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How sharp could it be? - Page 2

post #31 of 50
I'm guilty as charged!:lol: The most I've dropped on a single knife is $300, but I foresee exceeding that eventually (I've been lusting over this Tanaka for quite awhile, and one day I'll give in...). The bulk of my knives fall in the $100-$200 range. Obviously you can get decent knives somewhat cheaper but for me knives are as much a hobby as a kitchen tool.
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
post #32 of 50
a little more on BDL feedback:
hum, I'm seriously feeling attracted to some of those master pieces of japanese cutlery. The short time will not see me getting one of them, but this should come someday. For now, I'll be pragmatic, and go for what I need ( paring knife, knife care tools, and good training in sharpening ). Next will come the time for hobbying. I think it's being very lucky to be able to enjoy pieces of art, that also can be used on a daily basis in the kitchen. We're found of beautifull, usefull and efficient objects.

Well, I might live without a steel then. I have no heavy work to do with my knives, and I'm sure I'll always find 5mins to take the stone out and train my skills, sharpening or truing an edge :)

I meant that, but didn't have a clue on that part of knives anatomy . I recommand to the ones intersted in those details the Chad Ward article : Knife Maintenance and Sharpening - eG Forums . The article is full of interesting information about sharpening. Another inspiring source.

I should go for this one or just a little coarser anyway. I don't see myself doing too much profiling. If I'm ever in need of repairing, I should buy a coarser one at that time, as they are cheap and easy to find.

I think I'll really go insane and go on with the knife collection, and get myself a nice paring knife :D . I was thinking of another Sabatier Canadian massif, but with a different wood than african blackwood for the handle. This would personnalize the knife a little bit, and I already confirmed with the TI factory that this would be no problem .

I tried that yesterday, and it worked fine. I'm just not gonna be able to do it with the Sab, as the blade isn't wide enough for me to punch it safely .

@Phaedrus: we might all be the same ! It's good sometimes to just let it go. It's like everything else. When you like something, the sky might be the limit ... As I said earlier, some of those knives are masterpieces of craftmanship . There might not be any Picasso or Stradivarius at home (even though I deeply regret it ), but there might sometimes be a beautifull knife made by a traditional blacksmith senseï from Japan, devoted to his art and skill.
<-- ( romantism inside :D )

post #33 of 50
Don't get wound up about it. If you want a masterpiece, $180 isn't going to do it. And the chances that you will ever be able to tell the difference, in the cutting, between a masterpiece and a perfectly ordinary, serviceable, professional-grade knife are slim.

There are four single-beveled knife styles worth considering, if you're thinking about spending money and collecting and so forth: yanagiba, usuba, deba, kiritsuke.

Yanagiba: slicer for soft flesh, i.e. fish
Usuba: all-purpose vegetable/fruit knife
Deba: fish-butchering knife
Kiritsuke: all-purpose slicer

You do NOT want an usuba, unless you want it as a hobby. It's a nightmare to use, very expensive to purchase, hard to maintain, and strictly limited to vegetables.

You only want a deba if you're going to butcher your own fish, since that's about all it does.

If you're into collecting, don't bother with a kiritsuke, which is kind of a recent thing. You won't find much in the way of "masterpieces" of this style.

That leaves you with the yanagiba, which is basically not especially useful if you don't slice your own sashimi. It's also expensive, difficult to maintain, and very difficult indeed to "open" (to sharpen the first time). But because of the sushi revolution, every top maker produces these things.

Now what will a really good yanagiba cost you? Er... brace yourself.

When I was preparing to leave Japan, I decided, what the hey, and invested. I got a friend to help me buy a high-end knife through complicated means I won't explain but that entailed that the knife was sold without a brand name, drastically reducing the price. We have reason to think that this knife, if it had acquired its normal brand name, would have been sold as a Masamoto or Sakai Takayuki. It is blue #2 steel, top-notch within the realm of sanity (#1 steel is so expensive and difficult to work that it's very rarely used). I had a heavy Japanese oak (itchii) handle placed on it, to balance the 300mm blade. I had a hard-core expert crazy who's also a friend do the opening; his assessment is that this is one of the finest kasumi (2-layer bonded) yanagiba he's dealt with. Grand total, if I had bought this the way you would have to -- that is, off the shelf from Masamoto or somebody like that -- including the handle and opening, this knife would run you about $400-$500. (I didn't pay anything like that, before you ask.)

