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Mac Pro Chefs Knife for home use

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I've just gotten a couple of Mac Pro knives (8" chefs knife and a 5" paring knife) as a gift.

 

As much as I appreciate it's the best way, I don't have the patience or motivation to learn to sharpen using stones etc.

 

So what's the best and cheapest way to keep the knives cutting as well as possible with as little cost and effort as possible?

 

(If it makes any difference, I'm in the UK)

post #2 of 19

Here's the recommended MAC sharpeners according to MAC USA. I've used the Roll-Sharp with no complaints for the past ten years.

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post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the recommendation of the roll sharp. Reading around it seems to get a lot of criticism from people who know their knives - but I did wonder whether that was just that they had higher standards than me! (Frankly I was so impressed with the knife straight out of the box that I'd be happy if I can keep close to that level of performance)

 

With the roll sharp, how have you been using it? Every week or two to keep the blade sharp, or less regularly for a more thorough sharpening?

post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

 

Sorry - just realised that you're a chef so using the knife in quite a different context. Would still appreciate any advice though!

post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Richardson View Post

 

Sorry - just realised that you're a chef so using the knife in quite a different context. Would still appreciate any advice though!

No problem, I use the MACs at home as well.

 

Generally, whenever I think it needs it. Now, I know that's probably not much help!

 

I keep my Roll-Sharp within reach, much as others might keep a steel/hone within reach. When I cannot read through a tomato slice, I give it, oh maybe, ten full strokes, back and forth.

 

My ten year old chef knife will still shave the skin off of a tomato.
 

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post #6 of 19

The "Rollsharp" will give you a very coarse finish.  If you want a finer edge, you'll have to look to different sharpening tools.  The MAC Pro can take and hold a very fine edge indeed -- much finer than a Rollsharp can give.  It depends what you're looking for. 

 

BDL

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post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

When you say different sharpening tools, I assume that you're referring to using stones etc?

 

How would you say the edge a Rollsharp can give would compare to straight out of the box performance? (I'm assuming since you've recommended them elsewhere that you've used them - apologies if not!)

 

I know it's also probably not ideal, but would the Minosharp 3 which has what it claims are coarse, medium and fine be better? (Or are these all definitely at the coarse end of the scale?)

post #8 of 19

Yes the Minosharp is a better sharpener than either the MAC or Fiskars Rollsharps. 

 

I've handled a lot of MAC knives and have owned a few over the years.  But, while I've bought  four MAC Pro chef's knives for other people, I never bought one for myself.  That isn't to say I haven't used and sharpened  plenty of them. 

 

Not all Japanese knives come OOTB with good edges, and of those not many are as consistent as MAC.  I'd say that MAC Pro ships at about 80% of its potential, which is significantly sharper than you could ever get a Wusthof or German made Henckels -- but that's very rough and subjective and you shouldn't be fooled by assignment of a numeric value.  There is no meaningful sharp-o-meter beyond cutting onions. 

 

If you want maximum sharpness, the best ways to get it is with bench stones or one of the uber rod-guided tool and jigs like one of the Edge Pros, or the Wicked Sharp.  If you want the best edge you can get without climbing a steep learning curve or dealing with  a lot of tedious set up and take down, your best best is one of the top of the line Chef Choice machines.  

 

Everything else is less.  You're asking, I'm telling you, but it's your choice.  If you need to sacrifice some sharpness or edge refinement to save some money, for convenience, or because -- for whatever reasons -- you don't want to learn to freehand those are some powerful reasons.  Not that you need my validation. 

 

Over the years, MAC Pro and Masamoto VG have been my most frequent recommendations.  I don't think that anyone who bought a MAC on my advice was ever burned -- at least not after letting MAC customer  service deal with the few problems which did come up.  I like the knife a lot -- but in all honesty wouldn't buy it for myself even if I were looking for a mass-produced, stainless Japanese knife in the price range; I'd go for the Masa because I like its profile so much.  What can I say?  I'm a huge fan of Masamoto chef's.

