knife dilemma....what would you do?

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by mike87, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. Sell it

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. sell some of the knives/pieces so you have a few knives for free

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. keep it for the gf/wife/partner who doesn't care at all about your knife obsession so they don't mes

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. sell everything except the chef's knife and buy a sharpening system

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. other

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. mike87

    mike87

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    I am tackling a topic that I see a lot in here by presenting a dilemma.

    I'm ready for the scoffs.  I'm a newbie. discovered this forum a month ago.  Trying to find my way, get amazing knives, learn how to sharpen, oil my cutting board and all of that sweet dream stuff.  

    Well, I bought a shun ken onion knife set.  8 in chefs, 9 in bread, 5 in serrated, 3 in pairing (plus block, hone, and scissors).  gasp. the horror. etc. etc.

    This one:  

    So everyone on here talks about shuns and how they are good knives but way overpriced and that they would never buy one because there is so much better stuff out there.  And then shun exits the conversation.  I know that this knife set is not worth anything close to $750.

    Well...here is the kicker. I paid 150 bucks for this set, and it was new in the box, I opened the shrink wrap on it.

    So...the dilemma.  What would YOU do with it if you had the ability to purchase this shun set for $150?

    In my case, I own no other knives worth mentioning and I also will be deciding on what stone set/edge pro/etc to buy to sharpen with in the very near future.  And I'm a broke student.  So you can really get creative, or just vote in the poll below, whatever you like
     
  2. michaelga

    michaelga

    Messages:
    1,237
    Likes Received:
    64
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Keep them and use them.   

    They aren't bad knives you got a deal.

    Yay!
     
  3. denverveggienut

    denverveggienut

    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    At home cook
    The price was right, anyway! On first thought, I'd say you might want to keep the paring, the shears, and the bread knife and sell the rest. Those are the only pieces I'd find a particular use for. The honing rod is very coarse, I hear. The chef knife has a weird profile- lots of belly. Good if you mostly rock chop, not so good for other stuff, because you don't get much blade contact with the board.  Also, the chef knife is shorter than you might like.

    So, you could cherry pick. But, you'd probably get more money if you sold the thing as a set (and probably more still if you hadn't broke the shrink wrap!), so that would be my suggestion. 

    Then take the proceeds and buy an entry-level gyuto or Chinese slicing cleaver, a petty, and a mid-range waterstone. And a wood cutting board if you are using anything else.

    I'd go with a CCK 1303 cleaver, a Tojiro FKM 150mm petty, and a Bester 1200 or Naniwa Green Brick 2k, myself, but I'm cleaver guy. 
     
  4. chefholly

    chefholly

    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    I've run into a lot of different opinions on these knives. Either people absolutely LOVE it and swear by it, and recommend that everyone have one, or they hate it and want nothing to do with the design. If you like the feel of the set as a whole, keep it. If not, I'd sell it. Especially since Shun discontinued the Ken Onion line completely. People are going to be looking for these knives when all of the retailers run out of their stock. Might be a good turnover since you purchased it for $150.
     
     
  5. franzb69

    franzb69

    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    17
    Exp:
    Culinary Student
    i'd buy a set and sell it somewhere else then buy better knives from the money that i made from the knife set.

    =D
     
  6. mano

    mano

    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Other
    You're in a no-lose situation, but first consider if the profile and design are right for you and how much use you'll get out of each knife.  Then make a decision.

    I'm not a fan of the Ken Onion Shuns because of their profile, huge bolster (interferes with sharpening, pinch grip and cutting some foods) and overall design of the high-angled handle. The VG-10 steel is okay but there are better steels out there that sharpen easier. The Shun name and damascus pattern will make it easier to sell. They're well made knives and for the $150 you paid the "overpriced" complaint is moot.

    3-inch paring knife is in a lot of knife kits

    5-inch serrated utility knife is not a commonly used knife

    8-inch chef's knife: A lot of people prefer a larger blade, but a chef's is essential. I really dislike the huge belly on the Onion's.