But you wanted a masterpiece, right? Okay, so you probably want an ebony handle, not itchii. You probably want honyaki, meaning it's solid steel rather than kasumi-bonded. Let's not fuss about #1 steel, which is just silly. And you want it from a top-notch maker, someone who really takes pride in his work and all that. How much?

Um, are you sure you want to know?

Off the rack, right now, you can buy one of these from Masamoto -- model HA0430K -- for the low, low price of...


Let's not worry about the roughly $50 for the opening. If you're dropping this kind of cash, $50 is nothing.

If you want to go down-market to Aritsugu Tokyo -- an extremely good brand without quite the cache of Masamoto -- you can have it for about $1400:

Pretty, huh?

Why am I telling you all this? Because the state of discourse in this thread has hung in the $100-$300 range, but you're talking about masterpieces of cutlery wonderfulness. And I want to indicate that for masterpieces, this price range is off by a factor of 10!

Now I should wrap up by just noting that in no case are we talking about an individual hand-made masterpiece, done by one master, just for you. In that case, assuming you could get someone of that kind to make such a knife for you, you're talking another factor of roughly 5 to 10, depending on who the maker is. On the other hand, knives from Masamoto, Sakai Takayuki, Aritsugu, and so on are basically handmade by individual craftsmen, but for contractual reasons, you will almost never know quite who those craftsmen are.

If you buy knives in this sort of class, upwards of $1000 and considered worth it by certain high-end pros in Japan, you'd better get awfully good with a sharpening stone. And you'd better plan to lay out for the best, too, because you want to protect your investment.

Of course, if you just want to CUT something, all this is pretty much pointless....
post #34 of 50
Hi Chris, and thanks for the feedback.

Fine to know what range of prices to expect when it comes to the kind of knife I was hoping to get sometimes .Actually, now that I got an idea of what it costs, I might never get one :( .

You're right. But to me, once you've decided to spend more than what a forshner could cost ( I say forshner because it seems optimum on the price/quality factor, but this could be any other knife of this type ), it means you're buying something more than an cutting tool. This is also when you cross some kind of subjective line where your ideas about knives will go far beyond the mer question of cutting food.
Those considerations of course might not be valid for professional chefs that will be judging knives from antoher point of view.

I take the point . I'm certainly too romantic, and wish I could find in smaller size and for too few bucks the kind of skill shown here for katana making :YouTube - fabrication katana part1
(please enjoy the video, it's a real delight if you can live with the samurai's lives reconstitution shots )

Anyway, I think I'll run in troubles soon:
Actually, as a vegetarian, this is the only knife of the four you name that makes sense for me to have ! I know about the nakiri ,but to me, if I go japanese, I'd rather go with two feet. Hollow back side , single bevel, hagane, those things sound like a poem to me !

Although you name the usuba a nighmare here, you didn't seem to always think so :D
. <-- from Usuba Argh! - Foodie Forums , you'll have recognized .
I think I'll be happy to walk the path to mastering it when I got one .

Also, and next on my wish list is the chinese cleaver. You might have some insight about this kind of knife to share !
Feedback about usuba and chinese cleaver will be greatly appreciated !

post #35 of 50
Aha! Now you're talking.

Strict vegetarian, eh? No use for fish knives? Perfect. You can save up and blow it on an usuba. You sound like just the kind of nut who will enjoy it. My kind of crazy! Pardon me if I tried to steer you away: I figured I was looking at a very unhappy combination, someone willing to spend a great deal on a knife who would then end up with something almost completely unusable. This is different.

Here's my suggestion. You'll like it.

