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Which Sabatier?

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 

Hey there! I'm a uni student working towards my MA and don't tend to have much money kicking around. However, Christmas is coming and this is an opportunity for me to ask for knives.


Now, sharpening-wise I have a 1k grit whetstone, do I know how to use it? That is a different question entirely! (But I am practicing!)


I recently purchased a Wusthof Classic pairing knife and a used stainless Sabatier elephant 8 inch off Ebay. I love the feel of the Sabatier and am interested in the best they can offer.


Previous research in the forum led me to this site:

but here I am faced with a whole choice of knives (wee bit overwhelming!). Now I know that I want a Sabatier, and research in the forum pointed me towards something around a 10 inch.


What would you guys recommend? Just carbon steel? Canadian? Nogent?


Thanks a lot guys! Hope I'm not repeating an earlier question but didn't find one!






post #2 of 51

You get the perfect western handle, and a more "romantic" knife with the Nogents from TBT.  No rivets showing, perfect (thinner) ebony handles, the knives of Escoffier.... OMFG they're beautiful.  I"ve heard storoes of bends and other imperfections in fit and finish, while mine engendered no such complaints.


You get something very close and likely more perfect from K-Sabatier.  Which you can buy from France (and get free engraving on) or buy in the USA from Sabatier Outlet.  Those have POM handles and rivets, and are likely to be nearer-perfect fit and finish, and suffer only in regards to  how FREAKING COOL the Nogent handles are.  Probably the POM handles are more practical.  Maybe the K-Sabs are a smidgeon thicker than the Nogents, too, but ... maybe not.


I don't see any advantages to the Candian Sabs from TBT.  Good knives, no question.  Are they cheaper? Hmmm.  Otherwise they're excellent knives with a somewhat less refined look.  AND... if you're looking at TBT in particular, do NOT confuse a chef's knife with a chef-de-chef.  The latter is a thicker, heavier thing.  Not meant as an all around chef's knife.  It's not hard to keep to it straight, but... some people I know don't.  Or didn't.  TBT was quite good about taking knives back and replacing and all... but why go through that if you don't have to.  Just know: a chef-de-chef is not a chef's knife.  That's pretty much everything you need to knokw about the Canadian Massifs.


All of the above is talking about the Sab CARBON steel knives.  You already  have a stainless.  So you know what an awesome profile and what a crap steel.  (relatively).


If you want to stick with stainless, we need to talk about Japanese knives. Sab carbons are a total bargain if you don't need the "japanese knife experience"; the Sab stainless, not so much.

Edited by Wagstaff - 12/2/11 at 7:58am
post #3 of 51

I didn't have the greatest purchasing experience with my K Sab, so it seems that it might be best to inspect the knife in person, or make very clear what condition it must be in. In the end they just refurbished the knife I sent back and there's a slight ripple on the face of the blade. I really don't have the money to endless ship knives back to them, so I guess they won. The ripple seems shallow enough to be labeled just a cosmetic defect. It still kind of annoying though. But the knife is comfortable and efficient and that's what matters. I used to get these twangs of pain in my wrist when using Forschers and other similar stamped blade knives, but there's been none of that my K Sab.

post #4 of 51
Thread Starter 

Hmmm alright, definitely not thinking of the "Japanese Experience", I looove the feel of the sabs. SO is the difference between the Nogent and the just carbon steel ones the handle? The Nogent looks gorgeous BUT seems a bit harder to repair no?


As for the Chef de Chef, thank you so very much! I thought it was a chef's knife. Definitely not a matter of language barrier as French was my first language (and it uh pretty self-explanatory terminology wise) but jeeze! I would never have known thank you so much!


As for the K I thought their was some sort of link in ownership between Thiers and K, is it true or am I off the deep end? As for differences, are there any really, certainly in steel quality?


I forgot to mention earlier, I love wooden handles so I'll stay away from any plastic (call me ignorant but I assume that POM is some sort of composite plastic?)


As for the K, what would be your best suggestion for prices? I'm looking for shipping to Quebec :)


Wunder: danke schoen ;P you've got me worried! Guess I can't confine myself to rose-tinted lenses, certainly not with sums like these!



