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...yikes, he really is a heretic...

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
My home does not really have a decent boning knife, and I feel most kitchens should have one. Granted, my wife hasn't asked for one, and we really haven't started to buy meat in bulk amounts, but perhaps that a "chicken and the egg" condition. Anyway, I'm researching the knife.

Now, from the looks of the pictures and the construction of my preferred model, I would like to go with a honesuki. Obviously a Japanese laminate, produced by a fine company, with a western full tang handle, and I think I could sharpen it. But it offers another aspect, which I hesitate to even mention amongst you pros.

I'm more of a "one trick pony" when I work in the kitchen. In other words, if my wife asks me to help in the kitchen--a rare condition, at best--I usually grab whatever knife she isn't interested in using. And no matter how the project unfolds, I use the same knife for the entire preparation of the meal. (I do rinse often.)

I might start with a "cow knife" in some errand involving meat, but if a tomato or pepper needs slicing, I use the same blade.

So now I see the honesuki. Yes, it fills a need in my home, but I'll bet I can thinly slice a tomato with it, or cube up a melon.

Okay, guys, no teasing. I'm a fish out of water here. Can a honesuki survive in my home in my hands?
post #2 of 15
A boning knife??? It would very quickly become our new ice pick. Can you seriously see the average houseperson deftly circumnavigating a carcass. I'd certainly rather flash my baby blues at my butcher and get him to do the needful :D

PS. I do and he does :D:D:D
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #3 of 15
I got a boning knife. no carcass required. it is a "special purpose" tool - but still, veddy nice special tool to have handy.

works reallie kewl on bone in hams, boned steaks, prime rib, etc.

it's also my tool of choice for removing the silver skin on pork ribs.
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
May I ask which style and manufacturer.
post #5 of 15
A honesuki or garasuki is not going to be a lot of use to you, no. It is exceedingly awkwardly shaped for cutting down onto a board -- that's not what it's for. It really has one purpose in life, and that is to carve on, around, and through bones. It is extremely specialized -- much more so than just about any Western knife I can think of, with the possible exception of a serrated bread knife.

Given what you say you want to do with this knife, I think you would be a great deal better off with a petty or utility knife. If you want Japanese knives, no problem: they make lots of petties. That's a knife you can use for the whole meal, but it will be lovely when you are deboning something.

If you're breaking down or deboning chicken, a petty knife is actually a good deal easier to use than a honesuke or garasuke. And unlike those knives, you can do everything else with it too. Look at Jacques Pepin: he loves his petty knives, and uses them for all kinds of things.

In short, honesuke and garasuke are professional tools for specialist butchers, guys who spend their lives doing nothing but cutting up chickens and so forth. Other folks should avoid them unless they're collectors, in my opinion.
post #6 of 15
I'd go for the smaller knife, what Chris calls a "petty knife", and most Europeans call an "office knife" (don't ask me why).

Boning out a chicken or even quail is no problem with this knife, removing silverskin from tenders is no problem either It just has to be kept sharp--you're only using the first 3/4" or so of the tip anyway.

If you ever get the opportunity to watch bona fide "housewives", or noobies such as dishwashers or sandwich prep people at work, it's worth the time. These people have no knife handleing experience, a sharp knife is a strange concept and the different shapes and sizes are confusing. I used to keep a selection of decent knives in a s/s butcher's rack next to the meat cutting board and instructed staff to use whatever they needed, but to treat the knives with repect.

9 times out of 10 the noobies would choose a boning knife to cut tomatoes or trim broccoli. True, they'd use a small knife to core tomatoes or peel onions, but they had a thing for boning knives. Also "large knives" say, a 8" or 9" Chef's would scare the living beejesus out of them, and would choose the smallest knife they could find--even if they had to halve melons or cut squash. This holds true as well for my sister and her husband, and my brother and his wife--all professionals in their own field but no food service experience.

IMHO where a boning knife really shines is boning out large joints of meat, hams and roasts from sides and quarters, breaking down top and bottom rounds, lamb racks, etc. The flexible boning knives are great for flat fish--sole and turbot and the like.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #7 of 15
>>May I ask which style and manufacturer.

it's the Wuesthof Classic - 7" I think...
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Due to our diets, my guess is that this would be our primary goal. My concern was overall strength. I figured my choice would also provide some of the more sturdy qualitites of a deba.

The problem for me is that unless I buy a knife to use as a sample, there are not many upper-end kitchen stores in my area. We have one (which I believe is still in business) but he sells Shuns and not much else.

