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Another "help me pick the best Japanese Knife" Thread

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Hello all, well I'm ready to pick my first "good" Japanese chef knife. I am not a pro, just have a passion for cooking at my home for my wife and occasional friend. I currently have a cheap set of Henkels from Costco, like $250 for the set. I will leave these for my wife as she loves them. I'm looking to spend between $200-$300 (and I don't mind spending in the upper end of that number) for the knife and then will start to slowly build a set of knives (matched or unmatched). For sharpening, I think it's best to get an Edge Pro setup. I have done a bit of research, starting off with being set on the Shun Elite. I like that the Shuns have a lifetime warranty and they are endorsed by my hero Alton Brown. Plus I LOVE LOVE the look of the Damascus blade, but looks aren't everything. I found by searching that for the money the Shuns could be out done, which means value and I like value. I will be mainly cutting veggies, fruits, meats (with no bone), nuts, and the like. Next will probably be a paring and then a long sushi blade.

 

I have always used a western handle, but like the looks of the Japanese handles. I could use either as I want to start using the pinch hold at all times. As far as balance goes I think you'll all know best as I have probably never held a knife that is balanced. So reading the forums and web here is a short list of knives I think may be winners. Hopfully with your help I can shorten it to one or two. Oh and help me decide on a size 8-10", I have large cutting boards!

 

JCK Hattori FH Gyuto

 

JCK Masamoto Gyuto(Is this the right Masamoto to get? Probably VG Series???)

 

JCK Original Kagayaki Aogami Super Series Gyuto(again absolutly LOVE the look, damascus!)

(One of the more expensive blades)

 

Ichimonji TKC

 

Takeda Gyuto (again higher priced, but doesn't always mean better)

 

Kikuichi Gold Elite (again, Beautiful!!! and $260)

 

And the good ole Shun Elite (Is there a better Shun I should be looking at?)

 

Any others?

 

Thanks

Dan

post #2 of 22

The MAC Pro is pretty spectacular too. BDL will be along to give you comparative information, I'm sure.

 

As to length, 10" is pretty much the ideal length for this style of knife. The question is whether it has any particular drawbacks for you. You say you have large cutting boards, which helps. Do you have any clear space behind them, or is your cutting space cramped lengthwise? If so, can you move that stuff aside a bit?

 

In the end, I tend to think you should go 10" unless there's some reason not to. When you're looking at knives in this quality range, and you seem very uncertain about length, there's apparently no reason not to go the whole hog and get 10". With knives this light and agile, you will soon not feel the length to be excessive.

post #3 of 22

Length:

21cm doesn't punish bad skills, but doesn't reward good ones either.  27cm rewards good skills, but it can be something of a bear learning to point (although you certainly can learn if you practice keeping the point in line with your wrist and elbow).  24cm (9-1/2") is a nice compromise; productive without being too demanding. 

 

I prefer 27cm, but don't think that should sway you.  We can talk about keeping the blade straight in another post if you like, and we should.  It never hurts to tune up one's skilz.

 

Laminated aka "San-Mai" aka "Warikomi?" Or, "Monosteel?"

Japanese made blades are often made in three layers:  Jigane-Hagane-Jigane.  The cutting edge steel is the "hagane."  The ad copy for laminated blades often talks about it in terms of sharpening or other positives for the user.  In truth, all but one of the practical advantages go to the manufacturer.  Because it's a surer method with fewer failures it's less expensive and manufactuer and the price advantage is passed on to the consumer.  Also, it allows the manufacturers to use pattern-welded jigane to stick Damascus style patterns to the blade. 

 

Most of the knives you've listed are san-mai.  It's no big deal one way or the other, except insofar as you want good advice from me.  San-mai knives have a sort of muted, "dead" feeling to me and a few other people.  It's not a majority opinion, nor is it all that rare.  There's no need to justify my feeling -- and I won't.  But it's fair for you to know, and also that it has a lot to do with how much I don't know about many of the your chosen blades.  

 

You have an interesting mix of wa and yo handled knives.  Some of your choices come both ways, and you didn't specify. 

