Choosing an 8 inch chef's knife for a gift!

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by Notthesharpestknife, Nov 20, 2017.

  1. Notthesharpestknife

    Notthesharpestknife

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    Hi folks,
    My head is spinning from all the knife stuff I've been reading the last few days, and I could really use some expert advice to pick a great 8-inch chef's knife for my SO. About her and the knife I'm looking for:

    -She's currently using a Victorinox, and now wants something heirloom-worthy that will last a lifetime-ish
    -She's not a professional chef, but likes to cook
    -The knife will probably end up in the dishwasher every few weeks
    -My budget is $150 though I'd be happy to spend far less

    I originally bought her a Henckel's knife for $90 but then after doing some more research I'm pretty sure she'd much prefer a Japanese style knife for the hardness and sharpness of the blades. So I settled on buying her this Shun knife that's $150:
    (the listing says dishwasher-safe though I'm not sure what Shun would say about that)

    But then I started to read on this forum and it seems a lot of people felt Shun knives were overpriced/overrated and so I started to look at other VG10 Japanese-style knives that are 62+Rockwell hardness and <16 degree blade angles, and found this one:

    According to the listing, 62+ hardness and 8-12 degree blade. Is that BS? Or too sharp/prone to chipping? Are these ratings reliable from smaller companies?
    I also appreciate that the Shun knife has a lifetime warranty and includes sharpening, and I'm not sure if buying a knife like this is worthwhile without those things.

    Honestly at this point I'd be happy if someone just told me which knife to buy! But any guidance is greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!
     
  2. Notthesharpestknife

    Notthesharpestknife

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    Oops, links not allowed for newbies I guess. (can't seem to find the Edit button either)

    Both are from Amazon. The Shun knife is the Shun DM0706 Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife. $150
    The other knife is the Damascus Chef Knife by ACES (I'm aware the Damascus stuff is mainly baloney). $95
     
  3. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    If it's going to end up in the dishwasher, you've got some serious problems. At the very least, you're going to need an excellent sharpening plan. How are you fixed for sharpening at this point?
     
  4. Notthesharpestknife

    Notthesharpestknife

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    I guess we're not? I don't even know how to answer the question :confused:
     
  5. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    Well, I'm sure @rick alan and others with a wider expertise will be along soon, but in my opinion you'd do best with a large company that doesn't market to the "samurai tradition" crowd, such as MAC or Global. They're respectable knives and not too expensive.

    The basic problem is that going upmarket in Japanese knives means not only improved quality but also more demanding maintenance. Once you're at the $150 point, I don't see any worth in a knife that will tolerate dishwashing and (perhaps) annual belt sharpening. At that price, good knives demand care and regular sharpening.

    I'm not trying to be insulting or anything like that. There's no reason whatever that you should be into sharpening your own knives. But without a dramatic change in habits and skills, fancy Japanese knives will be unsatisfactory: either they'll fail you because they need more TLC, or they'll be overpriced mediocrities. (This is why we carp about Shun.)
     
  6. rick alan

    rick alan

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    I guess I've been singled out 'cause I've been rather active here lately, too much time on my hands.

    Chris is spot on. No knife with a straight edge is meant to be tossed in the dishwasher, especially with indiscretion as to it's neighbors in there. And there is a Maxim here that says, "All dull knives are equal."

    Shun's sharpening service is a essentially a gaff, there are enough postings here and on other forums to corroborate that. They will remove a ridiculous amount of metal each time, and typically deliver an edge no better than what a Chef's Choice electric will give you, if that good, I and others have seen them do much worse.

    What it comes down to is that nothing is going to last very long if it's not maintained properly. Given what you have said so far I'd have to advise sticking with the Vics (they are a lot of knife for the money), and getting a pull-thru like the chef's choice 4633. Vics actually have thinner edges than Shuns, much thinner, and given this sharpening plan will cut better on the whole and last longer, and you won't have to pay postage each time you sharpen either.

    Right now the Japanese knives I would feel somewhat comfortable recommending to you are the Fujiwara FKM, Geshin Stainless, and MAC already mentioned. They have good geometry, good steel, and some ruggedness and reasonable price range (not so much for the MAC except if you find a sale).

    If you can find a local sharpener who uses waterstones and knows what he's doing (hard to find most places), or one who really knows how to use a belt sander (even harder to find) and only charges $5-10 dollars, well you're in heaven and a $150 knife is maybe (long pause) worth going for. Or maybe you can learn how to sharpen, it is after all just rubbing metal on rocks.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2017
  7. Notthesharpestknife

    Notthesharpestknife

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    I don't think sharpening every so often is going to be an issue. I just really don't know much about knife maintenance as a lay person, but don't confuse my ignorance for hers. We have a cheap Farberware block with a pull-through sharpener but I'm not sure how well those work or if you'd want to put a Japanese knife inside it. We also live in Chicago and she's pretty well-connected to various types of makers, so I don't think professional sharpening is at all out of the question. She may just throw the old Vic in the dishwasher because she'd already decided to retire it. I just wasn't aware dishwashing made such a difference as to ruin the edge (in what way does that work? is it just friction with other blades or the actual washing process?). If a sharpener is a necessity to maintaining a good knife, then we'll of course get one.

