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Honing in on 240mm Gyuto with the works... Please Help!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hi folks! Long time reader, first time poster ;)

 

After too many hours of researching and learning, I am still feeling the anxiety of picking quality knives for our home kitchen. I am writing this down to help with my thoughts but also in hopes of getting the nod towards a particular knife over another. The one thing I do feel good about is knowing that my wife and I will be using great knives. We foolishly bought a Miyabi Evolution a couple weeks ago and after learning what to look for in a quality knife, we quickly returned it to Sur La Table in search for something longer lasting. Our budget is flexible and we want to start out with better than good. Quality is an investment and we need these knives to last for many years--even if that means it is a knife we grow into skill-wise. Unfortunately, we don't have the means to buy and try many knives and create a true collection.

 
So, a little background on what we have made our minds up about (slowly making progress) ...or have we...?
 
- 50/50 edge. I am a lefty. Wife is a righty
- Stainless or Semi-Stainless. I think I would baby a carbon too much through my own paranoia of not wanting it to rust. Plus, I don't want to be the back seat driver when my wife uses the knife.
- French Profile...I guess. For better or for worse, we are starting fresh with this knife pick, so we are open to many profiles, but it's good to narrow a search, right?
- Western Yo Handle - mostly because this is all we know. If the quality is there, we could be more than convinced to spend time on the East Side.
- I will be doing my own sharpening.
- Needing a Gyuto, Petty, and Bread knife and a beefy backup.
 
Here are the 240mm Gyuto knives I found that peak my interest- in no particular order. The anxiety comes with having to pick just one. That is why the quality needs to be there for years to come.
 
- Kikuichi TKC - Seems a little pricey over other comparable knives - but again, we will pay for quality.
- Masamoto VG - Is this the VG-10 steel just like Shun? Is it too chippy?
- MAC Pro - Not pretty, but seems to be a top contender for being a good standard
- Richmond Ultimatum - Yes, its a Wa handle, but I am curious about the two steels being offered (19c27 and M390) is the M390 a significant upgrade offering a great value for the price?
- Gesshin Uraku - I feel like I should also give JKI some love and consideration
- Gesshin Kagera - Wondering the difference between the two - which is a better workhorse?
- Konosuke HD - Yes, it's a Laser, but it gets so much friggin Love! I am concerned about the flexibility of the blade. Will I mess it up on the stones or crushing garlic?
- Anything else to consider? Aogami Super Steel? Although, I have heard to stay away from clad knives --don't know why, though. - Can someone clear this up for me?
- Should I spend closer to $300+ on a 240mm Gyuto?
 
I figured I would match the Petty to the Gyuto with the same maker. Yes? 150mm sounds about right.
 
Bread Knife- Quality, functional, not looking for The End All in this one.
 
I am also learning that it would be good to have a beefy back up for squash and the like. Does a 10'' Sabatier fit the bill? Or should I go even cheaper or more expensive? We do a lot of sweet potatoes, squash, pineapple, watermelons etc. No red meat though, so bones aren't a concern.
 
I have much to learn about sharpening but I see this as an essential skill and important investment. What stones should I get? Do I need different grits for the different types of steels available? I guess that is why I was thinking of matching the Gyuto and the Petty. Again, I am looking for overall quality, not something that will "just get me by" for the next year or two.
 
Honing Rod- Ceramic or Steel? Simple salesman at SLT told us to stay away from ceramic because it shaves off steel from your knife. Can someone clear this up for me? Oh, how ignorance is spread by way of retail...Sorry that I have become a product of this.
 
Do I need a Strop? I don't mind getting one because I will also be investing in a Straight Razor for shaving -a topic for a different forum ;) 
 
As much as I know the Greats on this forum are against simply picking a knife for someone, I am hoping you all could ease the anxiety. I find pros and cons in all the knives above. I just haven't found that voice inside that says "get this one."
 
Thanks for your patience. It helps that I only see your words typed and not your eyes rolling :)
post #2 of 15

I can only work on a few of your concerns, but here's my 1/50th of a dollar's worth:  And FWIW, I'm sure not amongst the "Great".

