You guys have no idea...

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by rumenta, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. rumenta

    rumenta

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    ...of the damage you've done to my sanity (that's also the name of my leather wallet, btw).
    I used to be a normal guy with a sane, healthy habit for home cooking, preparing food to enjoy with my wife and friends, exploring different ethnic cuisines and recipes, cooking techniques and funny kitchen apparatus.
    I even received an awesome Felix Solingen chef's for my birthday (a X50CrMrV15 german steel - btw, can you see the damage? I shouldn't know what that code mean...) and I was (and still am) very happy with it. This was a serious piece of equipment!

    But then, one day, a realization suddenly took place: I was tired of working with dull knives. Really. No kiddin.
    You know that feeling when everything inside you just smooths down calmly but firmly into place while the world around you becomes silent? Yeah, that one. "Determination" or "Resolution" someone might call it, although I now know it for being a close relative to "Mania" or "Creeping Insanity".

    Anyway that's when I started to find a way to get my knives sharp and initially thought "Oh, not a big deal, I'll just buy one of those electric pull-through sharpeners and end-of-story". Ehehe... yeah. Bought one and after a bit of use in conjunction with a grooved steel (brrrrrr) my knives wouldn't be any sharper.
    That's when I discovered waterstones on the forums and that made me also aware that there were japanese kitchen knives around and many considered them superior to anything else!
    From then onwards it's just been a sheer drop toward insanity... knowing you guys on the forums, learning the types of steel, handle styles, blade styles, F&F (only knew M&Ms before...very smooth and polished!), etc...

    So here I am, I've made the plunge and bought myself a Hattori HD 210 Gyuto from Koki (NZ here, and JCK's the only one that ships stuff around at decent rates), and also got myself a Tojiro stone 240/1000 and a SunTiger 1000/6000 (purely based on what's available here - and price) alongside with two guiderails, one Minosharp (set at an angle described as "between 10* and 15*") and another brand (can't really say the angle but definitely something close to 20*). Also got myself a DMT CS2 ceramic steel (again, no Idahone or MAC here in NZ).
    Now, masking tape notwithstanding, my Hattori HD has the sanmai pattern completely scratched ([​IMG]) but is quite sharp and the german Felix too! Finally!!Ahhhhh!!!

    Just the beginning though. I can easily get that damned burr flippin on the 1000 but somehow I got the feeling I mess things up when I move to the 6000 (even with the guiderails on).
    I can shave my arm and slice newspapers but can't effortlessly push-cut a cherry tomato.
    I hate cherry tomatoes now.
    I have nightmares with flawless cherry tomatoes bouncing around and laughing at me.
    "The Silence of the Lambs" has been achieved, I can slice through lamb fine.Now the quest is to reach the "Silence of the Cherry Tomatoes".

    Ah, and I really need a petty now... maybe carbonext or blazen just to try a different steel. 120? 150? Suggestions needed!!
    Ah, need prob also a cutting board... wood or non-wood? (no sani-tuff in NZ)
    Ah, and I might also need...

    That's the end of the post guys. Too long? I won't apologize. You're the cause and you only deserve it! [​IMG]

    ---------------------------------

    Rumenta
     
  2. chefdave11

    chefdave11 Banned

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    I prefer the simplicity of having a few knives to cover all the different tasks - 

    4 USD

    Victorinox Serrated 4" Paring knife.  Your cherry tomatoes will not infiltrate your dreams anymore.

    While you're at it for 30 USD, get a Forschner 10.25" Bread knife.  Just for kicks.  See if it pushes you over the edge /img/vbsmilies/smilies/laser.gif
     
  3. rumenta

    rumenta

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    Thanks ChefDave, that is indeed good advice. I agree with you on the idea to have a few knives to do all the work, I intend to stay with my gyuto and just add a petty (prob 150mm) and a small parer (around 80mm).

    That said I kinda like exploring a bit this new world and willing to throw a few bucks in order to do so. Hence my initial idea to try a petty with something a bit more exotic like powdered steel or the semi-carbon.

    Whattheheck, I might even try a "normal" carbon alloy to see how it feels like.

    Victorinox serrated. Ah, this makes me remember a few things when I grew up in Italy and all you'd find in the average kitchen was some sort of serrated Victorinox-like knives with plastic handles and branded "Kaimano". These were used for EVERYTHING. And when I say everything this means the whole lot from cutting watermelon slices in summer to boning meat and obviously they would also end up on the table as cutlery along with forks :)

    Bread knife. Good point, I found myself having a nondescript supermarket one. I must say it does its job decently but yeah, a Forschner seems a good idea. Not sure if they sell them here in NZ, it's ok with victorinox and wenger - I've seen those around and maybe are on the same line with the Forschner?