 

But... if you're gauging the quality of my advice against my personal experiences and preferences, I wouldn't buy a mass produced, stainless, western-handled chef's no matter who made it.  I'd either buy carbon or tool steel.  From the early reports -- and it's too soon to tell the Kagayaki CarboNext (tool steel) is an excellent value and very nearly the equal of the Kikuichi (fomerly Ichimonji) TKC, which is an outstanding knife with epic edge holding. 

 

I'd certainly consider those, but probably stretch the budget and buy either a Masamoto HC or a Tadatsuna White #2 (carbon) yo-gyuto.  But that's me.  

 

The last time I bought someone else a Japanese made chef's knife, it was a MAC Pro for my Dad's girlfriend about a year ago.  If I were buying it for her today, it would either be the Kagayaki or TKC.

 

Hope this helps,

BDL

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post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the lengthy (and helpful!) response.

 

At the moment I don't feel like I have the time/motivation to learn to freehand - though in future I might well. (And while I don't need your validation, it's certainly appreciated!)

 

If I can trouble you (and the other knowledgeable folk around here) with another question (which hopefully will be useful to others like me!)

 

I read on another post from you:

"Alternatively, if you have a three stage Chef's Choice, use the finest stage as your steel, and run your knife through it a couple of times a week. Every couple of weeks, use the second stage. Twice a year use all three stages."

 

Firstly, if I went for the MinoSharp 3 stage, would a similar pattern be about right? (I use the knife to prepare 6/7 meals a week, so not a particularly intensive user)

 

Secondly, the cheapest Chef's Choice I can see is the Chefs Choice Diamond Sharpener 316 which I can get for around £80. How much better would that be than the MinoSharp3? Obviously I know it's quite subjective but a vague indication would help me! I've seen you recommend the Chef's Choice 15 XV but that doesn't seem to exist in the UK!

 

The last question is that I've read on a couple of sites as I've been investigating (and there seems to be an almost infinite number of opinions!) that when using the MinoSharp or similar you should only use it on one brand of knife otherwise you can damaged the sharpening wheels. Is there actually any substantial truth in this? (If you know, given that you probably haven't ever used a MinoSharp!)

 

 

Thanks for taking the time and effort to answer questions for someone who is new here. It's very much appreciated! (And if you have any photography related questions I'd be happy to help from my main hobby area - not sure I have much of value to say here at the moment!)

post #10 of 19

One brand of knife?  No.  Any sharpener like the Minosharp or the CCs sets the knife's angles by virtue of the angles at which the factory set the abrasives (whether wheels, pads, or flat stones).  Once the jig has set the knife's bevel angles you'll always be sharpening a knife at those particular angles (duh), no matter what the brand.  I think what those sages of sharpenings are thinking is that using knives with a lot of different edge angles will abrade the abrasives -- but no.  You'll only change each knife once when you first re-set the angles from their factory set, and every year or so when you "thin" and "re-profile."

 

Nothing against the three stage Minosharps, but they (along with other "pull throughs") take a lot of effort to repair and do basic sharpening.  You may be talking about pulling each side of the knife through the jig 60 or more times do take a moderately dull knife to moderately sharp.  Of course if you don't rely on your Minosharp for repairs, and never let your knives go dull, that makes the whole thing better.  To me, it seems like a lot of time and trouble to get to moderately sharp.  But our circumstances are different.

 

For what it's worth, the same is true for Ceramic "V" sticks like the Spyderco Sharpmaker, Lansky "Crock Sticks," and the big Idahone "V Sticks."  Along with the Minosharp, I believe the Spyderco and Idahone are best of breeds.

 

I think that you can be happy with a Minosharp for awhile, but may outgrow it.  Pete has been using his Rollsharp forever, is a professional cook with high standards, and is happy as a clam.  That we sharpen our knives differently to different levels of sharpness doesn't make either of us wrong.  It comes down to questions of what you and can tolerate, and how much time and money you're willing to throw at it.

 

Once you use a truly sharp knife for a few months (which means keeping it sharp), your standards for what is and is not acceptable will change.  It took my wife about the months to go from "woman of the people" -- "Why do you spend so much time sharpening when they're already sharp?" -- to "knife snob" -- "Honey, you need to sharpen my knives [suddenly my knives are her knives?] are dull." 

 

BDL

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post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the input BDL.

