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Starter Knives Kit and according Gear

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I've been reading the awesome knowledge on this forum for some days know; and I think i'm ready to buy my first good knives and all the according gear. I'm nearly done in my choices but I think I could use a little extra help on certain matters. I'm sorry for the rather long post that is about to come, but I'm pretty sure that in order to help me make coherent choices you'll need the big picture.
 
Here are the key facts that I understood through all the posts I've read so far and that explains how I've narrowed my choices.
  1. I'll have to learn how to sharpen and spend some money on stones.
  2. I'll have to spend money on a decent cutting board otherwise my knives won't be decent for a really long time...
  3. There is no point in spending too much money on a petty, these knives doesn't last as long as bigger ones regarding their use.
  4. I should spend as much as I can afford on my chef-like knife.
  5. Based on the chef-like knife that'll choose, I might need to buy an heavy duties knife.
  6. Still, as long as I'm not able to sharpen well there is no point in spending 200$ or more on a knife.
  7. When you still have a long way to go, you probably don't want to buy super-thin or carbon knives.
  8. If I do improve my skills, there is some chances that the knives that I'm about to buy won't be the last one.

 

As for me...
  • I don't think I have a preference between wa/yo handles, i'll probably have to buy both in order to understand the difference regarding usability.
  • I don't have significant small or big hands.
  • I probably don't know what a light knife is.
  • I don't mind the extra care that a semi-stainless knife might require (if that does).
  • I'll have to buy a board and find a solution to safeguard the knives so there is no particular issues regarding those matter.
  • I am a home cooker.
  • I don't have any sharpen skill and don't have any stones at all, but i'll learn.
  • I don't know that much about knives and i'm pretty sure I dont really know how to use them properly.
  • I don't have any budget issues, I just don't really like spending money on things I cannot really appreciat/take care of.
  • I will spend the necessary budget regarding sharpening gear.
  • I live in France, so for that matter, it means I probably won't have access to all of the Web sites available to you guys (or at least that the shipping to France should be taken into account).
  • For what's it worth, i've got two rather old and simple "Ikea 365+" knives : a 200mm Chef and a 150mm kind of Santoku. I have no clues about what their alloy could be.
 
Knives
So for the knives, here are my thoughts. Any advice/comment would be great.
 
Paring : I'm ok there. I bought some inexpensive Pallares knives (8 cm/3" and 10cm/4", XC75 alloy). http://pallaressolsona.com
 
Petty 150 mm : My first choice would be a Fujiwara FKM - Petty 150 mm (44$). Since we're talking about a petty, I think I have to stay in the lowest price range possible. The Tojiro is supposed to have a wider handle; and I don't think I really need it.The Artiflex is less sexy and not really as well priced when you take into account shipping to France (~35$, if i'm not misunderstanding on chefknivestogo).
 
Guyto 240 mm : I'm still hesitating for that one...
  1. Does I have to keep it under 100$ ? And then it will probably be a FKM again; but honestly I would be happy to change.
  2. Is there a point in going around 150$ for a beginner provided the fact that i've still to learn the way of sharpening  ? If so, the Gesshin Uraku (155$) and Aritsugu A (165$) seems to have nice style, a wa handle (let's try it) and good reviews in this price-range. If shipping to France costs too much for these two ? How does the Kanetsugu Pro M (123$) and Kagayaki CarboNext (128$) compare ? If I understand well the Aritsugu A and CarboNext may cause me trouble if the initial sharpening isn't good enough... My preference would go for the Gesshin Uraku if my actual skills and the shipping considerations allows it (still have to check that).
  3. Is there even a point for a beginner to go as far as a Masomoto VG (196$) or a Richmond Addict 2 (190$) ? Last one might cost even more provided that I live in France (~35$).
  4. Finally, does all of these knives in the list requires an heavy duty task buddy in order to perform gently ? I don't really mind if they do, it's just that it would be better to know!

 

Some knives that i thought off but find less interesting for different reasons than the ones above : Misono Stainless Molybdenum Steel Series, Kanetsugu Pro M Series, JCK - Kagayaki KG3, Hiromoto Tenmi-Jyuraku Gingami No.3 Series, Kikuichi TKC, MAC Pro.
 
