i am a rock guitar player and have spent years obsessing about and discussing music gear via online forums and such. often the the seriously passionate hobbiests end up with gear that surpasses the quality (and cost) of the vast majority of pro musicians' gear. spending the last week delving into the cutlery world, i can't help wondering whether the same thing doesn't happen with knives. just a thought.
Good insight. You're exactly right. Hobbyists -- many of whom have low or no skills -- delve more deeply and spend far more money than pros. That's not to say there isn't plenty of bang for the buck up to fairly high price levels. The Japanese revolution is real.
i gotta say the the whole Japanese chef knife recommendation has had me chasing my tail all weekend. i was thinking that maybe instead of the 10" Vic Pro Forged maybe i should consider something like the Tojiro DP Gyuto 240mm, just to see what this harder VG-10 steel is all about.
VG-10 is not the only good choice by any means. It was the absolute darling of the knife world for awhile but there are issues; and FWIW, it's not even one of my favorites.
Better alloys are important, but there are other reasons to look to Japanese made knives -- one of which is their French profile.
Also worth noting that the current trend in European and American high-end knife manufacturing is towards better than those previously used, and/or at least improving the heat treatment of X50CrMoV15 and X55CrMoV15 to maximize edge characteristics and allow for thinner, lighter knives.
reading about this led me to realize that this steel is most likely harder than the cheap honing steel i have (i don't even know the maker), and also possibly harder than the one that i'll eventually get from the Vic Pro line (i can't find the Pro line sharpening steel hardness published anywhere).
99% of what the steel does is accomplished with geometry and mass. While having a harder steel than the knife is a convenient metric, as long as the steel is "hard enough" hardness isn't that big a deal.
i'm used to doing a quick 4 stroke touch-up before each use but i'm guessing that can only be done with ceramic or diamond hone rods on the 60+ hard steels like VG-10; otherwise you'd be cutting the rod, right?? or is the whole sharpening steel thing just not down with these harder knives?
Touching up before every use isn't the best maintenance. You need a better board, a better knife, a better sharpening regimen or some combination.
A good metal hone can handle 60+ blades, but aren't necessarily the best choice either. Ceramics are cheap for their quality, but their hardness is less important than the quality of their surface and their resistance to nicking.
Diamond steels should be avoided altogether because they're too aggressive. Rods are not a good tool for abrasive sharpening. The narrow contact point of a rod tends to magnify inevitable errors. Ironically, the proviso against diamond steels included both "diamond cut" and "diamond dust" steels. Even though they're completely different materials and construction, they're both too aggressive.
At some degree of hardness, steeling becomes counter productive. It actually depends more on the strength/toughness characteristics of the blade, but since hardness is a metaphor (more or less) for strength, you can fudge it in as an important hint. "Too hard" lies around 63RCH, or maybe a bit north. Too much asymmetry doesn't steel well either.
anyway this need for a separate rod and/or a whole change in approach makes me wonder whether the step up to the VG-10 would even be worth it for us. i know my wife will simply not use the knife if it requires special care. (actually i think i just answered my own question :) )
I don't know if the move to a Japanese made knife (or an American knife which exemplifies the same benefits) would be good for you or not. Stainless knives of the type don't require extra or special care, but respond to good sharpening and maintenance just as any other, quality knife would. Better is better.
The big change, such as it is, is that knives of the type require a little extra babying in terms of how you approach tasks like splitting chickens, cutting hard gourds, or skinning pineapples. Otherwise, alla time same same.
Buy your wife a good knife which suits her EXACTLY, and take care of yours and hers. My wife loves my old carbon Sabatiers, regards their provenance as misleading coincidence, considers them "hers," and they're pretty much all she uses. I take care of them. I also take care of my Japanese knives, which she never uses.
It didn't take her long from her old low standards before we started living together, to demanding excellent sharpness, either. I doubt your wife is different.
Don't get sidetracked by alloys, it's all about sharpness.