First time Gyuto advice

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Joined Jul 24, 2018
Okay, let me start off by giving some context: I am researching mainly for my boyfriend, who is a long-time cooking, short-time knife enthusiast. He has been looking into buying more high end knives recently and I decided to gather funds to buy a japanese gyuto. He recently progressed from considering Vibronox to Wusthoff to Eden Classic Damast and was originally considering a knife set. He's someone who is always trying to go for investment equipment, and afer some (a lot, actually, hours) of reading, I figured he would eventually upgrade from the Eden set to 'proper' japanese manufacturing. I don't mean that in any way to be degrading, just that I know his main goal is sharpness and edge retention, and from what I read shirogami and aogami would be superior over VG10. He invested in a Skerper sharpening system a couple of weeks ago (600, 1000, 3000, 6000 I believe) and has been practicing vigorously on his stainless steel chef's knife, santoku and some type of hybrid gyotu/chef's knife, all of which he has managed to set a paper-cuttingly sharp angle. His main frustration is that the angle wears off after one or two days.

So, for my concerns. I spent a couple of days on the internet trying to figure out a good deal. I realised I was slightly under the ideal budget, which seems to be 200-250 euros. There aren't many dealerships that deliver to Belgium, none of them free. The main one he was using is knivesandtools, which doesn't seem to have a very extensive j-knives collection. I think they only have Kai and Eden if I am not overlooking some western-owned japanese lines. I was really interested in the Kai Shun, but I think they only have right- and left-handed biased knives, which is not good as he is a lefty and I am not...
My reasoning is as follows: he is at the moment quite proficient at rock-cutting, so I needed a slightly rounded edge to make the transition to different techniques easier. As he is used to western knives a wa-handle would feel more familiar and would blend better with the rest of his setup. I think Carbon steel is not too risky, as he is diligent in taking proper care of his equipment in general and is dedicated to sharpening (he was hand sharpening his knives before but is taking it seriously know, in view of investing into more expensive knives). Not trusting myself to be as professional I think a 3 layered coating type (what is it called? mina-something?) would be ideal. He does have a full-time job and so I believe blue aogami would be best as I think it has slightly better edge retention? As he is left-handed and I would also like to use it occasionally, I think double-edged is best.

Here is where I get scared. I ended up going for a 240 (trusting most of the forum's advices against 210) mm Hayashi Dojo AS Gyuto from japansemessen.nl. Since then I have figured out it is probably false advertising and it is not actually Aogami Super but Aogami #1, which I am sure he will be pleased by as well. Now as for the manufacturer, it is made by Kobayashi. I haven't been able to find much information about them, it just seemed like the best value for money at the moment I needed to order it. I am having serious doubts about whether I made the right decision on this knife, though it seems hard to find good quality steel knives in this price range in my location. I would love to be able to give him the other options when I give it to him and am terrified I made a stupid choice and he will be stuck with it.

My questions are:
1) Did I make a mistake choosing this knife for whatever reason?
2) Should I have gone for VG10 instead? I understand it will not rust and is softer so it would be easier to sharpen and harder to chip. Are there any other advantages?
3) What differentiates great j-knives from good ones? There is steel quality, 'roundness' (I forgot the proper english word) and handle. The latter two of which are personal preference. Is there some other 'hidden catch'? (In other words, did I get scammed somehow?)
4) Am I wrong to be biased agains western produced japanese knives like MAC and Eden, or Aus8 and VG10 steel compared to carbonated??
5) So he is not extremely experienced in sharpening yet, should he continue practicing on the other knives before he touches the gyuto? Does the fact that his sharp edges on the cheaper western knives dull so fast mean he is doing something wrong or is this normal for western knives (he is not honing anymore because he is unsure whether his cheap honing stick could do more wrong)
6) should we invest in a ceramic honing stick? I seemed to understand this was not useful for japanese knives as they don't bend as much

