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the 10,000th knife post

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I KNOW there have been a TON of different posts on which knives to use and it seems to be the consensus that if one is serious about knives that one should go with a Japanese knife because they are harder, hold an edge better etc. I also have read a LOT of really good reviews on Forschner knives especially for beginners. I am an at home chef and I absolutely LOVE cooking although I certainly am not a professional. I have actually considered making a career change and going into the food industry full time. So I figured it was time to get away from the Farberware knife I have been using and step up. That being said, I went down to the local kitchen supply store today fully intending to buy a Forschner rosewood 10" chef's knife today, as this is to be my first knife and I want to get something a bit more cost conscientious. When I got there, the sales man said that they had two lines that they were discontinuing to sell at their store so they were half off. One was a Lamson Sharp 10" chefs knife and the other was a 9" Messermeister Meridian Elite Kullenschliff Chef's Knife. These two were the same price and they were only $20 more than the Forschner. So, my question is... out of these three knives, which one is the best? Your responses are appreciated. Thanks

post #2 of 14
The quality is functionally identical. Personally, I prefer a 10" to a 9", don't like kullenschiffen, very slightly prefer the Lamson's handle to the Messermeister's (although both are excellent, standard shaped handles), like that the Lamson's made in the US of A, and very slightly prefer the wood look of the Lamson handle and bolster design, so if I had to choose one, I'd choose the Lamson. Bottom line: Not much real distinction between them. Both excellent knives, and as good as any other German type knife -- including Wusthof. Both slightly better than a Forschner Fibrox (or Rosewood).

Bottom line: You can't go wrong.

I take it you're around the $60 price point? If you can stretch it a few more bucks, I'd strong suggest a Togiharu Moly, Tojiro DP, or a MAC Chef -- they're much better knives.

If you can live with non-stainless carbon steel (which requires a little bit of extra care, but substantially better work habits) you can get into some pretty cutlery -- stuff that will blow the Lamson-Messermeister-Forschner right out of the water. But we're not going there unless you want carbon.

Last word: The most important parts of stepping up to better knives is not the knives. It's the step to a decent board, decent storage, and a decent sharpening set and regimen. Without those your new knives will quickly dull -- and all dull knives are essentially equal. A shame to waste all that "which knife is best" obsessing -- you do it so well.

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
BDL, thank you for your speedy reply. I respect your opinion greatly, from reading your posts, it seems like you have an INCREDIBLE amount of knowledge. This being said, since you say I should get a good board, storage, and sharpening system along with the knife. What order should I get those things? I have read a lot of your posts about which sharpening systems are best and I haven't gotten one yet... I am using a Wusthof sharpening system one of those ones with one course side and one fine side and you pull the knife back towards you... It works ok for my POS knives. I do not, however, know what kind of board I should get... I am currently using a Bamboo board. And I use a block for storage. Your advice is greatly appreciated, that is certain.
post #4 of 14
A block makes excellent storage. If the knife slots are vertical, put the knives in edge up, so they rest on their spines and not their edges.

A bamboo board is better than adequate, but not great. Hardwood (like maple) endgrain is best. Sani-Tuff next. Then long grain hardwood. Bamboo is very hard, and because the pieces are so small most of the board surface is actually the expoxy resin which holds the whole thing together -- also hard. Do you need to replace your board? No. A better board would be better, but it's not urgent. Besides material choice, size is important. You want a board big enough to work on so you're not always fighting space restrictions.

Sharpening is a tough call because so much depends on your budget, how deeply you want to get it, what your standards of adequacy are, and so on. Free handing on stones is the most versatile, but takes the longest to learn. Rod guide systems are quite easy to learn, are fairly versatile, and do a very good job, but are fussy to set up. Chef's Choice electrics do an adequate job, are not versatile at all, but are the most convenient and easy to use.

If you're going to buy a Messermeister or a Lamson, you don't need to polish the edge much -- so you won't have to spend a lot of money on fine grits -- in whatever system you ultimately choose. If you're up to freehanding a Hall's Tri-Hone would be an excellent choice ($Sixtyish). The Lasky Deluxe Diamond set would be a good rod guide ($Fiftyish). And you could do a good, two stage Chef's Choice for under $100. More if you wanted to sharpen scissors.

I'm a freehander myself mostly because I enjoy it. It's not worth making yourself nuts over though. If you don't want to get involved, I'm all in favor of you doing something easier. That said, it doesn't take much to develop an adequate skill set.

Pull throughs, like the one you're using are very slow -- and while they do sharpen, they don't sharpen well. You'd be better off with a "V" stick like the Spyder Sharpmaker or the Idahone -- those are pretty easy, but again you're not going to get anything like an ultimate edge. In fact, a Chef's Choice will do a better job.

