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Another beginner searching for a good knife

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 

I'm a beginner chef, I cook at home most nights of the week.  I've been cooking for a few months, and so far have only used a knife from a gift set my dad got from his work and gave me.  It was decent to start off, but now I'm to a point where I want to get something a bit better.

 

Knife skills: I've watched a few online videos for technique help, but go pretty slow.  Having a dull knife doesn't really help with the speed.  Since the chef's knife I have is dull, I tend to do sort of a forward slicing motion rather than rocking, so I'm thinking a Santoku might be a good bet.

 

Types of food cut:  Generally onions, peppers, zucchini, carrots, salmon, chicken breast (no bone), garlic, herbs, and occasionally I'll slice a cooked steak.

 

Availability:  I live in Austin, TX, so there's probably some cool local knife store somewhere if anyone has recommendations.  I've currently just gone to Sur la table, but there's also a William Sonoma nearby.  I'd rather get this first one in person so I can try it out and have a  physical store to return it to if need be.  For the next knife I might consider ordering something.

 

Price Range:  Less than $200

 

Thanks in advance to anyone who helps out.  Normally I'd read old threads for something like this, but it seems like knife choice is very custom to a user's particular situation.

 

 

Edit:  Also, I'm interested in japanese knives.  No particular logical reason, I just think they're pretty slick.

 

Edit2:  As far as sharpening goes, I don't have too much interest in learning a really difficult method. How much am I looking at for a decent low skill sharpener?  I'd like to keep it under $100 if possible.


Edited by goodell - 11/5/12 at 6:25pm
post #2 of 50

Goodell... You're in the right place.

 

I was asking almost the same question a year ago and now I'm a knife / sharpening junkie. You'll find the best people in this forum and a lot of good advice.

 

Just remember... A dull Japanese expensive knife is like a walmart junk dull knife. You need to get at least a bit serious on the sharpening stuff or your fancy knife will end like a lame supermarket knife in a matter of weeks.

 

My starters kit was:

 

Mac professional gyuto (Go directly to "chef knife" A.K.A. Gyuto... Santoku is not the way to go if you want to do prep as a professional, it's just too short to make you productive) try 10" blade, looks big and intimidating at first but you'll get used to it very fast...If you find it too big... Ok, go 8".

 

Sharpening stone... My first was an "Oishi" 1000/6000 combo stone that I got from epicurean edge.com for 31 bucks, not the best stone, but good bang for the buck, and if you're a home cook, that stone will be a good way to start. Now I have more stones but I used the Oishi until it crumbled in my restaurant kitchen.

 

Honing rod: Idahone "fine" rod, it was like 28 bucks and I still own it, great piece an a "must have".

 

You can but from chefknivestogo.com, they have an awesome variety of knives that will fit your budget. There is also another great online vendor, japaneseknivesimports.com but it's more "high end" and maybe not the best place if you're just begining or in a budget.

 

With 200 bucks you can get a Mac "superior", a Tojiro DP or a Richmond Artifex gyuto, the Idahone honing rod and a pretty decent combination stone like the king 800/6000

 

For sure with that kit you'll get a good introduction to the professional knives world.

 

Don't take what I say as a gospel, for sure people with more experience than me are going to reply too, I just want to share my two cents with you.

 

Best regards.

Luis

post #3 of 50
Thread Starter 

Awesome, thanks for the reply Luis!

 

I think after researching I'm going to go with the Artifex.  Who'd have thought a good knife could be <$100??  I'll be going for the honing rod you recommended as well.

 

As far as stones, it appears sharpening is a way bigger deal than I first thought (although after watching a youtube vid it seems pretty easy/quick).  How long will a combo stone typically last an average home cook?  It seems like separate stones are the way to go for longevity, and I don't mind throwing down a little more up front if it's going to help me in the long run.  Any beginner recommendations for separate stones?

 

Also, how useful are sharpening guides?  It seems like a really easy way for a beginner to get going, but I'm sure there's gotta be something more to it.  If they're not useful, what's the typical learning curve for using stones?

 

Thanks for the help!

 

-Goodell

post #4 of 50

Hi Goodell...

 

Nice to know that you're getting an Artifex, let us know your impressions when you get it, looks like a great knife and Mark si such an standup guy that I don't doubt that the knife is a great piece for the price.

 

For the combo stones... How long they last in a home kitchen?... Maybe years or even a life time, my stone was good at home, but once I took it to the restaurant and got serious use and abuse, it crumbled, but I'm sure that it could last years at my home sharpening 2-3 knives every couple of weeks.

 

My first two separate stones were the Bester 1200 and an Arashiyama 6000, now I have a Suehiro Rika 5000 too. All of them great stones, I really like the 1200 and that one is an absolute must have (something on the 1000-1200 grit is always necessary) and for the polishing, I have the 6000 and the 5000, those one are redundant, you don't need both because there is no much difference on the grit. I like the polished edge that the 6000 gives, it's beautiful and smooth, but the 5000 is also very good and I love the feeling and feedback of that stone.

The bester 1200 and the arashiyama 6000 or suehiro rika 5000 are great stones, you can acomplish great sharpness with them, and maybe in the future you can add another finer stone to give a better polish if you find it necessary... Or you can buy a coarser stone for repairs or thinning your knives.

 

But starting with 2 good stones is a great way to start. Keep reading, there are many guys with more experience than me and you'll find great info in this place.

 

And about the learning curve on sharpening... For me it took years of trial and error... But once I started to listen the people in this forum and watching the videos from cktg and japaneseknifeimports.com, in a matter of weeks I was doing a very good job, once that you understand the process and start sharpening trying to get the feeling and understanding what you're doing, it gets very easy.