Now the other ones which I was considering or have come across since:

http://www.japansemessen.nl/a-52995012/100-150-euro/miki-m303-kigami-gyuto-chefsmes-270-mm/
(runner-up; 270mm, Kigami #2 steel, in the end I just decided aogami was a more prestigious steel and so he would like it more. superficial? ignorant? please enlighten me!)
http://www.japansemessen.nl/a-36013865/san-serie/tadafusa-san-g210-gyuto-chefsmes-210-mm/
(this tadafusa was my second runner-up, but I decided against it because it is only available in 210, aogami #2)
http://www.japansemessen.nl/a-25992...nmai-classic-hkb-3007d-gyuto-chefsmes-240-mm/
(Mcusto, VG10, higher price range...)
https://www.knivesandtools.be/nl/pt...mrcIldDVGuT_MsaMqtbygV_W77LSqNOhoCvswQAvD_BwE
(Eden, Blue Paper, don't know which one)

Sorry if this is impossibly long, my head is spinning with all this information. I hope some of you can put things into perspective.
 

phatch

Moderator
Staff member
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Joined Mar 29, 2002
I suspect a wire edge from your description of edge holding.

While many here disparage vg10, I quite like it. It may not be as rewarding of shallower angles as others. But to my perspective none of those are bad Steels and should perform better than he's getting. Thus my comment about wire edge. Wire edge is a common sharpening trip up for newer sharpeners.

Others will be along shortly with more specific info on brands and models.
 
3
0
Joined Jul 24, 2018
I suspect a wire edge from your description of edge holding.

While many here disparage vg10, I quite like it. It may not be as rewarding of shallower angles as others. But to my perspective none of those are bad Steels and should perform better than he's getting. Thus my comment about wire edge. Wire edge is a common sharpening trip up for newer sharpeners.

Others will be along shortly with more specific info on brands and models.

He does work with the wire-edge technique, so that wouldn't help very much.. So basically you are saying the steel is more important than the brand? That's basically my main concern as the brand isn't very well known but the steel quality should be good..
 
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Joined Nov 15, 2012
Welcome to Cheftalk Louise, you appear to be quite the quick study, you have absorbed a lot about knives it seems. I'm having internet slowness difficulties right now so can't get to those knives listed at the end.

To quickly answer your list of questions, VG-10 does not seem to be the kind of steel you BF is looking for, as it will not hold a "very" sharp edge for very long, as phatch already implied. and carbon steels sharpen much easier also.

Blue super/AS does seem to be the steel of which the Dojo knife is made. I would actually prefer Blue #1 myself, but AS does hold the edge better. Here in the States the 240 Dojo sells for $125, a very reasonable price for what this knife appears to be, an entry level Japanese knife with good steel and a nice looking and thin grind. But the seller who put up the pictures is known for "touching up" his product before photographing it. I know nothing more about it. Going by only the photos I have, the edge of this knife should look ridiculously thin compared to a typical Wusthof. The knife will have very good food release.

Tanaka makes knives only slightly more pricey than this, some in blue steel, some in Ginsanko stainless which is highly regarded also. I would think you could also easily order from Knives and Stones, or Japanese Chef Knives, or Japanese Natural Stones.

The Masahiro VC (virgin carbon) is not fancy looking but a fantastic deal for a pure carbon (like white steel) knife, under $100 here.

Getting back to the Dojo, all else I can say at the moment is that it is a reasonable guess that it is a good bargain for an Aogamy Super knife.
 
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91
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Joined Jan 18, 2014
Cheap western knives will not hold an edge, particularly if you put an angle on them less and 20 degrees.
I usually put ~10-12 degrees on my japanese knives. I tried this once on a mundial 8inch knife. Not a particularly cheap knife, but with the 'standard' soft stainless steel. After a week of infrequent use the edge was rounded and smooth. Quite an eye opener.
I find it harder and more frustrating to sharpen the cheap soft stainless knives.
I would not get too hung up on the steel. All the ones you mentioned (aus8, VG10 and various carbons) will be very good steel for knives.
It sounds like you've got a decent knife, use it, get used to it, and yes, sharpen it.
 
