Sorry, noob question

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Joined Jun 18, 2021
Hey Folks,

I ended up here because I fell victim to the Kamikoto marketing. I saw the Kuro set for $258 and fell in love. Luckily I stumbled across this site and saw the reviews and immediately sent them an e-mail to cancel my order. Hopefully this gets processed in time.

So I looked around at some of the other Japanese brands that were mentioned in one of the Kamikoto threads and came across the Masutani VG10 Nakiri and Santoku on Chef Knives To Go for about $70 each. These seem like good entry level knives. I'm willing to spend about $100 on a good knife. I like Shun but they are a bit out of my price range.

Are the Masutani's good knives? I like the Damascus look, (I practice Kenjitsu so a folded blade is really my thing) but I don't like the look of the ones that are hammered up near the mune. Also, I've never even held a knife with a Japanese type of handle so I'm not sure if I would like that or not. I'm probably better off with a Western handle.

I did a search for "Masutani" but didn't find anything

Thanks for the help.
 
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Welcome to CT. You will find that patience, especially in this forum, is its own reward. :)

As for your knife questions, any of the products that you've mentioned are excellent choices for a home cook.

This brings me to the next point. In order to determine if a knife is a good fit, more information is required. However, no one here can make that decision for you. Only you can do that.

I can assume from the title of this thread and the content of your original post that you're fairly new to knives. With that said, there are a number of factors that are very important when it comes to knife selection. Those factors are going to be different for each person because each person is different. For example, what's good for me as a (retired) professional chef will likely not be good for you. In selecting a knife, my focus is centered on features such as the knife's utility, ability to hold an edge, durability, blade dimensions and the comfort of the handle. This is because a professional chef will literally spend hours a day using the knife for various purposes in contrast to a home cook who may use the knife for a few minutes a day. Collaterally, this means the knife will require sharpening far more frequently than a knife used by a home cook. This translates into a shorter life span as sharpening removes metal from the blade. Hence, the necessity for a knife that can hold an edge longer and have superior durability. I think you see my point.

Next, you must understand that choosing a knife is a very personal choice precisely for the reasons that I just outlined. With that said, we can comment on knife's quality but, we cannot comment on whether that knife is good for you. Only you can decide that.

So, I will explain what you need to know so you can make the best choice possible for you. :)

First, you must assess two things: 1) What is the level of your knife skills; and 2) What is the intended purpose of the knife? By this I mean do you want al all around work horse like a chef's knife or are you looking for a more specialized knife that performs specific cuts i.e. sushi knife, filet knife etc.?

To the first point, assessing your own knife skills is deceptively important. Many young cooks and home cooks alike either fail to consider the importance of this factor or ignore it altogether, often at their own peril. I have personally witnessed many cooks win a trip to the emergency room because they failed to properly gauge their own knife skills and used a knife that was above their skill level. So, performing an honest and candid assessment of your own knife skills will not only help prevent a nasty cut but, it will also bring the field of potential choices into better focus for you.

Included with on assessment of knife skills is the level of knowledge of various details about the knife. These include features such as bevel style, blade materials, choice of style (Western vs Japanese), handle style and material, blade length, blade width, blade height and so on. There are many great articles and tutorials available on the web that address these factors. If you're motivated to spend the money to move into the world of mid and upper range cutlery, you should know this information so you can maximize the return on your investment.

Next is knife care. This includes sharpening and honing. With any good knife purchase, a good honing rod (honing steel) is just as important. Likewise, knowing how to sharpen your knife is equally important as is knowing the difference between sharpening and honing.

Sharpening restores a knife's edge by removing metal from the blade. This is done when nicks and burrs form on the edge or when honing no longer works. The sharpening process removes just enough metal to remove the nicks and burrs so the knife's edge will once again be smooth and sharp. How the knife is sharpened essentially depends on the bevel of the blade. Some knives, especially some Japanese knives, have a specialized bevel that requires a very specific sharpening method. In fact, how a knife is sharpened is directly dictated by the style of its bevel. A knife can be ruined if the correct sharpening process is not used. Therefore, the importance of knowing this information is self evident.

Honing, on the other hand, restores a knife's edge without removing metal. When a knife's edge becomes dull, the edge curls and becomes rounded. It looks like the letter J rather than a V shape. By running the edge along a honing rod, the curled edge is restored to its sharp point. This is where knowledge of the blade's construction materials becomes important. The blade's material directly influence how many times honing steel can restore the blade. The more times the edge can be restored with honing steel means less sharpening and the different types of steel used determines this factor. Less sharpening means metal is removed from the blade less often and that translates into a longer lifespan. The trade off, however, is that softer steel means a much sharper edge. The trade off is apparent.