 

I'm not really all that experienced with the handling end of quite a few of the higher quality knives, including the ones on your list.  So I'm going to beg off on critiquing your list.  

 

However, you mentioned "I have heard to stay away from clad knives".  The issue there is about feel - some chefs (notably Boar_d_Laze - BDL) prefer the feel of a monosteel knife, and their experience and sense of touch allow them to more accurately feel how something is cutting with a monosteel knife, than with a clad (san mai, damascus, etc) knife. For other people, it's not really The End Of The World, or even a deal-breaker.  Quite a few knives are well regarded, even if they are clad.  Personally, I have and use several clad knives - and have no major complaint.

 

The only bugaboo I have concerning clad is about Damascus.  Personally, I think it is an affectation.  I am not convinced in the least that multiple layers (17, 33, 65, 129, ???) make any difference in the performance compared to san mai 3-layer.  Knives with Damascene blades tend to be babied, to the point where such knives often become "Drawer Queens", and the owners are afraid to take them out and use them.  To which I say - "Get Real!!  Knives should be treated as tools - and used!"  Damascus blades are an annoyance.  But if you want one - that's fine by me - it's your money.  Just be aware that when used, they will get scratched up.

 

If you want to match a petty and a gyuto, that's up to you.  Otherwise, it won't make any difference.  For that matter, getting some inexpensive Victorinox Forschner paring knives is a workable solution on its own.

 

As for a bread knife, a Victorinox Forschner serrated edge bread knife will work fine for less than $20.

 

For a "beater" knife, one potential is the Victorinox Forschner chef's knife.  It's found in plenty of commercial kitchens, and with the fibrox handle is pretty cheap ($25 to $30 for 8 to 10 inch sizes).  The primary drawback is that it is a steel heat treated to a relatively soft level (hRc 56 or so).  One alternative for a "beater" is a Wusthof Pro series.  The steel is listed on the blade as X50CrMoV15.  It's hardened like other Solingen Wusties to hRc 58 - a significant improvement compared to Victorinox Forschner.  And it's relatively cheap - under $40.  There are two major drawbacks - first, it's hard to find (try eBay); second, the handle is an ergonomic style molded handle - which means that a pinch grip will be significantly harder.  You either love or hate such handles.

 

As for a Sabatier, the main reason to seek one out has to do with having a carbon steel blade.  Except for the blade pattern, there's not much significant difference between German and French stainless steel knives.

 

About sharpening stones - it's not about different knife steels - it's about using the different grit and coarsness levels to first shape and then progressively refine the edges of your knives.  You use the coarsest stones (400 to 600 grit) to do repairs and set a basic bevel angle along the edge, and then use the medium and fine grit stones to progressively refine and polish the edge.  Figure you need a coarse stone (400 to 600 grit), a medium stone (800 to 1200 grit) and a fine stone (3000 to 5000 grit).  If you've done it right, then you will use the coarse stone only once to establish the bevel angle, and otherwise only for repairs, the medium stone very sparingly and the fine stone the most for touchups.

 

For the honing rod, just get a 12 inch Idahone ceramic rod.  At $30, it will do the job you need to do (aligning your knife's microscopic edge).  The SLT saleperson did not know anything.  If you are going to get good Japanese steel knives, then you will need a ceramic honing rod.

 

For kitchen work, strops and special emulsions may very well be overkill.  Eventually, mebbe.  Initially probably not.

 

Hope that helps.

 

 

Galley Swiller

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Galley Swiller- Your thorough response and insight is very much appreciated :) After so much research and reading on other forums, it helps tremendously to receive advice for me specifically. You have cleared much air in helping me understand quite a few things in what I am needing to get. Furthermore, you have reaffirmed that one must be wise in who they talk to while shopping in big box kitchen stores.

 

A follow up to your stone recommendation: Is there a particular brand that you hold in high regard? I am sure the quality of stones varies dramatically -- just like all these knives...

 

Sounds like the "beater" knife won't be too hard to pin down. It will also give me good/cheap practice on the stones.