 

I use BDL "Burr" method, the vids and the info from him, helped me a ton, and now I can sharpen on a "good enough" level. When I started, I took almost any knife that I could, my mum's, my friend's and my cook's knives, I was trying hard for the first weeks and at some given point I realized that the knives were getting quite sharp.

 

I'm sure that you'll get it very easy and in a short period of time.thumb.gif

Best regards.

Luis

post #5 of 50

Take a look, BDL is touching the subject and  in much more depth than me, and believe me, he has more experience than yours truly wink.gif

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/72425/home-cook-looking-for-first-real-knife/30

post #6 of 50
Thread Starter 

I think I'm gonna get the Artifex 210mm, the Idahone rod, the Bester 1200 (Is one stone sufficient for a while? It is just for one knife I'll use at home after all), and isn't there some sort of thing I need to get to level out the stone?  Any recommendations on that front?

 

 

Thanks again for the help Luis, I appreciate it!

post #7 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodell View Post

I think I'm gonna get the Artifex 210mm, the Idahone rod, the Bester 1200 (Is one stone sufficient for a while? It is just for one knife I'll use at home after all), and isn't there some sort of thing I need to get to level out the stone?  Any recommendations on that front?

 

 

Thanks again for the help Luis, I appreciate it!

It depends on how you use it and how often. If you baby your knife it will keep a rather decent edge for a while. If you pound it like a hammer then it will dull quickly. Also it depends on if you can live with 1200 grit max polish.

 

Also for flattening, CKTG sells a cost efficient diamond plate for $25 but they seem to be out of stock for a while.. you can get a DMT extra course but its at $59 and also out of stock, the XXC is $79 and is in stock.

 

I have the Artifex 210mm (two actually) and had them professionally sharpened for the additional $15.. it would get you to a higher level of sharpness so it would take longer before you need to resharpen. But it may also spoil you to the amount of sharpness it can attain, it sure did it to me. 

post #8 of 50
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by dreamwrx View Post

It depends on how you use it and how often. If you baby your knife it will keep a rather decent edge for a while. If you pound it like a hammer then it will dull quickly. Also it depends on if you can live with 1200 grit max polish.

 

Also for flattening, CKTG sells a cost efficient diamond plate for $25 but they seem to be out of stock for a while.. you can get a DMT extra course but its at $59 and also out of stock, the XXC is $79 and is in stock.

 

I have the Artifex 210mm (two actually) and had them professionally sharpened for the additional $15.. it would get you to a higher level of sharpness so it would take longer before you need to resharpen. But it may also spoil you to the amount of sharpness it can attain, it sure did it to me. 

 

Thanks for the response dreamwrx!

 

I have very amateur knife skills, and will probably use it 4-5 nights a week.  As far as the max polish, I just really want something where I can cut an onion without having to put a hand on the back of the knife and lean on it (my current technique), anything beyond that is a bonus.  As for babying the knife, I'm going to try, but with my skill level there's a chance it'll get banged up a bit.  I guess I don't have a great handle on the "range" of the grit sizes.  Is 1200 going to be too fine for minor repairs, or too coarse for a moderately sharp edge/would I be significantly better off with two stones?  

 

Does anyone else have ideas for flattening plates?  Due to the fact that I'll be using/sharpening pretty rarely compared to most people on this board (or so it seems), I'd rather not spend $80 on what seems to be a fairly minor tool.

post #9 of 50

The artifex comes pretty sharp OOTB but with that $15 pro sharp.. its quite nice.. you should get it just to know what level that knife can be. 

 

You shouldn't have to baby it per se, but you shouldn't rush through cuts and try to impress the next door neighbors by hammering the knife on your board. No cutting on granite, glass, metals, or other hard surfaces. Don't use the edge to move your food (scrape). Mine lasted a good 3-4 months before it needed sharpening.

 

I think the Bester will be good to get a dulling knife back to being useful sharp. It wont repair chips... well technically it can but it will take a long long time to reshape (and wear down the stone at that). 

 

You can use wet/dry sand paper on a flat glass surface... but it will eventually cost you more in the long run. For short term till the $25 ones are back in stock it would be ok. 

 

There is another option that people don't think of which is to send your knife (or knives) out to get sharpened every few months.. costs more and maybe more time.. but you don't have to do the work.

post #10 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreamwrx View Post

The artifex comes pretty sharp OOTB but with that $15 pro sharp.. its quite nice.. you should get it just to know what level that knife can be. 

 

You shouldn't have to baby it per se, but you shouldn't rush through cuts and try to impress the next door neighbors by hammering the knife on your board. No cutting on granite, glass, metals, or other hard surfaces. Don't use the edge to move your food (scrape). Mine lasted a good 3-4 months before it needed sharpening.

 

I think the Bester will be good to get a dulling knife back to being useful sharp. It wont repair chips... well technically it can but it will take a long long time to reshape (and wear down the stone at that). 

 

You can use wet/dry sand paper on a flat glass surface... but it will eventually cost you more in the long run. For short term till the $25 ones are back in stock it would be ok. 

 

There is another option that people don't think of which is to send your knife (or knives) out to get sharpened every few months.. costs more and maybe more time.. but you don't have to do the work.

 

So let's say I decided two stones is the way to go, should I go with a coarser starter and finer finisher?  Maybe an 800 and 5-6k?

 

I probably will try out the sharpening add on for $15, might as well.  I get the feeling anything is going to be a step up from my chinese unbranded knife that's never been sharpened and came in a gift set from an employer :P

 

The sandpaper sounds like a good solution for now.  Hopefully if I get the extra sharpening the $25 blocks will be back in stock by the time I need to sharpen it.