Hmmmm surprised BDL hasn't posted, Sabs seem to his thing :D

post #5 of 51

I have a good friend in NH who bought a Canadian Massif chef-de-chef and... well, the folks at TBT were very good about exchanging it.  No F&F issues, he just didn't want, and didn't know he ordered, a "lobster cracker".


The Nogents are made with old stock, which may make a difference in a few ways that get quickly over my head.  (Just aging the steel may or may not harden it a bit; they may be marginally thinner than the new knives, but I'm repeating stuff from vague memory, here, not sharing any direct observations.... so I'll shut up about all that, now).  The handle difference is partially a handle difference (!) and really a tang difference.  Nogents are not full-tang, triple-riveted (as you can see in pictures).  Does this matter?  Probably not to the sturdiness of the knife.  Or probably not in a practical sense, that is.  I'm sure if the point is to stress-test the knives, the difference becomes apparent.


And... well.... I learned everything I know from BDL.... (that's only a very slight exaggeration when it comes to Sabs, actually) so I'll wait on his sage advice when it comes to the finer distinctions between the various Elephants and K-s, and the possible ownership overlap.  If I'm not mistaken, they are just separate companies, though.  I've seen many people post on forums with fit/finish issues on the Nogents, such as handle angle being bent and such.  I think the folks at TBT will be very good about exchanging any knives that are unsatisfactory, but you'd rather not worry about that in the first place.  And my own Nogents were just fine, no problem.  They weren't particularly sharp OOTB, but you'll find that (maybe) across the board.


Meanwhile, read this:


And also read post 7 here:


I think any dating of the info is more likely to apply to the Japanese knives discussed than the Sabs. 


I once tried to order a K-Sab from France -- they'll also do free engraving for you.  But I had bank/payment issues that were probably just me.  I found Sabatier Outlet in the U.S., which would have been less expensive for me anyway.  And I didn't buy one after all, because ... I already had my Nogent and needed to stop being precious about it. I also got the J-knife bug.  Anyway, I don't know if the free engraving is important to you -- if so, AFAIK France is your only option. But I'll leave you to research the postage/prices to Quebec.  And you're looking, presumably, at the "Au Carbone" line from K-Sab, for the most direct comparison to the four-star Elephants from T-I.


Just to make sure the most valuable thing I say is the last, I'm going to repeat:


Meanwhile, read this:


And also read post 7 here:

post #6 of 51
Thread Starter 

Woah Wagstaff! Thank you so much! You've done a wonderful job! Something tells me that the TI nogents will slither onto my Christmas list ;)


Thanks a lot guys!!!


If anyone has anything else to say though I'm still glad to hear it! Also, any suggestions concerning stones/stropping etc.? I have a 1k stone, should I get a 6k or so? Or just a strop and some 20k? I (kind of) understand the difference between keen edges and sharp edges, I'm just wondering what would be best for a nogent.


Also patina wise, how does one care for it? Is it easier to nurse a patina than constantly shine up the knife? If so, I've read onions, mustard, etc. can all help form a patina must I think I need further clarification.


Thank you so much guys!!!




Just to make sure,


If I want the K, is this a good link?


And for the nogent it would just be in here right?



1925-TI Sabatier Nogent Ebony Chef's Knife 10"


I'm a wee bit paranoid after reading about rip offs and etc.

Edited by Ntosaj - 12/2/11 at 8:26am
post #7 of 51

I'm REALLY good at pointing out BDL's writings :-)

I'd be about to do the same for sharpening stones and patination, but... I'm late for work. I'll check in later but I expect you'll have all you need by then.

post #8 of 51
Thread Starter 

Alright! Thanks again!!! Shame on you for being late to work though ;) I guess I should start my final article on the American Civil War instead of looking at knives lol

post #9 of 51

Both modern and antique Sabatiers (like the "Nogents" from TBT) have limited scratch hardness.  They also rate pretty low in terms of impact hardness, which means they get dinged out of true pretty easily and benefit from plenty of steeling between trips to the stones. 


Consequently, there's no practical reason to put a super high polish on them.  The 3K - 6K range is about right, with the proviso that 5K or 6K is probably overkill, but doesn't involve extra effort.  I used to routinely take mine to 8K and sometimes even all the way up to a strop charged with 0.25u diamond.  But bottom line that's more "screwing around," than practical sharpening.  