    9-inch multi-purpose bread knife: Looks fine with scalloped as opposed to serrated edge

    honing steel is a distant second choice to a good water stone. It's possible this particular one is incapable of honing  a Rockwell 60-61 blade.

    kitchen shears and bamboo storage block no comment.

    [font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]IMO a good 150-180mm petty, 240 gyuto/chefs and a 270-300 slicer will take care of close to 100% of your kitchen knife needs. [/font]

    [font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]If it were me, I'd sell it at a profit and use the money to buy knives that didn't have the drawbacks of the Onion Shuns.[/font]
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2013
  7. deputy

    deputy

    Messages:
    172
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    At home cook
    I'll echo the other comments here but with a huge caveat to be addressed in a second. I, too, would sell them and get more functional choices. You could probably sell it for $400 - $500 or maybe only about $300, depending on if you find the right buyer, but it's up there somewhere. 

    For that, you can get a top quality 240 for ~$150'ish...? Get a Forschner 10" bread for $30, paring for under $10, an Artifex petty for $50 (I use my petty a lot, even if you don't "need" it), and you can probably skip on a Suji for now. Throw in an Idahone for ~$30'ish. Great set for under $300 and then you'll have to make your sharpening decision as well. 

    Now, for the caveat - some really high level chefs use the Ken Onions just fine (one that I know personally and one who seems to be popular on youtube and seems to do well as a chef - Jacob Burton over at StellaCulinary.com). So, it's clearly a functional knife, but it's not to my tastes for design. A friend has one and it seems neat but..eh...I wouldn't really want to use it all the time.  The point being that it's less about the knife and more about what you do with it. 
     
  8. franzb69

    franzb69

    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    17
    Exp:
    Culinary Student
    i'd get a couple sharpening stones along with the knives after the sale.

    =D
     
  9. mike87

    mike87

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    So, it was an amazing deal, but I think it is going to depend on how much I can actually sell them for.  - I had to open the shrink wrap, I bought it in person and was a bit skeptical.

    I think the main reason I am so torn is because each knife is a little out of place.  The chef's knife is too small (not sure about whether I like the belly/curve/handle - haven't used it yet).  The serrated utility seems fairly useless.  the paring and bread knife are fine but are way more expensive than those knives need to be. 

    If all I can get is $300 for this set (which seems a bit low to me), I will most likely keep it and add to it, as I feel like all I would do is trade in 4 good knives for 2 great knives that aren't really prohibitively expensive in their own right.  At that price, I would rather use it for a while and see how I like them and if I truly don't like them, sell them used down the road for probably close to that much anyway.  

    If I can get around $500 for it, then I feel like it is worth selling it as I could get a sharpening setup and a couple excellent starter knives and still probably make back the $150 I spent on it.

    All of this could be a waste of time, however, if the gf steps in and forces me to keep them....they can be the "nice" pretty knives that make her happy and I can let them get dull so she doesn't slice her fingers off.  at the end of the day its only 150 bucks.

    Thanks for the input.  I'll let you know what I do, and I'll be bugging everyone about sharpening setups soon 
     
  10. franzb69

    franzb69

    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    17
    Exp:
    Culinary Student
    good luck.

    auctioning it off on ebay for a minimum of $200 then let it just go wild and i bet you'll get a bunch of buyers for them i bet.

    that's what i would do, i bet you'd end up selling it right up to full price if you're patient enough.
     
  11. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,551
    Likes Received:
    193
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    As a general rule of tool purchases:  

    You regret spending for something you want until the next paycheck; but regret saving on something you don't want for as long as you own it.    

    Your best course of action really depends on what sort of knives you want to use for the next few years. 

    Kitchen knives are neither a purely economic nor aesthetic proposition.  Rather, they're a mix.  It doesn't make sense to me to hold on to knives you don't actually want because you can't replace them -- at no cost -- for knives you do want.  If you want the Shuns keep them, otherwise sell them for what you can get and move on to knives which better suit you.

