Need help to decide which Victorinox Forschner knives to buy.

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by iansd, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Good insight.  You're exactly right.  Hobbyists -- many of whom have low or no skills -- delve more deeply and spend far more money than pros.  That's not to say there isn't plenty of bang for the buck up to fairly high price levels.  The Japanese revolution is real.
    VG-10 is not the only good choice by any means.  It was the absolute darling of the knife world for awhile but there are issues; and FWIW, it's not even one of my favorites. 

    Better alloys are important, but there are other reasons to look to Japanese made knives -- one of which is their French profile.

    Also worth noting that the current trend in European and American high-end knife manufacturing is towards better than those previously used, and/or at least improving the heat treatment of X50CrMoV15 and X55CrMoV15 to maximize edge characteristics and allow for thinner, lighter knives.  
    99% of what the steel does is accomplished with geometry and mass.  While having a harder steel than the knife is a convenient metric, as long as the steel is "hard enough" hardness isn't that big a deal. 
    Touching up before every use isn't the best maintenance.  You need a better board, a better knife, a better sharpening regimen or some combination. 

    A good metal hone can handle 60+ blades, but aren't necessarily the best choice either.  Ceramics are cheap for their quality, but their hardness is less important than the quality of their surface and their resistance to nicking.

    Diamond steels should be avoided altogether because they're too aggressive.  Rods are not a good tool for abrasive sharpening.  The narrow contact point of a rod tends to magnify inevitable errors.  Ironically, the proviso against diamond steels included both "diamond cut" and "diamond dust" steels.  Even though they're completely different materials and construction, they're both too aggressive. 

    At some degree of hardness, steeling becomes counter productive.  It actually depends more on the strength/toughness characteristics of the blade, but since hardness is a metaphor (more or less) for strength, you can fudge it in as an important hint.  "Too hard" lies around 63RCH, or maybe a bit north.  Too much asymmetry doesn't steel well either.
    I don't know if the move to a Japanese made knife (or an American knife which exemplifies the same benefits) would be good for you or not.   Stainless knives of the type don't require extra or special care, but respond to good sharpening and maintenance just as any other, quality knife would.  Better is better. 

    The big change, such as it is, is that knives of the type require a little extra babying in terms of how you approach tasks like splitting chickens, cutting hard gourds, or skinning pineapples.  Otherwise, alla time same same.

    Buy your wife a good knife which suits her EXACTLY, and take care of yours and hers.  My wife loves my old carbon Sabatiers, regards their provenance as misleading coincidence, considers them "hers," and they're pretty much all she uses.  I take care of them.  I also take care of my Japanese knives, which she never uses.

    It didn't take her long from her old low standards before we started living together, to demanding excellent sharpness, either.  I doubt your wife is different.

    Don't get sidetracked by alloys, it's all about sharpness.

    BDL
     
  2. freaksho

    freaksho

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    so an update in case there are any other noobs in my current state of learning that might benefit from my experiences. i did end up getting a few of the Vic Forged line against almost everyone's advice, lol. and no surprise that BDL was right about everything. the bullet points after a few months of using them:

    - this X50CrMoV15 German steel, while quite a bit better at holding an edge than the garbage i had before, is indeed rather soft but  . . . (see next few points)

    - it's really best for our current needs because we don't have a lifestyle that allows knife care to be a very high priority.

    - my sharpening skills are still a work in progress and i might not be ready yet for anything much harder (though i was able to get the Vics a bit sharper than OOTB with my DMT stones).

    - a VERY GENTLE touch up on the honing rod snaps them right back to nearly original sharpness after 2+ months of heavy daily household use (though not abuse). this is a very noticeable difference from my super cheapos, which would really need another round on the stones by now

    - BUT i can't help shake this gnawing desire for a Japanese knife despite everything. at some point in the not too distant future i'll definitely be looking into one (most likely a 240mm Gyuto i'd guess) if nothing else to start diversifying the collection.

    - oh and one of the Vic Forged knives i got was a 10" chef - holy hell this thing is huge and heavy. it's like friggin Excalibur, lol. just ridiculous. short of cutting a watermelon in half or a big winter squash, i don't see us using it much. (the 7" Santoku otoh gets exercised at least 3-4 times a day)

    anyway, this stuff is really fun. thanks to all for your input.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  3. coffeemike

    coffeemike

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    Freaksho -

    I just came on to this thread and had to comment in. Glad you're having fun - you're right, it is fun, and I especially like the guitar equip analogy. (I've tried really hard not to be "that guy"; I'm comfortable in my setup now.)