When you decide you're flush, hunt around on the web for a kamagata usuba, 210mm, in your handedness (I hope you're a righty or OUCH!), made by Aritsugu or Masamoto. I just did a little search, and I'm getting Masamoto prices around $375. I didn't happen to spot anyone selling Aritsugus like this, but they list for about $100+ less than equivalent Masamotos. You want hon-kasumi, shiro-ko (white steel); in Masamoto, that means the KS0721, while Aritsugu's basic model number here is us011 and then you specify the length. Aritsugu doesn't do a distinction between kasumi and hon-kasumi, but that's a pretty fuzzy distinction anyway. Your ideal here would be to buy one gently used from a knife nut who's got it tuned up, but whatever. If it hasn't been opened (i.e. it's new), you'll have to pay someone to do that for you; I advise searching the hard-core knife forums -- Fred's Cutlery Forum is excellent -- to find someone who will take it on, but wait until you've placed your order.

A few remarks about what I'm suggesting here:

1. It's going to cost you about $400+ for Masamoto, and maybe $250+, even $300+, for Aritsugu. No, you won't have a super-duper-ultra-masterpiece, but you will have a very, very fine knife. Like butt-kicking sort of fine, the kind of thing high-end pros like.

2. You don't want honyaki at this stage: too expensive, too hard to maintain without an awful lot of practice. You don't want ao-ko (blue steel): it is less forgiving when it comes to chipping, and when you get started with an usuba you're going to need all the forgiving you can get.

3. You want kamagata: if you're going to get an usuba, get a proper one. The only guys who really live by these things any more are Kyoto kaiseki chefs, so get the kind they like. Tokyo -- blech. (okay, yes, I'm prejudiced -- still, the point on a kamagata is very useful)

4. You're going to need excellent sharpening stones, and unfortunately, usubas being usubas, you're going to need a pretty full set -- you're going to chip it. My favorite set happens to be 400 - 800 - 2000 Chocera, then some kind of high-grit polishing stuff at around 6000 and again 10,000. That set of Choceras will be pricey but not ludicrous; they get stupid-expensive when you go much above 2000. If you invest in these, and mostly keep your usuba sharp, you will rarely use anything lower than the 2000 -- mostly only when you've screwed up.

5. You would be well advised to make a habit of polishing the knife more or less daily on a very high-grit stone. Every serious pro who lives by the usuba does this, and I for one am not going to argue with them. Bear in mind, again, that these are exactly the knives a lot of those guys use 24/7.

6. Buy every book you can find on how to use the thing. You need all the help you can get, I assure you. I can give you some Japanese references -- ISBNs and stuff you can order from Amazon -- where you can follow along with the pictures, which are 95% of the books anyway. If you get friendly with a Japanese-trained Japanese-cuisine chef (note that both points matter a lot here), you may want to ask for advice and guidance; you may also find that your friend quickly redirects you to someone else, because the usuba is a dying art and not everyone, even Japanese-trained Japanese-cuisine guys, has much clue how to use one -- especially sushi chefs.

7. DO NOT give in to temptation and use any other knife for anything that does not require heavy brutality -- cleaving pumpkins in half is the classic no-no on the usuba. Everything, but everything, that doesn't require such brutality should be done with the usuba. If you're just cooking at home, and not under major time pressures often, you should seriously consider putting every other knife you own -- except for that Chinese cleaver, which will come in handy as a brutality knife -- in a sealed box in the basement. That way you get rid of temptation. No paring knives, no slicers, no nothing. You'll thank me in a year; before that you'll probably fairly often want to kill me.

8. If, at the end of a year or two, you adore this thing, start saving your pennies. By the end of two or three or four years, when you are really pretty good with this knife, and you've been polishing and grinding and fixing it constantly, it's going to be rather battered. These are among the best -- they can take it. But you'll have dinged it quite a bit along the way, and had to fix it, and so it'll have a lot more wear than it deserves. So eventually you're going to want to start over. At that point, take a tip from the Kyoto kaiseki guys and buy 225mm. If you have the cash, go ahead and buy honyaki, but don't feel that it's especially necessary or even important -- it's not. You can make up your own mind about white or blue steel at that point, but in my opinion you'll still want the shiroko. Masamoto's version, the HS0722, will set you back at least $900; Aritsugu's, us008 225mm, will be more like $625 or so, minimum. By this point you'll probably be able to open it yourself, and will get pleasure out of it, so that helps. If you go honyaki, you'll probably never wear it out, and you can revel in the pleasure of what has to be pretty much the Ferrari of usubas.

Sound like fun? Told you -- you're a nut! :thumb:
post #36 of 50
Argh !!! I feel like crying :D
It's too late here to get back to you as you deserve it, but you'll here from me very soon ...

