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Buying my first yanagi

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I cook quite a bit at home and have been using an 8" Chicago Cutlery chef knife.I have only a small sharpening stone and need to buy a steel. I take care of the knife now and have every intention to purchase a good set of wetstones and a steel.


I have read up on some different threads here and on some other forums and a couple of knives that I hear about are the Tanka Kasumi and Damascus and the Yoshihiro Kasumi. I read many good things about the Masamato KK but would like to keep the knife cost below $200 as I will still need to purchase a steel and wetstone.


My questions are, should i be looking at any other knives? and I have read that some knives ship razor sharp while others do not but some retailers can sharpen the knife before shipping.


Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 5
Chicago Cutlery knives are garbage. You'll enjoy cooking a lot more with something you can get and keep sharp -- not to mention better in every other way as well.

To the extent that should matters, you shouldn't buy a yanagiba at all. It's unlikely you have the needs or skills to get much out of it. It seems more unlikely still you have the skills to sharpen one; and you definitely don't have the tools. Furthermore, there's no such thing as a good, inexpensive yanagiba. Anything less expensive than a Masamoto KK will also be quite a bit less knife.

Start with a good chef's knife (aka "gyuto") and a decent sharpening kit. You can still get a good, entry-level, 24cm chef's knife for around $100 or less. -- the Fujiwara FKM, for instance; or the Tojiro DP. A good rod hone (aka "steel") is below $35. Pricing sharpening kit is another matter. I think separates are much better than combination stones, but they cost a lot more. You can get two good separates (enough to get you started) for about $75; or an adequate combi for less than $50.

Water stones and oil stones are both whet stones. To "whet' is to sharpen. Oil stones may be used wet with water or oil, or they may be used dry. Water stones must be wet with water. The term "wet stone" doesn't mean anything, unless someone's just cleaned a marble floor.

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice. When buying the stones seperate, what roughness should I get?



post #4 of 5
Start with two surfaces -- one medium/coarse for drawing the first burr and one medium/fine for drawing a fine burr, and doing a little polishing. The medium/coarse stone should be in the neighborhood of 1000# JIS, and the medium/fine stone should be somewhere between 4000# and 7000#.

My recommendation depends on how much you want to spend, what your skill level is, whether you want to keep the stones for awhile and so on. For the present, my generic recommendation is the Bester 1200 for medium/coarse; and either the Suehiro Rika 5000 or Takenoko 6000 for medium/fine, depending. Extrapolating from the very little I know about you, the Suehiro is probably a better choice. It's more beginner friendly, and cheaper too.

The idea behind starting with two surfaces is to learn to draw a burr, chase it, and deburr on the medium/coarse stone. Then, when you can actually improve an edge at that level, develop some consistency (and sharper, more durable edges) with the medium/fine.

Once you're consistent at holding the edge angles you want to hold, you can move on to a coarse stone for repair and proflling. You probably won't use the coarse stone more than a few times a year. If your knives can benefit, you might want to add a very fine polishing stone at the same time you buy the coarse.

Coarse stones have consequences, so you want to make very sure you're in control before using them; if you're not ready, you'll either spin your wheels to no effect or more likely round the edges over on an expensive polishing stone. No point in buying either or both until you can use them.

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

Well thank you for the advice, I just purchased the gyuto and a petty along with stones and a rod hone. Time to retire the old knife and start working with something nicer as well as work on my sharpening skills

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