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What's your steel?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Not your favorite knife, specifically, as that brings into question weight distribution, size, aesthetics, etc. But your go-to knife, I'm assuming gyuto? What type of steel do you prefer? What holds an edge better than anything, what gets the sharpest, what's known for not chipping so often?

 

I'm just looking for insight. I'd like to upgrade soon and I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the choices. I'm leaning towards White #1 or Aogami, anyone have any experience with these? Looking for something that can get razor sharp, if it holds the edge well, that's even better. Once I get this decision made I can begin to look at different brands/styles/sizes, etc. For the record I'm looking for a wa-gyuto, preferably 240 or 270, if that makes any difference.

post #2 of 13

It's almost reflexive for me to use as few knives as possible to do a good job when prepping; it's also habit to take out whatever knives I'll use right from the giddyup.   That's my context.  It may not be yours.  Judge accordingly.

 

The two go-to gyuto:

  • 270mm Konosuke HD gyuto;  and
  • 10" Richmond Ultimatum 52100 (carbon) gyuto.

 

Another knife which sometimes ends up getting used as a gyuto if tons of chopping won't be involved and if prep starts with a lot of portioning, or cooking will end with a lot of slicing:

  • 300mm Konosuke HD suji.

It's embarrassing to admit that I also like to use this knife as a gyuto for the very juvenile reason that it's show-offish. 

 

But some meal preps need a lot of small-knife work and don't need big knives at all.  Can a petty count as a go-to do everything if there's substantial boning, paring, or tourne but not a lot of big veg or big meat prep?  I have two which see nearly equal use:

  • 150mm Konsosuke HH; and
  • 6" Sabatier slicer.

The Kono is thinner, the Sab is tougher, and a rational person would probably choose one or the other on that basis.  However, they're stored in different parts of the kitchen, and I tend to choose on the basis of whichever is closest.  Does that mean I'm lazy?  Yes.   

 

Still sentimental favorites:

  • 10" K-Sabatier au carbone; and
  • 10" Sabatier "Canadian" (possibly K-Sab) carbon.

But they only get used for nostalgia.  As practical knives, the Ultimatum knocked them out of whatever "go to" status the Konosuke had left them by virtue of the Ultimatum's significantly better ability to hold a polish and significantly greater resistance to impact burring than the Sabs.

 

Sorry for what's got to be TMI... but you asked.     

 

When it comes to alloys, I have no particular favorites.  Anything that can take an edge as good as I can sharpen, that has enough scratch hardness to hold a good polish, enough toughness to hold the edge for awhile, and doesn't feel obnoxious on the stones is good enough.  The edge properties of modern stainless has improved a lot, and so has the durability and chip resistance of metallurgical powders.  I lean towards carbons and semi-stainless for their better feel when sharpening and out of loyalty more than anything else. 

 

Many prospective buyers, and "knife guys" in general, place too much emphasis on alloy identity.  White #1 and AS are fine, but a lot of others are as well. 

 

Which properties attract you to those alloys in particular?  What is it that you think an White #1 knife would do better than one made from, say, Bohler 390? 

 

BDL

post #3 of 13

Mine is a Sabatier with a blade 9 inches from tip to bolster.  I guess that it's K steel, very old with pitting.  And since I first began cooking in the mid-70's in Berkeley's gourmet ghetto it was THE BEST at the time and I see no reason at all to retire it for some cleaver or whatever crystal jap metal stuff that there be on the current market.


Edited by kokopuffs - 4/22/13 at 11:18am

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

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply

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

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input, guys.

 

I've heard White #1 takes a pretty fine edge, and I think AS looks cool as hell. That's about it. 

 

For the record, I love the look, size, belly, shape of the Ultimatum and have thought about upgrading to that very knife. If I'm not mistaken that knife comes as M390, 52100, or maybe even something else? Out of curiousity, what do you have? Last I checked CKTG had a few HD 270's with custom handles, absolutely gorgeous, that tends to be the way that I'm leaning as of right now.

post #5 of 13

Ultimatums come in four alloy flavors; AEB-L stainless, Bohler 390 stainless metallurgical powder, 52100 carbon, and HD semi-stainless. 

