Looking to add a new member to my team! A utility knife!

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by imaya, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. imaya

    imaya

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    I posed this question in an older thread, but realized there is a good chance it got lost amongst all the older posts. Here it is for reference as to where I am: http://www.cheftalk.com/t/68469/ugh...-a-victorinox-fibrox-and-be-done-with-this/30

    Anyways, I am looking to add a utility knife to my bag. I use a cheapo one right now, and am surprised as to how well it has performed. It retains the edge well for an inexpensive knife, sharpens easily to a decently sharp edge, and I find the size is very, very handy! Cons are, it is *too* small for most things (5.5") and it isn't something reliably sharp, just sharpish. I still have to whip out something else if I need to cut up a few tomatoes. Handle is hokey, but it is comfortable and doesnt slip. I can't sharpen near the heel due to how far the handle comes down, and a proper pinch grip is awkward.

    Currently, I am working in a high volume garde manger. We are talking about daily cleaning and slicing of anywhere from a dozen melons and pineapples on a slow day to 100+ when slammed. I have loved the utility knife for accurate slicing and fine cleaning of fruit for presentation. A granton edge would be very nice here as well, though I have heard people say they don't actually help prevent sticking? I also process lots of cheese for display, so my chef knife is only good for breaking down the block. After that, I need finer tuned cuts. Most of the work I do is for the plate-ups or something similarly highly presentation dependent, so everything needs exact cuts. A smaller knife is also more handy in our overcrowded kitchen where we are fighting for prep space. Many times, I find the only space I have is the cutting board. We get creative with making space. A smaller knife is far more practical in most cases, unless I am hunkering down for some quality time with a couple cases of tomatoes.

    I also have some problems with my chef knife (see thread I Iinked). Basically, I find my Tojiro DP to have a very uncomfortable and slippery handle, and it does not retain it's edge for as long as I need it to. But boy is it sharp, and it sharpens up really nicely! The 240mm size is a great size as well. I am looking to trade or sell it, if anyone is interested. Let me know what you have. Anyways, it means I default to my utility knife and bread knife for as much as I can. I prefer the bread knife for much more control and accuracy when skinning melons and pineapples, which is something I do regularly. So I use it constantly. I use the utility knife for everything else.

    Not sure where to start with this. My first instinct was to hit the top, and look at a Mac:

    http://www.chefknivestogo.com/macprmisa61.html

    It is about $40 more than I wanted to spend, but it is everything I want. Granton edge, good size, rounded edge. I have heard Macs have great edge retention, which is very important here.

    If the Granton edge really does nothing, how is the Mac 'Superior' line?

    http://www.chefknivestogo.com/macsu65insak.html

    Any other suggestions for a utility knife? I think the typical 6" will be too small, and 7" seems to be the point where I am looking for my 240mm chef knife. 6.5" seems like a good size for what I am using it for. I want to aim for right around $70-$80 for this. Budget is a little loose, it is going to be a christmas present. I need great edge retention with a reliably sharp edge, prefer granton to prevent sticking, I like rounded tips to add more versatility, needs a handle that isn't big and blocky, nor is slippery. I have women's hands, average sized, short fingered. I wear a size medium rubber glove, if that helps with perspective. I use a pinch grip when I cut. Knife will see heavy use, but only by me, and I take care of my tools. No tossing carelessly in sinks, running through the dishwashers. Honed after a long day. Would prefer to not have to take it home to sharpen more than once every two or three months.

    Thanks guys!
     
  2. toddnmd

    toddnmd

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    Those links to MACs are Santokus, which I don't think most would consider a utility knife.  If you are looking for a shorter chef's knife, perhaps they would work (although a lot of serious knife people seem to look down on Santokus).

    Petty/utility knives seem to come in a range of sizes--120, 150, 180, and some 210s.  They are more like long paring knives. 

    I'll let others with more expertise give you more specific suggestions, or ask you questions so that they can.
     
     
  3. mike9

    mike9

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    My 150 Petty gets a lot of use.  From trimming, light boning, slicing, peeling, etc.  Next to my 240/10" gyuto's it's my go to knife.  Which reminds me it's time for a trip to the stones and a fresh edge for this work horse.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  4. imaya

    imaya

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    Why do people look down on Santokus? Everyone who I have ever met who has one, loves it. One chef was heartbroken when his was swiped. I would say around 1 in 5 cooks I come across use one instead of a full chef knife, and many have one in addition to their chef knife.