Heavy Duty Knife : does a 10" Victorinox Cimeter does the trick ?
Bread : a 10.25" Victorinox Bread Rosewood and it's done.
Slicer : do I really need that right now ? I'm not even sure when I'll be using that...
 
Sharpening & Honing Gear
Medium/Coarse and Medium Fine Combo : A good beginner combo seems to be composed of a Bester 1200 and Suehiro Rika 5000; but then again shipping counts provided the fact that I didn't find a way to get a Rika in the European shops. So basically, this combo is worth 148$ (98$ + 50$ when buying on chefknivestogo and shipping to France. FYI, I can get a Naniwa SS 1000 + 3000 20mm Combo for around 124$ in France. And there is even some availability for the 10mm version regarding the Naniwa SS 3000 (the combo goes down 116$). While a Bester 1200+ Naniwa SS 3000 20 mm would cost 145$.
 
So basically how does these three combination compare provided their prices ?
Naniwa SS 1000/Naniwa SS 3000 - 124$ (or SS 3000 in 10mm - 116$)
Bester/Naniwa SS 3000 - 145$
Bester/Rika - 148$
 
Note : Since I don't really have any budget issue I am not sure that i really need to give a though at King Stones.
 
Flatten : I still have to find a way to flatten or buy the cheap diamond stone at CKtG if I choose a Bester/Rika combo. 
 
Honing Rod : Idahone 12" "fine" rod looks like the preferred solution around here (and the way i'll go if I choose the Bester/Rika combo). But here again, does anyone know by any chance an alternative for European people ? Are there any other good options (I remember reading about MAC and Victorinox) ? The references i've seen so far in France are Kyocera, Zwilling and a generic one made by edenwebshop/knivesandtools (http://www.edenwebshops.co.uk/en/pt/-eden-quality-ceramic-sharpening-rod.htm).
 
Coarse : Guess that could wait a little...
 
Cutting Board
I'll still have to think about that, it seems we don't have the same brand available out there. And I need to know what are the good makers in order to buy a good board right ?
 
So here I am, that's pretty much it; thanks a lot for reading me so far.
post #2 of 13

Key Facts:

  • 1, and 2:  Yes.
  • 3:  Yes and no.  Up to a point, a better petty is better.  However, if you abuse the knife in the way most people abuse their short knives, you will use it up pretty quickly. 
  • 4:  Yes.
  • 5:  You're going to need a heavy duty knife in any case.  The variable is not "if," it's "how often."
  • 6:  $200 is arbitrary.   It's not wrong, but it IS arbitrary.  For instance, you could go over $350 for a Suisun Inox Honyaki, and still get great value as you use it while you're learning to sharpen.  But, really, the $200 makes a lot of sense.    
  • 7:  Not true. 
  • 7(a): Very thin knives are easily managed by home cooks working on their skills because home cooks have the luxury of time.  If you don't care about your skills, though... don't bother.  Very-thin, single-style knives -- lasers -- have lots of flex which many people don't like.  Almost as thin san-mai knives (Takeda, Moritatka, Richmond Laser AS) are not lasers; but are almost as thin and have much less flex.
  • 7(b):  Caring for carbon is no big deal; but carbon isn't right for everyone.  If you're the sort of person who takes care of his tools, no problem.  
  • 8:  Alas, yes.

 