There are some very aggressive sharpeners out there that will leave a sharp but scratchy edge, AND eat the knife pretty quickly. You know what? They're preferable to using a dull knife.

Hope this helps,
post #5 of 14
Back to knife selection... I suggest the Togaharu Moly at Korin. $60 chef's knife and great fit and finish with a similar steel to Global which BDL also likes but usually won't recommend for fearh of the very idiocentric handles.h

If you go this route, you'll want a double side whet stone and a ceramic honine rod as intros to keeping things sharp.

Thats 60 for the knife, 36 for the combo stone, both items at Korin.com
Then a hone for 20 dollars at .japaneseknifesharpening.com.

Thats a doable budget that alot of misguided souls go out and blow on a Wustof Ikon and here you are getting a far superior knife.
post #6 of 14

I'm thinking of buying that exact combination, but getting sharpeners first, using them on my old crappy knives, and at a later date getting a nice knife (most likely the togiharu). Will the 800 grit on that stone be course enough for very blunt knives? Will I need a flattening stone, and will something cheap (e.g. the peacock stone fixer) do the job?

I'm aware this is not the ideal sharpening solution, but I'm finding it quite difficult to find stones in europe. Was going to go for the hall's tri-hone, but delivery costs about as much as the system itself. Any other alternative suggestions?

post #7 of 14
The 800 grit would be fine for most things as a first stone. Would take forever to reprofile a blade (change the curve of the edge). I would sugguest a dmt course or extra course for flattening. It was sugguested to me and it will be the next thing I buy. Stone fixers tend to warp and dish themselves I am told.
post #8 of 14
There are three parts to the sharpening process: (1) Profiling/repairing -- resetting the edge angles, changing shapes, fixing broken tips, taking out chips, etc.; (2) Sharpening -- raising a "wire" and "chasing" it off; and (3) Polishing -- smoothing out the scratches and teeth left from sharpening.

Each of these processes is best accomplished at a higher grit level. That is, you profile and repair with coarse stones, sharpen with medium stones, and polish with fine stones.

Since your first sharpening goal is to repair some badly beat up knives, you'll want at least one coarse stone.

However, once your knives are in good shape you'll almost never go back to the coarse stone, so you want knives which sharpen well.

A little polish is a good thing, however a high polish takes a good bit of skill and doesn't actually do much good in the kitchen. In fact, as a beginner, you're far more likely to dull your knife trying to get a lot of polish on it, then you are to help it.

So... You need something coarse and cheap. I recommend a Norton IB-8. This is a coarse India and a fine India combined in one "oilstone." I also recommend that you NEVER use it with oil. Use it with a little water, then once you can reliably use the stone (it will take you about 20 blades), try it dry. Going back to the stone, the coarse India will profile and repair; the fine India will do some profiling, but is a great stone for beginning the sharpening process.

Then add a decent waterstone of around 1000 grit for most sharpening. Once your knives are in order this will be the stone you go to for sharpening. Finally, you'll want something around 4000 grit to chase the wire (sharpen it off) and get a mild polish. Don't obsess about the particular grit numbers. Close is good enough.

You can get these grits in a combi stone which is a good, money saving idea; excellent for beginners. One of the nice things about combis is that they wear out relatively quickly. By the time you know enough to get serious about stone choice, you'll have used up your beginner's stone. Neat, huh?

There are a few good combination stones out there. Two of the better ones are the King 1k/6k and the Norton 1k/4k. Whichever stone CookingAngry recommended is a good one too. I recommend Norton for its very reliable quality and value. Another good choice is the "water stone kit" at Tools for Working Wood. They carry Nortons and some Kings as well.

When you venture into waterstones, you need to think about flattening. You can either buy a flattener, or flatten on wet/dry sandpaper (80 - 150 grit) mounted on glass. I've always flattened on glass, but a flattener is the smart way to go.

A good "steel," whether steel, ceramic or glass is very helpful in a lot of ways. It helps keep your knives performing at their best until they actually dull through wear (rather than minor deformation -- which the steel repairs); and helps "deburr" (chasing the wire), a vital part of sharpening.

Hope this helps,
post #9 of 14

very helpful indeed! I've finally found a few uk online retailers, and I can find the king's at a considerably lower price than the norton's. In fact, I could get the King 1K/6K + 250/1K for $33 (the 1K/6K on its own is $26), whereas the Norton IB8 and 1K/4K go for $30 and $66 respectively. I know I would have two 1K sides, but I suspect that's the one that would wear the quickest? (as the 250 grit wouldn't get used much, particularly as I'll probalby be buying a knife now too, given the sale at japanese-knife). What do you think? What about flatteners? The DMT seems pretty expensive for what I'm after. There's a few cheap ones around (e.g. peacock and non-descript stone fixers at japanese-knife). Would just using sandpaper and a block of wood work as well/better?