    It almost seems like a long, thinner knife is less versatile. I still have that 7" carving/ slicing knife that never seems quite right for most things I do, though it is good for some (peeling would be a good thing to use it for, but it is too small for watermelons, and I need the tooth to open up pineapples, so it is always faster and more practical to use my bread knife. I get great, accurate, fast cuts with my thin, flexy, serrated bread knife). That fills the 180mm gap. But there is still a HUGE gap between a 3" flexy little paring knife and the 7" carver/ slicer. That 7" is just a tad too big for using on the fly for detailed work. That's why I would like something a bit smaller. Maybe I should just try using that 7" for a couple weeks and see if I grow to like it and not need another utility knife?

    And, of course, more than anything, whatever I get MUST have a smaller, more ergonomic, and less slippery handle.
     
  5. toddnmd

    toddnmd

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    As for the Santoku discussion, the bottom line is that if a certain type of knife works for you, then it works for you.  It's your money that you're paying, after all.  Some of it comes down to individual factors and personal preference.

    This thread caught my eye because I'm in the market for a decent petty knife.  Right now, I'm seriously considering the Richmond Artifex 150mm Utility.  The price ($50) is quite reasonable, and it's made with AEB-L, which seems pretty well regarded for getting and staying sharp,especially for stainless.  I've never used this knife, but it looks solid.  Here's the link:  http://www.chefknivestogo.com/riar15pe.html

    A lot of the conventional wisdom seems to be to not spend too much on a utility/petty.
     
  6. eiron

    eiron

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    The only blades I've heard of that actually release foods are the Glestain. It's a little beyond your price range, but it sounds like the 170mm "narrow blade" santoku (Model 816TK) would be your perfect utility knife!

     
  7. toddnmd

    toddnmd

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    "Looks solid" in the colloquial sense, i.e., it looks like a good potential choice.  (Not at all like a cleaver.)  I believe the Artifex line is generally thin, but not considered "laser" thin.  (Using "laser" here figuratively as well--I'm not going to cut food with a beam of light! ;-)
     
  8. duckfat

    duckfat

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      I've never suggested a Santoku before, let alone one with dimples...and probably never will again. However unless you've worked as a high volume Garde Manger it may be hard to appreciate the knife work it takes cleaning cases and cases of fruit every day and plowing through Cheese. The Santoku shape is pretty much ideal for that and the Santoku should excel in a limited space. The Glestain is a fine knife and sells at a very reasonable $135. FWIW The Glestain is the same price @ Korin and I'd not opt for the narrow version. In either event the Glestain is only about $15 more than the Mac and the handle alone is worth that in a working knife.

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  9. imaya

    imaya

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    I was actually all for the Glestain, until I read this slam from chefsknivestogo:

    http://www.chefknivestogoforum.com/opinions-on-glestain-knives-t802.html
    They have been a consistent and important resource for my knife shopping, so I definitely value what they have to say about a knife.
     

    Has anyone here used one? Thoughts or opinions?
     
  10. duckfat

    duckfat

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    This is the same dealer that's still selling Moritaka and promoting them so keep that in perspective. If you watch Top Chef, Iron Chef etc you will see Glestain in use by Chef's that certainly could pick any brand knife they wanted. You may also notice that the grantons work which is exactly what you need. In either event both Koki at JCK and Korin carry Glestain and neither would carry brands that didn't sell. (I doubt any dealer would) The Glestain is not going to be as popular as many J-knives but that doesn't mean it won't be a good knife for you. Nothing wrong with the Mac either but those German style handles on the Glestain are mighty comfortable on a working knife.

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  11. imaya

    imaya

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    Thanks!

    One last thing... any opinions about the 'initial western sharpening' from Korin? It looks like it is free for new knives. Do they do a good job, or will they mess up my new knife?
     
  12. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Mark Richmond may not be perfect, but the information he gave in the forum post is accurate.

    Glestains ARE made from Acuto 440 which is okay but not the most best or most modern alloy in the world.  It's a step up from X50CrMoV15, but not by much.  Compared to other high-end, western handled, knives they ARE heavy, weighing about the same as a carbon Sab.  Unfortunately agility and handling are not in the Sab class.  Glestains are a bit better than good, German classic knives like Wusthof, Henckels, etc.   Taking everything together they have more in common with better German knives than high-end Japanese, and the closest comparison I can think of might be Messermeister Meridian.

