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Starter Chef knife 8" to 10" for small hands: Tojiro DP vs Mac vs Victorinox Rosewood

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Was hoping to get some advice. My friend was switched to the kitchen at work and was recommended the Victorinox 8". She's been using the pinch grip but her fingers have started hurting due to the large handle on the knife. She's looking for an alternative with a smaller handle but longer blade (up to 10") that doesn't break the bank (under $90). We live in Vancouver, BC so local options are limited and very expensive so I'm looking to buy something online instead.


I noticed the Victorinox Rosewood line's handles seems to be a bit smaller based on pics and videos and at $50 something the 10" chef knife seems ideal. 


However, my friend's at the point where if things don't improve she might switch out of the kitchen entirely.


So I was wondering if there's another knife that might be a better starter to help her in the long term- there's the Mac Superior Chef Knife at 8" and the Mac Non stick Sushi and Sashimi Knife at 8.5".


Then there's the Tojiro DP Gyutou - 9.4". It seems to be a great knife but would the be alright for developing basic techniques and skills?


Personally, I have no clue about knives - I just got a 3 set Kyocera ceramic set and bought a set of Tomodachi knives on the cheap from Costco last year. So I really have no experience with knives for professional use. Reading all the reviews and articles online at 2am has me in need of some serious guidance. Any help would be much appreciated.

post #2 of 19

I used Victorinox with a Fibrox handle for 4 years.  I got my first japanese wa handled knife and because of the extra length, I started using better technique with a softer pinch grip.  Going back to the Victorinox,  my hand would cramp after a few minutes.  I recently sharpened up the knife and gave it away as a gift. 


It's very important to keep knives sharp to stay fast and efficient.  With a dull knife, people will resort to gripping it harder and pushing down harder, this leads to a lot of unnecessary strain.


I would add Fujiwara FKM 240mm gyuto to your list of usual suspects in this price range.  I think the handle is a little slimmer than the Tojiro DP.  It is sold at both and also at  I CKTG has free shipping in the US, I don't know what their shipping to BC will be.  JCK has $7 flat worldwide shipping.


For what it's worth, there are a number of knives at $135 that are better.  At this price range, I like the Hiromotos over at JCK or the Gesshin Uraku at Japanese Knife Imports.


The used japanese knife market is very active.  I'm not afraid to try new knives, because I can always sell them at a minimal loss.

Edited by MillionsKnives - 8/28/14 at 8:24am
post #3 of 19

Another consideration that tends to get overlooked is posture.  People don't talk about this enough, if at all, in knife skills classes, but it is so very important!  Everyone has their own, but I will share mine. 


I am right handed.  I don't stand with both feet square to the board.  My left foot is more forward, and I'm faced slightly diagonally to the right.  This way I can line up cuts on the cutting board for maximum board space usage and it is comfortable to cut. 


Board height is also important.  If she is cutting something on a counter too high or low, the grip will change.


The blade, handle, board, grip, body posture all have to work together.  Fighting against any of these will cause fatigue.

post #4 of 19

The rosewoods look pretty bad after lots of use.  Had four or five and gave them away and went to the Fibrox for the store.  Gone to Japanese knives for myself...different ball game.  Try the 240 (or 210) Richmond Artifex for around $80.  Even with small hands you will be able to handle the 240, I would imagine.  If you have the budget, try one of the Kikuichi TKC Gyutos (210 or 240).  Get it finish sharpened by CKTG and buy a box or two of bandaids. 

My cuts after I first got them were from bumping the knife, not cutting.  Keep these knives facing away from your work on a towel when not cutting.


Mine are sharpened at 15*.  I have a couple at 13*, and one (for the hell of it) at 10*.


Most people probably should sharpen at 20 degrees, though, and that's really plenty.

post #5 of 19
Stay away from the Artifex unless you're looking for a project knife.

post #6 of 19

First, your being in the Vancouver, B.C. area jogged my memory and I checked - a year ago, when BDL was still around answering inquiries, there was a thread started by a Vancouver B.C. area subscriber.  That thread is here: 



Japanese knife - question about stones
started on 06/10/13 last post 06/12/13 at 11:17am 7 replies 954 views



Most of the information is probably still good.  I didn't find any other brick and mortar references in a quick Google search now.