    Forgot to mention I also have a boning knife, a gift from my wife back from a trip in Argentina.

    Dunno what's made of but it seems something carbon as it's started to develop a patina in no time - the blade has engraved the name "El Chaja" and was made in Tandil. Pretty much an unknown brand for me but the thingy takes a great edge (and I'm a beginner at sharpening) and seems to hold it fine after dissecting a few t-bones for some "tagliata".

    Anyone out there who knows argentinian steel and suggest what it could be made of?

    cheers

    Rumenta
     
  4. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

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    For your shorter knives I can not highly recomend enough the Nogent Sabatiers from" the best things" as these knives have a large handle compared to current knife production which seems to dictate smaller handle and balance compared to user comfort. These are carbon knives but the upkeep is easy and they sharpen so very easy you will enjoy! Its also cool to use an old fashioned knife that the past greats used. Enjoy the addiction my friend,Doug.......
     
  5. rumenta

    rumenta

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    Hey ChefBoy, thanks for your reply. Yeah, Sabatiers, I've read a lot of experienced people around here feel like you and are completely fond of them (either K or Thiers-Hissard).

    I might be tempted to try out one but the only thing that somehow I don't instinctively like is that fingerguard they come with.

    Now, if I were a rational person I should try first and judge afterwards, but if I were a rational person I wouldn't own a scratched 200$ Hattori HD I guess :)

    I'm really tempted by one of the following, as petty 150.

    In the "tool steel" range:
    • Yoshikane "Dentogi" SKD (wa handle only here in NZ - never used one, no idea if I like it)
    • Ryusen Blazen SG
    In the carbon (or "semi") range:
    • JCK CarboNext
    • Sabatier (with reserves about fingerguard)
    I am a bit more informed about stainless steels japanese models on the market (research for my first gyuto) but I admittedly are less informed about japanese carbon options.

    I know these two "roads" are completely different and prob not directly comparable (even from a price perspective) but, as I've mentioned, I'm a newbie and the only thing I'd like to do right now is experience different steels and get better at freehand sharpening.

    Argh... so many questions hanging around in this few posts, sorry guys if it's a bit of an hodge-podge. Enthusiasm for a new hobby mixed with perplexity, I guess...

    Cheers

    Rumenta
     
     
  6. wagstaff

    wagstaff

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    I love the Sabs and am very much annoyed by the finger-guards... I want to get someone to grind 'em out (or at least attenuate them seriously). 

    I love your first post on this thread.  You're a damn writer.  And that's a similar journey to many of ours.  (It's actually the saner version -- at least you really *did* start with cooking and figure out you didn't like dull knives. As in, that's the right way.  And not particularly the way I went about it).  I don't know if I missed it -- do you use the "magic marker trick" when you sharpen? This could reveal the trouble with the 6000 grit stone.  Two things -- a steady angle and the correct angle.  It's easy to wobble too much, and it's easy to polish scratches away *just* behind the edge, or to round the edge a tad. 

    I'm not altogether confident with my polishing stone, either.  I do ok, but have to go back and re-do more than I should. It just takes practice. And I don't mean to distract from your mulling over the petty choices... I just don't have input on that this morning.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2012
  7. wunderbier

    wunderbier

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    You and me both. Despite my best efforts to prevent it, mine (10" chef's) recently achieved a perfectly flat heel and predictably started producing accordion cuts on slightly concave boards. It otherwise felt kind of "off" during use. I asked BDL a long time ago if I could use a metal file to take the finger guard back some. He said "yes" if and only if it was my knife. Which it is, so I did.

    I'm pretty happy with the results and it was surprisingly quick for not being a power tool. The blade only ever got warm once and never hot. I made it so that the finger guard stops short of the blade edge and from heel-to-tip it rounds into the edge. I also made it rise straight from the edge to the bolster, rather than jutting out the way it normally does; I'd say it's a 15 degree inclusive wedge, which keeps well out of the way of sharpening. The knife lost about 5-6 grams in the process. I haven't polished everything out yet and I may yet fiddle some more, but I can grab a picture if you want to see.
     
  8. wagstaff

    wagstaff

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    I'd love to see, if you have a pic you can post.  I live in an apartment and have no real workbench or a vice.... presumably you used one, yes? i.e., didn't just file away a fingerguard holding the knife in one hand!??

