers here than on most other boards.

      I do enjoy cooking when I do it, but to be quite honest, I don't cook many big meals, especially now cooking for one.  And my knife skills in the kitchen are probably laughable by the standards around here, but I'm interested in learning now.

     Anyway, I've always had a bit of an obsession with anything with an edge on it, and for a long time I've been wanting a decent set of kitchen knives for those times when I do need them.  Specifically, I've been very interested in getting a set of Japanese knives.  Heck, it might even encourage me to cook more if I'm not frustrated by cheap knives that won't stay sharp.

      So, after reading enough reviews and opinions to make my head spin, I'm pretty sure that every knife I've looked at (drooled over) at this point is more knife than I need lol

    But,there's needs, then there's wants, so.....

    I'm thinking a compromise might be the Kagayaki Carbonext's or VG10's
    • Petty 125mm
    • Gyuto 210mm
    • Sujihiki 240mm
    • Boning 150mm (maybe. probably not.  I probably don't really need this)
    Here's my issues/questions though:
    1. I have no idea if I should stick with the 210 Gyuto, or go with a larger size now?  Is it really any easier to learn on a smaller knife and end up wanting to go bigger later? Or would I be just as well off learning with a 240?
      1. I hear a lot of people say go bigger if you have a big enough cutting board for it.  But....what size is 'big enough'?
        I have some wood here and plans for making a 12"x18" endgrain board from maple and purpleheart.  I'm guessing it's just if the blade is shorter than the width of the board, right?
    2. I really do love the look of the Wa handled knives.  I've never used one, but visually they appeal to me.  I'm going to look around when I'm feeling better and see if I can find one local to get a feel for it....but in the mean time, are there any good Wa handled knives in this price range?  It seems most that I've seen recommended are just more than I'm willing to spend
      1. On a related note....and this is probably putting the cart before the horse....but, can anyone point me to a good walkthrough of how to re-handle a Wa handled knife?  I've searched around and only come up with people showing what they've made, not much about how they actually go together.
        I'd love to have something along the lines of a Wa handle in Red Mallee burl and black buffalo or ebony.....but they sure aren't going to be in my price range if they're like that from the factory lol
    3. Ceramic Rod or touch up on a finishing stone?
      I've read the warning about not using rods on certain japanese knives, because of the hardness of the steel and the likelihood of chipping....but I'm not sure on where that line is drawn? 
      The Carbonext should be fine on a ceramic rod, right?  But what about the VG10? Or a white steel? Or a...whatever?  Is there some general rule of thumb by alloy or hardness?
    As far as blade types go, I don't really care if it's carbon or stainless.  I'm okay with either as long as it gets good and sharp and holds the edge decently.

    edit:  Also, I like the idea of thinner and lighter with the Japanese steels, but not super thin or excessively flexible.  I do have a couple older, sturdy carbon knives that belonged to my mother that I can restore and use for heavier tasks

    Speaking of edges, before anyone asks, here's what I currently have for sharpening options:
    • Razorsharp Edgemaking System (Abrasives on paper wheels on a grinder)
    • DMT 8c for flattening the stones and major edge repairs
    • Norton stones in 220, 1k, 4k, 8k
    • Chinese natural 12k
    • Welsh slates ranging from 8k-15k
    • 150mmx50mm natural combo La Grise Coticule
    • Lapping film in progression up to....I wanna say the finest was .3 micron....can't remember for sure at the moment
    • A variety of hanging leather strops and a paddle stop that I'd be willing to devote to knife use
    I'm assuming the Norton's and one of the finer natural finishers will do, but am I missing anything?  And how fine is it really worth going on a kitchen knife?  I have all these already for honing straight razors....I'm guessing I don't need to go as fine on a knife, but you tell me?

    Okay, this has turned into a book.

    If I'm just rambling, I blame the 48 hour fever.

    If I sound like I don't know what I really want, well, I guess I don't lol

    I'm starting to think I should just delete this and keep researching, but I've been reading and reading for hours on end and keep coming up with the same questions at the end.  So, thanks in advance to anyone who can help!
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
  2. kevpenbanc

    kevpenbanc

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    As someone who got into Japanese knives less than 12 months ago, I would definitely upsize the gyuoto to 240 and the sujihiki to 270.
    I have gyutos in 270, 240, 210 and 180.
    240 is my goto.
    Prior to this my main knife was 6 inchs :)
    The wa handle makes the knife a lot lighter. It's my preference.
    I have stainless and carbon - haven't really formed an opinion either way yet.
     
