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Tojiro & MAC

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Some info from the knife enthusiasts, please. I'm looking for a new knife in the 8-9 inch blade size that would be used for vegetable prep., including some very thin slicing and mincing. My wife has some MAC superior knives and I like how those work, the ease of keeping them sharp , etc, but the largest she has is 7 inch and I want more blade. I'm considering a Tojiro DP 21 or 24 cm vs a MAC HB-70 chef's knife or the BK-80 French chef's knife. Niether of these brands are available locally so I can't try before I buy. Any information or even suggestions on other knives I should consider would be helpful. Thanks.
post #2 of 14
The Toji DP's are the biggest bargain in JP knives and they'll probably give you what you need. However, if you want a "really" thin Gyuto for "really" thin cuts get a Moritaka, Takeda, or Carter - lined up in order of price. There are a few others I could suggest but you can't go wrong with any of the three mentioned. I have personally had a quality control issue with one of the three Moritaka's I've purchased, but according to other buyers that is a fairly rare condition.
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
Reply
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
Reply
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Buzzard, thanks for the response.
post #4 of 14
angry,

I don't think you can go wrong with MAC either. As you already know, they're a no BS, nothing fancy, easy to sharpen, good knife.

The Tojiro are one of the best value choices into traditional Japanese warikomi knives. Maybe the best value. The point of warikomi (cutting steel surrounded by softer steel) as it affects you, is that you can sharpen relatively hard steel more easily than with a knife made entirely from hard steel. The DP is also more "finished," in that it has a ferrule/bolster thing.

The MAC series you're looking at sharpen well on American style stones like India and Arkansas. The Tojiro, not so much. You might want to think about that too, depending on how you sharpen.

Both knives need a little "customizing," i.e., spines and heels relieved. You can do this yourself with a Dremel, sandpaper or your coarse and medium stones.

Why are you looking at such short lengths with the MAC? 24cm-25cm should be your minimum for the go to gyuto. Say the MAC BK-100. Shorter knives are for small boards.

BDL
post #5 of 14
What do you mean by this, iv seen you write this a couple times and not sure what you mean exactly? Do you you mean just round over the edge in the spine? Thanks i was just wondering.
post #6 of 14
You got it. Take just enough off to relieve the sharp edges.
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
Reply
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
Reply
post #7 of 14
Buzz hit it on the head.

Rounding or relieving the spines makes a big comfort difference on any knife you pinch grip; a bigger difference still on knives having narrow 2mm profiles like the knives we're talking about.

BDL
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Boar d laze, thanks for the response. I am also considering that Mac you mentioned as well as flirting with the idea of looking into a Chinese cleaver knife. What I'm really looking for would be a 9 inch version of my wife's Mac SA 70 without the hanging hole in the blade. Mac doesn't actually make that particular knife. I don't know if there are really noticable differences between the superior and original steels in the the different Mac lines. The only ones I've used are the superior formula steel.

The knife I'm looking into is in the "I want" catagory so it won't be my go to knife in every situation. You brought up good points about the sharpening, but I have no shortage of things to sharpen tools with so for me it's not an issue. I like my stuff sharp enough that it doesn't annoy me to use, though I am easily annoyed.....:rolleyes:,I'm not fanatical about it. I'm also not shy about rounding spines and bolsters of the knives I currently own.

I do have one question about the Tojiro 24 cm, where's the point of balance? I prefer a knife that's balanced right where the blade meets the handle/bolster or is even weighted toward the handle as opposed to a blade-heavy balance. It would be so much simpler if I could just go to a store and handle them personally.
post #9 of 14
I don't actually own a Tojiro DP 24cm, but IIRC the balance point is very neutral -- right at the "bolster." (I put bolster in quotes, because it's really a welded ferrule and not an artifact of forging.)

The 10" Mac I mentioned balances blade forward, more so than you'd like. The MAC mid-sized chefs you wrote about balance right at the pinch point, where the handle ends and the blade starts. I wouldn't worry much about the MAC handle in any of their lines. Everyone seems to like them. Some people find the Tojiro a little on the angular side though. If you buy and don't like, I understand Tojiors are fairly easy to resell.

