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post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
So I am in the market for an upper grade chef's knife/knife set. The whole Sabatier K brand thing had me going till I heard a few people saying that they aren't like the old ones.

Does anybody have anything to say about this new brand?

Would anybody like to further explain this whole Sabatier mystery to me?

Also, what should I be looking for as far as hardness ratings?

Also, also, what other sites are informative, I am an info junkie so I like to research research research?

post #2 of 52
The best site for knife information is probably the knife forum: homepage
Go figure.

For kitchen knives with a Japanese flair, you want to look at Fred's Cutlery Forum on the Foodie Forum:
Fred's Cutlery Forum - Foodie Forums

Sabatier K is not a new brand, but is one of the oldest Sabatiers. It is also one of the best. I highly recommend their au carbone vintage knives, and their antique Canadian knives. Their stainless knives are as highly regarded as any similarly priced European line. I assume you have their website.

As good as Sabatier K is (Four Star) Elephant (Thiers-Issard) Sabatier. I recommend all of their knives, especially the "Nogent" carbons and the modern carbons. Their French and German profile stainless is of similar quality to Wusthof Classic (as are the up-market K Sabs). The blade profiles are very similar with the exception of German and French chef's. German chef's knives have deeper, more rounded bellies, and a more streamlined bolster. French knives are narrower, straighter, have thinner blades, are lighter and more agile. German knives promote a rocking push-cut action, French a slight slice. Most cooks who have used both prefer the French.

Anyway, here's a link to Elephant's US distributor and largest retailer: Sabatier Kitchen Knives at The Best Things

At this moment, the primary use knives in my knife block are a K Sabatier au carbone 10" chef's, K Sabatier au carbone 10" slicer, Henckels Pro (stainless) bread knife, Nogent carbon 7" chef's, Nogent carbon 7" slicer, Nogent carbon 8" fillet, Elephant carbon paring knife, and an Elephant carbon boning knife. The next group include a K Sab 12" chef de chef's, an Elephant carbon sheeps foot, and a Nogent carbon tourne. You get the picture.

If you can put up with the continual wiping that comes with carbon, it's a very viable and affordable option. Compared to the best European stainless, it takes an edge much easier and holds it longer. Compared to high end Japanese steel -- well, better performance is to be had from Japan. If I were replacing my knives, I might choose carbon steel Sabatiers for a lot of reasons -- most of which are emotional, but I'd probably go Japanese out of practicality. If I were still cooking profesionally, I'd definitely go all Japanese.

The subject of Japanese knives is extremely deep. I'm happy to make recommendations that go beyond the usual Global and Shun, but need to know more about your price range, types of knives desired, how and how often you sharpen, how much money you're willing to put into sharpening tools, and what sort of use you'll be putting your knives to before going much farther.

Let me know,
post #3 of 52
K Sabatier has a nice little outlet store in Yemassee, South Carolina. (on I-95)
A phone call will get you their catalog, and price lists. Exellent prices, by the way.
I stop by there every time I drive North, and pick up something I just have to have. :rolleyes:
I am partial to the Carbon Steel knives

post #4 of 52
You may be interested in looking through this site: I've purchased a few knives from this site, direct from Japan. It was a gamble, at first, because I hadn't heard of some of the makers and the prices were very reasonable. I've been extremely satisfied.
post #5 of 52
Here are some additional links for Japanese manufactured knives.

Cutlery and More has a wide selection of knives and all kinds of cooking stuff. I've used them several times and have found them fast and honest. They made a mistake on one of my orders, plus were messed up by Pay Pal, they not only corrected their error without any BS, they took care of Pay Pal's by shipping my order on trust. At any rate, I've included them here for their selection of MAC -- the working chef's choice. No BS, no legend of Samurai. Light, sharp, well finished knives at a fair price -- value throughout all four of their lines. They also sell Shuns. I'm not a fan of Shun, personally. Partly because I'm left handed and don't believe someone else's kitchen knife should be dangerous to me, or vice versa; and partly because I feel a lot of money goes into cosmetics. Still, a lot of people really like them.

Mac Knives - Your Mac Knife Store, Full Mac Knife Selection, MAC Japanese Knives, chef knife

The next three,are the nucleus of e-tailers for U.S. fans of Japanese kitchen cutlery.

The Epicurean Edge: Japanese and European professional chefs knives

Products Japanese Knife,Japanese Kitchen Knife,Japanese Chef's Knives.Com

Korin - Fine Japanese Tableware and Chef Knives

The link RSteve posted is for an e-tailer who belongs in this group, too. At one time it was associated with Japanese Chef, but I'm not sure if there's still a relationship. Fred of Fred's Cutlery Forum would know. If you care.

I've been thinking about what I wrote to you, and I'm not so sure that I'd switch to Japanese knives over French carbons. My knives handle so well, and suit me to a "T." What can I say?

If I were shopping now, I'd only consider certain Japanese blade profiles, anyway. Gyuto, Sujihiki and Petty. Gyuto is a French (as opposed to German) profile Chef's knife as far as the edge and belly go -- but the Japanese like to drop their point a little more, and a little later along the spine. Japanese forged gyuto are substantially thinner and lighter than German knives -- but not much more than French carbons. Japanese stamped gyuto are lighter still.

