Santoku and Petty combination advice desparately needed!!!!

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Joined Apr 28, 2013
Hi all

I have joined this forum as i desperately need advice on what knives to purchase?  I will be buying my knives from japenesechefsknife.com as they are great value.  I live in the UK,

I have been doing a lot of research about which make/brand of knive to get and wanted to get some advice from you before i make my purchase.

The two knives will just be used at home by myself where i enjoy cooking, and will be used for chopping vegetables and slicing chicken, beef etc... Not heavy use but may be used once a day to prepare the dinner!!!

I have a very cheap santoku and a very cheap petty knife at the moment and they just dont cut properly but these are the two knives i use the most and feel comfortable with.

1. So i would like my knives to stay as sharp as possible for the longest amount of time, as i have a brand new baby and dont have time or money to get them professionally sharpened very often, so this is my main priority of the knife.

2. Secondly i have ruled out the carbon knives and will go for a stainless steel as with the new baby i will not have as much time on my hands to look after my knives as well as i would like!!

I have come up with the following list of knives which are within my budget and wanted your opinion as to which ones i should purchase?

I would like to have a matching santoku and a petty but i am willing to consider mixing the two, if you think one particular knife is better as a santoku or a petty over another make/brand.

1. Misono Stainless Molybdenum Steel Series

Santoku 180mm - $96
Petty 120mm - $63

2. Kanetsugu Pro M Series

Santoku 170mm - $97 - (SOLD OUT AT MOMENT!!!!)
Petty 130mm - $65

3. Fujiwara FKM

Santoku 180mm - $72
Petty - 120mm - $40

4. JCK - Kagayaki KG3 - VG-1 Steel

Santoku 180mm - $86
Petty 125mm $54

5. Hiromoto Tenmi-Jyuraku Gingami No.3 Series

Santoku 180mm - $103 (OUT OF STOCK!!!!)
Petty 120mm - $66
 

THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN MY CHOICE, AS IT IS VERY SIMILAR TO THE VG-10 STEEL, BUT THE SANTOKU KNIFE IS NOT BEING MADE ANYMORE AND THERE ARE NONE LEFT!!!

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My initial thoughts were to get the Fujiwara FKM as they are the cheapest ($112) and I am on a budget as i have my new born baby now!!! I have looked at a lot of reviews and seem to get good reviews for the price?
 

My max budget really for the two knives is around $160-$170.

Are the other brands listed above that are $30-$50 more, a lot better than the Fujiwara for what i need the knives for?

Would you be able to advise and maybe give me an order of best knives out of this list (1=best 5=worst)  As this would help me narrow down my choice!!

Again i dont mind mix and matching if you think i would benefit from this but would prefer to keep them the same?
 

Im presuming that VG-10 is one of the better steals for what im looking for so which one has the closest properties to VG-10 from my selection?

Or if you have any other suggestions that may suit my needs and budget i would be happy to consider those?

Thank you for your time in reading my request and for your advice in advance.

Dean
 
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I'd go with the Fujiwaras. I'd also say that you should consider getting a gyuto instead of a santoku. And that you should add on JCKs 1k/4k stone.
 
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Thanks for the reply

Can I ask why you suggest the fujiwara's? Does that mean in your opinion these are better than all the others I've suggested?

Thanks
 
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From what I know, the Fujis are among the best 'back for the buck' knives you can get. There are some more on JCK, but they all have specific problems, which aren't shared by the Fujiwaras (carbonexts are better, but both more expensive and mine required some serious OOTB work, the Hiro AS is also probably better, but again it has the issue of being carbon for you).

The gyuto will just be more all around versatile than a santoku; but don't let me put you off. If you're most comfortable with the santoku, get one. All I can do is give you my point of view - you're the one who'll be using the knife. 

Personally, I'd go with a 150mm petty and a 240mm gyuto; especially considering the price difference in the Fujiwara range.

That said, you also need to consider sharpening. Depending on your budget and how much use your knives get, you might be okay with getting some wet and dry, or if you have a little more cash to spend getting a combi stone (you can get them for around £30 on ebay, or the one from JCK when you buy the knives)
 
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Joined Aug 7, 2008
If you want a Santoku that's exactly what you should get. The knife you will use the most is the one you like best. If that's a Santoku then go with it. Watch Iron Chef sometime and you will see Santokus out in force. I would take the Kagayaki long before the Fujiwara for a number of reasons. I have a JCK Kagayaki WA gyuto I bought several years ago that still amazes me considering the price point.