Carbon Sabatiers sharpen very easily with both oil stones and water stones.  My experience is that coarse water stones are less prone to scratch, and that quality water stones are a little faster in general; but with appropriate stone choices, there's no real difference in terms of getting the best practical edge. It's hard to beat a really good black or translucent Arkansas, just as it's hard to beat a Takenoko.  


If you're diving into the world of carbon Sabs, do yourself a favor and get a really good steel. 



post #10 of 51
Thread Starter 

Thanks a lot BDL!


For starting would a 1k-3k be alright? Or is the grit too low? I woudn't wanna shred the knife. As for the 0.25u diamond, sounds like overkill, fun, fun overkill!


As for the arkansas, where would you suggest I get a good one for a good price? Is this the kind of thing you can find on ebay or would the search parameters be too vague? I've seen countless arkansas stones on ebay, but many don't specify grit...


As for the really good steel, would you reccommend the ones that the sab companies sell? Or is there something better? What would be the best steel/price ratio? Let's remember, I'm on a budget ;)


Sorry for the endless questions!


Thanks a lot though, I can't wait to get into the art of sharpening, I guess I should already start with some random clunkers lying around and my stone, get some practice in!


Thanks again!



post #11 of 51

A 1K/3K combi stone would work.  That's 1K for basic sharpening and 3K for finishing.  3K isn't too fine for anything, but it's a little toothy for some tasks.  At some point within the next year or so, you'll want to add a coarser stone, say 500# or coarser, for thinning, profiling and repair.  Sabatiers are shipped with roughly 20* edge angles, but work much better at 15*.  You want to thin at the heel, and reset the bevel as soon as possible; but "as soon as possible" includes learning to sharpen pretty well before putting a good knife on a coarse stone. 


My oil stone kit is Norton coarse India (around 200#), Norton fine India (just below 1000#), Hall's Soft Arkansas (call it around 1200#); and Hall's Surgical Black Arkansas (around 4 - 5K#).  These grits suit the Sabatiers very well.  To be clear, I'm not recommending you run out and buy an oil stone kit.  The right water stones will work as well.


As to Arkansas stones, I suggest buying only from Hall's Pro Edge.  The quality of Arkansas stones depends very much on the quarry, which is why I identified my stones' manufacturer.  Hall's soft and black are better than anyone else's, while their translucent is Norton's equal.  Norton soft, hard and translucent are extremely good, but not as attractively priced.  Dan's is a close third. 


If you are going to buy a complete oil stone kit, I suggest cloning mine.  Buy a Norton IB8 (combination coarse and fine India) for your synthetics, and a Norton Sharpening Station (IM-50 I think), to hold it and your Arks.  "India" is a Norton trade name for their Aluminum Oxide synthetics, and all India stones are made by Norton.  As a general rule, you can't go far wrong buying any Norton stone; but sometimes there are better for less. 


Speaking of which, don't buy Norton water stones for kitchen knives; they're very good but very expensive for the type (clay binder).  Kings are a better deal and will do as good a job. 


Carbon Sabs sharpen very easily.  You don't need the very best water stones to do a good job. 


Idahone fine (aka "1200") 12" steel.  Great tool, great price.  I'm a big fan of steels and often use them for deburring as well as for truing.  We can get into their ins and outs if you like, but I've got a post on my blog called "Steeling Away," which Wagstaff already linked, and which will probably answer most of your steeling your questions.  For the little it's worth, I don't use an Idahone or any ceramic... but they're the best solution for most people.



post #12 of 51
Thread Starter 

Gah! Sorry I meant too coarse about the 3k, my brain had been reduced to mush by my exams.


When you say too toothy for some tasks, what tasks pray tell?


Hmmmm very, very interesting. So if I understand right and I'm on a budget I should head over to Hall's asap and get the combination arkansas stone, then grab the idahone 12 inch and build up the rest of the collection gradually?


Once more money/holidays come my way I go for the coarse norton and surgical arkansas then fill in the rest?


Two more questions if I haven't tried you patience enough yet...