    I have a couple of possibilities for people who might do it for me.  I have to ask real nice.  And find a time to visit, if I get the first part right.

    Back to Rumenta and the "which petty" question:  with the caveat that of those, I've only used the Sab, and I have a CarboNext gyuto (not petty), so I have an idea.

    The Ryusen Blazen is a san-mai knife, if I'm not mistaken.  And I think the only one on your list.  Whether that matters to you or sways you one way or another I don't know.  BDL will tell you that to him, and to a sizeable minority of people at least, san-mai knives feel "dead" or "dampened" on the board.  And also in the cut.  On the board may not matter to you much in a petty, depending on how you use it.  In the cut might matter more.  Or you might not be in that sizeable minority that cares at all.  (I'm agnostic on the issue -- I've adopted the prejudice, but haven't bought sanmai knives to learn).

    I like the CarboNext knives a lot.  My limited experience shows inconsistent fit and finish -- i.e., one of the two gyutos I've owned had a slight overgrind near the tip end, probably not enough to matter.  Not enough to matter for a long-ish while, maybe.  the other had no such problem.  The sharpening on the "Extra Sharp" version was worse than the blade that didn't have the extras.  Either way, the knife will get far sharper than it came out of the box, and is an easy knife to sharpen; even an easy knife to learn to sharpen on, I think.  Again, never used the petty, and don't know anything about the balance of one (if that matters).  If I needed another petty, I'd consider it though.

    I have the 6" Sab Nogent slicer, and I have a 6" Togiharu stainless; I also have a 210mm Gesshin Ginga petty, which is slightly big (long blade) for most people's idea of a petty.  I like the narrow profile for slicing sweet potatoes and hard squash and the like -- a "laser" without the sticking on those sorts of things; I'm not the most accomplished cook at all, but this is a good knife for what I do really often.  Longer than what a lot of people want in petty.  I use the Sab most often for other small-knife tasks. But it does  have a fingerguard that is mildly annoying when it comes to sharpening.  (Not as annoying as the guard on the chef's knife, though!)

    I like wa- handles.  Especially on bigger knives (they tend to be very light, comparatively).  But I've never even held a Yoshikane knife.  So of those you mentioned, this I have least to say about.

    Anyway, this is not very helpful, perhaps -- I wouldn't have typed at all except that I think it's unlikely you'll find someone who is really familiar with all four of those you're looking at. I don't know if you had all these sorts of considerations in mind already.  So forgive the hypertypographia.
     
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2012
  9. rumenta

    rumenta

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    Wagstaff, your compliment is unexpected and very much treasured: I don't write often and don't consider myself particularly good at it but I guess in this case it's just my enthusiasm creeping out and doing the work. Kinda like those guys who, completely out of the blue, start talking in a weird language like ancient babylonian.

    Wait...no, that's demonic possession.../img/vbsmilies/smilies/eek.gif...

    As for the "saner approach" you associate with me, well I won't answer that but only write down my wife's point of view around it.

    She confided it to me one day I realized she was REALLY pissed off and couldn't understand why.

    Basically she saw me, in order:
    1. spend tremendous amount of time on knives websites and forums
    2. start having a fixed stare (unto nothingness) during dinners babbling stuff as "zdp189sanmaivg10gyutocowryxdebaaogami"
    3. spending 200 bucks on a #@^*! kitchen knife and having it even shipped from Japan
    4. spending undetermined amount of money on strange colored stones and a white powdery stick
    5. staring lovingly at the knife's blade while moving it under the light
    6. dropping tomatoes on said knife, blade upwards and grinning when they were chopped by gravity
    7. furiously rasping that knife on the stones while several colored flows of water dripped unto the floor
    8. Swearin and howlin when the knife got scratches all over its fancy sides
    9. Getting the knife back on the stones but this time giggling madly when it scratched some more
    Not really my idea of "sane" ! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

    (ah yes, she ended up sayin it wasn't really that bad and yes, she still loved me)

    But back to the sharpening question: no I never used the magic marker trick - I had somehow expected the guiderails on the spine would do the job for me and compensate for my inexperience.

    I'm obviously wrong.

    I'll give it a go and see if I can get some useful info out of it.Thanks for the suggestion!

    BTW, would you put a double bevel on a VG10 gyuto like mine, say at 12* and 20* (the angles from my two guiderails)? Or single is enough for the moment and that sort of steel should be able to keep it for a while?
     