 

I understand the mentality behind getting cheap paring knives, but would you recommend a higher quality utility knife. I see this knife as still getting quite a bit of use with fruits, cheese, and the "quick go to" stuff, etc...

 

Lastly, with all your knowledge (which has been most helpful) I am curious what Chef Knife you have decided to use. Yes, I understand that not every knife is good for every person, but I do value knowledgeable opinions. Are you sure you can't just pick one for me? That would make this so much easier ;)

 

Cheers!

post #4 of 15

SakumaWiki,

 

Great points to be had by Galley Swiller. All of your choices seem well researched and clearly you have been doing some hard work in the research department. I do however feel that you may have passed over some really good cutlery at the lower end of the price spectrum. I have been using the Global knives by Yoshikin in the professional kitchen since 2003, and my opinion of them could not be higher. Though they have been currently been dogged by other professional cooks due to an influx of Japanese knives in the American market, they offer a high quality knife at a much more reasonable price than other Japanese brands while holding great quality. My personal experience is that they are low maintenance, hold a fantastic edge, and despite the constant torture I give to my 8" G-2 Chefs knife it cuts like a dream with minimal chipping or edge damage. I too am a lefty and have no issues with comfort. Then again, people either love or hate the handle and those who don't find it comfortable never have a good thing to say about them (though that seems to be the case with all knives.) Another highly rated value brand is Yoshihiro. While the out of the box edge is sometimes hit or miss and almost always bettered with some refinement of the edge on stones, they are always a great lower cost option offering great Japanese products at a more reasonable price. Just a few other options for you to keep in mind. BTW, every cook I have ever met that use MAC knives absolutely love them.

 

As far as sharpening, there are in fact many options. Stones come in 5 main varieties; Oil Stones, Whet Stones, Synthetic Stones, Diamond Stones and Glass stones. Oil Stones are often messy and tend to scratch a lovely knife rather easily, and are often used for tool sharpening and pocket knives. Whet stones are a staple in the professional kitchen and are both inexpensive and effective while not being too harsh on a nice knife. A light touch goes a long way to not discoloring (or micro scratching in which the polished sides loose the fine polish and grind marks and get a cloudy finish,) though with any learning process there will be slip ups and essentially the knives you are looking to buy and sharpen will definitely not be showpieces by the time you learn to sharpen your knives. Synthetics and Glass stones are higher priced and longer lasting stones that are similar to whet stones but require less maintenance. With a normal whet stone, the soaked surface of the stone will dish out and need to be flattened regularly with use. Using a slurry stone, another flat stone, or a stone specifically meant to flatten your stone, you literally grind the two together to knock down the edges of the stone and even it out. Glass and synthetics solve the problem by being much harder and requiring less of this,but some of those using the glass and synthetics find them trickier to master (which I don't know to be true.) Glass and synthetics of the 5,000 to 10K grits would be beneficial to your straight razor sharpening. You will need those that Galley Swiller mentioned, or at least a good 1K/2K combination stone to keep things on the up and up. Most Japanese knife owners will argue against using a steel or ceramic hone, the stone is good for knives up to 58 HRC but anything above that can damage a hard edge. Most will just pass it across a fine stone stone after inspection to finish the edge. If you are having trouble with sharpening on a stone, you can easily pick up a manual sharpener made by many fine Japanese companies. I have been trying out the manual by Global lately for quick touch ups and have been very impressed. The Mino Sharp, as it is called, is a whet stone system with a dedicated 16 degree preset on turning wheels that is simple to use and honestly give a great edge. I can only say I have been pleased in between sessions on the stone. As far as a strop, it won't be of much use to you with your knives, but will be useful for your razors. I use the Big Daddy strop from Star Shaving for all of my razors, and while I have used the linen strop a few times on a petty knife, trying to use it for a gyuto or larger is useless. Too awkward.

 

Best of luck on your purchase,

Rustbelt

post #5 of 15

 

You've gotten some good advice thus far. Here's my take:

 

First, rather than trying to discern small differences between various knives that various people have recommended online, what you might do is to try to decide how you want to buy your knives. The three main ways are 1- From a brick and mortar store, 2- From an internet retailer, and 3- Used.