Which size arkansas is best for me? I need something that will sharpen well but don't have the cash to spend on the biggest size, will a 6 inch combination suffice?


And finally, what would you suggest for sharpening a stainless sab lion that I stumbled across? Of course, first I need to redo/have someone redo the edge, some monster passed the poor thing through a grinder!


Thank you so much! I'm so glad that I won't spend a bunch of money on these things and find out that they're useless!!!!

post #13 of 51
Thread Starter 



I was offered a Norton India combination B14 for 22$ from someone who retails them, would that work instead of the arkansas? Totally different thing completely?


Thanks for guiding twit through it!

post #14 of 51

Hey again Ntosaj. I'm a bit new to all of this as well, so I won't go boldly recommending my setup, but I'll tell you what I've got so far for my carbon Sab. My current coarse stone is a cheap King 1k waterstone and my next stone is a big leap to a King 6k. It would be nice to have something between the two, but maybe later. The 1k is 8" and that's a decent size, but the 6k is a bit smaller (7.25") and it's already noticeably more difficult with a 10" blade.


My honing rod is a Victorinox / Forschner, model 7.8510. I can find very little info about this one online, but it's a 12" round, metal hone that is almost smooth. (They call it "micro-fine cut".) It was around 40e. I use it a few times a day during prep and my Sab (as well as my Forschners) reacts very well to it. 


My next purchase will probably be a Norton India IB8 combination. That stone will allow me to do repairs and reprofiling on the coarse side and the fine side could act as an intermediary step to my King 1k. 


A few sharpening guides in case you haven't seen them already:

There's also a good info at and (The latter can be a bit difficult to navigate and the search doesn't work so great for me, but a little patience can go a long way.) 

post #15 of 51

You won't find a huge amount of difference between a King 1K and the fine India side of a Norton IB8.  The reason I use a fine India and soft Arkansas is because the soft Ark so much of a better lead in to my black Ark.  I guess it has something to do with the complexity of the scratch of the natural stones, but that's only a guess.  Whatever the reason, I'm sure it does make quite a difference.  


Getting back to your kit, I'm not sure if you could go directly from a fine India to a 6K King or not; nor am I sure if the 1K King would be a good choice to clean up after a coarse India.  Not saying it isn't, just that I don't know.  In your case, it might be a good idea to get a medium India (if you can find them in Europe) instead of the IB8. 


1K/6K King jump is doable, but an intermediate or even just a faster finishing stone will probably make you happier.  Not all 5K and 6K stones are equal.  6K Kings leave a decent finish, but are slow, dish quickly, and as clay binders are pretty much obsolete.


When you put together a stone kit, it's a good idea to choose one stone as its heart, then add other stones which are calculated to work with it.  In my oil stone kit, the lynch pin is the black Ark.


By North American standards that Forschner steel is very expensive.  Without any criticism of the steel (it's excellent for the purpose), you can get better for less here.



post #16 of 51

All fair points, BDL. I'll probably build around a Bester 2k (then a Bester 700) when funding permits, as that will allow me to utilize my current setup for the longest. No Norton mediums here that I've seen, so the IB8 is my stop-gap for now.


Q: Is there an advantage to a ceramic hone with carbon steel and softer stainless over a smooth metal/glass rod? The Idahone is a really good deal over there and it's preemptive against the purchase of harder steel knives, but otherwise?

post #17 of 51

There's no real advantage to ceramic other than price.  Ceramics are typically harder than metal, but hardness usually isn't that important if the knives are properly steeled.  Glass is great, but very expensive.  I have a HandAmerican, micro-grooved, borosilicate glass rod which I like tremendously, but think it works best in a "two-hone" kit, and also think it's an unnecessary expense for most people.  That's not to say it wouldn't be great for you.  


Sabatiers, polished to 4 or 5K?  Not a bad idea if you can afford it.  Plan on having something merely "fine" or "extra-fine" as well.  After the edge starts to wear, those work better than a micro-grooved (or polished) hone.     



post #18 of 51
Thread Starter 

Great guys! Thanks a lot again!


As mentioned though, is a 4 inch stone from Hall's ok? Do I just go for a 4 inch combination or should I get a 6k to get started?


