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Looking for some japanese knife info - Page 2

post #31 of 80
Both, actually.

That knife is sort of an all-arounder. In the Asian vernacular it's a "wa-gyuto." All that means is "cow knife." Think of it as a Swiss Army Knife for food.

But my wife runs her entire kitchen with a knife like that, but hers is a tad shorter.
post #32 of 80
Chico, I don't mean to be rude, but it isn't a "wa-gyuto" in any vernacular or language. If you want to get all Japanese about it, it's a yo-gyuto. That means it's a gyuto with a western handle. Wa-gyuto have Japanese handles, different tangs, and (often but not always) what appears to be a small notch between the handle and the topline called a machi and is really a continuation of the tang (nakago).

You did translate gyuto correctly. I've heard speculation about how "cow sword" or "cow knife" came to mean "chef's knife" but no theory seemed to come with better indicia of reliability than any other. I'm currently agnositc but Chris may know something I don't.

Most Japanese manufactured chef's knives are French, as opposed to German, profiles -- especially along the edge. However a number of gyuto have longer toplines, followed by a short-radius curved drop to a low point -- similar to awestern sheep's foot profile or kamagata usuba -- as opposed to the classic French spear point. On the other hand, there are a fair number of spear points as well.

post #33 of 80
Thread Starter 
Really, by the description and my very basic knowledge base of kitchen knives at this point I can't really tell you anything by looking at it. The handle in the pic I posted looks most comfortable, but when they describe a knife as having 31 layers, or one ultra hard core with soft cladding, I understand the idea of the functionality of the process and materials, but I really can't go 'ahhh...yes, that does look the best of the options', which is really what I come to you guys asking. Most of the knives I look at in Japan wood worker and other sites look like good quality professional knives, I don't know how to tell between them to know what is the best fit for me, so I can't really do any looking through them and come up with anything constructive. If there are specific questions I can try to supply the answers to, I'd love to so that we can hopefully point me towards what will fit me best and leave me satisfied with a very functional blade for a long time to come. I just sadly don't know how to go about that beyond asking the willing to lead me as far as possible.
post #34 of 80
Well, yes. You're not alone, either.

Do you want a 31 layer, suminagashi cladding? You do if you really like the pattern. If you don't care one way or the other, or prefer a plainer knife, there are better choices. The knife aesthetic which pleases you best, and the relative importance of cosmetic and utilitarian considerations are things which you need to tell us -- as you volunteered below.

From the little I've heard, the knife in the picture you posted is a pretty good knife at a pretty price. It's chief claim to fame seems to be the diagonal cut of the bolster which echoes the bolster shape of Misono's UX-10. It is no UX-10 though (more about the UX-10 in another post).

Again, you're not alone. Japan Wood Worker has a fairly well chosen selection. So do Epicurean Edge, Japanese Chef Knife, and Korin to name a few other dealers (and increase the number of confusing choices).

I expect the particular knife you were looking at, at 7-1/2" was too small and too small a handle to be your go-to gyuto. There are a number of choices which make better sense from an ergonomic standpoint.

The "best" word is troublesome. The best I can do is discuss some good choices. Some will be better than others, but there is no best, not even a best for you.

At the end of the day you're going to be choosing according to your own priorities regarding looks, price, steel type, whether you're partial to the handle, and so on. There will always be some guess work involved, but there would be just as much (or maybe almost as much or maybe even more) guesswork if you had the opportunity for a typical in-store demo. You don't really know that much about a knife until you've used it for a few weeks and sharpened it a couple of times.

At the end of the day, all we can hope for is to limit your selections to a pool in which there are only good choices. For what it's worth, that's very doable. Try not to be impatient. I've written the same, very long, "Part I" of an even longer post, three times -- only to lose it to one computer black hole or another. I'm not sure if I have the energy to finish writing it one more time or not tonight. But hold tight for a little longer.

post #35 of 80
Thread Starter 
Aye, I certainly don't expect anything close to 'best' until I am far more experienced in my knifework letting me know what I want and expect out of a knife, and more about knives themselves so that I can more properly understand the difference between them. I just hope with this investment that I will get something that will be functionally adequate and satisfy my general needs for a goodly amount of time. In the end at this point of my career I do expect my ultimate choice to be a guess, I just hope it to be more educated than seeing 10-20 knives or more on the table and knowing that they're all 'good'. I may need to ultimately select something based on saving 50$ and liking the finish better, but what can you do?

Aye, I'm hoping more 8-9". 10" feels too long, but I want something more all purpose. Some meat work, vegetable chopping, and various other general tasks. I don't expect amazing top quality in my knife, but something that is indeed good, obviously relative to my price range of preferably 100-150, possibly up to 200, and fitting my sharpening capacity and budget.

Anything else I can do to narrow this to reduce the large degree of guess work possible, I am very eager to do.
post #36 of 80
Ya' know, it's beginning to sound more like you're looking for a "system" of implements that enhance your level of cooking. I'm wondering if we're even discussing the same knife.