    Nothing is horribly wrong with the Ken Onion Shuns, and a lot of things are very right.  For instance, they're light, take a good edge, hold it well, made to a very high standard of fit and finish, they're very pretty (if you like the "Damascus" look) and have some ergonomic advantages for people who don't use a pinch grip.  And, as the KnifeMerchant says, some people absolutely love them. 

    On the other hand (there's always another hand, isn't there?) like all VG-10 Shuns they tend to be chippy, shouldn't be maintained on a steel, the pattern scratches easily and subsequently fades, the handle is awkward if you use anything which approaches a normal grip, the Shun chef's knife profile is an exaggerated German (which is also awkward if you don't want to "rock chop" through your entire work load), etc.

    I don't like them, but (a) that's me; and (b) I strongly urge you to make up your own mind rather than copying me if you think I know anything special -- because I don't. 

    If you decide to get a clean start, start by thinking about how you're going to sharpen.  If you're not going to use one of the two or three "best" methods, you might want to keep your knife prices down since you won't be getting their real benefit anyway.  By way of orientation in the price universe:  You can get a pretty damn good 10" chef's/gyuto for under $100, and sharpen it adequately for another $100.   Unsurprisingly, better costs more. 

    Once you have some idea of what general types of knives do want, how you're going to sharpen, and how much money you're going to spend now, whether you want a complete (or nearly complete) kit immediately, we can start thinking about particular knives. 

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  12. mike87

    mike87

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    BDL - sharpening is still at the forefront for me.  I had no intention of buying a knife before a sharpening system, but the deal could not be passed up.

    I was going to start another thread about my sharpening questions, but since I have everyone's attention...

    for your sting of questions, It is looking like an immediate purchase of a forschner followed by a $100-150 chef/gyuto in about a year (I'm the one worried about knives with my current roommate).  how am I going to sharpen (properly i hope?)  Budget - will consider anything but it seems I won't need to go above 150-200 to get a very good beginner set, which is fine.  Unsure of how many stones I need/which stones I should pick?

    Deputy had brought up the merits of getting an edge pro instead of getting stones, which kinda makes me want to either A. get a cheaper combo stone to try out first or B. get an edge pro.  

    what are the pros/cons of a combo stone like this one? http://www.chefknivestogo.com/imtwosi1kst.html

    Also seriously considering:

    buying the 5 piece starter set on cktg (bester 500/beston 1200 /sanyo 6000)

    piecing together a set and starting with 2 stones

    edge pro

    how long would these last me?

    Also, would it be worthwhile picking up some used stones to pratice sharpening on first?

    Lastly - I have an old, but never used set of 440 steel knives that was going to be my practice knives.  Is that necessary/a good idea? Is the steel too poor to learn with?

    Thanks
     
  13. rsp1202

    rsp1202

    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Home Cook
  14. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

    Messages:
    1,973
    Likes Received:
    151
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    As always, BDL and I agree and disagree perfectly.

    1) I like combination stones for new sharpeners. I have not used the Imanishi stones, but I can say that the considerably cheaper King 1k/6k is a terrific place to begin. It is reasonably fast, soaks smoothly, and has a huge amount of feedback (which means that you can feel what you're doing). It also flattens easily, which helps a good deal. It is pretty much squarely between the soft and hard, perhaps a hair on the soft side, so that you can learn what you like. A 6k edge from this stone is pretty much a wow unless and until you have very good steel -- preferably great carbon -- and a very fine polishing stone along with a good deal of technique.

    2) How long will this last you? Depends how often you use it, and for what, obviously. But I think that even if you sharpen a lot, as a home cook and sharpener, your interest in sharpening will probably shift before the stone is dead: either you will give it up as a much less fun thing than you'd hoped, or else you'll decide you need something fancier. And if not -- if you stick with it and find the King what you want -- you will, by the time you've worn it out, know a heck of a lot about sharpening and about what works for you.

    3) Since sharpening matters to you, you should have an anchor knife that will reward your efforts. I generally encourage carbon, but I defer to BDL in the matter of brands, styles, and whatnot -- also types of steel -- because he knows WAY more than I do about those things. I know what I like, but that's about it.