Speaking of stamped vs forged -- get over your old fashioned prejudices if you still have them. Good stamped are every bit as good as good forged these days.

Sujihikis are very similar to French slicers -- which are very similar to German slicers. The principal difference between French and German profiles is not the blade itself, but the bolster. Japanese knives are made without bolsters. Although most better Wester styled Japanese knives have a half-bolster styled ferrule sintered to the blade, and a naked heel. Several German manufacturers are copying the pattern by the way, by grinding down the lower part of their bolsters. E.g., Wustohof Ikon and Le Cordon Bleu. Anyway, the suji is a familiar pattern very useful for Western cooking.

Pettys (petties?) are just spear-point paring knives along very similar lines to a European slicer or "utility."

I don't like Japanese boning knives -- of which there are several shapes and sizes. I also don't care for their principal fish filleting knife, the deba, either. These knives are balanced, profiled and styled very differently than western knives designed for the same purposed. Japanese pattern boning knives like honesuke and garasuke have a very wide profile, and a dropped point, as opposed to the long narrow profile and up-rounded point of a European pattern. The western deba is part of a two knife system for filleting, skinning and slicing fish. The deba is a heavy, stiff, and wide knife shaped a lot like a French chef's, but deeper, and is used for the filleting and cutting through the spine to take the head. They use a suji for skining and slicing. Frankly I prefer the Euro style alternatives. Maybe it's just what I'm used to.

And when it comes to real specialty knives that don't get used very often -- they're hard to find from Japanese manufacturers, and when you can they're too expensive. I figure that's why God invented F. Dick and Forschner.

You'd asked about steel hardness, and I didn't answer. Anything under 55 HRC (Rockwell scale) is too soft for a modern knife. Anything over 60 is extremely hard -- which may be good or bad depending on the steel's resistance to chipping and your ability to sharpen a knife that hard. Because hard or not, they get dull. For a well designed knife, figure each 2 point HRC nets you about 25% more time between sharpenings. If your knives are over 58 HRC, you're pretty much committed to water (ceramic) or diamond stones. Everything else takes too long.

The good, old, carbon Sabs act a little harder than my newer Elephant carbons which are rated at 55-56 HRC. However, knives can be very idiosyncratic. The blade on my 7" Nogent slicer is at least 70 years old, but it absolutely kicks my @$$ on the stones. My other Nogents, sourced at more or less the same time from the same supplier sharpen very easily.

When I was working the line in the early seventies, I sharpened my K Sab carbon chef's (still got it!) every work week. If I were using a really good Japanese knife, that would be about every 2-1/2 weeks. By the way, a carbon Sab will easily take and hold a very Japanese "V" single bevel of ~15 deg. It may possibly require a little more steeling between edges, but that's hard to say because I steel more often than required. In fact, every time I take a knife out of the block to compensate for my wife's never touching the steel.

If I were choosing a new chef's, I'd choose between the Hiromoto AS, and the Ryusen Blazen as the best, no BS, every penny goes to making the knife better, knives. Actually, I'd go Hirmomoto, but you might not like the fact that the composite, stainless-carbon blade uses carbon steel for the edge.

FWIW, If I were buying new stones, I'd go Shapton Pro, plus a Hand American borosilicate-glass "steel." Seriously man, when you think about this, don't forget to seriously consider what you're going to do about sharpening. A good set of stones with four surfaces is at least as expensive as a good knife.

post #6 of 52
Thread Starter 

Your posts are extremely helpful. I already have the norton three stone system for sharpening. I probably need to educate myself on the various options I have with stones.

Are my OIL norton stones not acceptable for harder steel?

One of the other reasons I was interested in Sabatier is that there is a set with a knife roll at cutlery and more for only 150. I am too young on the forum to post the link.

This seemed reasonable to me considering the steel is a diamond steel but I am unsure of the brand, Grand Chef, any thoughts?

I am presently persuing an "in" for a job at one of the nicer restaurants in Ann Arbor and if it's a "use your own knives" place, I will need a set soon.

My previous work has been at a Pizza Tavern doing lots of prep and not really cooking anything more than pizza, soup, and a lot of chicken. So I am excited about moving to a nicer kitchen.

I have plans set in motion for a three year apprenticship following my graduating from college next year so this is all in reference to professional cooking.

That leads me to think maybe I should be looking at the more commercial lines like Forschner or even Kershaw Commercial (although I am not a fan of the Shun line either.)

My question seems confused now but any imput is appreciated.
post #7 of 52
Your question makes a lot of sense, actually. Also, now that I have some idea of what knives you need, your price range, etc., I know exactly where to point you. Well, maybe I'm not that smart, but we can have an intelligent discussion.

The set you're looking at is a 10" Chef's, boning knife, spear-point parer, and "fine" steel with a non-matching plastic handle, in a roll. It's not K - Sabatier, although the logo is a little confusing if you don't know what you're looking at. It's 2 Lion Sabatier's discontinued German profile line, "Grand Chef." Compared to less expensive knives, they've got forged blades and full bolsters, but what do those contribute to performance? In the greater scheme of things, it's hard to say if Grand Chef is better than Forschner or F. Dick. Or, just a little more expensive.