The Professional series MAC MBK 85 and 95 are neutral, and the 110 only slightly blade forward for a knife that long. I think the Professional series knives may be more in the line of what you're actually looking for. They're something like $30 more than the MACs you mentioned. For the money, they're exceptionally well finished. You could make a case for them as a great knife by arguing that anything more was vanity.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not judging your selections. But the knives you're looking at as "I want" are no-nonsense working knives -- oriented more towards the commis (prep cook), than the executive chef. They're the kind of knives most guys interested in knives outgrow quickly. If you can afford better, there are better. For someone who seems as attuned to knife nuance as you, the differences in quality, performance and appearance are worth the additional $75.

What are your feelings about carbon (non-stainless) knives?

BDL
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
I don't own any carbon kitchen knives, have a couple of carbon pocket knives and have sharpened lots of carbon tools, like plane blades, chisels, and gouges. Since it wouldn't be my only knife I don't know that I would give a carbon knife the "loving care" it might deserve since it wouldn't be my only knife. I know it would be easy enough to sharpen and rewarding to use. The balance of either Macs or the Tojiro may not be as much of an issue as they are probably lighter than my current knives.

I have a Henckels 10" Pro S which is my heavy duty knife, I would say it holds the best edge of the chef's knives I have, but after 8 or 9 minutes of continued use it starts to bother my hand and forearm. I'm pretty sure that it's due to the blade forward balance as I find myself choking up farther on the blade to compensate for it. I also have a Wusthof 9" Grand Prix, which is the most comortable knife I have ever used. I have literally used it for a couple of hours straight and not had any discomfort at all. I haven't used the Mac for that long of continuous use, but being so light it's never been an issue.

In your opinion, would you consider the Mac MBK-85 a more "nimble" knife than a 9" Wusthof? I believe that would be the best way of stating what I'm looking for.
post #11 of 14
MAC MBK-85 more nimble than the 9" Wustie Grand Prix? Vastly. Light Years. No Comparison. For that matter so is the MBK-95. Buzz, if you're there can I get an Amen?

There's a big difference between French and German pattern chef's knives when it comes to nimble (Japanese gyuto are French pattern). French knives are more agile, German more powerful. French knives are a narrow triangle, with less belly overall and less curve in the belly. Because they're made with less steel, they're lighter. Usually, the blade isn't quite as wide either, saving more steel and weight. Japanese gyuto are narrower still, relying more on the quality of their steel than sheer mass to keep the blade stiff.

The curve in a German knife allows the cook to get more lift on the heel of the knife when she rocks the blade to the point. This makes it easier to do certain chopping cuts without lifting the point off the board -- lyonnaising an onion for instance. Most "knife experts" go on and on about rocking through herbs, but there's no real difference between the French and the German when you don't need much lift and/or can lean on the tip of the knife with the palm of your off-hand.

More, the curve and deeper belly of the German knife make the knife subject to following the initial cut -- this can be good or bad depending on what you're doing. It's easier to correct a French pattern in the middle of a slice. The difference is similar to the difference between a back saw and a bow saw.

Personally, I vastly prefer the French pattern. So, I think, do most good cooks who have used both.

Forgive some speculation: The problem you had with your Henckels relative to the Wustie seems to have been a combination of several things. The knife's balance point may or may not be one of them. The most important thing is you're holding the knife too tightly in an attempt to control it. This is probably (almost certainly) a result of using the wrong grip. Also, the Henckels Pro S is very heavy knife, which has something to do with fatigue and loss of control. Had you not told me that you keep your knives sharp, I'd add dullness as another factor. Don't throw out the knife though, it will serve you well as a "Lobster Cracker," perfect for butchering spare ribs, skinning pineapple, and other heavy-duty jobs.

