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Looking for advice/recommendations ... I won't put the S word in the title but it's a knife question

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone! First I would like to say I only decided to post after 30 minutes of going through the search list for Shun.

I was in Williams Sonoma today for some other things and tried some knives while I was there. I really like fruit and veggies and that is most of what I do, and I just eat out for sushi. Anyway the lady handed me a Shun Santoku 6" around $255, and it felt incredible. I really just dug it and tried it out. The western chef one seemed like it had too much rock to it if that's the right word and felt less balanced. Tried some Wusthof and another one along with some lower Shun but that first Santoku was great. I had never heard of Shun before, but I've had a Wusthoff 5" for a long time that I never liked

Now I see they are not the best choice, but I was just curious who has objectively better product for same price - seems like Shun is all right but everyone says buy elsewhere. I didn't see too much continued discussion in the posts to that end.

I'm a musician and have worked in service industry. Been cooking for 12 years at home but am unstudied. Especially ignorant to knives, I like to sharpen. I've been using a large knife that was probably 60 dollars for a long time and I've wanted something better and with more inspiring design and wood handle. I love well crafted tools.

I'd prefer to only have one knife as I usually am only using one and enjoy the simplicity or peace of mind. The lady told me not to cut meat though with Santoku and I thought well I wouldn't want two so I'd get a paring knife to make it 3.

I'd rather just buy one knife for 200-350 though. Seems like more than that and I might not be able to take advantage of it

I tried to preemptively provide the background info that I saw in other posts, saw you guys say send me a message for more info. Are recommendations for hand crafted makers not allowed on the post?

I have two friends that are chefs and one said theyre all right and would be ok for me, the other said no look at chefsknivestogo.


Edit: Updates below but just wanted to add sharpening preference - I would like to work at that and sharpen with every or every other use at home and not take it in often. Unsure about carbon/regular preference. Like the japanese thing from what I've been able to hold
Edited by Carmelo S - 1/16/15 at 4:07pm
post #2 of 18
I would go for a mainstream gyuto, a Japanese chef's knife, develop your technique and explore your preferences before ordering an expensive bespoke one which perhaps doesn't suit you. A carbon steel one is much easier to keep sharp. Have a look at Misono Swedish Carbon, Hiromoto Aogami Super, Fujiwara FKH with JCK, japanesechefsknife.com
Without advertising them they also sell Masahiro Virgin Carbon, could be interesting.
The remark on not cutting fresh meat with a santoku does make -- some -- sense. A santoku uses to be relatively wide, with raw meat you want a narrow blade to avoid dragging. Use a large petty or a slicer (sujihiki) instead.
post #3 of 18

"seems like Shun is all right but everyone says buy elsewhere."

 

No, everyone doesn't say that.  I don't, and never have, and never will.  Which would you rather have: a knife you tried and know you like or a mail order knife you only think you'll like?  I'm a big proponent of try before you buy.

 

I don't understand the "don't cut meat" comment.  But I don't understand Santoku knives either so maybe there is something I'm missing.  If she said, "Don't cut meat with bones with a Shun" I'd say that maybe she has a good point.

 

I have too many knives but use two chef knives a lot - Shun chef knife for veg and meat, and Henkel four star for bony meat.  Trying to have 1 knife for all is too hard so your 3-knife option makes a lot of sense to me.

post #4 of 18
Shuns are decent knives, I've sharpened quite a few. A bit too thick behind the edge, most of them fairly abused, far too expensive. Great looking though. You may get much better for your money.
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benuser View Post

... A bit too thick behind the edge, ...

What exactly does this mean?  This is repeatedly stated by a couple of folks on this forum.  Compared to what.. or what are the "ideal" measurements for thickness... and who's ideal is it?

post #6 of 18
It simply means all Shuns I've seen for sharpening did need some thinning. When a knife -- a sharp knife -- is too thick behind the edge it won't cut a carrot but break it.
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
 

What exactly does this mean?  This is repeatedly stated by a couple of folks on this forum.  Compared to what.. or what are the "ideal" measurements for thickness... and who's ideal is it?

 

Shun, in my experience, are around .020-.025" behind the edge, with a severe convex that makes it seem even thicker.  A typical German is around .035 (though the Ikon I have was right around .015, as was the Vic Rosewood a picked up for a review).  Of course most folks don't thin their knives and I don't doubt some edges get to be .06+ with time.

 

This is all way too thick for my preference which is .010" max.  A laser probably <.005.

 

 

For carbons there are also a lot of choices in Blue #2, which is very nice stuff.  Aside from carbons, which the OP may or may not want to deal with, There are many choices in AEB-l stainless, which is about as easy to sharpen well.  There are the Richmonds, Kikuichi, Sakai Takayuki, and some others I forget offhand.  You can cruise the CKTG site as was suggested to you.

 

For a small American custom maker there is HHH knives.  Murry Carter used to be out of your price range for the most part, except for his small basic Funyakis and nikiris, but his new Muteki line is a great buy.  These are all white steel #1 with stainless cladding.