    Furthermore, Mark didn't say that Glestains didn't sell, just that they didn't sell for him.  If JCK and Korin are making tons of money flogging zillions of Glestains.... bully for them. 

    Unlike nearly all the others, Glestain's blade dimples aka "grantons" aka "kullenschliff" do function.  The only other manufacturer who makes knives with dimples which perform to the same level is the Granton Knife Company.  Yes, that's where the term "granton" comes from. Glestain's convex grind is (a) brilliant, and (b) perhaps as big a part of the knife's "release" properties as the kullenschliffen. 

    FWIW, Granton knives are inexpensive, stamped knives, on a par with the sort of mid-priced, blister pack knives you find in restaurant supply stores -- like Dexter "White Handles." More FWIW, Granton slicers aren't a bad choice for someone who works a buffet line. 

    Getting back to Glestains...

    Not to be disagreeable but you never know with handles.  But some people -- admittedly not many -- find Glestain's very uncomfortable because the handle's exaggerated curve forces their fingers against the back of the blade.   The handle wasn't a huge problem for me, but I can't say I cared for it either. 

    They were a big deal back in the day when they were among the first wave of Japanese made, western style knives to come west.  If you think of them as the heavy-weight equivalent of Globals and Shun Classics you wouldn't be far wrong.  Bottom line:  A knife whose time has passed.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  13. duckfat

    duckfat

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    I'm not a fan of letting any one sharpen my knife but that's just personal choice. The sharpeners @ Korin are very good.  If you were buying a single bevel traditional J-knife IMO it's a wise choice to let them open it. Please ask or check the site because as is the case with many vendors once the knife is sharpened you may not be able to return it. You can always go to KKF and speak to Mari in the Korin sub-forum.

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  14. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Posted by Imaya  
    Korin's got a "master knife sharpener" who's actually pretty darn good.  I'm not sure if he does all their knives or not, but in any case their sharpening services are also reliable.  The service you're talking about replaces the maker's "Christmas Morning" edge with something that's actually serviceable; and you might as well get it if you're buying a knife which doesn't come with a good OOTB edge, you're not already a good sharpener, and if it doesn't cost more than $20.   Their knife sharpening advice sucks though.

    Not to be too confusing, but I agree with Duck that it's nearly always far better to sharpen your own knives than have anyone else do them.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2012
  15. imaya

    imaya

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    BDL, what would you recommend for use as a utility knife for me? The Glestains sound great for the non-stick qualities, which will save me tons of time. But I am not sure if it is worth that much money considering I won't be in Garde Manger for a long time, and I will still have that Glestain after I move.

    Frankly, based on the shitty hours (lack of, mostly) I am not sure if I even want to stay in the kitchen considering how seasonal the work and low pay is. It just isn't paying the bills :/ But that is another issue, back to the knives!
     
  16. duckfat

    duckfat

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    If this is really where your at then you may want to consider a Victorinox Santoku. They run less than $40. Forget about all of the hoopla about alloys or what's hip or no longer in. None of that will give you a knife that functions better in your price range and certainly not for something this task-specific. You need a well built knife thats comfortable. Ideally one that won't take a walk the first time you turn your back but will still go through melons and pineapples in a single down stroke as well as handle detail work with Cheese. That limits your options in this price range.The Mac would be more virsatile and a little less $$ but it won't function as well for what you need now. So the question becomes buying a task specific knife Vs something that you maybe, might have more use for in the future *If you continue to work in the kitchen.

    Have you considered watching the buy/sell forum @ KKF?

    Dave
     
  17. imaya

    imaya

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    The Victorinox Santoku is too big. :/ Just looked it up, it comes in 7". Any recommendations for something in that prince range that is 6"-6.5"?
     
  18. rdm magic

    rdm magic

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    Fujiwara pettys run about 40$ if I remember correctly
     
  19. imaya

    imaya

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    The FKH is full carbon. No can do in my kitchen, definitely need stainless on the outside! The Stainless version doesn't have the 170mm Santoku :(
     
  20. duckfat

    duckfat

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    I can't imagine .5" making much of a difference, especially at that price.

    Dave