Maybe it's "knives"?

I do know some very serious food hobbyists that purchase a good quality (but not a top end) mid-size santoku and a decent paring knife.

Heck, in that regard you could buy some Pampered Chef products (for under 100 bucks) and happily work for years until you develop a more refined path.
post #37 of 80
Thread Starter 
Aye, I do already own both of those, and will switch knives depending on what I want, but still lack a chefs knife.
post #38 of 80
Okay, that pretty much solves the problem.

I believe JWW sells good stuff at fair market prices and has an admirable customer service track record. If not, I wouldn't rep for them.

(BTW, I get no commission for saying that. You can easily buy their products over the phone or on the 'net. I service only those folks within 1/2 of a tank of gas from my home.)

Go to their gyuto selection, and select a few examples pertaining to size, price and alloy.

Then call their number, punch the #1, and talk to anyone who answers the phone. I know them all, and they are all knowledgeable and polite. Tell them your concerns, and ask more detailed questions.

You'll have an excellent knife in about four days.
post #39 of 80
Thread Starter 
Much appreciated Tourist :) Is there a way to net you a commission, however, if I do decide to purchase from them? If anyone gets one I wouldn't mind it heading your way.
post #40 of 80
I appreciate the sentiment, however several years ago I made the decision to never use forums for part of my business.

I hate guys who get a real estate license and then bother everyone at family reunions.

I'm here for light-hearted debate. That's all.
post #41 of 80
Thread Starter 
Understood, and respected.

In the next few days I'll likely call them, now that I'm mostly recovered (but have a cold...more down time still. It's been a summer of injuries, ER/chiropractor visits and surgery) I need to put some solid time into my online businesses. Afterwards I'll post up what came out of the call.
post #42 of 80
I hear ya' cuz it's about the same here. My wife had some surgery, and she's been run-down. As a teacher she catches every little bug from her kids. We thought she had flu or food poisoning this past week.

Try banging some black iron, even if it's a little bit for a short time. It hurts and it gives you something to hate.;)

I hit it so hard last week that I strained something under my left delt. There's not much I can do about society, so I take it out on striated red muscle.
post #43 of 80
Thread Starter 
I've actually been a body builder for about 6-7 years now (assuming that's what you refer to), which has been part of the frustration of this summer. I was getting into the best physical health of my life with a new lifestyle including better food and more time for exercise (long bad relationships can mess up your lifestyle), but then came a lower back muscular injury of unknown origin, a slipped disk in my lower back, and then the first actual exercise injury: tearing my neck and right shoulder a bit during a pullup (apparently looking left is a terrible thing to do during this movement!). So aye, soon as I stop being sick I will be getting back to it and I think my injuries are actually all healed enough that I can run (instead of just bike) for the first time in months, and while I wont be deadlifting for another 6 months, I'll be hitting the weights again shortly.

Despite my cold, I find myself quite awake so have put some more forum reading and research into the matters at hand. Thinking about my particular situation, what limited bits I have gleaned from the websites selling these knives (intending on doing some forum crawling and review reading on them, but posting up my thoughts here), as well as the suggestions made on this forum to other members and in discussion, all bringing me to focus on 4 particular chefs knives.

Masamoto HC 210mm
Misono UX 210mm
Mac Pro 8.5”

Hiromoto G no. 3 210mm

If at all possible I'd love to get all of your thoughts, those of whom are familiar with these models. I am hoping to find details on the materials used for their blades, how this affects performance, what maintenance measures and skill levels are required in their care, any other important information about them, and whatever possible qualitative assessment between them might be given for my situation (by the way I forget if I mentioned but I probably have in the range of medium sized hands). I hope to weasel much of this elsewhere as well, but these are what has caught my attention most, granted if anyone thought that there was another blade that surpassed these in some noticeable way around the 160 or below range (that being what I have initially found these listed for) I would certainly be open to hearing about it.

Again, I thank you all for the effort and time you have expended on my behalf.
post #44 of 80
No prob. As long as you remember I am not a cutler. My views on knives are much like the experiences perceived by a "jailhouse attorney." That is, I accumulate knowledge by doing everything wrong.:lol:

This would be my pick for a personal and prejudiced reason. Having said that, I have never used one in a prelonged and professional setting. I hope a professional chef jumps into this fray. I can buff the edge, but the pro has to sling it.

Well, much like the title "polisher," I am not a body builder--I just steal the same ideas and tools. I lift weights. I'm never going to make the cover of GQ, but I enjoy being a strong old fudd. It's nice to be able to move your own motorcycle. Young pups don't bother me either. (Perhaps they don't want me to fall and break a hip, who knows.)

A personal trainer at my gym has drawn up an in-house version of that P90X idea, which is a slant on the old "Weider Muscle Confusion Technique." Trust me, even after all these years it hurts like ****, and to add, the Gaunlet Stairs are clearly the Seventh Circle of ****.