 

#1 lets you see and hold the knives BUT you get a very limited selection compared to what's out there, and you get to deal with less-knowledgeable folks. Not the best option, as I think you're also finding.

 

#2 can be very good if you find someone who has a lot of knowledge and will help you get just what you need. If you want to buy once and be done with it, this is a good way to go (with the right vendor). However, if you buy what you thought was your knife to end all knives, and end up having to sell it, you take a bit of a loss. Buying new, I'd lean towards JapaneseKnifeImports.com and JapaneseChefsKnife.com

 

 #3 can be a very good option if you're still trying to narrow down what it is that you like and don't like about a knife. The BST page on the Kitchen Knife Forums is a great place to get used knives:

http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/forumdisplay.php/33-Buy-Sell-Trade

You can buy right away, but you need to have something like 20 or 30 posts on the forum as a whole to send a private message or post something for sale. The benefit is that if you buy something used, you can use it for a while, and then either keep on keeping it, or you can sell it for close to what you paid for it and try something else.

 

I can't speak to the gyutos you're looking at, since I'm a cleaver kind of guy, but I will say that in my experience, it took me a number of tries to find just what I liked. I'm on cleaver #6, and I think this one is a keeper. Fortunately, I didn't need to spend too much money getting here... I think I'm out like $25 or so for the various buy/sells, and I could sell my current cleaver for what I paid for it.

 

For the other knives, I'd say pick up a Victorinox petty or two from amazon. Good for opening packages, letting guests use etc. Go cheap on the bread knife, too. Looks like the Victorinox/Forschner bread knife that used to be such at deal at under $28 is now running almost $50; not sure why. Anyway, what you might do for that is just to go to a local restaurant supply house and see what they have for bread knives. For a heavy-duty knife, you could pick up a heavier cleaver at your local Asian grocery.I've got a carbon-steel Chinese cleaver I picked up at a thrift store for $2 and I love it. I use it for hard cheese, cutting pizza, and when I want to do a lot of rock chopping. And cutting the stems off of flowers.

 

And that leaves your nicer petty and a gyuto. For the petty, you might try to decide whether you want one that is relatively slender (say 28mm high or so at the heel; good for in-hand work and doing things with meat) or one that is a bit taller (say 34mm high at the heel; good for doing small things on the board). A lot of wa-handled petties are taller, and a lot of yo-handled petties are more slender. For the gyuto, others have a lot more experience than I do. You might post a "wanted to buy" on the BST at Kitchen Knife Forums indicating you want something stainless or semi-stainless and yo handled and see what comes up. And I wouldn't rule out carbon steel altogether. Get a patina going and anything your wife can do to it can be fixed with some "barkeeper's friend." Ask me how I know!

 

As far as sharpening, I really like the three stone set on offer by Dave Martell at Japanese Knife Sharpening:

http://www.japaneseknifesharpeningstore.com/Dave-Martell-set-sharpening-stones-p/set1dmcore.htm

 

I keep the medium and fine stones soaking all the time, so they're always ready to use.

 

I also have an Idahone ceramic honing rod, but I find I don't use it all that much. I think it works better on somewhat softer steels. My main knives now are an Ashi Hamono cleaver (Rockwell 62-63) and a Tanaka petty (Rockwell 62), and I find I get good results from a Cubic Boron Nitride slurry on a balsa-wood strop. You can get the CBN from United States Products:

https://www.us-products.com/sitehtml/products/compslur.php

and you can get balsa wood from your local hobby shop. I got the one-micron CBN and half-micron CBN, but I haven't used the half-micron yet.

 

Both the ceramic rod and the balsa strop serve to straighten out rolled edges, it's just that I find the balsa also serves as a nice finishing stage after the stones, as well, whereas the ceramic rod will take the finish back down to its level (around 1800, I think- the nominal 1200 isn't on the same grit rating as the Japanese synthetic stones). There are a LOT of ways to skin this cat, though!