  3. kavik79

    kavik79

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    kevpanbanc, thanks for the input, I'll keep it in mind /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  4. lennyd

    lennyd

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    Best advice I can think of for this early in the game etc is to keep asking questions, and research the new questions that develop from the answers, and repeat ;)

    Also unless I missed it please share your budget, and unless it's large dedicate much of it to the gyuto or chef's since it will normally see the most use and therefore is most important to get right.

    Two first questions are if your sure you don't want too thin (the carbo next is very thin and that's part of the attraction and why it works well) and of you need to get all the knives at once?

    Also edge grain boards are OK, but don't be surprised if you find yourself wanting a end gain that will extend time between sharpening more do to bring more friendly to verythin and sharp edges.
     
  5. kavik79

    kavik79

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    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
  6. lennyd

    lennyd

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    Not in order lol

    Good that you have the end grain board, bad that I totally read it wrong ;)

    Your budget is more than most and I don't believe I am that high yet myself, but I do sell the knives being replaced most times.

    On to the actual selection of knives.

    After thinking real hard about allowing the largest amount to go towards the gyuto, and considering to settle on the others (unless you use a petty often getting a low cost one frees up cash for a higher cost gyuto and you can always get a better one later etc) ad this will see the highest amount of use and time I your hand.

    That said I have to say that In the time I have been researching and comparing choices in J knives the main complaint i hear on the CN series seems to be the edge. It seems common for these to need a full sharpening and even thinning behind the edge before reaching optimal sharpness. If your up to this I believe they are a real value, but this is all based on countless reviews of others (I never owned one) and some trusted comparison to the Konosuke HD which I do own and is made from a similar but different semi stainless steel and enjoys a very thin blade.

    If you have seen any of my previous posts on my Konosuke you already know I love it, and though a very difficult decision for me based on the fact it was nearly 4x what I paid for the Fujiwara FKM that I was extremely happy with (and the prices are all higher now) and I had the Fujiwara seriously sharp and reshaped to my liking etc etc.

    IMHO if the "flippyness" is similar to the HD it's not am issue unless your used to and somehow like the super thick German knives and demand a similar feel in your next knife.

    Thin to win!

    There is a decided advantage to a thinner blade for perceived sharpness, and IMHO actual performance for my style of cutting (read BDL info on glide and guillotine) and even when just plain chopping etc. But that's me and I openly accept any of the other possible downside issues others have presented, but I don't see any of them anyhow.

    The problem today is that with the increases in pricing and the exchange rate for the dollar these knives are getting expensive, and In relation to the Konosuke this combined with their success and the success of the distributor here has us paying even more than sone other brands.

    This does two things. One is it makes it harder for me to recommend the brand due to the cost despite my believing it's the best chefs knife I have owned. Two is that the price range opens up all kinds of different options.

    Once your up to the 300 range there is a lot to look at, and most are good choices so the decision gets that much harder.

    Sad though since when I got mine there wasn't much competition in the price range and that made the choice a lot easier.

    If your target price is around the CN cost then your choices are a bit more limited, and it is one of the standouts for value.

    If your dip a little lower in the price arena they're are also some great values (Tojiro DP, Fujiwara FKM etc) that are also great performers, but have different ergo's and more basic steels. Still both steels used are fine, and hardened above what most are used to in Western knives, and will get and stay much shaper while allowing a lower cost that should fit most budgets.

    Since I was working with a really tight budget when I first looked into J knives I went this lower cost route knowing I could always upgrade in the future, and I can't see any reason why you couldn't use the same approach with the CN or any other brand that fits based on your budget.

    One thing I am 100% positive on is one you start using and sharpening your first J knife it will all become a lot clearer just what everyone had been trying to help you to understand about the various differences and improvements between the different brands and you will likely want to experiment others and be adding to or replacing your knives add time goes on. I know that is my story lol.
     