 

 

With that out of the way...

 

JCK Hattori FH Gyuto wa and yo:  Beautifully designed and made.  Wonderful F&F.  Very good handle, just a half step not as good as a MAC.  Very nice profile, just a half step not as good as a Masamoto VG.  Thin, easy to sharpen blade, good edge retention, easy maintenance.  Hattori does the best VG-10 on the market, with no deburring issues. 

 

Masamoto VG wa and yo:  (You referred to it as the JCK Masamoto).  Fantastic profile.  With the exception of a Sabatier nothing feels as natural or as comfortable on the board.  Excellent everything else, if not spectacular.    You'll have to communicate with the seller before purchase because to avoid some QC issues. 

 

JCK Original Kagayaki Aogami Super, wa:  Don't know anything about this particular knife.  My experiences with aogami san-mai weren't happy, but... it's not an unpopular construction and lots of people love it.

 

Kagayaki is JCK's house brand name, the knives are actually built OEM.  The other Kagayakis are very high value, there's no reason to expect that this iteration is otherwise.

 

Ichimonji TKC, yo:  It is no more, yet it lives.  The knives are now sold by Chef Knives To Go (CK2G) as the Kikuichi TKC

 

Another knife with which I have no personal experience (you're amazing that way, dude!).  They have great buzz with a fantastic reputation for holding an edge.  Everyone's comparing it very favorably to an Aritsugu "A," saying it's just as good without the issues.  

 

For obvious reasons, I can't break the knife down the way I do with knives I know into profile, edge characteristics, feel and handle.  Oh well.

 

Takeda Gyuto, wa:  I don't like san-mai, and I don't like kuro-uchi (the rustic, black finish), and I don't like really flat profiles .  But if I did, I'd like this knife a lot.  Very thin, very well made.  Easy to sharpen, gets sharp, holds an edge, doesn't wedge.  The profile is well suited to "push cutting," but not quite as helpful to classic European technique as a Masamoto or a MAC.   Still, it's not too exaggerated to prevent it from doing what you want. 

 

There are other makers who do almost the same thing, almost as well, for less. 

 

Kikuichi Gold Elite, yo:  Kikuicihi gets a lot of mileage out of names.  Judging  by the price, you're referring to this one:

 

In addition to the san-mai, I don't care for tsuchime (hammered) or suminagashi ("damascus look") separately, and like them even less together.  I know just enough about the handle and profile to say they're good, but not enough about the blade itself to comment.  Expensive for a VG-10 san-mai sandwich.  Taken together, the whole thing makes me too grumpy for you to trust.

 

Shun Elite, fusion:  Excellent QC, F&F and US support.  Made with SG2 in san-mai.  As PM alloys go, SG2 is pretty good, at least it's not super-chippy; but all PMs, including SG2, are overpriced and over-hyped; and the extra hardening PM allows doesn't provide any practical advantages. If there's a worse gyuto profile, I don't know about it.  Run away.

 

MAC Pro, yo:  Chris warned you.  I recommend this knife more often to more people looking for their first quality, Japanese made knife than any other.  It's a little stiffer than the Masamoto VG, with a slightly better handle.  Actually, the MAC handle has got to be the best of any western style handles, so "slightly better," is a big bouquet to both knives.  The profile is a little wider and only slightly less good than the Masamoto's.  It's edge characteristics (including "feel" on the stones), are identical to the Masamoto's, and I believe they're the same alloy.  Very good F&F as Japanese knives go, usually good QC, a warranty and support which competes with Shun, and service and support that exceeds it (in case the QC fell through).

 

Side Trip to Sharpening:

Chris is right about the money.  Bernal offers "Japanese Waterstone Sharpening Classes."  Take one and see what you think.  It can be done relatively inexpensively but from what we're learning about you and knives -- still going to cost a fortune.

 

Halfway to the Bottom Line:

If you're seriously interested in wa handles we should open the discussion to a few more knives.  Still, if you want a good performer that's got a super Japanese, country look, and don't mind putting up with its idiosyncracies, you could do worse than the Takeda.

