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post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I’m wanting to get my first quality chef’s knife. Do the high carbon steel blades really require that much extra maintenance? What maintenance do they actually require? Which do you recommend for the home cook?

These are the two knives I’m looking at. epartment&ID=1

Either the 10” or the 8”
post #2 of 24
......Do the high carbon steel blades really require that much extra maintenance?

no. "maintenance" is not letting them sit around wet or dirtied up with acidic foods for any period of time. frankly, I use wipe/clean/put away my stainless knives every 'twitch' - unless I know I'm going to need it real-soon-again, it's out of the way.

carbon knives have the reputation for holding an edge better - so in overall time&effort,,,, they might take _less_!

if you're going off to the islands for a month, I'd wipe them down with an oiled paper towel.....
post #3 of 24
Neither the Global nor the Shun are "carbon." Both are "high carbon stainless." The Global is particularly stain resistant because of the amount of chromium in the knife steel's formulation (Chromova 18 has 18% chromium). Both Chromova 18 and VG-10 knives are "high carbon stainless." Carbon is added to make the steel harder. Both steels also have a good amount of molybdenum and vanadium. The vanadium helps keep high carbon steels fine grained enough to take a good edge.

Globals were "the hot knife" until a few years ago. Their popularity among professionals and among knife geeks has declined quite a bit since then. They are very light, agile knives. If you like a knife balanced where the handle meets the blade, Globals are perfectly balanced. Global was one of the first "ergonomic" designs, but I'm afraid that most of the reason Globals aren't as popular as the used to be as to do with long term comfort. A lot of retailers like to pretend that Globals are made from some mysterious, very hard steel that requires special equipment to sharpen and maintain -- but in reality Globals sharpen fairly easily and can be maintained with any good, fine steel. Globals are extremely agile. If you can't make the point of a Global go where you want it to go, you can't point a knife.

Shuns are "the hot knife" now among people that aren't all that in to knives. They're constructed with a VG-10 stainless steel core sandwiched in an outer layer of "damascus" look soft stainless. As mid level Japanese knives go, Shun classics are on the thick, heavy side; and thier high point profile makes them a bit awkward. VG-10 was created especially for knives and represents a good balance of most of the good things, while keeping most of the bad things in check. Same BS about sharpening and maintenance. Shun Classics aren't hardened enough to represent a sharpening problem, and can be steeled on any good steel.

You can sharpen on oil stones, but water stones would work faster. The problem with waterstones is they require thier own maintenance. Don't buy a diamond or ceramic "sharpening steel" that's coarse enough to actually sharpen. It will not only ultimately destroy your knife, it will leave the blade so scratched and toothy that the quality of the cut is adversely effected, as is the feedback you get from the knife. Some people like a rough surface, but why buy such a good knife? Similarly, don't waste your money on a Minosharp pull through or a Shun machine. The pull through is very time consuming,. Edgecraft, the company which makes the Shun machine, makes much better machines under its own Chef's Choice label.

I can't recommend strongly enough that you decide on an appropriate method for sharpening and maintaining your knife and purchase whatever tools you need at the same time you buy the knife. Even the best knives get dull. A dull knife, no matter how expensive, sexy or well reviewed is just a dull knife.

While Shuns and Globals represent a real step up from Wusthof, there are much better stainless knives for the price than either. To name a few, Misono Moly, MAC Professional, Suisun M, and Masamoto VG-10. All of these can be sharpened better, will stay sharp longer, and are more comfortable for a larger group of people.

Carbon knives do require an extra level of care. But for the same money as the stainless knives mentioned you can get a much better performing high carbon blade. The blade will be slightly lighter, stiffer, take a better edge (if you've got the skill to put it on) and hold it longer. The great weakness with much of Japanese carbon is quality control. But, there are several very good lines in your price range, including Kikuichi Elite, Misono Sweden, and Masamoto CT. All of these are very comfortable and have good to excellent fit and finish . In fact, the Misono Sweden has a dragon engraved on the blade -- much better than the damascus look on the Shun. I also feel comfortable recommending Thiers-Issard Elephant Sabatier (modern) carbon and "Nogent" (antique) carbon knives, and K-Sabatier au carbone. Although very different from the Japanese knives mentioned these are wonderful. But ... the recommendation is limited to someone already determined to try carbon.