Looks like I got a friend :smoking: ,

and yes, it sounds like loads of fun !

post #37 of 50

Cooking Knives

The cooking Knives need to be sharpen everytime and it
can't be kept it blend.. Am I right...
post #38 of 50
"That leaves you with the yanagiba, which is basically not especially useful if you don't slice your own sashimi. It's also expensive, difficult to maintain, and very difficult indeed to "open" (to sharpen the first time)."

I often wonder why some seem to feel this way about the Yanagi. It's just a Japanese slicer. Use it on any thing you would use any slicer for.
Any reputable dealer, Korin for example should open the knife, not that all brands or series need that. There is no question in my mind that most who do not cut a lot of fish will be better served with a Suji however if the OP is a romantic sort of knife nut it's very hard to pass up the allure of a Yanagi. I'll leave a link to a fairly funny thread on the topic from another forum.
I don't think we could over emphasize the fact that when it comes to knife selection there are very few absolutes. We each just roll with what works for us. Try to catch an Iron Chef episode some time and watch Chef Morimoto wield that Yanagi! The only thing I would add about a Yangi is that 270mm for me is just about perfect. I wouldn't want to go shorter than that.

Yanagiba Versatility - Knifeforums.com - Intelligent Discussion for the Knife Enthusiast - Powered by FusionBB

"It's going to cost you about $400+ for Masamoto, and maybe $250+, even $300+, for Aritsugu. No, you won't have a super-duper-ultra-masterpiece, but you will have a very, very fine knife. Like butt-kicking sort of fine, the kind of thing high-end pros like."

IMO the knives in this price range are the real deal and tools of beauty. Sure I like to look at the puurdy stuff as well but I have seen countless others buy more expensive knives and then never use them. I don't get that at all. I would love to add a Suisin Hayate to my harem but I might have to come sleep on some one elses couch for a week after! :lol:
The Masamoto KS series to me really is working art.
Chris hit the nail on the head about stones.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
post #39 of 50
Hi Chris, and thanks again for the long and complete answer !

Let me give you some more infos/impressions

Argh, this is a tough begining !! Pricewise speaking, the jump to this knife will be a serious step to take. Apart from saving the pennies, will I be able to convince my wife that we ( actually I ) need this knife ?

Now, I think I got geeky about knives 2 years ago. I'm not sure how it began, but I started to inform myself about what a nice kitchen knife should be. A year after, I got a big bargain on a Global G5, and this was until last week my first and only knife . Then, after reading a lot of thread on this forum and on others, I thought that DBL could'nt be wrong, and I ordered a nice Sabatier carbon steel chef knife.
The knife hobby has began.
So I thought I could peacefully take time to master the Sabatier, then switch to a chinese cleaver just for the fun of trying to master a new knife, and then go to the father of them all, the usuba ! But you're putting lots of pressure on me :D ! Will I have to abandon my new Sabatier, never get this chinese cleaver that looks so weird but is so polyvalent , not to mention this little pre-war steel paring knife I was planning to get from Sabatier ?? I can't bear the suspens , and with so many dilemnas, my life turned out a nightmare :D !!

More seriously, the big issue is of course the money it would cost. Is there no 'serious' starter usuba for a bit less ? I hardly see myself investing more than 150/200 $ (roughly 120/160 €), and not in the short term anyway.

So, to come back to your suggestions:
Won't do, at least now :(

Fine, I can live with that. Let's keep the pro configuration for when I'm a pro ( whenever it happens ).

Is it that mandatory ? I'm really fond of the squarish shape of the Tokyo style one. Can I not live without the pointed tip ?

Stones are on the list of my tohaves . I'll be happy to get a complete set over the time, petit à petit. Is there any stone you'd advise me from this site ( they're cheap and have no taxes issue as they're in europe ): Japanese Waterstones and other Sharpening Tools or should I exclusively go for Chosera ?

This looks like a great deal of maintenance. This must be the price for excellence !

Yes, I really like to know what things are about, and books have always been a great vehicle of knowledge. Please go on for the references so I can document myself fully. This is gonna be an afordable approach of the beast.
OTOH, I don't think I'll find a Japanese cuisine trained chef . I'm not too often hanging around japanese restaurants, but if that happens, I'll remember your advice and try to get every hint I can from those chefs I could meet.