  10. wagstaff

    wagstaff

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    Well... saner approach in that you want to know for food prep. Not for the Grand Crazed Knify-ness Of It All. 

    Of course you can take a sane approach to an insane place.  Welcome to the wild-eyed.

    I've not used the blade guides, don't know much to say about them.  But I can almost promise the magic marker "trick" will be revealing as to what's going on with that polishing stone.  I'm not an very experienced sharpener, so I'm not claiming any expertise, here.  Fair warning.  I took a lesson from Jon (well worth it), but really don't have a large collection of knives, and in fact am either too careful or just flat out don't cook enough that I really need to (read: "get to") sharpen enough to consider myself very practiced.  So my blade faces get scratchy.  My tips look sloppy.  I sometimes dull the knife with the polishing stone, too, and have to go back to the medium stone and re-work the edge, then polish again.  All that.

    Which might make me the perfect person to advise about beginners' mistakes, I don't know.  I can tell you if you drop the edge guides, you most likely will be tempted to push too hard against the knife.  (Not everybody does this, but I do... and from what I read on the forums, most beginners do), and you'll move faster than you should -- because after all, that's what you see in the videos -- and you won't check your work often enough.  And really it's the lattermost that I'm pushing awareness of.  The magic marker only  helps if you stop and look.  See how your angle is.

    Now the nasty part is... if you really have a lot of wobble, you'll remove the magic marker without a constant angle.  That is... if you check too infrequently.  I can get behind the edge and not sharpen and remoe some of the marker; I can go too obtuse and round the edge and remove some of the magic marker.  You get the idea.  If you're all over the place, it'll be gone after a bunch of strokes.  So you have to check often. 

    Pushing too hard with your finger against the stone, or moving too fast, or... being clumsy or having nerve damage might make you wobble, too.  I've got all these problems, myself.  Which means I spend a few minutes just doing more harm than good, then easing into correcting myself and fixing it.

    On the double bevel -- presumably a "microbevel" at 20-degrees to help with edge retention -- nah, I wouldn't.  But I don't really have complaints about the edge retention.  I think learning to hold a consistent angle in as "plain" a way as possible when starting out makes more sense .  And the less edge retention you have, the more practice you have to get.  I'd worry about the microbevels later.  (Mind you, I also have an end-grain cutting board, am not often cooking for more than one, am probably not cooking as many meals as should for just one, even... my knives don't dull too quickly).

    But if you notice your knife gets dull quickly, or if you just don't have the time to practice sharpening so want as much edge retention as possible, your priorities may be different.  So to come back to "how to think about it" (like me, because I'm told God thinks like me...):  The microbevel is a technique to improve edge retention.  Don't get ahead of yourself worrying about that -- wait until you're unhappy with your edge retention.  Then have at it.

    (Interesting that you don't write much -- when Luis was first asking about Mac knives and stones, I loved the enthusiasm and vivid descriptions in his posts, too.  Another guy who doesn't consider  himself a writer, with English as a second language... You guys piss me off.  I have at various times had pretensions to being something of a writer. And you guys are better.  The happy ending to the description of the building tension within your wife is particularly well done.  And reference to demonic-induced ultraforeign language mastery.  That was good, too).
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2012
  11. rumenta

    rumenta

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    Wow Wagstaff, that's heaps of info you put down and all very useful! I prob should have posted two separate threads, one for the petty and another for the sharpening (and I aint touched the cutting board topic yet...).

    Anyway let me try and mark down a few things.

    Re Sharpening:

    I'll definitely have to try the magic marker trick - just don't remember how it's properly done. Will have to go back to Chad's tutorial on eGullet and any help on this forum.

    You're absolutely right about checking the burr often: I find myself quite often exaggerating it just because the swarf accumulates on the edge and "masks" it until I clean the blade with running water.

    I'll also have to figure out if it's better to remove the burr on the 1000 stone before moving to the 6000 or letting the 6000 remove it (or maybe avoid the 6000 altogether for now).

    Yes, prob I should avoid the microbevel (no idea if mine can categorize as "micro" though) and see how I go with a single one. VG10 seems to manage a 12* fine after a couple weeks of use.

    Re Petty:

    Still puzzled here.

    Now I definitely want to try a CarboNext blade. I remember BDL mentioning a basic Chef's paraphernalia should include a slicer, something that I don't have but never really felt a need for. Maybe that's the excuse to buy one?

    Also intrigued by the powdered steels and, in that category, my limited knowledge is driving me towards either a Yoshikane or a Blazen.