 

The HD knife is somewhat different than the others.  It's made OEM for Richmond by Konosuke in Japan, while the others are made OEM by Lamson-Goodnow in Buckland, Massachusetts.  According to Shaun Fernandez's video review (posted at the CKtG site), the HD Ultimatums, which are closer to 300mm than 270mm, are more like Konosuke laser gyuto than they are like the other Ultimatums.  The other knives are not only shorter  -- which are not only shorter but significantly stouter. 

 

Shaun knows what he's talking about, so I'm perfectly willing to take him at his word.  Also, on the basis of a great deal of experience, I can confidently say that a 52100 Ultimatum and a 270mm Kono HD laser gyuto are VERY different knives.  In my kitchen, they compliment one another very well to the point that my carbon Sabs -- excellent knives in their own right -- cannot compete at any task.   

 

52100 is an excellent all around carbon alloy, in the same class of excellence as any of the excellent Hitachi YSS carbon alloys -- Shirogami 1, Shirogami 2, Aogami 1, Aogami 2, and Aogami Super (aka "AS").  There are other carbon alloys in the same class of excellence as well. 

 

52100 was originally made as ball bearing steel.  In the past few years, some changes have been made to its formulation to make it extremely well suited for knife making as well.  It is made under a variety of proprietary names by a few different foundries in Europe and the US.  I believe, the 52100 used for the Ultimatums is made by Latrobe in the US, but am not sure. 

 

AEB-L is an excellent "strip steel" stainless alloy made by Uddeholm.  It's also made by Sandvik as 13C26.  It's primarily known for having edge-taking properties equal or better than any other stainless.  In the Ultimatum, it's hardened to 61, and is at least "very good" in every knife alloy respect -- including edge holding.

 

If you sense a however coming, you're right.  It's the Bohler 390 Ultimatum.  Bohler 390 is a powdered metallurgical stainless.  The 390 Ultimatum will take as good an edge as the AEB-L version, but hold it much longer.  It is also more resistant to impact burring.  In my opinion -- based mostly on what I've head from others -- the 390 version is worth the extra $50 compared to the AEB-L.  

 

I chose the 52100 version for myself because of my interest in carbon alloys in general and because I was extremely curious about that particular alloy.  Like many carbons, 52100 has a very smooth and pleasant feel on the stones.  It has better edge taking characteristics than the dated carbon alloys of my Sabs, and much better edge holding, corrosion resistance, resistance to impact burring, etc.

 

Because of it's outs outstanding edge holding qualities and because it's stainless, 390 is a better practical choice than 52100.  But I can compensate for whatever 52100 gives up to 390 by using a steel now and then between sharpenings, and with slightly more frequent sharpeneings; and since 52100 feels better on the stones it was the right choice for me.  

 

If not exactly "mighty gyuto," the non-HD Ultimatums are as robust as forged European knives, and up to just about any ordinary kitchen task short of splitting mammal bone.  However, they are heavier and balance further forward than most other wa-gyuto.  I'm in the process of writing a review, which will go into the knife in detail, and which  should be done in a couple of days at most.

 

Undoubtedly AS would have made as good an Ultimatum as 52100, but an AS knife would have cost significantly more -- not only because AS costs more in bulk, but also because it's more difficult to work and because it makes for a higher percentage of failures -- especially as a single steel.     

 

AS doesn't have a particular look.  I'm not sure which knife style you like, but whatever it is, it's probably available in a lot of different of alloys.  AS's claim to fame, is that it's tougher than the other two aogami steels.  The aogami steels are supposedly less chip-prone and more corrosion resistant than the shirogami steels.     

 

Unless you're an amazingly good sharpener, you won't be able to get a Shirogami #1 knife any sharper than a knife of similar geometry and similarly appropriate hardening made with another of the many other excellent alloys.  As you can deduce, the same can be said of any of the excellent alloys.

