Today - very belatedly - I came across the Cooking Knives forum, which contains just the kind of information and opinion I've been trying to find for years. This is my first post.
Background: Decades of experience cooking, at one time for money (hired out as a "Rent-a-Chef", for 7 years, to pay for my higher education) but now for love (cook every day for 6 people, but sometimes up to 40, at various locations - to which I bring my knife roll, and, if necessary, my Sani-Tuff cutting board). Chef's knife and sharpening system fanatic, but the cost/benefit ratio rules.
Here's the Q:
Having tried Sabatier Elephant and some top-line German chef's knives, as well as a Global, I'm happiest with the stamped Forschner Fibrox (though a one-piece, stainless, made-in-China, 7 3/4" cleaver comes out when the going gets perilous for the Fibrox: the cleaver's soft steel is chip-resistant, and the edge hones as easily as it curls). Unhappily, I had to try nearly every home sharpening system - from carbide and ceramic V's; to stone and ceramic "wheelies"; to oil/water/diamond stones and rods, with and without angle guides; and including the last two generations of Chef's Choice electrics and manuals - before finding a system I could use to grind a good-as-new (maybe better than new) edge that would last a while. Ta-da: a 1" vertical, slack-belt sander and 4 belts - aluminum oxide at 40 micron (320 grit); 20 micron (500 grit); and 9 micron (1200 grit), as well as a leather stropping belt). I've had very satisfactory results with both Globals and Forschners simply by dipping my blades in cool water before each pass across the belts and keeping the bevel angle as narrow as I can without risk of scuffing the blade's sides, i.e., about 5* a side. I can feel the differences, in practice, among included angles of 20*, 15*, and 10* and prefer the 10* that I think I'm getting now.
BUT: The edges on my Forschners don't seem to last as long as the edges on my Globals. Since the two now have identical edge geometries (convex, about 10* included angle), and I've made allowances for differences in blade weights, geometries, and stiffness, the difference must lie in the alloys and how the steels are processed.
SO: Any recommendations for particular steels and particular chef's knives that lie near the of top the scale in edge-retention and near the bottom of the scale in cost? (Please remember: Whatever they are, I'm going to regrind them to my convex, 10* preference after they dull; I prefer the Fibrox's weight/balance, blade geometry, and handle shape/texture, though I'm open to experiment; and I care a lot more about function and cost/benefit than aesthetics.