 

If you want a yo handled knife the best choices from a performance standpoint are the Hattori FH, Kikuichi TKC (at least by reputation), MAC Pro and Masamoto VG.  They all have different things to offer.

 

Why don't you talk a little more about what you want in your knife? 

 

BDL

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post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Wow, I thought my computer froze when I posted this thread, I didn't know it posted. Thank you so much for all of the information on the knives I selected, pretty amazing you addressed them all.



Well here is what I'm looking for in a knife. I am wanting the best knife I can afford to last me a long time.



1st- Most important is blade sharpness and how long it holds it's edge. This trumps all.



2nd- This is a tie. Knife looks and knife feel. I say this because I know that no matter what I'll have a learning curve. If the comfort and profile will help with the curve then great. Looks are important, I know some will diagree as it is technically a tool. Anyway, this is why I like the Damascus look, it's just so pretty!



But again the blade sharpness is most important.



So with that said I think I have it narrowed to the masamoto, the hattori fh and will be adding the hattori hd to list. How does the hd compare? It is very beautiful! Which masamoto is best in my price range? Are any of the other knives I listed better then what I have narrowed to?



So any other advise know that I have (hopefully) given you what I have given you what I am looking for in a knife?



Thanks,

Dan
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Oh and I wanted to mention if anyone believes I am wrong in my thinking let me know. I know a sharp blade is know good if it is difficult to use.

Dan
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
P.S. If I were to increase my budget by $100 or so up $400 does that open anything else up worth looking at? Or is it not worth it? By the way I'm lovin the YouTube videos of people using their gyutos. I want something that will slice through veggies like air!

Dan
post #7 of 22

   Hi Dan,

 

  I can't give you advice on which knife to purchase.  Chris, BDL and others are in a much better spot to give you advice in that area.  As a knife "newbie" I will say that I think it's wise to look into this first knife purchase as a package deal, knife and stones.  If the stones include a sharpening system then that's fine...but look at your initial knife purchase including the initial stone set.  If you have $400 to spend on everything then look at it for everything.

 

   dan

post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
I totally agree, I'll have additional money for a sharpening system, I was thinking the edge pro apex I guess

Dan
post #9 of 22

  Oh yeah

 

 

  Set some money aside for a good end grain cutting board too.  You'll also want to season it well.  At first it will soak up a ton of conditioner, keep adding it as it gets absorbed.  Once it feels like it's slowing down and not quite as "thirsty" you can start conditioning every week or so...then every couple of weeks and so on.  But the thing cleans so well when it's conditioned there's no reason to fall behind.

 

  in fact...I'll be back.  I've got something to do!

 

 

   take care,

 dan

post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
Oh yeah that too, I was going to start another thread for that but maybe not. I was looking at boardsmith, what is the best type of wood to get? Somewhere else to look for better value?

Dan
post #11 of 22

Hi Dan,

 

For western-handled stainless chef's knives, it really doesn't get much better than MAC Pro and Masamoto VG in terms of practical utility.   MAC is particularly good for its handle and stiffness, Masamoto for its brilliant, Sabatier-like profile, and overall good "feel."  Don't worry too much about the MAC's looks -- the unbelievablly ugly, screened-on labeling wears off with cleaning.

 

The Hattori HD is at about the same level from a performance standpoint as the MAC and Masa, but the handle, profile and feel aren't quite as good as either of those.  Whatever the secrets of VG-10 are, Hattori has figured them out.  Like nearly all VG-10 knives, the HD takes a great edge; but unlike so many of them, it deburrs easily.  It's thin (a good thing, makes it act sharper whether or not it is or not), with good agility and a reasonably good handle.  F&F are as good as a high-end German knife's.   

 

On the other hand, the "Damascus" finish requires extra care, otherwise it will disappear as it scratches; worse, I don't like it anyway.  But from my perspective, the worst thing is that it's san-mai (aka "cladded").   It's certainly not universal, and not even a majority viewpoint, but all cladded knives feel "damped" to me.  A friend compares the feel to wearing a condom -- which is unfortunately apt.  You may not feel the same way, most people don't. 