    Assume she wants a good knife enough to care for it properly:
    I'm totally happy to buy a cheaper knife (can spend the leftover on other things she wants)-- I just want to get the best knife I can for her within that budget.

    So, after putting way too much time into looking at various knives, I came across the Zelancio chef's knife (https://www.ebay.com/itm/Japanese-C...teel-8-Inch-/322350710726?hash=item4b0d997fc6) and thought, "That looks just like a Shun knife," and it also boasted the exact same specifications (minus the Shun warranty and sharpening), but for $45. A little more digging and as I understand it, Zelancio is owned by the same parent company as Shun. Shun seems to have over-produced its chef, santoku and paring knives and is selling them in sets of two at a discount, and it seems like they also offloaded some of them to Zelancio who put a different stamp on them to sell the excess at a lower price point. This is some conjecture on my part-- they could just essentially be Shun lookalikes produced by Zelancio. But supposing I'd be getting a Shun knife for $45 (and your opinion on the truth of that is also very welcome), is it still a worse knife than the recommendations? i.e., is Shun just really nothing special in a knife, or is it just not worth the pricepoint?

    Thanks so much for the advice so far!
     
  8. mike9

    mike9

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  9. rick alan

    rick alan

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    "is Shun just really nothing special in a knife, or is it just not worth the pricepoint?"

    Both in the case of the classic. The Zeluchio are possibly reject knives from the Classic line, or more likely Chinese knockoff.

    A knife like the Kanehide will blow you away, but you can't be rough with it, don't go near bone. If you use a pull through sharpener it has to be the kind with rotating grinding wheels, like the one I mentioned. Possibly not wise to use it on a real thin knife like the Kanehide.
     
  10. galley swiller

    galley swiller

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    67 layers damascus steel? AUUUGGGHHH!!!. Run for the hills. Unless you want to very quickly end up with a knife that looks like scratched-over garbage (and is incidently difficult to restore), do not shop for anything with multiple layers. 3 layers is acceptable. Anything more is just guaranteed to end up looking horrible.

    I would also stay away from VG-10. Sharpening edges by raising beads with VG-10 core steel means the beads need to be carefully abraded down and cannot simply be run through a deburring felt. Otherwise, the edge can snap partly off off and you have to rerstart the sharpening process all over. Bummer.

    My suggestions:

    For an 8 inch chef's knife which won't break the bank, a Mac HB-85 will start your SO off just fine at about $70. https://www.chefknivestogo.com/macchse8gy.html

    Add a two sided sharpening stone (1K/6K grits) for $55 https://www.chefknivestogo.com/imtwosi1kst.html

    Add some AngleGuides for about $11: https://www.chefknivestogo.com/anguforshst.html.

    For free advice on how to sharpen, watch Jon Broida's YouTube tutorials.

    That brings you to just less than $136. Unfortunately, I don't know of any semi-decent cutting boards for $14. But, you can't have everything in life.

    Any snags in this? Only if you don't live in the USA. Mac's policy seems to be that sellers are only authorized to sell in their own country. Chefknivestogo cannot sell Mac knives outside the USA.

    Galley Swiller
     
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  11. dave kinogie

    dave kinogie

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    I'll just add and agree with most here:

    Under no circumstances put a good knife through the dishwasher, ever!

    Lol, now with that out of the way...

    2. If you don't want to sharpen yourself, no biggie, but please don't use pull-thru sharpeners on any kind of good knife. In a big city like Chicago, there are almost certainly knife shops and services who will hand sharpen them on stones for like $10 to $20 bucks. Get it done maybe 2 times a year, you'll be fine. Possibly even once a year depending how much use it gets and how well her technique is. Maybe pick up a non-serrated ceramic honing rod and use it every time you use the knife, just 3 or 4 swipes per side of the blade, to keep it in line. Also, a decent cutting board will go a long way in maintaining a good edge.

    I'd stay away from bones and smashing garlic with the side of the blade with any J-blade though and maybe something a little more workhorse opposed to laser would be good for her.
     
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  12. Notthesharpestknife

    Notthesharpestknife

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    Thanks everyone for all of the education. I'm glad I started my shopping early-- knives are so much more complicated than they seem at the surface.
    I think I'm leaning towards the Kanehide or the Fujiwara, but now I have even more questions:

    1) Cutting boards. Can I get some suggestions for good ones? And what to look for in them? I'm clearly out of my depth. She does have a Boos Block commercial butcherboard counter.

