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Hey Grasshopper, harder isn't always better

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I've got a couple of cooks who in the last 8 weeks or so upgraded from tojiros to new gyuto's, specifically AS steel knives. They seem to have nothing but problems getting a good edge or keeping a good edge. Most of the sharpening is being done on Shapton glass stones (220,1k,4k). 

 

Before they bought these knives I reminded them that harder isn't always better, in fact sometimes softer is more preferable. The example I use is boning knives, my carbon sabs ( both flexible filet & boning ) get plenty sharp but no so sharp that when we bone veal or pork we cut THROUGH or CHIP the bone.Giving extra bone matter on a plate isn't value added in my kitchen. I routinely stop sharpening after 1K because I like a bit more tooth on my knives for boning, still get plenty sharp and the edge retention is decent With my gyuto's, suji's and petty I 'll go all the way to 4K.

 

The 2nd problem with all this super hard steel is getting it sharp. I have put a screaming good edge on AS steel knives but it can take a long time. While I don't mind my cooks using some company time to sharpen, I can't give them 45min. every 2nd or 3rd shift to sharpen not to mention that I get tired off listening to them complain. Although I don't seem to get tired of telling them " you should have listened grasshopper!  Chef is wise and shrewd and you should have listen to him.".

 


When I bought my last Gyuto (fujiwara 240 stainless) all my grasshoppers laughed at me ! They waved there AS steel at me like a vuvuzela in South Africa but it is I who got the last laugh, just like the vuvuzela, their precious AS knives lie in a drawer collecting dust. Now my kitchen seems to have alot of Tojiros, Mac Pro's, Maasa VG's and my often scoffed at but never dull Fuji's. Come to think of it since all that harder steel is gone most of the knives are sharp.

 

So to all you young cooks, new guys, FNG's and grasshoppers beware! harder isn't always better. Sharp always beats dull. Easy to sharp is usually better than harder to sharp.

 

Any other pros's out there with the same thoughts?

 

p.s. I finally taught them how to sharpen those damn things but the Tojiros still get plenty of work !

 

 

post #2 of 17

I"m not a pro... but if it helps, I still agree with you.

 

Hardness is not irrelevant, but it's not reliable (i.e., reported hardness isn't even reliable, let alone the fact that it's measuring indentation, which is only indirectly related to forces on an edge).  And it's hardly the only consideration.  In many cases, harder steel is more difficult to sharpen (but not all -- not the only consideration, there, either).  It should, all else being equal (it never is) be something of an indication of how steep an edge a steel can take, and how good the edge retention is.  But an edge that can be sharpened quickly might be more important, or an edge that can kept true with a honing rod might be more important, or being able to sharpen on lesser stones, or *with lesser skill* might be more important...

 

And there's more detail to say about all of that, but the ultimate message is "I agree".

 

That said, edge-retention *is* important... steeper angles might be important...   there are reasons to want harder steels (up to a point) even for general-use knives.  But it's definitely not a sole indicator of the desirability of a knife.  Not even close. And you point out trade-offs very well.

post #3 of 17
In the first place, using carbon Sabs as a comparison is unfair. If ever there were a ringer, c'est la. Many of the AS knives are on the obverse side of that particular coin. They're made of a super-prestigious alloy, but for one reason or another don't have great edge or use qualities.

Sign my name right under the two of yours.

+1 more.

BDL
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post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

Wagstaff,

 

Well played, you did a fine job of pointing out the benefits of hard steel. It's my belief that people shopping for knives these days spend some time on sites such as this on. While some of these postings present solid solid, factual information ( yours included ) many just preach one sided nonsense with any accurate perspective.

 

While I love the idea of freedom of speech we must clarify context.The average home cook, even a serious one, doesn't produce the volume of prep seen in a decent kitchen much less a club with multiple dinning venues as well as banquet space. It could be argued that the home cook/ collector would benefit more from harder steels as the reduced work load keeps edges in better shape longer than in a pro environment. I have a Kikuchi carbon elite gyuto. great knife, comfortable, not overly reactive, will get very sharp but has lousy edge retention. This is the knife that typically stays at home. I do like to sharpen my own tools but I don't want to sharpen that often. While the SK-5 steel isn't particularly hard the argument still applies. There is just to much credit given to hardness, it's misleading without proper context. Unfortunately to many young cooks buy the hype.