Forschner Fibrox and Rosewood knives are good for students or first jobs. As to your heaviest use knives, like your Chef's, you'll grow out of them quickly. For occasional use knives, they're great. You'll keep the garde manger knives forever. They're comfortable, affordable, and easy to sharpen, but they dull quickly. FWIW, F. Dick Euro-Cut is just as good.

If you can afford the price difference you can buy much better performance with MAC. Lighter, more agile, stay sharper much longer. Not to mention their chef's knives are French profile -- which is a big improvement. MAC is probably the best performance for price brand for the professional cook.

If you're going Sabatier, which is not a bad thing, the two best brands to pursue are K Sabatier and Four Star Elephant Thiers Issard (boy that's a mouthful!). I gave you a link to The Best of Things already, they distribute the Elephant lines. Here's a link to K Sabatier: Kitchen Sabatier Knives: French cutlery from Thiers. The other good Sabatier brands in the U.S., are 2 Lion Sabatier, V Sabatier and Mercier et Cie.

post #8 of 52
Thread Starter 

Great advice, thanks for being so helpful.

What about sharpening, should I stick with my norton or look elsewhere?

Also, what steels are appropriate and where can I find them?
post #9 of 52
Steel is easy, scroll down for HandAmerican: Japanese Knife Sharpening

Sharpening systems are another matter. I use four stone surfaces -- two of them Norton, so you know I like them. You could add a fine, black or translucent Arkansas bench stone from Hall's as a finishing stone if you like using the tri-hone. My four surfaces are the coarse and fine India on an IB-8, a Hall's soft Arkansas, and a Halls surgical-black Arkansas. I sharpen with the surfaces dry, and my Sabs get mighty sharp.

If you're going with a harder steel, I'd bite the bullet and buy two double-sided DMTs (x-coarse, coarse, fine, x-fine), and a holder. Or, 4 Shapton ceramic water stones, a holder and a less expensive than Shapton leveling stone.

I'd also investigate the HandAmerican system which, I think, is a refined version of "Scary Sharp." If so, it mostly uses sandpapers for an easy and inexpensive way to get very sharp. The trick is finding sandpapers in the right widths, lengths and grits. You'd have to email Japanese Knife Sharpening or HandAmerican.

The ProEdge is the best of the rod guided systems, I guess if you're fanatic about getting the angles right.

post #10 of 52
Thread Starter 
I like those MACs pretty well from what I'm reading but I have this weird lean toward French made at the moment. That could change, all I'm saying is that if I spend close to 100 dollars or more on a single knife I will probably go French Carbon.

The Norgent line from Elephant looks real interesting. I like the lack of vanity that comes with a carbon knife.

Do you know the hardness of the Norgent carbons, do the same standards apply with carbon steel?

post #11 of 52
I'm not sure if anyone's accurately measured the Rockwell hardness of Elephant's Nogent line. I have a few, and they act very slightly harder than modern Elephant carbon and vintage K au carbone -- and of both lines, I have several. All my knives have been re-profiled to 15 deg single bevels, then 15/20 double bevels, then back to 15 deg single, so my acquaintance with their hardness is intimate.

I'd put the Nogents at 55-58 HRC, slightly harder than modern or "vintage." But that's, "By guess and by God," as the saying goes. As far as I know Thiers-Issard never had the knives actually tested in a meaningful way. I've seen guesses from people who've done their own testing, but don't trust HRC numbers from a press-test -- basically some nerd tightening a clamp with a pressure gauge, guessing when the clamp is just about to leave a mark because if he leaves a mark he can't return the knife for a refund. The results are too variable.

This is a little complicated by the possibility that not all the blanks which Thiers Issard is selling as "Nogent" come from the same companies, or that the steel comes from the same smelters or ores. I say "possibility" because Thiers Issard's story is that the blanks came from other local companies that went out of business during the thirties (See, The Best of Things website). Maybe. Given the timing it's more likely that Thiers Issard hid the blanks to keep it from confiscation by the French government which wanted steel for the pre WW II mobilization, kept it hidden during the German occupation to keep it from les Boche, had to keep it hidden after the war because it was too hard to explain why they were hoarding knives when, mon Dieu, the French government was desperate to stop the Hun. Styles changed to full tang during the early fifties, and Thiers Issard just forgot about them. In which case the knives all did come from the same manufacturer, forger, smelter and ore -- which at the time was either Sheffield or Solingen. No matter how they were acquired and lost, finally (and this part is true for sure), when Thiers Issard was emptying out an old warehouse to build a new office building, crates of the NOS knives were discovered where they'd "accidentally" become hidden behind walls of other crates.

So there's the whiff of romance to them. And anyway ... Yes, they're great knives. Wonderful knives. They may not hold an edge quite as long as some of the modern Japanese knives, but they sharpen up almost as well. Certainly, you get them sharp enough to cut micro-brunois -- and what more do you need?

They sharpen very easily. Although in the interest of full disclosure, my small slicer absolutely kicks my @ss. One aspect of carbon that you don't hear much about is how resilient it is. Carbon edges tend to bend and wave, rather than dull or nick, and consequently are easily restored by steeling. In this way, a carbon edge tends to outlast a stainless edge of equal hardness. A feature of French carbon knives, especially older styles like the Nogent, is they're forged thin and light. Along with the blade profile this makes them as agile as modern Japanese knives. Also, the Nogent ebony, square cross-section handles are incredibly comfortable for any size hand and any length of time for a pinch or slicing grip.

