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Treating myself to a new tool

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

To make a long introduction short, my wife and I bought a new house last summer, and as of this coming Friday, we'll have closed the sale on the old house and I won't be paying 2 mortgages any more. That, coupled with a bonus check from work, and I told my wife that "after all the work in selling the house, I'm buying myself a present." (Her reaction - "It's about time, you never do that for yourself." I married well. :) )


My primary knives now are a Henckels 4-star 8" chef, a Global G-2 8" chef, and a Henckels Pro-S 4" paring. The Henckels chef is the workhorse of the bunch, often what I reach for first. The Global cuts beautifully, but because of its convex edge and my distrust of my sharpening skills, it has seen gentle and increasingly rare use. I've now sharpened all three and proved to myself that I can do that successfully and well - they all cut well now.


Running through the pros/cons of the chef's:


Henckels - On the plus side, it's sturdy and heavy. Very solid feel. It's a bit of a brute, but it's definitive in its action. On the downside, I'm becoming less and less a fan of the belly on this blade - it rocks a lot, but that seems to mean that when chopping not nearly enough of the blade is in contact with the board, so I end up with tails of uncut scallions or edges of onions that aren't sliced all the way through. The bolster doesn't bother me at all, but I think the handle is a bit too large, which surprises me as I have large hands.


Global - On the plus side, it slices beautifully, especially now that it's sharper (duh). It's thin. I use a pinch grip, very loose on the handle, so its slick handle doesn't bother me unless I'm working with super-slick hands.


So, what I'm thinking:


* I will be buying a Sabatier, either K or TI, 8" chef's. This is a given I've been staring at that knife since I first joined these forums a couple of years ago to learn about them, and never pulled the trigger. It's about time. It's a French profile (less rock, more chop, I hope), it's French (purely sentimental), and it'll be my first carbon blade (takes a very sharp edge, even if it doesn't hold it as well, and I can handle the care and feeding needs). On a side note, to force a patina or not? I don't know enough yet about how this will react with foods, whether I should force one or let it happen naturally, best way to force one, et cetera. Opinions welcome.


* I keep looking at Japanese gyotus as well. Thin, sharp, effortless cutting. I'm fine with either yo or wa handles, although it'd be nice for aesthetics to have one with the Japanese style handle (always get yo and wa confused....). I assumed at first that this was all a function of thickness at the spine and steel used, but it's a much broader world than that - and, since the Global does a nice job, I need something to outperform it, not be redundant. Bonus points if it's something I can maintain.


* I suspect I'll also be very happy to own a 6" utility/petty, something between the paring knife and the chef's size. It's on my list, and may be part of this or a near-future purchase. I haven't come across anything I can't do with the paring+chef combo above, but intuitively it seems smart to have something in the middle.


* While not at all unrestricted, cost is less of a concern - this is a bit of indulging myself. Let's put a $350ish ceiling on the discussion, to avoid a $1000 world's perfect custom knife that comes with its own chef to do the cutting for you. :)


* Coupled with any knife is how to maintain it. I currently own a DMT DuoSharp 8" stone, 600/1200 mesh (their red and green designation). It's good, and it's good enough for the knives I own, but I expect (especially if we're talking about some finer Japanese knives) that I need to add on finer grit polishing stones above that. I'm hoping the DMT will still do a decent job at the coarser end, so I don't have to replace with a full set now and can just add on finer water stones for finishing. Thoughts?


* And finally (in for a penny, in for a pound) if anyone has recommendations for blade guards and/or knife rolls (preferably basic and unbranded), I'm all ears. I'm finding that I'm doing more and more cooking when I go to visit friends, and while they have good knives, they aren't *my* knives.



There you have it. I've run my head in circles trying to learn and keep up with different blade smiths, American and Japanese, and work out what characteristics to watch out for (spine thickness, grind, finish, sharpening regime, edge taking, edge retention, yadda yadda yadda). What I've concluded is that it's a LOT harder to read about a knife's performance than to feel it in the hand, but also that I'm not likely to go very wrong - I'm out of the realm of "bad" knives, and really trying to pick out which really good knife is a great knife for me.

post #2 of 7

Hey Mike,


I won't comment too much on the knives part of the question since, well, there are many people here who are actually qualified to do that and I'm not one of them.