Dave
 
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Joined May 5, 2011
hey there. i'm in the UK. and looking to sell some Masamoto VG's if you fancy those.

i've got a 180mm Santoku and a 120mm petty. PM me if you're interested.
 
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Joined Feb 13, 2008
Seven or eight years ago, VG-10 was considered a world beating stainless knife alloy, but opinions have changed.  In the context of stainless alloys used in "better" Japanese knives, VG-10 is somewhere in the middle with both good and bad points.  In the broader and more context of the knives themselves, there are a few good VG-10 knives, a few stinkers, but just as you'd expect most of them lay somewhere in the middle. 

Of the knives you've mentioned, the majority are made of AUS8 or something very much like it, but the Hiromoto is made from G3 and the Kagayaki from VG-1.  None of these have quite the same characteristics as VG10.  "Everything else -- especially hardening -- being equal, VG1 is probably closest. 

All of the knives on your list are "entry level" good knives, none of them are wonderful, nor is any an exceptionally good value compared to any of the others.  Here are a few highlights in alphabetical order:   
  • Fujiwara FKM is the least expensive, and doesn't give up much compared to any of the others. 
  • Hiromoto G3 is made from the best -- or at least the most prestigious -- alloy.  Whether or not you'll experience its additional benefits is largely dependent on how well you sharpen and maintain.  I don't much care for the handle, but am not a huge fan of any of the handles -- except for the Misono. 
  • Kagayaki Basic gets the same description as the Hiromoto G3, except it's made from VG1 instead of G3.  G3 has a slightly better rep than VG1, but unless you're a skilled sharpener and knife handler, you won't be able to tell the difference.  The Kagayaki's handle is particularly narrow.  Not a good choice if you have large hands and use any grip other than a pinch. 
  • Kanetsugu Pro M's come with the sharpest out of the box (OOTB) edge, and are tied with Misono Moly for best fit and finish.  At some point you'll end up changing the factory edge to one of your own making... but if you care about OOTB sharpness the Kanetsugu is your best choice.  
  • Misono Moly series is very soft, not any harder than typical European blades.  Good, comfortable handles, good F&F. good OOTB sharpness; but will need a lot of steeling.  
Don't make a decision based on what anyone else likes or dislikes for himself, especially not me.  But please do try and gather as much knowledge as possible about the various possibilities and go from there, rather than on impulse.  Personally, I have no use for santokus.  But I don't think there's much to choose from between a 7" santoku and an 8" chef's from any of the lines you're considering.  They have the same advantages and drawbacks, and present about the same length of usable edge.  A 10" chef's is a more efficient and versatile shape and length, IF you take the time necessary to learn to hold and use it. 

Good knives are all about sharpness. You need to understand going in that all knives get dull, and need to be sharpened regularly.  If you're serious about a good knife you have to get serious about sharpening too.

Hope this helps,

BDL
 
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(Added confusion alert /img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif)

If you are after VG10 you can also consider the Tojiro DP series , they are not available in JCK but you can easily get them in ebay starting from about  $63+$4 (economy shipping) for the 6.7" (170mm) santoku (Japanese sellers)

The problem with the Tojiro I got (7.1" utility) was that it wasn't as good as the Fujiwara gyuto out of the box, it could still cut hair in the arm but the tip section wasn't sharpened very well and there were a couple of areas that seemed to have a burr.

This was easily fixed with sharpening and apart from that I'm very happy with the knife (as I am with the Fujiwara too) but this may be a problem if you don't intend to learn/use sharpening.

I've also read comments about the handle being boxy (at least for the gyuto) which may or may not be a problem based on preference, my knife has a small version of the handle so I can't comment on the full sized handle feeling.

Alex

p.s note that the Tojiro DP uses VG-10 steel in the center sandwiched between chrome stainless steel

 
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Thankyou all for your replies.

I think I have narrowed it down to either the

Fujiwara or the Kagayaki

DUCK FAT - you said you'd take the Kagayaki over the fujiwara for a number of reasons? What are those reasons?

Three other questions!!

Which one has a bigger more comfortable handle, I have medium-large size hands?