Also, before I order, just being extra paranoid but this is indeed THE K Sabatier: right?





post #19 of 51

4" is suitable for small pocket knives.  8" is the smallest I'd recommend for kitchen knives.



post #20 of 51
Thread Starter 

You dear sir, are a life saver! (not of the candy variety)

post #21 of 51

He is.


And yes, that is the 10" K-Sab.  Or THE K-Sab you want to look at.

post #22 of 51
Thread Starter 

Excellent! Still mulling between K sab and nogent, contacted the manufacturer of Thiers, seeing if the have anyone supplying in Canada.


Thanks a lot  Wagstaff!!! Jeeze while I'm at it, thanks everyone!!!

post #23 of 51


Also, before I order, just being extra paranoid but this is indeed THE K Sabatier: right?

Yep.  That's one of the ones, alright.


Also, I believe The Best Things is the only commercial North-American source for TI's Nogent.  I believe, but am not sure, that another Canadian CT member bought a Nogent from TBT and had it shipped to Montreal without too many difficulties.  The best advice I can give is to call or email TBT and ask what's involved in terms of time and money.  They probably have a lot more experience getting knives through Canadian Customs than you, eh?   





post #24 of 51
Thread Starter 

Excellent, excellent, good to know!


As for TBT, yup seem to be the only ones, found a seller in the UK but was too pricey. Also, I contacted TI in person they're a wee bit ornery lol definitely don't sell in person. As for Canadian Customs, I've never had any problem with getting knives through, swords either so this should be fine but I'll make sure to warn'em for the declaration if I make a purchase. Its a good thing you reminded me, I'm so used to it that it didn't even cross my mind! For the moment I'm rifling through a bunch of family members knives and ones in thrift stores/flea markets just to make sure there aren't any used ones hanging around to be saved!


While on the subject, dunno if I should start a new thread for this but does anyone know a good trustworthy knife sharpener in MTL? My stainless Sabatier Lion appears to have been subjected to a grinder before I received it, poor thing was massacred!


post #25 of 51

If you have a medium-coarse stone, why not work on our Sab-Lion-stainless yourself?  My guess is that it'll be a fairly good knife to learn on.  And as a poor/beginner sharpener, it won't take long before you're sure you improving rather than damaging the edge further from your current (grinder) starting point.


I'm not at all a "good" sharpener, btw; but my first long session gave me two knives that I was told (by someone who knows) had edges better than most cooks ever see.  Lots of room for improvement still., particularly at the tip and where the curve up to the tip gets a bit more dramatic than most of the edge.  And the knife back and face end up a bit more scratched than they should (which is 100% cosmetic).  Still, with those flaws, I make better edges than the dude with the belt grinders that comes most highly recommended in my area.


(All that said, I don't know anyone in Montreal to recommend. Sorry!)



post #26 of 51
Thread Starter 

Hmmmm medium-coarse, sorry if I act the idiot again but that would translate into about which grit?


Also I was initially planning on practicing with cheaper knives not wanting to beat this one up but I guess the worst I can really do is re-ruin the edge and scratch it up more eh? I guess I'll get the nerve up and give it a try! However it is a stainless so I guess it'll probably take me a while, I'll go dig around in the sharpening stuff you showed me and BDL's blog for details!



post #27 of 51

Sorry -- I'm talking the same "middle stone" BDL is. Maybe I should have just said medium.  For waterstones that's somewhere in the 1,000 - 2,000 range.  I'd have to re-read BDLs oil-stones posts to know which name.  But I'll let you do that!


If you use the "magic marker trick", and you check frequently, and you're not using the coarse stone (the one meant for reprofiling), you won't do any damage to your knife beyond some cosmetic scratching.  That may be fixable with a rust eraser or some micromesh or some wet/dry sandpaper, later, too.  I'm not really expert on this fixing the cosmetics -- I have a stainless knife that responds well to a rust eraser for fixing the cosmetics; tried the same device on my sister's German knife and it really didn't help.  So.... I'm sure something else would.  But I don't know what grit of wet/dry or what particular micromesh or some other option.  I just know had I time to experiment it wouldn't have been difficult.


