Looking for a cheaper but good starter Gyuto

510
81
Joined May 29, 2013
First, about size.

The link to the cutting board was for a small board - 15.75 inches X 11.5 inches.  That's a small board.  At maximum, a 240 mm blade would be comfortable on that.  Even a 210 mm blade would be appropriate.  I would consider a 270 mm blade to be not only overkill on that size board, but rather unwieldly.

The Tojiro F-695 has Kurochi cladding.  As far as I am concerned, the cladding is there mostly for aesthetics, and just a little stiffness.  It's somewhat the same philosophy as Damascus cladding, only to appeal to those who want a "rustic" look.  If you don't like it, you can always just abrade it off.  I would do that with the finest wet/dry sandpaper I could find, with the cheapest mineral oil I could find as a lubricant (Safeway food grade mineral oil at $3.49 per pint?).  It's your call whether you would want to keep it or not.

The critical steel is the core: shirogami (White No. 2).  That's the steel which has the edge - and that's where the performance lies.  White No. 2 is much more highly regarded than SK4.

Now, the handle isn't anything to write raves about - it's probably as simple as possible, with a plastic ferrule.  But it is a WA handle (traditional Japanese), and that's what you said you preferred in your first posting.

And this is a Japanese-style knife: not just in appearance, but also in delivery, much more than the FKH.

I'm guessing that you want this knife principally as a knife to develop sharpening skills with.  I'm also guessing that you want to experience as close to a Japanese knife as possible.  In the combination of these two factors, I would go for the Tojiro F-695.  

Yes, the edge is probably very crude.  That's just the way that traditional Japanese blades are delivered.  It will give you a chance to really practice some sharpening skills, including thinning behind the edge.

But if you want to try a knife closer to what a Western user would have, then the Fujiwara FKH would be more appropriate.

Your call.

In both cases, the steel will be reactive, where (after sharpening), you will need to passivate the surface of the blade with a patina.  I would suggest having a batch of sacrificial onions at hand, that you can chop so you can force that patina.

Galley Swiller
 
1,061
44
Joined Aug 6, 2015
My concern for the OP, after reading that the intent is to be using the knife quite a bit at least for a few months, is I'm just hoping that Tojiro Shirogami is not very solidly a project knife. It's nice to be able to assess the merits of your angle holding and ability to make clean bevels without thick wavy cladding or other cheap knife 'you get what you pay for' issues being complicating factors. 

I've got a project knife (KU, soft iron clad, white #1) I'm messing around with, and I'll put up some candid pictures of what it looks like right now, with a couple of hours thinning/sharpening work in, and honestly, many more to go before I'll be happy with it (it still wedges in carrots and daikon like crazy). I don't think I'd feel all that good if this was my only gyuto, knowing what my other knives cut like and they don't need hours of work sunk into them.


The metal under the Kurouchi finish is somewhat rough and uneven, with high and low spots, as well as pits. 


It's thick! Splits daikons part way through the cut. Feels even more wedgy after I got the Ikazuchi.


Wavy cladding has made it hard for me to hit the exact same spots in the cladding trying to polish it back up after thinning (not a good idea to leave the soft-iron cladding on 220 grit, coarser scratch patterns are more rust prone because it's harder to wipe and get the water totally out of the scratches/gouges). I spent over an hour yesterday hitting the cladding with pink brick 220 -> 500 -> 1200 -> Aoto. There's still some spots I can't hit with the stones yet because of how thick adjacent portions of the cladding are.

I think I've now sunken more time into this knife than my previous project knife (Artifex 52100) :O
 
87
11
Joined Nov 11, 2015
+1 the Tojiro

I have one and it was an early knife I bought and I still wont part with it. I've thinned, sharpened, knocked it around, loaned it out... oh and cut quite a bit with it too

It makes you feel like a sharpening champ on the stones and the edge you get is great

It has so much wrong with it, and so much so much going for it - a runt of the litter with great character

As for patina and smell. Mine still smells even now. There is zero patina anywhere on it. I've cut all sorts from lemons, pineapples, loads of tomato's and onions, left it on the side wet for a bit, and as soon you pick it up it's like a greyhound at the gate

Can you tell I have a soft spot for it
 
205
11
Joined Jun 9, 2015
 
+1 the Tojiro

I have one and it was an early knife I bought and I still wont part with it. I've thinned, sharpened, knocked it around, loaned it out... oh and cut quite a bit with it too

It makes you feel like a sharpening champ on the stones and the edge you get is great

It has so much wrong with it, and so much so much going for it - a runt of the litter with great character

As for patina and smell. Mine still smells even now. There is zero patina anywhere on it. I've cut all sorts from lemons, pineapples, loads of tomato's and onions, left it on the side wet for a bit, and as soon you pick it up it's like a greyhound at the gate

Can you tell I have a soft spot for it
What's wrong with it? lol.