 

As far as sending them out, one of the big reasons I started cooking was to outsource less of my daily tasks to other people.  In the process I save some $, and retain control over my stuff (and body as far as food goes).  Since I'm kind of a control freak, it works out well.  I don't mind putting in some time to learn to use stones, I just originally pictured it as a very long tedious process, which it seems it really isn't after the learning curve.

 

Plus, if some crazy apocalypse happens, I get the feeling knife sharpening will be a good skill to have :D

post #11 of 50
Thread Starter 

Random note, I'm a mechanical engineer by trade, so if anyone's got any technical specs they want to add in on some of this stuff do it to it.  I like hearing all the technical details, processes, and materials and whatnot, even though I don't think I'm gonna be too picky for this first knife.  The stones seem to be the more important decision, since I'll probably use them on my future knives for the foreseeable future.  Depending on how this first one goes, it looks like those could end up being pretty pricey (lawd, last thing I need is another obsessive hobby).

post #12 of 50

The 5 piece set from CKtG is always recommended here. 135$ I think. Would be better than an 800 and a 6k, 800 is more for fixing chips and reprofiling than anything IMO

post #13 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodell View Post

Random note, I'm a mechanical engineer by trade, so if anyone's got any technical specs they want to add in on some of this stuff do it to it.  I like hearing all the technical details, processes, and materials and whatnot, even though I don't think I'm gonna be too picky for this first knife.  The stones seem to be the more important decision, since I'll probably use them on my future knives for the foreseeable future.  Depending on how this first one goes, it looks like those could end up being pretty pricey (lawd, last thing I need is another obsessive hobby).

 

I'm an ME too.. I noticed you said First knife... then you said future knives.. and you mentioned last thing you need is another obsessive hobby... If your last statement is true.. get out while you still can.. it will only get worse..crazy.gif

 

I started with a Kikuichi TKC, then two Artifex (gave them away as gifts), then Richmond Laser, tried a few Fujiwara FKM parings... Just got a Konosuke HH Ebony, then a Sakai Yusuke White #2, Richmond Laser Suji.. IT ONLY STARTS HERE...

 

I started off with cheap Masahiro stones from amazon... they work but I'm not sure how well they work compared to others but I just ordered a three set of Gesshin stones.. and they are costly..IT DOESN'T END...

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rdm magic View Post

The 5 piece set from CKtG is always recommended here. 135$ I think. Would be better than an 800 and a 6k, 800 is more for fixing chips and reprofiling than anything IMO

 

In all honesty if you forsee many future knives and you are a control freak as you say you are then I agree with RDM that the CKTG 5 piece set will be what you want. Its a higher initial cost that will keep with you for a long time. 

post #14 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdm magic View Post

The 5 piece set from CKtG is always recommended here. 135$ I think. Would be better than an 800 and a 6k, 800 is more for fixing chips and reprofiling than anything IMO

Hey rdm, thanks for joining in to help me out!

 

I looked into that set after seeing it referenced quite a few times in this site.  I may end up getting it, but that's a lot of $ to spend on stones that will probably only be used on one knife for the next year or two.  Adding in a leveling block, knife, and rod, that's all gonna run me quite a bit over $200 (What I was hoping to spend). 

 

Since I'm not obsessed with getting a super razor sharp edge (yet), I'm thinking maybe just sticking with the 1200 on its own will be the way to go.  If I ding the knife a couple times I may pick up the 500 from the set separately when I need it.  Like I said above, I'm really just looking for something to cut onions or carrots without putting my whole bodyweight on it for now.

 

I appreciate the recommendation though, and I'll steer clear of an 800/6k combo for now as advised.  

post #15 of 50
Thread Starter 

So it looks like my setup is going to be:

 

Stone:  Bester 1200x - $50

 

Knife:  Artifex 210mm Gyuto - $70

 

Flattening Plate:  140 Grit Diamond Stone Flattening Plate - $25

 

Rod:  Idahone Ceramic Sharpening Rod 12" - $30 + $7 for leather sleeve

 

Total:  ~$200 with shipping/tax

 

 

Any further comments or recommendations?  I'm going on a two week trip on Saturday, so I'll be ordering soon after returning (probably after the first paycheck tongue.gif)

post #16 of 50

Hi goodell...

 

Nice to see that you already made a choice... As for some of your questions:

 

Bester 1200 as the "only one stone" is ok for beginning, it gives a "thooty" edge but it cuts fine, the sharpness is not going to last that long as if it were polished by a second higher grit stone but it will be fine, in my professional kitchen I have some knives sharpened to 1200 only for some tasks where the "thooty" feeling is appreciated, and anyway, a 1200 properly sharpened knife is more than the average sharpness of non professional and not "uber-sharp-knife-junkies" like some of us.

 

For flattening the stone...I have no experience with the stone that you're getting, at first I was flattening with sandpaper and I was using one sheet per flattening session, wich translates in a few cents every week, after that by the advice of BDL I started using "drywall screen" and it worked great, now I have a flatening stone, but that's because I do my share of sharpening often and several knives, if it were for my home use only, I could have stayed with the drywall screen for the rest of my life, the box was less than 20 bucks and I think that it can last for a lifetime.

If you can push for getting a polishing stone at first stretching your budget, instead of getting the flattening stone, it will be a good idea.

