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"Pimp" my wrap... (Moving to J knives)

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Knife wrap that is.


I'm new here. I've been working in the culinary industry in Canada for almost 8 years now (no QSR). Have had a decent set of knives for some time, but am looking to upgrade over the next year and then put the full set into use thereafter (will explain why shortly).


Essentially I don't know how to sharpen using stones, my current knives have the full bolster and to be honest I tend to work in such high volume environments I opt to have my edges resharpened by a local guy every couple months (my Henckels are between 25-30 years old - family heirlooms - so they hold an edge for so long it's not funny) rather than take the time to learn and do it myself. I do have some aspirations to develop sharpening skills (stones) as I would like to make the jump to Japanese knives (sort of). So I'll be putting my new set into use once I feel I have developed an adequate amount of skill sharpening my Henckels- no point getting all giddy and destroying new blades.


I'm intending to make the move out of super-high volume "banging-out" and on to fine dining as I feel I have pretty well absorbed what I can from fast casual and what we would term here as upscale dining (that being distinct from fine dining). 


I guess I have Japanese knife fever, I'm kind of bored with my European style knives (and they are worn death), but I'm pretty pragmatic so I'm not looking for any damascus nonsense or anything really over $100 apiece.


Just wondering if anyone had any practical professional experience (though home experience would be much appreciated as well) with Fujiwara Kanefusa FKM/FKS (FKS especially interests me, but I wonder about the granton edging and what effect that might have on the total stability of the blade?), and also the Richmond Artifex knives, specifically the SAB AEB-L... I am really interested in this knife, as I do appreciate the shape of the blade.



What I have:

- 9" 4-Star Zwilling JA Henckel chef

- 8" 4-Star Zwilling JA Henckel slicer/carving

- 3 1/4" 4-Star Zwilling JA Henckel paring

- 7" Victorinox Forschner Rosewood hollow-edge santoku

- 10" Zwilling JA Henckel medium steel (knife-drawer special)


Potential new set:

- 10.6" Fujiwara Kanefusa FKS sujihiki

- 10.25" Victorinox Forschner Fibrox bakers bread (this is a wicked blade shape if you haven't used them)

- 10" Richmond Artifex AEB-L SAB chefs (prep)

- 8" MAC Chef Series hollow-edge chefs (line)

- 7" Fujiwara Kanefusa FKS santoku

- 5" Victorinox Forschner Fibrox narrow boning

- 2.25" Victorinox Forschner Fibrox birds beak

- 12" Victorinox Forschner Fibrox polished steel


I know the MAC and Victorinox hold up well to commercial use, I have used them before in the past, like the feel and edge retention, etc. I am really just wondering about the Fujiwara Kanefusa and Richmond Artifex- I know they are good choices for their price range my real interest is in how well they hold up to hardcore commercial usage. Are they going to shatter if they hit concrete? Hold shape relatively well (people have a tendency to grab whatever is at hand and use it to pry cans open, etc)... 


Thanks guys, looking forward to posting more.




Edited by SpoiledBroth - 9/25/14 at 12:08am
post #2 of 8

I will suppose you are throwing together a "wish list" and are looking for general comments.


I'm first noting that you are calling for using a Victorinox/Forschner Fibrox polished steel.  We just had a long discussion about the use of European steel honing rods ("sharpening steels") and Japanese knives, so I would strongly urge you to read this thread:  My relevant comments begin at Post No. 12.  Please do read not just my comments, but all of the other comments through the end of the thread as well.


So I will make a different suggestion for a honing rod: a 12 inch (300 cm) Idahone rod.  You can buy it in Canada from for $36.99 ( ).  It's a LOT harder than any European honing rods ("steels") and will work with anything softer than 62-63 hRc.  On the other hand, you would need to buy something like it anyway if you want to use a honing rod with a J-knife.


Paul's Finest also stocks the Idahone, but only in the 10 inch length (250 cm).  And for honing rods, length does matter.  Get the longer length and you won't regret it.  (I do wish Paul's Finest would stock the longer length, though.  Otherwise, I would suggest ordering from him).


The one major drawback is that ceramic rods are fragile and don't take kindly to being dropped - they SHATTER!  Then after cussing the situation out, you need to buy a new one.  To avoid that problem, have a handy hook set up for storing it.  For travel, you might consider a PVC or similar tube with an inside diameter just larger than the outside diameter of the handle and just longer than the overall length of the honing rod.  Strategically glue a few knobs or bumps on the PVC tube to keep it from rolling and then put it in your working kit knife roll.