Never dismiss the value of the mental benefits of lifting. Even in my circle of angry young men I am known as the jokester. But the one bad thing I inherited from my Dad was a mercurial temper. Sometimes (like when I cannot solve a client's problem), I ruminate, beat myself up, play the "tape recording" over and over in my head, and worry too much.

A trip to the gym, intense enough to soak your T-shirt, a long hot shower, and some decent tunes on drive home work wonders. When my wife was ill this past winter I was a lost soul. "Prayer and black iron."
post #45 of 80
Thread Starter 
Aye, it has always been an immensely cathartic activity for me. Being able to change yourself to fit your own goals, seeing the immense amounts I can lift, and just the sheer enjoyment of it. My type of personality is strongly centered around mastery. Not competitiveness, but getting as good as I can get at everything I do, so improving myself through a complicated skill definitely has the appeal! I'm also not looking to be a competition bodybuilder, I've gotten the bulk I want, and mostly work on strength, conditioning, and at this point recovery...

I also had similar anger/temper issues from my father, but I spent a significant chunk of time working on those, and now am the most laid back person I know, and have been for some years. It has served me very well, but I certainly know how that goes.

Aye, the Masamoto may be the best knife of the lot, though I may decide to go against starting with carbon, despite the quality of the blade, because of my inexperience. I want a nice blade, but we'll see.
post #46 of 80
I still have to work on mine. In the forums, I just put the clown on 'ignore.' If you never start to sizzle you never get out of control. The nice feature about that is the "ignored" doesn't know it and talks to himself for a few days until the light comes on.:D

Hmmm. I don't think your list really had a bad choice. Like any other endeavor you have to spend time on the learning curve.
post #47 of 80
Thread Starter 
Aye, the learning curve is something I am certainly taking into consideration, which is as mentioned part of why I may stay away from carbon for now, and I do have the old set of ordinary kitchen knives that I will practice sharpening on and if they can hold a good edge after I'm done with them, perhaps I can use those as needed if I feel it necessary.
post #48 of 80

Things to Consider, Part I


At the end of the day, we can’t give you more than a selection of knives, some information about how and why we chose them, and some information about you can best make your own, final decision.
Let's look at five “catch-all” characteristics which allow us to distinguish one knife from another: Ergonomics (including blade profile); Blade Quality (steel alloy); Fit and Finish; and Cosmetics.


Huge subject which includes handle profile, handle size, weight, blade profile, and sometimes balance.

The most common advice for would be knife purchasers is to go to a brick and mortar store and try the knife – to whatever extent the store allows. I don’t disagree with this in principle, but believe it’s highly overrated. You’ll get a sense of why I think so as we get a little deeper into the subject.


For obvious reasons, longer knives tend to have their balance point (COG) “blade forward,” while shorter knives have it “handle back.” The only two major manufacturers who currently attempt to maintain a particular COG throughout their lines are Gude and Global. Gude designs their Viking line to balance way back. Globals are designed to be dead neutral. That said, a bolster tends to create a more neutral COG than otherwise.

It’s a bit of tangential but interesting that a few manufacturers, most notably Furi with its “Coppertail” series, use a soft metal butt plate on their chef’s knives with the idea that as metal is lost from the blade through sharpening, the particular knife’s balance can be retained by losing metal from the plate.

Balance makes a huge difference in how a knife feels in the store and is commonly one of the most important factors in choosing when buying at a brick and mortar. Too bad. The truth is that most full-tang chef’s knives/gyutos in your chosen length range of 8” to 10” balance very close to the bolster. And, excepting hugely imbalanced knives (one more reason to stay away from 12” knives except for specialty purposes) wherever your go-to gyuto balances -- you’ll get used to it pretty quickly. This is especially true if you pinch grip – which allows substantial flexibility in the COG/grip pivot point.

Pinch grip. Hmmm. Good knife technique doesn’t absolutely require an academically perfect pinch grip. But it does require that you hold your chef’s knife in some way so your knuckles face out instead of down, towards the board. Unfortunately, the pinch grip and other “proper” grips aren’t intuitive; they’re learned and require some practice to feel natural.

On the same hand, the two most intuitive grips are “baseball” and “index finger on the spine.” (Parenthetically (by all means note the parentheses, “finger on the spine” is frequently used, even by people with mad skilz, for slicing and decorative work.) Anyway, at least for chopping, “baseball” and “finger” get the knuckles “improperly” oriented. There are several consequences. Users typically create extra clearance for their knuckles by orienting the knife on the board in such a way the handle (and the user’s knuckles) extends beyond the bottom of the board. This usually ends up with food off the board on the floor.

Handle Profile

More germane to our discussion, the handle becomes incredibly important. They use the whole hand – so large handed users require larger and longer handles. Users tend to squeeze their knives hard, which favors formed grips (Wusthof Ikon), rounded grips (Shun and “wa”), and also makes aiming the point difficult – which favors shorter knives. For those and for several other reasons, balance points and handle shapes become increasingly important as you get farther away from “correct” grips.

