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Looking for best knife value

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Japanese steel preferred.

Multipurpose chef/french knife.

Needs to be able to hold an edge for a reasonable amount of time. I'd like to find a matching paring to go with it as well.

I just finished looking up & am more confused than ever. Honestly, steel hardness levels are something i'm not overly familar with yet.

My knives need some updating. They're OK, but my knife skills are pretty decent & i want some new tools.

If anybody has any suggestions, fire away.:confused:
post #2 of 17
well it all depend on how much you want to spend...

a few months ago i bought a 11'' global, i love it it is my favorite knife i have right now.

also look into MAC knifes and shun. i have used shun knives a few times they keep there edge well but they just didn't fit into my hand like the global
post #3 of 17
I would go to a local restaurant supply and pick up the knives and see how they feel in your hand. I use Forschners, Dexters and old carbon Sabatiers.
I like the fibrox handles on the Forschners , very comfortrable and durable as well as cheap.......................
The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
post #4 of 17
One of the best knives for value is Forschner, A.K.A. Victorinox.

Many of the Japanese knives are great, but geared towards collectors and "enthusiasts" who demand to know all about the Rockwell hardness of the steel, alloy make up, and special smithing and forging techniques during the making process. The name of the maker and his history also factor in. For all of this you will pay a premium price, but as I have said, they are very good knives.

Generally, the harder the steel is, the longer it will hold an edge, but also much more difficult to sharpen properly when it needs it. As well, the harder the steel, the more brittle it is. (think of a file). So there are pros and cons to steel hardness, harder is not neccesarilly better, and softer is not neccesarily better either, as softer will need more frequent sharpening.

hope this helps....
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #5 of 17
I have purchased several superior Japanese knives here. Click on the circle that says products, to the left of the home page.
post #6 of 17
Japanese Chef Knife (JCK) is a wonderful site and they sell some wonderful knives. Koki, the owner, is very helpful, straight as a die, keeps his prices as low as possible, is excellent at resolving problems, and uses extremely reliable shippers. His knives almost always come quickly and duty free -- a further discount. Consider that a ringing endorsement.

I can also endorse two other forums where you'll be exposed to a broader range of advice -- and hopefully advice more tailored to your needs than the typical "I chose X and you should too"

Rockwell hardness (HRc) as well as other hardness numbers don't tell the whole story when it comes to taking or holding an edge, or to chip and ding resistance. All you need to know is that there are such things as "too low," and "too high" but other than that, the knife's individual characteristics are more important than the HRc number. You're looking for something between the high 50s (say 58 or higher) and the mid sixties (higher than 64 and you're looking at a very difficult knife to sharpen.

Sharpening is what it's all about. No matter how well a knife holds its edge it's going to get dull eventually. The best knife is no more than a simple system of bringing a sharp edge to a task.

When it comes to hard, Japanese steels unless you already use water stones, you're going to have to change your sharpening regimen. Oil stones are frustratingly slow with harder steel. I use oil stones (although not with oil), you can take my word on this. When you do your value for money consideration, figure in the cost of a decent set of stones. Norton makes a combination 220/1000, plus 4000/8000, plus flattening stone kit which can be found for around $125. Yes, I said flattening stone. Waterstones need a lot of maintenance.

Sharpening isn't the sexiest topic, though. One of the things that makes Japanese knives interesting are kinds of construction called san mai and worikami. Although slightly different from one another, basically they're a way of sandwiching a very hard steel core between soft steel sides. The soft sides protect the core against shock and dings. They also ease sharpening considerably, since most of the metal you remove is from the sides.

As a general rule, Japanese knives are made thinner and are edged at a more acute angle than European knives. As a result of their construction, Japanese knives are lighter than their European -- especially German pattern -- equivalents. They're also "keener." Japanese manufacturers have been far more willing to use exotic boutique steels for kitchen cutlery than the Europeans, and in result, produced some outstandingly good knives. However, that rule is changing as European manufacturers like Wusthof integrate Japanese design into their own lines. In fact, Henckels sells a very high end, expensive, Japanese style, made in Japan line using an exotic steel (MC66) called Twin Cermax. Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu are also worth a look.

