Greetings ChefTalk knifenuts! These last days, I have been researching on kitchen knives on the one hand because I wanted to improve my home cooking game. and on the other hand I am a bit perfectionist, so I wanted to get more acquainted with the rich world of [Japanese] kitchen knives. Thanks to your most helpful forum and all-star contributors (BDL, Phaedrus, and co.) as well as kitchenknivesforum.com, I now am more familiar with steel, blade, and handle types, their advantages and relative care, as well as sharpening and other debates and nomenclatures. I finally came with a selection of knives that falls into my preferences, but I wanted to have more seasoned opinions on them as I am on a budget for now, I wanted to buy a sturdy knife that would last me a good deal of years with proper care. So here we go: LOCATION What country are you in? Canada (Quebec province). KNIFE TYPE What type of knife are you interested in? Gyuto. Are you right or left handed? Right handed, but I am looking at 50/50 bevels only (ease of use and sharpening). Are you interested in a Western handle or Japanese handle? No preference, as I never tried wa-handles. What length of knife (blade) are you interested in? Mostly 210 mm, as I don't like too long blades. Though 240 mm seems to be preferred in here. Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no). For the moment, yes. Carbon/blue steel MAY become a possibility someday as I become more experienced but I take good care of my things, so any interesting alternative will be considered here. What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife? 170-200$ including shipping/handling/taxes. Most of the knives selected here are in the 120-150$. Sweet spot: 150-170$ total. KNIFE USE Do you primarily intend to use this knife at home or a professional environment? At home. What are the main tasks you primarily intend to use the knife for? Mostly vegetable and aromatics mincing/chopping/slicing, occasional meat cuts, nothing fancy. What knife, if any, are you replacing? Cuisinart (Farberware-like) chef knife from a woodblock kit. Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use? I am getting comfortable with the pinching grip on an uncomfortable knife. What cutting motions do you primarily use? Mostly rocking/walking, occasional meat drag-cuts and slicing. Had a hard time getting to proper slicing and chopping due to sup-par sharpness. What improvements do you want from your current knife? As stated above, a proper edge/sharpness that is relatively easy to maintain (we'll get to that later), with a good edge retention Better aesthetics? As you will see, I have a personal preference for Damascus blades (be it faux or not, I can't always tell). My discovery of hammered ones (nashiji?) just went along, as well as kurouchi finish. As it will be my personal long-lasting tool, I want it to be efficient and fashionable Comfort? I would probably love a heavier knife (6-7 oz +/- I believe would be perfect) that gets through ingredients easily without being too bulky. Also, I consider sanding the spine and finger guard for improved comfort if needed. My actual knife is giving me blisters with pinch grip (yup, its pretty rough and unfinished). KNIFE MAINTENANCE Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board? Mostly synthetic but I feel that its texture is sometimes hard on the edge and I am afraid that it chips it. I also have a bamboo cutting board that I intend to use with my future knife, along with the occasional meat cutting on the synthetic one. Do you sharpen your own knives? (Yes or no.) No. If not, are you interested in learning how to sharpen your knives? (Yes or no.) Yes. Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives? (Yes or no.) Yes. Here's my budget selection of equipment for the stone and and its support. SELECTION (in order of preference) Inazuma IN-4 Wa Gyuto 210mm (preferred option at the moment) Gekko GE-5M gyuto (yo-handle alternative) Itto-Ryu Hammered 210 Gyuto White #2 (preferred #2, comfort and cutting are looking just perfect) Yoshihiro 210mm hammered Damascus (first love that started it all) Gonbei 210mm Hammered Damascus Wa-Gyuto Takayuki hammered chef knife 210mm Takayuki hammered santoku 180mm (cheaper alternative, looks like a 180mm gyuto) SPECIAL REQUESTS/COMMENTS My main concerns here are the availability of the knives and sharpening of VG-10 steel. On the former, most of desired knives were or just became out of stock (Yoshihiro on Amazon), save for the Inazuma on JCK, which quickly became my preferred option. Although, rationality kept me from buying it right away and ask for advice as well as consider additional taxes on import (even with an attractive 7$ shipping cost). On the latter, what I get from my research is that VG-10 is a relative challenge to sharpen properly for the neophyte. I consider to practice my skills with my other chef knife until I feel enough comfy with the process (angling it at a regular 15° seems the hardest to achieve). Thanks to John at JKI and his YouTube videos, I have a good starting point. Sorry for the wall of text, as I said, I am a bit perfectionist... As for cooking itself, knives are now becoming a full-fledged hobby, so I wanted to make it right with advice/reviews /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif Thanks in advance!