In your case, I'd suggest sticking with stainless or trying a very exciting "hybrid" with a carbon core and a plain stainless exterior -- the Hiromoto AS. An exceptional knife and an exceptional value. A wonderful choice for someone looking for their first great knife.

Proper care for any knife includes rinsing and wiping it down immediately after every use; as well as proper storage, and of course, no dishwasher. This includes stainless as well as carbon. If you choose a Global, Shun, or any stainless, there's no need to oil the blades.

All my knives are various brands of very old, carbon Sabatiers. I often rinse and wipe my knife down in the middle of a task if it involves anything with a strong tendency to stain like onions, or tomatoes for instance. Every time I wash the knife, I clean it with a mildly abrasive pad to prevent any micro-corrosion that would dull the edge. Every time I sharpen on my stones (as a home cook, about once a month) I clean the blades with baking soda -- this not only removes stains it helps slow stain formation. If I were storing the knives, I'd oil them with drugstore mineral oil.

Hope this helps,
post #4 of 24
Sorry, BDL, beg to differ.
I find ordinary, carbon steel knives are royal pain in-the-you-know-what to take care of in my home kitchen in an informal setting. You MUST, IMMEDIATELY, after you are done, clean your Sabatier (or, in my case, 14" Lamson or 12" Dexter) with sponge or brush, and THOROUGHLY dry it with a cloth, and stick it into the knife block, EACH AND EVERY TIME YOU USE IT...whew.
If, like me, you tend to leave chef knives on the counter or cutting board for an hour or two, after dinner is over, a carbon-steel knife is not a good choice.
I guess they are sharper and do not need to be sharpened as often, but in my home kitchen, I do not see a difference with some of my high-carbon stainless French or German knives.
post #5 of 24
I've owned five or six of my many carbon Sabs for more than thirty years, and used those professionally. Almost all my current "daily drivers" are carbon Sabs. I care for them in a way similar to that which you described: By running them through a folded, mildly abrasive cloth (Scotch-Brite), rinsing and wiping them dry. I'm not sure where you got the idea that I do or recommend anything else.

You seem to have misunderstood what I wrote. The OP asked about carbon Shuns and Globals. I said they weren't really carbon but stainless, talked about the two brands, talked about some better stainless brands, then about some good carbon, and left off with a short description of how I care for my knifes. I'm by no means the most organized or cleanest cook that ever lived, but not only do manage to clean and put away my knives before leaving the kitchen to eat, my board gets wiped down, too. My final word on carbon was that I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who wasn't already predisposed.

True. They'll stain if left on the counter after using. Cleaning them with a Scotch-Brite and baking soda is not a big deal, but it's a bigger deal than cleaning stainless. And my knives, which are well cared for do show use. If I want them polished, I have to polish them with steel wool and something like Metal-Brite. Worth it every few years.

My daughter "borrowed" a chef's knife and slicer I used to use in the mid seventies, and brought them home on a visit to have me clean and sharpen them for her. They've been very neglected. I couldn't get the all the stain off without putting in more effort than I wanted to at the time. They got clean, but not pristine. On the other hand I was able to re-profile the knives (they'd been sharpened on a Chef's Choice) in less than 15 minutes for the pair, and put a serious edge on the slicer and a serious, polished edge on the chef's in less than 10 minutes each. Bottom line: From an appearance standpoint, a PITA. From a performance standpoint, a dream.

I suppose this depends on how you sharpen and what you consider "sharp." In my experience, there's a big difference not only in sharpening but in steeling as well. Also, the better carbon Sabs are significantly lighter than their stainless German counterparts; and the chef's knives are considerably more nimble. French stainless typically sits somewhere in the middle, as do most carbon Dexters and Lamsons which were usually built along the heavier German model -- Dexters especially.