 

 

Rick


Edited by Rick Alan - 1/13/15 at 3:51pm
post #8 of 18


Thanks Rick.  That really helps me understand your repeated comments.  For a straight razor that I put to my face for shaving whiskers I understand your concern.  For a cooking knife, I guess we don't share similar experience.  That just isn't necessary for cooking.  Very cool to a knife geek (intended to be a positive nomenclature) but not for a chef/cook, especially a home cook.  But great conversation; I enjoyed it.

 

p.s.  None of my Shun Classic or Premiers have a "severe convex", even considering the factory edge.  I've seen that on German knives as delivered but never on a Shun.  I never put a micrometer on my knife so I can't comment on the measurements.

post #9 of 18

I don't even own calipers. For me, "too thick" is when it wedges your vegetables.  If it cracks carrots, or pushes onions apart when you are trying to get a good dice, then it is actually a problem.  It slows down speed, effeciency, and cleanness of your prep work regardless of professional status.

post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by MillionsKnives View Post
 

I don't even own calipers. For me, "too thick" is when it wedges your vegetables.  If it cracks carrots, or pushes onions apart when you are trying to get a good dice, then it is actually a problem.  It slows down speed, effeciency, and cleanness of your prep work regardless of professional status.


I own both calipers and micrometers... in both inches and mm.  And a few dial indicators that could be used too.  But never put them on a knife because we share the same criteria.  :)

 

I also teach cooking to kids occasionally and focus on knife skills.  One point I make (and re-make) is that often the cracking can be avoided by remembering that a knife cuts best when it is moving in both directions at the same time.

 

This notion that someone needs a razor thin knife to cut veg without "cracking" is fairly extreme.  Perhaps when making a thin and continuous sheet of daikon, but that is a rather specialized application.

post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
 


Thanks Rick.  That really helps me understand your repeated comments.  For a straight razor that I put to my face for shaving whiskers I understand your concern.  For a cooking knife, I guess we don't share similar experience.  That just isn't necessary for cooking.  Very cool to a knife geek (intended to be a positive nomenclature) but not for a chef/cook, especially a home cook.  But great conversation; I enjoyed it.

 

p.s.  None of my Shun Classic or Premiers have a "severe convex", even considering the factory edge.  I've seen that on German knives as delivered but never on a Shun.  I never put a micrometer on my knife so I can't comment on the measurements.

 

When I mentioned Shuns as having a "severe convex" to them, its a relative term, in comparing them to some other knives in the price range.  They're certainly not as severe as a typical German.

 

The fact is many professional cooks are singing the praises of lasers and other knives of more refined (read "thin") geometry.  They are actually a large part of the market for these knives I think.  And of course no sushi/sashimi chef is going to be seen without a proper chisel-grind edge.  They insist a very fine cut is part of what makes the product.

 

Myself, I do a lot of very thin slicing in my typical days prep, and the quality of the product just wouldn't be there without a very thin and acute edge.  Otherwise I'd be making mush more than anything else in many cases.   Even when not slicing real thin, you can just see the difference in the cut.  And for raw vegetables that means something, to me anyway, and a considerable [though perhaps still relatively small] number of other folks.

 

I'm hardly a knife geek.  I am half-ways toward being a "practical" sharpening geek though.  I'm happy at this time using a thinned Vic Rosewood, with a handle carved out for better fit, for general vegetable chopping.  I only bought it to do a review, but it wound up replacing another cheap stainless knife I did a thinning job on.

 

For the finer work I use a 9" Ikon slicer, picked up before I really knew anything about knives.  Too bad I didn't find out about Cheftalk a few months sooner.  Aside from the low-end steel, they have decent geometry as is, though of course I thinned it a bit.  That one will do till I can find a suitable slicer/suji in one of the CPM alloys I'm partial too.  As for the Vic, well eventually I'll be looking to get something also having a finer grain and better edge retention.

 

 

Rick

post #12 of 18
^ you are a knife geek though. Not using the term geek perjoratively.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

Wow thank you all for the information!  I will look it all over and make a decision, I really appreciate the speediness!  Strike while the iron is hot I suppose

 

I'll have to look into the carbon core thing.  That makes sense about if its too thick it will just break a carrot to use your example.

 

I was actually investigating off the bat what Benuser recommended.  http://korin.com/Misono-440-three-piece-Gyutou-petty-santoku-set?sc=27&category=8549827  Saw a three piece set there.  Wasn't sure where those fell on the spectrum.

 

As an artist craftsmanship and aesthetics bring me a lot of joy and inspiration (as it does everyone I suppose), and I really liked the http://korin.com/Togiharu-Hammered-Damascus-Gyutou?sc=27&category=8549827  look.  Ornate but natural vibe.


Edited by Carmelo S - 1/15/15 at 9:54am
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 

wow those HHH knives are super impressive, I think those, the hammered steel, and the desert wood tinted steel type knives are the most impressive I've seen looking through all these recommendations... Noticed HHH uses an auction format or custom order... What do those typically run?

