I have been discussing 13C26 with a supplier of mine,it is also a Swedish stainless that is a Very close runner to AEB-L, but takes a higher finish and is much more "sharpanable" at @ 60 RC. (havnt tried this yet so i can speek for it!)
Not true. Your supplier has opinions which outrun his knowledge. In particular, the "sharpenable" and "finish" things are BS of a very pure grade. Assuming good edge geometry and thickness, with hardness at around 60RCH, both alloys can take outrageously good edges. Both can take equally ridiculous levels of polish. Both will have exactly the same issues in terms of edge and polish holding.
The differences in formulations and purity of AEB-L (Uddeholm) and 13C26 (Sandvik) are tiny. To the extent there's a difference between knives made with them, it lies in the knives themselves, and not the respective alloys.
Very few sharpeners have the skills or kit to separate out the differences between two similar alloys of similar hardness, let alone two nearly identical alloys at very similar hardness. As a very good sharpener who cannot, I doubt your supplier is among them.
On another steel note, Is Damascus more of a "Bling" thing for a Chef? I've done a fair share of it over the years, and while a fine steel (as good as the materials its made from) I dont see the added expense of a damascus blade. Am I missing somthing here?
A lot depends on what you mean by "Damascus." If you're talking about san-mai (three layer laminate), with a soft jigane (exterior) and a much harder hagane (cutting-core) -- then a pattern welded design on the outside won't do anything to improve performance. For what it's worth, blades with pattern welded exteriors usually don't cost any more than equivalent blades without; and in that sense the "added expense" thing is a canard. And yes, within that very common, san-mai context, the pattern is nothing but bling.
Without getting too deeply into it -- maintenance issues, for instance -- if you really want a san-mai knife and really like a pattern-welded exterior, you don't lose much if anything because of the design.
I'm not a fan of san-mai knives -- especially chef's knives or anything that's going to do much chopping -- but that's a separate issue. We can discuss it if you're seriously considering one.
On handles, are the traditional Wa handles favored by most or somthing like the "D" shaped handels on the Shuns? I plan on doing both Western and Asian blade styles but the Asian styles while they seem popular have so many variations! Is the Ovalized Octigon shaped handle that comfortable to use?
Whether or not any particular handle style is better for a particular cook largely depends on grip, and if you have a good grip and good skills, you probably won't have any trouble with an octagon.
For instance, my adaptable grip, gets along with nearly any handle which isn't way too short or too narrow; but I do like some more than others. I'm left-handed and am not a big fan of right-handed Ds. I love Sabatier full-tangs, Sabatier "Nogent" styles; octagonal wa, round-over octagonal wa (like the old Konosuke), Wusthof, Henckels, Messermeister, MAC yo, Masamoto yo. I either merely like or tolerate others, such as Hiromoto, some Kagayakis, etc.
At the end of the day, it's simply taste.
On handle material, what works in a commercial kitchen? Ive seen what looks to be Rosewood scales on a lot of older cultery pieces, Id like to use natural materials if possible, but woould not be opposed to stabilized woods (have had good luck with them in the past). I also see several of the Japanese knives that have what look like a wood laminate.
Unless a knife has a reputation for particularly unstable scales, it's not much of an issue. However, the trend is towards "stabilized," laminates and synthetics as they're easier to keep clean, wear better, and don't swell, shrink or otherwise move around as much.
Since you couched the question within the context of a professional kitchen, be aware that you shouldn't put any good knife through a washing machine of any sort. And if you must use a machine, restrict yourself to knives with handles which are designed for it -- like Forschner Fibrox.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 7/2/12 at 6:07pm