post #6 of 24
Well i don't want to get in the middle of this very in depth discussion but there is no way i would leave my knife on the cutting board when i am done. I suppose it may be because when i cook i am normally at my brothers home (unless it some simple meal for myself) and he has four children one of which loves to grap and knock over things. I will say it saddens me to say this but once and only once did i leave my knife on the board and walked away to only have his youngest coming running to me with knife in hand. Needless to say that put me into the habit of cut/rinse/wipe/and store every time i am done with a knife or board. I only have a cheap walmart set right now but it does the job and right now that is all i can afford, as BDL said i just can't walk away with out cleaning my board and knife and to be honest prefer that one one use them. I guess maybe i have a bit of OCD. =)
post #7 of 24
I've been lurking and enjoying this forum for some time now and I thought I would weigh in on this thread. Most of my knives are German (Messermeister and Wusthof) and French (Sabatier HC stainless) but I do have a Shun and a Sabatier Au Carbone, both 8" Chefs. None of these knives are hard to sharpen but I have a little different method of maintenance than most. I have a black arkansas stone that I use very frequently (almost every use) instead of a steel and I rarely have to actually sharpen any of my knives. I sometimes use a ceramic steel when I'm in a hurry and once in a while I'll use a leather hone. I can shave with all my knives.

I bought the Au Carbone a few years ago and at first I kept it pristine looking with BarKeeper's Friend but after a while that became a PITA and I put a very nice patina on it by suspending it in white vinegar for about 10 or 15 minutes. The patina is an oxide, but it isn't rust, and it makes the knife much easier to care for. I love this knife and use it a lot.

The Shun is harder than the German or French knives (RC 60 as opposed to RC 56-58) but also thinner. I don't notice much difference in the difficulty of maintaining a good edge.
post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your input

So first I would like to thank all of you for your help. I would be interested in any list of chef knife manufactures you guys have as I'm having a difficult time finding a good list for comparison purposes.

So the info so far is basically
1: Determine how I intend to sharpen my knives before I chose a knife
2: High Carbon Steel knives are the standard for most chefs. My guess is maybe the stainless is intended for the home chef that doesn't care to do a lot of maint on their knife (I don't say this as a bad thing, they may not have time to maint their knife or only cook occasionally, and don't want to oil it all the time). this maint. is just part of owning a good piece of equipment, like owning a fine automobile.
3: Do more research on the various manufaturers.
post #9 of 24
Way too many to do that.

Or at least determine those things at the same time. If you can't afford a $200 sharpening kit, don't buy a knife that needs one.

No. Most professional cooks, like most modern home cooks, prefer stainless. Carbon is desirable for a few things, like sashimi knives; but not for most. On the other hand, if the knives you like are carbon they shouldn't be disqualified because the extra level of care is not that much greater.

The whole "carbon" thing started because you brought up "high carbon steel" when you meant "high carbon stainless steel."

In your case, you'd almost certainly be happier with stainless. Once you have a little more knowledge, a little more knife technique, and a better idea of what you're going to be spending most of your timpe prepping, you can choose more idiosyncratic knives.

The best entry level knives for almost everyone are Forschner Fibrox and Rosewood (same knives, different handles) and MAC Original, Chef and Superior. All of these are very easy to sharpen on ordinary sharpeners -- nothing fancy required. The MACs are a little more expensive, a little lighter, and hold their edge better. The Forschners sharpen very well, but not quite so well as the MACs. In order to make the Forschners work their best, they need to be reprofiled. If you decide to get Forschners, I'll tell you what to do.

IMO, the best choice for most people starting out with their first quality knives are a MAC chef's knife, a large MAC petty, and Forschner everything else. The best sharpener for these is a Hall's Commercial Tri-Hone. The best steel, a Forschner fine grooved. You may very well outgrow some or all of these after a few years, but they're inexpensive enough that isn't an issue. All of them are sufficiently usable to work on the line in the best restaurants. None of them will fight you.

The Shun is a very good knife. If you keep it sharp you'll be happy. It has a few issues, but I don't think you're at a level where you'll even notice them for years. OTOH, I think it's a lot of money for what I'm guessing is your skill level and you won't notice much payoff except for the beauty of the blade. In itself, that might be worth it.

Globals were THE hot knife for a few years; but a sense of disenchantment has set in the pro world. Almost every one who used one as his or her primary chef's knife developed hand pain. It's a shame because Globals have a lot of virtues, their handles are specifically designed to be "ergonomic," and the knives seem initially comfortable in a pinch grip. In fact, the Global explosion is the reason I'm so cynical about the "go to the knife store and try the knife before you buy it" advice. I know a lot of people who did, and 6 months later couldn't stand the hand pain.