  7. kavik79

    kavik79

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    thanks for taking the time to write that all up Lenny

    Also not in order:

    That's kind of why I didn't originally list a specific budget LOL  While I'm comfortable spending a few hundred bucks, that speaks more to my bank account than my skills in the kitchen, and I didn't want it to be about that.  The knives I could actually afford are lightyears beyond any set I could ever justify owning, you know?  I didn't want to start getting some crazy high end recommendations and talk myself into them because: "well, Knife B is sooo much better, and only about $50 over my budget, I can stretch it a bit"...."oooh, but if I'm willing to do budget plus $50, take a look at what I can get for just $40 more!".  It'd go on forever, I'd end up with a knife many pros dream about, and it'd get used maybe once a week  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif

    One thing where I go completely against what I stated above though:  I don't see a point in cheaping out on the smaller knives.  I know it goes against what a lot of people feel in this topic, but I'm a bit anal in wanting a set that matches....I might be just a little OCD LOL
    In that case I'd rather up my budget a little (if needed, depending on the gyuto I decide on) and keep them all the same. 

    I know a lot of advice here is that petty knives and paring knives should be bought cheap and replaced when needed...and I can see where that makes sense in a professional environment.  But for an occasional home cook I don't see it getting used and abused enough to say that I'd ever need to replace it from overuse.

    I might be putting more stock than I need to in the thinness issue.  I just keep seeing posts about different knives that say something like: "it's a more flexible blade, which some people may or may not like".  For all I know, I might love something like that.  I am used to more solid/stiff blades and as I mentioned, I'm not very skilled now, so I guess I could get used to a thinner/more flexible blade just as easily as I could learn how to use a stiffer blade better.

    This is where it gets annoying wanting something nice before you really have the experience to know what you want  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif

    (and, I'm sure, frustrating to those trying to help, sorry!)

    I'm okay with the idea of having to sharpen a new set.  And I've done a bit of research on what's involved in thinning a blade behind the bevel and I'm confident I can manage that part as well. 

    However, last night I did some more digging around and found some more info on making and replacing Wa handles...and, man, it's something I really want to try lol  (I've got some woodworking experience, and all the tools needed for it already, up to and including a lathe that I'm still working on learning to use)

    But then that leads me back to my original dilema: The wa-gyutos I've seen highly recommended are out of the price range that would make any sense for me.  The ones down in this price range, I keep finding not so great reviews about.

    The Tojiro, for example, I've heard are okay.....but I've also heard some issues with F&F (not such a big deal if I'd eventually re-handle them), but also have heard a couple issues with the finish wearing off on the ones that have the kurouchi finish, and issues with uneven grinds....those are two things I can't correct

    I think if I'm sticking with western style handles, I'm leaning towards the "bargain" CarboNext knives still.  But I guess I need to do a little more research on Wa-styled knives first, to see if I can find a comparable 'quality:value' bargain.

    (before I go totally insane, buy the CarboNext, then decide that ripping off the handles and grinding down the tangs to fit a Wa handle is an easier solution than going through another 500 pages of search results /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif)

    Suggestions welcome, of course, but I'll also keep digging around on my own /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif  
     
  8. lennyd

    lennyd

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    Digging around is fun though it may occupy a bit of your time. One caution is that many people take OCD to a different level, and many of the opinions and feedback out there is splitting hairs and just not functional for most home cooks who very honestly have and will continue to find even a sub $100 Tojiro DP the sharpest knife they ever owned, and also the best best edge retention etc etc. Much as I am fully happy with my Tojiro DP knives I know they are not the "best" but the steel is still great, gets super sharp, holds an edge etc and unless I end up doing a whole lot more cooking or just find a few hundred I need to blow I'll stay with the twenty something petty and $12 used Sujihiki I got off ebay.

    The only idea I will try and push you on is not matching. The most fun and best feedback as well as learning has come from being able to compare the many differences between the different knives, steels, handles, performance, and how they sharpen.

    I know it wad hard for me to pull the trigger on my first order and received some nudging from various people to just do it already, and I fully understand the hesitation because I had similar concerns.

    For me maybe the trip is half the fun, but to simplify it a bit look at it two ways. One if you really don't have concerns on $ and want thin go for the Konosuke HD over the Carbo Next, but if you rather find more value and know you can always trade up in the future go in the other direction.

    Or mix it up and try one of the various other options for the remaining types, and you will have enough to compare to be sure of what you want for completing you end set.

    And we didn't even get into carbon knives yet lol
     
  9. kavik79

    kavik79

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    LMAO See? That was exactly my point....if I say I can afford better, the next suggestion comes out over double the price hahaha

    Do they look good and sound good from what I've read and seen? Absolutely.  But does it make sense for someone at my skill level to buy 3 knives for almost $700? Not at all lol

    You hit my other point too though, I'm sure I fall into that category where the worst of the knives I've considered are probably all leaps and bounds beyond what I'm used to.

