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Low Budget Knife ~$60-70

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 



I'm looking for a good knife to get started. I'm a beginner and really don't have very much experience, I also don't have much of a budget ~$60-70... But for a general all purpose knife, what would you recommend? 



I've looked a few myself and come up with these:


$50- Henckles Twin Signature Chefs 8"


$70- Richmond Artifex 210mm


$75- Fujiwara FKM 210mm


$73- Fujiwara FKH 210mm (Carbon, might be too much for starter?)


$80- Tojiro DP 210mm (Wa style or western)


$60- Tojiro ITK 210mm


$80- Sugimoto 210mm



So there's a lot of choices and of course I welcome other ideas. I own other very basic and cheap knives and also a lousy 2-step sharpener.



Also as a side note, I did notice another similar thread, but the other thread mentioned that the user was more skilled and had other quality knives for cooking such as a petty and more. I felt under my circumstances things might be a bit different.

post #2 of 11

A petty isn't a reward for good skills.  It's a knife which allows you to do all sorts of medium length and short knife tasks well.  I suggest  you consider either a petty, a "utility" knife, or at least a longer paring knife to go with your chef's.  Also, although 8" is by far the most popular length for chef's knives it is not the best or even a very good length unless you work in a very cramped space. 


You'll also need a decent board and some sort of decent sharpening kit and the skills to use it. 


You'll probably want a "steel" to maintain your edges, but a steel is not a sharpening solution.  Don't buy a "diamond steel."  Most manual "pull-through" sharpeners are not very good; and most sharpen at 20*; while most of the knives in which you're interested should be sharpened at around 15*. 


Your list of knives appears to have been chosen with price as the major criterion, as opposed to what you think will work best for your situation.  Price is not the only consideration nor should it be the main one -- it's just one thing which helps define what is and isn't on your short list.  Also, don't think of my reading as a criticism of how you put your list together.  How can you know what you don't know? 


  • Henckels Twin Signature:  Too heavy, too German -- which is more of a criticism of German knives in general (especially those with bolsters) than of any Henckels series in particular.  If German style knives stay on your list, Forschner Rosewood and Fibrox are a better fit for your budget, not to mention lighter.  One of the nice thing about German knives is how easy they are to sharpen with relatively inexpensive oil stones.  But, caveat emptor.  Don't buy a knife made from "high carbon German steel" unless you know that the alloy is X50CrMoV15 or at least as good. 


  • Richmond Artifex:  Excellent entry to the high end.  Mediocre cosmetics but good everything else.  The OOTB (out of the box) edge is sharp, but needs some refining.  Good profile.  Artifex is my first recommendation. 


  • Fujiwara FKM:  Another excellent entry to the high end.  Good cosmetics, good utility, but slightly less good F&F.  The handle is on the narrow side.  OOTB sharpness and edge geometry are good.  Good profile.  As a "first good knife" I rate this the same as the Tojiro DP, but not quite as highly as the Artifex. 


  • Fujiwara FKH:  The problem with this knife isn't that it's carbon, but that it's bad carbon.  The alloy takes a very long time to stabilize and in the meantime it discolors your food, leaves a sulfruous smell on it and stinks itself.  Even after it does develop a patina you will have to clean it off from time, the destabilizing again.  If you aren't specifically looking for a Japanese carbon knife exactly like it at the particular price point, don't go near it.


  • Tojiro DP 210mm (Wa style or western):  The third, fourth and final excellent entry level knives on your list.  The yo gyuto have a largish handles which are still somewhat blocky but are better than they used to be.  Better cosmetics than the Artifex, but not quite as good looking as the FKM.  Decent F&F.  Sharp OOTB, good edge geometry, decent edge profile. 


  • Tojiro ITK: (There are at least two types of Tojiro ITK.  You're referring to "Tojiro ITK Shirogami," the wa handled knives with a kurouchi finish, and I'll restrict my comments to those.)  Not a good beginner's knife.  IMO, not a good knife at all even though made from a prestige -- and excellent -- alloy.  Too thick and too crude; lousy handle.  An ITK shirogami is  about a kind of sharpness you'll never achieve.  Not for you. 


  • Sugimoto:  Their chuka bocho are good deals, but their western style knives are infamous for poor manufacturing.  Run away. 



