Looking for a cheaper but good starter Gyuto

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Joined Jun 9, 2015
I am ultimately looking to get a Konosuke HD2 but wanted to get a knife that could be used as a starter knife, and be a good knife that I can  use to get used to sharpening,  as I don't want to  ruin a 250$+ blade.

I see the Tojiro DP as a really liked knife, and I see it for 70$ on CKTG, but not too sure if there's a better choice, or something cheaper?  I also see the Kanehide TK as a liked knife, but it's a bit more than the Tojiro.

One user said I should find a really cheap knife on ebay, but I figured getting a decent knife that could be used, would be better that a cheap crap knife that I only use for sharpening.

Thoughts on a few different knives that would be good for a starter?

-------------------------------------------------------

Price:  Max 100$, but would like as cheap as possible.

Knife Type:  Gyuto

Knife Size: 240mm max

Knife Handle:  Would prefer The traditional Japanese handles, but the cheaper knives seem to be western handles so if that's the case I might have to stick to western.

 
 
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Get a basic carbon steel blade for learning sharpening.

The Tojiro has a VG-10 core and that steel is notoriously difficult.

A Fujiwara FKH with japanesechefsknife.com will do the job.
I noticed that it was VG-10, but wasn't sure about the sharpening properties, thanks for the info, good call on that steel :).

I see that both JCK and CKTG are priced the same, so I guess it doesn't matter where I get it from...?

The Kanehide TK I noticed went up in price and I think is it's own proprietary steel.

Are there any other ones, or do you think the Fujiwara is my best bet?  Carbon is the easiest to sharpen, compared to stainless/semi-stainless...?  It should also get me prepared for cleaning my knives during use!

Would you say 240mm?  I sometimes feel like a smaller blade might be nice, but everyone tells me to go big....

 
 
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That's about all you can get in the price range.  If you increase to like $125-150, there are other options.
 
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There's cheap clad carbon steel knives, more typically Kurouchi or some other rustic look clad carbon knives under 100. Handles are generally cheap and rough with plastic ferrules, blades are on the thick side, possibly wavy grind/uneven cladding, but you can do whatever you want to them and not feel so bad about scratching them up. If you thin them some and get some good sharpening jobs in, they will perform decently. Tojiro Shirogami and Yamashin are some example. BluewayJapan on ebay has some others like that too. I've also seen on Ebay some Tanaka Nakiris for under $60.

How much you can use these will partly be a function of what comes out of your sharpening over time. Have fun!
 
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I'm 5'4 with smallish hands for my height and a counter+end grain board that is a bit too tall for my liking, and I still won't pick using my 210s (I had these first) over my 240s (bought these more recently). Especially when you do get to those nicer knives, you'll kick yourself for getting a shorter knife simply for a price difference, if that is your concern.
 
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That's about all you can get in the price range.  If you increase to like $125-150, there are other options.
Thanks, I feel that I shouldn't spend too much on a knife since I don't plan on using this too long before I get the HD2.

Do you think the Fujiwara is a good choice?

http://www.chefknivestogo.com/fujiwara2.html
There's cheap clad carbon steel knives, more typically Kurouchi or some other rustic look clad carbon knives under 100. Handles are generally cheap and rough with plastic ferrules, blades are on the thick side, possibly wavy grind/uneven cladding, but you can do whatever you want to them and not feel so bad about scratching them up. If you thin them some and get some good sharpening jobs in, they will perform decently. Tojiro Shirogami and Yamashin are some example. BluewayJapan on ebay has some others like that too. I've also seen on Ebay some Tanaka Nakiris for under $60.

How much you can use these will partly be a function of what comes out of your sharpening over time. Have fun!
I'm 5'4 with smallish hands for my height and a counter+end grain board that is a bit too tall for my liking, and I still won't pick using my 210s (I had these first) over my 240s (bought these more recently). Especially when you do get to those nicer knives, you'll kick yourself for getting a shorter knife simply for a price difference, if that is your concern.
Thanks for the tips, I guess that something has to do when you get a cheap knife, and handles and stuff are first, then quality of blades I would assume.