Anyway, what can you say? The knives used by Escoffier, Pelliprat, and Julia Childs aren't good enough? Pfui!

Of course, carbon means a lot wiping and drying. I cooked for money a long time ago, and switching to stainless for ease of maintenance was a big deal. What wasn't so obvious at the time was how often you had to sharpen, how subject to dings and nicks the stainless steel was, and how much more effort it took to use a heavy German knife for hours than it did a light French. For one thing, heft feels good for the first few minutes. For another, they were so shiny.

I grew out of that eventually. And it seems like you're already too mature to fall into that trap.

The one thing I'd miss is the visual reinforcement I get from the tang and rivets on a full-tang chef's knife and long slicer. First to third rivet is batonette and julienne length; the rivet's diameter is fine dice and batonette width, and a thin slice; the tang's width is julienne and batonette width. You may not need it, but I find it helpful. A full-tang big knife is typically more neutrally balanced than a rat-tail tang. But, I don't own any big Nogents, you'd have to email The Best of Things and ask.

As it happens, that's what I use. Full tang on the big boys, and rat-tails on the mid-size. I don't mention my knives to endorse my reasoning, but to let you know of the possibility of bias. People fall in irrational love with their choices, I'm sure I'm no exception.

You have good questions,
post #12 of 52
Thread Starter 
Fantastic information.

If it's good enough for Escoffier? What a line.

I assume I'll probably go this route with a combination of the two companies. Maybe just Sabatier K stanless to start with then trying very soon to get some carbon going on.

You're working on a cookbook? Thats ba. If you don't mind the question... where and what did you cook professionally?
post #13 of 52
In the seventies, I cooked at The Blue Fox in San Francisco, and Chez Panisse in Berkeley. I had a small catering company in the Bay Area, then later in Los Angeles, called "Predominantly French."

By the late seventies, I'd found a more efficient way to make a living, and when my first kid was born in 1980, I no longer had the time to invest in keeping a hobby/business -- which is what Predominant French had become -- going. So I hung up the jacket.

My "professional" style, such as it was, was always eclectic -- which you'd expect from anyone who cooked at Chez Panisse. But always with classic technique behind it -- ditto. In addition to all the French and California Cuisine stuff, there was a solid helping of barbecue, too. Not to mention detours into Spanish, Med, and Indian. Lately I've added some Asian and Mexican stuff.

I'd describe my approach now as very American. When push comes to shove, it probably always was. I think of my strongest culinary influences as Pelliprat (I learned to cook from his book), James Beard (who taught me to keep an open mind), Alice Waters (who owned Chez Panisse), and Willie Walker (he owned a barbecue in Emeryville, and talked me into cooking for money).

post #14 of 52
Thread Starter 
That's cool.

I wanted to go back to what I said about getting the stainless K Sab. That was me not thinking and mistyping, I definately want the carbon, its comparably priced.

I do want a Forschner or the like first to get my sharpening skills down first though.
post #15 of 52
I don't want to belabor the equipment, because truly the hand that holds and the mind which directs it are far more important.


The basic Forschner, F. Dicks, Wusthofs, etc., are good knives. We all tend to say, "Forschner" because they did so well in the Cook's Illustrated comparisons, but truly the commercial German (and Swiss) knives are pretty much the same.

Let me tell you what you're getting: Because the knife is stamped, and parsimoniously designed, it will be reasonably light. Which is good. It will also be a reasonably thin blade -- which means that when you sharpen it you can tighten the angle a little. Presumably you've been taught to find your angle by halving 90, then halving 45. Well, shave a little off 22.5, because you're going for between 15 and 20, the closer to 15* the better. At least that's modern theory.

Unfortunately, because the metal is somewhat soft, the edge will roll and dull. Rolling can be dealt with by frequent steeling -- which is a good idea. I can't overemphasize the importance of steeling.

The knife will need fairly frequent sharpening, which in the greater scheme of things isn't so bad, because you'll learn how to sharpen. Don't baby this knife, or worry about losing it or haven't it stolen either, you'll grow out of the chef's knife within a year, or two at most. Some of the other shapes in the series, the special meat shapes and the flexible fillets in particular, you can't really better. They're keepers.

Of all of these, I like the Forschner Rosewood line the most, because the handle is more comfortable. The Fibrox is for people who are up to their arms in raw meat all day, like butchers, have to wear ill-fitting plastic gloves during prep, or must clean their knives in a dishwasher :eek:. One hopes you don't fit in those classifications.

You'r BA may come back to serve you yet.

post #16 of 52
Thread Starter 
You recommended Japanese MAC, which admittedly are prettly cool, especially the series with tungsten that yields a HRC 60+. I also have liked the Misonos since I held one about a month back. But I was looking though threeds and saw this

Any thoughts?

I only ask because the price is what it is. It would certainly be a knife that forced me to have good sharpening technique.
post #17 of 52
All I know is that for some unknown reason JCK, which is really a guy named Koki, replaced the Hiromoto budget carbon line and Tojiro budget stainless with Fujiwara. The buzz on the carbon (FKH) models is that, as far as steel, they're excellent value. I don't know anything about where the steel was sourced, it's formula, hardening methods or anything like that. Maybe someone on Fred's Cutlery Forum or the Knife Forum. Both have a lot of guys who talk frequently with Koki.

