Home cook looking for first real knife

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For me, yes. But I still miss the CN and would be perfectly happy if it were my only knife for a lifetime. 

As more of a dedicated home cook than a knife guy I'm convinced that any properly sharpened very good knife will do a spectacular job in the hands of a talented cook or chef. The CN is a very good knife but the first order of business is to sharpen it properly and then focus on developing your culinary skills.

The guy I gave the CN to is an expert skier who still uses a pair of skis from about 1975. People who first meet him think he's as good as his skis until he shows off on the slopes. Same with knives. They're only as good as the person using them, regardless of how cutting edge they are.

After switching to the CN from 30 years of German knives, my skills improved immediately, but only incrementally. I can buy better knives than the Konosuke, but the reality is I'll probably never develop the skills to meet the HD's full potential.

Edited to add: Effective today Konosuke increased their prices about 30%. I'd contact Jon Broida at Japanese Knife Imports http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/ for a good alternative. He used to carry Konosuke and still regards them highly, but should be able to guide you toward the right knife for you.

Contacting Jon is a great idea as he is very knowledgeable ans helpful. Its also nice to be able to get info live and off the boards, but just be aware he can be very busy etc but if you do call at a bad time its worth the wait as he is a straight shooter type of guy and in my experience will not "sell" you etc and seems to truly want to be sure to help you make the right decision.

I still have to be honest that I believe most noobs would be well served and very delighted with either the Fujiwara FKM or Tojiro DP and the savings could buy a few stones etc.

Still its all very personal and we all have to get to our destination our own way etc and I do not see any bad suggestions as these are all quality knives that will perform well.

In a past thread I made a comment about how the things that set these various knives apart for the more experienced members would likely not be noticeable to the average home cook or new pro for some time etc.

The tough part is really being able to gain the knowledge to be able to make a comfortable decision.
 
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Talking to Jon at JKI is a good idea, but JKI's selection is higher priced than CKtG's.  If you're only going to talk to one knife store owner, talk to Mark at CKtG.  I don't endorse one guy or store more than the other; both stores are great, both men are knowledgeable, and each has his or its own different strengths and weaknesses -- but you're not trying to decide between a Gesshin Ginga, a Konosuke HD and a Tadatsuna Inox.  Your ideas are more in line with CKtG's stock than JKI's.  If you're still serious about keeping the cost of the knife down to $100 or less, your best choices come down to Artifex, Fujiwara FKM and Tojiro DP, all of which are carried by CKtG and not JKI. 

BDL
 
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Other than the blade alloy, the FKH is the same as the FKM.  That is, it's a well designed, capable knife with adequate F&F, decent materials, decent cosmetics, and reasonably good ergonomics.  The blade alloy is supposedly SK4 or some equivalent like Daido YK4.  Whatever.  The knife takes a decent edge, and holds it fairly well.  However, the alloy is not only normally reactive it stinks when it does react, probably because there are more impurities, especially sulfur, in the alloy than there should be. 

Once the knife is stabilized with a patina or repeated and regular cleaning with baking soda it stops stinking, mostly; but when the patina is disturbed, which happens on a regular basis with all carbon knives, the odor starts up again.   Also, when it's reacting it's not only stinking but discoloring the food and lending it a slight off taste and aroma. 

Some people like them as a Japanese made carbon knife at an attractive price, and I used to share the opinion.  But I've changed my mind, because there are several good stainless knives at or near the price, and at least one good semi-stainless.  Even though the FKH performs as well as the FKM, and will spend most of its working life stabilized (as long as it's appropriately maintained), my feeling is that knives shouldn't stink, leave a taste in food, or discolor it.  I wouldn't own one, wouldn't give one as a gift and can't recommend them.

BDL
 
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Steve, the things you are looking for in a knife are similar to what I wanted in a knife.

I spent a little over a year buying different knives, visiting a local knife guru (saltydog/idiotking) and playing with his knives, spending countless hours on forums, and just searching for what I wanted in an every day gyuto.  

My search ended with Jon Broida from Japanese Knife Imports recommending his Yoshihiro line.  I believe the line is now called "Gesshin Uraku".

A 240mm stainless steel Gesshin Uraku will set you back $155.  A 210 mm $145.