    My main doubts are:

    If I'm already struggling sharpening a VG10 the way I'd like, would I be able to handle a harder alloy without huge frustration?

    The Yoshikane really is borderline in terms of dollars and comes with a wa handle, something I never played with and not sure how practical it may be on a petty.

    ("Riddles in the dark", as Gandalf would put it, although the bastard had an elven-forged longsword, can't see why he would complain...it also glows when orcs are near: do you guys by any chance know any japanese blade that starts glowing when near a speed control camera?)
     
  12. rumenta

    rumenta

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    Forgot to reply to your note circa san-mai knives that might feel "dull" to some and therefore influence a decision to purchase. I can smell some BDL there /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif...

    Well, I can't honestly say because the Hattori HD is my first real Jap knife and don't have developed yet a proper "sensibility". It's SO different than my german chef's and I like both, for all their differences (or prob because of them). Not a decisive factor at this stage.
     
  13. wagstaff

    wagstaff

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    You smell BDL influence in what I said about sanmai?  I specifically credited BDL with the thought!  I hear you, though...  I see some sanmai knives that look beautiful, and I see some that are pretty far out of my price range so they must be good, right? 

    Magic marker trick consists of inking the edge.  It's really very simple. I like that you want to look it up on Chad Ward's site -- that's some of the best guidance to sharpening I've seen, certainly in writing.  I'm fairly sure there's a video on CKTG, too.  Which might be reassuring to see -- though really you're just watching a dude ink the edge of a blade.  Then you see where the ink scratches off when rub it against the stone.  If you leave ink further on up the bevel than you meant to, you're at a higher angle, or rounding the edge.  If leave ink on the edge itself but remove some behind it on the bevel, then you're thinning behind the edge maybe, but not sharpening the edge.

    Look at Jon's sharpening videos on JapaneseKnifeImports too.  Especially, I would recommend, the "Angles of Approach" video for starters.  That gives a good little lesson on reducing wobble.  Remember, like most everybody's sharpening videos: though he often goes slow on those videos for him, he's going fast for you (for now).

    On your points of frustration: I don't know if a harder steel will cause more frustration in sharpening or not.  Heat treatment has a lot to do with hardness, and indentation hardness (which is what they measure -- because it's easy) is not a direct indicator of abrasion hardness.  Forgive me if my terminology is not metallurgically correct.

    From what I understand, the particular problem with VG10 in most makers' hands is that it produces "tenacious burrs".  Which means they're more difficult to chase and more difficult to remove.  But then, you have Hattori HD knives, which have a rep for being problem-free in spite of the VG10.  Heat treatment trumps.

    Harder steels a la the powdered steels you're intrigued by perhaps have a rep for problems with chipping more than difficult-to-sharpen.

    I'm in over my head, here -- I haven't bought a bunch of knives just to sharpen different steels.  And when I first started obsessing about alloys, I got over it quick because that was difficult to balance with the variable heat treatments trumping whatever I thought of the particular alloy.

    (This is not to say I don't pay attention at all, just to say the obsession is something attenuated.  Because I can't afford to try all the alloys that seem interesting and then I couldn't stand the idea that even that was not going to give a good idea of the various implementations of those alloys.  So .... it comes into play more when I pick a particular knife, and then compare whether I want this-carbon or that-stainless or what version).
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2012
  14. jbroida

    jbroida

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    for what its worth, i'm also here to answer any questions about anything in my videos if you have them (assuming you decide they are the right videos for you).

    -Jon
     
  15. wagstaff

    wagstaff

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    Jon's videos are fhe best on the web IMO. But ithere's not a "how to do the magic marker trick" video. Or a "How to flatten a stone" video, I don't think. So some extreme basics are in other videos, or better in Chad Ward's egullet chapter.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2012
  16. jbroida

    jbroida

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    and if you watch the beginning of this one i talk about magic marker (i know i need to do a video on this alone though)

     
  17. wagstaff

    wagstaff

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    Me = Corrected! Still, best sharpening instruction videos on the web.
     
  18. jbroida

    jbroida

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    ;)

    hey, if you happen to think of anything else i'm missing or if you want to see something re-done in a better way, let me know.  i just got some cool new lighting, a new mic, new tripod, and some other stuff.  Its a scary thing when knives and stones are the less expensive of my 2 hobbies :(
     
  19. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    But have you had sashimi in k-town?

    BDL
     
  20. jbroida

    jbroida

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    sadly   not yet... stoked for night+markeyt tonight though