At any rate, it should be clear the questions of how you hold a knife and whether you’re willing to learn a new way is very important to choice.
There’s nothing magic about the “pinch grip,” per se. I know a few people with wonderful skills using other grips – but all of them utilize a thumb/forefinger pinch as the pivot point of the grip. Whatever. The better your grip, the more adaptable it’s going to be to a variety of handles.

So, if you use a baseball or finger grip a short or slender handle will not suit – especially if you have large hands. There are a few otherwise wonderful knives to cross of your list. Most notably, Hiromoto AS and Hiromoto G no. 3.

post #49 of 80
Thread Starter 
As noted, I do use pinch grip, and have medium sized hands about, so those aren't huge worries for me with handle profile. And as noted I am mostly looking for specific info about the knife that doesn't present itself in the pictures themselves and the very brief description, such as that I don't understand the virtues, and any potential drawbacks involved in the alloys used and the manner in which they were constructed beyond the basic attributes of a high-carbon blade.
post #50 of 80
I'm not really sure anyone could find drawbacks in simple daily use. No other than Mick Strider himself opined that no one but a savvy metallurgist could discern the differences in alloys like BG-42 and S30V. For the most part, I agree.

Many of what we refer to as "super steels" are simply high carbon, low chromium alloys with a proper HT. We have sort of created the idea of "uber steels" with advanced HT procedures in ZDP-189 and particle technology as in CPM-154CM.

In fact, after 20 years of sharpening, all I can say for sure is that particle alloys feel "creamier" during sharpening and high chromium knives produce gleaming bevels during aggressive buffing.

For all of the nostalgic talk about carbon steels, they feel 'muddier' and produce a horrid mess on the stones. Realistically, they are not sharper than stainless.

In my hand right now I have a 13 dollar Boker folder made from modern 440C. By 'modern' it appears as it has a higher chromium content and a good HT. It sharpened like a razor, and it has been touched up with three paste and glass buffs.

It is so sharp that I would not hand it over to a newb or a careless individual. There is no doubt in my mind that such people would seriously--and certainly--slice themselves. There is no carbon knife I know of that is keener, hands down.
post #51 of 80
Thread Starter 
Mostly with the drawbacks, I am looking for the specifics of any differences between the method of construction and material of the knives, such as if knife X has 32 layers of steel, what does this mean to me? Will this retain its edge longer, or because of the material its more rust and corrosion resistant, etc. The knives I have listed all look like excellent knives, and when I find reviews online most of them are receiving top marks on everything, so I have no decider aside from price and aesthetics at the moment. I am mostly looking at the Mac Pro and the Misono UX-10, but I really don't know what differences there will be between the two besides the price and what I can tell from looking at it.
post #52 of 80
Some, but not all, Japanese knives are made of two to many layers of steel or steel and iron forge welded together. The steel which goes to the cutting edge is called the hagane, the iron or steel protecting it is called the jigane.

When it comes to gyutos with the suminagashi (like damascus) pattern on both sides like Hattori and Shun the number of layers making up the pattern has no direct effect on performance. For that matter, the pattern itself has no effect on performance either, it's entirely cosmetic. Setting aside the pattern, many gyutos are made with three layers of lamination -- soft stainless, plain or patterned, on the outside, and a harder steel, better suited for the edge, in the center. This is called san-mai (three layers), warikomi (thrust between) or han-warikomi (loosely translated as good warikomi).

Most of the benefits of san-mai construction go to the manufacturer. For a lot of reasons, san-mai construction saves on costs and waste. However there are some benefits. For instance, when the hagane is high carbon or semi-stainless, the stainless steel cladding makes maintenance simpler by preventing corrosion on the blade body, and slowing it slightly (via electrolysis) on the edge.

The san mai construction also allows the manufacturer to make knives with a variety of forge welded patterns on both sides. The most popular pattern is suminagashi, already mentioned. In your price range, the steel manufacturer makes the suminagashi jigane, forge welds it to both sides of the hagane, and sells it to the knife maker as in the form of sheets or blanks. The number of layers typically indicates the quality of the knife. So, even though it's has no actual bearing on quality, it's an indirect indication of quality.

Manufacturers like to claim that san-mai construction makes sharpening very hard hagane easier. It does, but not by much. Don't fall in love with PM (powdered metallurgical), die, ball bearing, or high speed steels hardened above 61HrC. They're way too difficult at your current level of sharpening expertise.

I already talked about this a little, and bring it up again only to caution against overrating the degree to which cladding prevents corrosion at the edge.

I've also noticed that you've decided to stay away from carbon. It's a good decision because you've limited the number of knives you need to analyze before deciding. However you've given sharpening issues as your reason, and that's a mistake. High carbon steels sharpen more easily and have better all-around edge qualities than similarly priced stainless. The only drawback is corrosion and the extra care required to prevent it.