Nice program ! I guess the only way to learn how to use a tool. Will I wanna kill you sometimes ? I think I'm big enough to assume the complete responsibility of my masochisme ;) , and I'm actually thanksfull for all the insight you're giving.

Pffui! big money again ! we'll speak again about it in 10 years from now :)

Yes indeed :smoking: .

post #40 of 50
BDL , of course ...
post #41 of 50
Mais biensur. However, I have it on good authority that BDL (or "I" as I like to call me) can be wrong.

Thanks for the implied compliment about my imputed wisdom, too.

Speaking of BDL, he (I) is (am) going to stay out of the whole traditional Japanese knife discussion because I (he) know(s) so little a bout it other than to note:

As good as Chris is on the subject (and he's very good), if you're serious about getting into traditional, chisel-edged Japanese knives, you're ready for a forum with a deeper and wider knowledge base than this one has on the subject. By all means, join Fred's Cutlery Forum on the Foodie Forums, Fred's Cutlery Forum - Foodie Forums, and start asking around there.

At the end of the day, if I were committed to making a transition to traditional Japanese knives, I'd follow much of Chris's advice pretty closely. But that's me. I've been reading lots of stuff written by lots of people for a long time. You, on the other hand, should probably seek more input before firing up the credit card.

However, I'm not committed to any such transition. I've got enough of a challenge refining my use of the French knives I already have. And, in my opinion the chef's/gyuto is the most useful and versatile knife made and the best choice for nearly all kinds of cooking -- especially western. My suggestion is to get the best chef's you can reasonably afford, learn to sharpen it very well, and use it for a long time before moving on to traditional Japanese styles. Unless, that is, you're more interested in the knives themselves than in the cooking. Just a suggestion.

In the same way the first rule of medicine is "do no harm," the sine qua non of knife skills is sharpening. It doesn't matter what kind of kinife. Also, did you know that I only go beyond hinting to actually recommending French carbon when specifically asked? It's great stuff but not for everyone. You, I think, will find it very rewarding.

post #42 of 50
I don't understand -- can you restate?

Knives need to be sharpened as often as they need it for your needs. (Isn't that helpful?) It is traditional for Japanese pros to sharpen every day, but that's to some degree overkill, if you ask me.

As to "can't be kept it blend," I don't know what you mean.
post #43 of 50
First, listen to BDL and check out Fred's Cutlery Forum. If you're thinking seriously about making this shift, you do need a wider range of knowledge. That said...

That is a fabulous question to ask at Fred's. The guys there have used a much wider range of knives than I have, and know the US markets well -- which I do not. I thought the budget here was bigger than it is, apparently.
This is one of the reasons an usuba is so irritating, a love/hate thing. There's no transitioning into it: it's unlike other knives. That's not some kind of romanticism, it's just very oddly shaped, and it doesn't act like other knives. In point of fact, the sooner you make the transition, if you're going to make it, the less you will develop habits with normal knives that have to be unlearned with the usuba.

I would certainly get the cleaver, because they're cheap and will do yeoman service, not only now but in the future as brutality knives. The Sabatier, well, I leave that one to BDL, but certainly it will be remarkably unlike the usuba.
Yes, certainly there are such knives. But I don't know what is and isn't available in the US or UK markets, at what prices. Ask at Fred's -- you won't regret it.

Actually, you're misreading slightly. An Aritsugu hon-kasumi usuba IS a pro knife. I know a top-end kaiseki chef whose kitchen uses these exclusively.

Well, this is certainly a matter of opinion. I'll give my reasons for advocating kamagata:

1. The pointed tip is very useful, and since you won't have any other knife but a heavy brutality thing, it's hard to pass up.

2. The only Japanese chefs who reliably live or die by the usuba these days are Kyoto kaiseki chefs. They use the kamagata shape. So if you're going to use this knife and no other, I say go with the experts.

3. All things Kyoto are superior to all things Tokyo, because Kyoto is the center of the Japanese universe and Tokyo is clearly a hellhole with nothing to recommend it. I'm not prejudiced -- these are obviously objective truths.

