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Chef Knife and Sharpening System

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi, I'm looking for a good knife that's both durable and sharp.  It doesn't have to hold the edge extremely well (especially since it hurts durability).  I'd like to be able to practice sharpening it before I get a great knife - and it's nice to own a knife you don't have baby when you are in a rush.  I prefer Japanese style and I'm looking to spend around $100.  What do you recommend for creating a nice blade?  I also have many other cutting tools for landscaping that can share the sharpening tools.


Thanks for any help.

post #2 of 13

Hi turtile - Welcome to ChefTalk!


These threads are a dialogue, so please be sure to respond back.  Posting back and forth is how you and the rest of us can work together.


I see that you list yourself as a line cook, so that tells us that you are going to be using the knife on a fairly constant basis.  Under that circumstance, the best answer I can give for a knife that has an edge that will be both durable and sharp is - thar ain't no such critter.


Regular knife use will result in dulling.  That's just a fact of life.  You are going to need to keep in mind that keeping a blade sharp is through regular maintenance - sometimes weekly, sometimes daily, sometimes several times daily.


Which brings up the first question - about money.  Is the $100 just for a chef's knife - or is the $100 to cover both knife and sharpening gear?  If it's just for the knife, then what is your budget for sharpening gear?


You also don't say where you are.  We get initial posters from around the world - but you mention $.  That can mean the United States, Canada, Australia, and who knows how many other countries.  However, availability of knives and other cutlery items is largely restricted by national availability.


If you are willing, can you tell us about some other characteristics you want in your knife?


You say you prefer "Japanese style".  Does that mean a gyuto style?  (the Japanese equivalent of a classic French Sabatier style, with a modest edge curvature).  Or are you referring to a santoku?  Or is there some other Japanese style knife, such as a yanagiba, or a nakiri, or something else?


What blade length are you either willing to work with, or are satisfied with?


Please respond back, so we can continue a dialogue.



Galley Swiller

Edited by Galley Swiller - 6/9/15 at 5:30pm
post #3 of 13

I'm guessing from your comments you want stainless and not carbon.


Also it's important to know if you are left handed, because left handed means you might be a witch, and are therefore charged extra.

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for a balance between holding an edge and being durable.  One of my professional pruners gets dull within two hours which drives me crazy!  I don't want a knife like that...


I live in the US and the $100 is just for the knife.  I'd like to practice with the knife first before I sharpen some of my new pruners/loppers.


I prefer thinner/lighter knives.  Basically, I'm looking for a knife that can do a lot but I haven't worked with all of the different styles of knives.  The Yanagiba looks like something I'd like but I've never used it.  I'm between that and a Gyuto.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'm right handed.

post #6 of 13

Unless your only task all day is to slice sashimi, you want a gyuto.


For edge retention you're looking at aogami super (carbon steel),  or one of the powdered steels.  With that edge retention comes extra care.  If you rock chop and walk the edge across the board with these harder steels, it will probably get some small chipping.  No honing/steeling either, you touch up on stones or strop.  For carbon, you need to wet and wipe down when you are done cutting or it will rust.  For this standard maintenance, the payoff is steel that takes and holds sharper angles for longer, and sharpens easier.  Err actually sharpening powdered is a little harder than carbon, but still easier than cheapo stainless.


The best of both worlds might be stainless clad carbon.  The core steel is only revealed at the edge, the rest of the sides are non reactive.

post #7 of 13

I think your only options at $100 for a chefs knife is Tojiro DP or Fujiwara FKM.  You can find many reviews on both.


If you're at $150 price point you have more options.




My choice under $100 is a CCK cleaver.  You can get an 1103 or a 1301 for this price :D.  I find chinese cleavers are amazingly efficient for vegetable prep.

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'm willing to wait to save up if it's worth the extra money to go up to the $150 price range.  I like good tools but at the same time, I guess practicing on a more durable knife could also make me more likely to wreck a better knife in the future.  I'm just afraid of ruining a good knife too quickly.

post #9 of 13

Whatever you do with a medium grit stone (1000-2000 grit range)  won't mess up a knife nearly as bad as those hack sharpeners with power tools that don't know what they're doing.  Any of your mistakes are 1) fixable 2) part of the learning process


Sharpening double bevels is easy.  Polishing is a whole other thing.

post #10 of 13

There's a lot of bad info on the internet.