Anyway, it's priced like at entry-level for both carbon and Japanese knives -- which is fair, since that's what it is. The general reputation of this type of knife in that price range is that fit and finish can be less than sterling -- but nothing that can't be sanded out. Also, the actual edge-shaping tends to be hurried, and/or done by the least experienced guy in the factory. This means you may have to spend some quality time with a dremel, some sand paper and your stones. But that's typical of the budget lines of small Japanese manufacturers. Remember, these companies tend to be pretty small. MAC OTOH is a big company, and like European or American knives are well finished and sharp right out of the box. But MAC doesn't make a comparable series -- so any comparison is "apples and oranges" no matter how you turn it.

If it were me, and I'd decided on Japanese carbon, I'd skip the whole entry-level thing and try a Misono Sweden Series, a Kikuichi Elite or a Masamoto. All of which are to die for. You realize that with carbon, you're going to be wiping down constantly and rinsing frequently -- as in every time the knife touches onion or tomato. There's a new sheriff in town when it comes to carbons, BTW, and that's those green Scotch-Brite scrub pads. They'll take stains right off the knives without doing much scratching.

But I reiterate, if you want to get informed comment: Check at Fred's and the KF.

Also, one wonders if your three Nortons will be up to the task of hard Japanese steel. I take it they're the coarse Crystolon, fine Crystolon, and fine India. If you ask, you'll get nothing but recommendations for water and diamond stones. That doesn't mean the Nortons won't work. My experience with the fine India and Arkansas stones is that they're slow on Japanese steel, but eventually get the job done. At minimum though, you'll want to add something for polishing the edge on your new knife. A black Arkansas if you go Sabatier or a 4000 grit or higher water stone. It's easy to get caught up in the relative glamor of knife details -- but the pedestrian aspect of what's required to get and keep them sharp is where it's really at.

A knife is only a handle and a sharpening problem,
post #18 of 52
Thread Starter 
What sharpening system would you recomend when if I were to look into an upgrade?

What kind of polishing or finishing stones do you like?

Also, what other sharpening steels are good other than that glass one? Is that glass one pretty durable?

As always, thanks for the help.
post #19 of 52
The Hiromoto HC (High Carbon) line was discontinued by Hiromoto, for whatever reasons I don't know considering it's such a hit product line.

The Tojiro lineup got pulled from JCK, again for reasons not discussed in detail with Koki; it just odd considering JCK was one of if not the best source of Tojiro cutlery available to those outside Japan.

I guess Fujitora (who owns the Tojiro brand) decided they could make more money doing their own exports to the few overseas distributors instead of selling at local prices to JCK which was more open to the OS market. Through JCK they could move a greater quantity of knives but at less profit to them per item I guess.
As for the Hiromoto HC replacement on JCK being the Fujiwara FKH series, it's a similar build with SK-4 (simplier Japanese carbon steel) blade. From that it deviates quite a bit, I recently acquired a FKH-2 150mm petty (utility) and FKH-6 240mm gyuto (chef's) to compare to my Hiromoto HC 120mm petty and 270mm gyuto.

First thing I notice is the increased thickness across the spine compared to the HC, while still being thinner than any forged German knife. Thankfully the edge profile tapers down to nice and thinly. It's a little sluggish compared to the agile HC or MAC, it gains points for Fujiwara's substantial handles and the nice taper up around the tip which encourages rocking with being a Shun (German blade profile).

Since they are new knives in my collection, it hasn't being pressed into service at work or at school to assess the results of Fujiwara's heat treatment of SK-4 which affects edge holding and ease of sharpening.
If you get the chance, give the Kikuichi Carbon Elite a go; since you guys the US have a distributor over there. We in Australia don't have one and Kikuichis making it my way without heavy P&H 'penalties' are hard to come by.
The Hand American borosillicate glass honing rod is tougher than I expected, I can only describe it to be between Pyrex and polycarbonate (not ballistics grade), since I haven't executed the 'drop test' ;) . It's easily lighter than an equivalent sized steel, and I've read that it's boron impregnated glass which should make it tough as.

I tell you at $55 for a 12" 'Combi' steel or glass honing rod, it incredibly hard to beat value for money.
Hand American being a lower volume producer, there are certain custom options available not listed; for example combi, full grooved or full smooth; and other length options.

Back on topic, if you could (and even I) a carbon steel 'vintage' Sabatier cutlery (even if it's only 20 years ago) and to be a winner here is for it to be in good condition, some of them look like they dug the knife up from the garden. The a difference between work hardened patina and knife killing rust and broken handles.

Unfortunately the 'golden age' of European cutlery has slipped away, they just don't build them like they used to!:( Even a fellow chef who has 20 year old Henckels are something that I could get excited about, sadly nowadays European manufacturers are not try hard enough to innovate and actually improve their products. They seem rather comfortable fitting all kinds of handles to the same axe and market it with a barrage of twisted facts, sad but true.

I would sell off almost all my Euro cutlery (except the boning knives) just for one vintage French chef's knife that is in good condition.
post #20 of 52
Thanks for filling me in on the Hiromoto HC, Tojiro thing, and for telling me about your Fujiwaras. I look forward to reading how they fare under pressure.