    I'll do a little more digging specifically on the Tojiro DP's

    (I don't know why I'm just now noticing the link in your signature /img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif)

    oh boy....you wanna talk carbon too now? haha 
     
  10. kavik79

    kavik79

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    Because now that you have me looking deeper into the Tojiro's, I'm casually eying the Tojiro Shirogami (White steel #2) LOL

    For every decision I think I make, 2 more options seem to pop up

    Cheaper prices and decent reviews on CK2G, for those who don't mind doing their own "final finish" work on the knife when it arrives.  And they seem to be a decent candidate if the handles might get changed out eventually anyway

    While reading, I gave a lot of thought to the suggestion of trying out different knives...and I have an idea that I could consider buying a few different petty knives without dropping a bundle.  Get a basic idea of the F&F of each brand in person (a very basic idea, I've seen people mention how a lot of times the bigger knives get better attention to finish than the small ones on cheaper brands), and get a feel for each of the different steels.  I think this might be the most practical approach for me, considering I'm not actually in any rush to HAVE to get any of them

    CarboNext 125mm Petty (Semi-Stainless Carbon Tool Steel)- $66
    • Pro: Good reputation for value, easier maintenance, nicer looking than the DP's for western style handles (IMO)
    • Con: highest price, ?
    Tojiro ITK 120mm Petty (White #2) - $33
    • Pro: Wa handles that I'm interested in trying, easier sharpening, I like the looks overall, cheapest price
    • Con: Lower edge retention (shouldn't be a huge deal for amount of use they'll see), high maintenance carbon steel
    Tojiro DP 120mm Petty (Clad VG-10) - $50
    • Pro: I like the idea of VG-10 (based on a SOG pocket knife I own) for sharpness and edge retention, decent reputation for value (but might need some work)
    • Con: a little bland looking out of the 3, questionable F&F depending on which review you read
    After writing all that, I'm realizing this whole post is more just rambling/taking notes for myself than anything else LOL

    oh well.

    Crazy idea? Or do you think someone can get a feel for these knives just based off comparing Petty's?
     
  11. chrismit

    chrismit

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    The itk is an extremely reactive knife, something to be aware of
     
  12. denverveggienut

    denverveggienut

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    Hope you are feeling better! Not that obsessing about knives is a bad way to pass an illness... Anyway, the Tojiro ITK could be an interesting entry for you into the J-knife world. I had one of the 120mm petties. It got nice and sharp, but the handle sucked and it was very reactive. So, it sort of shows you a little bit of what is possible, but has you wishing for more. I got the ITK petty, and also a Fujiwara FKM petty. I sold the ITK, but still have the Fujiwara. The Fujiwara isn't as eager to get sharp as the ITK was, but it is handy to have around for citrus and such, and it serves as the "good knife" that guests aren't too afraid to use.

    You might as well go Carbonext, though, or even get a Hiromoto AS. Nice carbon steel sandwiched between stainless. I can't speak to the Hiromoto gyutos (I'm a cleaver guy and love my Ashi Hamono white #2 cleaver dearly), but it seems like the Hiromoto might be worth checking out. Is it much better than the Carbonext? I can't say, since I haven't used the Carbonext, but I can say that the Hitachi carbon steels I have used thus far (white #2 in the cleaver, blue #2 in a Tanaka petty, and blue super in a Zakuri gyuto) have all been stellar performers.

    Starting with the petty, and then going from there seems like a good idea. And you may find you can hold off for a while on the sujihiki. Probably not as essential right off as the petty and gyuto.
     
  13. kavik79

    kavik79

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    Thanks Denver...I'm getting there (too slowly for my preference LOL)

    thanks for the added input (you too Chrismit).  I did see about the ITK being highly reactive....but read where one person said to  just burn through a pile of onions and build up a patina, then it should be good  as long as it's kept clean and dry (the usual stuff to avoid rust, but no longer worrying about stains). 

    Did you own yours long enough to get a patina on the blade? If so, did you still have problems with additional staining on top of that?

    another general question on confusion with blade types:  I'm not even seeing a sujihiki in the Tojiro line.  If I did still want to get a slicer and do end up going with that one, would you guys suggest considering the Kiritsuke or the Yanagi? 