The MAC Pro and the Misono UX-10 are both excellent knives. Neither knife is laminated, both are "single steel." Neither MAC nor Misono says exactly which steels they use. As an educated guess the MAC Pro series are made with Takefu VG-2. The UX-10 series are made with one of two Sandvik steels: 19C27 or 13C26. Opinion is split, but I guess 13C26 because of the extreme sharpness which can be obtained.

The Misono UX-10 is extremely well made to a very high level of fit and finish. In my opinion it is one of the best (western handled) knives in the world at any price. (Although it wouldn't be one of my top choices for myself).

The UX-10 is made with a very streamlined, distinctive profile, including a rather short choil. If you like your knuckles high off the board, it's not the knife for you. That said, the edge profile is very French (as opposed to German) and very agile. Point placement falls betwen French (midline) and Japanese (low) and is very useful. The knife is made with an appropriate distal temper.

The handle is excellent. One of the best western handles available anywhere.

The blade is extremely well made, with definite distal tapering (gets narrower towards the tip and end of the handle). The blade is on the narrow side; it's fair to say it can be a bit "whippy." Although it's not fragile, this wouldn't be your choice for splitting gourds, chicken keel bones, or similar difficult cuts.

The blade steel is a good balance of strength and toughness. (Strength is its ability to resist bending -- like rolling and waving. Toughness is it's ability to resist breaking. Put another way, strong steels break before they bend while tough steels bend before they break. These qualities are often seen as mutually exclusive, but the best modern knife steels combine them. Also, Rockwell Hardness is often seen as a synonym for strength. Iin a way it is; but big caveat here, HrC numbers can be very misleading.

In terms of the nominal edge qualities...

Edge taking: The Misono takes an extremely good edge, but is not a particularly easy to sharpen.

Edge holding: Excellent wear resistance. Excellent resistance to rolling and waving. If the knife is sharpened to a symmetrical edge it can be rod honed (aka steeled), but rod honing should only be done with good skills, a light touch and appropriate hones (hard and fairly fine), or it will be counter-productive.

The MAC Pro is a wonderful knife. It's my first choice for people stepping up to their first, high quality, Japanese gyuto who want to keep the costs out of the stratosphere.

The quality which most sets the MAC Pro apart is its stoutness. It is absolutely the stiffest Japanese chef's knife I've ever used -- something you'll appreciate when smashing garlic. It's stiffness doesn't come at the expense of weight either. It is quite light and nimble. On the other hand, it's not a chef de chef. When it comes to splitting lobsters, hacking through chicken bones, or other heavy-duty tasks, reach for something else.

Since you already have a lot of other knives, that shouldn't be a problem for you.

Fit and finish is quite good, although not quite up to UX-10 standards. MAC's handle, like the UX-10, is almost universally loved. both are roomy, comfortable for almost any hand size or grip, and well made.

The Pro can be made very sharp, if not quite as sharp as the UX-10. Honestly though, I doubt if your sharpening skills are at the point where you could tell any difference between the knives; and unless you make a hobby out of sharpening they probably never will be. Plus, a Pro is easier to sharpen than a UX-10. And that is something you'll appreciate as soon as you've learned to draw a wire.

The Pro is a little thicker than the UX-10 -- which is quite thin. Consequently, the Pro can benefit from a little thinning while the UX-10 works perfectly fine with a flat bevel. In my experience, the Pro can be made to perform as sharp as a UX-10 with a 15* edge bevel over a 10* secondary bevel. That's just a heads up for now, you won't be doing double bevels for awhile. But no worries, a MAC Pro properly sharpened to a flat 15* edge bevel will be far sharper than anything you've ever used.

The Pro has a very European, French profile. I think it's fantastically useful and intuitively easy to use. The choil is higher than a UX-10 (meaning better knuckle clearance). However, compared to a UX-10 the Pro is homely.

Edge taking: Excellent, both in terms of the quality of the edge and ease of making it. In fact, you can sharpen a MAC on Arkansas stones. Edge holding: Also excellent, both in terms of wear and deformation -- although the UX-10 is slightly better both ways. The MAC steels more easily, with far fewer idiosyncracies than the UX-10.

In the compare and contrast between Pro and UX-10 it's fair to say that although each would give you excellent service, they're not quite in the same class. The UX-10 is a little more of a statement and a little less of a workman's knife.

Some other knives you might want to consider in the same class as the UX-10 are Ikkanshi Tadatsuna, MAC Ultimate, Hattori FH and Masamoto HC (carbon).

Running in more or less the same class as the MAC Pro, are Sakai Takayuki Grand Cheff, Togiharu G-1, Hiromoto G no. 3, and Masamoto VG, in stainless. In carbon there's Misono Sweden, Togiharu Virgin, Kikuichi Elite, Masamoto CT, and several Sabatiers.

Personally, I use old Sabatiers. If I were replacing them today with other western handled knives I'd have to choose between Masamoto HC and Ikkanshi Tadatsuna.

I should add that MAC has a very strong U.S. presence, that MAC USA will provide excellent support and service down the road, and is probably the best of all of the Japanese companies in that sense.