The best deal I've seen in months is the Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu 10" Chef's at Cutlery and More. It's $80 for a $180 knife. Almost as good is the del they have on the Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu 8". Nice knives, too. Not the best knife ever, but nice -- real nice. If I were you, I'd get one of these.

The most basic professional knife set is a 10" Chef's, a 5"-6" petty/paring, a 9 or 10" bread and cake, and a 10" slicer. After that you start adding specialty knives as needed: fish filleting; butchering; garde manger; etc. One of the reasons you want a large petty paring is so that you don't need a small chef's knife to use as your utility. You get a lot more work out of a 10" chef's than an 8". That said, you've got to learn to use that length. It's not natural. If you're not serious about learning knife skills to make the classic cuts -- get an 8" knife and don't worry about it. If you're heading for culinary school or a line job, get the 10".

It's not a macho thing, it's a right tool for the job thing. Get a knife you don't have to fight.

Full disclosure: I don't any MAC knives, they came into professional kitchens after I left. I've fooled around with quite a few, though. I do own a fair bit of Forschner -- but none of it is in my daily user block. I don't own any Wusthof either. These brands are all represent good knives for you. My knives, carbons in fact, almost certainly don't.

Hope this helps,
post #10 of 24
Disclaimer: I really like knives, and have 4 knife rolls plus a block full of sharp, pokey things, so my opinion is probably a little more enthusiastic than it ought to be.

1) nonsense. An Accusharp or Chef's Choice will make your knives sharp for a lifetime, regardless of who the manufacturer is. Note: this does not apply if you decide to buy ceramic knives.

2) the true genius of 'high carbon stainless steel' knives, regardless of maker or cost, is that they do NOT require any more care or attention than those stupid, $3 ordinary stainless steel knives you get at the grocery store.

3) more research??? Welcome to the world of fanatics. I have, more or less, 100 professional quality knives good enough to use at work in a professional kitchen, not to mention those idiotic knives that are below this level. Yet still, every day when I surf the web about knives, I daily discover knives where I think: hey, that is interesting, maybe I should buy one and see what it is like?.
post #11 of 24
what happens when the day you need to thin out a knife, and accusharp only goes so far, there was a girl on my exernship that used one of those and she ahad a nice hollowed out grove on a sabatier stainless right in front of the bolster. you can get a 220 norton and 1000 grit for a little over 50 bucks. save you 15 or 20 dollar or however much the accusharp things and and get some stones. Those two stones will any knife sharp enough for the average cook.
post #12 of 24
I've got a TON of questions (I'll write them as a list so you can answer them more easily):
  1. You sharpen all 100+ knives in your four rolls and block to the same bevel angle and bevel geometry?
  2. Not an Asian knife among them?
  3. How do you decide which knife gets the Accusharp single bevel and which the Chef's Choice multi?
  4. You don't polish any of your edges to anything smoother than the very rough Accusharp and Chef's Choice pull-through levels?
  5. You sharpen the Boye with an Accusharp?
  6. What do you use when you have to repair a chip?
  7. Don't you try different profiles?

The OP is considering a Shun Classic and a Global Forged:
  1. You suggest reprofiling either knife to an Accusharp 22* or a Chef's Choice 25*?
  2. Which do you think would be better for each knife?
  3. I'm kind of surprised. Isn't the acute bevel part of the reason those knives are good performers?
  4. Am I missing something?

I'm really surprised to hear someone with a hundred knives say that. Most collectors are a little more "in to" sharpening.
  1. If you actually do something different than what you recommended, what do you do?
  2. What's the line for doing it your way, or doing it the ways you suggested for the OP?

I'm not sure what you're getting at.