 

On getting the Artifex, I recommend you to get the extra sharpening by Mark, for two reasons... One: You can see the full potential of the knife (on the process you'll get spoiled wink.gif ) and second... The edge is going to last much longer and if you hone it propperly with your Idahone rod...We're talking about a good deal of onions, tomatoes and herbs diced cutted and chopped before you need to get  the knife sharpened, take a read to BDL post on using the honing rod http://www.cookfoodgood.com/?p=551

 

The most important thing is that you already took a first step on this hobby, don't be afraid of experimenting, get what you can and in the future you will be adding more toys to your collection and you'll be getting more experienced.

 

Congrats and let us know your impressions once you get your stuff.

 

Luis.

 

P.S. Try to get a "wood" cutting board, that is going to help you to protect your knife and the edge is going to last much longer.

post #17 of 50
Thread Starter 

Oops, somehow missed your post up there dreamwrx.

 

Well, I think I'm going to re-assess after the vacation, and see what I'm thinking then.  After you and Luis' replies I'm now leaning toward the stone set and leaving out the flattening stone.

 

And it looks like the sharpening is actually $30, not $15.  May rethink that one too...

 

Thanks for the help guys!  I'll keep the thread updated as to when I decide/buy.

 

edit:  And as for the cutting board, I already have a large wood one (relatively cheap though), and a regular sized bamboo one.  My sink is somewhat small, so they're a huge pain to clean, I usually only use the big one for pasta.  I recently got some semi-flexible plastic mats that I've been using, so I'll probably continue to use those and see how it goes.  If it's too tough on the knife maybe I'll switch it up.


Edited by goodell - 11/7/12 at 6:14pm
post #18 of 50
From one home cook to another, I've had my (ie: my husband's) JA Henckel's classic set of knives for something like 12 years. It's not Japanese or particularly hip or trendy, but this knife (even when dulled) has always done amazing for me. I don't sharpen myself, but every few years I take them down to a local place and they sharpen all of my knives for a couple dollars a piece. My hubby just uses the tool to straighten the knife (he says teeth) every so often. I also use a really good wood cutting board, a must if you want your knives to last and then baby them. You've gotten a lot of great, more informed responses - just thought I'd share my experience since I basically do the kind of cooking and chopping you mentioned in your original post.
post #19 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodell View Post

Oops, somehow missed your post up there dreamwrx.

 

Well, I think I'm going to re-assess after the vacation, and see what I'm thinking then.  After you and Luis' replies I'm now leaning toward the stone set and leaving out the flattening stone.

 

And it looks like the sharpening is actually $30, not $15.  May rethink that one too...

 

Thanks for the help guys!  I'll keep the thread updated as to when I decide/buy.

 

edit:  And as for the cutting board, I already have a large wood one (relatively cheap though), and a regular sized bamboo one.  My sink is somewhat small, so they're a huge pain to clean, I usually only use the big one for pasta.  I recently got some semi-flexible plastic mats that I've been using, so I'll probably continue to use those and see how it goes.  If it's too tough on the knife maybe I'll switch it up.

 

I don't see the sharpening option for the 210mm Artifex anymore (you should call/email Mark to find out if it's still possible). But if you look for the 240mm one its only $17. $30 options are the Saya (sheath).  Wood is good.. Bamboo is a bit more tough on blades as requires more glue to hold it together. Only thing to worry about is if you cut at and angle into the board but pull up straight you will ruin your edge. 

 

If you are going into this "hobby" a good stone set is worth the initial investment.

post #20 of 50

Goodell,

While everyone has given you some good advice about various knife choices, I think you are jumping the gun a bit. You've mentioned that the knife you currently use is dull and that you put all your body weight into chopping carrots, etc. This is extremely dangerous. Your first step is to get your current knife sharp. Take it to a professional sharpener or do it yourself but you should not be spending any money yet. You can learn good knife handling skills with the knife you have if it is sharp. The extreme pressure you are now using to make the knife perform is what causes dull knives to cause more accidents than sharp ones. When the dull knife slips, all that pressure forces the knife to go sideways with great force, typically into your hand. A sharp knife bites into the food, slices through more easily using less pressure, is less tiring, and much safer.

Second, even as a home cook, take the time to learn good knife handling skils and some basic vegetable cuts. Holding the sharp knife properly while using your other hand to hold the food correctly is a basic but very important step. Good knife use may look like no big deal when you see someone do it correctly but it is in fact a series of important small steps done all at the same time. These take time and practice to master but are worth the effort. In-person demos, videos or books are all worth using to help you understand how this is done.

Third, Slow down and enjoy the learning process. The best knife for you to buy is the one you will enjoy using all the time. It may or may not cost alot of money. You can only know what it will be after developing your knife skills a bit first. Good knife handling in all it's aspects is a surprisingly involved activity.  Work slowly to develop good knife skills. These will pay off far more than any amount of money you may spend to buy the knife itself.

post #21 of 50

Agree, 30 Bucks for a sharpening job is quite expensive. I'll gladly pay 15 but 30 is just too much. I.M.H.O.

 

And a good pointer by chefwriter is about the technique, try to watch videos on that and at first try to julienne and dice carefully everything. I remember long long ago while working for a french chef, and he made me "tourne" pounds and pounds of carrots one day... When I presented the several kilos of carved carrots with sore hands and eyes because of the hours of work... He simply told me "Carrot soup" eek.gif all my effort was going to end up in a blender!!... But anyway that kind of practices helped me to reduce the learning curve... So, if you're going to make a vegetable soup, take pride on your cuts, A salad? try to make fine juliennes, ribbons and so on, you'll see that having a good knife properly sharpened is a joy to use... Now I don't have to use it that much, I have an army of cooks and prep cooks and I have to manage the team more than being a line cook... But despite that, several days a week I take at least an hour to do some prep with my Mac or my Konosuke and I tell the people in the dining room to not pass me any phone call... I'm just enjoying myself and that's my very personal moment in the kitchen, even my fellow cooks know that I'm always available do small talk or deal with any situation... But preferably not when I'm working with my knife in my little corner, I enjoy the knife... That much.