 

You can spend more and get more, but the MAC/Masa price range is where the Law of Diminishing Returns starts kicking pretty hard.

 

But because you asked, allow me to copy this from my recent post to JP, 

Anyway, in the next class up you should think about the Hattori FH (I know what you said), the Ikkanshi Tadatsuna G3 western, and the Kikuichi TKC (formerly the Ichimonji TKC).   The Hattori is pretty, thin, extremely well made and finished, and makes the best use of VG-10.  The buzz is that whatever fragility and chipping issues it ever had are now resolved -- and were very likely confined to a few knives (and owners) from the first run. 

 

I finally got to play with one; the Tadatsuna is thinner still, very good handle, nice profile (still not a Masamoto) and really maxxes out the good qualities of G3.  Workmanship is the same unbelievable, semi-custom level as the Hattori's, which is amazing.  The knife is no-visuals, pure peformance, and outstanding.  If any unadorned, yo-gyuto is worth a price so high, this is it.

 

The TKC, which I've never actually tried, has an excellent reputation -- especially for its an ability to take a durable edge.  With Kikuichi and Chef Knives To Go standing behind it, that makes it even more attractive.  If you're specifically looking for a tool steel yo-gyuto, I'd take a chance on this before buying either of its main competitors -- Aritsugu A and Yoshikane.

 

Among those three, I'd chose the Tad.  Third from the bottom is the 27cm, fourth is the 24cm.

 

 p4_1.jpg

 

Just another knife, really.  But if you're serious about "like air," thin is where it's at, and the Tads are very thin.  So are the Hattoris.

 

Before you start limbering up your credit card, it might be a good idea to assess what the extra money is going to buy within the framework of your actual priorities and knife skills.  If you're all about buying the best or the best looking, go large.  Otherwise, the high-middle of MAC and Masa should do you proud.

 

With that out of the way -- if you're really interested in "the best," we should talk about non-stainless "carbons" and wa-gyuto (Japanese handled chef knives).  That's where the high end, semi-customs really live.  You might be especially interested in the "lasers" like Tadatsuna, Sakai Yusuke, and Suisun Inox Honyaki, etc.  

 

Since you have to ask you might as well learn that true customs are in the "if you have to ask" category. 

 

My own next knife which should be here in a couple of weeks is a "laser;" it's a semi-custom, semi-stainless 27cm Konosuke HD wa-gyuto.  (You can't see from the picture, but the handle which appears short and stout has a buffalo horn ferrule on the back as well as the front and is actually long and lean.) 

 

Take a gander:

to-01_1.jpg

 

Hope this helps,

BDL   

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post #12 of 22

Originally Posted by saabracer23 View Post

Oh yeah that too, I was going to start another thread for that but maybe not. I was looking at boardsmith, what is the best type of wood to get? Somewhere else to look for better value?


Value is how you perceive it.  Boardsmith makes the best boards you can buy, and not for the most money.

 

Right now there are a lot of Catskill boards on sale here and there -- including Macy's and Home Depot -- which are very nice and not very expensive.  If you can afford one of David's (Boardsmith) boards with all of your other purchases, that would be a first choice.  Otherwise get a Catskill now and add one of David's later.  Having two good boards is too nice.  Not only does it mean two cooks is not too many, they last longer (boards not the broads) if you give them a chance to rest once in a while.  

 

Best woods?  Too many to list.  More a matter of what to avoid.  You want to watch out for Asian made boards made with cheap or very hard glue and/or are treated with inedible oils.  One of our four primary boards is bamboo.  It's not horrible.  It is a little hard and does blunt knives more quickly than our maple and cherry boards, but it's not nearly as bad as I was afraid it would be -- not horrible at all.