Are you saying saying that in terms of stain resistance, stainless is stainless? If so, no. There are varying degrees of stain resistance -- and without it being a one to one correspondence, usually "better" steels are actually less resistant. This is because the chromium which makes steel stain resistant creates other performance problems -- to some extent limiting the amount of carbon (which makes steel hard), and to a greater extent controlling the way carbon can be held in the steel matrix. Very stain resistant knives are typically very soft, and lousy performers in other ways -- dive knives for instance. Harder, higher performing steels are made with less chromium -- sometimes little enough that they are only "stain resistant" (below 13% chromium), and can't legally (false advertising) be called "stainless." If very high stain resistance is important to you, because you are prevented from cleaning your knives for long periods, or you work in a very corrosive environment, to name two cases, you should put stain resistance on your shopping list of characteristics. Stainless knife steels are not created equal.

If you're saying that a Shun Classic and a Global can take a lot of abuse and not suffer -- you're half right. The Global is a form over function knife without much in the way of cosmetics. It's got a huge chromium percentage (18%), is extremely stain-resistant even for stainless, and is hard to hurt without doing something actively stupid. I'm not a big fan of Globals for other reasons, but you've got to give them credit -- they get a LOT out of sharpness out of "Chromova 18."

The Shun needs more respect. It's core steel, VG-10, is fairly abuse tolerant. The exterior is plenty stainless, but the "suminagashi" pattern ("damascus" look) is very easily scratched and damaged. That means if you darken or scratch the knife, you can't clean or polish it out with even a mild abrasive. You won't care if you wreck the looks of a "$3 ordinary stainless" knife, but you'll cry hot tears when the damascus disappears on your saved-up-for-it Shun. It happens with use anyway -- one of several things I don't like about Shuns.

If you're not saying something on those two lines, you lost me Jerry. What are you saying?

post #13 of 24
Apology to the OP: this is about to sound really wonky and obscure. To answer your basic question, humbly suggest, in true gourmet/foodie/food-service-pro tradition, that you buy all, try them at work or home or whatever, then report back here so we can all benefit from your experience.

post #14 of 24
Ummm, there's a lot of bad information being passed in this thread. BDL is the only one who really knows what he's talking about.

Ramlatus, if you want a carbon steel edge, get a Hiromoto 240mm (9.4") TJ-20AS Gyuto here. Hitachi Aogami Blue Super Steel is the best carbon steel in the world, period. At $145 it is an absolute steal, and if you wait until December there will be a 10% off sale. I can personally vouch for Hiromoto's excellent fit and finish. You will love this knife, and caring for it is relatively easy because only the edge area itself is carbon, the rest is SS cladding, the best of both worlds.

If you want a Stainless knife, get a Sakai Takayuki Grand Cheff 24 cm. Gyuto here for $140. The blade is Swedish steel, specifically Uddeholm AEB-L. This is the steel from which safety razor blades are made, and is, in my opinion, the single best SS steel available for kitchen cutlery. It is extremely easy to sharpen and holds the edge very well.

You will need to learn to sharpen with stones. There is a learning curve but it is not difficult and you will get acceptable results on your first try.

BDL and I can give references to all sorts of info regarding sharpening.
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 #15 of 24
If I were going to boil it down to two choices, I'd make the Hiromoto AS one of them. I've heard only good things about the Takayuki, but also like the Masamoto VG-10 and MAC Professional so ... I just CAN'T DO IT.

We had a few Hiromoto AS pass through our house and the experience was very good. Easy to sharpen to a great edge, holds it well, light, agile, good fit and finish (actually great fit and finish for a Japanese knife in its price range, nice cosmetics, and the pride that comes with owning an Aogami Super knife -- which are usually twice the cost of the Hiromoto.

My respect for Buzzard's opinion is extremely high, on those occasions we disagree it's pretty niggling. We sometimes take turns on who's more hardcore and who's more pragmatic.

With all due respect, I strongly disagree with Jerry on knife sharpening and maintenance. If anyone has questions about specific areas of disagreement I'll be happy to discuss them. For now, suffice it to say that Jerry's practices and suggestions fall well outside the mainstream of knife care -- and far outside of what's considered expert practice. That said, in no way do I mean to say that he doesn't have wonderfully sharp knives. It's just not what I or most others would recommend.