    4) I would focus on the chef's knife or gyuto. Pick up a cheap paring knife and don't worry about it. Same with a bread knife. You won't at this point need anything else if the gyuto is good.

    5) In my opinion, your best bet is to sell the Shun set for what you can get. I bet you can get $300+, probably more, and in my view that's $150+ in your pocket. That right there is enough for a darn good gyuto and the King combi stone. I would not break up the set: frankly, bread knives are much of a muchness unless you get very perfectionist about it, and at this point your budget should not be oriented toward perfection. Cheap paring knives are what they are, and they're VERY cheap.

    In fact, I'd go so far as to say this: if you dig around in your drawers, or at the odd yard sale or whatever, I bet you can get a King 1k/6k combi stone, a functional bread knife, and a functional paring knife for $50-$60 total. If you sell the Shuns for $300, that's $100 profit for the gyuto. If you sell them for $550, that's $350 profit for the gyuto. And in that case, I would buy a $350 gyuto (try Masamoto KS wa-gyuto, sez I). For me, it's all about that one knife around which you build a collection. If you funnel all your profits into that, provided you have a half-decent stone (and Kings are a lot better than half-decent), you will never regret it.
     
  15. mike87

    mike87

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    So how would the king stone (CKTG has an 800/6000 - same difference as the 1k/6k?) hold up to the 5 piece set from cktg (almost $100 more)?

    Perhaps to help guide your advice- 

    I feel like having a set with good feedback is very important to help me learn.  I am also open to knife options that would be excellent "learning" knives, even if they will shortly outgrow their use or would otherwise be a poor fit for me (like a carbon knife) - perhaps I can find them on ebay/craigslist used or turn them around without too much loss to another novice sharpener/friend

    Easy to flatten seems less important to me.  Doesn't seem too tough to me, but perhaps i am incorrect and arrogant. 

    If the king stone is sufficient for at least the next 3 years (and lasts that long) - aka when I am out of medical school and money is less of a concern, then I would need to see a real reason to step up almost another 100 bucks to get an extra stone I might not really know how to use.

    Big question to help me decide between the two - benefits to me of having the extra coarse stone?  I always see on here that its good for "reprofiling" etc.  Don't think I will be getting into that too quickly.  After all, I will only be sharpening one or two knives - so I feel like this stone is only gonna come out a handful of times a year (4-6?) - so I doubt i will be reprofiling anything until I'm somewhat competent at sharpening, which I have to imagine takes at least a dozen or so swings at the rock, if not more? Which means the king could last me two or three years (thus serving its sharpening purpose at about 15-20 bucks/year) and then I could step up - maybe by then I would be discarding the 5 piece set for something better anyway?

    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
  16. franzb69

    franzb69

    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    17
    Exp:
    Culinary Student
    for a combo stone it will last long enough. general maintenance sharpening will work well with the 800/6000.

    but eventually you'll need to get a low grit stone. but it will do with what you have.

    start with the combo stone and decide from there.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
  17. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,551
    Likes Received:
    193
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    There are other alternatives besides CKtG's eight piece set and a combi stone. 

    The eight piece set came out of a conversation between me and Mark (the guy who owns CKtG) about a sharpening kit which was both high enough quality to last beyond the beginner stage and was "soup to nuts" to the point of "just and add water."  As it stands the set includes some things I think are unnecessary, like a loupe, but wotthehell wotthehell others might find them crucial.   

    If you're attracted to the ideas of "high enough quality" and "soup to nuts," want them both at price which represents serious bang for the buck, you should seriously consider the kit. Otherwise, not. 

    Re-profiling isn't an "official" sharpening term, as far as I can recall it's a "BDL" term, but I may have picked it up from someone else.  Quien sabe?  It includes several sharpening activities, one of which is "thinning."  Thinning is something you should do as a routine part of sharpening, every three to five times (or so) you use your medium-coarse stone because bevel angles tend to become more obtuse after several sharpenings.  For most home cooks thinning won't be needed more than two or three times a year. 