More, later,

BDL

post #3 of 13
  • I don't think I have a preference between wa/yo handles, i'll probably have to buy both in order to understand the difference regarding usability.
  • If you use a pinch, it doesn't matter much.  Everything else being equal -- which it never is -- wa knives are inherently lighter than yo knives of the same length because of their lighter tangs.  Wa knives tend to balance farther forward than yo knives, but unless you're talking about very light yo and very heavy wa the difference is not as striking as you might expect.  Most knives in the 10" range will balance very close to the pinch point. 
  • I don't have significant small or big hands.
  • Good to know, but it matters far less than most people think. 
  • I probably don't know what a light knife is.
  • A lighter knife will handle better and be less fatiguing, as long as it's SHARP.  Light knives trade edge quality for power brought by mass. 
  • Very light knives aren't as durable as heavier knives, but there are so many other factors which affect durability it's more useful to talk about individual knives than rely too heavily on the generality.  Additionally, they're usually more flexible.  Taken together, those things mean you'll probably go to the heavy duty back up sooner with a very light knife than a middle weight.  
  • For what it's worth, a 10" Sabatier au carbone is on the light side of medium for a European made chef's knife, while a 10" Wusthof Classic on the heavy side of medium. 
  • I don't mind the extra care that a semi-stainless knife might require (if that does).
  • The idea behind semi-stainless is that it is almost as care free as stainless, while retaining the edge taking and edge holding benefits of carbon.  That's kinda sorta true.  Semi-stainless is almost as undemanding as stainless, and it is very carbon like when it comes to edge taking, holding, and its feel on the stones... but... But... BUT the joker in the deck is that (with one exception) good semi-stainless is very expensive.
  • As I wrote earlier, if you're the type of person who takes care of his tools, regular carbon shouldn't present much of a problem.  By the way, I'm neither recommending carbon nor trying to warn you off -- just providing you with perspective.
  • I'll have to buy a board and find a solution to safeguard the knives so there is no particular issues regarding those matter.
  • Yep.  Let's talk.
  • I am a home cooker.
  • Kewl.
  • I don't have any sharpen skill and don't have any stones at all, but i'll learn.
  • That's where we should start. Figuring how the how you're going to sharpen thing will help make the knife choices more rational.  Sharpness is darn near everything.
  • I don't know that much about knives and i'm pretty sure I dont really know how to use them properly.
  • With willingness and a little practice, you can develop good skills quickly.  Plus, it's fun.   
  • I don't have any budget issues, I just don't really like spending money on things I cannot really appreciat/take care of.
  • Rational, sensible, good on you.
  • I will spend the necessary budget regarding sharpening gear.
  • Yep. 
  • I live in France, so for that matter, it means I probably won't have access to all of the Web sites available to you guys (or at least that the shipping to France should be taken into account).
  • Bon.
  • For what's it worth, i've got two rather old and simple "Ikea 365+" knives : a 200mm Chef and a 150mm kind of Santoku. I have no clues about what their alloy could be.
  • Ikea doesn't say.  No one knows.  Perhaps something inexpensive, in the 440C class. 

 

BDL

post #4 of 13
Knives
Petty 150 mm : My first choice would be a Fujiwara FKM - Petty 150 mm (44$). Since we're talking about a petty, I think I have to stay in the lowest price range possible. The Tojiro is supposed to have a wider handle; and I don't think I really need it.The Artiflex is less sexy and not really as well priced when you take into account shipping to France (~35$, if i'm not misunderstanding on chefknivestogo).
 
All three are fine.  Hold off on a decision about CKtG until you've figured out what you most want, and their next-best alternatives.  If you end up buying a lot of stuff from CKtG, you may be able to amortize the shipping to the point where it's reasonable.  0
 
Guyto 240 mm : I'm still hesitating for that one...
  1. Does I have to keep it under 100$ ? Mais non.  And then it will probably be a FKM again; but honestly I would be happy to change.  The FKM is a nice, entry-level, high-value knife; but no better than that.  If you spend more, you can get more. 
  2. Is there a point in going around 150$ for a beginner provided the fact that i've still to learn the way of sharpening ?  Mais biensur. If so, the Gesshin Uraku (155$) and Aritsugu A (165$) seems to have nice style, a wa handle (let's try it) and good reviews in this price-range.  I don't know what shipping for the Gesshin costs from JKI to France; and don't know if there are European sources for the Aritsugu or not.  You may also want to consider the Sakai Takayuki Grand Chef wa-gyuto which is in the same class more or less as the Gesshin.  If shipping to France costs too much for these two ? How does the Kanetsugu Pro M (123$) and Kagayaki CarboNext (128$)  compare? The Kanetsugu M is a good but not great knife with good geometry, comfortable ergonomics and a GREAT out of the box edge.  But because the factory edge is convex, most new sharpeners will find it impossible to retain its geometry.  I don't think it's much better than the Artifex AEB-L, Fujiwara FKM, or Tojiro DP.  The Kagayaki CarboNext has good geometry, a narrow but still-adequate handle, good but not great F&F, EXCELLENT edge taking and holding properties, and is extremely high-value.  Unfortunately, the OOTB edges can range from acceptable to disastrous)
    If I understand well the Aritsugu A and CarboNext may cause me trouble if the initial sharpening isn't good enough... My preference would go for the Gesshin Uraku if my actual skills and the shipping considerations allows it (still have to check that).  The Carbo-Next requires that you be able to sharpen well enough to create a basic edge -- or find someone to do it for you.  In order to make the Aritsugu A rise from mediocre to wonderful, it requires extensive thinning.  You're a long way from that skill level, and it might be very difficult to find someone trustworthy to do it for you. 
  3. Is there even a point for a beginner to go as far as a Masomoto VG (196$) or a Richmond Addict 2 (190$) ? Last one might cost even more provided that I live in France (~35$).  They're very different knives.  However, both are certainly rational choices for someone in your position.  A third possibility, very similar to the Masamoto VG in most ways, but easily available in Europe, is the MAC Pro.
  4. Finally, does all of these knives in the list requires an heavy duty task buddy in order to perform gently ? I don't really mind if they do, it's just that it would be better to know!  All of them do.