    2) I was speaking with my mother who works in kitchens, and she offered to purchase some Rada commercial knives wholesale. She's a big fan but she's not nearly an expert. The knives are very "affordable" at about $15. Any thoughts on Rada knives and wholesale commercial ware in general?

    3) I'm so confused right now by the value prospect of an expensive knife that requires ~$20 a year in sharpening. It seems like at that price point the maintenance eats up most of the benefit of buying an expensive knife (as opposed to just replacing decent, cheap knives every couple of years). Am I missing something? I'd really like to get her something that she doesn't have to worry about so much upkeep for and will still stay sharp for years to come. I hear lay people I know boast about having these kinds of knives and I'm not sure what to make of it.

    4) Still just curious about what is it that dishwashers do to knives that is so bad for them. Is it the heat? Moisture? Detergent? The rattling around? All of the above?

    I think I'm staring to understand that a well-maintained cheap knife is a better knife than an expensive knife that is seldom maintained. So here's where I'm a bit torn:
    I think she wants a good knife that requires as little maintenance as possible to hold an edge. Currently her Vic lies on the poly cutting board with avocado remains smeared all over it. It'll be washed this evening probably. Part of me just wants to get her a good low-maintenance knife to the extent such a thing exists.
    Or maybe I should just get one of these cheaper class of knives with a good cutting board and whetstone so that she could get some practice with knife maintenance before dropping $$$ on a nice knife? Then she can decide if knife maintenance is something she cares about enough to have a nice knife.

    Thanks again for all your help!
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017
  13. galley swiller

    galley swiller

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    Let's answer your questions from your last post (#13 in this thread):

    (1) If your SO has a Boos cutting board countertop, then that's covered right away.

    (2) Rada knives are run of the mill European knives. Nuthin special. Tf she already has a Victorinox, then why bother? The only thing I could suggest is for one of those to be as a "beater" knife, for use on anything with bone, or for frozen foods (both huge no-nos with quality Japanese steel).

    (3) It's not about expensive vs. inexpensive. It's about the quality of the steel used in the edge, and how well the maker of the blade made the blade (part of making the blade involves "heat treatment", where the blade is heated high enough to break down the existing crystaline structure, then allows the steel to cool down enough to create new, more desired crystals, then carefully heats the blade again to get other crystals to break down enough to form a desired bonding matrix. That's a broad description, and there's a lot more to it, but there's a huge amount of judgement on the part of the maker, and often that will make or break the quality of the knife).
    Don't think about it as "cheap vs. expensive". Instead, look at it as expensive quality vs. inexpensive quality vs. cheap junk. What I would look for would be inexpensive quality as the best bang for the buck, especially in the long run.

    (4) Dishwashers do a nasty number both on the handle and on the edge. They essentially chemically destroy any wood or wood composite parts of the handle over time, and they also have enough force from the water pressure being squirted around to bang the knives around enough so the edges also get banged around - really not good.

    As far as not wanting to sharpen - there's a saying that a former contributor (BDL) had about knives that weren't maintained: "All dull knives are equal." The only knives that I know about that will stay sharp forever are knives that are never used. Use a knife - that use contributes towards dulling. The best knives resist dulling, but in the end any knife that is used will need to be re-sharpened. It's just that simple. That's why I listed a basic sharpening stone and an inexpensive set of angle guides. Do-it-yourself can be that simple. It ain't rocket science.

    Actually, getting a good quality sharpening set-up and learning to use it may have a much bigger impact than getting a new knife.

    Galley Swiller
     
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  14. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Vics, though modest, are much better knives than Rader, so if you are looking for economy and avoiding sharpening best stick with that and a pull-thru.

    If you want the overall experience of cutting easy and clean thru any fleshiness and any thickness [shy of invisible], that kind of AHA! experience, instead of crushing through food, then their is a price to pay, one way or another.
     
  15. Notthesharpestknife

    Notthesharpestknife

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    She doesn't really do much heavy-duty cooking which is one of the reasons I decided she'd be happier with a Japanese knife. Just vegetables and boneless meat, and she can use the Vic for anything tougher.

    Thank you all for the knife suggestions. I'm looking at the Mac and Fujiwara for inexpensive options, and the Kanehide for a more expensive option (which I think she may appreciate and care for better since it doesn't look like an 'ordinary' knife) Does the knife I choose matter much for the sharpening method I choose? Costco has a Chef's Choice hybrid sharpener 290 on sale for $50 right now, normally $80+. I'm a bit torn on whether (oh god the pun i can't help myself sorry) to get a grinder or a stone.

    I promise I'm almost out of questions. :eek: You've all been tremendously helpful.