I absolutely love this knife.  It doesn't have the fanciest handle, the blade doesn't wow you with a damascus pattern or some fancy writing/japanese characters on the blade, but it's just soooo functional.  Other than whether a knife is stainless or not, the next single biggest factor for me personally is weight/thickness/flex which, while not absolute, those three usually work together.  Lots of western handled knives feel heavy to me.  Most german/european styled knives feel thick & heavy.  I thought I had my dream knife when I landed a Sakai Yusuke stainless for $200.  It's a cool knife.  Mine has an "ichi" wood handle, the japanese characters on the side look cool, it's a "laser", etc... the one downside, for me, the thing is too thin.  When I first played with it I loved it.  As it became my "daily driver" I started to not like how thin it was.  It's just a personal preference thing. 

For me, the Yoshihiro/Gesshin Uraku did the best job of walking that line of heft and thin/responsiveness.  It feels very solid & stable but yet it's very light and responsive.  I look back now and think of the money I "wasted" (not really wasted though in my opinion because I enjoyed the process and the learning), I think I bought 3-4 knives in a row that were all more expensive than this one, and I ended up liking this "cheaper" one the best of all. 

It's hard, but not super hard.  It's plenty hard though.  And it's easy to sharpen.

Which, by the way, for sharpening, I'm a fan of Chef Knives to Go kit that they have for $139.

http://www.chefknivestogo.com/3pcstoneset.html

If you can't afford the $139 right now, just buy the SR5k stone which you can find for $48.  That stone alone will get you buy for 2-3-4-5 months depending on use and how much you sharpen but eventually you'll need something coarser and you can then pick up the Bester1200 for $48.  If you don't ever abuse your knives you might not ever need the Beston 500 anyways.

So for $155 + $48 you can pretty much, IMO, get a GREAT wa handled stainless steel gyuto and a stone for roughly $200.  

Then, in 3-4-5 months, add a coarser stone like the 1200 Bester.

Good luck!
 
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I now see Steve might want to keep it down around $100 and western handled.  It seems like Steve is somewhat flexible on pricing though :)

I owned a Carbonext and loved it as a cutter.  It was much better, again, than some more expensive knives I owned.  I would highly recommend the carbonext if you are willing to up your budget to around $130. 

I don't have much experience with the Fujiwara or Tojiro stainless offerings but they seem to be the two go-to options at the sub $100 pricepoint.
 
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I can't talk about the knife because already the advice that you've got is the best and provided from people with way more experience than me, but since the "sharpening on a budget" subject came I just want to share some info.

By far separate stones are better than combo stones, but I had an "Oishi" 1000/6000 that was awesome, it was only 31 bucks (from epicurean edge.com) and it worked perfectly for me at home and as a personal stone... But once I took the stone to my professional kitchen, it started to give me issues, it started to separate and it crumbled like a cookie...Not a good "professional" stone, It couldn't handle the abuse, the soaking/drying process on a very regular basis and at the end it ended in the dumpster.

But while at home, it was a great piece, I think that it can be a great first stone while you get some money in the piggy bank to buy separate stones, and maybe it can last much longer and you may not need to replace it, but just add a coarse stone and a very fine grit stone.

My two cents./img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif

P.S. I got also the Idahone "fine" rod tha BDL suggested me and that's a keeper, I think that it's a "must have".

Regards!
 
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Thanks everyone for taking the time to assist me in my decision

Couple follow up questions:

1. For a home cook that cooks in a full size home kitchen, which size is preferable? 210mm or 240mm? I know there is a lot of professionals on this forum, but what do those of you who maybe don't have the skills that the pro's do prefer and why?

2. Outside the knife and maybe a 5k stone, what else is required? Honing rod? Or does the stone replace this?

3. Is it bad to use a plastic cutting board? Or should I invest in a large end grain board? Will the plastic dull the knife fast?

So those are the questions(for now). Below are the knives that I am considering, let me know what you think of these choices and if you have and experience with them.

Brand       210mm/240mm

Fujiwara FKM $75/$83

Richmond Artiflex $69/$89     M390 $119???

