Information overload

Joined Jan 12, 2016
hello all. I am a new poster but have frequented these parts, lurking I think is what it is called, for many years whenever a question I emerged. I have learned a great deal but I was rarely ever searching for information related to a specific purchase. Recently I have been more goal directed and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with information. I am not new to the world of cutlery, as I have maintained a pretty nice collection of Shun, Tojiro, Kikuichi, and a few Moritakas. I sharpen myself, mainly with wetstones, from 400, 1000, 3000, 6000. In sum, I really enjoy Japanese knives especially since most of my daily food prep (personally and professionally at times) is delicate seafood, sushi, etc - I live in the Keys. While no expert, I am pretty well versed in Japanese cutlery, mostly through making mistakes and learning along the way.

However, with all that said, I am keenly in the hunt to add to my collection a few Western knives. Specifically, and just about the only ones I would use anyway are a Chef (9-10 inches preferred) and some type of utility knife. I have searched many threads, watched many youtube videos et, and each time I think I have narrowed down I inevitably stumble across some piece of information that dissuades me. Don't worry, I understand this is hardly a live/death decision, and my financial fortune balances very little on what I choose -  I am retired, in good stead, and so on.

For instance, I was almost fully set on going with the K Sabatier at one point (authentic carbon from the outlet) but then saw a you tube video by America test Kitchen which rated the KSab Carbon blade the worst of the 10 or so carbon chef blades they tested. I forgot the exact words, but after cutting a few things the blade, microscopically was said to be bent, chipped, gouged, etc..

Anyway, it threw me off the scent. I dont need perfection but my knife cant be the worst on the block so to speak. In all I am considering:

1) The Wust. Ikon

2) F. Dick 1905

3) K Sabatier

I want western, fit and finish is somewhat important but I am not expecting the same as I have from some of my Japanese, right handed, 50/50 edge of course, will use occasionally, maintain a good sharp edge but not afraid to maintain it sometimes, price I would like to be in the $80-300 range for the Chef. I am open to any suggestions. Am I overthinking the KSab, perhaps the Icon is the easy answer? I love the look of Dick, but I always have with its stripes.

Thank you for any guidance/suggestions.
Joined May 29, 2013
BladeRube, Welcome to ChefTalk!

Since you're familiar with a number of Japanese blades and have been working with stones for sharpening, that relieves the rest of us quite a bit about the sharpening bugaboo which most first-time-posters have about fear of sharpening.

As far as America's Test Kitchen goes, I can't say that I have much respect for a show and magazine that picks the Victorinox as the top knife around.

One question comes up right away: how much “belly” is tolerable to you?

Now about the 3 knives you list.

The first two are pretty much standard German battle axes. Both knives have a lot of “belly” and have tips that are high up in the air when the blade is on the flat part of the edge. That translates into a knife which is intended to rock chop, but makes it very difficult to use the tip against the cutting board or to use the entire length of the edge in cutting.

The steel used in both knives is stainless. The Wusthof's steel is one of the beeter known ones: “X50CrMoV15”, aka “4116” steel. It's tough and resists chipping. The bad side is that it really is tough, and resists abrasion, which means it's hard to sharpen. The steel will not hold much polishing of the edge for long, so the highest level of grit that the edge will hold will be in the 1000 level.

The F. Dick's steel is listed as “XcrMoVMn”, which presumably means that it's a stainless (the cr part, which stands for Chromium), Molybdenum Vanadium (two elements common in stainless steel knives, and presumably has manganese. However, particular element percentages are not shown, so any analysis of the steel is a guess at best.

My personal reaction is not particularly favorable, but if you want to try them, that's up to you. I've played around with Wusthof knives before, so I'm not all that impressed.

As for the carbon K Sab, now that's a different story. It's not a refined carbon steel blade like Japanese carbon steel knives – it's thicker than the better Japanese carbon blades, but it's much more impressive than the German knives. Its profile is a lot flatter than the German knives, with much less belly. This is also a knife which responds well to honing – better than either of the two German knives. When sharpening, you probably can go as far as your 3000 stone, though the polish may not necessarily last all that long. You will probably need to hone once or twice a day, but the edge will stay sharp for some time.

The major drawback of the K Sab is the bolster – as soon as you get it, you really need to take a hand rotary tool and reduce that bolster down big time. Otherwise sharpening will be a giant PITA. It makes me yearn for the old pattern which was used for carbon Sabatiers, where there was an inverse concave conically shaped thin bolster that fed down to be flush with the heel. It was easy to keep level with the angle of the edge during sharpening of the old pattern knives. Sigh.

Hope that helps

Galley Swiller
Joined Apr 25, 2014
If you know how to sharpen, your world is opened up to neglected vintage knives.

Go vintage carbon steel.   Hard enough to hold an edge, but soft enough that you can use a honing rod.  Plus it has vintage cool factor.   I have refurbished, thinned, and rehandled a few in the past year for wedding gifts
Joined Jan 12, 2016
Thank you to everyone here who weighed in with valuable information - especially Galley Swiller ( i need to better consider how much belly I am good with as I don't have a strong feeling about it intially - I do rock the knife sometimes but not always). To all, it is very much appreciated. I will weigh when I get the opportunity, but for now, after re-reading my post that is quite a typo I made in the 2nd to last sentence. That should read I love the look of the "F. Dick" as opposed to....well I am sure you get the picture. Gezus.

GS - One question though, why would a company make a knife with a bolster that inhibits sharpening? Clearly I am not knowledgeable to understand the virtues of a full bolster but sending out a knife that needs to be "ground down" in order to maximize longevity/full blade sharpness seems sort of silly. I am not knocking the carbon steel KSab at all - in fact I love the look of them and I will likely buy as I read a # positive impressions from BDL (i think that was his name) here but what is the design thinking in regard to that decision?

Benuser - that is a great looking, horse of a knife. Very cool. I didnt have much like finding the Herder 1922 for sale in the US but I need to look more thoroughly.

Millions - I may get a vintage carbon as well - saw some cool ones at theverybestthings website. Wouldn't mind a bit of a project.

Any opinion on the Messermeister Elite Oliva? Sort of the same class as the FDick and Wusthof Classic I take it?

Thanks again for the ideas.

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