Now for your knives:


You've got a number of knives (the Fujiwara Kanefusa FKS series and the MAC Chef series) with Kullenschliff (aka "Kullens", "dimples", "Granton edge", "Hollow Ground", etc., etc., etc., for names).  Why do you want them?  There are a lot of experienced chefs on this site who don't feel that kullenschliff are worth it.  But I will let them add their own opinions.


You list a 10 inch Richmond Artifex AEB-L gyuto, then you list an 8 inch MAC Chef series hollow ground chef's knife, and a Fujiwara Kanefusa FKS santoku.  Combined in price, the three knives (from at least 2 different sources, each involving the requirement of importation into Canada, by my somewhat hazy accounting, will cost together a bit more than $300 with shipping, duty, etc.  Is there a reason you want 3 secondary level knives, rather than one really good knife, such a MAC Pro chef's knife?


You show a 5 inch Victorinox narrow boning knife.  You don't specify if it is to be a straight or curved blade and you don't specify whether it is to be flexible, rigid or semi-rigid/semi-flexible.  ????  On the subject of butchering knives, I would suggest you read the following ChefTalk thread:


On the Richmond Artifex, you will find a number of people feel that the manufacturer (Lamson & Goodnow) makes a blade which they think is overly thick and needs to be thinned (with considerable work involved) to be brought to an acceptable performance level.


No significant comment on the bread knife.


The bird's beak paring knife is the only paring knife you list.  That's a fairly specialized blade.  What other paring knife would you also be using?  Would you be considering the use of a petty instead?


Hope that starts the free-for-all discussion going!



Galley Swiller

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hey thanks for your response.


Oui to the steel. It was kind of just thrown in there, I'd had a MAC ceramic rod gifted to me a while ago (keyword being had, so I'm well aware of the fragility). Thank you for the suggestion. Was wondering if I should just skip the ceramic rod entirely and only have a smaller one for the Victorinox knives in the wishlist. Vic edges I don't love but they are a decent way to flesh out a set in my opinion. I hate their santoku though.


The hollow/granton/kullenschliff to me is really a personal thing. I'm aware alot of people think they are a gimmick but myself and alot of people I respect swear by them. It's an economy of motion thing I guess. However the interest in that scalloping has driven parts of my decision. 


Thanks for the notes about Richmond, guess I had perhaps been reading some antiquated threads.


With regard to 3 "second level" knives... I don't care for the MAC pro line, specifically I don't see why a bolster should add such expense. I have used MAC Original, Chef and Pro in the past, so I do have some idea what I'm talking about. I like a santoku, I know people call them Rachel Ray knives or whatever, but I do find them quite comfortable for a number of tasks, call it my guilty pleasure largely unneeded knife if you must.  However the 8" chefs is practical because I bump up against alot of narrow cutting boards on line, I find it more dangerous to try to utilise a 10" on an angle with those boards than to just have an appropriately sized knife. I have intentionally chosen cheaper knives so that, god forbid, someone drops one or wedges it between two rolling worktables or whatever, I'm not going to want to jump off a bridge. I'm kind of thinking I might just opt for a 10" hollow-edge Mac Chef series chefs knife instead of the Artifex, ditching the 8" Mac on the list. 


Cutlery and more has a 3mm spine santoku by Mac which I'm kind of interested in, they call it a "Cheftoku". Superior series.


Basically I tend to reach for semi-stiff straight boning knives (they are not desosser at the heel) to use as a utility or paring knive. I would consider the use of a petty but to me these smaller knives are going to be the most bashed up of the bunch, so I'm really not hot to spend much at all on them.

post #4 of 8

One problem you may find with MAC knife availability is that MAC Knives International apparently restricts international retail sales.  They do list MAC Knives USA as the sales distributor.  However, I would suggest you contact Harold Arimoto at MAC Knives USA, to find out if that is true.  He can either direct you to the proper Canadian importer/distributor, if he isn't such, or he can direct you to his Canadian retailers, if he is the Canadian importer/distributor.


I'm cribbing the following from an old ChefTalk thread (4 years old), but hopefully the following may work


Harold's email address is  The web site is  


The address is


MAC Knife, Inc.