JCK Carbonext $105/$128

Tanaka Ginsanko $110/$130

Tanaka Blue Steel Damascus $130/$150

Cheers
 
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     Hello everyone, ive been reading these forums for awhile now absorbing knowledge from all the different chefs and ive finally decided to join! Instead of creating a new thread with the same topic i figured it would be much simpler to just post in this one. Im a 17 year old home cook who basically handles all the cooking in my house. I plan to attend culinary school and with that soon aproaching i decided it was time to invest in my career choice and finally buy a good chefs knife. My experience with proper chefs knives is limited to the typical random knives in my kitchen drawer. I have never used a stone before but im willing to invest the time & energy to master the skill. I barely started working as a waitor in a local restraunt so my finaces are limited in that aspect. Im looking for a good quality 6"- 8" chefs knife, my budget is around $150 with the most being $175. Is it possiable to get a knife and a stone in this price range? I do alot of chopping vegatables & meat if this helps. Im Basically looking for a knife that would put me through culinary school and for a couple years. I dont mind taking the time to have to sharpen my knife every so often and to take real care of it. It is the most essential tool for a chef after all! 

-Thank you
 
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Joined Dec 3, 2010
Oops, double post

Quoted this post cause it would take up less space lol.

Far as length is concerned there is a fair if not majority of those who believe 270mm to be optimum length. Though I have no issue with this thinking or the length for my own use (ex. it has been comfortable when I used longer length knives in the past etc) I also decided on 240mm for both of my current gyuto/chefs.

The reason for this was twofold as I do not have the pressures of working in the industry (production and time etc) so the longer length would not add the same value and my most previous chefs were 8" (210mm) so even a 240mm would be an improvement, but also very important in my decisions was the added costs of going up from 240 to 270. On both my Fujiwara and Konosuke 240mm gyutos there was a significant enough difference in cost to make the 240mm attractive ;)

I know your comparing the 210 & 240mm and I am not familiar with the current prices but I am consideringthem to still create a "sweet spot " in price.

Though we all can enjoy a bargain or value etc and going shorter can offer a savings I have to advise going with the 240mm unless you have some sort of limitation or just a preference for the shorter 210mm.

I still get to use a couple shorter gyutos on occasion when at friends and relatives (most often a 180mm Tojiro DP that I also end up sharpening a few times a year) and they are fine, but at the same time just not as effective and sometimes just a little cumbersome when you would be better with the longer ones.

I know BDL has very good input on this as he was very helpful in the past etc

Also the limitations I refer to above could be physical or even as simple as a very small work area.

Its a bit difficult to explain but once you get comfortable with a longer blade the shorter ones make less sense in use because they end up making you do more work and the longer ones are no extra work even on smaller products/jobs. I had even held onto a santoku at one point as at the time I found it easy for smaller stuff and the four small cutting boards I had, but since I have found I hardly reach for the small boards or that knife either. Its still a great cutter and I keep it maintained sharp etc, but it just doesn't get any real use anymore.

Hope that helps, and sorry I can't really help in your comparison request as the only one on your list I have used for any speakable amount of time is the FKM, but I do still use it often, and remain amazed by its value (price compared to quality and performance).
 
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I like 210mm (8+") or 240mm (9.5") for a home all purpose gyuto.

I understand why some recommend the 270's (10.6") I just find them huge.  To each their own.

I actually have a pretty spacious kitchen/cooking area, with a boardsmith 22x16" board and I reach for a 210 quite a bit.

That's what works for me.
 
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On the size question... there are differing opinions and it boils down to your personal preferences.

I have and use both sizes... At work it's no question, 240mm/10 inches was the go to knife while at home the first knife I grab is the 210/8 inch one. There's very little I can do with an 240mm/10 inch that I can't do with a 210/8 inch size.

What's the average prep in a home kitchen? A couple of onions, a few stalks of celery, a little meat maybe. My point is there is no where near enough prep involved that would make any/much difference with one size of the knife (210/240) being more comfortable or easier to use.

With pro cooks who put in 1 to 6 hours of knife work, no doubt use a bigger knife. For home use, a bigger knife can be used but I find it's not needed.

With the 210 size, I also rarely use/need a Petty/Utility and can get away with using smaller boards (easier to wash).

If you combine a 210 Gyuto with 270mm Suji/bread knives you can also have your bases covered for larger tasks.
 