 

There are so many alloys because each has its own strengths and weaknesses.  Those can be enhanced, limited and/or compensated for by a number of techniques, especially heat treatment and geometry; but their are some alloys which are either too limited or too expensive for knives at given prices.  For instance, SK4 would be inappropriate for a $200 knife, and White #1 would indicate a great many compromises in a $60 knife. 

 

Knife maker have their own reasons for preferring one alloy over the others.  Those may or may not mean a better knife for a consumer. 

 

At the end of the day,  the gestalt of the knife -- including its appearance -- is more important than any particular alloy. 

 

BDL

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

Wow, thanks. Summed up a lot about steels for me.

 

I guess I didn't really take a good look at the blade on those HD 270's, but now that you mention it, I can see the difference in the body. I'm really liking the idea of the Bohler 390, sounds to be top quality, hold an edge, and I'm more familiar with stainless than I am high carbon alloys, and I've never tried a real "laser," so I'll stick to what I know. I think I'll await it's return to CKTG and purchase one as soon as they're back.

 

 

I hate to keep pressing you for information, but if you're willing, it certainly doesn't go unappreciated. 

 

What do you mean that your carbon choice feels "better" on the stones? Glide smoother or what? I'm just curious. Still relatively new to sharpening properly. 

 

*Also, on a side note; when flattening my stones, do I need a higher grit plate for my higher grit stones? Specifically, my 4k and 6k seem a bit "scratched up" after flattening, although to my untrained eye this doesn't seem to have much of an effect on their ability to sharpen. I don't know the exact specifications for my flattener, but on my 400/800/1200/2000 stones it seems to leave no visible markings behind. Like I said, this certainly doesn't seem to have a noticeable impact, so maybe it's not a huge deal. I've got a Tojiro DP right now, and after running it through the stones and stropping it off it's actually pretty damn sharp given what I paid for it, my lack of experience, etc. The guys I work with that put their Shun's through sharpeners don't get their blades anywhere as fine as mine, and I've actually found the sharpening process to be almost meditative, so it's enjoyable for me. 

 

 

 

Thanks again, really. I look forward to checking out your full review of the Ultimatum.

post #7 of 13

Trissy, what's your budget?

Also, how good of a sharpener are you and what is your setup?

Is this going to be a knife for the line, for prep or for both?

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

Budget isn't a huge issue, although if I can stay under $400, then that's great.

 

I'm a fairly new sharpener, but for a noobie I like to think I can hold my own, I've certainly read up on everything you pros talk about on here, seen others sharpen, etc. My current setup is Naniwa 400/800/1200/2k/4k, a decent Black Diamond honing steel, and a split leather strop. Have a DMT coarse plate, wondering if I need something finer for my higher grit stones?

 

Knife is for both, with the bulk of the work being prep. Prep is a mixed bag, really, some proteins, but mostly veggies. My cutting motion tends to be something in between a flat chop and a full rocking motion, although if what I'm cutting is small enough I like to chop vertically moving only my wrist, as it's a little bit faster for me. I see guys demo blades on CKTG and they're able to do this with larger pieces than I would be able to do, i.e. - whole red onions. Is this because their knife is much sharper than mine or because they're just throwing more momentum down with the wrist? Is their knife sharper because it's a higher quality knife (I again use a Tojiro DP 240), or because they sharpen it better? Some of both, I'd imagine. But all I can do is watch videos and figure things out as I go, as everyone I work with has Shuns and they just run their knives through a shared Shun sharpener. 

post #9 of 13

I think the coarse plate is fine for your high grit stones. I use one for my 8k (that's as high as I go, but only for micro-bevel or ura) and have never had an issue.

 

First, make up your mind whether you're going to go carbon or not. Are you able to constantly wipe your blade dry, even when you're in the weeds? If not, don't go carbon. I recently tried an old carbon Forgecraft as my line knife, and it got messed up real quick because I couldn't keep it dry.

I highly recommend Takeda. The AS steel has excellent edge retention and the KU finish(while butt-ugly) helps to combat stiction. They take pretty well to the stones as well. Another carbon steel I like is 52100, but all knives are not created equal even if the steel is the same. Things like heat treatment, etc can seriously change the properties of any steel.

