Personally I think the GlassStones are really good for the newer breeds of modern "super steel". That's about all I use them for. Nearly all Shapton stones are on the harder end of the spectrum, and I very much prefer softer stones. You may lose a tiny bit of precision vs. using the harder stones but the extra feel and feedback make up for it IMOHO.
New to Japanese Knives, Looking for Help (Long). - Page 2
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You're not the only one. Soon after my last post I got swamped with work and I'm just coming up for air now. I'd still really like to see your (and anyone else's) further thoughts on my original and followup questions. I'm headed back to the salt mines for a while more, but I'll try to make some time to check in more frequently. Heigh-Ho, etc.!
It seemed to me from the beginning that you're very interested in what makes one knife different and possibly better than another, and that the best way for you to move forward with your knife choices was to learn something more about knives in general, and the respective knife skills and sharpening skills learning curves so you could make an informed decision -- as opposed to me or anyone else throwing a bunch of brands and knife styles at you -- no matter how good those brands and models are.
For a fairly complete set you need a minimum of four knives: Chef's/gyuto; slicer/suji; petty; and bread. You can always have more knives, and without serious overlap either. For instance, the petty is a knife which combines the functions of a paring knife, a mid-length utility knife, and a stiff boning knife. And, you don't have to buy everything at one because you can hold off on the suji/slicer for awhile if you don't do a lot of your own portioning.
The knife you'll probably use most often is the chef's/gyuto. Among other things, that implies that you should spend a higher portion of whatever budget you have just for knives (as opposed for a total budget which includes a board and sharpening gear) than either the bread knife or the petty. But, on the other hand, just as with gyutos, if you do use a suji, a very good suji is very much better than a merely good suji.
Japanese knife makers started (or maybe just renewed) a trend in the west towards thinner, lighter, more agile and sharper knifes. The difference that makes is most apparent with the chef's. While sharpness almost always trumps weight and power there's a practical limit (for most people) to how far you can push a very thin knife into performing heavy duty tasks. So, an extremely important consideration is when you (as in "you, specifically") want to make the transition from your anorexic but agile chef's knives to something heavier.
Adding a little nuance, let's say that the transition is going to fall somewhere short of splitting chickens even for relatively stout chef's knives. While there are knives which can handle that kind of abuse (chef de chefs, lobster crackers, etc.) they're too heavy to be comfortable for most people for ordinary prepping.
If you want something very thin and light as your "go-to gyuto," I'll give you one set of recommendations; if you want something which really can do it all -- damn near -- I'll make another; and if you want something in the middle, than still another.
Anyway, you get the idea.
PS. Since you live in SoCal, it would be in your best ineterests to make some time to drive up to Los Angeles (Venice, actually), visit Japanese Knife Imports and meet with Jon Broida. He can help you better with most of your questions than just about anyone else, and he carries several knives in your price range which should suit you well.
+12 for everything BDL just said.
There is such a thing as a "do-everything" knife, but it's about as good for complicated and intricate custom work as you'd expect from a good handyman. You want a true jack-of-all trades, you'll get solid but not efficient or elegant. You want perfection, you're going to have to sacrifice some areas of specialization. I don't know of any way around that, and it appears BDL doesn't either, so we're probably more or less right. (That's the theory anyway -- a theory BDL and I hold to, oddly enough! )
I personally think that the best bet for someone just getting interested is to focus exclusively on the anchor-knife, the one that does most of the work. That's going to be your chef's knife. When that knife isn't sufficient or precise enough for something in particular, it's time to revisit. What's missing? What's a good replacement? But these are questions for down the line. For the moment, I'd say a great chef's knife / gyuto will get you rolling. Learn to sharpen it, find good inexpensive stones to do so, and you're all set.
And we'll see you back soon, panting after esoterica. It just seems to come with the territory.
(Full disclosure: I have recently been lusting after either a big kiritsuke or a super-great usuba. I can't justify this at all, having not the slightest need by any measure, and at the moment, if I do anything about it, my wife will kill me. Still.... Maybe I can swing a great natural 2k stone? Hmmm........)
This has been a good thread, with some great observations and suggestions. I'm new here and don't claim any special expertise, but I have recently gone through a similar process... so take these suggestions for what they're worth:
[Caveats: I'm a newb here, with no track record and thus no real credibility. But given your interest in a change to Japanese knives, I think you might as well dive in and go for something that is truly different from what you've used before... the big kahuna... a 'laser' wa gyuto. As an aside, I'm curious... have there been many cases in which someone has regretted purchasing a good laser? I don't recall reading of any... or perhaps folks just don't publicize their regrets]
Edited by DaveZatYoWa - 2/24/13 at 6:32am
Thanks BDL, Chris, Dave and all the others !
Sound advice, just a tad too late for me, since not a Gyuoto but both a Nakiri and a Kiritsuke are coming to Amsterdam as my first Japanese knives.
And there will be a truck load of stones and accessories too. (Bunched the advice of BDL and Mark Richmond together, so I can feel the difference in stones and how to work with them.)
I have a seminar planned on March for stone sharpening, and will keep on looking at the films on You Tube about it.
There are 30+ knives in the house I can practise on before getting to the Japanese knives, and a bunch of friends and colleagues already promised that I am allowed to sharpen their knives as soon as my 30 knives are nicely sharpened.
Which means I got some 250+ knives to work on before ever touching my Japanese knives.
I am so looking forward to this !
The stuff should be rolling in during the coming week.
Thank you all for the great help, and I'll keep a keen eye out on all you say and write !
Many greetings from snow swepped Amsterdam,
I hope you'll post an update telling us how you like the Kiritsuke. While they are considered gyutos, the kiritsuke blade profile is not something that I have had any experience with, so I'll be curious how you like it. It's flatter edge profile ought to work well for push cutting, perhaps draw cuts, and the "guillotine and glide" technique that BDL has written about. It'll certainly be different from the traditional German-style Henckels, etc.
I will !!
Hopefully I can make some sense (as I confessed before, I am self taught so I hold my knives in a rather ridiculous way..).
After the waterstone sharpening seminar, fairly quickly I will get me one on how to hold a knife.
With purple cheeks of shame I sign of with a glass of white Alsace wine in that 'terrible' hand,
many greetings from icy Amsterdam,