 

Get your knife, enjoy it, experiment with it and keep it as sharp as you can... Besides, a cut with a dull knife is always more gory, painfull, ugly, bloodier, more difficult to stitch and messier than one with a very sharp knife. biggrin.gif So... Keep it sharp amigo!

 

Luis

post #22 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post

Goodell,

While everyone has given you some good advice about various knife choices, I think you are jumping the gun a bit. You've mentioned that the knife you currently use is dull and that you put all your body weight into chopping carrots, etc. This is extremely dangerous. Your first step is to get your current knife sharp. Take it to a professional sharpener or do it yourself but you should not be spending any money yet. You can learn good knife handling skills with the knife you have if it is sharp. The extreme pressure you are now using to make the knife perform is what causes dull knives to cause more accidents than sharp ones. When the dull knife slips, all that pressure forces the knife to go sideways with great force, typically into your hand. A sharp knife bites into the food, slices through more easily using less pressure, is less tiring, and much safer.

Second, even as a home cook, take the time to learn good knife handling skils and some basic vegetable cuts. Holding the sharp knife properly while using your other hand to hold the food correctly is a basic but very important step. Good knife use may look like no big deal when you see someone do it correctly but it is in fact a series of important small steps done all at the same time. These take time and practice to master but are worth the effort. In-person demos, videos or books are all worth using to help you understand how this is done.

Third, Slow down and enjoy the learning process. The best knife for you to buy is the one you will enjoy using all the time. It may or may not cost alot of money. You can only know what it will be after developing your knife skills a bit first. Good knife handling in all it's aspects is a surprisingly involved activity.  Work slowly to develop good knife skills. These will pay off far more than any amount of money you may spend to buy the knife itself.

 

Hey Chefwriter, thanks for joining in!

 

I have actually experienced the dull knife accident first hand (pun intended).  It was mostly a technique issue, but the dull knife didn't help.  I've seen enough internet vids of chefs to know dull knives are way more dangerous than sharp (hence the upgrade).

 

I would sharpen this knife, but it's about as low quality as kitchen knives get.  It has no brand markings, says made in china, and probably cost ~$10.  I get the feeling even if I go have it sharpened it won't last very long, and will end up being a pretty costly educational experience.  

 

I started a new job recently, have decided I enjoy cooking, and make/save enough $ to drop a bit on a new knife that should last quite a while.  Since my original plan was a wusthof, shun, or global, the knives I've been recommended seem almost cheap by comparison.  I considered the artifex to be about as "entry" level as I want to go (and at $70 if I screw it up it's not the end of the world, although it would be a bummer), which is why I'm going to try to get decently nice stones I can use in the future with nicer knives.

 

I do appreciate the recommendation though!  If I was transitioning from a mid range german knife it would probably be worth sharpening and getting my skills down.  A dollar store chinese knife, I'm thinking that may be more trouble than it's worth.

 

Other than postponing my spending, are there any other advantages of learning on the current knife as opposed to the artifex?

 

 

dreamwrx:  I was looking at the "saya", since it was the only add on I assumed it was sharpening, good thing you caught it!  Yeah when I order I may give him a call and see what we can work out.  

 

I think for the boards I'm gonna stick with plastic for a little while and see how it does.  If I end up having to sharpen a lot, it might be worth the extra cleaning time for a wood board.  As is now I think the amount of extra time I spend cleaning in my small sink would outweigh the time saved sharpening. Especially if I keep up my current usage of one for meat, one for veggies, or sometimes I can use 3 boards in a day depending on what I'm making and how many meals I cook.

 

Maybe I'll even take some data and see how significant the difference really is :P.  Guess I'd have to buy a higher quality wood board for comparisons though.

post #23 of 50

Okay. i'll bite.(pun intended). I don';t know what an artifex is. I do know that If it isn't worth sharpening, it isn't worth using. throw it out. Never, ever work with a dull knife. 

On the other hand, I have several chinese cleavers and other knives purchased for 10 or less, use them constantly and sharpen them all the time. Great value. So I'd sharpen the one you have anyway, use it a bit, then decide.

You should also have a proper place to store the knife. Not just thrown in a drawer. A knife block or magnetic strip.

Cutting boards. Plastic was originally seen as the more sanitary and popularized as such. However, subsequent testing showed that wood boards to be more sanitary as the wood absorbed any water remaning on the surface thereby depriving bacteria of the moist environment they require. Plastic boards retained greater moisture/greater bacterial count. And are tougher on the knife.

I use a Norton Tri-stone I bought years ago. Still works great for me. Sharpening stones and techniques are another area offering alot to learn.

Start with any knife you like, develop your skills with it. Eventually you will find you want one that has a larger/smaller handle, weighs more or less, has a longer or shorter blade, etc. When you find it, that will be the knife you end up using all the time. Of course you may end up like many of us and begin buying multiple knives for the hell of it. It's a fun hobby.

For me, well developed knife skills  have added immeasurably to my enjoyment of the cooking process. And I cut myself less every year.  

post #24 of 50

Many inexpensive knives can't be meaningfully sharpened to a fine sharp edge because the steel is too coarse and too tough.  However, they can be made to cut more efficiently -- somewhat saw like -- using the sort of inexpensive, carbide sharpener that people buy to keep in their tackle boxes.  Is that what you want to do? 