Edited by boar_d_laze - 11/24/12 at 8:16am
post #3 of 11

May I add a Wusthof Gourmet... I bought this knife for $60 at sur la table and I think it's been a fine knife. It's not heavy like all other wustofs and germans in general. I did not like holding any other german knife besides this one. It feels like a japanese knife. There's no heavy bolster (which I hate), it's very well balanced and the blade is very thin and does the "laser" thing very well. For a "cheap" knife, I've been extremely happy with it.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply, I know that i put up a lot of knives, but also wanted to know how some of the others stacked up.

I figured that it would come down to the artifex or fujiwara fkm, so now that it seems the artifex is the knife to get you mention I should look at a honing steel and sharpening stones... I'm very strapped for cash so with about $30 or so, what should I consider getting?

post #5 of 11

Maybe add to your budget, (the 30$ for a steel, plus maybe another 30 if you can) and get the M390 artifex, sharpened before you buy it. From what I've heard its great for people who can't sharpen, and with a 30$ budget you can't really get much gear for sharpening.

post #6 of 11
i'd advise against having a person new to sharpening knives getting an m390. it's a b!tch and a half to sharpen (according to some people). they should get the AEB-L for ease of sharpening, decent edge holding, and it's stainless.

but if there was someone near them that has decent sharpening skills that's willing to sharpen it for them, like say a professional sharpening service. then maybe they could get by. or they could invest in their own sharpening stones, ones that are capable of sharpening m390.
post #7 of 11

Posted by kanix View Post

I'm very strapped for cash so with about $30 or so, what should I consider getting?

$30 isn't enough for a decent combi water stone, let alone a stone and a steel.  You're looking at about an $80 minimum for an acceptable kit.  That would buy an acceptable combi water stone, and a steel; or an alternative sharpener like a Chef's Choice electric with an "Asian angle," or a good pull through like a MinoSharp Plus3. 


If you can't stretch your budget, put off buying the Artifex for awhile and shift your money around.  Buy a Forschner Fibrox or Rosewood.  Keep it sharp for the time being with an Idahone fine ceramic (aka "1200") 10" hone and a Norton IB8.  Add a Norton or Hall's "hard" Arkansas stone when you can afford it.  Even though India stones (like the IB8) and Arkansas stones are "oil stones," don't use oil.  Sharpen dry, with water, or soapy water. 


Knives are all about sharpness.  Consequently sharpening and maintenance are the highest priorities, anything else is secondary. 



post #8 of 11
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post ...Even though India stones (like the IB8) and Arkansas stones are "oil stones," don't use oil.  Sharpen dry, with water, or soapy water...BDL


Why not use oil, BDL, even a minimum amount just to wet the stone???



Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.



Brot und Wein
(1 photos)

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.



Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
post #9 of 11

Since I am in the process of upgrading from dime-store knives, having bought 2 knives I like but am I'm not completely thrilled with, let me give you my perspective:


For 27 years I used a single 8" slicer of the cheapest kind for most all my prep work, and just about everything else.  The one nice thing about it to me (other than the fact it was free and free always makes things better looking to me), is that it is a mere .043" thick, it also has a [relatively] nice wooden handle.  I kept it sharp enough with a $2.50 and $5 1x3" 1K diamond hone from WT Tool (I still rough with the combi, but the diamond hone finally shi_ the bed just the other week, boy they die quick when they go), and a hard Arkansas from a yard sale for $2.50.  I really did enjoy using this pathetic-by-cheftalk-standards knife and stones, but after experiencing the difference between the freebie lawnmowers I had always used and a nice "modern" one, I felt that change might be just as nice here also.  And a decent knife is a welcome change.  I still keep that knife in the block (also a new acquisition and a first) and still use it occasionally for nostalgia.  You can get similar or better used and sometimes knew knives for a dollar at various thrift stores, and they make great practice knives for your sharpening skills, and "tweaks" if you get so ambitious. 


So drawing on this experience I feel it's worth it to consider saving up you pesos till you have enough for decent stones and a steel to go along with the knife.  Hone your sharpening skills in the meantime, using just the cheapest/free stones you can get, (an 8x3" combi should be amongst those, and a dry one for a few bucks is just fine as well as convenient), and take pleasure in that.  In time you'll have the maintenance skills and know just the knife that will make you happy for a while (maybe even 27+ years) and have the money to pay for it and the proper accessories.