As Buzz said, learning to sharpen right is easy. And once you've learned it's a skill which can be transferred to hundreds of different types of stones and knives -- which makes freehand sharpening the most flexible method.

post #16 of 24
Ditto. Jerry might be the world's best with a Chef's Choice but he gave away the farm on sharpening knowledge when he asked the question about profiling.
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 #17 of 24
Yeah I pretty much stick to what BDL says. His advice may not be something you want to hear, but he will give you generally unbiased opinions and he has more information than an encyclopedia to boot. All in all BDL knows what he's talking about.
post #18 of 24
Out of curiosity, anyone know what steel Misono uses? I tried looking it up on the interweb, but in all honesty just finding any information on Misono is hard.

[Edit] - I just realized in a lapse of brain power, that the branding "UX-10" is probably the steel they use. If so, what makes this steel superior to others such as the aforementioned Uddeholm AEB-L, or VG-10.
post #19 of 24
Naw, I think that BDL is really just a snot-nosed prepubescent whose cooking skills are limited to fixing a box of mac and cheese, given adult supervision. He's just really good at using Google on his mommy's computer :lol:

Boy, I guess that blows my chances of getting an autographed first edition of his cookbook!

Seriously, though, it has been about three decades since I've worked in a professional kitchen, so it has been a while since I've used a knife more than a few minutes a day. Based on some earlier comments from both Buzz and BDL in this and some other knife threads, I dug out one of my old stones and worked a bit on my freehand sharpening. It was a pleasant, satisfying experience. My knife guy moved to California recently, so I'm currently on my own regarding edges. Maybe this old dog can learn a new trick, or at least remember where he left off.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #20 of 24
Actually, it's not superior to AEB-L, it's the same. It's a strip steel made by Sandvik with iron from the same deposit, and according to the same formula called 13C26. The superiority, such as it is, is in two areas -- edge taking and edge holding where the strip steels have a slight advantage.

So, what's a strip steel? It's a steel designed to be rolled out in very thin sheets and then cut into strips for razor blades.

13C26 is martensitic. That means it holds the carbon used to harden the iron, in a particular kind of matrix which also controls the size of the carbon particles and keeps them very small. The steel is said to have a finer "grain," as a result.

Other extremely fine grained steels used in top end "better than VG-10" knives are metallurgical powder steels, like ZDP 189 and CPM 153. These tend to be taken to a very high Rockwell Hardness, and to my taste are often made too "strong." The good part of strength is the steel doesn't deform easily. The bad part is that instead of bending, sometimes it will chip or break. They're also so hard they can be difficult to sharpen and often don't get much benefit from steeling.

One of the great things about VG-10 is it's resistance to chipping. VG-10 is one of the first stainless steels to really challenge the all around performance of good (but not great) carbons. The Swedish strips and the MPs are just that one little step better.

Hope this helps,
post #21 of 24
Cliff Stamp (don't ask) said, "This (13C26) is the same steel as AEB-L. It is designed with a specific carbon/chromium ratio so that when austenized it gives high hardness and corrosion resistance with no primary carbides. This maximizes push cutting sharpness and edge retention."

Does it ever! IMO this is the best steel for kitchen knives. It can be hardened to HRC 63+ by custom makers like Devon Thomas and Phil Wilson for enthusiasts like myself or kept at a very sane HRC 58 such as found in the Takayukis for those who don't want to be fussy. If I could have one kitchen knife only it would be a 255mm Gyuto bladed with 13C26/AEB-L at 58-60 Rockwell with a wa handle large enough for good balance. It could slice watermelons and fish, chop tomatoes, slice beef at the table, etc., and not be afraid of bones. For the majority, put on a goofy handle like the Forschner Fibrox and it is more or less dishwasher safe. Sharpen it with your Chef's Choice electric and it will retain that edge much much longer than Wustofs and its cousins.

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 #22 of 24

How do you feel about the Takeda's Boar? Or anyone? Never tried, just heard good things.

post #23 of 24

Takedas are very, very good knives.  They are extremely well made, very thin.  Takeda is one of the few makers to offer several "traditional" Japanese profiles like yanagiba and mukimono with "V" instead of chisel edges. 


Takedas are not cheap.  Still, they're very high value for what the are; but you may be able to get almost exactly the same bang for your less bucks with Moritaka.  Note though, the "off the shelf" Moritakas from Chef Knives To Go are very thick (and robust).  If you want a thin Takeda-type, you'll have to special order.   