 

BDL

 

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post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Wow, you are truly a wealth of knowledge! You should get paid for this. I think I'll just go with a cherry from boardsmith. They don't seem too bad in price at all. I love the look of konosuke hd alot. I'm starting to like the Damascus look less. I also looked at the tadatsuna as well, again beautiful. So these are priced at about $300-$325 or so for the 270mm. This makes them not too much more than the masamoto, so why not recommend these over the masamoto? They are better right? Is there a down side to having a thinner blade? I figure if you're getting a konosuke it must be good. But if it is that much better I'm totally willing to drop the extra $50. I prefer the Japanese style handles as well. What differences are there between the konosuke and tadatsuna if any?

Thanks,
Dan
post #14 of 22


Hello Dan,

 

 I also looked at the tadatsuna as well, again beautiful. So these are priced at about $300-$325 or so for the 270mm. This makes them not too much more than the masamoto, so why not recommend these over the masamoto? They are better right? 

 

"Better" is contingent on a lot of things. 

 

For one thing, I can't seriously consider stainless compared to carbon or HSS.  I think the Masamoto KS wa-gyuto and HC yo-gyuto might be the best all-around chef's knifes there are, and if I were only going to have one chef's knife, it would be one of those.  But since I already own one of the few other of best all around chef's (K-Sabatier au carbone), repeating the experience isn't much of a priority.  If I were only going to have one chef's knife it would probably be one of the carbon Masamotos.

 

Is there a down side to having a thinner blade?

 

They're definitely more flexible; you feel it if you bring your blade down on the board off-square; and they feel more fragile.  I'm not sure if they actually are -- and anyway you certainly want a heavy knife around for the rough stuff with almost any Japanese knife.  But thinking twice before you crush garlic?  I haven't used them enough to find out if you get over your inhibitions.   

 

I figure if you're getting a konosuke it must be good.

 

Let's hope so.  Like everyone else I want a lifetime knife, but there are other things going on with my choices that might not be with yours.  For instance, I'm not unhappy with my Sabatier -- just bored, and wanting something very different.  As someone who writes about and reviews knives, it seemed a good idea to actually own something that wasn't carbon and had a slightly more modern profile, and was made in Japan.  

 

But if it is that much better I'm totally willing to drop the extra $50. I prefer the Japanese style handles as well. What differences are there between the konosuke and tadatsuna if any?

 

They're similarly priced compared to the Masamoto KS and the Tad Inox and Shiro wa-gyutos.  You're right.  At this type of money, a few extra bucks doesn't matter that much anyway.  

 

OK, wa-handles, paradigm shift.  Cool!  

 

The Tad is much more of a known quantity than the Konosuke; but they're supposedly very similar in terms of profile, workmanship (very high!), thinness (the Tad is a skosh thinner), and just about everything else. 

 

The Tad has a wider handle and that's better suited for people who hold a knife at all tightly; but f you use an "Asian" pinch (pinching the blade behind the ferrule) or a very soft pinch (like me) that's not going to make much difference -- I fooled around with a Konosuke in a parking lot for ten minutes and it seemed very comfortable to me.   

 

Tads are available in G3 and White #2.  Konosukes come in some sort of Swedish "Inox" (19C27?  AEB-L?), White #2, and an HSS tool steel they call "HD."  From what I understand Tad's stainless is better than Konosuke's, it's a push on the shironiko (white), and the few people who've tried the HD are delirious about it.  It supposedly feels like carbon on the stones (smooth), gets as sharp as White #2 and almost as sharp as White #1 (that's really, really sharp), and holds the edge prodigiously.  

 

So, yeah.  I'm jazzed.  Mine should probably show up late next week.

 

The big downside on the Konosukes is that they're very difficult to get a hold of -- especially the HDs.  I'm getting mine from Chef Knives to Go.  Mark supposedly has a few knives coming in soon, but they may all be pre-sold.  I don't know, you'd have to ask him.  The only other US dealer is Jon Broida of Japanese Knife Imports.  He's out of stock, and all I know about his next shipment is that it should come some time in the next three months.  Konosuke is a new company, and their popularity seems to have taken them by surprise.  They are back-ordered, adjusting to their success, and delivering as fast as they can.   