 

I think I'll start with either the MinoSharp or the Chef's Choice (depending on which I can persuade my wife to agree to the money spend on).

 

Part of me thinks it's inevitable that in future I'll end up moving to learning to free hand (once I get a slight interest in something, I tend to turn into a geek in that area!)

 

post #12 of 19

Thanks BDL. Your advice is always very appreciated and followed by me.  I bought the Mac pro on your advice and LOVE it.  I think I probably need a sharpener about now.  Your post came just in time for me. Thank you!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Yes the Minosharp is a better sharpener than either the MAC or Fiskars Rollsharps. 

 

I've handled a lot of MAC knives and have owned a few over the years.  But, while I've bought  four MAC Pro chef's knives for other people, I never bought one for myself.  That isn't to say I haven't used and sharpened  plenty of them. 

 

Not all Japanese knives come OOTB with good edges, and of those not many are as consistent as MAC.  I'd say that MAC Pro ships at about 80% of its potential, which is significantly sharper than you could ever get a Wusthof or German made Henckels -- but that's very rough and subjective and you shouldn't be fooled by assignment of a numeric value.  There is no meaningful sharp-o-meter beyond cutting onions. 

 

If you want maximum sharpness, the best ways to get it is with bench stones or one of the uber rod-guided tool and jigs like one of the Edge Pros, or the Wicked Sharp.  If you want the best edge you can get without climbing a steep learning curve or dealing with  a lot of tedious set up and take down, your best best is one of the top of the line Chef Choice machines.  

 

Everything else is less.  You're asking, I'm telling you, but it's your choice.  If you need to sacrifice some sharpness or edge refinement to save some money, for convenience, or because -- for whatever reasons -- you don't want to learn to freehand those are some powerful reasons.  Not that you need my validation. 

 

Over the years, MAC Pro and Masamoto VG have been my most frequent recommendations.  I don't think that anyone who bought a MAC on my advice was ever burned -- at least not after letting MAC customer  service deal with the few problems which did come up.  I like the knife a lot -- but in all honesty wouldn't buy it for myself even if I were looking for a mass-produced, stainless Japanese knife in the price range; I'd go for the Masa because I like its profile so much.  What can I say?  I'm a huge fan of Masamoto chef's.

 

But... if you're gauging the quality of my advice against my personal experiences and preferences, I wouldn't buy a mass produced, stainless, western-handled chef's no matter who made it.  I'd either buy carbon or tool steel.  From the early reports -- and it's too soon to tell the Kagayaki CarboNext (tool steel) is an excellent value and very nearly the equal of the Kikuichi (fomerly Ichimonji) TKC, which is an outstanding knife with epic edge holding. 

 

I'd certainly consider those, but probably stretch the budget and buy either a Masamoto HC or a Tadatsuna White #2 (carbon) yo-gyuto.  But that's me.  

 

The last time I bought someone else a Japanese made chef's knife, it was a MAC Pro for my Dad's girlfriend about a year ago.  If I were buying it for her today, it would either be the Kagayaki or TKC.

 

Hope this helps,

BDL

post #13 of 19
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Miracle Max: Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean...
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post #14 of 19

Boker Vulkanus gives a far better using edge then either Minosharp or Chefs Choice.. Personally i've only tried the professional models but the cheaper models seems to be buildt on the same principle so would easely reccomend those aswell.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SF-XC5SHEm0

 

It's somewhat different from any other sharpening system but it just, works!

 

A shortlist of the sharpening systems i've tried

 

OBH Nordica Electric Sharpener (A Global CEO said this was the best one he ever tried) - Was okey

Minosharp (roller sharpener) - Works pretty well

Wusthof (with the handle)- Works

Chefs Choice - Tried several models, theyre decent.

Waterstones with guidening rails - Obviously works very well, but it depends on the knife hardness wether it's worth it.

Belt Sander - If youre knife is hard enough, then yes. It's worth it (as a short rule, 60 rockwell and above is totally worth sharpening uintill you reach a leather strap or 4000\6000 grit stone but softer knives seems to work better if you just leave it at 600\1200 grit)

Boker Vulkanus Professional - Without a doubt the "In the kitchen" sharpener i've ever tried.