As you probably know they are san-mai/warikomi knives.  That is, the hagane core (Hitachi YSS Aogami Super) is sandwiched between a jigane (ouer layer) of soft steel on each side.  The edge itself is formed entirely from the AS hagane. 


The jigane are finished in the kurouchi style, which means they are impregnated with coke smoke during the forging.  It gives them a very rustic look, and some built-in corrosion resistance.


Personally, I dislike all cladded knives, don't care for kurouchi, and my personal experience with AS hasn't been unalloyed joy either.  Also, I feel the Takeda gyuto profile is a little too flat.  But don't let my personal issues and character flaws bother you too much.  People like different things, and lots of people really love them. 


At Takeda levels of quality, performance and price, it's as much what you don't want as what you do.  No one should try and talk you into or out of anything, but it's sure useful to have enough information to make your own evaluation. 


If you're interested we can break it down. 


As it happens, I'm buying a high-end wa-gyuto by the end of next month.  The short list includes Konosuke, Tadatsuna and Yusuke; all of which are even thinner than Takeda, with none "cladded" or kurouchi.



Edited by boar_d_laze - 8/23/10 at 12:19pm
post #24 of 24
Originally Posted by Ramlatus View Post

So first I would like to thank all of you for your help. I would be interested in any list of chef knife manufactures you guys have as I'm having a difficult time finding a good list for comparison purposes.

So the info so far is basically
1: Determine how I intend to sharpen my knives before I chose a knife
2: High Carbon Steel knives are the standard for most chefs. My guess is maybe the stainless is intended for the home chef that doesn't care to do a lot of maint on their knife (I don't say this as a bad thing, they may not have time to maint their knife or only cook occasionally, and don't want to oil it all the time). this maint. is just part of owning a good piece of equipment, like owning a fine automobile.
3: Do more research on the various manufaturers.

I do not think this is an accurate reduction of the basic information. I don't fault you for that --- this particular form of madness is new to you.


Some things to know:


1. Basic maintenance of carbon steel vs. stainless: In a professional kitchen, full of noise, bustle, heat, moisture, and general madness, carbon steel can be awkward to maintain. At home it is rather less so, but requires good habits of a kind many home cooks do not possess or wish to develop. The maintenance for carbon and stainless is the same; what varies is the time. Carbon must be wiped now, dried soon, and sharpened pretty soon-ish. Stainless must be wiped soon, dried pretty soon, and sharpened eventually. The primary place experts like BDL and Buzz would disagree is with the sharpening, to which I'll return. If you keep a slightly damp cloth next to your cutting board and remember to wipe with it every time you finish with an ingredient, and them wipe with a dry cloth when you're done cutting, your carbon steel will behave very nicely thanks. To do this, however, you will need to be organized about what's laid out on the counter and when you cut in relation to your other cooking processes. That will in turn teach you good habits, but if it's not something you think you can commit to, you should avoid carbon: rust sucks.


2. Sharpness of carbon steel vs. stainless: There is no absolute here. There are stainless alloys that take and keep a frightening edge, and carbon steels that are just plain rotten. On the whole, you get a little more for your money in carbon, but that mostly gets truer as your pockets get deeper. By which I mean simply that if you're going to drop $1000 on a knife, the carbon steel will be terrifyingly good and the stainless probably a scam, whereas at $10 you're pretty much on your own for guessing. In the kind of range most people seem to think is vaguely sane, let's say $50 to $200, there are no absolutes.


3. Japanese vs. Western: This is tricky. Japanese steels are in general superior, and on the whole cost less for what they are, but they're remarkably difficult to compare side-by-side with Western counterparts for a large number of reasons. Pros on Japanese: get sharp, stay sharp, great blade shapes, extremely light. Cons on Japanese: you will probably have to do your own sharpening, price will not be low, probably has to be purchased online.