I agree with you about vintage carbon steel knives -- except I have a block full, a mag-bar full, not to mention a few in the drawer (edge-guards, don't worry). I also have two new Thiers-Issard Four Star Elephant Sabatier (or whatever they really call themselves) carbons, and two "new" K-Sabatier "au carbone." (Regarding the K-Sab, I put "new" in "quotes" because they refer to them as "vintage" and I suspect the knives may no longer be currently manufactured and are NOS.)

These two lines seem much of a piece with the older knives. Sharpen the same, hold an edge the same, same quality control out of the box -- handles fit, metal well finished, and spine-edges not rounded off (well who does, really?). Both manufacturers' grind and sharpening might be done by the same guy. The blades are well profiled but the sharpening is spotty. So warm up the stones when you hear the delivery guy coming. Otherwise no problems to report.

I also have three Nogent style knives from Thiers-Issard as sold at The Best of Things. They seem to be slightly slimmer, handle lighter, and are graced with the same F&F strengths and weaknesses as the modern knives. All three of my knives are mid-length. I'm not sure if the lightness is a result of differences in the blade/bolster itself or entirely attributable to the lighter tang.

If I were putting together a new set and knew what I was getting into re carbon, I'd seriously consider building it around the Nogents. Remember though, these knives do dull more quickly than modern Japanese steel. Of course they sharpen more easily and are more chip-resistant. They also respond to the steel better -- until one day they just don't and they SCREAM to be sharpened. Vite, vite. The other carbon lines to which I'd give serious consideration are Kikuichi Elite, Misono Sweden and Hiromoto AS -- stretching the definition of carbon to include the Hiromotos for their Hitachi blue-paper hagane. Hiromoto AS is kind of the best of many worlds, isn't it? Except, you still have to wipe after every onion.

One of the problems with Japanese western style knives is that not all manufacturers make all the useful profiles in every line. It's hard or maybe impossible to find western boning knives, flexible fish fillets and tournes in carbon. I prefer western boning knives because I know how to use them and because I'm left handed, while *sukes seem to be righty only. I'll also never get used to the deba/suji-yana filleting thing for fish. I like flexible utility or slicer shaped filleting knives, thank you very much.

Dream Carbon basic set: Hiromoto AS 270mm Gyuto; Misono Sweden 270 mm Suji (if only for the engraved dragon); Thiers-Issard Sab Canadian Massif 9" Lobster Cracker (aka Chef de Chef); Hiromoto 210mm Gyuto (garlic, shallots, ginger); Nogent 8" flexible slicer (filleting and fish service); Thiers-Issard Sabatier boner; Hiromoto AS 150mm Petty (utility, fanning cuts); K-Sab 3" curved paring (shaping, peeling); Thiers-Issard Sabatier straight bayonet fork; HandAmerica glass combi-steel; a set of four Pro Shaptons; and an unlimited supply of Scotch-Brite green scouring pads and baking soda to care for the carbon steel. How's that sound?

post #21 of 52

Hiromoto AS left, Hiromoto HC centre and right.

The AS core looks alot blacker than it actually is, it's more smoky grey. The HC has lemon forced patina which turned out 'tiger stripe' due to the air bubbles in the cling wrap I used doing a different process (the usual technique is an acid bath).

I actually don't remove the patina (stains as it's known in other circles) on my non-shiny carbon steel knives (mainly the non single bevel ones). For me patina on knives is like patina on black/cast iron cookware, it protects the pan/knife and improves performance.
Once the patina has work itself on the blade nicely, the reactivity of the blade is reduce significantly. You really don't have to wipe the knife after every onion, I don't even wash and dry my CS knife between uses like I've heard as a main 'complaint' about CS knives, just a quick wipe between each cutting job and I'm safe.

Actually Blue Super is one of the least reactive carbon steels I've come across, I guess mainly due to extra additives in the alloy when compared to the purer White steel. The AS patina is pretty much fixed after it greyed up, it hasn't really changed since.

I too prefer slicer-utility shaped filleting knives, unfortunately simple 440 stainless steel can't hold the edges I'm looking for and waste too much time trying to get rid of the wire edge. I just use my CS morioshi deba combined with a skinnier CS knife like my 150 petty for trimming processes.

Boning knives do take a lot of abuse running along hard bones, and stainless steel as preferred if not only allowed in the meat processing industry is the major market and manufacturers easily cater for them. CS ones can be pretty lacklustre, for example some reviews of Old Hickory boning knives kinda put CS to shame.
I still keep my European pattern boning knives because that's the only training and techniques I've learning anywhere, and Japanese meat butchery techniques are difficult to find.

BDL, I'll definitely dig up this thread in the future when I'm in the market for a Sabatier. I'll probably pick up a chef's and flexible fillet knife.
post #22 of 52
I've had a K-Sab au carbone 10" chef's and 10" slicer for almost forty years. They don't exactly look new, but they don't have a dark patina either. Rather they have a used metal patina. You know what I mean, if you've worked with machinery -- the soft-smooth finish like the drum on an old capstan. I rinse and wipe with a scotch-brite whenever I finish a task, but that's no problem as I do the same with my few stainless kinves, too. I get a little more serious with the scotch-brite and some baking soda after sharpening.

