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New knife time!

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Morning all,

 

Its that wonderful time again where I can justify dropping some coin on a new knife, and to mix it up I've been seriously thinking about a traditional handmade Japanese chef knife. My reasons for leaning towards this is twofold, firstly I have been reading some really good reviews over the last year, and secondly is more of an aesthetic appeal thing, and a desire to just go with something that I haven't gone with before. 
Just looking for personal experiences and solid suggestions / advise in regards to their own specific choices from those 'in the know' when it comes to handmade Japanese knives. What's great, what should I be seriously looking at and who sells them. Looking to spend up to $350 and any serious advise is much appreciated. 

post #2 of 5

as often as we can get it by our wives/girlfriends significant others is "new knife time".
I think most of us pick up at least a few a year.
 the good news is that our hobby is tax deductible. We "need" it for work.

 At that range you can get a lot of great stuff. Just this week,  just picked up an American made powdered steel,  New West Kniveworks santoku at 280.
But if you want Japanese you're looking at a pretty good stainless or a pretty good san mai construction at that point, not monosteel unless it's pretty low/mid end.
You haven't told us what type you're looking for. What shape (sujihiki gyuto  etc, or a kiritsule )  or  (western style construction, but Japanese craftsmanship, or Japanese style and craftsmanship.

Let us know a little more and maybe there are some of us that know abut some good deals or good dealers. Of course you already know all the name brands (misono, tojiro, masahiro, yaxell, tamahagane, glestain, mac. brieto, suishin, chroma etc.) They all well deserve the reputations they have earned. I've owned at least one by each of those in various levels and shapes and have never been disappointed. You can safely pick up any one of those and know you've made a good purchase.

I picked up a chroma last year. they have been the winner in 3 of the past 6 Bocuse d'Or and have been finalists in all 6. If you want a western style with a Japanese steel, Tojiro Senkou series are great! and they are cheap! Of course you've heard of their famous DP series. The senkuos are just a little better. Heston Blumenthal uses them and it was used by the Bocuse silver winner Danish team this year. They are a really bargain. It's my everyday make/model.
Tojiro also makes shirogami, aogami and super aogami knives too, also very inexpensive.
I just picked up a santou in powder steel from New West Knifeworks that's im trying out now

Just off the top of my head for retailers with good prices check out hocho knives or chef knives to go. Amazon has the senkuo and they sell some of the more popular, models such as mac. They each have a ton in your price range. maybe some of the other guys know of some better dealers, or know about specials

Although it's Taiwanese company not Japanese, The company that's sponsoring the cheftalk giveaway this month has a really interesting Damascus blade in an 8 or 9 inch chefs style in that price range. I think it's cool to be able to choose the level of sharpness it comes rom the artisan from 2K, 5K, 10K, 15K and even 30K sharpness. You won't find that level of service from a German company!!!!!!

If you like an inexpensive artisan class  American made, but Japanese style knife. Murray Carter 17th generation Yoshimoto bladesmith has his inexpensive knives (muteki series) in your exact price range. I believe these are a bargain at only 300.  They are "white #2" so they WILL discolor, but most of us are proud of our real carbon knives and we love the patina.
Despite that he shills for Shun, Alton Brown uses Carter.

cheftalk used to have a pretty active buy/sell/trade section, but it hasn't really been active in quite a while


Edited by harrisonh - 7/11/15 at 9:00am
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Cheers for the reply Harrisonh,

Man, its been a journey! So many positive's and negatives on each. So much research, and speaking to varies knife makers. I really need to get out and buy a few more regularly not to mention keep up with all the news. 
I've arrived at the conclusion that I seem to be one of these Chefs who has been in the industry for ever, travelled around pretty much everywhere, and now content to settle down back home in Australia, with the majority of my specialised knives giving to me by my first major Chef influence still intact and semi loath to replace. (some of which are now so rare and well used they are almost un-usable).. 

Some of the knives that I ended up being sold on, turns out were nearly impossible to import into Australia, and if I could find an importer the price just sky-rocketed. Having said that I went with a bit of a mix with what I currently have as my main Chef knife (Shun) but mixed it up a little and went with there 'Reserve Line 200mm Chefs knive, (which again, was no easy feat to import without selling my soul..) As I've had no problems with any of the Shun line over the years, and to be honest, the eye-candyness of the Reserve 200mm Chef's knife, kinda won me over in the end (yeah I know, but I am a bit of a sucker for not just a great practical knife, but one I just like looking at too).

Thanks again for your response and very well educated suggestions Harrison, I very much appreciate it mate.

post #4 of 5

There are a lot of knife threads here and some tutorials. Have you perused the kitchen knife section here?  It's a little hard to know what to suggest without knowing your style and how you use a knife.  I like knives that are light and thin, and I like very little belly (that is, a knife with a straighter edge).  I like high carbon steels and tools steels and am not a big fan of the more popular stainless steels like VG10.

 

You could spend months getting a handle on the basics!  In broad terms there are two kinds of Japanese knives, traditional and western.  Speaking in generalities traditional knives are single beveled and western types are double beveled.  The former are designed for preparation of Japanese foods, and there are many of them for different kinds of seafood.  Western knives are patterned on French and other European knives.  Most of us that are into Japanese knives will be using Western style J-knives.

 

The Shun that you linked in another thread is a Western knife in the Yo style.  Wa handles are the round, D-shaped or octagonal wood handles that affix to the rattail tangs of Wa-style knives.  Yo-style feature scales affixed to a full tang in the manner of European knives.

 

Broadly speaking steels fall into two categories:  High Carbon and Stainless.  HC knives will (generally) take a better edge but will stain or rust.  SS is carbon steel with other elements added to give certain properties, like corrosion resistance, toughness, edge stability, etc.  Among HC steels White #1 is probably the purest and takes the best edge.  Ao-Ko/Aogami has added tungsten for toughness.  It will get almost as sharp and hold the edge longer.  52100 is an American HC steel that rivals White #2.  The "purer" he steel (ie the less stuff added to it) the smaller the carbides generally are. Without going into materials science, finer grain structure means the knife can be made sharper.

 

Tool steels and some of the "Super Steels" can't be completely categorized.  Some tool steels get almost as sharp as HC while being pretty resistant to corrosion.

 

"Damascus" is often referred to as suminigashi among Japanese makes (suminigashi means "ink").  In 99% of the knives you see it's just a decorative cladding that does nothing for performance.  I would avoid it unless you simply can't live without the look.  The hagane (or core steel) is the important part.  The jigane (the cladding) just protects the core from corrosion and damage.

 

A knife made of one kind of steel with no cladding is often called 'monosteel'.  In a traditional knife made by hand it might also be called honyaki (loosely true forged).  A knife made with an inner hagane and outer jigane might be called san mai, kasumi or by other names, depending.  Just bear in mind that the jigane is normally just decorative.  Don't get hung up on it.  You may see suminigashi or just plain stainless; in a rustic kuroichi pattern there is "flash" on the blade that serves the same function.

 

Again, in broad terms a thin, light HC blade (often called a laser) will offer spectacular cutting performance but you'll have to take care of it.  Something like White #1 has to be babied a bit.  Like a Gremlin you want to keep it dry and don't feed it after midnight.  Okay, just keep it dry.

 

Stainless if a bit more forgiving and easier to live with day to day but generally won't get as sharp.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #5 of 5

BTW, it also depends on if knives is going to be a hobby or if you just want something new to take to work.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
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