4. Mass-produced vs. artisan-made: Artisan-made knives aren't made by some old master slaving away over a wood furnace. Not in anything resembling a sane price range, anyway. But because of the nature of commodity manufacturing, they work out to be cheaper for a given level of quality --- and not worth making in really low quality. Thus you can rarely find artisan-made really low-end knives. (They exist, but they're not worth exporting.) Shun and Global are mass-produced, which means they're in the same range but pricier than their artisan-made cousins, but have the advantage of enormous availability, customer service, and all that stuff.


5. Sharpening: You can sharpen your own or send them out, as you prefer. But some knives are a lot easier (and cheaper) to send out than others. Some knives can be maintained on a steel (honing rod), meaning they need sharpening less often, and others can't. The main difference there is whether they're ground basically symmetrically or not, which with the knives you're talking about is something that can be changed without enormous difficulty. Sharpening yourself is a skill, no matter what equipment you use, but some equipment makes it easier. Bear in mind that the investment for sharpening stuff is spread across all your knives by comparison to a service, which will charge per knife. That is, if it's only one knife and a service charges $20, it'll take 5 sharpenings to pay for $100 worth of kit, but if you have 5 knives it's equivalent in only one sharpening run. Sharpening freehand is fun, time-consuming, moderately pricey (say, $50 or so for basics), and works on all knives. Sharpening on a rod or jig system is less fun, less time-consuming, moderately to medium-pricey, and works on fewer knives, but you will get good results much more rapidly (easier learning curve). Sharpening on a high-quality electric (e.g. Chef's Choice) is not especially fun, quick, moderately pricey, and works on some knives. Sharpening services have to be researched with care, and range from terrible to fabulous, cheap to expensive, not necessarily respectively.


6. Sharpening --- how often?: Depends on the knife, your desired level of sharpness, the equipment you're using.... Urgh. If you like freakishly sharp edges, you have to keep after your knives well-nigh constantly, and the better the knife the more positively it will respond to this treatment. If you want a sort of functionally sharp edge, like you'd get on a brand-new Wusthof or Henckels knife, you should steel daily and sharpen every 4-6 months, depending on usage, if it's a German knife, and rather less than that if it's a decent mass-produced Japanese (e.g. Global or Shun). If you want a good edge, a Wusthof will need constant work, and a Shun will need sharpening every few months or so. A good artisan-produced Japanese knife won't need sharpening constantly, but it'll be sort of like driving a good sports car and never going more than 20mph, if you see what I mean --- it'll work, but it just won't ever show you what all the fuss is about.


Conclusions (at last!)

If, as I suspect, a Shun or Global is kind of the high end of what you have in mind, and if your home cutting/maintenance/organization habits are more or less normal for a solid home cook, you don't want carbon steel. You will probably get the best results out of Japanese stainless. For sharpening, unless you can seriously imagine that sharpening will be a fun hobby for you, I think the Chef's Choice models designed for Japanese knives --- they're thinking Shun and Global --- are an excellent choice. Get a good honing rod and use it daily, use the Chef's Choice every couple of months when the knife doesn't seem to quite have the "oomph" it had before, and you'll be quite satisfied. In this price range there are much better knives than Shun and Global, and I advise you to pay close attention to BDL's recommendations here --- although I know he's going to tell you to buy a Mac Pro, and I have a strong suspicion that he's dead right.


If I'm wrong about these things --- which is to say, if you're thinking that being really precise about knife maintenance and organization and sharpening sounds like a remarkably fun thing to do, and you can just feel the itch of a nasty obsession building --- then you should start saving your pennies and lusting after decent Japanese carbon steel. If you make that jump, you'll never look back. But if that doesn't match your lifestyle, you won't look back because you won't want to face the big hole in your wallet that got eaten by a knife you hated and worked so badly for you. Do you follow? I adore my collection of modestly terrifying Japanese carbon steel and my modestly lunatic collection of sharpening stones and such. I keep them in pretty frightening condition. I get really into having my board and cutting and stuff just so --- on a home scale, not a serious pro's. But I also know that my wife thinks I'm nuts, and I've shelled out more than I like to think doing this (and keep lusting after new stuff), and that's not for everyone. And you know what? However nuts my collection, you don't want to know what some of the guys around here --- or worse, at some of the hardcore knife boards --- have dropped on their stuff. It beggars the imagination.


Hope this has been helpful.


And yes, when in doubt, listen to BDL.

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