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

BDL

Thanks for chiming in. I don't think that the sabs are that much of  ringer ! I used them primary because they are my principal fabrication tools and they are easy to sharpen. Maybe that point would better made with my 15 year old forschner boning knives.

 

Save the cool super alloy's for the next Space Shuttle program. The difference between great cooks and mediocre cooks in the professional world is fundamentals. Nothing is as fundamental as a sharp knife.

post #6 of 17



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by V lou tay View Post

 

Before they bought these knives I reminded them that harder isn't always better, in fact sometimes softer is more preferable. ...

 

...When I bought my last Gyuto (fujiwara 240 stainless) all my grasshoppers laughed at me ! They waved there AS steel at me like a vuvuzela in South Africa but it is I who got the last laugh, just like the vuvuzela, their precious AS knives lie in a drawer collecting dust. Now my kitchen seems to have alot of Tojiros, Mac Pro's, Maasa VG's and my often scoffed at but never dull Fuji's.

 

I'm not a pro, but if I were a pro, I would certainly go for those Fujiwaras too; cheap yet elegant, light, good profile, nice balance so they are very agile and feel as if they weigh nothing, easy to sharpen etc. Bref, a very no nonsense knife.

I do have personal experience with different kinds of steels as I own Fujiwaras, very similar and also very excellent Misono Moly, HiromotoAS and quite a number of VG10s from different makers, just one white steel carbon that I thourougly hate and one CowryX that I'm afraid to harm.

 

I always come back to my trusted FKM stainless simple Fujiwaras, also for tough jobs and occasional needed knife abuse like on lobstershells. I cut straight through chickenbones (legbones included!!) with their fantastic boning knife without having a scratch! For a very simple and obvious reason they seldom chip; they are made out of a little softer steel than say VG10s. They won't keep an edge very long but neither does any of my knives. Maybe I should say that VG10s have a little advantage on edge keeping. Still, if a chip comes off a knife, it's a VG10. All of them chip and it's only due to the fact that it is very hard steel, thus more brittle. And they are indeed quite difficult to sharpen correctly.

 

My conclusion is made a long time ago; imo Fujiwaras are made of the ideal kitchenknife steel! Ditto for Misono Moly. Not too hard not too soft. Still, their steel is already much harder than say a Wüsthof.

post #7 of 17
Just to make sure we're on the same page, by "ringer," I meant the Sabs are much, much better than many would expect. The term ringer refers to a pro who's passed off as an amateur as part of a hustle.

BDL
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post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

No offense taken or meant to be passed on. I assumed you were referring to the fact that Carbon Sabs are so easy to sharpen compared to AS steel that it was an unfair comparison. Another reason I used them as an example is that most young cooks have no understanding or appreciation for good old French carbon Most everything these days are geared toward J knives. It's good for us seasoned (old) cooks to give some prospective to all the young pups out there.

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by V lou tay View Post

No offense taken or meant to be passed on. I assumed you were referring to the fact that Carbon Sabs are so easy to sharpen compared to AS steel that it was an unfair comparison. Another reason I used them as an example is that most young cooks have no understanding or appreciation for good old French carbon Most everything these days are geared toward J knives. It's good for us seasoned (old) cooks to give some prospective to all the young pups out there.


As a very disagreeable, nasty old man, I looked hard for something with which to disagree and nast... but nope. +1.

BDL
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post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 

As a very disagreeable, nasty old man, I looked hard for something with which to disagree and nast... but nope. +1.

 

While I suspect your passion for old French Carbon is fueled by your enjoyment of them and your desire to share with I could start the rumor that's it's actually due to the fact that you were indeed one of the sledge hammer wielding individuals who discovered the cache of old blanks and your secertly a member of a radical French socialist movement raising funds with these knifes to help promote chaos and anarchy in western Europe

 

Only if your looking for something to disagree with !

 

post #11 of 17
Merde! That was supposed to be secret.

BDL
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post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

This internet thing won't last don't worry!

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hey Chris

 

Just curious... which white steel do you have that you totally hate?