For the bag: http://www.cheftalk.com/t/69058/saber-knives-knife-bag-roll-case-whatever-you-call-it-its-pretty-good 


I pulled the trigger on the above bag because, yes, I could get a roll for $30 - $50 that I didn't like and that I'd have to always have the knives in weird guards that I hope stay secure and that the knives aren't banging into each other all of the time and are more of a hassle and don't look particularly nice. Or...I could spend maybe $10 more ($75 shipped including everything if you're not in Cali and if you are, you have to pay tax as well) after paying for a roll and a variety of guards and end up with something better. I chose the latter. The knives slip into the sleeves easily and feel very secure. You have room for everything you'd need to carry and it's a similar size. I just felt like I couldn't really go wrong with it....especially as I'm just starting to take some regular cooking classes where I'm hauling my knives back and forth once a week and will probably take a longer series of classes after I'm done with this set. Also, like you, I end up cooking when I go to friends' places or (where the knives are even worse), at my parents' house. 


I just wish I hadn't ordered the Lamson KnifeSafe's first (although they're pretty good for quick transport of one or two knives if you don't want to take the bag with you). They're not a bad buy for a 4 pack from CKtG and fit all of the sizes well that I put them on.


Good luck,



post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks! Interesting - I had seen your thread before and read the CfE discussion as well. It's a nice alternative to look at.

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

A few points I didn't put in the thread at the start:


* I'm looking largely at 240mm gyutos. At a little over 9", it's not quite as long as the 10" that I like but is oversized for some of my cutting boards, and larger than the 8" knives I own to date. 210 seems small watching little Youtube videos, and 270mm strikes me as overkill.


* A knife is a tool. I don't need a knife to be flashy or have "the right" name stamped on the side; there is something intrinsically appealing about the understated knife that is simply world class without pretense. Shun knives appear to me to be great blades, but you're also paying a lot for the name and the cachet associated with it. But when you have something simple, of top quality and utterly effective? That's worth paying for.


I'd give you names of what I'm considering, but as I really don't have enough knowledge of Japanese knifesmiths yet, the best I can do is "all the 240mm gyutos at CKtG". Cladding or not? (I've read many threads on this, and I lean away.) Kourochi (sp.?) finish? Damascus? San mai? Carbon? High carbon SS? I'm all over the map.


On clad knives - Conceptually, I get it - take a good carbon steel that can take and hold an edge, and sheath it in a non-reactive stainless steel for durability. Similar to how graphite is clad in wood to make a pencil. However, if I believed in that, I'd own a full set of Kuhn Rikon knives in their colorful coatings. (I do own a red bread knife. It's a good knife.) So I'm leaning towards one pure metal. 

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Let's see if we can't narrow the field down a bit. I'll take a stab.


What I'll have, throwing in the K-Sab, is a brute chef's knife (Henckels), a carbon steel blade that can get super sharp (Sab), and a thinner Japanese chef's knife that slices well (Global). I enjoy and use the two of these three that I own already, so I'm not looking to put one away necessarily - and the Henckels would be the first to go.


I'm concerned that MAC Pro, Tojiro DP, and their kin are slightly better but basically redundant to the Global G-2. Given that I don't have an issue with the Global handle, I'm steering a bit clear.


The obvious thing that's missing in that lineup is a whippy laser-like knife. A Konosuke HD keeps sticking in my head over and over. I think I've got the skills to match using the knife, and will play catch-up on sharpening skills quickly. Why the HD? Because the name sticks, unlike other lasers (Suisin? Masamoto? Inox? the swedish steel one?) that I have to think to recall.


I'm steering clear of clad knives for this, for no scientific reason and just an irrational statement that a knife should be made from a single steel. (I can be dissuaded on this.) To go carbon or stainless? I haven't owned a carbon knife yet, I'll be adding one in the Sab, and without experience I'm worried that it'll impart metallic taste to onions, tomatoes, and anything else acidic. I can pick up the Henckels if that's an issue with the Sab, but I'd like this Japanese gyuto to be more all-purpose. (I don't know if the HD is carbon, or high carbon SS...)


There are other thin gyutos that aren't as laser-thin as the HD, but I don't have a sense for how they stack up against the Global. At 2.2mm thick spine at the base, I believe, doesn't that fall in the realm of thin knives?