3
0
Joined Jul 24, 2018
Welcome to Cheftalk Louise, you appear to be quite the quick study, you have absorbed a lot about knives it seems. I'm having internet slowness difficulties right now so can't get to those knives listed at the end.

To quickly answer your list of questions, VG-10 does not seem to be the kind of steel you BF is looking for, as it will not hold a "very" sharp edge for very long, as phatch already implied. and carbon steels sharpen much easier also.

Blue super/AS does seem to be the steel of which the Dojo knife is made. I would actually prefer Blue #1 myself, but AS does hold the edge better. Here in the States the 240 Dojo sells for $125, a very reasonable price for what this knife appears to be, an entry level Japanese knife with good steel and a nice looking and thin grind. But the seller who put up the pictures is known for "touching up" his product before photographing it. I know nothing more about it. Going by only the photos I have, the edge of this knife should look ridiculously thin compared to a typical Wusthof. The knife will have very good food release.

Tanaka makes knives only slightly more pricey than this, some in blue steel, some in Ginsanko stainless which is highly regarded also. I would think you could also easily order from Knives and Stones, or Japanese Chef Knives, or Japanese Natural Stones.

The Masahiro VC (virgin carbon) is not fancy looking but a fantastic deal for a pure carbon (like white steel) knife, under $100 here.

Getting back to the Dojo, all else I can say at the moment is that it is a reasonable guess that it is a good bargain for an Aogamy Super knife.

Hello Rick, thank you so much for your reply! We were abroad for a couple of days, so I didn't have the time to answer, but it was really good to have a second opinion to share with him when I gifted it. And he actually said he felt outknowledged, which neever happens :).

The Tanaka I had actually been looking into, the problem being the only website that delivered to here was an australian one, and it would take over three weeks to get it here. I didn't know of the other two websites you mentioned though, and they seem interesting..

So unboxing has taken place and more questions are arising.
The knife doesn't seem to be sharp OOTB. I know on traditional japanese knives the factory edge is often not so good, because it is meant to be sharpened, but it is a bit intimidating to have to sharpen it right away. He didn't use it as of yet, because the retour-option will be lost and we just got back yesterday evening late.
The reply from kevpenblanc seems to suggest to 'just sharpen it' anyway. What type of preparation do you need to do to go from western to japanese knife sharpening? Is it better to practice a bit more on the cheaper knives first? When do you know you are 'ready'?

Then some questions about the sharpening and the form. It doesn't seem to have an actual bevel, but I know there is something called a 'micro-bevel'. It is not razor-sharp, is it supposed to be?

Right now it is a reasonable option to return it after all and purchase a more reputable entry-level j-knife 'just to be sure'. And also he would have preferred the traditional handle, I realised only too late.

I still don't quite understand what distinguishes a 'good' j-knife from an 'excellent' one. The price range is extremely wide. So there is balancing, thinness, aesthetic qualities, then metal (stain-ressistance, chippiness, hardness) and how rounded it is.
 
91
17
Joined Jan 18, 2014
Are you sure it takes 3 weeks from Aus ?
James offers FedEx and DHL, would have thought if would be quicker, but don't know.

As for sharpening, as long as you can hold a relatively consistent angle you'll have no problem.

The difference between a good and excellent knife
Basically it's a reputation for good heat treatment of the steel and a good, and consistent, grind. Some very well respected makers have a reputation for inconsistent grinds.
There is much written, and spoken, about the grind. How well the knife cuts and how good the food separation is. This depends on the thickness of the blade, laser or workhorse etc.
Fit and finish is also an issue to a point, but generally japanese knives can vary quite a bit in this respect, even the good ones.
You could probably write a book on this, and people have different preferences.

Hope this helps a little.
Kev
 

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