One of the few advantages western manufacturers have over the Japanese is fit and finish. Even very high priced Japanese knives can be finished poorly to the point of needing some Dremel renovation by the new owner. Many of the Japanese manufacturers are essentially "Mom and Pop" operations and QC depends a lot on who's there at the time, how rushed they are, etc. Another area where the Japanese often fall down is handle design and size. Unfortunately, there's no place to try out the more exotic brands, you'll have to rely on internet wisdom and/or the experience of the retailer. Another aspect you may find surprising is that often Japanese knives are not well sharpened at the factory -- often leaving that to the customer. This can mean a little "touch up" or a complete re-profiling, and includes very expensive as well as mid and lower priced blades.

By all means check your choices with the posters on Fred's cutlery Forum -- a site pretty much dedicated to high-end Japanese kitchen cutlery. If it's sold at JCK, Korin, Epicurean Edge, or a few other of the popular retailers -- someone's at least tried it once.

Most American pros and serious amateurs think of MAC, Global and Shun when they think of Japanese knives. Since you're nosing around JCK you seem to be past those, but briefly:

Shuns are very good knives, very attractive, and by no means a bad value. The Classic series is designed for the Western market. It uses a "D handle" which means the knives are exclusively right or left handed -- which I consider a safety issue. The handle is something you'll either like or dislike right off the bat. They're san mai suminagashi which means the outer cladding looks like (but isn't) Damascus steel. The interior core is VG-10 which is a very good stainless steel formulated in Japan especially for knives. At this moment, Shuns are The Hot Knife for American chefs who aren't too deeply into knives. They're well enough merchandised that you should be able to find a store that will let you take one for a test drive. The suminagashi design is easily damaged. The knives are relatively easy to sharpen for a Japanese stainless knife (more difficult than a Wusthof, e.g., but you can use oil stones), and hold their edge failry well for a Japanese stainless knife (much better than any mass produced European). I don't care for them.

Globals are highly idiosyncratic, and also designed for the Western market. But Globals were designed with the professional chef in mind. The knife's handle design presupposes a pinch grip. Even with a pinch if you don't find it comfortable the first time you hold one, you never will. The knives are very light and incredibly well balanced. Five years ago Globals were The Hot Knife in the same way Shuns are now. It seems to me that nearly everyone who bought one during the height of their trendiness has moved on to other knives -- complaining of discomfort related to the grip or the feel of the spine under the index finger. Globals are also made of VG-10 but it isn't hardened quite as much as the Shun. Construction is a simple blade without cladding. Most knives are stamped, a few chef's are forged. Globals sharpen a little more easily than Shuns, but don't hold their edge particularly well. Although I admire the balance and weight, they do not fit my hand at all.

MAC is a brand you might want to reevaluate. The MAC Original and MAC Chef lines were also designed for professional cooks. Pros on a budget. They are ugly, no nonsense, low cost, high performing knives -- the best possible choice for a prep cook. Somewhere along the line, chefs with a little more money started fooling around with them and liked their weight and edge characteristics. Word got around to serious food amateurs, too. MAC introduced the Professional line for these wealthier, more demanding customers. They went with a slightly better steel, added a bolster-like ferrule for balance, and a more attractive handle. They take a killer edge, hold it well, and are relatively easy to sharpen. The 9" - 10" chefs are well balanced. Tons of value. I like them heap plenty much.

Now on to some of the brands (mostly from JCK) you found confusing.

Hiromoto Tenmi Jyaraku AS series: If I were buying a new Chef's knife, I'd either buy one of these or something a heck of a lot more expensive. They're an incredible value in the same way a Corvette is. High performance exotic, usable as a daily driver, priced far lower than anything comparable. They're everything you want in a Japanese knife. Simple design, with a little deep engraving kanji script. Warikomi with one of the most famous and high-end Japanese steels at its core -- Aogami Super. However, AS is not stainless. That means it will darken slightly compared to the cladding as the knife gets used. It also means a little more maintenance to guard against pitting, and to sharpen it out when it occurs. "Maintenance" mostly means frequent damp wipes, and regular rinses, followed by a quick towel dry. Not much trouble, but more trouble than a pure stainless blade. However, the payback is that aogami super sharpens far more easily than a similarly hard stainless (but you NEED waterstones), does not chip or ding nearly as easily, and holds an edge at least as well. Light, well balanced, agile, very sharp knives. Hiromoto fit and finish in the AS line is usually good. The handles usually fit well and are suitable for larger western hands. The factory edge, typically, requires some work out of the box. However once the edge is on, it's easily maintained by steeling -- a function of carbon steel's relative flexibility

Hattori HD: "Damascus" knives very similar to Shun Classic, except for the handles -- VG-10, etc. F&F isn't quite up to Shun standards, otherwise slightly better all around. The factory edge is better than decent. Harder to sharpen than a Shun, this is probably the line where waterstones become necessary. Hattoris holds an edge slightly better than Shuns. I've heard a few complaints about chipping on the net. If you must have a Damascus look, this is probably the best choice without spending beaucoup bucks.