 

An Artifex is a no BS knife made by Richmond Knives (Mark Richmond of CKtG).  It's made here in the USA by Lamson from an excellent alloy, AEB-L, hardened to its sweet spot.  The knife takes an excellent edge and holds it a long time. The handle is plain but comfortable.  It has no bolster.  The knife and edge geometry are both extremely good.  In terms of form/function it's very much like a Forschner; and even though it costs almost twice as much it's at least as good as a Forschner for value/price -- maybe a better value because it's a much better knife.  

 

While you don't want to store any good knife loose in a drawer, there are other options besides a block or strip; for instance in-drawer knife holders, blade covers, and sayas.  By way of example, my western handled knives are in an in-drawer block, my Japanese handled knives are in sayas in another drawer.  Just protect your knives and your hands -- the method doesn't matter.

 

I'm not sure where I'd put it as an investment priority for someone putting together a good knife kit on a limited budget.  But a wood board is very important.  End-grain wood is the best, long grain a close second. 

 

Shun and Global knives seemed revolutionary when they first entered the US market, but their time has passed.  You can do as good or better for the less money, and much better for the same money. 

 

Wusthof and the other German makers manufacture some very good knives.  However, the trend is away from that style of knife, and for very good reasons.  If you want to talk about the knives and/or the reasons, I'm open; but it sounds like you're already beyond that point. 

 

Identifying how far up the quality ladder you want to climb is as important as identifying your real budget.  There are a lot of good performer, bargain knives, and a lot of more expensive, excellent performers which are good value because they're such excellent performers.  The price range runs from just under $100, to perhaps a bit north of $300.  After that, you're paying for appearance or prestige.  I can't tell you where on the ladder you want to find yourself, no one can.  The best you can get from someone else is enough information about a few knives at a few rungs to make a good decision.    

 

Don't undervalue cosmetics, fit and finish and other "aesthetic considerations." 

 

Wood is not more sanitary than plastic.  There was a study done about twenty years ago which showed that wood was "self-sterilizing," but it's a bad study.  If cleaned appropriately, they're the same.  Otherwise, they're the same.   

 

Bamboo is not wood, it's grass.  Bamboo is hard and springy.  Because the shaved sections of bamboo used to make a board are so narrow the board surface is almost as much glue as bamboo.  The glue is hard and stable.  Bamboo tends to ding knives out of true, and may have some tendency to chip knives which are themselves very hard and brittle.  But we're not talking about those knives.   Bamboo boards are inexpensive, and while you don't want to use one as your primary cutting board they have a place in a well-stocked home.  I'd rate them about the same as "composition" and Sani-Tuff, and better than any plastic. 

 

We can discuss tri-stones if you like, but tri-stones are about oil stones, and the knives you're looking at are much better sharpened on water stones. 

 

A Bester 1200 is a medium/coarse stone.  I've been using one for a few years and -- although it's not perfect -- it's a very good stone.  A "one stone" solution is adequate, but if you're going to sharpen on bench stones I suggest starting with at least two stones.  A 1200# edge is toothy and somewhat fragile.  You want to finish a chef's knife made from a decent alloy with a minimum "medium" stone.  That can be #2000 - #5000, depending on how the maker rates the stones.  For instance, a Gesshin #2000 will sharpen as fine as a Norton #4000.  A very typical high quality/high value pair is the Bester 1200 and Suehiro Rika.  I also like the  Naniwa SS 1000 and 3000 10mm stones as a good starter set. 

 

Bench stones are great, but there are other options.  If you can afford one think about an Edge Pro system.  You might also want to explore the possibility of something like a MinoSharp Plus3 or a Chef's Choice Model 316 (electric sharpener). 

 

Miss Meg seems very nice and very sincere.  She also seems to be someone who has accepted using very dull knives without quite realizing that they're very dull.  

 

Hope this helps,

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 11/9/12 at 10:25am
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post #25 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Many inexpensive knives can't be meaningfully sharpened to a fine sharp edge because the steel is too coarse and too tough.  However, they can be made to cut more efficiently -- somewhat saw like -- using the sort of inexpensive, carbide sharpener that people buy to keep in their tackle boxes.  Is that what you want to do? 

 

An Artifex is a no BS knife made by Richmond Knives (Mark Richmond of CKtG).  It's made here in the USA by Lamson from an excellent alloy, AEB-L, hardened to its sweet spot.  The knife takes an excellent edge and holds it a long time. The handle is plain but comfortable.  It has no bolster.  The knife and edge geometry are both extremely good.  In terms of form/function it's very much like a Forschner; and even though it costs almost twice as much it's at least as good as a Forschner for value/price -- maybe a better value because it's a much better knife.  

 

While you don't want to store any good knife loose in a drawer, there are other options besides a block or strip; for instance in-drawer knife holders, blade covers, and sayas.  By way of example, my western handled knives are in an in-drawer block, my Japanese handled knives are in sayas in another drawer.  Just protect your knives and your hands -- the method doesn't matter.

 

I'm not sure where I'd put it as an investment priority for someone putting together a good knife kit on a limited budget.  But a wood board is very important.  End-grain wood is the best, long grain a close second. 

 

Shun and Global knives seemed revolutionary when they first entered the US market, but their time has passed.  You can do as good or better for the less money, and much better for the same money. 

 

Wusthof and the other German makers manufacture some very good knives.  However, the trend is away from that style of knife, and for very good reasons.  If you want to talk about the knives and/or the reasons, I'm open; but it sounds like you're already beyond that point. 