 

Try it, you seriously wont want anything else after. At home right now i've got a 300\1000 and a 1000\6000 grit stone, guidening rails and the vulkanus and I pretty much only bother with the vulkanus

post #15 of 19

Firstly, let me thank everyone on this board for providing such an amazing wealth of information. I've spent several hours reading through the threads, and find this all fascinating and very instructive.

 

As a graduation present, I was recently given a Mac Professional 6.5" santoku and a 3.25" paring knife, as well as a Minosharp 3. These are the first knives I have ever owned, and I want to make sure I take care of them properly. Working towards this goal, I've developed several questions that I've been unable to locate answers for:

 

-As a complete novice, how easy/hard would it be for me to damage the knives with the minosharp? Would it make sense to get an inexpensive knife to practice on?

- I only have two knives right now, and kitchen space is very limited. Most of the knife blocks I've seen are massive and don't seem to make a lot of sense for me. Are there other storage options that will protect my knives, but save space?

- Is honing appropriate for these knives, and if so, what type of steel? My current understanding is that diamond steels are actually sharpeners, but I'm unclear regarding the diffferences between steel and ceramic steels. Finally, any tips for maintaining the appropriate angle (which I think is 15 degrees, 30 included?) while honing?

 

Thanks again for providing such a fantastic online resource!

post #16 of 19

The Minosharp is adequate, but just barely.  If you don't let your knife get too dull, and use it diligently, it will keep the edge adequately but not oustandingly sharp.  Consider that praise with faint damns, as "adequately sharp" is much sharper than most cooks experience once the blade has lost its factory edge.

 

The Minosharp is easy to use.  You don't need a practice knife, not that it's a bad idea. Just follow the directions and remember to use light pressure with your parer.  The weight of the santoku should supply enough on its own.  If you do decide to use a practice knife you'll need one that's already beveled to 15* on each side, because (a) that's what the Minosharp is set at, and (b) the Minosharp is nowhere near aggressive enough to profile new angles.

 

Yes, the MAC factory bevel is set at 15* on each side. 

 

A small, wall-mounted magnetic knife bar is probably your best bet for storage.  You can use it for some of your other metal utensils as well, so any extra length need not go begging.  Another option is an in-drawer block.  They're available in several different sizes.  If you must store your knives in a drawer without that kind of block, buy some plastic knife sheaths.  They're relatively inexpensive and you can get them online from many of the better knife sellers. 

 

The best way to learn to feel the angle on a rod hone (aka "knife steel") for a beginner is by a process called "clicking in."  (It's also the best way for beginning freehand sharpeners to learn and duplicate the factory set.)  Lay the knife flat against the rod and gradually rotate it so the angle of knife to rod becomes steeper and steeper.  When you go past the factory set, you'll feel it.  Then rotate it back the other way, and again, as you pass the set you'll feel it.  Do it a few times, and eventually you'll feel the set.  Keep a soft grip while you do it or you won't feel anything.

 

When you do hone your knife, limit yourself to no more than four passes on each side (alternating sides).  Two is usually better.  The principal purpose of honing is to true (straighten) the edge rather than to sharpen by removing steel.  Too many passes on the hone will weaken the edge and encourage chipping, it will also tend to deform rather than straighten.

 

There's not a lot of difference in use between an appropriate steel hone and a ceramic.  It's very easy to recommend a ceramic hone, appropriate for Japanese made knives, at a good price, but it's a far more complicated subject with steel hones, as there are so many which are inappropriate (harmful).  Consequently, the ceramics have become popular with people who own better knives.  If you want to know more about steeling, read this.

 

BDL

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post #17 of 19

Wow, thanks for such a speedy and helpful response. I saw that in another thread you recommended the Idahone ceramic rod. Would I want the coarse or fine version?

post #18 of 19

Um, if I understand BDL correctly, there is no real choice, the finest you can find is probably too coarse! crazy.gif

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post #19 of 19

LOL.  Pete understands me very well.  Perhaps too well.

 

Idahone fine is fine.  You don't want the coarse, it serves a different purpose and serves it poorly.  You want your rod to be at least as long as your longest knife, and preferably a couple of inches longer.

 

BDL

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