 

On the other hand, if everyone's out of stock you can order one and change your mind with impunity.

 

If money is any issue at all, you should assess your skills as a sharpener and as a cutter and ask yourself if you're really going to get bang for the buck at these stratospheric prices.  There are certainly more than a couple of really good wa-gyutos for less; Sakai Yusuke has a very good rep, for instance.   But if you're one of those people who just wants "the best," and can afford it, or you have or plan to develop the skill set, why not?

 

What do you think about all this?  Does it make sense?  Are your choices becoming clearer?

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/27/10 at 10:37pm
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post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
Yes, some what, lol. I truly appreciate you taking the time to help. I do not want to have the best just to have it. I do want to work on my skills and be able to use a good knife to it's full ability.

I'll try to summarize. I want to start with a knife to be my go to knife to do most prep. I would never use a knife to crush garlic (well maybe a henkel), I will not cut meat off bone, I will not open bottles, ect.

I you had to choose one blade with a wa style handle what would you pick? The one you are ordering? I'm willing to wait. Or should I just go masamoto? I just don't want to regret a masamoto when I could have had something better. After this knife it will be awhile before I'm "allowed" to purchase another!

Dan
post #16 of 22

270 white 2 tadatsuna wa gyuto is my go to blade.

 

I disagree about it's profile being nearly as good as masamoto I feel it's a wash both have their pluses. the masamoto is a smidge heavier duty the tadatsuna is a little heroin chic. The tadatsuna cut's better than my masamoto hc. Both cut great don't get me wrong just the tadatsuna is ever so slightly better

 

 

regardless of what you choose sharpening is more important than what knife you pick a dull $400 knife is not better than a dull $80. Most highend Japanese knives come dull as well.

post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
Cool, I think I'll go with either a konsuke or tadatsuna. A couple of people have mentioned sharpening to me, but I have mentioned a couple of times that I'll be getting an edge pro apex, is this not good enough? I know it probably like espresso, a shot pulled from a $10,000 double boiler will be no better than one pulled from a $400 single boiler if your using store ground beans that were roasted 6 months ago.

Another thing I should mention is, if possible I would like to pay for this with a money order. If my wife sees how much I paid I would hear about it every time I use it. We give eachother allowance every other week to use on lunch and coffee but I save mine up for stuff like this. She wouldn't understand as I don't about her needing two closets worth of clothing.
Oh well.

Dan
post #18 of 22

Just one last plug for the Masamoto KS wa-gyuto.

 

My feeling is that you are new to sharpening, and while the EdgePro will certainly have you doing wonderful things in remarkably short order, I've never heard anyone seriously disagree that this knife is truly a pleasure to sharpen, more so than just about anything else, in fact. You will very quickly see the effects of anything and everything you try in sharpening, and will enjoy the process --- by no means a foregone conclusion in sharpening! I have a fair collection of mid-high-end Japanese knives, in various styles, and I have to say the one thing I find disappointing about the Masamoto KS wa-gyuto, when it comes to sharpening, is that I don't get to spend much more time doing it: it's just so darn easy to get a terrific edge. What's more, that steel will take any level of polishing I can throw at it --- and my top end polish is approximately 15k JIS, which I assure you is ridiculously high.

 

I can't speak to comparative handling qualities. What I can say is that this knife talks to you in a way no other knife I've ever handled does. As an example, if I split an avocado and then slice the flesh inside the skin, the normal thing would be to use a petty or paring knife for it. I use my Masamoto. The reason is simply that I can actually feel the skin with the point of the knife --- some 11" from my hand --- better than I can with my Aritsugu Kyoto petty knife.

 

In terms of appearance, I find this knife very beautiful in a peculiar way: it is completely and utterly lacking in flash of any kind. From handle to blade to whatever, after you've used the knife for a little while it becomes dull and gray and sort of blah. The one part that gleams, of course, is the part you keep grinding on those high-grit stones, i.e. the bevel. Looking at it, then, you've got a knife that seems completely unassuming, but has this mirror-like shine right by the edge. Everything else is dull. But because you know that this knife is terrifyingly sharp, it takes on a sort of evil, stealth character. I guess for me it's sort of like if you had a car that looked like a passably attractive 4-door sedan, nothing that would turn heads, but you knew that you could thrash any Ferrari or Lamborghini on any track without half trying. I like that kind of thing, but I admit it's not for everyone.