 

Identifying how far up the quality ladder you want to climb is as important as identifying your real budget.  There are a lot of good performer, bargain knives, and a lot of more expensive, excellent performers which are good value because they're such excellent performers.  The price range runs from just under $100, to perhaps a bit north of $300.  After that, you're paying for appearance or prestige.  I can't tell you where on the ladder you want to find yourself, no one can.  The best you can get from someone else is enough information about a few knives at a few rungs to make a good decision.    

 

Don't undervalue cosmetics, fit and finish and other "aesthetic considerations." 

 

Wood is not more sanitary than plastic.  There was a study done about twenty years ago which showed that wood was "self-sterilizing," but it's a bad study.  If cleaned appropriately, they're the same.  Otherwise, they're the same.   

 

Bamboo is not wood, it's grass.  Bamboo is hard and springy.  Because the shaved sections of bamboo used to make a board are so narrow the board surface is almost as much glue as bamboo.  The glue is hard and stable.  Bamboo tends to ding knives out of true, and may have some tendency to chip knives which are themselves very hard and brittle.  But we're not talking about those knives.   Bamboo boards are inexpensive, and while you don't want to use one as your primary cutting board they have a place in a well-stocked home.  I'd rate them about the same as "composition" and Sani-Tuff, and better than any plastic. 

 

We can discuss tri-stones if you like, but tri-stones are about oil stones, and the knives you're looking at are much better sharpened on water stones. 

 

A Bester 1200 is a medium/coarse stone.  I've been using one for a few years and -- although it's not perfect -- it's a very good stone.  A "one stone" solution is adequate, but if you're going to sharpen on bench stones I suggest starting with at least two stones.  A 1200# edge is toothy and somewhat fragile.  You want to finish a chef's knife made from a decent alloy with a minimum "medium" stone.  That can be #2000 - #5000, depending on how the maker rates the stones.  For instance, a Gesshin #2000 will sharpen as fine as a Norton #4000.  A very typical high quality/high value pair is the Bester 1200 and Suehiro Rika.  I also like the  Naniwa SS 1000 and 3000 10mm stones as a good starter set. 

 

Bench stones are great, but there are other options.  If you can afford one think about an Edge Pro system.  You might also want to explore the possibility of something like a MinoSharp Plus3 or a Chef's Choice Model 316 (electric sharpener). 

 

Miss Meg seems very nice and very sincere.  She also seems to be someone who has accepted using very dull knives without quite realizing that they're very dull.  

 

Hope this helps,

BDL

 

BDL

 

Hey boar, welcome to the convo!

 

I think I'm going to go with the Artifex 210 as well as the 5 piece stone set everyone seems to be recommending.  The farthest (furthest?) up the knife ladder I'll probably go will be a $200 knife in a year or two.  Maybe a 240 or 270.  I've been looking around on CKTG, but I figure the selection will probably be different in a year anyway, so there's not much sense picking out what I want to upgrade to.  I think I'll be sticking with stainless, so maybe there'll be some cool new supermetal used in the near future.

 

I recently got a gift card to bed bath and beyond, so I'll probably pick up a magnetic strip there.

 

As far as the cutting board, do you have any info on how much worse plastic is on knives than wood?  I know there's a ton of variables, but any info is better than none.  I'm sure it's significant, I'm just trying to balance the extra work of sharpening more often with the extra work of hand cleaning the wooden boards in my small (sometimes full) sink every day as opposed to just throwing 2-3 plastic ones in the dishwasher.  Not to mention the rather significant cost of end grain boards.

 

I did appreciate Meg's response, I think I'm probably somewhere in between where she is and where most people on this board are as far as the sharpness I require.  I'm not looking for a shaving knife, but I think sharpening every few years is probably a bit of a long time for how often I cook (especially if I use plastic for awhile).  It's good to hear from someone who doesn't obsess about getting insane sharpness who's still doing fine.

post #26 of 50

Thanks BDL. Just when I thought I had enough knives, after reading your post, now I think I need a new knife too. And a new sharpening stone. The Lamson factory is about an hour and a half drive from me so I may be heading out this weekend. Oh well, It's only money.

post #27 of 50

Goodell,

 

The good reasons to favor a 210 over a 240 chef's knife have to do with room in your kitchen or your board.  A 240 is as agile and intuitive as a 210, assuming minimal knife skills (largely your grip).  If you're willing to go through a couple of weeks of paying attention to your grip, AND your board is big enough you might as well get a 240 now. 

 

A wood board is hugely better than plastic.  You don't have to take the board to the sink.  In fact, a wooden board shouldn't go to the sink more than once a year, except if absolutely necessary.  A wood board can be cleaned and sanitized very nicely thank you without ever moving from its place on the counter. 

 

Everything else being equal, end grain wood is better than long grain -- not hugely better, but significantly so.  Is it worth the price difference?  That's more complicated.  I'd rather have a good long grain board than a crummy end grain board. 

 

How big a board can you have?  The largest you can put in your kitchen. 

 

By way of example we have two high quality end grain boards.  One is 2 x 18 x 24 Boardsmith mahogany rectangle, the other is 3 x 18 Boos maple round.  I'm not saying you should go out and buy one but am saying that in my opinion good boards are worth a substantial investment.  Buy the best and biggest you can reasonably afford.  If you really look around the internet you can usually find fairly good deals.  Amazon is a good source.

 

From a very advanced sharpening standpoint -- one which you probably won't appreciate for years if ever -- there's a tension between absolute sharpness and durability.  But, that minor caveat aside, there's no such thing as too sharp.  Knives should be as sharp as they can be made; which as a practical matter depends on the knife itself and on how much effort, time, learning and money you're willing to throw at the task.  Bench stones are not the best solution for everyone, and neither is a high quality tool and jig (like an EP).  For instance, Meg's best option for her Henckels Classics would probably be a three stage Chef's Choice electric. 