So the smell lasts a long long time...?  So that's not a bad thing? 

So it wont Patina at all, should I force one to get rid of the smell?  any taste??  The Patina would form on the white #2 part, and not the cladding, which might be something semi-stainless or...?  I didn't really read any descriptions, so not sure if it's m,entioned, I'll go check it out anyways :)

Yeah soft spot :)..  Love hate relationship haha.  I like the talk about the sharpening though.








Thanks all.
 
1,061
44
Joined Aug 6, 2015
Sometimes these knives come with a thin layer of some sort of lacquer which will make it seem non-reactive until the lacquer starts wearing off. If mine came with a lacquer, I must have used acetone and wiped it off immediately.

Cheap soft iron cladding is ridiculous. Cutting pineapples might make the cladding steel reek of vinegar. I'm avoiding cutting pineapples with my more reactive cladding knives for now.

It should be soft iron cladding, looks like a bead blasted effect to emphasize the core/cladding contrast. CKTG listing mentions that the blade is fully reactive. Different surface finishes I believe will affect the visibility/formation of a patina, so the bead blasting might inhibit noticeable patina formation. Thinning a lot with stones will kind of end up with a similar color as the bead blast/starting haze finish, but I noticed more patina formation on the cladding that got hit with my thinning. Cutting mainly veggies didn't do much of anything except maybe make some different shades of gray/dark gray. When I sliced up a medium rare steak with my Yamashin, I got some crazy wicked blues, but they didn't stick for very long (cut other things, then thinned again, so it's gone).
 
87
11
Joined Nov 11, 2015
What's wrong with it?

Here are it's cons:

The Tojiro shirogami ITK 240mm wa-gyuto is a inexpensive knife that sacrifices a lot to meet a price point. Based on the example I have and what I have e-gleaned,, the fit and finish is poor, with a sharp spine and area where your finger will meet the back of the blade; it had a very uneven grind of the blade road, with several overgrinds which I flattened; the handle is very plain wood with an ill-fitted plastic ferrule and the kurouchi finish wears away easily, exposing the soft iron cladding which is very reactive
 
205
11
Joined Jun 9, 2015
I'm not sure how I feel about a "lacquer"; or something put over the knife...  Nor do I feel about it "wearing off" possibly into my food, and other taste/smell issues....

I don't mind increasing my price a little, but not looking for a knife that has "sketchy" properties/characteristics...  IT seems the Tojiro is an okay knife to start with, if you want issues.

I want something that IC an sharpen and learn to cut and such with, without having to worry about coatings wearing off, smells, or other odd properties...

Plus, the way the FF and the handle and such sound, it sounds like a PITA, but gives you a decent steel...

I rather have something all around good, but I guess for a sharpening knife Idk.....

I would like to use this all around though.... but maybe I should get something that I just use for sharpening?  But then when I get my good knife, I would be using that a lot more, and would have to sharpen that more...

Plus, I would have to cut a lot of stuff with this "sharpening knife" then sharpen it, or else I wont know the full effects.  I could just sharpen a sharp knife, but that doesn't really do anything fort me lol :(.
 
2,563
538
Joined Apr 25, 2014
The protective lacquer is not uncommon on carbon steel knives.  If you are a knife maker you don't want your stuff rusting in storage or shipping.  The user is supposed to remove it with acetone.
 
205
11
Joined Jun 9, 2015
 
The protective lacquer is not uncommon on carbon steel knives.  If you are a knife maker you don't want your stuff rusting in storage or shipping.  The user is supposed to remove it with acetone.
So uh... Do sellers give this information out, or what?  This is the first time I've heard of this, and you know how long I've been asking knife questions....

If we dont' remove it, how bad is it?

Is it only on carbon?  I have an SS Uraku, but I would asume the SS wouldn't matter, since it's SS, and the laquer sems to be for rust prevention??
 
1,061
44
Joined Aug 6, 2015
I haven't read or heard of it being on stainless. It's not a particularly big deal one way or another. It's just that when I read about people's initial experiences with cheaper knives I know have the soft iron cladding steel remarking that it's not very reactive, I immediately consider that the knife they are talking about either has the lacquer, or has a surface finish like bead blasting that seems to inhibit patina formation or visibility.

What will happen if you don't remove it is that it will come off spottily based on where it might abrade or otherwise fall off of it first. It's not meant to be a forever finish. It will make patina formation look godawful because of the spottiness when it starts coming off. 