Misono UX-10: Great knife if you can afford it. One of the best possible choices. Great steel. Consistently good F&F as Japanese knives go, with very comfortable handles. Stainless throughout, san-mai construction. Fairly hard to sharpen. Great edge retention. Excellent balance, light, agile, very sharp.

Ryusen Blazen and Ryusen Bu-ry-zen: The Blazens are sold at JCK, and the Bu-ry-zen which are a very slight improvement over the Blazens are sold at Epicurean Edge. Same review as .

Other Misonos: The F&F starts to fall off for the other stainless knives. Dollar for dollar, I'd take a Misono over a Shun, though. The Misono Swedish line is not stainless and has all the virtues and drawbacks of carbon steel. Too much trouble for most people. I like it. I especially like the dragon engraving on the big knife.

Kikuichi Elite Gold: Another VG-10 knife. Pretty darn good.

Kikuichi Elite: Excellent choice for a simple, all carbon knife. Good prices. Seriously consider these if you decide to go carbon. Very good F&F. Get very sharp. Stay very sharp. An easy knife to steel, as well.

Tojiro: The DPs are value leaders and a great first Japanese knife. It's a knife most users outgrow quickly, as soon as they realize the advantages of Japanese cutlery they want something better. The core is OK, but not great -- not as good as VG-10, e.g. A lot of people have major issues with Tojiro DP handles. Balance is an issue in the longer knives. Tojiro Stainless -- same knife with a hollow stainless handle. Tojior Damascus -- very good knife but not as good as the Hattori HD.

Ryusen Damascus: Same everything as the Hattori Damascus, in fact the blades are made on machines jointly owned by both companies according to a process set up by Ryusen. Ryusen assembly and F&F is not as good as Hattori's. My speculation is that's because the HD is Hattori's best "mass market" line, but not Ryusen's; and Ryusen reserves the most care for the Blazens.

Togiharu: I don't have any experience of my own with these -- and nothing's really stuck from someone I know well enough to really trust. However the manufacturer has a really good rep for value, especially at the entry-level. Above that, my impression is that the Inox line is more or less comparable to the Mac Professional and the G-1 line to the MAC ultimate. I'd go with the MAC for the guarantee.

Full Disclosure and Take it for What it's Worth: Nearly all my "working" knives are "vintage" or "antique" carbon steel Sabatiers -- Elephant, K or Elephant "Nogent." My go-to, a 10" chef's is K-Sabatier from the sixties. I sharpen with a Norton combination India, plus a Hall's soft Arkansas, and a Hall's surgical black Arkansas; and steel with a HandAmerican borosilicate glass "steel" and a Henckels extra-fine. While I love my knives, I wouldn't recommend them to someone without a particular interest in both carbon and European knives. (If you are interested, you can still buy very high quality French carbon knives from several sources.) The sharpening stones are appropriate for the knives and are used dry or with a very light spritz of water. The borosilicate "steel" is extremely fine and extremely good -- especially while the knife is still very sharp. After a fe weeks, the edge wears down a little I switch to the Henckels which, although "extra fine," is more deeply grooved than the glass and puts a little tooth on the edge. I get to six to eight weeks of heavy home use between sharpening -- that's about 8 days in restaurant years.

