Need help picking my first good quality knife.

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Joined Nov 15, 2015
Hello everyone.
This is my first post and it appears that knife questions are common so I'm hoping I can get advice as well.
I am in the market for a new knife. I already have a full (cheap) set of knives. I keep them sharp and in general good condition but I would like to purchase a good quality carbon Japanese knife. I've read that the Santoku is an ideal choice for a general purpose knife, but I'm open to anything. I'll be using this for everything except the hardest of tasks like cutting through bones. I don't have a brand preference and I'm not concerned with looks. Just performance. I'd like to spend $150 or less if possible (Canadian dollars).
My intent is to move towards more knives in the future, but because quality knives aren't cheap, I'll be doing it over time.

I'll be buying this on line from a Canadian distributor.
Any suggestion on what to look at or what to stay away from is appreciated.

Thanks,
 
2,563
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Joined Apr 25, 2014
Misono swedish from JCK is in your price range.  Be diligent about keeping it clean and dry until a patina builds up.  Shipping should be free and pretty fast; in my experience 2-3 days to the US.  Packages usually marked with low value or gift to get around import fees

http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/SwedenSteelSeries.html
 

ps if you get 240mm or bigger you can have a DRAGON
 
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With a pinch grip, the majority of handles don't bother me.  If it did, there is always the option to rehandle it.  You can have everything you want, but probably not in your budget.
 
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Joined Nov 17, 2015
Get a wetstone 1000/6000 grit double sided. Get a Glestain offset utility knife from JCK. Japanese chef knife.com. It is the most awesome knife ever made. Go cheaper get a classic shun chef knife. Sointu usa online sells Global knives really cheap. That was my first set 20 years ago and still a damn good knife. P.s. I have a Misono ux10 santuko dimpled. $400. I prefer my Glestain at $220. Easier to sharpen and really holds an edge well.
 
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Welcome to Cheftalk.  Maybe you missed a few points in the first post

1) OP asked about carbon steel knives.  All your recommendations are stainless.

2) OP asked for a budget of $150 Canadian.  Your cheap option of $220 USD -> 293 CAD is almost double this budget.

3) I hate the dimples.  How can you thin your knife when you sharpen?  What happens when you sharpen up to where the dimples start, you just get a wavy edge? No thanks.
 
510
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Joined May 29, 2013
FOZZ, why do you want a santoku?

The vast bulk of santoku's are 180 mm or less, with just a few offered at 190 mm.  Generally, if you are going to have an all-around knife, then the usual minimum is 210 mm, with 240 mm or 270 mm more useful for such tasks as carvifng boneless roasts.  (As an aside, Japanese knives usually come in 30 mm length jumps.  That is because there is a general length measurement in Japan, called the "sun".  And a sun is 30 mm in length).

If I were looking for a basic first Japanese knife, I probably would choose a 240 mm gyuto.  Enough length to be able to do almost anything a European chef's knife can do, and can do anything a santoku can do.  In fact, I would consider length to be much more critical than even budge, especially if I were looking for something that's outside of the stainless sales norm.  

My first choice for a carbon blade would be to look at Japanesechefknives.com, a good source of knives that can be shipped almost anywhere in the world, with a flat shipping rate of $7 USD.  Currently (and possibly for a limited time), there is free shipping for any order over $100 USD.

The least expensive quality Japanese carbon steel 240 mm gyuto I know of is the Fujiwara FKH.  The U.S. Dollar price is $82, with an additional $7 shipping cost.  In Canadian currency, that's $118.46, duty not calculated in.  The steel is SK4, somewhat reactive at first and needing deliberate passivation.  A very basic carbon gyuto.

The next most expensive is the JCK Kagayaki Carbonext.  The 240 mm gyuto is $128 USD.  In Canadian currency, that is $170.37.  Users have reported it to be an excellent blade (even if it is not under $150 Canadian for a 240 mm gyuto)

MillionsKnives' recommendation of the Misono Swedish Steel has a gyuto priced at $153 USD ($203.64 Canadian).  Again, a well-regarded blade, even if it's 1/3rdmore expensive than your stated budget.

Hope that gives you food for thought.

Galley Swiller
 
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Joined Nov 15, 2015
Thank you for the reply Galley,

I haven't really choosen Santoku over another blade, I'm open to anything. Through my reading it seemed as though the Santoku was "the do it all knife" which fit the bill for me. Until I started looking for a new knife just recently, I'd never even heard of a Santoku or Gyuto or any other Japanese knife. Very interesting stuff.

I will look into the knives you suggested. I have also been looking into the following brands. Shun. They seem to have a bad reputation, so I'm not sure if I should steer clear. They sell these locally so access is easy. I also looked at Moritaka knives which seem to be very nice, but I've read that they can be brittle and chip easily. I'm don't plan on throwing my knives, so I hadnt even thought of chipping.
 
510
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Joined May 29, 2013
Concerning santoku's, my reaction is that I'd rather have a longer blade.  Santoku's seemed to have gotten popular in the general public eye just about when Oprah Winfrey decided that they were "one of her favorite things".  What usually blows the general public's reaction upon trying one is that, with their very flat profile, a newbie can use the entire length of the edge, including the tip.  And that is something that suddenly allows them to make much more use than with the usual very curved blade profile with European knives (especially German knives), where the tip is very high up in the air.

However, the bane of such knives is that they just are not as long as a chef's knife - and on big jobs, such as a roast, simply are not as good in making those long strokes.  That's where the gyuto really shines.  And the sweet spot for an amateur chef (at least in my opinion) is the 240mm length.