    Is it worth having a $50 coarse stone sitting around in your kit?  I think so.  Is it worth $100?  Not when you can get a really good coarse stone for $50.  If the only value you see in the eight piece kit is the extra stone, buy a stand alone coarse stone when you need it.

    You may not think so now, but flattening is a HUGE pain.  One of the drawbacks of King "clay binder" stones is that they dish very quickly and need lots of flattening.  Combination stones need to be flattened twice as frequently as stand alone stones because you can only use one side.  So, King combi stones are in the way of being a PITA.  There are other issues with them as well, its smaller size is one.  But no stone is perfect and the King combi is certainly adequate. 

    Let me be clear.  At this stage I'm not recommending anything in particular -- just trying to help you understand some of the differences in the options you raised. 

    Hope this helps,

    BDL
     
  18. franzb69

    franzb69

    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    17
    Exp:
    Culinary Student
    yes, me hates flattening as well. feels like a huge waste of stone, but at my current level of skill. flattening is essential.

    murray carter can maximize a stone without need for flattening, but then again he's a master blade smith and i am just but a cook. lol.
     
  19. mike87

    mike87

    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    BDL - you mention the 8 piece kit ? do you mean five piece or is there a larger kit you're talking about.

    I'm a little unsure of what I would get if I don't do an edge pro, 5 piece set or combo stone?  Would a set I put together by myself look any different, seeing as I wouldn't want to spend an unlimited amount on it? (I'm guessing no...?)  Right now I am leaning towards the kit (as it seems the stones are better and I will end up buying that coarse stone eventually), unless i feel that I will ditch the kit for something better within 3-5 years, in which case I would go with the combo.

    Deputy - you brought up the edge pro in another post - curious about more of your thoughts on all of this, you mentioned how much easier the edge pro is to use.  Do you think the time issue is as big of a deal if I'm only sharpening one knife for the near future? What else would that entail or is it basically ready to go out of the box?  I would probably get the combo stone to try first before the EP just because it is so much cheaper, and I feel like I could recoup most of my money if I decide I never want to use it again. 

    As for the knife - either I learn how to sharpen with the 440 steel knife I have right now and then buy a 100-150 gyuto/chefs fairly soon or I buy a forschner now and then upgrade to a nice chefs/gyuto in the not so distant future (year or so from now)

    Anyone who knows a lot about 440 steel - OK for learning on?? I don't care if I have to sharpen it more frequently, it will just serve a purpose of being a practice knife.  Just wondering if it can take an edge and isn't too hard to sharpen?  My guess is that it will take an edge and won't be too hard to sharpen it will just lose that edge very quickly.  Is that correct for 440 steel?  Which means I will get a lot of practice keeping it sharp for the next few months.  I figure once I can put an edge on it I will be comfortable buying a $100+ knife that can be the foundation of my collection.  I definitely want to understand how much of a commitment sharpening is before I weight the pros and cons of expensive knives, as I see "ability to take an edge" and "ability to keep an edge" are common themes in knife sharpening and I want to have an understanding of how to weigh frequency of sharpening with my new knife purchase.

    Thanks
     
  20. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,551
    Likes Received:
    193
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    The eight piece kit IS the five piece kit with the addition of a stone holder, a sharpie, and a flattening plate.  Mark and I were talking and I told him that I thought the magnifying loupe he had in the five piece set was unnecessary but that a flattener was an absolute necessity and that he might as well as throw in a sharpie for the magic marker trick because new sharpeners always wanted to know if they had one.  Next thing you know... Eight Piece Kit.  I don't know where to find it on the CKtG site, but Mark will tell you if I ask.  

    I can't speak for Deputy, but its significantly easier to learn how to use an EP than to freehand on stones which also means a much shorter time until you get good results.  In your case the biggest drawback of the EP vis a vis bench stones is cost of entry.  There are some other limitations, but they're relatively minor and might not affect you at all. 

    Some 440 knives can be very difficult to sharpen because some 440s can be extremely soft and tough.  It depends on the individual knife. 

    BDL