 

Anyway, that's my pitch. You'll love whatever you get, though.

post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you very much for the input, that is definitely a possibility! I think I'm going to hold off until I hear what BDL says about his new knife. The masamotos have a strong following. What benefits would the masamoto white steel #2 have over the tadatsuna white steel #2? That tadatsuna is considered a laser I know. The masamoto is a bit more expensive.

Dan
post #20 of 22

Dan, I'm new to the whole high-end Japanese gyuto thing as well, but purchased an Aritsugu a-style 240mm and have officially caught the bug. I got it from Chefs Knives to Go and have been grinding away with an Edge Pro Apex 5 kit to try to get a 10 degree per side edge. I'm mostly there. I also have a Tad INOX 270 arriving from Takeshi this week, so I'm very grateful to BDL and others who have contributed to this thread. Good info.

 

One thing I wanted to mention to you, though, is that the Edge Pro's minimum angle is 10 degrees, and that's supposedly only to be used for serrated blades. Well, the Aritsugu steel can support a 10/10 edge, but not many others can. Be aware that if you go to sharpen the Tad on the Edge Pro, it will "shoulder" the knife - you will cut a distinct bevel. That may not necessarily be a bad thing, but apparently the knife comes from the factory with an edge that blends seamlessly with the blade. So from what I've read, most Tad owners learn waterstone sharpening before attempting to touch up these knives - the blade is sharpened by laying it almost completely flat against the stone with very little angle, and just polishing the existing edges. Hope that makes sense.

 

I scratched the heck out of my Aritsugu trying to sharpen it with the Edge Pro - LOTS of metal removal with the 120 grit stone - and have been only semi-successful repairing my own damage. But It's still a magnificent knife and I find I use it for just about everything now. Can't wait for the Tad - I'll definitely be more cautious with it. 

 

A couple of things about the Edge Pro:

 

One thing I've found with the Edge Pro is that it's difficult to hold the blade absolutely still with one hand while sharpening with the other. Any change to the angle of the knife, especially with the higher grit finishing stones will screw up your edge. So for what it's worth, one modification I've made to the Edge Pro is to adhere a stack (8 or so) of rare earth magnets under the blade table - this locks in the knife with enough force to maintain a steady angle for high-grit stone passes (not recommended if you need to use a lot of pressure, as with the low grit stones).

 

Another thing you can do is to take a metal blank, cut a smooth strip of cow hide to fit it, like from an old belt, and glue that coarse side down to the blank using silicone glue. As with any strop, this miniature one should only be used for strokes away from the edge, otherwise you'll cut in to the leather - but it's a fast and convenient way to strop the knife with the Edge Pro once you've cut and polished your edge.

post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply, I'm stuck! After reading BDLs review of the hd I'm thinking it may not be the knife for me, nor any laser. I'm worried about thin not having enough "heft". And now I'm hearing some are very difficult to sharpen. What do I do?!?!??!? What does the masamoto #2 white steel have over the konosuke #2. There seems to be a $100 difference.

Dan
post #22 of 22


 

After reading BDLs review of the hd I'm thinking it may not be the knife for me, nor any laser. I'm worried about thin not having enough "heft."

 

It's good it made you think.  If you want a knife with some weight to it, no laser will make you happy.  They're very light, that's their rasion d'etre. If you're serious about heft as a matter of taste, you should probably look at a western-handled knife. 

 

If you think extra weight makes the knife work better -- not really.  Sharpness trumps weight.

 

I'm glad I'm not in a position where I have to trade my Sab for Konosuke.  They have very different characters, both of which I like.  But my Sab are as light and thin as a western knife with a bolster and full finger-guard get.  There is definitely a theme.  