Considering what to get in my case, an 8" slicer is the most useful knife to me, no suprise, it's what I'm used to.  And after making the mistake of dropping $80 on a Wusthof Ikon (something I would never have done after finding cheftalk), I plan on spending about $200 and maybe more on one of those, very likely a Konosuke.  I can afford it and I can't think of many things for that money that I'd enjoy more.  A chef knife does come in handy for me at times, and for that I will likely get something like the ones mentioned here, or even just stick with a dime-store item here.  You sound like you would be most happy with what most are, a chef knife and petty, and you'd likely be best served by splitting your money in similar proportions for your go-to and secondary.

post #10 of 11

Hi Kanix...


I can only talk about the knives that I have experience with, so here it goes:


Tojiro ITK: Don't. Poor finish, the handle has a very poor finish, I have a few knives from that series that I bought just to get some experience with Carbon steel and it was the same with all of them. Ugly handle and low quality assembly. I gave them some sandpaper love and then a few coats of tru oil and it became acceptable.


They don't get a patina... They get kinda rusty and an ugly stained pattern. The "Kuruochi" coating (the black on the blade) falls very easily when whashed with the green sponge, it's just too thin and if you want to keep it, you need to use a soft sponge to clean it, otherwise it's going to get scratched very fast, and since I'm an "scrub it hard" freak, I got mines totally kurouchi-less in a matter of days...And you guessed it right... I got the ugly patina...How ugly?... I got a tetanus vaccine just based on the fear of cutting myself with that rusty and dirty looking blade.

I clean them with a very abrasive black sponge just to get rid of the stains


On the other hand, the gyuto feels thick, and actually it is, when cutting a carrot you get the feeling that you're breaking it apart. Like an "axe effect" (To name it some way).

The pros... Takes a good edge and keeps it for a while.

That knife is a big no-no for me, but I don't regret on having it, I got some experience with carbon, and the funny thing is that the "Nakiri" from that same ITK line, is one of my favorite knives, I got two and that's the knive that I use in the restaurant to carve the laquered duck. It has a great feeling, takes a very nice edge (I sharpen it only to 1200 grit because I use it only for the duck and I've seen that the "gritty" edge works awesome on the crispy skin and gives a "micro serrated" kind of feeling) but also takes the 6000-8000 polishing very well.

But since we're talking about the gyuto, don't listen to me on the nakiri.


Forchner: A real battlehorse, far from being a Japanese high end knife but a tool that does the job very well. Affordable, durable and time proven.


Richmond: I have no experience, but Mark from CKTG is a very stand up guy and if he's endorsing it, I trust the man. It has to be good, but again...Zero experience with it.


My two cents.


post #11 of 11

Posted by kokopuffs View Post

Why not use oil, BDL, even a minimum amount just to wet the stone???


What is honing oil?  In the US it's usually very "light" mineral oil.  You can either buy it, or make your hone by mixing ordinary mineral oil with mineral spirits at about 50/50.  You could also use kerosene as the solvent. 


Although it's lubricious, the purpose of honing oil is not to "lubricate" so as to reduce friction.  Since the sharpening process is a product of abrasion, you actually want more friction rather than less.  The utility of using any liquid -- including honing oil -- is to keep the swarf floating so the knife edge will push it off.  Thus you need a fair amount of whatever.  Compared to water or soapy water, honing oil floats the swarf better and the stone will take a little longer to clog.  BUT...


Once the stone inevitably fills up with oil/swarf, it becomes nearly impossible to clean without a soak in kerosene, a lot of scrubbing, and the occasional boil.  All of the other methods clean up easier -- a scrub with a metal brush, then a trip through the dishwasher is usually enough.  Sharpening dry and sharpening with water also sharpen quicker, and fewer strokes means a better job for most sharpeners.  Sharpening dry also leaves a cleaner and better polished blade.  FWIW, John Juranitch is the Johnny Appleseed of dry sharpening, and Steve Bottorf is his prophet. 


When using oil stones, I prefer to sharpen dry because it's faster and I get cleaner results.  But I occasionally use water or soapy water because I like to fool around with things. 


Finally, if you're going to jump from an oil stone to a water stone, you want to make very sure not to get oil on the water stone. 



Edited by boar_d_laze - 11/26/12 at 6:43am
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