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looking for new knife recommendations - upgrading my old.. old. chefs knife (saboteur vs. german vs. japanese).. also left handed??

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi, 

 

I am looking to purchase (1 or 2) new chef knives to replace what i currently have - which are older/inherited from my mother/uncle, from what i can tell no longer in business companies. 

 

I've gone to look at some german knives in a local shop (henckels, wustof, victorinox) and some K-Sabatiers at a boutique shop. I've used both german and french shaped/styled knives before - i've never really used Japanese knives that i can recall (i have access to a low end santuko, but don't find myself reaching for it much at all). 

 

I'm looking for a step up from what i have right now in terms of functionality as i'm doing a lot of large batch prep and cooking and need something that makes this feel less daunting. 

 

I'm not really interested in spending $2-300 on one knife (which doesn't really seem like an issue based on what i've seen), but i want to make sure that i make some good decisions, and so am looking for some insight/opinion from anyone who has some good experience! :)

 

I am left handed, but have never owned anything specific to that - from what I've read, it seems that this is really only a possible issue with Japanese knives, but that french and german are 50/50 sharpened? 

 

I am a history buff, so i have to some extent, an interest in K-Sabatier antique and the T-I nogents at thebestthings, however, i'm not sure i really want a 10" chefs (i'm used to 8" and 9" - but they do not have either of these left in the nogents at this point - so if anyone knows of anyone selling a Thiers-Issard nogent 8 or 9" i'd love to hear about that too)

 

i'm also on the fence to some extent on carbon steel vs. stainless - i've only ever owned stainless, so i don't have experience caring for carbon yet. 

 

basically, any advice is welcome!

thanks for reading! :)

post #2 of 5
Hey PsyCook,
About left vs. right-handed:
ALL decent knives are litterally asymmetric. One face more or less convex, the other more or less flat. A strictly symmetric blade would wedge terribly. The flatter face allows thinner slices, the convex one limits stiction.
Japanese vs. European
Japanese Western knives have adapted the French chef's knife by off-centering the edge towards the flat face, thus enhancing the function of both faces. Japanese culture simply ignores left-handed.
Carbon vs. stainless: carbon steel sharpens much easier, but requires a bit more care as long as no patina got installed.
Your case: you may get a new French carbon knife -- K-Sabatier, Thiers-Issard -- but don't expect the same Fit&Finish as with Japanese blades. Grinding is often irregular, expect slight bents and warps. Out of the box edge very poor. Not that it all matters in daily use.
Japanese blades come much better finished. But their asymmetry is not very favourable to a left-handed. Neutralizing the edge is a poor solution. You still will have a flat left face causing stiction. Not too dramatic with a narrow petty, but to be avoided with a chef's knife.
In your place I would look for an adapted geometry: left face convexed, right face flat, edge off-centered to the right. Some makers produce it on special request -- I know about Misono. Masahiro has left-biased versions in their Virgin Carbon series.
Hope this helps a bit. Bernard
post #3 of 5
I should have added that French, Japanese, and recent German have different profiles. All have the French ("Sabatier") profile as a starting point but evolved differently. In general, the German tip is the highest one, almost in line with the straight spine, very funny if you're very tall and work behind a low counter. For others it's completely useless. The Japanese tip is, again, in general, a bit lower than the French one.
Sometimes the difference with a santoku is hard to make.
If you do a lot of rock-chopping, you will prefer a high tip and a lot of belly. By the way, rock-chopping is very hard to the edge, and to be avoided with thin, hard Japanese edges.
The French and Japanese profiles are more adapted to forward slicing.
post #4 of 5
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