If you are new, start here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB3jkRi1dKs&list=PLEBF55079F53216AB


Also the sticky threads here are great, especially the "asymmetry" one while you're shopping.



post #11 of 13



My eyes must have glazed over in my first reading, when you brought up you had "many other cutting tools for landscaping that can share the sharpening tools".  Mebbe it was just the shock value of the statement that made me look away.


Then, in Post #4, you talked about new pruners and lopers.


Sharing sharpening tools between culinary knives and landscaping cutlery?  I have to really hesitate on that one.


Let's look at each separately.  To do so, it helps to bring three words into the dialogue: "toughness", "brittleness" and "hardness".


All three words are relative.  They are not absolute, but instead are comparative words.  And we use all three of the words when comparing steels, knives and tools.


Toughness and brittleness are flip side words.  Something is "tougher" when it resists breakage.  Something is "more brittle", when it will more readily chip or break.


We might say that we want "toughness".  However, for a knife edge, the third term, "hardness" comes into play.


The closer the edge brings the two faces of the blade (there's always some level of micro transition between the two faces), the sharper the knife.  However, that also means the edge itself will be just that less resistant to side-to-side pressures, that can result in the edge are of the blade folding over to one side or another.  Mind you, we are talking about very, VERY small cross-section areas, where forces end up concentrated. keep the edge of a knife sharp, you generally want a certain degree of hardness.  Hardness involves resistance to such forces.  Otherwise, the microscopic edge will just fold right over each time you try to cut something.  But everything is a compromise.  


Also, consider sharpening.  A "tougher" steel is a steel more resistant to the abrasive sharpening process.  But, sharpening is the process of removing material.  So, "toughness" makes it harder to sharpen.   And, often in the manufacturing processing of steel knives, "toughness" can only come at the expense of "hardness"


Now, take pruners and loppers.  I'm supposing that these are tools, where the cutting edges are relatively small scissor-type cutting mechanisms with long handles (so you can use leverage through the handles to concentrate your cutting efforts).


The inner faces of the clippers are smooth, where they rub against one another.  And there's a certain thickness to the blades.  After all, you're cutting through branches and stems.


Ideally, you never want the clippers to break.  Toughness is paramount here.  The steel will probably be chosen to be tough.  And each of the two blades will be thick, with edges that are easily felt to thicken right behind the edge - to resist breaking.  And a good part of the design is to use wedging to aid in their cutting process.


In contrast, good quality kitchen cutlery is designed to be much thinner by far than landscaping clippers.  That thinness minimizes wedging.and makes it easier for a cook to cut foods during prep work.


When you sharpen the clippers, you are sharpening just the side of each blade which is an outer side.  The inner side of the blades, where there is contact, is never sharpened.  (for the knife people reading this, think of it as sharpening two single bevel knife blades).


When sharpening the kitchen knife, you normally are sharpening both sides.  You are also sharpening at much more acute angles.  You are also using much longer sweeps on each pass on the stone in the knife sharpening process.  And the degree of polish on a kitchen knife edge is much, MUCH higher than on any clipper or lopper.


The clippers will use comparatively coarse stones, compared to the kitchen knife.  And for the kitchen knife, "polishing the edge" brings you to further sharpness, something that would simply be immediately destroyed in use, if you were to "polish the edge" of clippers.


I'm not saying that clippers, loppers and other landscaping tools should not be sharpened, but that the tools and techniques aren't necessarily transferable between landscaping tools and kitchen cutlery..



Galley Swiller

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
I keep my landscaping tools constantly wiped with Lysol to prevent spreading disease.

Here is a picture of my Japanese pruners. 8.5" handles. If you run your finger on the blade, it will cut. Twisting will break the blade. These have a hardness of 60/61.

post #13 of 13

Sharpening system is different from sharpening stone, at least as it is referred in knife industry. System is a device or attachment that helps the user hold the knife at a fixed angle and optionally, with electric sharpeners do the grinding we well.

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