I'd heard the Hiromoto AS' exposed aogami edge was susceptible to pitting unless it was treated with the usual carbon protocol. But you own it, I've only played with and sharpened someone else's. Here's Hitachi's explanation of what's in and not in, their various paper wrapped steels: FWIW, the "W" is tungsten and the P is phosphorous. I'll bet your right about the additions to the alloy compared to the shirogamis giving it some rust resistance.

post #23 of 52
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
post #24 of 52
If you really care about consistent angles -- EdgePro. Personally, I don't care for rod-guided systems, but that's irrational on my part.

If you know how to freehand, are not planning on buying hard Japanese steel, and have the patience for Arkansas stones -- an 8" Norton combination India stone (IB-8), an 8" Hall's soft Arkansas, and an 8" Hall's surgical black Arkansas. That's my set. If you have the room, get 11" stones. I really like that these stones don't require anywhere near the maintenance of waterstones. BTW, I use these stones dry or with a light spritz of water.

If you know how to freehand, want something significantly more efficient, and can afford the prices -- Shapton glass ceramic waterstones. If I were buying a set of stones tomorrow, I'd buy 4 Shaptons instead of the India/Arkansas set.

Other good waterstones, like Nortons.

If you know how to freehand, want to go real fast, don't mind spending bucks, and don't need too much polish -- 2 DMT 8" 2-sided diamond stones (X-Coarse + Coarse, and Fine + X-Fine). More than adequate, fast as can be, and no maintenance.

HandAmerica sandpaper on glass system + strop. This may actually be the best way to go. I'm semi-familiar with DIY "scary sharp" systems. You can get stuff really sharp, but it's always been kind of uncomfortable, ad hoc, and ill-fitting. HandAmerica seems to have come up with a bunch of stuff that fits together. Worth researching.

Most people think of systems as three surfaces: Coarse, medium and fine. I think a good system uses four: Repair and profile; profile and sharpen; sharpen and polish; and, polish.
Surgical black Arkansas; translucent Arkansas; good quality waterstone in the 6,000 to 8,000 range (8,000 is probably overkill for kitchen knives); fine grit sandpaper.

I like combination smooth and extra fine steels, best. But most steels are good ones as long as they're "fine" or smoother.

The best steel is probably an F. Dick Dickoron combi, but it's expensive; HandAmerica makes a steel steel, as well as the glass steel -- they're the best no BS steels, the glass is better but you've got to be careful with it -- I just got one not long ago and think it's great; Forschner makes some good, inexpensive steels but they've got ugly Fibrox handles, the Rosewood steel is too coarse; The Henckels Pro S extra-fine is, or at least was, very good as well -- I'm not sure if they're still made or imported. I've had one forever. Whatever you buy, don't forget you have to wash it once in awhile.

You're very welcome. And sorry it took so long for me to respond. I got sidetracked.

post #25 of 52
I'd gone back through the thread to read the earlier posts that I've missed out.

"Commercial" lines of cutlery (to me) are more for in-house stock pile of tools in food processing, large establishments or just backups, for them to get stuffed in dishwashers, dropped, used as can openers and create knife fireworks with 'pro' sharpening services; rather than for someone who has and maintains their own set of knives.
I'm not saying they are terrible or even off par, but as your personal tools it's worth it to invest more. I personally like certain stamped items from Victorinox and F Dick, would I spend AUD$300 on a forged Wusthof axe?... no! when I can get better performance from a AUD$80 stamped Victorinox.

Your personal tools being ones that you maintain to the highest standards, should be the best you can maintain or afford (no relation between two to indicate quality or performance).
All this talk about HRC values, let's be aware that hardness ratings isn't everything. For example a powdered (stainless) steel and carbon steel knife under good heat treatments at a highish 63 HRC, with the same blade geometry will perform and be maintained differently.

I personally find it easier to maintain the edge during use and sharpening of a high 63 HRC carbon steel knife over a 55 HRC stainless knife. During sharpening I waste far too much time fighting the wire edge on stainless knives, while carbon steel will let me cut the bevels in quick and easily.

For more detailed reading in your own time...
Kitchen Knife Terms / Def - - Intelligent Discussion for the Knife Enthusiast - Powered by FusionBB
IMO diamond plates are not for sharpening the final edges, they are good for repairs, setting profiles and bevels but leave more to be desired when finishing cutting edges.

But the coarse stuff available is pretty sweet for flattening sharpening stones. Flattening of stones is something no one I've ever met personally do or even heard of considering how important it is.
Seriously it's a good habit to get into, no one wants their stone to look like a bowl plate, and you can forget everything about angles when you see dished out stones.

As for selection of knives patterns to have to tackle kitchen duties, there are lots of opinions mostly personal preferances. There was recent topic on KFourms about a set limited to 4 knives, many varied ideas and options came up.

I came up with: a 10" chinese slicer-type cleaver to cover almost everything from veg to meat, 3" paring for hand peeling, turning, tiny tasks and boning meat, 8" garasuki to cover heavier breakdown of meat, fish and vegetables and a 12" wavy edge slicer (like a MAC SB-105 or Wusthof Super-Slicer) to cover bread, pastry, medium duty slicing/carving (like roasts).
However that list may make training you the usual European technique difficult.