A truly fabulous question for the gang at Fred's. But my basic take is that if you're going to sharpen a single-bevel knife at high grit really, really constantly, you need a stone that will do most of the work for you without trouble. No, Chocera is not the only way to go, by any means -- Naniwa SuperStone is the obvious second choice, and for some it's the first choice.

Actually, daily sharpening of an usuba is not a lot of maintenance. The reason is that you barely need to do anything if you do it that often. Basically you take a high-grit stone, wet it, put that big flat bevel on it, and rub evenly back and forth 5 times, working all the way up the blade. Flip it over flat on the back, rub evenly 5 times, do the front a little more if you feel it needs it, then deburr and you're done. If your stone can live in water, or if it's a spray-and-go sort of thing, the whole process will take very little time. And if you do it every day, in about 2 weeks I'd guess it will take maybe 4-5 minutes, tops.

I'll get back to you on this -- and remind me if I don't.

Uh huh. If you make this switch, you're going to hate me.

See you at Fred's!
post #44 of 50

You wrote Naniwa Choseras are excellent stones, throughout their entire range. At any grit level they are one of the very few best. However, at any grit level there are other stones as good and significantly cheaper.

Putting together a kit petit à petit your best bet is to start with a King or Naniwa SS 1000, add the Suehiro or Naniwa 3000 as the next stone, then the Naniwa 400 (King coarse stone sucks) and finally a Naniwa SS 8K or 10K (depending on which knives you own), in no particular order.

In terms of an ideal kit (in order of purchase); Bester 1200, Sigma Pro 1000, or Chosera 1000; Naniwa SS 3000; or Nonpareil aoto; Beston 500 or Chosera 400; and Takenoko, Kitayama (fantastic finishing stone, but it only does its best following another finisher), Naniwa Pure White (8K), Naniwa SS 8K, Naniwa SS 10K, or Chosera 10K.

Chosera price increases with the fineness of the grit, and run from very overpriced to ridiculous. The single quality which most sets Choseras aside from the rest is their speed -- especially noticeable with the 10K. But it's just way too expensive for what it does.

In the case of the "ideal" set I just wrote about, you'd start nearly all of your sharpening sessions at the 1000 level. The coarse stone doesn't get used that much -- but when you need it, you need it.

For the price of a Chosera 10K, you could buy a Takenoko AND Kitayama and get a better finish -- that would take you about twice as long. You could save some money by doing a little grit shifting, and still end up with an ideal kit -- if a little slow for profile/repair (tasks you dont do often). That kit would look like: Bester 700, Bester 2000, Takenoko, Kitayama. As a practical matter, you's start with the 2000 about half the time, and finish with the Takenoko on your petty, paring, and butchering knives rather than the Kitayama.

FWIW, I purchased my waterstone kit, some (barely) used, the Chosera new, at wonderful discounts, from friends' castoffs. It is: Beston 500, Bester 1200, Chosera 3000, and Naniwa SS 8K.

That said, my ideal beginners kit is straight Naniwa SS, the 10mm stones which are pre-mounted on plastic bases. They are very soft and provide the sort of excellent tactile feedback which will make your learning curve friendlier; easy to use (splash and go); easy to take care of (flatten on drywall screen), wonderful performers; and relatively inexpensive. It's true the 10mm stones don't last as long as 20mm stones. So? You'll grow out of them about the same time you wear them out. In the meantime, excellent stones at a reasonable price.

When it comes to purchasing stones in and/or for use in Europe... Ask at Fred's.