Here's some grip theory, along with more speculation:

The four most common ways to hold a knife are "baseball" (four fingers and thumb on the handle), "slice" (with your index finger running along the top of the spine), "modified-pinch" (with your index finger on the blade, but your thumb and other three fingers on the handle), and "pinch" (index and thumb on the blade in front of the bolster, spine of the knife nestled against the index finger, and last three fingers, relaxed, on the handle).

Most cooks with good knife skills use the pinch grip for all chef's knife jobs other than precision slicing. The reasons to use the pinch grip are to keep the knife in line with the forearm, making it easier to aim; keep the cooks knuckles off the board; shorten the top of the knife, making it easier to aim; and move the fulcrum of the grip to the balance point (of a big knife), to conserve effort and prevent twisting.

The pinch grip is an unnatural act and takes a few months to learn to the point where it becomes reflexive. If you aren't already using it, you should. It will make cooking a lot more pleasant. As you become more able to make fine cuts like lyonnaise, julienne, fine dice and brunois, your aromatics will incorporate better in dishes, and your cooking will improve too.

Before you say, "but I already use the pinch grip," no matter which grip you're using, you need to start making an effort to relax your hand. I said you were using the wrong grip with the Henckels, I meant the death grip. The death grip also makes sense given your experience with the Global. In addition to their many other idiosyncrasies, Globals small handles can be very revealing.

I gather you're something of a carpenter. You know that if you squeeze a saw handle you can't keep the saw straight, it will wobble in the kerf. Your wrist will bend, repositioning the saw. Your forearm will grow tired, making everything worse. That seems to be what you're describing with the Henckels.

Sound right?
BDL
post #12 of 14
Amen brother. I usually tout the Japanese geometry but in truth there is a place in the kitchen for all knives. I didn't even bother getting a Japanese Deba because I already had Forschners, Chicago Cutlery, etc., but that's for the home. If I worked in a commercial kitchen I'd get a Deba for if no other reason than the longer lasting edge.

Nimble is a very good description of a descent Japanese knife and on almost all tasks they excel, but when it comes to cutting watermelon, squashes, bones, and other edge destroyers I'll pull out my 30 year old CC 10 1/4" Chef's knife and Chinese cleaver every time.
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
Reply
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
Reply
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Boar d laze, I want to really thank you for your last reply. While I initially disagreed that I was holding the knife too tightly, I was inspired to try a little experiment.

Today being a grocery run and having a few days worth of veggies to work on in a single session, it was the perfect opportunity.
I used a piece of metal about 1 1/4" x 1" that weighs about an ounce and taped it to the butt of the handle. This moved the balance point to be nearly perfect right in front of the bolster. While the Henckels is a stout and now even heavier knife, I spent the next hour cutting leeks, carrots, onions, bell peppers, potatoes, apples, aritchokes, bread cubes for dressing, and pureed some garlic......all without any hint of discomfort.
The great part is that balancing out the handle doesn't seem like it will be a difficult fix.

I think as far as my next purchase is concerned I may flip a coin since I can't find anything locally to get the feel of other than Shuns.

By the way, I really enjoyed your comparison of a bow saw to a back saw, you might be surprised how many people in the trade wouldn't even understand that.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Boar d laze, I want to really thank you for your last reply. While I initially disagreed that I was holding the knife too tightly, I was inspired to try a little experiment.

Today being a grocery run and having a few days worth of veggies to work on in a single session, it was the perfect opportunity.
I used a piece of metal about 1 1/4" x 1" that weighs about an ounce and taped it to the butt of the handle. This moved the balance point to be nearly perfect right in front of the bolster. While the Henckels is a stout and now even heavier knife, I spent the next hour cutting leeks, carrots, onions, bell peppers, potatoes, apples, aritchokes, bread cubes for dressing, and pureed some garlic......all without any hint of discomfort.
The great part is that balancing out the handle doesn't seem like it will be a difficult fix.

I think as far as my next purchase is concerned I may flip a coin since I can't find anything locally to get the feel of other than Shuns.

By the way, I really enjoyed your comparison of a bow saw to a back saw, you might be surprised how many people in the trade wouldn't even understand that.
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