Hope this helps,
post #7 of 17
I have several Globals, purchased over several years time. I love(d) them for years, but your comments are spot on. As I've aged (now, well into my 60s) they have become increasingly uncomfortable, not only because of the spine, but the general feel of knife-in-hand. I'll certainly pass them on to my daughters, but I'm more likely to use other knives, myself.
post #8 of 17

F. Dick 1905 series!

F. Dick 1905 series!
These are the best knives I ever used. They are a perfect combination of highest grade stainless steel blade, designed like a japanese style with a very thin blade and an 18 degree edge- And the classic french Chef feel, shape and balance. instead of the common three rivet handle, they have unique metal bands in their place.
check them out
Although they're not really cheap, but you will have them for the rest of your life.
nel maiale, tutto e buono!
nel maiale, tutto e buono!
post #9 of 17
They're the top of the line from a very good manufacturer. F&F is excellent. I like nearly everything from F. Dick. Excellent value for the money Their Dickoron steels are expensive, and still excellent value because they're so attractive and perform so well.

Not really. Same old X45CrMoVn or X50CrMoVn as used by all the other German manufacturers.

Well sort of. They advertise their santoku as being very thin, but don't publish specs. I've fooled around with a couple of 1905s and don't recall them as being particularly thin or light -- not as compared to a French carbon, and certainly not as compared to a light Japanese. About the same as a Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu.

I can't find any published information on their recommended or factory sharpening angle. If you can link me to something, I'd appreciate it. If it's published in your manual, I'd like to know that too. Personally, I'd reprofile the blade to the same "flat" 15deg 50/50 bevel I sharpen most knives to, and see how it went. It works OK for most decent knives that aren't subjected to a lot of really tough work (those I sharpen to a 20/28 double bevel). The edge taking and holding qualities of the steel are about the same as the rest of the Germans. Like the other up-market German stainless they do not sharpen easily on any stone -- although they are soft enough to sharpen on oil stones. They actually lose their edge pretty quickly unless they're steeled a lot, but they take steeling very, very well. The edges don't chip easily.

Japanese knives are typically made without a bolster, and the bolster styled knives have a bolster look ferrule sintered on. These ferrules are typically styled more like German than French ferrules. The 1905s are hammer forged with a German style bolster, i.e., massive but streamlined. While French bolsters are very light and flat, an historic consequence of "martinet" forging. The 1905 bolster is ground down at the bottom to save weight, exposing the choin like a that of a Japanese knife. Nevertheless, 1905s are heavier than most Japanese or French pattern knives, probably at least in part because of their true, German bolster.

No. The 1905 chef's knife is pure German pattern with a round, deep belly. The differences in different blade profiles are more subtle. To the extent there is such a difference, the 1905s are German. Bolsters have already been discussed to death, nein?

Handles are a matter of taste. I love the looks of 1905 handle, which is actually a very slightly modified reprise of a turn of the century design. Hence the name. But, the rivets on a "common" chef's knife actually mean something. They're the same diameter as batonet or fine dice. The distance between the first and third rivet are the length of julienne or batonet. The width of the tang's spine exposed between the handle scales is the width of julienne or brunois.

From a quality standpoint, they're the equal of any high-end German knife (with the exception of Henckels' Twin Cermax which is actually Japanese). They're not any better though. IMO, compared to their closest German competitor, the Wusthof Ikon line, they're better value. Compared to the other best German knife, the Wusthof LCB -- tough call, but advantage is probably still with F. Dick. FWIW, Messermeister is great value too.

Compared to a MAC Professional, the F. Dick has a nicer, better finish, that really cool handle, and a cleaner sharpening job out of the box. The MAC's got a much better shaped blade and will sharpen and hold an edge much better, too. That having been said, at some point this all becomes rather academic. I mean once a knife is sharp enough to cleanly cut 1/16" cubes, what good is sharper? At some point doesn't that just get silly? If an edge only lasts 6 days instead of 8, everything else is equal, and you like the looks of the 6 day knife more -- which are you going to choose? I'd certainly take a 1905 over a Global, because the Global's handle is too small, and the spine too uncomfortable. That says nothing about anyone else though.

Whether or not these are "heirloom" knives, time will tell. (I remember replacing my old set of carbon steel Sabatiers with the first really good, professional line of stainless Henckels in the seventies. Which knives are worth something now? Good thing I kept the Sabs, eh?) The 1905s aren't Ginsu, and they'll certainly hold up well. But at the end of the day, they're a German knife with a retro handle which has been modified to be something like a Japanese knife. They don't seem to have the "pass them on to your favorite child in your will" potential of better Japanese knives; or for that matter, of my trusty old Sabs.