Hope this helps,

PS. If you want to more about either the MAC Pro or the Misono UX-10, ask. If you want to know about any of the knives I've mentioned, ask. If you have questions about other Japanese knives, ask. I may or may not have the answers for you, but Chico and I are not the only people reading your questions.
post #53 of 80
How, and where, do we pay the "tuition charge"? ;)

BDL, the TOURIST, and others, the educaton you are providing is priceless!
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #54 of 80
I appreciate the sentiment.

However, I tell everyone the same thing.

Every stone, fixture, paper, paste and glass I own was purchased from internet suppliers. Every stitch of "book learnin' " I have is from easily accessible Japanese history books. I talk to Ben Dale a lot. The best sharpener in the western hemisphere is Dwade Hawley. I seek his counsel.

Oh, and I broke stuff for over two decades...
post #55 of 80
Thread Starter 
First off, I must also agree completely with the sentiments laid down by Pete. Regardless of where and how you gathered this information, it is exactly what I am looking for, which I have not been able to find elsewhere online, and I have yet had the time to get to my local libraries and book stores for knife forging and care resources. I do Highly appreciate your help and knowledge. I was seeking professional assistance, and that’s what I have found, so thank you (and definitely not just BDL, but all of you).

If I said that directly, it wasn’t what I believe I actually meant. I mostly see the maintenance required as an additional variable where by I could possibly damage the blade by my ignorance and inexperience in knife care, despite my ongoing research and learning. That and I did need to narrow it down somehow..

So the main things I pick out from your excellent descriptions of these two knives is that:
-Both knives in many ways are similar and are excellent knives for their blades and handles.
-However, the Misono UX, while perhaps of a superior quality and blade does have some restrictions in its use the Mac pro may not have (though I don’t take issue with this),
-and is harder to sharpen (certainly a weighty consideration at this point, indeed probably the biggest).

To further complicate this, though, I have found the Misono for about 155 at the lowest, usually closer to 200 (at the 210mm range). Does anyone know where to find a new, not from private seller, source for the blade at a lower cost so as to tempt me more towards it?

So, as it comes down the Mac Pro has an excellent handle, and, at the least, quite a good blade with good blade retention and sharpness. It is a very reasonable price (I think I saw $120 for an 8.5” gyuto), and is not too bad to sharpen. Also it does have domestic support on hand, which is something I certainly value. It looks like it covers my needs and situation very well (even if it isn’t dead gorgeous like the UX-10!). So this brings me to a couple questions about this line in particular. I just walked in the door prior to reading this post and arrived to receive my King combination 1000/250 water stone. Once I learn how to properly use the thing… is this an acceptable stone to use on the Mac Pro? Also I know, naturally, only a bit about the various steels that exist. This I will be researching as well, but what kind of steel would a good fit to use on a Mac Pro? The steel I have has a largely broken handle and comes with the old set I intend to inflict my sharpening practice upon.

While this knife does look like it could easily be ‘the one’, I must ask if there is any knife around this tier, including blades with some manner of high-carbon, that really holds something above the Mac Pro? The Misono Swedish steel models catch the eye a bit in being high-carbon and being at a good price.

(By the way, what is the proper care for a high-carbon blade to help stop rusting? Just ensuring immediate cleaning and proper dry storage? Or is there something more?) Also, what improvements are made in the Mac Ultimate range? General higher quality, or are they particularly different in material or method? (granted it is regrettably beyond what I can justify spending on my chefs knife at this time, including most in that tier)

Again, your assistance, and everyone else that has helped has been so useful. Online reviews and other material I am finding just really doesn’t cover my questions.
post #56 of 80
I also believe at some point you have to "scratch with the big chickens." You will have to buy a knife, and you will have to use some form of abrasive tool (and ideology) to make it sharp.

Now granted, we don't put a newb in a tricked out Porsche and say, "Son, that's the clutch, don't hit anything expensive." However, we will at some point have to teach him how to let out that clutch.

You will have to gather up some cheap broken knives and try out a few methods for sharpening. And not all ideologies work with all knives, or even the class of "kitchen knives." The same basic method used in sharpening camp knives, axes and chisels are probably not the best for nakiris.

I am a believer in the apprentice system. Carpenters use it, so do plumbers, cutlers, and mechanics. When we use the phrase "factory trained," we are actually harkening back to a time where a master craftsman taught hands-on about tools and procedures.

I once joked with a friend that you know you've become a tinker when you can recognize the grit of polishing paste by the taste. Overall, there's more truth than poetry in that comment.

The only way to achieve the fine art of splattering yourself with polishing compounds is to do a lot of sharpening.:lol:
post #57 of 80
Glad I could be of some help.

That's a very fair summary.

I doubt you'll find it much cheaper. If you ultimately decide on the Misono, I suggest buying it through Korin. Korin provides very good sales and follow up service, and has a price matching policy. Also, their "resident sharpener" is excellent -- although some of his sharpening advice is screwy.