Thanks for the tips on the blade size, have you tried 270's or 300's?  Some people like 270's, but I feel 240 is prob the sweet spot, but maybe not?  After awhile these bigger knives don't seem that big to me.
 
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Fukiwara FKH is a good choice especially for the price, on getting a working blade. The reactivity will needed to be controlled, up to you how to do so.

Millions is right, at that slightly higher price range you have more options. For example Gesshin Uraku in white #2. It will be a good knife coming to you with no problems, won't be a project knife, has a wa-handle that won't be of poor quality.

On the sizes...I'll get back to you on that. Truthfully I have some 270mm but I haven't used either. One I got when I started getting nice things I got that first 270mm gyuto, but my longest previous chefs knife before I discovered Japanese knives was 6.5 inches...too big of a difference at that time and it was obvious as soon as I opened the box. Then I fell mostly out of infatuation with the Damascus aesthetic. The other I haven't used because I'm still deciding if I want to let it patina or keep it polished. I'll pull the latter out and use it a bit and let you know.
I will say that the first time I used a 240mm after having 210s my first thought was "oh this is so much better" rather than immense awkwardness or discomfort.
 
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240mm is big enough to do all normal chef knife tasks.  270mm is more efficient if you do a lot of prep and you have the space.  I use a cleaver now, which has teh functional flat spot of a 270mm.  But really I use 5 sides of the cleaver, not just the edge.

Haven't used FKH personally to comment.  Tosho had some HD2 in stock last time I looked.  Also if you're planning on upgrading anyway, why not spend the money on a petty knife that you want to keep and use in addition to the HD2?  You can try out different steels, different makers, and learn to sharpen just the same on a petty
 
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Fukiwara FKH is a good choice especially for the price, on getting a working blade. The reactivity will needed to be controlled, up to you how to do so.

Millions is right, at that slightly higher price range you have more options. For example Gesshin Uraku in white #2. It will be a good knife coming to you with no problems, won't be a project knife, has a wa-handle that won't be of poor quality.

On the sizes...I'll get back to you on that. Truthfully I have some 270mm but I haven't used either. One I got when I started getting nice things I got that first 270mm gyuto, but my longest previous chefs knife before I discovered Japanese knives was 6.5 inches...too big of a difference at that time and it was obvious as soon as I opened the box. Then I fell mostly out of infatuation with the Damascus aesthetic. The other I haven't used because I'm still deciding if I want to let it patina or keep it polished. I'll pull the latter out and use it a bit and let you know.
I will say that the first time I used a 240mm after having 210s my first thought was "oh this is so much better" rather than immense awkwardness or discomfort.
Thanks, want somethign cheap, already have a uraku.
 
240mm is big enough to do all normal chef knife tasks.  270mm is more efficient if you do a lot of prep and you have the space.  I use a cleaver now, which has teh functional flat spot of a 270mm.  But really I use 5 sides of the cleaver, not just the edge.

Haven't used FKH personally to comment.  Tosho had some HD2 in stock last time I looked.  Also if you're planning on upgrading anyway, why not spend the money on a petty knife that you want to keep and use in addition to the HD2?  You can try out different steels, different makers, and learn to sharpen just the same on a petty
Thanks a lot.  Not sure what Tosho is, but have a link?  CKTG said they will be getting some in at some point relatively soon, so I figured I'd grab something now, and wait.

I guess I could get a petty also, figured a nice cheap gyuto would work, but maybe I should think of something else.....
 
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Get to sharpening your uraku! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif make that knife shine

Tosho knife arts
It's a gift i got for my dad, and he doesn't want to sharpen it much, so I'm getting my own knife to work with lol...  I feel the uraku is also something I wouldn't want to mess up by sharpening incorrect.

The cheaper, but easier steel I can use, the better it will be :).

Plus... The Uraku is Stainless.
 