    Sharpening skills, I suspect, are always a work in progress. I'm by no means an expert, but I'm better than when I started freehand sharpening, and I'm usually proud of the edges I can put on. The thing I had to remind myself (and BDL or others may disagree, I'm curious) is that in one or two trips to the stones, you're not likely to do lasting damage to a knife. It's a big piece of metal and you're taking off a relatively small amount. Any mistakes, you can correct with a return to the stones or enlisting the help of a pro. Once I did that, I could relax and really just try things to learn.

    "Japanese knife", as you know, is a VERY wide arena. I own a couple; they're fun as hell to use. I also own a Forschner, Sabatier, and Henckels that see as much use as the Japanese knives; right knife for the right job. My only suggestion is to think of the cooking you do (or want to do), and what gaps you need to fill in your knife block, either in terms of role or perceived quality.

    My example: I recently picked up an 8" K-Sabatier and a 240-mm Konosuke HD. On top of already having an 8" Global, 8" Henckel, and 10" Forschner. All chef's knives. Here's why:

    K-Sab:

    * Everything I had was more of a German profile, with a (relatively) wide belly and curve to the blade. (The Global is the least of the bunch, but I put it in that camp.) I wanted to try something with more of a French profile, with less belly and more of the blade is flatter against the board - more chop, less rock.

    * I wanted to see if I could take care of a carbon steel knife.

    * It's French. (My family ancestry, and my unashamedly francophilic tendencies in my cooking.)

    Kono HD:

    * I just sold a house, back to one mortgage, and promised myself a nice present for slogging through all the moving chaos.

    * I know my knife skills are good enough to try a super-thin knife as opposed to the more European ones I own.

    * I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. (Holy hell, that thing can slice. I don't dare do a rocking chop across a board with it, but otherwise, you don't cut as much as *think* about cutting and it's done.)

    What do I now know, after a few weeks? I love those two knives. I need to go up to a 10" K-Sab - the 8" feels surprisingly small and nimble, closer to a 6" santoku I own. Plus, I don't own a really utility knife, something in the 6" range.... There's always another knife or two to buy. :)

    Enjoy it, and keep sharing your thoughts. It's fun to read.
     
  4. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    I agree with Mike that you're not going to any significant or long lasting harm while learning to sharpen freehand on bench stones -- unless you do something really stupid or you start out on very coarse, very fast stones before you've learned to hold an angle. Moral of the story: Don't be afraid to just jump in.

    Congratulations as appropriate to those who bought the various new knives and are loving them.

    BDL
     
  5. freaksho

    freaksho

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    my temptation for a Japanese isn't only about the steel, it's equally about shape and weight. now that i'm starting to really understand what sharp is all about i find slicing a whole lot more satisfying than rocking, in general. i'm very much digging the Santoku, for instance, but it still has German genes so it's quite heavy. makes me really curious to try the Japanese (or French?) weight and profile. but again, right tool for the job and having a rocking knife or two around is still a good thing, so i don't regret having the Germans in house at all. they may just end up serving as a springboard to a great collection in the long run.

    and i wasn't so much afraid of damaging anything with my developing sharpening techniques, it's more that the harder steels sound like more of a pita and i don't know how thrilled i'd be if it took me longer to get it right at this point (my wife's in grad school and we have a 2 year old so it's all i can do to gather the energy to take out the garbage and do laundry once in a while - blah blah blah). plus i'd rather get the feel down really well on the softer stuff since it seems to tell me whether i'm on the right track or not in just a few stokes.
     
  6. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    By and large, harder steels aren't more difficult to sharpen than softer -- unless you don't have the right stones or the steel is very hard indeed.  Once a knife is 61RCH or harder, you want to think twice about using a steel to maintain -- and should properly shift to stropping on paper for occasional truing.  After about 63 or 64 or so, you probably don't want to true at all, but just "touch up" on a fairly fine stone.

    First:  Yes.  Japanese made knives are lighter than typical European knives; and Chef's knives (aka gyuto) profiles are more streamlined, agile and "French."  Now that some Amercan manufacturers (notably Richmond/Lamson) are beginning to make knives from similar alloys and with similar weights and designs as Japanese made western knives, it's getting hard to maintain terminology let alone a straight face... so forgive me if I leave out the American makers for now.

    Second:  No.  For the little it's worth, a classic, European action with some rock in the chop is every bit as good as a straight, ("up and down") push-cut.  It's worth learning to use the standard action well enough to decide if it works for you or not; using a French profile which doesn't ask for as much handle pumping as a German will make a big difference.  There are some nuances which might not be entirely intuitive and require a little practice as well.  I find the European motion more comfortable and better suited for chopping using western knives.       

    BDL