 

In your case, it's probably a good idea to examine your sharpening options before diving down the bench stone rabbit hole.  I can't tell you what would work best for you, but only respond to the information you give with information of my own.  The good part is that I have no stake whatsoever in getting you to do what I do or buy what I've bought.   

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 11/9/12 at 10:23am
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post #28 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Goodell,

 

The good reasons to favor a 210 over a 240 chef's knife have to do with room in your kitchen or your board.  A 240 is as agile and intuitive as a 210, assuming minimal knife skills (largely your grip).  If you're willing to go through a couple of weeks of paying attention to your grip, AND your board is big enough you might as well get a 240 now. 

 

A wood board is hugely better than plastic.  You don't have to take the board to the sink.  In fact, a wooden board shouldn't go to the sink more than once a year, except if absolutely necessary.  A wood board can be cleaned and sanitized very nicely thank you without ever moving from its place on the counter. 

 

Everything else being equal, end grain wood is better than long grain -- not hugely better, but significantly so.  Is it worth the price difference?  That's more complicated.  I'd rather have a good long grain board than a crummy end grain board. 

 

How big a board can you have?  The largest you can put in your kitchen. 

 

By way of example we have two high quality end grain boards.  One is 2 x 18 x 24 Boardsmith mahogany rectangle, the other is 3 x 18 Boos maple round.  I'm not saying you should go out and buy one but am saying that in my opinion good boards are worth a substantial investment.  Buy the best and biggest you can reasonably afford.  If you really look around the internet you can usually find fairly good deals.  Amazon is a good source.

 

From a very advanced sharpening standpoint -- one which you probably won't appreciate for years if ever -- there's a tension between absolute sharpness and durability.  But, that minor caveat aside, there's no such thing as too sharp.  Knives should be as sharp as they can be made; which as a practical matter depends on the knife itself and on how much effort, time, learning and money you're willing to throw at the task.  Bench stones are not the best solution for everyone, and neither is a high quality tool and jig (like an EP).  For instance, Meg's best option for her Henckels Classics would probably be a three stage Chef's Choice electric. 

 

In your case, it's probably a good idea to examine your sharpening options before diving down the bench stone rabbit hole.  I can't tell you what would work best for you, but only respond to the information you give with information of my own.  The good part is that I have no stake whatsoever in getting you to do what I do or buy what I've bought.   

 

BDL

 

As far as knife size goes, it is partially because I have a pretty small kitchen (single bedroom apt near downtown austin, space is pretty limited). I've had a wok sitting on my counter the last few weeks that I've used maybe twice, just because there's nowhere to put it.  I also figured I can wait and have my next, higher quality knife be a 240 or 270, and hopefully by then I'll have a bigger kitchen.  The crappy knife I have is a 240 (i think), and it's a bit large for most of what I do (especially since I've found out scraping food and picking it up with the knife is a no no).  I'd be fine with a 240 or 270, but I kind of just want to try out a smaller one and see how it goes.  I'm sure I'll end up with all 3 at some point though.

 

As for board cleaning, how do you go about that without a sink?  With veggies I'm not too worried, it's more things like chicken or beef.  Part of my reasoning for the plastic mats also involves their small storage space.  4 of them fit in the space of about half of my bamboo board since they're so thin. It also looks like 2 end grain boards is gonna run me about $100 minimum, yeah that'll have to wait a little while.  I've got stuff besides knife supplies I want to get!

 

As far as the sharpness vs durability, that makes sense.  The smaller the edge, the easier it is to break (generally).  I think bench grinding actually sounds interesting.  I've been taking a less machined approach to a lot of things lately, so I think it'll fit in with my lifestyle pretty well.  Crossfit/caveman type workouts, paleo(ish) eating, cooking my own meals, barefoot running, and bench grinding.  I'd say that's a decent combo tongue.gif.  I feel like bench grinding is way more badass than using a sharpener, and as I mentioned above I'm a control freak, so I'll like having that level of control over how the knives get sharpened.


Edited by goodell - 11/9/12 at 11:17am
post #29 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodell View Post

So it looks like my setup is going to be:

 

Stone:  Bester 1200x - $50

 

Knife:  Artifex 210mm Gyuto - $70

 

Flattening Plate:  140 Grit Diamond Stone Flattening Plate - $25

 

Rod:  Idahone Ceramic Sharpening Rod 12" - $30 + $7 for leather sleeve

 

Total:  ~$200 with shipping/tax

 

 

Any further comments or recommendations?  I'm going on a two week trip on Saturday, so I'll be ordering soon after returning (probably after the first paycheck tongue.gif)


YES!!!

NEVER let anyone 'borrow' them.. even in your own home and wrap the knife in a towel before putting it in the drawer if you don't have a bag for it. The 'knife' drawer is the worst possible spot for them!

 

Happy cooking! So much fun getting your first good knife.. brings back happy memories.

post #30 of 50

Try korin.com in NYC. I've bought all of my current knives from them. They carry traditional Japanese knives and western style knives. Their Togiharu molybdenum "gyutou" western style knife is a great buy. Korin will also do a complementary initial sharpening for each knife you purchase; this is important because it sets the proper bevel angle for you. You should also research the various metals that they make knives with. Stainless steel is generally preferred, however my preference is carbon steel. The latter requires more care as they will rust and stain however they get wonderfully sharp. Another thing to be aware of is that the Japanese knives have a different edge than your typical western knife. The bevel angle is greater on one side than the other (depending on you left or right handedness).
 

Korin also sells traditional Japanese sharpening stones, they even have a DVD on how to sharpen your knives the Japanese way.

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