 

Some knives that i thought off but find less interesting for different reasons than the ones above : Misono Stainless Molybdenum Steel Series (only if it's the same price as the Artifex, DP or FKM), Kanetsugu Pro M Series, JCK - Kagayaki KG3 (not as good overall as the Artifex, DP or FKM, why bother?, Hiromoto Tenmi-Jyuraku Gingami No.3 Series (nice but overpriced), Kikuichi TKC (superb, more expensive than the CarboNext but none of the drawbacks), MAC Pro (wonderful knife).
 
Heavy Duty Knife : does a 10" Victorinox Cimeter does the trick ?  One of my choices.  Although I find myself using a heavy duty back up a lot less since I added a Richmond Ultimatum to my set of go-to gyuto.  You may want to give the Ultimatum some thought.  My 52100 (carbon) wa-gyuto has the same matchless profile of a classic, carbon Sabatier but is made from a much better alloy, is even more durable, and is 3 oz lighter to boot.  $200 USD. 
Bread : a 10.25" Victorinox Bread Rosewood and it's done.  Excellent.
Slicer : do I really need that right now ? I'm not even sure when I'll be using that...  If you don't need it, you don't need it.  I use my slicers a lot, but that doesn't mean you should.  In any case -- no hurry. 
 
BDL
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for these clarifications BDL. Your remarks on 6 & 7 made me go through some others interesting threads...
 
  • Kurouchi finish : Didn't know this kind of finish. That's just my opinion, but I don't like this kind of knives (and aesthetics counts).
  • San-Mai : I'm probably ok with that; but can't really tell.
  • Laser : as my skills grow I'll probably end buying a real 270mm laser some days (Richmond Laser AEB-L, Konosuke HD2/White 2/HH, Gesshin Ginga and all their friends); but I don't think that time is now.
 
Knives
 
Guyto 240 mm : based on your answers, and my remarks up there, it seems to me the choices could be oriented in four ways. Maybe some aren't that much different.
  1. Rather light, thin wa-gyuto : Gesshin Uraku and Richmond Addict 2 AEB-L.
  2. A rather light, rather-very-thin-but-not-so-laser wa-gyuto Richmond Laser Aogami Super and Sakai Takayuki Grand Chef. Honestly I can't tell for sure if that makes sense after saying that going for a 270mm laser would probably be one of my huge move later...
  3. Some great, a bit heavier, wa non-laser knives Kikuichi TKC (semi-stainless), Misono Sweden (will love the dragon, probably not the patina)/Masamoto HC (carbon) and Mac Pro/Masamoto VG (stainless).
  4. A robust, not so light, not so heavy carbon wa-gyuto  : Richmond Ultimatum 52100.

 

I guess my first step would be to decide which way I wanna go, in order to narrow the choices. Here comes a good one (or not at all)... I'm sorry in advance if that was a silly theory/guess, but there is only one way to know.