The lacquer does what oiling the blade does for a home user, except for from the maker's side, the time that knife might be in storage/not yet sold is indeterminate, and lacquer is a more durable rust prevention method than oil.

How to tell if it's there - I've had at least one knife with it, and couldn't quite tell 100% when I got the knife, since I didn't have any experience for what to look for. Take a paper towel or something similar and fold it up, use acetone on a portion of the knife and wipe, and see if you can tell if there is some comparative difference in how the blade looks where you rubbed at vs not. If so, acetone and wipe the rest of the blade. Then rinse and scrub the blade with soap and water, towel dry.
 
1,061
44
Joined Aug 6, 2015
 
Since I've never sharpened before, if I dont' sharpen at the correct angle, then will I mess up the knife permanently, or just need someone to fix it who knows what they are doing?

I hear we should use sometihng like 15% angle, but I also have heard 30%, and CKTG has this chart on one of thieir knife guards but goes 5,10, 20, and 30%, so I'm confused on the angle...

Is the angle different per type of blade?  Do we have to figure it out/ask?

This is why I want a "Cheaper" knife so I can learn and mess it up if I have to, instead of a 300$ blade :).  Granted, I would like to not mess up any blade.
Dunno how I missed this earlier.

I've got an angle cube that helps me roughly understand what angles I'm at for sharpening. Having some picture guides, cardstock or wood wedges cut into the desired angles definitely helps to solidify what some common (or very close to them) angles to use look/feel like, for example 15deg. 

Start with something in the range that more or less works, 10-20 degrees per side. The best advice I have been (repeatedly, even though it sucks because it's not an easy, definitive answer) told is to sharpen, cut with the knife, analyze what is going on (likes/dislikes, food you're cutting, cutting board, wedging, steering, edge retention, toothy/not toothy, etc.) and then adjust accordingly the next time. The angle(s) you want are functions of the considerations you prioritize, and there isn't one absolute answer, even for a given knife, because we as users stress different things. As an example, I read some stuff recently that got me stressing as a lefty user about what I should be doing for sharpening J-knives, but I basically got told that if the knife really is steering and being a problem, to simply sharpen in a way to combat that (trial and error til I get to somewhat that works), and I haven't messed up bad enough to have consistently perceptible steering.

So that addresses the nebulous nature of 'correct'. As a relatively novice sharpener, I would recommend you just aim for building up your angle holding skills and trying to achieve even looking bevels per side (note that this does not necessarily mean same width bevels on both sides). If you're starting with a knife that has a decent looking edge bevel, it won't do too bad to just follow that for the first few sharpenings. Unless you start with a sub 1000 grit stone and freak out and go at it for hours on end, you won't get close to messing up the knife all that much, certainly not permanently.

Hope this helps. It's irking that there aren't really simple and comprehensively correct answers, but there are good guidelines. Most of all, there is trial and error, learning to understand your sharpening and your cutting, to get the best results for you.
 
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510
81
Joined May 29, 2013
This isn't so much about what angle to choose, but rather on how to have a tool capable of letting you find that particular angle by feel.

I use a set of machinist's angle blocks, with a home-made stand to keep what I want upright.  The huge advantage is that I can set up the stand with the blocks I want, and then I can directly feel the angle, rather than squint at a screen and jiggle the angle cube.  And yes, I have an angle cube - and have tried the "hold and look" routine.  Believe me, feeling is much better than looking.

Angle block sets are easily found on eBay for as low as about $30 a set for basic and low precision (plus or minus 20 seconds of arc) angle blocks.  Of course, plus or minus 20 seconds of arc is the same as plus or minus 1/180th of a degree.  That's accuracy overkill.

My stand is several pieces of glued-together plywood, with the top being two fixed and glued pieces, one having an edge at 90[sup]o[/sup]  to the front edge to the stand, and the other having its edge at an angle which allows for a wedge to be fitted in to hold the pieces of angle block I want to use.  The wedge and the second top piece are sawn from the same block, so that they will let me do the wedging over the length of the angle blocks, allowing for a very firm grip to hold the angle blocks.

The overall thickness of the stand is roughly similar to the thickness of many of my waterstones.  The wedge and top pieces are preferably about 3/8 inch thick, so as to accommodate both a single angle block (1/4" high base) or 2 blocks (1/2" for 2 bases).

Galley Swiler
 
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2,865
236
Joined Nov 15, 2012
To get a visual read on how your knife needs to sit on the stone you can make perfectly fine angle wedges with poster board and dime-store (showing my age here) protractor, and some superglue to harden and water proof.

I keep a 14deg one sitting in the unused steel hole in my knife block.  Never bothered making others as I can guess other angles adequately enough from there.

Rick
 
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