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You have the two things working against you that all of us had working against us at one time - you want to expand your knowledge and you're not sure what to invest in.  I'm going to go against the grain here and say that there is nothing wrong with San Mai construction.  Anyone who thinks there is can argue it with Murray Carter then let me know how they make out. 

If you are game you should learn to sharpen free hand.  As for what type of steel that depends on how much attention you are willing to pay to it.  Carbon requires attention no two ways about it, but the pay off is an edge that is almost effortless to use, touches up easily and for a home cook you should not have to take it to the stones more than two - three times a year.  If you aren't up to the maintenance of a carbon blade there are plenty of semi and stainless knives. 

For your target budget I would get this for $50:

http://www.chefknivestogo.com/xxcdiplandun.html

And this for $45

http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kingcombostone.html

All you need to deburr after sharpening is a synthetic wine cork or an eraser or soft wood or even cardboard.  Or you can buy a block of hard felt from CKtG for $5 along with the other stuff.

That leaves you with $105 for a knife - if you can put a little more towards it fine.  You don't need a fancy strop - cardboard is fine followed by news paper.  As for a $105 knife there are a few to choose from - remember you are new at this - no point in spending big money to find out you don't like something.  I have several Tojiro ITK's and have only had issues with one so my advice is don't buy the Kiritsuke - /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif -   the 240 gyuto is fine OOTB.  Just wash the knife with a 3m type of pad and the loose kuro uchi will come off and it will be smooth.  It's a great knife to learn stone work on as it gives you results you can see and feel quickly.  I rehandle them, sharpen them and give they as gifts.

Personally I have been sharpening cutting tools most of my life so I may have a leg up there, but it's not rocket science and there are plenty of tutorials on line.

Be advised however - you are venturing near a slippery slope my friend . . . and there is no going back   /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif
 
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To mike: Thanks for the advice and the links to the stones much appreciated! I took a trip to a cooking equipment store today in pasadena( i live in southern California if your wondering) and from what i could tell they had a good selection of knives. After seeing how they all feel in my hand and cutting carrots with them i went for an 8" shun chefs knife. I liked the round handle ( is there a certain name for that style?), the weight, and balance of it. It also looks pretty cool and was normally $200 but on sale for $100, it was also the last one in stock and they apparently lost it. I felt it was ment to be haha. Took it home and put it to some use and im satisfyed with the results. The store had a lifetime warranty on it which was a plus for me. Now im just looking for a good steel and whetstone. Would i need to get a diamond dusted steel or is their some things that i should look for in one? Also when buying a whetstone what grit should i look for? Should i get multiple grit? Once again thank you! This is a slippery slope im looking forward too :D
 
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New 8" Shun for $100 is a bargain I have a classic here somewhere.  I would not recommend a diamond steel too aggressive IMO.  I like the Mac SBR-104 10.5" steel.  It has two grooved sides and two  smooth sides and realigns blades nicely with very light pressure.  Stones can be pricey but if your Shun is VG10 do some homework as to what type of stone is best for that steel.
 
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What?  Who?

This thread is confusing because two people are asking similar but different questions and getting advice from other people who aren't identifying whom they're advising. 

For what it's worth, because the comment seemed as though it were addressed to me, and to whom it may concern: 

I have nothing against "san mai" knives for other people.  I don't like them for my own use, and think that it's an honest and necessary part of conveying my "reviews" of san mai knives to include that fact as well as my reasons for my dislike.  When I do, I'm always very clear that my dislike of their numbness is unobjected to and/or undetectable by most people -- including many very skilled good cutters.

Murray Carter would not say "I make the world's best knives and if you don't like them there's something wrong with you."  Murray Carter would say, "Buy what you like."  Want to ask how I know?

There are many makers who make san-mai knives arguably as good as Murray's, including inter alia Shigefusa and Takeda.  And, while I recognize that they're well made, I don't like them using them either. 

Shun:

I don't like Shun for a lot of reasons, the fact that they're san-mai is only one of them and not nearly as important as the wretched Shun chef's knife profile, their tendency to chip, or the propensity for the "faux Damascus" pattern to scratch and fade.  That doesn't mean they don't have a lot of other things going for them, but -- bottom line -- they aren't good value for the money.  On the other hand, I like Tojiro DP (for other people) for a lot of reasons, and the fact that they're san-mai doesn't bother me in terms of making a recommendation. 