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

Rustbelt-

 

Really appreciate the thoughtful response. I remember looking at Global's at SLT and WS. I have even used a friend's Global (though I don't know what kind it is called). Anyways, I guess I am one of those that fall into the camp of "not liking the handles." With my limited experience, I can't really describe why, but it has allowed me to cut one from the list of too-many-already-good-knives-to-choose-from. I am finding that it is hard to argue against a MAC Pro as far as functionality goes. It's not the prettiest, but if it holds an edge and cuts nicely-- I should move it higher on my list ;)

 

Also, thanks for the guidance on stones. While they are more expensive up front, I think the overall benefits have me leaning towards Synthetic of Glass. But at least you and Galley Swiller have me in the right direction as far as grits. I will also look into those Sharpening Systems. I have heard the name Apex Edge Pro thrown around a lot, too.

 

So, if I hear you right, you say that a knife over 58 hrc should not be honed, rather fine tuned on a high grit stone?

 

Thanks again!

 

- I am still hoping to hear some convincing arguments to go along with a Gyuto purchase. I am really grateful to this community for their willingness to impart such great knowledge!

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

DenverVeggieNut-

 

Thanks for the links and advice! I started out at a brick and mortar store (of sorts) but the selection was not up to par with what I have been reading on these forums. That led me to JKI and CKtG. I feel very comfortable having those two as options and find their selection to be more than enough. Maybe I will look into local listings for knives-- it would be fun to try out several options without regrets! I do like your recommendations for the cheaper knives :)

 

I like the idea of the balsa wood. Something I will look into. And I guess its time to reconsider Carbon. Oh, the choices! Oh, the agony...

 

Cheers!

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by rustbelt View Post
 

As far as sharpening, there are in fact many options. Stones come in 5 main varieties; Oil Stones, Whet Stones, Synthetic Stones, Diamond Stones and Glass stones. Oil Stones are often messy and tend to scratch a lovely knife rather easily, and are often used for tool sharpening and pocket knives. Whet stones are a staple in the professional kitchen and are both inexpensive and effective while not being too harsh on a nice knife.

 

Any sharpening stone is a “whetstone”

 

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whet

 

There are natural and man made oilstones, India (man made), and Arkansas (natural) for example, waterstones which are what is most commonly used and there are so many it gets confusing. The mentioned glass stones and most synthetics are types of waterstones, but there are scores of natural waterstones also, technically there are no diamond stones as diamonds are adhered to a base plate and that to another larger item to be high enough to sharpen a blade. So really there are diamond plates.

 

As to oilstones being messy I find waterstones to be worse in that regard. Any and all stones scratch/abrade away metal and the finer the stone the finer the finish.

 

A Black Arkansas oilstone leaves a very nice finish but not on the level of a 8K+ waterstone so to say oilstones scratch you are just using one that is too coarse.

 

The rabbit hole of sharpening is very deep. ;)

 

There are some ceramic stones mainly razor hones and bench stones made by Spyderco which are neither waterstones or oilstones but they are their own creatures.

 

Jim

 

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

KnifeSavers- *Boom* Mind blown. Thanks for the invitation to the rabbit hole...I mean clear up ;)

post #10 of 15

KnifeSavers, thanks for the editing. I have always just been exposed to water stones referred to as Whet Stones and left at that. I agree that water stones are messy with the slurry and water combining everywhere to form a concoction of evil, but if you're going to spend the money on a good set of stones a person might as well as buy an in sink holder and minimize the mess. I also intended on stating that oil stones, in my experience, have led to more apparent scratching on the faces of the blade when used by those learning and completely agree that all stones scratch. My first good knife is a matte waved mess due to me learning how to use a Japanese water stone technique. I will also applaud you for pointing out that this is just the beginning of an exhausting process of stones and sharpening techniques, wait until he learns to sharpen his straight razors! X-strokes, stropping pastes, j-nats.. that some serious stuff.