9624 Kiefer Blvd. #1
Sacramento, CA 95827-3822
phone: MAC-Knife (888-622-5643)
fax: 916-854-9974



Hope that helps



Galley Swiller


p.s. - I forgot about sharpening.  First, read this:


It's a short version of Chad Ward's book, An Edge In The Kitchen, which was published in 2006.  If you can either get the book at your public library, or through a library inter-loan program, it's well worth the effort to read.  Do note that stated prices in the book are hopelessly out of date.



post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hmm. Awesome links, thank you I will have to check them out. You've been very helpful! Do you think, could you explain what you meant by your comments about the Richmond artifex? I also notice that line with Wa handles is manufactured by Fujiwara Kanefusa. By the by, I've done a bunch of reading now about the kullenschliff and I think I'm going to just opt not to get them ;)

post #6 of 8

Richmond Knives are the house brand sold by Chef Knives To Go, and are named after Mark Richmond, who (with his wife) started and owns the company.  The Artifex line is the basic series - they are marketed to people who are looking for less expensive knives.  Mark buys his Richmond Knives from different sources (that also applies to the Artifex line).  Most of the Artifex line knives are two-rivet western-style handled knives.  These are made for Mark by Lamson and Goodnow, which is a U.S.-based knife manufacturer.  Several knives are made with wa-handles.  These are made by Fujiwara.  There's also a three-rivet western handle with a san-mai clad blade with the core being Blue No. 2 steel - this particular knife is/was made by a not-identified Japanese manufacturer.  My comments were about the Lamson & Goodnow blades, which form the bulk of the Artifex line.  The comments don't apply to the Japanese made Artifex knives.


As for the performance of the Lamson & Goodnow Artifex blades and their thickness, it would probably be best for you do do a search and make your own best conclusions, since the level of comments are best appreciated by direct reading, and any summary by me would simply dull any impact.


You commented about the bolster on the MAC Pro knives.  The MAC Original and Chef series are notable for their thinness - and for the flexibility of their blades.  The MAC Pro line is thicker, so that the knife is noticeably stiffer than the Original or Chef series knives.  The bolster is there to help bring the balance of the knife to just forward of the heel of the knife - right where thumb and forefinger grasp the knife in a pinch grip.  This helps minimize repetitive stress when holding the knife for hours when cutting - if the balance were not there, then the knife would be blade heavy, and the user would be exerting extra effort (especially at the wrist) to hold the knife so the point wouldn't be constantly pushing downwards.


The "Cheftoku" name is nothing more than the individual retailer's (Cutlery and More) name for the MAC SD-65 Cleaver.  With a thickness of 3.0 mm, my guess is that the primary bevel on this knife is in the range of 20 degrees to 25 degrees per side.  Essentially, it's accurately described as a medium weight cleaver, but lighter than a western deba.  With those primary bevel angles, it's definitely not going to be the sharpest kid on the block.


I really feel I need to strengthen and emphasize the importance of using a good honing rod - which really means ceramic.  And the key here is having a place to safely hang it in the kitchen.  Mine is hung on the side of my refrigerator, out of the way but usable when needed.  The hook is plastic, held to the fridge by a strong but cleanly removable two-sided strip adhesive.  Hook and adhesive are from the 3M "Command" series and only cost a few dollars for a set of 6 hooks and 12 adhesive strips.  Talk to the chef about whether you can put the hook up - and where.


Right now, what's gnawing at me about this thread is the question of how best for you to proceed.  And I think the issue might really be about sharpness: both about what your knives (and the knives you have seen) have been about, and what they can become.  You have been sending your knives out to be sharpened every few months.


I'm getting the feeling you may never have had any really sharp knives.  You need to do something about that.


The first thing you need is to start practicing sharpening.  You need to get comfortable about working on your knives yourself.  And, it sounds that, if you don't want to immediately do it with your current knives or with ("Gasp! Zounds! Horrors!!!") your new expensive knives, you STILL need to get practice.


So get some cheap knives.  I'm not talking about knives from the local retailers - I'm talking about even cheaper knives from local thrift stores or garage sales.  Just don't get knives with micro-serrations or any really thin knives.  But if you can find some old, rusted carbon steel knives - those will be the best things for practice with.


Then get a cheap sharpening stone.  REALLY cheap.  Go to a store or market which caters to Chinese customers (the stores you really want only advertise their specials in Chinese).  Look in their housewares area.  They usually will have some really cheap (under $10) and really big sharpening stones.  These may not be the stones you want to use on better knives, but we're talking about skill development here - which means practicing on your junk knives.


Then watch videos by Jon Broida, Murray Carter, Bob Kramer and Chef Knives To Go.


But the key here is PRACTICE!  AND GET OVER ANY "but I can't do it" FEELINGS!  It ain't rocket science.