There are a lot of good cutters who like Shun chef's, but the trend is away from German profile knives, towards French profiles and even flatter, uniquely Japanese profiles, and for good reasons.  At the end of the day it's a matter of taste, but I think it's a good idea for people to have some idea of what they're getting into upfront.  Rather than making decisions based on "balance," "heft," or because the handle feels good in the store.  Over time, those perceptions often prove false and they're unimportant in terms of knife handling and knife skills. 

Dom:

From your description, I assume you bought a Shun Classic from SLT on Colorado Blvd., and that it can be returned even though you bought it on super sale.  If you're trying to develop the sort of pro knife skills you see on Top Chef, Iron Chef, or even Chopped, an 8" Shun is not a good choice because it's too short and too German.  Am I saying you should return it?  No.  It depends on what you're trying to do with your new knife. 

But in my opinion -- and it's just my opinion for heaven's sake -- you can get a better, longer (9-1/2") knife for a $100 by choosing between 240mm Fujiwara FKM, Richmond Artifex, and Tojiro DP. 

Stones and Grits:

King makes three combination stones in the same series; 800/4000, 1000/6000 and 800/6000.  They're all adequate, good bang for low bucks, but in the greater scheme of things they're not very good.  Combination stones generally are somewhat problematic in that they tend to be rather fragile (the stones separate when dropped); always need to be flattened; and one side usually wears much faster than other.  Specifically, the Kings are slow and they're short.  You'd be surprised at how much difference there is between sharpening on a 7" surface vs an 8" surface. 

A 1200# finish is good for a chef's knife if you like a very toothy edge.  But be aware that a 1200# finish will wear and chip more easily than more polish. 

The right amount of polish depends on the type of alloy, hardening, and type of use.  A Shun 3000# finish will hold up much better on a Shun (for instance) than a 1200# will. 

My suggestion for "best stones for least money" sharpening would be to buy a 1000# and a 3000# 10mm Naniwa Super Stones; and to later purchase a 400# Naniwa SS only when you'd develop enough skill with the 3000# to be sure that you could hold a consistent angle, and you needed to repair, thin or otherwise profile.  If you could afford a little more the "five piece set" at CKtG (which includes 3 stones) is a very high value "soup to nuts" solution.  But it appears you cannot afford more. 

Speaking of money, you're going to need something to use as a flattener.  The $25 diamond plate at CKtG makes the most sense; but you could use dry wall screen if you want.  A pack will run you less than $15, but screen is a great deal messier and slower.   

Honing Rod:

The MAC Black is good, but the Idahone "Fine" (aka "1200") is a better and significantly less expensive rod.  That said, if you drop your rod frequently, the MAC has a steel reinforced core and stands a better chance against a tile floor.  The MAC's probably a better choice for a knife roll for the same reason.

Honing chippy knives like a Shun is problematic at best, especially if you don't know how to do it.  At least read my article Steeling Away.
 
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All good points BDL - and really no one is pointing any fingers at your 'druthers.  Looks like he bought a Shun so we should support his purchase in what ways we can IMO.  OP didn't say what kind of Shun he bought so steel is still up in the air.  MAC honing steel is a good one and I have an Idahoan 12" `1200 and prefer the smooth edge of the Mac.  One thing I like is the optional sheath/strop for the Idahoan ceramic.  The 140 diamond plate with stone holder is a great deal and it makes a great stone fixer/slurry raiser.  A Gesshin 400 for my course stone followed by my 1k Miso and my 6k KIng will be my new setup with the Gesshin replacing my Bestor 500.

The most important thing is to learn to free hand sharpen and use your knives enough to get the hand of them.  I'm not crazy about the Shun chef's profile.  I like a flatter belly than they exhibit.  
 
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To B.D.L. and mike: I've done some work with and happy with the results. Im a senior in high school still so the way i see it im not doing any high- production work yet so I'll stick with my choice. None the less i greatly appreciate your help and insight! The model i purchased is PREMIER 8-IN. CHEF'S KNIFEMODEL TDM0706, after doing some research i was not able to find exact information other then that it is vg-10 steel
If if was not able to get a set of stones at this time what grit would be the best for a kind of "all purpose stone" if there is such a thing.
Once again thank you!
 
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