MillionsKnives is correct about the importance of sharpening.  In fact, keeping knives sharpened will probably have a greater effect than getting a new knife.  In the course of priorities, if your friend doesn't have a good way to sharpen her existing cutlery, then she will just end up spending on a new knife which will invariably just get dull and then progress to even worse levels of dullness over time.


It's not sharpening, but honing is essential for keeping knives sharper longer.  Getting a good quality ceramic honing rod in turn will keep your blades sharp longer than ordinary steel "sharpening steels".  The brand that I have used is the Idahone, and I would suggest that getting a 12 inch Idahone should be your top priority.  One Canadian source for the 12 inch Idahone is


Another Canadian source for the Idahone (Paul's Finest) only carries the 10 inch size.  And yes, with honing rods, length does matter.  Save yourself future aggravation and get the 12 inch length.


Now as for knives, ....


Because $90 is a fairly limiting budget, unless your friend (or you) is willing to open your wallet a bit further, then the ceramic hone will be about it for a practical initial budget limit.  For your $90 (presumably you are pricing things in Canadian dollars), certainly, one of"s retailers (World Order) has the 240 mm Tojiro DP for $90 Canadian.  But if it were just for me, and all I had was $90, I would buy the Idahone honing rod and put the rest of the money in a savings account.


I probably would not bother with any of the European knives, including any of the Victorinox knives.  They simply don't measure up to anything as good as even the lowest end better quality Japanese knives.


As for MAC knives, at this point, I'm a bit flummoxed as to its availability.  MAC International generally restricts its availability to be sold in any country to retailers who purchase through MAC International's individual national partners.  However, for Canada, Mac International lists MAC-USA.  Go Figure.  However, on a pragmatic basis, that means that such internet retailers, such as Chef Knives To Go, are not able to offer MAC knives in Canada.


Hope these notes help.



Galley Swiller

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

IThanks for the advice and alternate knife recs! She used the same posture though her fingers do tend to tighten over the handle even while pinch gripping which aggravates the situation.


I passed the recs on but was wondering about edge retention and durability on them and corrosion/rust. Reading more it seems:


- The Tojiro DP Gyuto is stain resistant but not stainless. Is the Tojiro DP Cobalt Gyuto better? Also, there are some comments about microchipping.


- There's an  Mac Knife Japanese Series Nonstick Sushi and Sashimi Knife, 8-1/2-Inch  - I can't find much more info about performance on it though or rust. 


- I had assumed that western knives paid more attention to handles and were less likely to fall apart - is it rosewood handles in particular or just the Victorinox Rosewood?


- The Richmond Artifex seems to require more work (thinning etc.) to get it to optimal performance which really bumps up the price too.


- I purchased a  Kyocera 9-Inch Ceramic Steel Sharpener last week for my Komachi 2 knife set (sorry, not Tomodachi,mixed up the names in my original post) since it had a smooth side and a ribbed side (sort of dual grits I guess?) and might be an easier learning tool for a sharpening newbie like myself before trying whetstones. 


- My friend's issue isn't the blade (she's actually perfectly happy with the Victorinox's blade) but the handle which is causing her hands to hurt on an ongoing basis. If it gets worse, she's likely to quit and I'd really rather not see her leave since she's a joy to work with.


- All this research into knives has me wanting to splurge on one for my birthday, lol. As a starter knife for home use I was looking at 210mm and the Hiromoto were mentioned above - I noticed two  options (A & B) - which is better?