Galley Swiller

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

I'm not afraid to hand sharpen per se; my first purchase will probably be a set of stones. I don't have 0 experience with hand sharpening, however I am certainly not confident enough to do it for other people. I'll also be buying everything piecemeal, so as I say stones first! Though I am tempted by the idea of the minosharp or chefs choice 3 stage pull throughs (again, this is more of a convenience over quality type of decision -- do I really want to spend a half hour sharpening my wrap by hand and then cleaning everything up after spending 12 or 13 hours working?). I do know the chefs and original series MAC are wavy - I enjoy the "nimble" feeling. I'm not going to argue that the Pro is a nicer knife overall, better steel but again what I want is something that has relatively good edge retention (less maitenance), that can take a good edge (I'm under the impression that a 50/50 bevel is typically a stronger design while not being able to take quite as sharp an edge) and is a quality product that I will hopefully get at least 5 or 10 years hard commercial use out of, at a low enough cost that I'm not going to cry if I lose a soldier in battle. I have a retailer locally who's actually pretty sympathetic to cries of "discount for trade" ;) I can even get him to bring in stuff he doesn't carry from his distributors at no additional cost. Still reading about stones and sharpening before I start trying to price that stuff out.


Taking into consideration what we've been talking about, this is what my final wrap is shaping up to be:

- 12" Idahone Ceramic Sharpening rod (with some type of protection, I love your idea of the PVC tube I wish I had thought of that earlier, I'd have still have my MAC for smaller knives)

- 10.25" Victorinox Forschner Rosewood Baker's Bread

- 9" 4-Star Zwilling JA Henckel Chefs (beater knife, anything with bones)

- 8.5" MAC Superior Series SF-85 Fillet (fillet, slicer)

- 8.5" MAC Chef Series HB-85 Gyuto

- 7" Victorinox Forschner Rosewood hollow-edge Santoku

- 3.25" Victorinox Forschner Rosewood Paring


The gyuto doesn't serve much purpose in the set; it's my fun knife. The original set I had in mind in the first post would probably have been unnecessarily expensive. Handle is cracked on the Henckel slicing knife so it's got to go for sanitary reasons soon. The Henckel paring is just about a desosser it's so worn down and I don't see point in paying 10 bucks for a reprofile when I can pay 14 for something newer and more agile. So I can justify the purchases in my mind, I think this is a pretty well rounded, economical set.


I'm having someone reprofile my Henckel and potentially shave down the bolster. I'm not going to throw any of my knives out, I will keep my Henckels steel for the 3 or 4 times a year that bread knives need to be sharpened. Overall I think I'm looking at closer to 250 and I can purchase it all locally (the fellow who retails MACs locally also sells the 12" Idahone, huzzah! Thank god for culinary students keeping places like this in business- it's nice that they stock professional sizes). In the future I will look at maybe upgrading to the pros so I can retire this set for home use. Once I mortally wound or otherwise wear out the Victorinox santoku I'll probably look at some cheaper "real japanese" bevel santokus, or may just default to the MAC Superior as I've used them before. 


I think my original interest in Richmond was with regard to the bevel, I don't know why maybe I'm just being stubborn... Isn't it safe to assume 50/50 will stand up to more abuse?


Thanks again for all your help, hope you don't feel I'm dead set in my ways!

Edited by SpoiledBroth - 9/27/14 at 8:21pm
post #8 of 8

Don't worry about whether I (or anyone else) might feel or appear to feel if you might be dead-set in your ways - you came to your conclusions on your own and I personally think what you chose and why you chose them are appropriate for you.  It's not up to me to make decisions or pass judgement for anyone other than myself.


Generally speaking, you probably won't be taking knives to the stones all that much - certainly not nightly.  The daily or nightly stuff will be mostly a few seconds of honing of the edge of each knife.  Think of sharpening as more like every few weeks or so.


As to what bevel is more likely to stand up to abuse is dependent on a number of factors - including what type of steel, what type of heat treatment, what angles the user sets for the primary bevel angles. Yes, other things being equal, a 50-50 bevel will probably be the ratio that will hold up to abuse more than other ratios.  The problem is that other things are never quite equal.  A knife with acute angles will fail much faster than a knife with a wider angle - but that knife with the more acute angle will cut much more easily while it is still there before rolling over or chipping.  It's a trade-off and a balance.  If you want easier cutting, then you look or work towards having a thinner blade and a more acute angle on the edge.  The flip side is that thinner and more acute won't hold up to as much abuse as thicker and blunter.  Knife makers and users have been facing precisely that dilemma forever and will continue to do so forever.


Galley Swiller

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