This obviates the necessity for having a quality honing rod. Avoid honing steel that has diamond edges or other material that removes metal from the knife. Most quality knife manufacturers also produce quality honing steel that are often included in their knife sets or sell them individually.

The last step here is optional but, highly recommended, especially if you're looking to purchase a superior quality knife. Learn how to use sharpening stones and sharpen the knives yourself. The process is far easier than it looks and most can learn the technique with a good "how to" video and about an hour of their time. Furthermore, its extremely difficult to damage a knife using sharpening stones which makes the learning process quite safe. The pay off is a sharpness that cannot be matched.

I recommend learning how to use sharpening stones because mechanical sharpeners can very easily damage or ruin a knife's blade. They can also remove far more metal than necessary thus dramatically shortening the knife's lifespan.

Once you've answered these questions and have applied the information I have provided, you will be in the best possible position to decide for yourself what knife is right for you and minimize wasted money on purchases not suited to you.

Good luck. :)
 
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After all that, anything I say would be superfluous.

But may I ask, what was it about the Kamikaze knife that YOU didn’t like? Just the reviews or something else? That might help you home in on what you will like or need.
 
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Are the Masutani's good knives?
They appear to be decent knives made with more than adequate materials. The two you picked are fairly close in terms of functionality, with the santoku being a bit more versatile with its pointed nose. I might've suggested either one of the two you picked and then a gyuto (or a petit gyuto) as a second knife.


I like the Damascus look, (I practice Kenjitsu so a folded blade is really my thing) but I don't like the look of the ones that are hammered up near the mune.
None of these knives (from any of the large commercial makers) are going to be folded steel. The cores are a single, hard layer with softer layers of stainless 'wrapped' around (like a taco shell over the spine) solely for appearances. (Some brands do use non-stainless core steels, and in these cases the SS cladding adds some ease-of-maintenance as well as pretty appearance.) The hammered (tsuchime) finish was originally marketed as a 'rustic' look since it required less finish work (i.e., less labor = more profit), but has evolved to become its own 'food release feature'.

I'm sure you're going to enjoy your new knives! :cool:
 
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phatch

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Another thing to remember is that traffic here at Cheftalk dies down for the weekend for the most part as many of the members are working the busy times in the hospitality industry.
 
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Another thing to remember is that traffic here at Cheftalk dies down for the weekend for the most part as many of the members are working the busy times in the hospitality industry.

And many of us are busy doing "other" things . . . like partying.
 
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Sorry for the lack of patience guys. I guess I'm used to other forums with a lot more traffic.

I'm just a home cook with dreams of being a successful chef. While in-between jobs many years ago I looked into going to CIA in San Francisco but it was a bit expensive for me.

So anyway, the Matsutani knives get to me tomorrow. I can't wait. I've had some Calphalon Japanese knife looking knock-offs for about 5 years now and they've served me well. I was using an electric sharpener on them about once a month when they would get dull. But after reading threads on here I guess what I should have actually been doing was honing them. So I bought a Shun steel and a set of whet stones off of Amazon for prime day. I got those yesterday. I've watched a couple of YT videos on sharpening and I'll try my hand at that with some of my cheap knives in the next couple of days.

I'm sure that with anything else you can spend a ridiculous amount of money on whet stones. The set I got was $40 and came with 2 stones. One is 400/1000 and the other is 3000/6000. I wasn't sure how much to spend on whet stones but pretty much all the ones I saw on Amazon were about the same price. What I like about the ones I got was that it came with a little plastic angle guide that holds the knife at 15 degrees. I figured that would help me out until I get comfortable with sharpening.

Anyway, thanks again for the info guys.
 
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Another thing to remember is that traffic here at Cheftalk dies down for the weekend for the most part as many of the members are working the busy times in the hospitality industry.
Akira is an awesome movie.
 
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Joined Jun 18, 2021
I can assume from the title of this thread and the content of your original post that you're fairly new to knives.
Holy crap that was a ton of information. But very much appreciated.

Being just a home cook with chef fantasies, (the wife and I met and took a picture with Thomas Keller at Bouchon in Vegas a few years ago), knives are pretty much knives to me. About the extent of my knowledge was that when buying a Henkles knife you want to get the ones that have 2 men on them, not one and that Shun knives looked awesome but were too expensive for me. Now Japanese swords, that's something I know a ton about.

But I've always been a "bang for the buck" kinda guy. I don't like to buy crap but I don't buy the most expensive stuff either. Kinda like why I use a Hanwei sword for Tameshigiri.
 
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As a novice to sharpening two more things you will need: a permanent marker, and a loupe in the 10x-range. It allows you to verify where you're actually abrading steel, and whether you have indeed reached the very edge — or just stay behind it and don't do much. A good introduction were Chad Ward's An Edge in the Kitchen. Mr Broida's playlist about sharpening is the most reliable I know.
 