It's a pro's knife in every way.

The first few questions about "which waterstone" and/or "this is my first stone ..." are complicated because the subject is so interdynamic and nuanced. King is the largest waterstone manufacturer in Japan and they make a LOT of stones. A few are excellent, a lot fall in the range of very good to adequate and some are pretty crappy. In the greater scheme, as a matter of quality, your stone is okay.

Personally (for you, not me), your combination stone is pretty much one sided. You'll use the 1000# side a lot; first to learn to sharpen then to actually sharpen your knives. A grit as coarse as 250# is reserved for repair and profiling. In fact, it cuts so fast that it profiles -- whether you want to or not, and whether you know how to create or retain a profile or not. You can do a lot of damage with a 250#, and ought to hold off using it unitl you can hold a constant angle and have mastered "the magic marker trick."

I know you're in a hurry to fix all your old knives and thereby develop your sharpening skills. It's a good plan and not at all unreasonable. Start another thread and we'll get into it.

MAC markets an excellent ceramic steel under their own name, the MAC Black. It's an excellent fine ceramic hone, and far more break resistant than others. It's drawback is that it's expensive and, at 10.5" a little on the short side. That's long enough for an 8" knife though, if you're going to keep to that limit.

The best value and single best performing steel for almost all knives is the Idahone 12" fine ceramic. It's relatively inexpensive, and widely available. You can't bounce it off the floor though.

There aren't really any special issues regarding using a steel with the MAC Pro, but there are with most Misonos, including the UX-10. The Misono factory bevel is around 70/30 asymmetric, 15* flat on both sides. That's really on the outer edge of asymmetry for steeling. So, if you're in a situation where you want to use a steel rather than constantly prepping a stone and going to it for a "touch up," it's a good idea to reprofile the knife to 60/40 or 50/50. Those profiles won't have quite the same initial sharpness (call it a 5% difference, just to get an idea), but hold up better and need less frequent maintenance. And the maintenance is simpler.

Interesting question.

There's no perfect knife, there are always trade offs. As I said earlier, one of the outstanding attributes of the MAC 10 is it's stiffness. If you don't require that, there are a number of stainless knives just as good and maybe slightly better in the same price range. I've had a little experience with the Sakai Takayuki Grand Cheff and thought it had excellent ergonomics, plus it's very easy to sharpen. (That is, it's easy to sharpen as these things go -- sharpening is sharpening. You still have to learn to do it, and the Grand Cheff won't make it any easier. Once you know how, an easy sharpening knife will take less time and drama., that's all.) Anyway, the Grand Cheff is made with an excellent alloy called AEB-L. AEB-L is made in Sweden by Uddeholm and is identical to another Swedish steel, Sandvik 13C26. I said eariler that I thought the UX-10 was (also) made of 13C26 but some of the edge taking and holding qualities of the Grand Cheff and UX-10 are different. I attribute that to hardening. The GC is hardened to 58HrC, the UX-10 to around 61HrC.

I like the Masamoto VG quite a lot -- in fact I like nearly all Masamotos quite a lot -- but it's definitely on the flexible side if that matters to you. The Togiharu G-1 is essentially a clone of the Masamoto VG, in fact it's probably made by the same people in the same factory starting with the same blanks. You save a few bucks with the Tog, but get slightly lower F&F and a slightly smaller and less good handle. That said, of the three, all-round, wonder steels (VG-10, AEB-L/13C26, G3) VG-10 is my least favorite. But the differences are very slight (even to me) and are probably mostly imaginary.

The Hiromotos, both the G no. 3 and AS may be of some interest to you. The G no. 3 is made from Hitachi G3 while the AS is warikomi with Hitachi Aogami Super (high carbon). Other than the steel, they're identically designed. Hiromoto F&F is good, but not great; and their handles are a bit on the slender side. The AS is a very popular knife for people stepping up to their first good Japanese knife. It's an extremely good looking knife, too. Well, it's a very good knife -- as good as the MAC Pro, the GC, the Masamoto VG, and the Tog G-1 in its own way. But ultimately it's a little disappointing in that AS in san-mai construction is not any better than a few other alloys. On the other hand, the G no. 3 has a wonderful lively feel to it.

Full disclosure: We owned a few Hiromoto AS for a few months in 2007, and ultimately passed them on.

Carbon is a much bigger subject. Generally -- and with all of the following knives -- carbon takes a sharper edge, takes it more easily, and better combines the virtues of toughness and strength.

To my mind there's one knife at the very top of the heap, and quite a few in the level immediately beneath it.

The Masamoto HC is a great knife. There's not one thing not to like about it. In fact, what's outstanding about Masamotos in general is not anything outstanding, but the lack of anything wrong. As they say in France, comme il faut.

