Which Santoku : MacPro or Korin Togiharu Cobalt Damascus ?

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Joined Dec 16, 2010
alohakid,  given your small kitchen the 210mm is probably best.  I'd also stick with a gyuto, as it's a more serviceable knife in the long run than the santoku.  I have both and can't remember the last time I reached for the santoku.  Damascus cladding is a nice looking but adds nothing to performance but probably adds to the price.  I have this one: http://korin.com/HOT-GY?sc=20&category=51929  and while it's a beautiful blade, the core metal is what does the work, not the damascus.

The MAC is a very good knife, but keep an open mind for others at that price point.
 
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Joined Feb 21, 2012
... I'm leaning toward a Santoku ; (argh ! collective groan)  I'm a newbie with no skills in a tiny kitchen cooking for myself and wanting to prepare simple one pot Japanese dishes .

At some point , whichever type I get , santoku or gyutou , I'll probably get the other .

Togiharu Cobalt Damascus Santoku at $159 felt best in hand vs. Togiharu Hammered Texture Damascus Santoku and Mac Pro .

I think the size is right considering a future purchase of an 8 inch gyutou .

But I would prefer one without the Damascus finish .

So to re-cap ; looking for  Stainless , Yo , $160 
 
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Alohakid,

Greetings!  Why not spend the same amount of money and get both...sure there are quite a few choices that you would be happy with and give you the options from the start?

Cheers,

Chinacats
 
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Joined Dec 12, 2010
Get the 7" santoku.  Your next knife will be a 240mm gyuto since the 210mm will be too close in length to your santoku to justify buying it.  That's how I started (7" santoku then 240mm gyuto) and I don't regret it.  The 7" santoku still gets quite a bit of use and my better half always picks the santoku over any of my (longer) gyuto's.  Always.  Which is one of multiple reasons that I'm not anti-santoku.  Plus I use it myself and like it  :)

 
... I'm leaning toward a Santoku ; (argh ! collective groan)  I'm a newbie with no skills in a tiny kitchen cooking for myself and wanting to prepare simple one pot Japanese dishes .

At some point , whichever type I get , santoku or gyutou , I'll probably get the other .

Togiharu Cobalt Damascus Santoku at $159 felt best in hand vs. Togiharu Hammered Texture Damascus Santoku and Mac Pro .

I think the size is right considering a future purchase of an 8 inch gyutou .

But I would prefer one without the Damascus finish .

So to re-cap ; looking for  Stainless 50/50 blade , Yo , $160 
 
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Joined Feb 21, 2012
...not sure I completely understood the issue of double sided blades. (FYI , I'm right handed)

As a newbie home cook do I want 50/50 , 70:30 , 60:40 , or  90:10 ?

... ok , so I think I understand it a bit better now .

All European knives are 50/50 but many Japanese western style are 70/30 , making them potentially sharper and more functional .
 
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Not precisely. The principle is sort of right, but not really.
 
...not sure I completely understood the issue of double sided blades. (FYI , I'm right handed)

As a newbie home cook do I want 50/50 , 70:30 , 60:40 , or  90:10 ?

... ok , so I think I understand it a bit better now .

All European knives are 50/50 but many Japanese western style are 70/30 , making them potentially sharper and more functional .
You can sharpen any double-beveled knife to any level of asymmetry you like, fairly easily. The question is whether you gain anything and what, if anything, you lose.

The more asymmetrical the grind, the more transverse pressure on the edge. With hard steel, this is a fairly trivial issue, but with soft steel it's major. Basically the transverse pressure on soft steel means that the edge crushes fast and you have to steel up constantly, and pretty soon you just have to re-grind anyway. So you'd be unwise to grind most European or American knives asymmetrical: the steel is soft. There are exceptions, but that's the basic principle.

Granted hard steel, why would you want asymmetry? Well, basically the narrower the "total included angle," the sharper the knife will tend to act, but asymmetrical grinding is a way of cheating that. "Total included angle": imagine looking point-on at your knife with some kind of magic x-ray machine. You see the main part of the blade as more or less a thin rectangle or a gently tapering triangle. Then, up at the edge, you have two angles that come together more steeply. These angles are the bevels, which meet at the edge. (There is also secondary beveling, but let's keep it simple here.) "Total included angle" means if you were to take the number of degrees between one of those bevels and the other. OK?

So let's suppose the total included angle is 90, a right angle. You can see that (a) it's not going to crush when you whack it on something, but (b) as soon as the very point of that edge goes into your slab of fish, the flaring bevels are going to push the food out of the way at least as fast as the edge itself can hit. This produces what's called "wedging": imagine trying to cut a carrot by pushing a thinnish dowel through a crack started along the side, and you'll see what's going to happen.

Now suppose total included angle is 1 degree, so thin you can't believe it. You can see that (a) it's not going to wedge at all, just slice through perfectly, but (b) it's going to be incredibly susceptible to crushing or cracking because it's so darn thin.

With me?

Now let's suppose your steel can tolerate roughly 15 degrees of beveling per side, i.e. a total included angle of 30. Now suppose you grind this really, really asymmetrically. Basically imagine your knife point-on again, but now shift the edge off from the center-line a lot. So on one face of the knife (the inside -- if you're a righty, that's the face looking left as you hold the knife normally in your hand preparing to cut down on the board), that 15-degree bevel is like a hair. On the other face, the 15-degree bevel goes way up the face of the blade. The total included angle is the same, but the bevels are really different sizes. OK?