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I'm going to chime in about knife use and care. The best knife in the world isn't going to be worth bupkiss if it is not properly used and maintained. (BTW - if you ever want to see the blood drain from my face and my eyes grow wide, put your knives in a dishwasher. Arrrggggghhh!)

First, knives need a proper grip. They also need to be used with an appropriate and consistent motion and this changes with the knife and what you're doing . . . e.g., chopping versus slicing. On top of that, knowing what is the appropriate knife and technique to use for different purposes is critical. But, this is where I see a separation . . . a great chef with outstanding knife skills can doing just about anything with only one or two quality knives (but, I'm the first to admit I love great knives and own far more than I need).

Perhaps even more importantly is care (and this includes washing and drying properly). People have already discussed honing versus sharpening. Stropping can be important too. But, where I see people fall short is the amount of pressure required to properly hone and sharpening. Too often people are not using enough pressure. However, too much pressure while using inappropriate techniques is pretty bad too.

If you can, find an in-person class on knife use and care. I have done a few and the time and money were well worth it. Having a skilled chef observe your skills, watch your techniques, and provide feedback can be invaluable. The last class I took on knife care helped me realize how far I had come. A variety of knives in various conditions were provided. We were also invited to bring our own knives. I took in a few of my own, including the first 8" chef knife I ever purchased. I thought it was fabulous when I paid for it, but time and experience showed me how wrong I was and how little I knew when I purchased it. Near the end of the class, our chef instructor came over to inspect my knives and provide more feedback, etc. He picked up the POS chef knife and said "I didn't think you could redeem this knife when I first saw it. I was wrong. Nice edge." The knife was still a POS knife, but it was nice to know my skills had improved enough that I could elevate it above the embarrassment it was.

I highly encourage home cooks and chefs looking to improve their knife skills to visit thrift stores and pick-up knives to practice honing, sharpening, and stropping. You won't worry about damaging them, but it will give you experience before applying your skills and developing techniques on quality knives.

So . . . if you're really interested in developing good knife skills and techniques, stop by a thrift store or two and spend a few dollars on some cast-off knives. Then use them without doing anything . . . such as slicing carrots and tomatoes, chopping onions, etc. Then, hone them and try them out. Then sharpen them and give them a try again. Sharpen them some more. Strop them. Doing this will give you a feel for the improvement you have made to the knife and the difference it makes.

Knives are a lot like cars. The best in the world will not serve you well if they're not used and cared for properly. Besides, I have found a couple of really awesome knives at thrift stores that needed some TLC to bring them back to life.
 
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Joined Jun 18, 2021
Since I bought my Masutani's I've used them a few times and they work really well. They came out of the box with a really sharp edge. Much sharper than my Calphalon Katana's even after sharpening with an electric sharpener. I really like them so far.

I then bought a 120mm small petty because I have a Calphalon mini-santoku that I really like that I wanted to emulate. This is the one I got.


It's a nice knife but didn't come near as sharp from the factory as the Masutani's did. After trying whet stone sharpening a couple of times with my Calphalon knives I tried sharpening the Yamashin. I was able to get it a little sharper than it was but certainly not as sharp as my Masutani's. Guess I need more practice. I find sharpening a little nerve-wracking though as I'm so concerned with keeping the right angle and pressure that I find my hands shake a little. Especially at the stropping stage. My sharpening kit came with a rectangle of leather to use but I am unsure which side to use. One side is super smooth and the other side has a little bit of texture. Also I guess I need to get a board or something to fix the leather to. So, so far I have just tried stropping on my highest grit stone which is 8000.

I also have a Misen chef knife that I like so far. Although I just watched their video on honing and they said to not hone a Japanese knife. This makes no sense to me. Why would a Japanese knife be different in regards to honing than any other kind of knife?
 

phatch

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Probably because many people are really using what equates to metal files for the hone which is too abrasive for harder steels, or any steel really, leading to chipping and other problems.
 
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I wouldn't use even the finest honing rod I know — the Friedrich Dick Micro — with steels harder than say 61Rc. Hard steel types tend to chip rather than to bend like softer ones. Better use the finest stone you have for touching up. If you do it in time, a few strokes are all you need. Or strop on cardboard, but there is a serious learning curve with stropping. Make sure you first get comfortable with stone sharpening.
 
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Joined Jun 18, 2021
but there is a serious learning curve with stropping. Make sure you first get comfortable with stone sharpening.
I'm certainly not "comfortable" with sharpening yet. I've watched quite a few stropping videos and none of the ones I saw said whether to use the smooth or rougher side of the leather. Do you start with the green compound on the rough side and then do it again without compound on the smoother side?
 

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