Others that have caught my eye, in no particular order:

* Kanehiro 240 wa-gyuto (breaks the cladding rule above)

* Other Konosuke lines

* Moritaka Supreme 240mm wa-gyuto

* Takeda AS

* Gesshin Ginga (either stainless or white #2 - pick either SS or carbon? Hm.)

* EDIT: Forgot to add the Richmond knives here. Looks like the Artifex is available, but the Addict 2 isn't now.


We'll go with that for now. I'm reading as many threads here as I can, which is helping narrow it down, but I'm still trying to figure out how to come up with pros/cons to make a choice.


Or, to blow the whole thing out of the water, I could decide that the Sab rounds out my chef's collection, and look at a nice Nakiri (MAC? Tojiro?) instead....

Edited by coffeemike - 2/2/12 at 10:51am
post #6 of 7

FWIW, the HD is semi-stainless (whatever that means...less prone to staining than straight carbon, I guess). One of LennyD's threads (may still be on the front page) has a fairly comprehensive discussion of this knife. 


Paul at Paul's Finest (Canadian e-tailer and VERY helpful) gave me a fairly thoughtful commentary on the Moritaka Supreme v. Deluxe (short version, he'd go for the Deluxe because it's just slightly different steel with the Deluxe being more "pure" carbon and so easier to sharpen and hone whereas the Supreme is a bit tougher and a bit less likely to crack or chip. Overall, he said that unless you were doing a careful A/B comparison, you wouldn't even notice a difference). I'm even contemplating ordering one and I don't need it for any reason. I'm crazy.


Hopefully those two things help a little bit.

post #7 of 7

Sabatiers have a lot in common with Globals in that they kind of blur the line between modern, western-style Japanese knives, and both of them pre-date many of those Japanese knives. 


At the end of the day, Globals are passe, and Sabatiers are something of a different breed.  When you start using "real" Japanese blades, you'll probably lose a lot of interest in your Globals -- especially if you end up sharpening freehand.  Sabatiers have some issues, yet are also perfect.  Go figure.  I could break this down further, but since you're already buying we might as well wait and trade experiences rather than me just blathering.  You're wondering whether a Konosuke HD gyuto and a K-Sab are redundant.  Wonder no longer, they aren't.  You don't need both, but you certainly won't confuse them.  If it's one or the other, considering what you already have, the Kono would be less redundant.


There's a lot to it though, and if you're agonizing we can break it down.  If you're serious about buying a light Japanese knife AND a Sab, don't worry about it.


Takedas and Moritakas are cladded, fwiw.  They're very good, the Moritaka is a relative bargain, but I don't like cladded knives because they feel numb to me.  I'm probably not the right person to comment. 


Masamoto doesn't make a laser that I know of.  However, they do make GREAT knives. 


Gesshin Ginga yo are stainless with only one $1200 exception as far as I know.  Got bucks?


Inox is a coined (French) word for "stainless."  The Tadatsuna Inox is an excellent laser, so is the Suisun Inox Honyaki.  The Tadatsuna is made from G3 with some sort of miracle heat treat which makes it exceptional.  The Suisun Inox Honyaki is, I believe, made from some sort of Swedish steel... but I'm not sure.  It's also an exceptional knife, and of that I am sure.  None of the other stainless lasers are quite as good as those two in the sense of holding an edge.  I have a Konosuke SS petty which does what I want and I like a lot, but it's not a Tad by any stretch.


There are a ton of wa- lasers in Hitachi Shiro #2, which is a near ideal alloy for them if you can live with carbon.  The Konosuke shiroko knives are bargains; they're priced the same as the stainless, but perform better -- at the same level as their HD (semi-stainless).  Sakai Yusuke wa-carbon -- about the same price and (so I hear) similar level of goodness. 


I can't swear to it, but Tadatsuna might make the only shiroko laser yo-gyuto -- special order only, I think.  It's an excellent knife -- different but not necessarily better than a Masamoto HC.  If I you made me buy a mass produced (or semi-custom), carbon, yo-gyuto for my self tomorrow, I'd choose between those two. 


You seem to have Konosuke HD and Gesshin Ginga as your top choices.  That's a wonderful short list. 



Edited by boar_d_laze - 2/2/12 at 11:42am
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