Thanks a lot for the help so far! (and sorry about hijacking the thread, but it seemed a bit dead anyway...)

post #10 of 14
I haven't tried the sandpaper flattening but I haven't yet needed to flatten my Shapton GS's. They aren't as prone to dishing and I've had them for only six months. I said I'll be getting a Dmt because it was recommended by Dave Martel of japaneseknifesharpening.com who said he hates "flatteners" for various reasons including the flatteners themselves dishing. And I can justify the price as a work expense as I'll also want to reprofile knives, grind away bolsters and the like. Certainly with a little guidence from BDL you could do fine with sandpaper.
post #11 of 14
Wood, even MDF warps, especially in the wet environment that is water stones'. You want dead flat, because imperfections in angle are magnified with the blade on the stone. Instead, use a glass float. Wet dry sandpaper will stick to the glass by capillary action. Just spray the glass with a sprtiz of water, and put the paper on.

Not all stones are amenable to sandpaper flattenng, but Kings certainly are. Stay with fast grits -- 80 - 150 and use wet dry. When the paper loads up, rinse it off. When it starts to wear down, reserve it for your highest grit, until it's completely ineffective. Most polishing stones work best with a bit more lap than sharpening or shaping stones. Kings are pretty forgiving in this respect, you don't need to climb the grit ladder very high.

I prefer using large (8x11) pieces of sandpaper on glass, to relatively small flatteners of any sort. That way I can keep the whole stone on the reference plate, while flattening at the same time.

Regarding the two combi stones, I'm going to suggest that you get the1K/5K combi stone, and a separate low grit. By the time you run through the 1K you'll be good enough to want something better at that grit, and at the polishing level as well. In the meantime, you either won't use the profile/repair grit at all, or you'll use it up very fast. They dish like crazy, and need a lot of flattening with any use at all. I'd hate to see you lose your 1K stone because you decided to fix two knives and one of them turned out to be difficult.

Sorry to hear that the old trusty Norton IB-8 is so (relatively) expensive in Oz. It's a great stone. Suckers last forever, and need almost no maintenance; slow though.

post #12 of 14
Cheers for the suggestions. I'll follow BDLs advice, get the 1K/6K, and possibly the norton IB8 (at $30 compared to $9 for the King's seems reasonable if they're gonna last, particularly if I don't need to invest on a flattening stone). I would only get the king's, as I'll be buying a knife too, so the coarse grit is not essential, but I think I need to practice with some poor knives before torturing my (possibly) new togiharu.
As a last quick question, how does the fine side of the norton IB-8 relate to grit? I'm assuming it's less fine than the 1K side of the king's?

EDIT: as a second 'last' question. Is there an extra difficulty in sharpening an asymmetric blade (which I think the togiharu moly is?). The tojiro dp seems to be highly recommended too (at the same price), and it's symmetrical...

Thanks again!

post #13 of 14
Some people hate asymetrical bevels because they are only right handed or left handed and cut a little different. I think they cut just fine. That said, i bought someone the Togiharu Moly #3 as a gift and it only took me 10 minutes on a Shapton 500 to even out the bevel.
post #14 of 14
A Norton fine India is nominally 325 ANSI (American sandpaper standard), which is roughly equal to 500 JIS (Japanese waterstone), but acts more like 700 JIS. It's too slow to profile, but will bring up a wire quickly. Unless you're a butcher, you won't be happy with the finish, and will want to move up to some level of polish. Even 1000# JIS is a big improvement.

I don't want to get too deeply into the ins and outs of various stones except to say that moving much above a 1000# successfully will take you awhile. The step onto the polishing stone ususally means dulling and a trip back to the sharpening grit before starting over. The higher the grit, the more important it is to keep a very steady angle.

Don't beat yourself up too much when you start. Try and be patient enough to at least raise a wire on your sharpening stone -- if that's the best you can do, fine -- take it off on your rod rather than dulling with your polishing stone. Give yourself a few tries and quit before your totally frustrated. Every time you use your sharpening stone, your also providing valuable practice for polishing. It takes awhile.

Sharpening asymmetries isn't a problem. You use something called the "magic marker trick," to compare the sides. You should start out with the magic marker trick anyway. Unless you're very proficient and seeing and maintaining the manufacturer's assymetry, you'll probably end up eventually sharpening to 50/50 anyway. Not long after the time you can reliably polish, you'll want to start fooling around with profiles; and by that time you'll be proficient enough to do it without many problems.

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