Also which one has the better edge retention?

I think i will take my knives to be sharpened at Japenese Kichen Company in London to be sharpened every few months as I work close by to the shop. So the longer edge retention would be better for me.

If I'm using my knives every other day to cut up onions, veg, and a few chicken breasts on a wooden chopping board, how often roughly would I need to get them sharpened. Does every few months seem reasonable? As I said they won't be getting used a massive amont but every other day.

Thanks again for all your help

Dean
 
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Joined Aug 7, 2008
The Fujiwara is made from Moly so for me that won't make the cut based on your requirements. It's also HRC 57 compared to the Kagayaki @ HRC 60. Additionally the Kagayaki is ground 70/30. The Fujiwara is inexpensive which is really it's best point but spending $14 more for better steel, better grind and getting a knife that will hold better edge is an easy choice. With the 70/30 grind you will certainly notice the difference. I've never found any of the Kagayaki handles to be small but I do pinch grip. As far as OOTB sharpness goes it's nice to get a great edge out of the box but remember even $500 knives can come with less than ideal edges and every knife will have to be sharpened, so OOTB edge sharpness is a fairly moot point, especially if you are having your knives professionally sharpened. 
 
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Based on your every-other day (jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but never jam today) cooking schedule and low volume, you'll probably have to steel your knives about twice a week after the first week following sharpening, sharpen them every couple of months, and thin them every year or so.  Despite their differences in nominal RCH (indentation hardness), the Kagayaki and Fujiwara will require similar maintenance on a similar schedule. 

Be careful steeling the Kagayaki as the blade alloy, VG1, is slightly chip prone.  Some people say that you shouldn't steel any Japanese knife.  While I think they're wrong, you may choose to follow the advice.  Whether you steel or not, all of the blades you're considering are fairly susceptible to "impact burring" (that means the edge of the blade gets bent over from hitting your cutting board, bone, or what have you), and will need frequent truing by some other method.  The most common of these is "stropping," and if you're going to learn to strop you might as well learn to sharpen. 

It's quite possible that the Kagayaki will require sharpening immediately.  Less likely for a Fujiwara, but still quite possible.  If you're having the knife sharpened by someone else, you'll end up with whatever bevel angles and type of symmetry she gives you.  If your sharpener is competent, that's a good thing.  OOTB edge geometry is more important than OOTB edge quality, but not by much.  For the little it's worth, I think the whole 60/40, 2:1, 70/30 range of asymmetry is useful and appropriate for nearly all V edged knives -- including all of those at issue here.  Talk to your sharpener about asymmetry, but don't get nuts about it.  If you're left handed, make sure the asymmetry favors you.  Left-handedness is another reason, beyond OOTB edge quality, to take the Kagayaki to your sharpener immediately.  

DO NOT pay for JCK's extra-cost sharpening service.  By almost every account it's a waste of money.  

Fujiwara gyuto handles are on the narrow side, run slightly wider than Kagayaki Basic gyuto handles, but not significantly so.  Neither gyuto handle is so bad, I'd say "don't buy it," but they're both narrow enough that it's worth mentioning.  I've never handled a santoku from either line and my caveats are speculation based on extrapolation.  It's likely that if you pinch grip, neither handle will be much of a problem.  Remember too, that occasionally someone with a good grip will take up a knife with a good handle and never feel quite comfortable with it.  That doesn't happen much, but it does happen.     

Good luck,

BDL
 
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Joined Apr 28, 2013
That's great information duckfat, thankyou. I'm now pretty much sold on the kagayaki due to the hardness aspect of it.

I've just checked the website and both fujiwara and kagayaki have 70/30 bevel edge. Could someone explain (simply) what this means? Will that make a difference to cutting as apposed to a 50/50 bevel? Taking into account I've only ever used cheap £5-10 knives before?!!

Thanks again

Dean
 
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Joined Apr 28, 2013
God, now im really confused!!!!

Its either guna be the Fujiwara or the Kagayaki?

Do the rest of you think that i should go with the Kagayaki as it is a little harder and will hold its edge a longer?

I need to make a decision as i really want my new knives!!!!  Im not rushing into it as ive been researching for a while now and im not to fussed which one of these i get!!!

Which one?

Thanks

Dean
 
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Dave Martell is a great sharpener, and knows a lot about knives, but I call BS on the need for different angles on each side of the knife, for knives which are asymmetrically sharpened. 