    The more I look at these, a lot of people are also saying the best bet is to remove the black finish from the blade right from the start.  Maybe they're starting to sound like more trouble than they're worth lol

    I don't know, too tired to think about it anymore tonight.  Thanks again for all the replies
     
  14. denverveggienut

    denverveggienut

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    Yes, I had the ITK for a good while, about 22 months. I didn't find forcing a patina with mustard was particularly helpful. The core white steel was pretty much OK, but the cladding really reacted with everything. I think it is the impurities in the steel of the cladding. The last straw was when I tried to use warm vinegar to force a patina to try to fix the reactiveness. The vinegar just took off all the kurouchi finish, and left the whole thing even more reactive than before! Whereas, with other carbon knives, I haven't had much problem. The white steel cleaver took a patina and now doesn't change at all, no matter what I cut. The Zakuri aogami super san mai gyuto I have also doesn't react much at all- neither the core, nor the cladding. That's why I think the Hiromoto AS could be pretty easy to live with- stainless cladding, and then blue super for the cutting edge. Blue super is less reactive than white steel (due to the added alloying ingredients tungsten, vanadium and chromium), and even white steel isn't bad, since it has a pretty low level of impurities...
     
  15. kavik79

    kavik79

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    very interesting, thank you

    I wonder if it might work to purposely strip the kurouchi finish before it has a chance to start to wear off on it's own, then use a chemical gun bluing kit to recreate it.  At ~$40 for the knife and bluing chemical, it might be a fun experiment to try just for the heck of it, and still be a good cheap candidate for practicing making and replacing a Wa handle
     
  16. lennyd

    lennyd

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    Just a thought but everything mentionedin the above few comments are good potential choices.

    Also keep in mind that the petty sees little if any board contact and are typically very thin so will normally get and stay sharp etc. My 120 DP petty is always the sharpest knife when it's time for re sharpening the larger ones and due to its size the quickest and easier of the bunch to bring back.

    I don't agree 100% with the idea of getting 3 of the same, and think you might do better to go 1 petty and then mix it up again with maybe even a short gyuto in one of the less expensive variety (DP, FKM etc) or even a sujihiki, but pull the trigger on your main gyuto at 240mm or more, and from what your saying so far the Carbo Next would make sense.

    After you get some time in and find your ready to move up or over or just want to experiment etc you will be much better prepared, and typically can sell the old ones if you like. Oddly The Used Prices This Year Are At Or Above Last Year's Sale Price New On Many EBay Auctions.
     
  17. kavik79

    kavik79

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    I think my thought behind doing 3 of the same, aside from keeping the costs down while choosing, was just to kind of keep the comparisons more apples to apples, so to speak.
    I think I'd just be annoyed if I did one of each, and ended up liking the petty (the cheapest) and not the gyuto or sujihiki (the more expensive) LOL
    I'm sure I can find friends or family who would take the 2 "losers" off my hands anyway :)

    I've been checking on the other suggestions...I think you're right though, I'm really leaning towards the CN's if I stay with the western handles.  But I'm still really on the fence at this point between western (is that 'Yo'?) and Wa.  I'm going to see if I can get out and find any Wa type locally this weekend to see if I like how they feel...if I rule those out my decision will pretty much be made (I think lol)
     
  18. chrismit

    chrismit

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    Depending what you decide on wa vs yo and if you want a set this would get you excellent knives around the $400 dollar mark
    Kono hd or hh 240 gyuto (usually wa but you can find western)
    Tojiro dp or Fujiwara fkm or fkh petty
    Fujiwara sujihiki

    If its not an appearance thing and you pinch grip the transition to wa handle is almost a moot point
    I own a carbon Fujiwara and the steel gets exceptionally sharp. My wife has a dp gyuto and comes with a nice edge oob and is very sharp as well. I truly believe you will be better served spending the most on the gyuto as it is likely to be the most used knife by far.
     
  19. lennyd

    lennyd

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    Good advice once again.

    I want to repeat and add to the point of how the handle isn't really a factor for someone who uses a good pinch grip, and expect for a few knives like a petty or even a sujihiki for some your not handling the handle.
     
  20. kavik79

    kavik79

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    The pinch grip is the first thing I'm going to try to start doing, looks easy enough to learn to do

    That was actually a concern of mine, but I didn't say anything because I didn't want to sound stupid LOL  I was thinking a petty would be more hand on handle, as opposed to the larger knives. Another reason I wanted to try one of each side by side, because the Yo handles do look more comfortable for that, but we'll see.

    Thanks Chrismit, I'll look into those as well

    There might be something broken in my brain.  The more I see people talk about how finicky the steel in the Tojiro ITK's is, the more I want to get my hands on it to fiddle with it LOL