Now as to the brands you mentioned _ Shun and Moritaka.  Shun is a highly promoted "prestige" brand made by one of Japan's biggest cutlery manufacturers.  Much higher priced than comparable Japanese brands, such as Tojiro.  My feeling is that it's simply much more expensive for the average chef and simply not good value for money.

I don't have experience with Moritaka - so you might want to research it on the web.  Seems to be considerable levels of comments, both pro and con.

For that matter, I don't know if either line has carbon steel blades.

As for chipping, while knife throwing (which I'm not about to even try to think of) very likely will result in chipping, there are other things, such as trying to cut frozen foods or cut bone, which are big time chipping action generators.

What I am noticing with your comments is that you are seeing direct personal feel of the knife as a major consideration.  I would suggest that you first approach such "try and (maybe) buy" sessions with a few caveats.  First, concentrate on approaching your existing knives as initial test subjects.  Try sharpening them first.  Then, practice using a pinch grip.  Finally, with a carrot (hard enough to get good tactile feedback), use a "guillotine and glide" style of cutting (downward start, followed by a forward thrust to clean up and finish the cut).  That will give you some meaningful feel and feedback, so you don't simply go into the store and say to yourself, "Gee!  This!  Is!  Sharper!  Than!  My!  Knife!!!"  The usual reason that they have one of those knives out for you to try is that in comparison to what the vast majority of people have in their kitchens, then their offering cuts much better.

But often with a pinch grip (as MillionsKnives states in Post #5 above), the feel of different handles quickly becomes irrelevant.  And knowing how different knives react can be more useful - IF you sharpen each of the knives to a serviceable level ahead of time.

Galley Swiller
 
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Joined Nov 15, 2015
The knives I use now (stamped stainless) are kept fairly sharp. As part of college, I was trained to sharpen chisel's. Not exactly the same as kitchen knives, but the technique is very similar. I have a full set of wet stones that get a reasonable amount of use. I'm no pro, but better than average.....probably?
Strange as it is, I use the pinch grip already. I didn't know that's what it was called, but it seemed the most natural when I started cooking. I have 2 knives where I use the type of grip, my smallish chef knife (8") and another similar sized but taller knife. Most other knives get the old baseball grip!

I live an hour or so out of Toronto where there are some quality knife retailers. I'll make a point go in and get a feel for my options.
 
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Joined Nov 17, 2015
Welcome to Cheftalk.  Maybe you missed a few points in the first post

1) OP asked about carbon steel knives.  All your recommendations are stainless.
2) OP asked for a budget of $150 Canadian.  Your cheap option of $220 USD -> 293 CAD is almost double this budget.
3) I hate the dimples.  How can you thin your knife when you sharpen?  What happens when you sharpen up to where the dimples start, you just get a wavy edge? No thanks.
 
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Joined Nov 17, 2015
You mention Misono swedish ux10 I own this knife. It's not a high carbon knife. I believe all knives have carbon it's the amount in the steel that makes it a stainless or true carbon knife.
 
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Joined Nov 17, 2015
The 8 1/4 glestain is my best purchase ever. Second is my 12 inch Dick. Third is my Shun Edo boning knife with flexible tip. That shun is awesome at fileting Dover sole. ( raw)
 
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All steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. They can also have traces of other elements. Some amount of chromium makes it stain resistant. Stainless isnt really stainless, it can rust eventually just takes longer. Colloquially, carbon steel refers to non stainless, more reactive steel (oxidation wise).
 
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Yes you are correct. I believe chromibium has carbon. But im not sure what vg 10 5 and 3 are made of the Glestains are a trademark in house steel they call acuto 14 I believe. It is fucking great steel.global is chromibium vanadian that was my first set. Whet stones rule.
 
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Joined Oct 4, 2015
This an interesting thread as I myself am looking to buy my first knife! I have a favourite knife, standard unlabelled yellow kitchen knife at work that I enjoy using for most jobs. The handle and the blade are the same length, blade is about 4.5 inches. The knife just seems so balanced to me.

Iv no preference on the material in the blade just as long as it sharpens easy and cuts even easier. I have used globals in the past and never enjoyed the handle. I have used Robert Welch knives and to date they seem the most comfortable for me. I have been looking around but I have absolutely no clue about decent knives. My father is a chef and he said to me "a sharp knife is a sharp knife"

Any recommendations other than Robert Welch style knives?
 
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Joined May 29, 2013
Chromium ("chromibium"?) is an element with the atomic number of 24.  It is what makes "stainless steel" stainless (chromium is more reactive to O[sub]2[/sub] in the air, and makes chromium oxide as a shiny, reflective surface patina.  That patina effectively forms a barrier to most oxidation between iron in the steel and oxygen in the air).  There's no carbon in chromium, since both are elements and it would take nuclear fission to get carbon from chromium.  Feasible, but only if you have some sort of nuclear reactor.  Can't say I have one in my kitchen.

Peteypete, what type of grip do you use to hold your knives?  If you are interested in a new knife, what is your budget?  What style of knife are you looking for?  How do you sharpen or keep sharp your current knives?

Galley Swiller
 
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Joined Oct 4, 2015
i do prefer a plastic grip or a wooden one, preferably full tang. British here guys! So a £100 -£120 budget, just to get me one good knife to last me a few years, a paring knife or your standards chef knife is what I'm looking to go for. I actually like to use Honing steel to sharpen my knives I find that on the surface knife sharpeners blunt my edge. I have never been able to use a whetstone properly.
 
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