When an asymmetrically sharpened knife steers, it's almost the result of wrong-handed asymmetry, or the combination of extreme asymmetry with a too tight grip, or both.  Even wrong-handed asymmetry doesn't have to be an obstacle.  For decades, I sharpened most of my knives 15* on both sides, 60/40 righty to make them work better for my spouses and/or children; and, as a left-hander, never had a problem.  (Those of you are good carpenters can appreciate that in this respect, a knife is like a panel saw.  As long as you don't hold it too tightly, it will follow the kerf it started.)

The only reason I'm still not sharpening my daily drivers with right-handed asymmetry is because my wife has her own knives, so my daily drivers go lefty.

More, I've used plenty of knives belonging to other people, particularly KC Ma, sharpened to extreme right-handed asymmetry (90/10) and had no problems with those either.  To be honest, right handed, pure-chisel edges do require extra concentration on my part to prevent them from torquing and cutting on an unintentional bias. 

Also, for decades, I've sharpened a ton of other peoples' knives (obviously nowhere near as many as Dave Martell has) with the mild 60/40 - 70/30 asymmetry which I favor, at the same bevel angles for each side, and never received complaints about steering, or requests that the knives be returned to 50/50 symmetry.  Maybe that edge would try to take over for some people, but I'm still waiting to meet one.   

On a slightly different subject brought up in the Martell thread, a good freehand sharpener can usually find and replicate the factory bevel angle for each side (if they're different) by "clicking in," providing the bevel isn't too worn down.  The best way to do it with an EP or other rod guide is by testing for the bevel angle with the Magic Marker trick while using a digital angle finder on the arm.  I gotta say though, that sharpening different angles on each side is a huge pain, and -- in my opinion -- of little to no benefit, and not worth it.   

Regarding hardness... Agree that hardness is a slightly complicated -- or at least frequently misunderstood -- subject.  Rockwell hardness in particular is all too often overrated as a purchasing criterion; and depending on circumstances, too much hardness leads to negative consequences.  In this case though, I agree with Dave that the harder, VG1 Kagayaki is a better blade than the softer, AUS8 Fujiwara -- at least in part because it is harder. 

BDL
 
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So BDL would you say for me to buy the kagayaki over the fujiwara?

You've got to give me an answer?!! Ha!!
 
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I suggest that you take your original two(2) knives to the Japanese Kitchen Company in London, and have them sharpen the bageebies out of them.  Then use them for a while.  Get some feeling (experience) using really sharp knives, whatever brand, for however long they last.  Then, come back here in a month or so and recheck what everyone has said, and recalibrate your thoughts.  I think you may have a better understanding of everyone's opinion, and you'll be able to pull the trigger yourself, not needing anyone to tell you which to pick.

Or maybe not. 
 
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I understand what your saying but I just want to purchase one of the knives!!! As I've been waiting for a long time to get my knives!!

I'm sure they'll both cut very similar (as my experience with good knives is non existent, and I wont be able to tell the difference) but for my needs of longer edge retention, DUCKFAT has suggested the Kagayaki over the Fujiwara. Just wanted a few other peoples choices?

Thanks
 
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At this stage of my own evolution in writing about knives, I try to help people figure out their own choices by providing information and a common sense framework, and sometimes by helping them identify what they really want, when it seems like they don't know.  That works better than telling  someone I don't know well to buy "X knife" because I particularly like it, the maker, the retailer, or for some other reason personal to me.  Sometimes I talk about which knives I particularly like or dislike with the thought that it will help you to understand my perspective, but not with the expectation that you will or should feel the same way. 

On top of that, I don't like santokus; have never used one long enough to know anything beyond the fact that it's one more santoku I don't like; and consequently have no business giving a specific recommendation. 

All of the knife lines on your list represent good value, good entry-level performing knives.  No one of them is hugely better or worse than any other.  The Kagayaki is made from a better alloy than the Fujiwara, enough better that the Basic will be slightly sharper after a month, but because it's more chip-prone will require you to be slightly more careful steeling it. 

Is the Kagayaki enough better all around than the FKM to be worth the price difference?  Well, it's not much of a price difference.  Either buy on looks, "gut feeling," or flip a coin.  And no regrets. 

BDL
 
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