 

The Takeshi Saji is really phenomenal as well.  I like the patterns in the damascus and that they offer a full sheath with tassle.  I used to do Eskrima (Philipino martial art) which involved a lot of blade work so those details kind of remind me of the items I used to wield for that.  As gorgeous as the japanese paintings are though I wouldn't want to pigeonhole my knife into an ethnic territory simply for sake of versatility (don't want to cook mediterranean with a knife that matches my jade tea set haha)

 

Good call on the Saji, that ironwood looks like its a good deal at 350.  Really curious to see if I landed on any really popular ones.

 

I had another post before this one but it was taken down pending mod approval since I had a link on it*** just to note it had other information on there.


Edited by Carmelo S - 1/14/15 at 11:51pm
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpoiledBroth View Post

^ you are a knife geek though. Not using the term geek perjoratively.

 

Ahahaha, well I am a bit of an engineering geek, and of course knives fit into that well.

 

CS I don't know how the auctions go, if that's what is done, his one-off customs probably go for quite a bit of money, like $1K+.  He does sell a line of knives where the blade is made for him by an American manufacturer named Lampson, and which then handles and finish grinds himself.  I understand they have very good grinds and heat treats.  They run very reasonable at $250 for a 240 I think.  There are other knife makers like him, they usually have backlogs.

 

 

Rick

post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Alan View Post
 

 

...

 

The fact is many professional cooks are singing the praises of lasers and other knives of more refined (read "thin") geometry.  They are actually a large part of the market for these knives I think.  And of course no sushi/sashimi chef is going to be seen without a proper chisel-grind edge.  They insist a very fine cut is part of what makes the product.

 

...

Rick,  I am blessed to see a lot of professional chefs in action... frequently.  I haven't been keeping count but I would not characterize the market quite the same as you do.  Certainly there are pro chefs who are "Japanese Knife" enthusiast and who sing the praises of lasers, but just as many who are using Shun... and even some old dogs using German knives.  If I were to put numbers on it I would guess more Western Chefs using non-laser Japanese knives, and many of them are very notable chefs.  It is an inconvenient truth that some forum members just don't want to acknowledge.

 

Professional chefs in the day of yore (or even today) have not been "breaking carrots" or "shredding onions" instead of cutting them using properly sharpened (not meaning "thinned behind the edge" to laser dimensions) German, French, or American knifes.  That is an almost ridiculous assertion... unless their knife skills are exceedingly poor.  I really wish folks would stop using such nonsensical examples.

 

I totally understand the "zen" of the knife cut made by a fine handcrafted thin Japanese knife.  I, too, admire it... but to be honest, it doesn't generally make the food taste much better.  It's all good, though.  :)


Edited by BrianShaw - 1/15/15 at 6:44am
post #17 of 18
Always wondered about the lasers. I don't need an extremely thin blade to cut very thin. I can cut very thin slices with a fat blade. Must admit it's a bit easier with a thin blade, though. But I do need proper food release. So I prefer a moderately thin, strongly asymmetric Japanese knife. But a well-tuned French carbon will do as well.
Those lasers are commercially much more interesting. They don't last, but get sharp, and cut. No geometry problems, no steering and not too much wedging. Keep them sharp by any means, and replace them in time. I understand why some salesmen like them a lot. Especially when they may sell a jig system for sharpening as well.
If your looking for performance with an average knife though, have a relief bevel of some 5 degree or more behind the very edge. A bit more won't harm, but you don't need a laser for kitchen work.
Escoffier worked without lasers and had no EdgePro. Just very convexed carbons.
Edited by Benuser - 1/15/15 at 5:10pm
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benuser View Post

Always wondered about the lasers. I don't need an extremely thin blade to cut very thin. I can cut very thin slices with a fat blade. Must admit it's a bit easier with a thin blade, though. But I do need proper food release. So I prefer a moderately thin, strongly asymmetric Japanese knife. But a well-tuned French carbon will do as well.
Those lasers are commercially much more interesting. They don't last, but get sharp, and cut. No geometry problems, no steering and not too much wedging. Keep them sharp by any means, and replace them in time.
If your looking for performance with an average knife though, have a relief bevel of some 5 degree or more behind the very edge. A bit more won't harm, but you don't need a laser for kitchen work.

 

Not the overall thickness of the knife, of any necessity, but the thiness behind the edge.  That's what your asymmetric edge gets you, correct?

 

A laser I'd guess has about 2deg/side lead in to the edge.  3deg is really loads fatter as [the geek here] has laid it out in a computer model, and this I'd say is closer to what a good, nicely convexed, non-laser gyuto would have leading into the edge.

 

As far as thickness behind the edge goes I feel 0.25mm/.010" for a gyuto is already overkill, and don't see need for anything thicker.

 

 

The Geek


Edited by Rick Alan - 1/15/15 at 6:44pm
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