So now you cut. On the inside face, there is basically no shoulder pushing the food out of the way. On the outside face, there is a shoulder, but it's not climbing any faster than if you sharpened the knife symmetrically. To put it differently, the total included angle at the edge is the same (30), but just a couple millimeters up the knife the width of the wedge is significantly thinner. So, less wedging.

But if you keep thinking about it, you can perhaps see that cutting with a knife sharpened this way will impose some transverse pressure on the edge: the food is pushing against the blade on one side and not the other. With soft steel, that's bad news. With hard, it's trivial.

End-result: I like asymmetry, and grind my knives very asymmetrical. I also use quite high-end Japanese carbon, and I sharpen them with some regularity. Some people swear that asymmetry makes knives "pull" in the cut, but if the knife is reasonably thin you'll have to be way more sensitive than I am to detect this. (It's very true of single-beveled knives, which are a different beast altogether, but it's not especially true of double-bevels.) I also find that grinding asymmetrically makes sharpening take less time, which I enjoy because I am lazy. But if you decide to grind a good Japanese knife 50/50 that will be no bad thing either. And if you change your mind, it's no big deal.

To conclude, actually, a note on changing your mind. Suppose you have a 50/50 knife that's very hard and decide you'd like to try asymmetry. You can totally regrind it, or you can just do your usual sharpening practice and do 50% less grinding on the inside face. Over time, the knife will keep drifting more and more asymmetrical, as you do less and less grinding on the inside face. If you change your mind, you could re-grind, or you can just start grinding evenly on both sides every time, and in time it will even out. In fact, if you have a knife that likes to be sharpened, i.e. grinds quickly and smoothly, and you slap it on a mildly coarse stone, you can shift the symmetry drastically in 5 minutes if you have a clue what you're doing. This is very much not a hard thing, and I say this as someone who curses bitterly about all kinds of sharpening things I find to be a pain. This isn't one of them. So don't sweat it.

Hope that helps.
 
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Once the decision was made to buy a santoku, I decided to butt out. The road to hell is not only paved with good intentions, but with technical sharpening issues as well. So I couldn't stay out.

+1 with Chris, at least mostly.

If you're going to steel your knives, you don't want to go much beyond 60/40; and not at all beyond 70/30. To some extent using percentages is BS, because you can't sharpen that accurately and have no meaningfully accurate way to measure to the nearest 10% even if you could. So, a 2:1 ratio in bevel widths is about max.

Does asymmetry make a huge difference? Depends on the knife, but usually no. There's always a tension between absolute sharpness and durability/maintenance. Asymmetry is one of its expressions but usually not hugely so -- until you start approaching a chisel edge. Chisel edges (one sided sharpening) are largely inappropriate for a western kitchen because they're usually far more trouble than they're worth.

Once you start dealing with hardness in excess of 60RCH, the rules start to change. But, if you're using extremely thin knives -- so called "lasers" -- the rules start to change back.

There's no hard and fast rule for the right amount of asymmetry for a given knife or given user. For years I kept my Sabatiers around 60/40 righty (which I guess at by sharpening at what I estimate to be slightly less than 2:1) because it (a) works well for my right handed wife; (b) doesn't bother my left-handed but very soft grip; and (c) is easy to sharpen and steel. More important than the degree of asymmetry though is the bevel angle of 15*, which is as acute as you can take a Sab's soft carbon without requiring constant steeling.

In the case of the Sabs, and nearly all knives, the bevel angle plus the levels of maintenance are far more important then the degree of asymmetry. A freshly and well sharpened knife of a given bevel angle will always be and act sharper than a knife of the same bevel angles and greater asymmetry, but less well or freshly sharpened. At equal levels of sharpness and use since sharpening, a well trued knife (usually from steeling, but sometimes from stropping) will act sharper than a knife which isn't as well trued but is more asymmetric.

Asymmetry often carries issues with truing, because asymmetric edges fatigue more along their vector of stress and then tend to collapse and tear more easily than more symmetric edges. This phenomenon touches on what Chris referred to when he talked about "transverse" forces, but there's more to it than just tossing it in "hardness considerations" and forgetting about it. "Hardness" can be very misleading, but let's pretend it means what we naively assume it does. Within that assumption, harder knives don't roll out of true as easily as softer knives, but truing -- no matter how it's done -- leads to a greater probability of damage to the edge, usually in the form of "chipping", than with softer knives.

As a caveat -- it's a good idea to remember how the road to hell is paved and avoid getting too caught up in the sort of uber-technical aspects of knives which have more to do with knife collecting than cooking. Unless that is, you're consciously moving to the dark side.

Which takes us back to choosing knives which are made from a good, appropriately hardened alloy for the way you're going to use and maintain.

BDL
 
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Joined Feb 21, 2012
I decided I want a wa .

The centerpieces of my kitchen are an Iga donabe rice cooker and a Nambu tetsubin .

So I think a Tosa bunka might be fitting .

Or something like a Takeda Banno Bunka AS 160mm .

My only concern is most all Tosa are carbon and the care and maintenance involved .
 
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Saw today only a great price on the Tojiro DP santoku at C&M. But that's not a wa. And it's still a santoku ;)
 
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The $25 Victorinox Santoku is probably all I need at this point but I want Japanese with wa octagonal .

Haven't decided between 165 or 180 mm , stainless or carbon .

But now looking (on-line) at these : 

Ashi Hamono 165 / 180mm Wa-Santoku Swedish Stainless Steel

Yoshihiro 165mm SKD Santoku
 
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