And maybe this is particular to waterstones -- maybe the Sab stainless isn't too difficult.  I have a Japanese stainless knife that is way more of a pain that the Sab carbons, but I've worked on some European stainless and they've been pretty easy.  NOT Sab-carbon easy, but close enough.  I think just because they're softer steel.  And... again... maybe easier on the waterstones.


If you're super worried about preserving cosmetics, then sure use cheaper knives.  But really, if you're not using the coarse stone, it's not easy to destroy a knife.  Even *with* a coarse stone, if you're using the magic marker and checking a bunch, and not leaning on it like you're doing deep-tissue massage, I think it's still pretty difficult to destroy the knife.  You might be able to get it to the point that you need someone else to fix it for you with a coarse stone. But even that would take some doing, or some not checking your work.


I'm not encouraging starting with coarse, just encouraging you to get started.


The issue with both the coarse and the fine stones is keeping a consistent angle as you rub the knife against the rock.  A coarse stone will grind away enough metal that you can "mess up", especially if your pressure is bad, your angle is bad, and you don't check enough to correct those things early on.  A fine stone will round out the edge you created with the medium.  It's also more difficult to keep a consistent angle over more strokes, and you'll need more strokes with a finer stone. So all that balance is what puts you in the middle to practice.  Just sticking with a 1000 stone on  your stainless Sab will get you to the point (I'm guessing) that it will have a better edge than you're used to in fairly short order.  Even if you're not "good".  The belt grinder guys you pay $4 for will do worse than you yourself will do, even as a n00b, 90% of the time.


I don't meant to encourage recklessness.  Maybe I'm less conservative than my betters in this regard.  But seriously, you got a hunk of metal in your hand.  You're going to rub it up against something-anything, it's not a thin piece of porcelain.  I feared getting started for months, actually, and felt very silly by the time I had a lesson.  "So let's see what you've been doing..." I was told as I started. And I was handling the knife like it was a baby metatarsal I needed to reshape before a transplant.  "You haven't been doing much, clearly".  Right.  Hours later, I was still not confident, and certainly not "good".  But I got decent edges and wasn't afraid to go at it.  The lesson was helpful, but the not-getting-started could have been solved with a magic marker, the advice to check frequently, and the advice to not bear down too hard with the hand atop the stone (which created significantly more wobble than my mild nerve damage did).

post #28 of 51

"Medium coarse" runs from around 700# (JIS) to around 1.5K (JIS).  For example, I have four in my various sets:  Norton fine India oil stone (around 800); Hall's soft Arkansas (around 1K... ish); Chosera 1K waterstone; and Bester 1.2K.


For most people the medium coarse stone is the go to grit for beginning most sharpening sessions.  That is, the first one you use to raise a burr.


I'm afraid Wagstaff is picking up on my terminology.  The moral of that story is that sharpening terms aren't universal and making sure everyone is on the same page is exactly the right thing to do.  So good on you.


Carbon Sabs are excellent knives to learn on because they sharpen so easily. 





post #29 of 51

Totally picking up your terminology, BDL!  Except where I'm not paying enough attention.  Oil stones are something I've just not paid attention to.  Used a combo oil stone once on a carbon steel knife, and it was fine. I mean, it was ok.  Not-sucky fine.  Not not-coarse fine. "just like" the water-stone.  But that was once, on a knife that needed lots more work than I could give it. (Broken tip, recurve....).  Managed to give it a workable edge for a few meals.  Somebody else had to fix the thing.

post #30 of 51
Thread Starter 

Hmmmmm alright, well I'll have my 1k grit by Christmas and I guess I'll wade right into sharpening on the Stainless over break! Hopefully I'll get my grubby little hands on a carbon sab by then too!


As for all the clarifications sorry about being anal I just wanna be bloody sure I'm on the right track!


So after finals I'll drag my materials together, cross my finger, bite my lip and hop to it! As for damaging the knife, if as you said its highly unlikely with a medium on the stainless, great! Believe me after the grinder massacre, this thing can't look much worse!


I'll get back to you on the subject in a few week or if I need additional info, thanks again guys!


And yeah I know I say thanks too much, but hey, I'm just stunned by the depth of the explanations y'all have given and you commitment!

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