At the next level: Misono Sweden, Kikuichi Elite, Togiharu Virgin (probably the same steel as the HC, but slightly less good ergonomics), Masamoto CT (slightly less good steel than the HC), K-Sabatier au carbone Antique, Thiers Issard ****Elephant Sabatier, Thiers-Issard "Nogent" Sabatier, and a few of the Canadian/Massif Sabatiers sold by either TI or K-Sab.

(Full disclosure again: I own and currently use at least a couple of all of the Sabatiers listed -- with the partial exception of the Canadian/Massifs which I techinically own, and used to use exclusively, but my daughter currently has posession and uses them.)

The distinctions between the Japanese knives at this level are very slight but real. If you're seriously interested choose a couple and I'll try and unravel them for you. Bottom line though, if you like any of them you'll like all of them about the same.

The Sabatiers are very different from the Japanese knives, and vary more from one to another too. But in general ... They're lighter than German knives, heavier than the Japanese -- just light enough to be both non-fatiguing. The knife blade profile is perfect. Better than anything else. Handles -- great. And so on.

French carbon is considerably softer than Japanese, still the knives can hold fairly acute bevels -- for instance, I sharpen to 60/40 slightly more acute than 15*. They steel very well -- which is a good thing because they need so much more of it than a Japanese knife would. They're very chip resistant -- you can even split the odd chicken without fear (although if you're going to do several you'll want your chef de chef).

French carbon can be made very nearly as sharp as Japanese carbon, and much, much sharper than German stainless.

Still, the principle reasons I continue to use my French knives is sentiment and the fact that I already own them and have organized the rest of my knife junk around them.

There are two basic paths. One is to prevent staining (aka patina) and other sorts of corrosion (including rust) from forming. The second is to force a patina, then maintain it.

For the first: Rinse frequently; after every task, and sometimes in the middle of a task if you're cutting large amounts of particularly corrosive foods like onions or tomatoes (say for example, every four onions) and use a Scotch-Brite cloth to lightly scour it. When stains do form, scour them out as soon as you see them. Use a Scotch Brite to rub the knife down with baking soda at least every time you sharpen, and sometimes more frequently. Never leave the knife sitting around wet. Never leave the knife in the sink. The scouring will quickly take the "new blade" mirror finish off the knife and replace it with the dull glow of well-cared for tools. I have knives which have maintained that condition for decades.

For the second: I'm not an expert at patinas. But the idea is to soak the knife in some sort of solution which will cause it to oxidize without rusting. The layer of oxidation then protects the steel. Some solutions, for instance "mustard" can be used to create very intricate patterns. Patina or no, the knives still need frequent rinsing. But of course, they don't need any scouring.

Obviously you should keep the edge of any knife very clean -- and that usually resolves any corrosion issues. But nothing's perfect. You can always knock undesired corrosion off the edge by steeling or touching up on a stone. Just remember to clean your steel regularly.

The MAC Ultimate is made from a different, fairly exotic steel (VG-5, I think), is hardened to either 61 as opposed to 60 for the Pro, or 60 as opposed to 59 (I forget which), and is pretty much completely handmade by a couple of very skilled craftsmen. It is an all around much nicer knife than the Pro, BUT you won't get appreciably more performance out of it.

In that tier, you'd probably like the Hattori FH as much or more. Also, despite the fact that it's currently priced considerably lower than the Ultimate, the FH, the IKT, etc., the UX-10 belongs with them if only for its high levels of F&F.

Me? If I were spending my own money I'd go with the IKTwhich, price aside, is probably not a good choice for you; or more likely, the Masamoto HC which you is worth considering if you can deal with carbon.

post #58 of 80
Thread Starter 
Aye, I will have plenty of knives to practice sharpening on, and to be honest I could see myself getting quite into it out of sheer interest, above the actual practical functionality of it. Sadly, however, I don't believe I know anyone that can sharpen a kitchen knife, so I will have no mentor but what is written down.

Well the maintenance steps for high-carbon aren't too bad, I can certainly deal with that.

I am going to keep my budget lower at this point, more around the Mac Pro ~$120, and given this and your description of the hiromoto knives (indeed they are attractive knives), I would like a bit more info on them, in relation to the mac.

I'll likely get my hands on one of those sharpening steels before long, given that the one I have is essentially useless now.

As always, thanks for the great info BDL.
post #59 of 80
As much as we joke around on this issue, this is a problem that you must address. Either that or get ready to pay BDL and I some big bucks to fix your knives.

Now granted, I don't think chefs sharpen as much as they claim. Oh, the young ones might do it to save a few pennies, but most of the ones I've met cannot even steel. Alton Brown recommends you hire sharpeners. My guess is that Wolfgang Puck doesn't even know where his old waterstones are even stored.

But most of these guys know the basics, and they can discern a functional edge. And lots of top-flight chefs have signatures dishes where presentation is part of their art. They need the best knives available.

You're going to have to get a stone and learn.
post #60 of 80
Thread Starter 
Aye, I have the stone in hand, the knives to practice on, and by this weekend will have a book recommended around here (an edge in the kitchen I believe it was called) and will start sharpening.
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