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Help choosing faux damascus Japanese knives

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hello all,
This is my first post so please be patient if something is in the wrong spot or is in any other way wrong.
I want to give knives as present to a friend.
He cooks at home and likes good quality knives as he appreciates the difference they make to preparation.
So much so that he has personally given quite a few knives sets as gift.
He now uses global bought a few years back and i'd like to buy a good set for him spending around usd500 or a little more for 3 basic knives.
I would like to get the damascus as he has tried a Yaxell Ran Santoku knife and likes the cutting and hestetic qualities.
As some very knowledgable people in this forum are strongly against the Shuns i would like to consider the following:
Amy other suggestion?
Also i'd like to consider other 'pretty' knives that arenot damascus but are good looking enough to have a very hestetic appeal.
Among these i put the I.O.Shen and the Tamahagane.
Any suggestion or tip will be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi all,
I realize that the topic might not be of much interest but any suggestions on which of the below series is better value vould be much appreciated, thanks.
Tojiro Senkou
Tojiro Damascus
Tojiro flash
Kasumi Damascus
Mcusta Zanmai Pro
Mac Damascus
Ryusen Tsuchime Damascus
Shiki Tsuchime Damascus
Shiki Damascus Premium
Kanetsugu Saiun Damascus
post #3 of 10
I can't knowledgeably comment on your list. Others whom I trust have recommended Gekko (yo-) and Inazuma (wa) for value priced "damascus". SO I'm doing the opposite of narrowing down for you.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks a lot for your input Wagstaff,
I will look at your suggestion and try to find out more.
post #5 of 10

Not just Faux Demascus but also Hammered texture and 15% off for July, I've tried this one, its pretty much Gekko, not a bad gift -

post #6 of 10

"Faux Damascus" means "san-mai" construction with a pattern welded jigane (the outside layers).  If you want to stay within your price range and get really good knives for your friend, I suggest staying away from all san-mai -- Damascus or no.


If you're willing to select knives from different manufacturers and concentrate your money where it's most important, $500 should get a pretty good set (better than Globals), consisting of three of the four good cook's basic profiles:  ~10" chef's; 10" - 12" slicer; 10" bread; and 6" petty.  If you take one or two knives out of the equation, you can bump the quality of the others significantly.  If you increased your budget to $600 you could get all four, or take three from very good to "frikkin' excellent!"


Knives themselves can never be better than the care their owners give them.  Depending on how and how well he sharpens, you might want to consider a gift set which consists of a really good sharpening kit and one excellent knife.  Or, a decent sharpening gag (like a MinoSharp3 for $80) and two very good knives. 


Some other things to consider are whether or not your friend would enjoy Japanese style "wa" handles on his knives, and whether he might be interested in trying (non-stainless) carbon.  There's a whole class of knives called "lasers" which are very, very thin and get very, very sharp.  He might be interested, or not.  If you think any of these things are possibilities, let me know and we can start talking.


Last year I bought my daughter a kit from CKtG, consisting of 9.5" MAC Pro chef's, 10.25" Forschner Bread, 6" MAC Pro, and a MinoSharp3.  The same kit at current [ahem] retail prices would be just under $500.  But, you might find MAC Pro and Forschner kind of plain-Jane and pedestrian.  I should mention that if you're buying several knives and accessories, it never hurts to ask the seller if you can get a discount.


If you really want western-handled lookers, your friend already has all the sharpening stuff you need, etc., think about a couple of Hattori FH knives -- for instance the 240mm chef's and the 150mm petty.  They're not Damascus, they wouldn't in a million years be my choice for myself, but they are very good knives and sure are beautiful. 


Sharpening is everything,


Edited by boar_d_laze - 7/11/12 at 2:52pm
post #7 of 10

As BDL alludes to, one reason Shun gets a bad rap is because of their faux Dammie!  I'd also warn you away from going that route.  That said, a pro sharpener buddie of mine is very fond of Ran.  He considers them a big step up from Shun.  However I'm just going on his words since I've not used one.  The Kasumi (brand) knives are pretty nice.


If your heart is set on faux damascus my favorite is probably Kanetsune, at least for any sane amount of money.  But suminigashi is just for looks.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hello all,

sorry for the late reply.. I've been travelling and just got to reply properly.

Would like to thank EZ13, BDL and Phaedrus for your suggestions and help.

It is getting late for my gift so I think I will have to cut short the discussion and go ahead.

As there was no conclusive remarks on the 'damascus' (apart that it's not really a good thing to go for :-) ) I decided to trust the guys at Japanese Chefs Knives to be honest about their opinions.

Looking at their website I saw the Kanetsugu Saiun Damascus and they look fantastic. The other Kanatsugus seem to have good response so I am thinking of going with those.

A little bit more about my decision:

my friend will definitely get the right stones to improve the sharpening once the new knives will get in.

My target is to get something that he would definitely like but would be a stretch for him to buy.

He is not a pro and does not cook day in day out. But he likes using good toold when he does. And he definitely likes to use pretty tools!

I think the Kanetsugu would be perfet.

The other knives I considered in the end where Ran and Kasumi.

Ran were a bit too pricey really.

Kasumi were nice but had issues getting the 4 knives I wanted and as the Kanestsugu look much prittier (to me at least) I decided to give Kasumi a miss.

I have a few questions if you don't mind. This will be for my future shopping.

Why do you (BDL) say that san mai is not a good idea?

Going for knives that retain the hedge well, something that requires even quite a bit of work but seldom (instead of little to moderate work very often) what alloy would you suggest?

I hear that some alloy impart a metallic taste: which one are the most offending and which one the least?

One last question: does anyone have experience with I.O. Shen knives? From the raving reviews it looks like they are astonishing quality and value. But is that all hipe for the lastest best knife of the world?

Thanks a lot for all your help.

post #9 of 10

I don't like san-mai because it makes the knife feel "damped" in the cut and on the board to me.  However, that's a minority opinion in the senses that most people don't feel at all, and a large percentage of those who do don't really care.  Of those that do feel it, it seems almost all hold the knife with a similarly "soft" grip.  I try not to make a big deal out of it, because it is a minority view (call it 30%).


Here in the west, people who know knives, who want, can afford and buy in the high-end can afford best tend to shy away from most of the san-mai blades, with a few exceptions like (but limited to) Shigefusa and Takeda. 


If you were to ask me would I buy a san-mai Damascus knife for a friend, I would not.  That's as much an aesthetic as a practical judgment on my part and includes my own experience as well as my ideas of what constitutes a good gift.  If you were to ask me do I think you're making a good choice, I do because it includes your research, you consideration of your friend and your ideas of what constitutes a good gift.  You can't beat that. 


While it doesn't apply to gift giving particularly, I feel that good knives can only be understood and appreciated within the context of sharpening.  All knives get dull eventually, nearly all of them sooner than later. Any dull knife is a dull knife.  And all dull knives, no matter how beautiful, how well made, how expensive, how sharp to begin with, how good in any or every other way, are equal.  Sharpening is darn near everything.



post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hello BDL and everyone,

it's a long time since I last posted in this thread.

I thought I would add some words to close on my experience.

My friend has received the Kanetsugu Saiun Damascus very well.

He is extremely pleased with the looks of the knives and the performance.

It's of course too early to see how easy they'll be to keep sharp but he is definitely willing to do what it takes.

As I mentioned before my friend cooks at home, not everyday, and had experience with Global knives.

He also has a Ran santoku (also faux damascus) but seems to enjoy the Kanetsugu more.

Hope this experience, although very limited, might be of help to someone else.

Thanks again to all for their comments and advice.



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