 

  • Handling and French profile :   You talks a lot about how the handle and the profile of a knife are important. In your personal taste, your reference goes to Sabatier's knives if I understand well.
 
I'm wondering if buying a K-Sabatier is or is not a good idea (around 75$ out there). To me, it looks like a cheap way of learning what I really likes or dislikes since its handle/profile serves often as a comparison point between knives. On top of that, I can read from your review that this knife is still fairly though and doesn't react that much compared to his Japanese cousins. I'm the kind of person who takes care of his tools (no big deal here) but that would be a good way to gauge how much care it means. If I cant' take care of a Sabatier; I won't be able to take care of a Masamoto HC or even worse a Misono Sweden. But (there is a but), the fact that makes me think that it might be a bad idea is related to the sharpening comments in your review (and the clarifications you gave me on the CarboNext /Aristugu A.) : the knife might come with really poor sharpening OOTB, is easy to sharpen and lose its edge rather quickly. I find the last point no that bad when you need to learn how to sharpen at the condition that the knife might not be your only knife. Anyway the easiness to sharpen doesn't mean that it would be easy at a newbie sharpener level especially if its profile is not good from the start. Is that the reason why you don't usually recommend this knife to beginners ?
 
If that point makes sense for a beginner, I think that buying a 10" Sabatier and adding a lighter wa-gyuto might be a good combo for me.
Otherwise I'm still wondering what would be the better option between an Ultimatum wa-gyuto and the others yo-gyuto. Maybe can you enlighten me on what are the use cases that can be handled by an Ultimatum and not by a Kikuichi TKC/Masamoto VG/Mac Pro. Or maybe the question is not "what" but "how" ?
 

Heavy Duty Knife : it seems to me I still can go for a Cimeter anyway wether or not I buy an Ultimatum. The main reason is that I would probably want to make my first mistakes with the Victorinox and not the Ultimatum while performing heavy-duty tasks.

 

Thanks a lot. I don't really have narrowed my choices now; but they seem more adequate and I would probably be able to do it in the coming days.

 

Edit1 : after reading one last post, Sakai Takayuki Grand Chef seems more like a nearly-laser knife. I moved it in the right place.

Edit2 : Kikuichi TKC is semi-stainless.


Edited by spacecowboy - 5/31/13 at 9:30am
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

Knives

After some more reading, I've been able to narrow the choices a little.

 

The Ultimatum : buying that one from the start will prevent me to enjoy its versatility. I've got the feeling that I should wait a little...

 

1. Yo-handle knives : my choice will either go to the Masamoto HC or Kikuichi TKC (sent an e-mail to Jon regarding the Suien VC though).

2. Lighter wa-handle knives : Gesshin Uraku (I've talked to Jon, and there are some options regarding shipping).

Does these three knives can be considered as (nearly) equal all-rounder knives or does the Uraku will have to be taken out of the board earlier than is two friends ? It's pretty hard for me to evaluate thinness/thickness based on (different site's) specs and it might not be the only relevant parameter regarding the overall knife "robustness".

 

All that said, I think that the Gesshin would be a good way to try light (and maybe thin) knife ?

 

Slicer : If the Sabatier option makes some sense for a sharpening beginner, I guess i'll go for a 10" slicer too. It looks likes a good way to see in which cases I would prefer the use of a slicer against a chef.

 

Cheers!

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi, I made my choices : I bought a 240mm K-Sabatier Au Carbone and will buy a 240mm Gesshin Uraku when it will be back in stock. So now comes the best part : sharpening, sharpening and sharpening!

 

Since I'm about to buy from Jon, should I go for a Gesshin waterstones set (quite a price If I go wild for a 400/2K/8K set) or is it overkill regarding my knives/actual sharpening skill and I should stick to a more classic Beston/Bester/Rika set ? Since I might buy some stuff from cktg too (FKM petty, flattening stone, idahone 12"), maybe a mix could be more suited for me ? Gesshin 2K and Rika ?

 

I'm a bit lost and don't think from the posts I've read so far that I could arrange a set of stones just by simply playing with numbers...

 

Thanks in advance for your help!

post #8 of 13

Gesshin stones are as good as synthetic stones get.  Equal to the best that money can buy.  Unsurprisingly, they're very expensive. 