post #45 of 50
There are a few notable differences from my perspective. One is that on a traditional knife with a chisel edge you will not be starting at 1k every time you sharpen. Not even every third or fourth time. That doesn't mean you won't want a stone in the 1k range but you certainly don't need a stone under that to start. The notion that you get more feedback from a plastic base that is of any value after the first time or two that you sharpen is subject to interpretation at best. The super thin stones on plastic bases are about THE most expensive stones that will be mentioned in this thread if you consider life span and value. There is a reason most knife dealers do not carry them on plastic bases but offer the thicker un-mounted SS's instead. In stones under 5k Choseras are only marginally more expensive than SS.
Once you get over 5k Choseras are pricey and there is just no reason for a noob to drop that sort of cash over the SS.
A kitayama shouldn't even be mentioned in a thread like this. It's not the right direction to start. Not by a long shot. That's a stone that even accomplished sharpeners often can't agree should be praised or cursed and that's a choice you make down the road when you know exactly what you want from a stone.
Now for the splash and go which I think is truly funny stuff yes the SS's are easier, then again it's not exactly toil and trouble to soak a stone for ten minutes or so before you use it. The Chosera is not a thirsty stone. The other thing that should never be over looked with SS's is that they are soft, fragile, can gouge or scratch easy and are resin based unlike the Chosera. That's both good and bad for a starter. I use SS's 5k and up only.
IMO all you need to start is a 1k Chosera or SS and a 5k SS and flattener. From there you can add as you want or need but odds are those two stones will carry you a good ways much to the chagrin of those trying to sell stones. ;)
In either event I think the best advice is to ask on other forums as well. Don't expect any absolute agreement but it will show you just how much of this is subjective and how each approach is specific to the individual user.
Take a look around the "In The Kitchen" knife forum as well. There's a ton of good information and some well known sharpeners are regulars.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
post #46 of 50
Couple remarks on stones:

1. I can't take it any more. It's ChoCera, not ChoSera. Actually, it's not -- it's Cho-Ceramics, which means basically SuperDuper - Ceramics. Cho-Cera for short. 'Kay? Oy.

2. DuckFat is dead right: if you're sharpening an usuba constantly, which let's be honest at home means like weekly but really should be more than that, you won't be going down to 1000 grit to start. This changes the way you structure your set, and since you're taking up usubas as a way of life, you might as well do it intelligently now.

Basically every set of stones has 4 parts:

1. The middle stone, which usually starts a session and is the baseline;

2. The polishing stone(s), which refine that #1 stone's edge rather than producing their own;

3. The coarse stone(s), which set up a problem edge for the #1 stone; and

4. The flattening equipment, which sets up the stones.

Now BDL has given you a number of variations on a terrific set... for Western knives. By which I mean double-beveled knives. His #1 stone is a 1000 or 1200, as it is for most folks. But you don't need this -- see above. So where do you go?

Well, if you were sharpening both single-beveled and double-beveled knives regularly, I'd say go with a 2000 that is so fast you can skip the 1000, and that probably does mean a Chocera. But you're not: you're sharpening a single-beveled knife, period.

So I'd say Naniwa SuperStone is the way to go. Because you're a beginner, probably you should not go lower than 2000 for your main stone; a year from now you may have quite a different opinion about this, but it's a good place to start. Fortunately, the primary worry about these stones, which is that they are rather soft, is not a big issue with an usuba: you just lay that big old sheet of metal flat on there and slide it back and forth.

Frankly, a good 2k edge on an usuba is pretty solid. You don't actually need anything more than that. But you'll want it. So for #2, the polishing, the usual rule is don't jump more than about 5x the grit number. That doesn't help: you'd be crazy to go to a lot of trouble finding a stone with more than 10k grit anyway. I'd say stick with Naniwa SS, so the feel is more or less constant. Off the cuff, I think 5k is too small a jump with a 2k starter, and 10k is kinda big, so go with the 8k.

Both a 2k and an 8k together will cost you about $110, give or take. If you treat them decently, they'll last a long time.

For coarse stones, the smart votes seem to be Bester 700 and Beston 500, unless you want to spend a good deal more and go Chocera. But coarse stones aren't generally expensive anyway. And you really hope you're not going to need one much -- fixing an usuba is an unpleasant task. I'd go with the 700 to stay closer to your 2000 baseline. If you ever need a much coarser stone than that, go with the infamous 220 "pink brick."

Luckily, an usuba handled gently is remarkably easy on stones, so flattening isn't going to be a major concern. For starters, get a big thick piece of float glass and some medium wet/dry sandpaper. Spray the glass a lot, lay the sandpaper on it, and sand your stone flat. Do that whenever it seems like your knife is grinding oddly, but that will take a while.