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The thing is, if you feel that way about the Uraku, you're gonna be likely to not really want to use (and therefore have to sharpen) the Konosuke much when you get it, for fear of messing it up. Imo you'd want to be at a point where you can get exactly what kind of edge you want in the Uraku, cleanly, before then. You might as well practice in something with no grind issues, which are somewhat few knives in that cheap price range, and have already been brought up.

Edit because I derped and didn't read Lazagna's post very carefully. You'll probably want to get to a point where you could sharpen something like a gift knife Uraku without being afraid of doing it incorrectly or marring it, before getting the Konosuke, in which case I definitely support your interest in getting something cheaper to practice on. But you also want to see if you can make your dad a sharpness addict! Deliver him edges so nice he's going to want to keep them maintained at a high level. :D

Sharpening stainless is fine. The Uraku isn't VG10 or anything that has a horrid rep about sharpening/burrs. It won't feel as nice, and it will probably take somewhat longer than carbon steels, but the first 5-6 knives (Two VG10) I ever sharpened were stainless, and they all ended up better after passing through my hands than without. 2 were some Farberware Pro Forged (santoku and meat cleaver) I dug up from inheriting other people's stuff that I ended up gifting to friends or their parents who said they were the sharpest knives they've ever used. It's not that hard to make positive strides. If you have decent stones then you won't face frustrating problems with abrading stainless steel.
 
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The thing is, if you feel that way about the Uraku, you're gonna be likely to not really want to use (and therefore have to sharpen) the Konosuke much when you get it, for fear of messing it up. Imo you'd want to be at a point where you can get exactly what kind of edge you want in the Uraku, cleanly, before then. You might as well practice in something with no grind issues, which are somewhat few knives in that cheap price range, and have already been brought up.

Edit because I derped and didn't read Lazagna's post very carefully. You'll probably want to get to a point where you could sharpen something like a gift knife Uraku without being afraid of doing it incorrectly or marring it, before getting the Konosuke, in which case I definitely support your interest in getting something cheaper to practice on. But you also want to see if you can make your dad a sharpness addict! Deliver him edges so nice he's going to want to keep them maintained at a high level. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

Sharpening stainless is fine. The Uraku isn't VG10 or anything that has a horrid rep about sharpening/burrs. It won't feel as nice, and it will probably take somewhat longer than carbon steels, but the first 5-6 knives (Two VG10) I ever sharpened were stainless, and they all ended up better after passing through my hands than without. 2 were some Farberware Pro Forged (santoku and meat cleaver) I dug up from inheriting other people's stuff that I ended up gifting to friends or their parents who said they were the sharpest knives they've ever used. It's not that hard to make positive strides. If you have decent stones then you won't face frustrating problems with abrading stainless steel.
Originally he wanted it for Sushi, but I wanted to get him an overall knife in stainless.  He still wants to use it only for sushi, and doesn't want to sharpen "that much," but it's something he's going to have to learn to do, and I will end up getting him another sushi knife, so he can use this for other things.

I want my own knife, regardless of the HD2, because I want to use it a lot, and it to be my own.  I don't want to sharpen the Uraku, and mess it up, since it's his, and it's a gift.  Nor would he want to mess it up, so a cheaper knife we can use, will be best.
 
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This is a quick post while the rest of mine is with the mods because I put up a link - Tosho prices are Canadian dollars, if that offers a bit of relief. Current exchange rate is 1 USD to 1.46 CAD
 
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Prepped dinner with my 270mm gyuto. Felt fine, but I didn't need even close the whole blade length for what I was cutting (carrots, shiitakes). Didn't feel super awkward to hold and use. It might be the perfect length for halving watermelons though...I'll see when they're back in the supermarkets.
 
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Getting back to the original question, under $100, for a carbon steel traditional Japanese handled 240 mm gyuto, you might want to look at a Tojiro F-695, with a Shirogami (White No. 2) blade, and Kurouchi cladding.  ChefKnivesToGo sells it for $60.  That's right at the minimum for free shipping by Mark within the USA.  The web page is: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/toshitk24wa.html  

Personally, while I have and use 270 mm blades, I mostly reach for either a 240 mm or a 255 mm blade.  I generally find the 270 mm to be overkill when cooking for myself.