 

SakumaWiki, if you are leaning towards the MAC professional series, why not try to find a B&M that carries them. Unfortunately, there are no such stores for me locally so I have never had the opportunity to test a factory fresh edge. The Apex sharpening system is something I use, it takes much of the guess work out of the equation as the knife stays at a constant angle to the stone and the selection of stones are top notch. That being said, you are looking at a pricey setup for sure. Wicked Edge is another sharpening system held in a high regard among knife aficionados. The wicked edge would allow you to also sharpen your razors, and they have many videos on YouTube for specific knives to aid you in sharpening. As far as not using a honing rod on knives over 58 HRC, that is just what I have been told by the Japanese gentlemen that taught me and have come across numerous times in discussion groups on the subject of hard Japanese cutlery.Do check out JapaneseKnifeImports, his selection is top notch and I believe they do some sort of online sharpening seminar.

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

Ok-- It's been a while, but I think I have made some progress. Or I would hope that all this research would be somewhat useful. I have my short list(s) and now needing to make some decisions.

 

240mm Gyuto (in no particular order)

 

- MAC Pro

- Masamoto VG

- Kikuichi TKC

 

Here is where I break it down...

 

The MAC gets a lot of praise and the USA support seems like it may be nice to have. Also, I wonder about the "stiffness" of this blade. Will that be a good thing for a first Gyuto?

 

Masamoto- I like the profile, I have read that it is "whippy" and I am also wondering about the handle finish. Is POM sub par to wood?

 

TKC- Really like the idea of how easy it would be to sharpen but then I read forums floating around saying there is extreme rust under the handle specifically in the 240mm. Re-handling is not something I am interested in. Also, will I find an extra $40 for this knife to be worth it over the two mentioned above?

 

I will be picking up a Victorinox as a beater and a MAC Pro 6" Petty. Bread knife is no longer a concern-- Thanks for the help on these!

 

As far as sharpening-- I decided to go free hand. I don't believe I need the range of stones offered in the Edge Pro because I am starting out with brand new knives. So, I was thinking of getting the Red Brick 1k and the Snow White 8k but didnt know if I should be getting something in between as well. Also, I understand that I should get something beyond 8k for my straight razor. Oh, and what grit diamond plate do I get for flattening these stones? That part was confusing...

 

Am I on the right track? Let's bring these things to order if I am!

 

Your advice is very much appreciated and valued!

post #12 of 15

POM aren't bad handles, you just know that it's a cheaper handle. it just feels synthetic coz of the binders.

post #13 of 15
I haven't used the masa or the tkc but I wouldn't put too much stock in the rust under the handle problem. If I'm not mistaken that was one thread and an isolated case. If u go with the tkc check the f&f when u get it to make sure there are no gaps. I own a Mac Pro and have no complaints at all. It was a great intro to japanese knives, came exceptionally sharp ootb which was important at that time because I didn't hand sharpen. It is stiffer than some of my other japanese knives but that was not a detriment as I was still relatively inexperienced when I purchased. Knives with more flex just need a little better technique to avoid wedging. Not sure what kind of grip u use but if it's pinch grip I wouldn't worry as much about handles. In terms of sharpening the Mac is not difficult on the stones. I'm guessing the tkc would be easier to sharpen but I can't say how much easier. The point is the Mac is not difficult. All 3 would be excellent choices. I would say u should make your decision based on looks and profile of the knife. If one speaks to you go for it.
post #14 of 15
I wouldn't find a POM handle acceptable at Masamoto's price point. POM does degrade in time, and faster than a good stabilized wood handle. It's purely arrogance to sell at this price level and put cheap handles on it.
post #15 of 15
I've used all 3 and own masamoto (VG, HC, KS, CT) and Mac. Masamoto in 210 VG is whippy, 240 is not....it's workhorse-esque. Mac Pro's are great intro knives and honestly if you can't do it with a Mac, it's not the knife. People who buy & love Masamoto's do so for the feel. Masamoto VG is not VG10.... Ask BDL..... VG5 or something.

The TKC is a great knife.....I don't own one......which might be telling or not. I think HD's are better examples of semi-stainless. The TKC I used was loaned and had been badly ground by a previous tester. This may be prejudicing my TKC thoughts but I didn't love it. Handle is ok, f&f are ok.......interesting point...I used an original ichimonji TKC and think that is superior in terms of blade attributes.....

Don't get hung up on handle scales.....I don't care what it made from as long as it feels good in my hand.
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