On that note, I was also looking at Damascus Gyutos, specifically Yaxell Zen 37, Sakai Takayuki and Kanetsugu Pro-J (am very attracted to slanted bolsters which feel very comfortable in hand) - I would have just bought a Tojiro DP Cobalt but the Damascus are so pretty *_* The only question is performance and if there are other stainless or stain resistant knives that blow them out of the water. Looking at something at $120 since shipping and import duties will push the price over $150 - but its not set in stone. I could skip the $35 birthday meal and put it towards the knife instead :)

post #8 of 19
Any knife, even stainless, will rust if you leave it wet long enough. The tojiro dp is vg10 which is considered a stainless. If you want to see other offerings, has more offerings of tojiro than I've ever seen. I was there shopping for CCK cleavers today. I don't think tojiro is more chippy than other vg10. Remember that it is an entry level japanese knife, a lot of people using it have no idea on usage or maintenance.

I've never used th victorinox rosewood handle. For any wooden handle, the expected maintenance is to wipe it dry when done using, and to oil with mineral oil every couple weeks. I use beeswax and mineral mixture for water resistance too.

Hiromoto G3 is a very good stainless, easy to sharpen. The AS is stainless clad with a carbon core, only the edge is carbon. Wipe whenever you have a pause in cutting, and that's it. The AS has very good edge retention, but harder to sharpen than say normal white or blue steel.
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Due to budgetary constraints, my friend might end up going with the Victorinox since she can get it for $53 - will pass along the advice on maintenance, thanks. Personally I'm hoping she can stretch the budget to the Tojiro but it might depend on shipping and import duties too.


I can't seem to find the Hiromoto G3 in 210mm - it's sold out on the site and googling seems to show that the knife maker is retiring so there might not be any more stock. I'm not sure I want to do the 240mm.


Definitely curious about the performance of the Damascus Gyutos - particularly the Pro J for the slanted bolster. My google-fu seems to be failing me - does the Hiromoto G3 have better edge retention that them?

post #10 of 19
The first two look similar. There are makers that make the same blade for multiple brands and this might be one of those cases. I bought a vg10 petty this week, Gekko 140mm from jck. It had to be stainless because I wanted something for citrus zesting and supreming. Out of the box edge was done by an apprentice or a drunk. The bevel was wider in some places and nonexistent in others. The sharpening on the left side was very bad. This gave me a chance to take it to the stones. I'll say that I don't like sharpening vg10 at all. It feels icky. My other knives I have blue #2, whatever stainless JKI uses, 19c27, white #1, and victorinox. I prefer sharpening basically all of those over vg10. G3 is similar composition to vg10. I think differences you will see are in heat treat.
post #11 of 19
I know you're getting taken in by Damascus visuals, but check out carbonext at jck. It's semistainless rust resistant. You should clean knives out of habit when done. Think its in your budget and jck has flat rate $7 worldwide shipping.
post #12 of 19

Let's see if we can deal with each of your issues, in order.


First, the Tojiro DP and the Tojiro DP Cobalt are literally the same knife - just a different way of describing the core steel.  Probably different writers on different web sites, or different automatic translation software.


Microchipping on any VG-10 steel knife edge is always an issue, but it's a matter of priorities.  That's just part of the difference between Western knives and Japanese knives.  Western mass market knive companies want knives which will not chip.  So, they make the blades tougher.  The way to do that is to heat treat the steel so it is less likely to break, and will instead deform.  Japanese knife makers are more interested in getting and holding a sharp edge.  So, they heat-treat the knife to be harder.  However, that makes the steel comparatively more brittle.  Take your pick, but upper-end Japanese knives are just easier to sharpen and will resist losing the edge all that much better than the tougher-steel western mass market knives.  For what it's worth, the Tojiro DP is thought to have much less chipping problems than other VG-10 steel knives.


The anti-stick MAC knife you are referring to is the BSC-85, a resin-coated blade, and is made for sushi chefs.  It is limited to a single length, 8-1/2 inches (210 mm), and MAC-USA says it is a coated version of the HB-85.  I suspect the resin coating might not last all that long, since it is listed as non-dishwasher safe by Amazon.  One former expert participant on ChefTalk, BDL, referred to the MAC Chef line gyuto's as "whippy".  I have never held one, so I can't say one way or another, but considering the light weight of knives in the Chef series, they very well might be extremely flexible.