If you go stainless, I'm a fan of CPM-154, 19c27 and Ginsanko.

I've heard nothing but good things of most all Kono's. I've never used one so I cannot give a proper recommendation.

I have personally had bad experiences with Ultimatum. I'm not trash-talking, just speaking from my own personal experience.

I also say go Wa. The handle may take a little getting used to, but it will give you more grip options. I find I constantly adjust my grip depending on the type of work, fatigue, etc.

If you use your knife mostly for prep, go 270. However, the length may be cumbersome if you are limited for space while on the line.

Glad to hear you have a good sharpening setup, that's something commonly overlooked.

 

Keep in mind that there is not a PERFECT knife. You will find some pros and cons for any knife no matter the steel. Search the internet and many vendors, there are more out there than you may think. You might even find something good on EBay, who knows?

post #10 of 13

knifey -- tell me about your bad experience with the Ultimatum.  It took me a long time before I started liking the knife, but after getting used to the weight and blade-forward balance, and scouring it enough with a ScotchBrite and baking soda (ordinary carbon maintenance) to bury Lamson's tool marks, I love it. 

 

My other go-to is a 27cm Konosuke.  That's a great knife in its own right, but has its limits.  In the past, I either backed it up with one heavy-duty knife or another, or just went with a carbon Sabatier chef's to prep a meal that needed a durable knife.  Sabs aren't the lightest and need constant steeling, they hold a special status for me because I learned how to cut with them, because of their incredible versatility, and because of their by-God agility.    It was startling to realize that reaching for the Ultimatum, kept in the same drawer as my favorite Sab, had become automatic because it filled the "do everything" niche by being better in every respect.

 

On top of that, I'm left handed so the Ultimatum's convex grind doesn't do much for me. 

 

BDL

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

knifey -- tell me about your bad experience with the Ultimatum.  It took me a long time before I started liking the knife, but after getting used to the weight and blade-forward balance, and scouring it enough with a ScotchBrite and baking soda (ordinary carbon maintenance) to bury Lamson's tool marks, I love it. 

 

My other go-to is a 27cm Konosuke.  That's a great knife in its own right, but has its limits.  In the past, I either backed it up with one heavy-duty knife or another, or just went with a carbon Sabatier chef's to prep a meal that needed a durable knife.  Sabs aren't the lightest and need constant steeling, they hold a special status for me because I learned how to cut with them, because of their incredible versatility, and because of their by-God agility.    It was startling to realize that reaching for the Ultimatum, kept in the same drawer as my favorite Sab, had become automatic because it filled the "do everything" niche by being better in every respect.

 

On top of that, I'm left handed so the Ultimatum's convex grind doesn't do much for me. 

 

BDL


I'll PM you in the next day or so. I don't want to go into too much detail in public.

post #12 of 13

The DMT Dia-Sharp C is adequate but a bit slow for flattening.  For pure flattening, the XXC is much faster.  Unfortunately it's too expensive to be a realistic choice considering that CKtG has an extra-coarse diamond plate for under $30.  If you're into diamond plates for coarse sharpening, Atoma kicks the crap out of DMT, and is less expensive over time, but their price of entry is a scandal.   

 

An XXC is not too coarse to flatten your finest stones.  However, stones should not only be flattened, but "dressed" before use.  In the case of water-stones, that's simply a matter of rubbing two stones of adjacent grits together until they work up some mud. 

 

BDL

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

Again, thank you both so much for the advice. I'll look into an XXC. 

 

And for the record, my Tojiro is Wa. It did feel weird at first but it is more versatile and now that I'm used to it, I couldn't see going back to a western handle. 

 

 

It's a shame you can't try blades out before you buy them. Like trying clothes on. I'd hate to drop $300-400 on a blade just to find out that it doesn't feel right to me. Suppose I could pass it off but I'm sure resale value would take a hit. I have a W&S close by, and they let you try out knives, unfortunately they don't carry anything I'm all that interested in. 

 

 

Knyfe - If you wouldn't mind CC'ing me on that message about the Ultimatum? I'm just curious, I know you're not trashing it or whatever, just like to hear everyone's opinion, you know.

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