?Pero, quien sabe?
post #10 of 17
Boar D Laze,
Thanks elaborating on my opinion for me and kicking down the science, you clearly know alot about knives.
I kept it short because it is Friday night and all....
nel maiale, tutto e buono!
nel maiale, tutto e buono!
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Been there reapeatedly the last few days.

It would be really easy to spend alot of money there. If i had any...
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
There seems to be an almost 'snob' appeal to some knife collecting circles. Kinda the whole 'Scotty Cameron' thing.

Not really concerned with a name on my blade. More concerned with performance.
As to the Victoriaknox thing, i had a set from school, but all have been stolen except the bread knife which is at home & in the wife's posession. As of right now, my set is a sysco set that i got for a wedding present. They're ok, but i want something that'll hold an edge better.
post #13 of 17
I misunderstood your price range and the type of knife in which you're interested.

Check out the MAC Chef line. I think it's exactly what you're looking for. No nonsense. Oriented towards the professional. Prices consistent with a culinary student, prep cook, or first year professional. Sharpen almost as easily as a Forschner, but to a MUCH keener edge. Holds an edge much better, too. The MAC Professional line is more expensive and "fancier," in that it has a bolster-like ferrule for balance and slightly harder steel. Again, it's a knife oriented towards the professional -- but to one above the bottom pay grade. I'm getting the sense that these might be outside the price range you consider reasonable. Still, at $120.00, the MBK-95 is among the world's best chef's knives.

Here's a link to Cutlery and More, which, I think, has the best prices on MACs: Mac Knives - Your Mac Knife Store, Full Mac Knife Selection, MAC Japanese Knives, chef knife

Forschners are good knives for the price. You didn't say what you thought of yours. Still, it's obvious you want something better.

You're absolutely right about the hobbyist aspects of kitchen knife mavens. People spend a lot of time trying to figure what the absolute best knife is, and knowing the ins and outs of several lines each from scores of large, medium and tiny companies spread around the world. That's a lot of subtle differences, pardner. Bottom line when it comes to cutting mirepoix all day, most of them don't make much difference. Still, for some of us, it's fun. By the way, I'm not a "collector;" I use my knives, get rid of knives that don't get used, don't keep duplicates, and don't rotate a bunch of knives through my block. I've taught cooking, including knife skills (BYO Knives) -- to a group of students who are mostly male lawyers (me too). Men being men, they (we) have a lot of toys purchased for all the wrong reasons. Lawyers being lawyers, most of them can't sharpen their own knives. This has afforded me the opportunity to fool around with a lot of upmarket blades.


ON EDIT: I was just surfing Cutlery and More and saw the Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu 10" Cook's for half off at $80. It wouldn't be my first choice in knives for a lot of reasons, but it's a really good knife for a really good price.
post #14 of 17
It sounds like Mac or Tojiro would probably be your best bet if you're on a tight budget and want to step into Japanese steel. Korin's sister website is running a 10% off sale right now to inaugurate their new website design. They offer Tojiro amongst others. The website is

On a side note, since BDL mentioned that he hadn't heard much about Togiharu knives, I can offer some commentary. I have a 270 gyutou from the virgin carbon steel line. Performance wise, it's exactly what I would expect from a good piece of Japanese carbon steel in the 61-62 RC range. The fit and finish were more than acceptable, far better in many respects than other Japanese carbon blades I've purchased. Edge retention is quite good and will take very refined edge. The steel isn't quite as reactive as others I've owned, but does take on a nice patina. It is a bit beefier than my other carbon steel 270 and has a solid feel. If you're looking for a carbon steel blade which won't require a lot of work on the handle and blade to make it suitable, and you're not looking to spend a small fortune, the Togiharu blades are worth considering.
post #15 of 17
MACS. fit my hand perfect and are light and sharp.
post #16 of 17
to me, maintanence > times sharpened.

Anyways, Misono knives stay uber sharp. it still cuts tomatoes like it did the first day. oh, and i've never sharpened it, just honed and whiped down with newspaper.
post #17 of 17

Sounds like a great knife. How long have you had it? How much use does it get? Misono makes a lot of lines. Which one does yours come from?

What do you mean by "honed?" It's a catchall word, and even then seldom used correctly. Do you mean you've only steeled the knife? Or have you used some other type of "hone." What kind of steel? How rough or fine the surface? If some other kind of hone, what?

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