 

Whether or not you want to spend that kind of money depends almost entirely on the levels of convenience and "feel" you want, and not so much on performance.   The best stone I have in my water stone kit is a Gesshin (an 8K).  It's the best polishing stone I've ever used, I have absolutely no regrets buying it, and have no reservations about it whatsoever as the final stone in my kit (Beston 500, Bester 1.2K, Chosera 3K and Gesshin 8K).  If I were to build a new water stone kit, it would probably be the Gesshin 400, 2K, 8K and that's it. 

 

However let me make two observations:  (A) You're not me; and (B) You can get great stones which will for a lot less money than Gesshins.    

 

You certainly don't need anything as good as a Gesshin to sharpen a carbon Sab -- and if that were the only type of quality knife you were planning on buying I'd advise you to go with oil stones and stay away from water stones because oil stones are cheaper, easier to maintain and an Arkansas edge is as good as you can do for soft, tough, Euro alloys.

 

However, if you're going to buy knives made from stronger, harder alloys -- including almost all of those used in Japanese knives -- oil stones are too slow, and water stones are the best way to go by far. 

 

When you're putting together your first kit, the first thing to look at is how far you want to look into the future.  Do you want stones good enough to learn with?  Good enough to live with?  Or, the best money can buy?  Gesshins fall in the latter class, Nubatamas too.

 

My generic recommendation for stones good enough to live with for a long time, are the same three stones Dave packages in CKtG's five and eight piece sets: Beston 500, Bester 1.2K and Suehiro Rika (if you want to save a few bucks, you should hold off on the 500 until you've developed reliable sharpening skills.  Coarse stones can have awkward consequences).  But the kit is a generic recommendation and one size most definitely does not fit all.  If you have special concerns, budget issues, or just particular 'druthers, we should talk. 

 

BDL

post #9 of 13
Are you sure it's Dave who packages stones in CKtG sets??
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benuser View Post

Are you sure it's Dave who packages stones in CKtG sets??


Sorry, meant Mark.  Don't know what I was thinking about.  Corrected.

 

BDL

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks. Your answer seems pretty clear; and everything you told me is just fine. I don't really have any particular druthers at such an early stage by the way.

 

I'll probably start with a Bester/Rika kit either from cktg or http://www.toolsfromjapan.com/store/, (seems to be a good option for shipping to Europe). If there's no hurry, there's no hurry. I'll have time to play with Gesshin when I'll be a better sharpener and I'll (probably) have more high-end knives. I won't buy a coarse stone right now except if it means amortizing shipping, so that implies a Gesshin 400, but I'm already discussing that with Jon (no problem there).

 

Regarding the 150mm petty choice, based on your remarks, i'm still wondering what would be the more coherent option between an FKM, a Suisin Western Inox or a Masamoto VG. From what I've read, FKM and Suisin use the same alloy and the Masamoto VG might have a better alloy. Apart from that, I know they are all separated from each other with a 20-30$ price range and Suisin is pretty famous for its F&F but I'm not sure it applies for their entry level knives. Does any one know how these 3 compare ?

 

I think I'll have to search for good cutting board in Europe now...

post #12 of 13

Hi I am new to this forum. It is interesting reading about whetstones. I am fairly new to sharpening and have a small King 6000 that I don't really like the feel of. The Gesshins sound great.

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi guys, things are going little by little. Here is a question I had trouble finding an answer on the board.

 

Cutting Board

From what I've read around here the recommended/preferred wood for cutting boards are maple, mahogany, cherry and walnut in North America while in Europe it seems to be beech and birch. My searches in France seems to offer nearly only one kind of wood for rather standard end-grain cutting board/butcher block : charm wood. Does anyone know about it ?

 

I'll propably buy a cutting board on this site http://www.billot-chabret-boutique.fr/en/content/9-about-end-grain-wood; from my limited point of view it seems pretty decent. If buy any chance someone knows about it please let me know (yes i'm dreaming).

 

See you

 

PS : for your information, I bought a ceramic rod, a Bester/Rika + a "flattening" diamond stone. The japanese knives (Uraku+Petty) are at a "work in progress stage".

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