If you want stainless and you're willing to go up to $110, then the MAC BK-100 is a good knife.  Good length (255 mm), good profile as a gyuto, good steel (same as the MAC Professional), same thickness and stiffness as the MAC Professional MBK-95.  It's not as "cool" as the Professional (the knife lacks a metal bolster), but is a good workhorse.  Sharpens as well as all of the other MAC;s.  Strictly a western handle, though.

Hope that helps

GS
 
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Joined May 29, 2013
By the way, about blade length...

What is your cutting board size?  

That probably will determine what your practical maximum blade length will be.

GS
 
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Getting back to the original question, under $100, for a carbon steel traditional Japanese handled 240 mm gyuto, you might want to look at a Tojiro F-695, with a Shirogami (White No. 2) blade, and Kurouchi cladding.  ChefKnivesToGo sells it for $60.  That's right at the minimum for free shipping by Mark within the USA.  The web page is: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/toshitk24wa.html  

Personally, while I have and use 270 mm blades, I mostly reach for either a 240 mm or a 255 mm blade.  I generally find the 270 mm to be overkill when cooking for myself.

If you want stainless and you're willing to go up to $110, then the MAC BK-100 is a good knife.  Good length (255 mm), good profile as a gyuto, good steel (same as the MAC Professional), same thickness and stiffness as the MAC Professional MBK-95.  It's not as "cool" as the Professional (the knife lacks a metal bolster), but is a good workhorse.  Sharpens as well as all of the other MAC;s.  Strictly a western handle, though.

Hope that helps

GS
 
By the way, about blade length...

What is your cutting board size?  

That probably will determine what your practical maximum blade length will be.

GS
Thanks for the tips GS, much appreciated...  I thought there was a cheaper Tojiro, odd the carbon is less expensive than the semi-stainless (I guess stainless is more in demand).

Would you say the Tojiro would be better than the Fujiwara that's 20$ more, or since it's cheaper, it's a better buy for my needs?

AS for cutting board size I use... plates....jk :p

I have a hi-soft home sized board, which isn't very big at all...

I'm pretty sure it's this one http://korin.com/HiSoft-Cutting-Board 

Thanks :)

EDIT:  I see the Tojiro, but the steel doesn't look all that nice.   I've heard that style is usually to make things cheaper, and it looks like the knife is chipped in some pics (I know it's a stock, but still).

The fuji looks nice...

The issue is western handle vs the traditional handle.  I think it wouldn't be a bad thing to have a western handled knife though.


EDIT:  I also read the Fujiwara uses a "Low Grade" Quality of carbon steel and mentioned "SK-4/5" what's the SK ratings?

Thanks for any advice!
 
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Tojiro Shirogami - expect it to have fit and finish issues indicative of the low price. It is more likely than not a solid several hours 'project knife' to get it cutting how a thinner knife with a more consistent grind starts out with. The Fujiwara you won't have to put hours of work to get it to be thin and nice enough to cut well. 

Search Zknives steel chart (I would link, but the last time I tried to put in a link...well, the post still isn't on this thread yet) for SK4 (SK4 has higher carbon content than SK5). 0.9-1% carbon content, fairly respectable. It is an expected steel for the price range. My understanding is that complaints with it are smell related because it has a somewhat higher sulfur content. You'll want to force a patina or otherwise mitigate its reactivity. Keep it away from the most acidic or harsh things for a while, cut some milder stuff to start out with. 

A quick note on blade lengths, I'm working on a 24x18 board. If I had a HiSoft board like yours, I'd probably not go for 270mm. 240mm is a good length.
 
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Thanks, I was actually going to ask what the "bad smell/taste" was about....  Is there any issue with the food, or it just smells a bit funk?  

What foods should I stay away from?  I usually cut onions, tomatoes, garlic, and sometimes cilantro.
 

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