 

I've got a tojiro white steel I got CKTG that I bought as a plaything to sharpen with It's just too soft to be an everyday knife.

post #14 of 17

My unwanted child in white steel is a 270 mm slicer made by Naozumi. It came with little or no sharpening and much too thick to be a good cutter, nothing new for a Japanese knife. Then I dicided to thin it. Took me 2 days hard labour on a rough stone to get it right! Since the blades were all scratched up from the thinning I tried to polish the thing. Again I spent endless hours to get it at a mirror polished state. Two days later I made jam with pine apples. The knife reacted very violently probably due to fresh metal being exposed; strong discoloration and a bad smell coming from the steel (I didn't realize pine apple was so acidic). To be short, I never got it back to the mirrorfinish, so I dicided to roughen it up again with sandpaper.

It still is an incredible tough thing and can be sharpened to an unknown level, but I don't like it. I prefer stainless.

 

It's the longest knife in the first picture. The second picture is after thinning and mirror polishing (you really have to be totally nuts to do this!). 

TsuchimeSantokuGyotoWB.jpg

 

polishing.jpg

 

 

 

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

cool but yes nuts!!!

I give you credit, it's far more effort than I would commit to. How fine are you going to get that finish. I don't own anything finer than 4K glass stone. As we do virtually no shashimi or Japanese style fish work I've never seen the need in a practical sense for my style of cooking. In fact I usually stop at 1K with my boning knives as I like the toothy quality I get.

post #16 of 17

 

Quote:
It's good for us seasoned (old) cooks to give some prospective to all the young pups out there.

thumb.gif

Quote:

When I bought my last Gyuto (fujiwara 240 stainless) all my grasshoppers laughed at me !

 

Though I am very close to deciding on the next addition to my "family" and expect it to be something very different than this I have to admit I am very happy I found my way to purchasing that knife (Fujiwara FKM 240 Gyuto) over the more expensive ones and even the same length Tojiro DP.

 

Have not worked in a commercial setting in a long time, but still get to put them through their paces fairly often (sliced up a few pounds of nice skirt steak with her today) and thoroughly enjoy my Fuji.

 

Since the guys here were part of that decision to go with the function of Fujiwara over the hardness of the VG10 blades I was also considering I once again give them props for steering me in the right direction.

 

The ease of sharpening has been a big benefit, and even though it does not hold that edge as long as the Tojiro DP's I have it is fine for my use and better than any of the Germans I had used previously.

 

Only problem I am having is that I keep finding a growing interest in these Sabs that BDL is so fond of. Had even made a stop on a recent trip down I95 earlier this year to a "supposed" factory outlet located in GA, but was not finding anything like I see discussed here, and prices were obscene.

 

So in helping out a not so young grasshopper which ones should I be looking for? I am going to try and fit both a slicer (most likely suji or?) and a longer ish petty 150mm+ into the budget so try to stay around those etc.

 

Only other factors I have decided on is that I wanted to try one of the higher end vg10 (well higher than the Tojiro I have now) and also something carbon or semi carbon. Not sure which will be which material, and also keep in mind I am trying to have something "more" to compare the Fuji and Tojiro to etc.

 

Oh and BTW great thread!!!!!!

 

 

 

"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

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"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

Reply
post #17 of 17


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBelgium View Post

My unwanted child in white steel is a 270 mm slicer made by Naozumi. It came with little or no sharpening and much too thick to be a good cutter, nothing new for a Japanese knife. Then I dicided to thin it. Took me 2 days hard labour on a rough stone to get it right! Since the blades were all scratched up from the thinning I tried to polish the thing. Again I spent endless hours to get it at a mirror polished state. Two days later I made jam with pine apples. The knife reacted very violently probably due to fresh metal being exposed; strong discoloration and a bad smell coming from the steel (I didn't realize pine apple was so acidic). To be short, I never got it back to the mirrorfinish, so I dicided to roughen it up again with sandpaper.

It still is an incredible tough thing and can be sharpened to an unknown level, but I don't like it. I prefer stainless.

 

It's the longest knife in the first picture. The second picture is after thinning and mirror polishing (you really have to be totally nuts to do this!). 

TsuchimeSantokuGyotoWB.jpg

 

polishing.jpg

 

 

 



Chris I got two questions for you on this.

 

How long did it really take you to get the whole thing polished up like that?

 

What did you use?

 

Oh heck make it three lol, does it still look anything like in the pic above?

 

Thanx

 

"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

Reply

 

"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

Reply
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