So my suggestions, in order of purchasing:

Naniwa SS 2000 -- $40-$45
Float glass and sandpaper
Naniwa SS 8000 -- $60-$70
Bester 700 -- $40-$45
"pink brick" -- $40-$45

But in my opinion, you will do very well indeed, for a long time to come, on nothing but the 2000 stone.
post #47 of 50
Hello guys, and thanks for the accurate answers !

Well,there's plenty of feedback to give !
In posts order...

no doubt about it, but according to knives and cutting tools in general, you've been showing so far a certain kind of knowledge that resulted very valuable, and more often accurate than not . Also, as I couldn't think of a knife collection without a french representant, your advices about Sabatier were greatly appreciated.

Looks like it's what I'm gonna do. I'll also join Fred's forum, as, for what I've seen so far, is pretty japanese cuttlerie oriented. But at the end of the day pragmatism will be my only guide, and while I document myself for free ( or almost ), I'll have to wait before I take the step toward a switch to serious japanese knife.

Do I have to choose ? As a vegetarian, preparing vegetables will be the only task I'll ask to my knives. so the lack of versatility of the usuba will actually not affect me, and I'll can get both, the knife and the cooking :D

I hope I'll find it rewarding ! As I said earlier, you're personnaly responsible of my going to a Sabatier :lol: !
While I'm waiting to get the bucks for anything else, I'll try to master the Sabatier. I actually must confess that I don't feel very comfortable with it. I think I somehow got used to the kind of 'nakirish' shape of the G5, and the sabatier feels funny to work with. But I'll bravely stick to the task !

Yes, and actually after a little use, I think that the Sabatier can do better :I'll try to improve this. It's gonna be a good training .

I'll post usuba specific questions at Fred's.

Nop, unfortunatly. But as a starter knife, I'm pretty sure something will appear that is at the same time serious enough to give me the proper usuba feeling and not ruin me. By the way, you refer to the US market, but this not the most practical for me, as taxes and shipment can be expensive (I'm in France)

Bah, for everything relative to knives I'm starting from 0 .So everything is pretty good to take. Shall I unlearn later ? No problem, I'm pretty used to changes in life. Also, isn't the spice of life in diversity :D ? So I'll gladly go on with my new Sabatier until I sell my soul to a japanese vegetable knife :lol:

I 'll seriously consider your arguments. On the other hand, as I really like the Kanto-style usuba, I'll check at Fred's if someone has objective arguments to counterbalance yours. So when time comes to buy the knife, this might give more weight to my preference towards the higasigata, that so far resumes to 'I find it nicer' .

Is it too soon for a reminder ? :D

@ BDL, DuckFat and Chris
On stones you've given plenty of information. I'll digest it and get back to you with a possible plan that fits my purse and geografics constraints

A huge thanks again guy's for the time you're spending here !

post #48 of 50
"I can't take it any more. It's ChoCera, not ChoSera. Actually, it's not -- it's Cho-Ceramics, which means basically SuperDuper - Ceramics. Cho-Cera for short. 'Kay? Oy."

Chris, Thanks for the correction. Makes perfect sense. Mark must have it wrong on his site for the stones. Easy Typo. I was curious so I checked my stones and the boxes but I can't see Chocera any place in English.
I noticed a few usubas that may be of interest to GK. The first is a JCK Kagayaki AS. Looks sweet but it is clad so probably a bit thicker than some.
It's also a bit on the short side.

KAGAYAKI Aogami Super Series Japanese Knife,Japanese Kitchen Knife,Japanese Cutlery,Japanese Chef's Knives.Com

The second is a Kamagata Usuba from Korin. The Usuba does not really appeal to me but if I were going this route I would surely start with a Kamagata as I know it would be easier for me to work with a knife that has a tip. As an added plus it's only $150 for the 210 so when you take a single 2k SS start like Chris suggested it's pretty much right on budget for the op.

Korin Shiro-ko Kasumi
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
post #49 of 50
Hi again !

Just a quick one about stones: I've just bought the #1500 sold on JCK ( Whet Stones For Sale Japanese Knife,Japanese Kitchen Knife,Japanese Cutlery,Japanese Chef's Knives.Com ) and this is so far my only stone. Can I live with it ?

@DuckFat, thanks for the links !

post #50 of 50
Here is another thread I should follow closely:
First traditional japanese knives set - Foodie Forums

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