I personally work with a gyuto, parer and maybe a petty to cover most duties. I like the 270mm Hiromoto but I only have one cutting board at home, one at work and a select few at school where this sizable sword can work comfortably on. Even as an 8" chef's knife of a guy, most standard 210mm gyutos usually don't have enough belly to be super so 240mm seems to be the magic number for me.

Good luck CookingAngry on your journey to culinary glory and making it to Paris, you've got big dreams and don't stop working at it.

I'm too conservative to aim directly for the top kitchen, I feel the need to learn more from many other kitchens before even attempting a commis position at the high end establishments.
post #26 of 52
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the encouragement. BIG dreams and normally I'm more reserved. (note to self: don't message board when drunk or pulling an all nighter)

I have done enough commercial prep that I'm not worried about being prepb!^ch at a nicer place. Plus I'm in the midwest where not a lot of crazy stuff gets done.
post #27 of 52
That's cool... do enjoy your Sabatier K Au Carbone.

I wanted to get a Sabatier awhile back, but when doing a bit of google research popped up Sab K, Sab Lion, Sab 2 Lions, Sab Four Star Elephant, Sab Mexuer?...

BDL... two fairly different knife lines but the 4 Star Elephant carbon steel knives' the Nogents and the French patterns with scale style handles, how do they compare?
The Nogents seem attractive because of the rat tail tang that will make the knife more blade heavy which I prefer, just interested to compare the build of the blade mainly thickness and how it tapers to the edge.
post #28 of 52
I've got a couple of the Elephant carbons -- a boner and a paring with a German style bolster that was a prototype for a line that never got made. Amazon sent it to me as a way of apologizing for delaying shipment on some other knives. Anyway, they're very good knives. Compared to the several K-Sab au carbones I have -- I'd say better F&F, blade quality about the same. The boner especially -- sharpens easily and holds an edge very well. You know how much work they get on the tip, too.

I've got three of the Nogent handle Elephants. A utility/slicer, a flexible fillet and a 7" chef's. I really, really like them. Light, and basically very easy to sharpen. Excellent balance in the mid-sizes. If you like blade-forward you should be happy. The handle is incredibly comfortable. So basic, and so right. F&F good, but not great. You'll have to ease some edges and you'll want to profile the edge to a more acute angle.

Let me tell you what I mean by "basically" very easy to sharpen. I don't know how it happened, but somehow the utility/slicer got dull to the point where it needed re-profiling. I profiled it to a 15 deg simple bevel when I first got it, and didn't abuse it ... but, well who knows? Anyway, I couldn't get an edge on it with the soft Arkansas at all. If started with the fine India the best I could do was not very good. Then when I sharpened and polished on progressively finer stones the knife seemed to get duller?! WTF?! Somehow the bevels had become quite uneven, with one side convex and the other slightly hollow with the wire tucked into it, and you couldn't get if off noway nohow. Or something.

I took some time and re-profiled it with the coarse India, making sure the new bevels were very flat and even, took it all the way up to the surgical black, using some stropping back strokes along the way to make sure there were no hollows, and all became well. They don't call it a surgical black for nothing.

The point being not that I don't know as much about sharpening as I think I do, but a fine India was not fast enough to profile the knife, at least not with "touch up" effort. So, whatever it's HRC is, it's probably more than claimed.

Anyway ... great knives. You'll even dig the little, flat French bolster and the way your fingers slide up against it when you pinch grip. Given that you already have a fairly complete collection of Japanese shapes you might want to think about one of the flexible fillets as well as a French pattern Chef's.

I don't know what to say about my K-Sab chef's. I've had the same knife for almost forty years. But I stopped using it in the late seventies, switching to a stainless Henckels when I stopped cooking for money and didn't want the bother. I didn't rediscover it until twenty years later. And then, all I could do was ask myself, "What was I thinking when I switched?"

I don't know if it's perfect, flawed or somewhere in between. It's a part of me in the way no other knife or tool ever has been. Hard to imagine using anything else.


post #29 of 52

This has been a fascinating thread, and your insights on both knives and sharpening are greatly appreciated.

If you aren't aware of the company, I would like to suggest

Lee Valley Tools - Woodworking Tools, Gardening Tools, Hardware

It is a Canada-based company that designs, produces, and sells highly-imaginative and well-made woodworking tools, and also an increasing line of cooking tools, as well as gardening stuff. I am pretty sure they were the first to point out the kitchen versatility of the Microplane wood rasp- twelve or more years ago. I ordered one and was so impressed I got one for each of our three kids.

Anyway, they have a complete line of sharpening equipment ranging from the Tormak sharpening system (which you don't need in the kitchen) to the microgrit sheets for the Scary Sharp method, the full DMT line including their diamond "steel", a full line of waterstones, and a knife-angle sharpening clamp for use on stones.

The founder, Leonard Lee, wrote the seminal textbook "Sharpening" which mostly deals with woodworking tools, but includes a chapter on kitchen-tools sharpening.

You might want to sign up for their catalog mailing. I think you'ld enjoy their stuff.

travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
post #30 of 52
Speaking of Lee Valley and Sabs, look here. If that's not a Sab Nogent I'll eat my shirt. I'm holding one in my hand comparing it with the picture.

Buzz :cool:
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
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