This is the big deciding factor. We almost never buy things this large unless the family is coming to my home for a holiday meal.
post #9 of 15
>My home does not really have a decent boning knife, and I feel most kitchens should have one<

After reading the previous posts i realise ur not talking about the average household. My mistake.
Still...
I know of no-one (except chefs) who own one. Most butchers will joint a half pig or lamb very cheaply for the freezer, or prepare a joint as you want it, as long as you give him some notice.So, as the saying goes, "why have a dog and bark yourself?"
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
LOL. Well, for lots of reasons. First, the neighbors object when I bark at salesmen...

Seriously, there are some good reasons.

My wife had medical issues last year, and she is on a different diet and exercize program. We can control more of these food issues if we prepare the food ourselves.

Additionally, we might want to take "bulk purchase" opportunities, although not at the same quantities that a restaurant might buy.

And if there is a good boning knife that would meet these requirements, I know a tinker who works cheap...:lol:
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
I googled that model, and the price has dropped a bit! Good news.

They used the term "flexible." Just how flexible is this knife?
post #12 of 15
>Additionally, we might want to take "bulk purchase" opportunities, although not at the same quantities that a restaurant might buy.

And if there is a good boning knife that would meet these requirements, I know a tinker who works cheap...:lol: <



For £120 i can get a half pig On line.(Old breed) Outdoor bred Organic ( but no certification. They cant afford the fees. Small producer. Go Figure) For that price its jointed and delivered from England. ready for my freezer. Works out to about £3 $5 a Lb for quality.

BTW my late father, besides being a chef, Stage Hypnotist, salesman, inventor and general Jack of all trades spent years trawling the factories in Sheffeild with a van which had a sharpening wheel attached to the engine, set up in the back. He made a living sharpening scissors and knives. He was a Mackenzie. (They were known to be descended from Irish tinkers)
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #13 of 15
>>how flexible...

the overall stiffness feel is similar to a slicer of the same length - but about half the blade width so hence less force is needed for the same deflection.

I don't have control issues with it - it's not sloppy flexible.
post #14 of 15
Quite. I have one, and yes, it's very flexible.

For the uses you describe, a petty / utility / office knife will be much superior. A Western-style boning knife is only going to shine when you break down a big piece of bone-in meat, usually a primal that you can't get without a special order. A Japanese-style boning knife (e.g. honesuke, garasuke) is only going to shine if you do its special thing a great deal, like many times a day.

For boning out or breaking down a chicken I reach for a petty knife. If I can't find one, I reach for a paring knife. If the only one I can find is horrible, serrated, and blunt (like my mother's favorite), I will compare a chef's knife and a boning knife, and go with the one that is sharpest.

Given that you know a tinker who works cheap (:)), if you're really having trouble finding a petty knife from a decent Japanese manufacturer, you might consider the ever-popular (in Japan) short yanagiba, say around 180mm. The disadvantage is that it's tricky to sharpen, but of course this is a non-issue for you. You may want to put a slight back-bevel all along the edge if you're going to use it as a petty, and it will serve admirably. A short deba would work well also, again back-beveled for sturdiness, but it's going to start getting awkwardly fat and triangular for anything other than boning, and then you're right back with a honesuke. A short yanagiba can be used as a utility knife, and of course is readily available from anyone who sells Japanese knives.

But a petty shouldn't be hard to find. I picked up one from Aritsugu Kyoto for $50, and they're not known for cheap.
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Well, 'hut, dill, Chris, I'm now more confused than ever before--not that these are not all great knives. I'm just wondering about if I'm going to force a knife to perform beyond its intended design.

First, my wife has the kitchen laid out pretty much for her convenience. We've lived in this house just short of ten years and still have to ask the location of the sauce pan. Hey, it's a great system, she's afraid to touch the Harley...

That said, any new knife I buy for the kitchen has to be assimilated into that overall plan. For example, I once sharpened a client's deba, and my wife thought it was an overweight meat cleaver. The Hattori, on the other hand, became "hers" in a flash.

I like your ideas on size for home use. Granted, I'm not a chef, but for routine household cooking duties I find I can along with a five-inch knife quite well.

As for sharpening, I'm hoping that my final choice will have an edge that can withstand contact with bones, possible chipping, lateral twists and other indignities. While many of you prefer a nakiri thinned even more aggresively than mine, a fine edge will die a gruesome death in our kitchen.

A petite knife, re-profiled to about 15 degrees (that's 30 included) might actually function for my intended purpose. And it may also work in other areas, which I like.
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