The Richmond Artifex is not so much a "bad" knife, as one in which the manufacturing process is simplified so as to keep prices down.  It may not be at the quality level of the Tojiro DP or certainly any of the MAC's, but it is certainly better in performance than any Wustie or Henckels (excepting Japanese-made ones).


The two options you list, the Hiromoto Aogami Super Steel (usually referred to on a number of knifenut web sites as the "Hiromoto AS") and the Hiromoto Gingami No. 3 (usually referred to as the "Hiromoto G3") are both considered as quality knives, though fit and finish may not be as high as other Japanese knives.  The AS is a clad steel blade, with an inner core made of Aogami Super Steel, a high carbon, low chromium blade, which is much more reactive than any stainless.  It can be brought to a much higher sharpness level than stainless steel knives, though it requires IMMEDIATE cleaning attention after being used.  The G3 knife is a stainless monosteel (non-clad) blade which is also considered a good knife, though it cannot be brought to the same level of sharpness than the AS.  Both are good, but attract different audiences.  


Keep in mind that "stainless" does not mean "stainfree" - it means that there is less chance for the steel to rust.  All steels develop oxidized surfaces - that's just the nature of steel and other iron compounds.  It's a question of what type of oxidation.  "Stainless" steel has a high level of chromium.  That chromium on the surface of a blade will readily combine with oxygen and form chromium oxide.  That chromium oxide layer will prevent the surface iron from oxidizing - hence it will "stain less". 


Be advised that I am not a fan of Damascus.  There is precisely ZERO performance difference between laminated blades with 3 layers and laminated blades with mucho-mucho layering.  Beyond a single pair of outer layering and a core steel ("san mai"), you are paying for appearance and nothing else.  BDL famously disliked all laminated blades and openly preferred a monosteel blade, because he perceived a more accurate feel of the blade when cutting.  And once a Damascus blade gets scratched - it's a ROYAL PITA to restore the laminated look.  No thanks on my part - I prefer a working tool, instead of something that I will be afraid to use for fear of damage.  I may not be as fanatical about monosteel as BDL, but I prefer an honest, working tool appearance.


But, then, it's your money and your preferences, in the long run.


Hope that helps



Galley Swiller

post #13 of 19

I just did a post on the Vic Rosewood, which I bought just to see what it was. .  It's handle is definitely a little clunky.  Not any bother to me or most with a relaxed grip I suppose.  The handle they come with these days appears to be "stabilized" Rosewood, but I'm not 100% positive.  Stablized means that is impregnated throughout with a resin, and this makes the wood behave much like plastic.


What came out of that post is the Wusthof Pro line is competition for the Vic Fibrox's.  The handle is definitely different, slimmer looking in some respects, don't know if it will suite your friend any better.


You mention the possibility of your friend using a slicer.  I am the oddball around here as I use a slicer (9") almost exclusively.  But for knuckle clearance you either work the edge of the board or assume a modified grip that would likely cause your friend to tense up all the more.


Really can't add much more than this to what has already been said, but to sum up:  It appears that if your friend is going to stay in the kitchen she is going to have to both find a knife with a suitable handle, and learn how to keep it sharp, which means a stone and ceramic steel that will run her another $60-70 or so.




post #14 of 19
Though there are many good suggestions here so far ( I totally agree with the Tojiro DP and Fujiwara FKM as the best choice for inexpensive entry level etc) I am believing from what you have posted the underlying cause of your friends problems may be from multiple issues.

A good sharp knife is a must and a step in the right direction, and the final choice if any of the Japanese knives recommended should help initially at least as that should deal with the dull knife problem.

Now this is where things get tricky because though there is a lot to the subject of keeping a knife sharp it seems that your friend has possibly developed some bad habits in the Area of grip and posture.

A properly gripped sharp knife should not produce any of the descriptions you stated, but one used in the same grip and manner you described very possibly may, and even more so when the edge begins to dull.

Getting a better tool is a definite, but they are going to need to address the underlying problems with grip and technique.

An example is how you describe using a pinch grip but also using a strangle hold on the handle. A proper pinch on a sharp knife uses very light pressure and the lightest gripping of the handle.

