Originally Posted by gelato
- Handle: I'm still in the early stages of learning and very adaptable, is there a reason to go specifically for one style? I like the WA handle for esthetic reasons, but that is not a factor in choosing this knife. The shape of the handle and the visibility of the tang are both aesthetics as well as functional. I prefer the classic french full tang handle as it allows you to use the hook at the end of leverage. But I have also found that the oval shape of many Japanese knifes to be comfortable for long hours of use.
- Carbon vs Stainless: I wipe my knives directly after use, but I do take a certain amount of time to do the cutting. What kind of maintenance does a carbon knife require, is it enough to wipe directly after use? As a beginner I would suggest sticking with stainless. I have been in the industry for going on 10 years and I have no intention of ever being a behind the desk kind of chef. So needless to say my knives are very important to me, and maintenance is something I do almost daily.
I own a few high carbon steel knives and am adding more every few months as I can afford them (its become something of an addiction). Carbon knives develop a patina which acts as a barrier to rust, it builds as you cut foods with different acids, you may force a patina as well by leaving some acid on them (Im a fan of either mustard or grapefruit for my patinas). So yes constant wiping is required. I have both a wet and dry towel at my station at all times, and never ever put away wet, although that goes for any knife.
- Sharpening: I use the Knife Wizard KE198 for that as of now, and I know it's not enough for a good blade. Reading the sharpening posts was quite daunting as it seems extremely technical, but I guess that to get decent skills is not a lofty goal. I just want to avoid damaging expensive knives. Do you need different stones for different knives or can I use the same stones to practice on my cheap knives? A good set of stones is imperative for a good set of knives, and should be part of any good cooks tools. I suggest (because you also have cheap knives) that you get a set of at least 4 stones, I have 7. Youll want a 300 and 600 grit stone to be able to give your cheap knives a new edge (given what youve been using to sharpen with), then a 1000 and 6000 grit to finish them off. I have a 300,600,800,1000, 3000,6000, and a 10000. If you go with expensive knives and keep up on them youll never use your 300 or 600 or even 800 but they are good to have around to help others.
- Current uses: cutting vegetable, fish, poultry and meat. Also slicing chunks of ham I get from
Italy and Spain (not the huge ones) Each knife is designed to do a specific job. Always use the right tool for the job. You wouldnt use a pair of pliers in place of a socket wrench, and you shouldnt use a french knife to bone a chicken. It seems to me that if you arnt slicing paper thin slices off of your ham you wont need a slicer, and if youre cutting already processed pieces of meat, fish and poultry you wont need a boning, fillet or scimitar.
- Budget: I have no problems splurging on a good knife, as I will be learning better technique through it and keeping it for quite some time. I guess I can get something really nice in the US$ 300 - 400 range just on the knife. This is a good price range to be looking at, the quality of knife in this price range should keep you satisfied.
Reading from the forums, this is what I understood:
- Shun and Global knives are certainly a step up to what I'm using but not great value for money
- Tojiro on the other hand are good value
- the Konosuke gyuto is amazing
So to finish with some questions:
- Damascus pattern: is it there only for esthetic reasons? In my opinion, yes. Others have different views though. Though some manufactures just etch on a damascus pattern with lasers... something to keep in mind.
- Is there any point in getting a good hook paring knive, I only use it for peeling fruits. I never use my hook (also called a turning) knife for peeling. I use it to flute mushrooms and cut turning potatoes
- I am based in the UK, but I have a friend coming to the US in October, and another friend going to Japan a bit later. Is Japan the best place to get my knives or is it cheaper in the US? Some products are cheaper in the US than in the country they're produced after all...All countries of tariffs on imports so I personally dont know, but I suspect that a German steel knife is cheaper in Germany and a Japanese steel is cheaper in Japan. In the US we have quite a few really great blade smiths working with good old fashioned American steel. What this may come down to is your personal preference. I like...no love love love my high carbon American steel knives, but my best friend loves her rosewood handle Shuns. Neither of us like the others knives for all day use, so my best suggestion is to go to the store nearest you and touch and handle the knives...see what handle design you like in your hand, whos weight and balance you find most comfortable.
Also do a google search and see if you have any blade smiths in your area. If you have some check them out, the quality of a hand made knife can be unmatched by the big manufactures. Plus youll be helping your local economy and thats always a good thing. You may even be able to pick every aspect of your knife. When my french was made I sent him dimensions of my hand so that he could craft a handle that would finally feel comfortable, I have small hands for a guy and all my knives have always been too big and bulky. I have to say that the sense of pride of over your custom made knife, a knife made for just you and no one on earth has a knife quite like it, will make all the care and maintenance a breeze. I used to see sharpening as a chore that I would put off till the last minute, now I do it every other day and my soon to be wife laughs at me and says I spend more time with Amelia (my french knife) then I do her
Sorry for the long post, I tried to include all the relevant info I could think of. As I said I am still in the early learning stage and very adaptable.Never you mind, a good question is never too long. I just hope I helped.