 

And now I'm hearing some are very difficult to sharpen.

 

No.  The laser geometry presents a sharpening challenges in terms of holding a very low angle, but that just takes practice.  Sharpening is sharpening. 

 

What does the masamoto #2 white steel have over the konosuke #2. There seems to be a $100 difference.

 

(Never having used a Konosuke White #2, I'm going to have to extrapolate based on two meals with the HD) 

 

In the first place, Masamoto is Masamoto.  That means, among other things, it costs more because they're charging you for the name.  KS is Masamoto's best white steel line, and is supposedly made by their best, most experienced employees.  You pay extra for that, too.  Unfortunately Masamoto doesn't make a value-busting KK chef's; if you want a Masamoto wa-gyuto, KS is it.

 

In the second place, Japanese Knife Imports has a fantastic price on Konosuke White #2.  It's not only $100 less than a KS, it's a lot less than the same knife at Chef Knives To Go.  So, I'm not sure that the price difference you're seeing between the KS and Konosuke is representative or sui generis.  CKTG keeps its prices very low, you very seldom beat by much. How JKI can do it, I don't know.  If you're interested in a 270, I'd buy the one JKI has in stock tonight, and take a chance on the price going up.  

 

The Konosuke and Masamoto KS are different knives, yes.  But not that different.  The KS is light and thin for a regular wa-gyuto but it is not a laser; while the Konosuke most definitely is.  Coming off western made knives, if you can live with one though, you can probably live with the other.  They both have the same strengths and caveats -- the Konosuke is just more so.

 

Masamoto is known for their chef's knives perfect profiles, and the KS is no exception.  But amazingly, it really any better than the Konosuke.  You probably can't appreciate how mind blowing that is.  Going back to the relative similarities between the Masamoto and the KS, that's really big and goes some way to bridging the gap between the other lasers and the really good wa-gyutos. 

 

Workmanship is a push.  Both are outstanding.  That doesn't just go to fit and finish.  It's fair to extrapolate that the quality of Konosuke's workmanship and hardening will enhance the edge characteristics of the Shiro #2 steel alloy just as much as Masamoto's do.  And that's quite a bit.  

 

Given edges of similar geometries and equal sharpening, the Konosuke is going to feel and act sharper.  That's the blessing of thin.  It has an obverse side, though.  The Masamoto will feel stronger and stiffer.  I can't tell you how much those things will mean to you.

 

Up until yesterday I would have said the KS was the best wa-gyuto I ever used -- mostly because of the profile.  The Konosuke has me rethinking, at least for now.  But I like light wa-gyutos and don't care for heavy ones.  You may feel differently.    

 

What do I do?!?!??!?

 

You got super excited about wa-gyutos but a yo-gytuo (aka western handled chef's knife) might be a better proposition.  There are a few real standouts.   In the mid-high price stainless, there are MAC Pro and Masamoto VG; in the higher priced stainless there's Hattori FH and Tadatsuna Inox (western handled); in mid-high carbon, there's the Misono Sweden and the Masamoto HC (which is as good as any mass-produced western knife made); and in high-priced carbon there's the Tadatsuna Shiro #2 (western handled -- which you'll have to special order). 

 

All of these are very light and thin compared to any western knife other than a Sabatier carbon, but none are what you'd call a "laser."Each of those is a pro style knife -- with no added visual interest or gimmickry beyond craftsmanship.  Each is an outstanding knife in its price range.     

 

If you want a wa-gyuto that's not a laser, you can't beat a Masamoto KS. If you're willing to give up lightness and agility in favor of weight and durability and you still want a wa-gyuto there are options there as well.  Yoshikane to name one, Zakuri to name another.

 

If you can live with steeling a knife every day, and sharpening your way around a full finger guard, there's always one of the good Sabatier carbons.  They get very sharp very easily, can stand up to a lot of abuse, have a feel in the hand like nothing else, and don't cost that much.  But they are carbon and do need plenty of steeling. 

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/8/10 at 10:52am
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