I think if you fix those two things it will become a much less fatiguing experience.


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Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!



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post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for all the advice. We've actually had issues with blunt knives for a few weeks at work - while we got a new set of them, our out of house sharpening service was discontinued since we'd bought sharpening tools in house but hadn't started using them yet. So I brought it up with management and two of my co-workers will be taking over those tasks and they're both very familiar with whetstones. The only concern is if there's enough time available to adequately sharpen a dozen knives in an hour or two on stones.


The silver lining is that my friend will be able to keep her knife's edge sharp, maintaining it with daily honing and weekly sharpening :D


In the end I did decide against the pretty Damascus knives since there really wasn't anything better performance-wise despite the higher price tag attached.


I ordered the Fujiwara FKM since it seemed to fit my needs just a bit better than the Tojiro DP - thanks so much for the rec! It should arrive by next week and I'll see about having it sharpened at work on whetstones by my more experienced coworkers. I'll also be lending it out to my co-worker for a day or two so she can get an idea of whether it would address the issues she's having with her Victorinox. That'll settle the issue for her regarding a gyuto vs a western chef's knife.

post #16 of 19
Don't forget to post your thoughts and results.


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post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 






So the Fujiwara FKM gyuto arrived yesterday from JCK which was insanely fast. In comparison the orders I placed from at the same time have yet to appear, lol.


The bolster is very comfortable in hand and it's so shiny! Definitely like the F&F - the handle isn't as slick as the sub$200 knives i've seen locally but at this price point, it's fantastic.  


I couldn't resist cutting an apple - after washing the gyuto, of course XD I did end up comparing it to my Kyocera Ceramic knife and Komachi 2 chef's knife.


It blew the Komachi 2 out of the water - but it doesn't help that I haven't sharpened the Komachi since I got it earlier this year. It was shredding/crushing the apple and I needed to use more pressure to cut. Will retest after sharpening.


Paper test: OOTB, the FKM could easily cut through the paper, which matches my Kyocera.


Apple test: while both the FKM and Kyocera were super sharp, the FKM had a much smoother cutting action when gliding through the fruit. The ceramic knife had a more abrasive/grating feel to it as it slid through the fuit. They are both capable of wafer thin slices and ceramic knives prevent fruits and vegetables from browning as fast but the FKM just felt very..smooth.


So Kyocera --> lighter, non oxidizing and stays sharp but FKM---> had a smooth, slicing butter feel to it.


I admit I love the fact that I don't have to sharpen the Kyocera since its ceramic. It's also much lighter and for soft foods, a gliding motion is enough to slice without any pressure whatsoever. Definitely considering buying one for my mom who is tiny (4ft 10"), has arthritis and has not sharpened a knife in over a decade. 


At the same time, for foods that are denser - like apples, raw potatos etc. I think I might find myself gravitating to the FKM since the cutting motion is smoother. And I think as my skill improves, so will my appreciation for the gyuto. As a starter knife, it shows a lot of promise.


Will be passing the FKM to my coworker tomorrow to try during work so she can make a more informed choice regarding a work knife purchase.

post #18 of 19
Wait till you've put a decent edge on the FKM...
post #19 of 19
Originally Posted by Benuser View Post

Wait till you've put a decent edge on the FKM...

Excellent point!

I wouldn't suggest this for pro/commercial use and I have since brought it back closer to factory angles but when I first got mine a few years back I exaggerated the asymmetry and reduced the total angle quite a bit and the resulting effortless cutting was amazing for what is considered an entry level knife.

Though it wasn't as practical after it became more of a utility or second choice after I added the Konosuke etc (preferred it not to be as aggressive or need as much attention to sharpening) I did want to see how far I could push it when I first got mine and was very impressed with the results and especially at the price.

Mine came with a very good edge OOTB, but was in no way comparable to what it was after sharpening. Even before taking it just beyond its limits it cut much better after just improving the edge a bit.

Hope you and your friend enjoy yours as much as I did mine, and just be careful how far you let the J knife bug take you, and your wallet lol.

Yes it can get addictive.


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Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!



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