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Need help picking my first good quality knife.

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone.
This is my first post and it appears that knife questions are common so I'm hoping I can get advice as well.
I am in the market for a new knife. I already have a full (cheap) set of knives. I keep them sharp and in general good condition but I would like to purchase a good quality carbon Japanese knife. I've read that the Santoku is an ideal choice for a general purpose knife, but I'm open to anything. I'll be using this for everything except the hardest of tasks like cutting through bones. I don't have a brand preference and I'm not concerned with looks. Just performance. I'd like to spend $150 or less if possible (Canadian dollars).
My intent is to move towards more knives in the future, but because quality knives aren't cheap, I'll be doing it over time.

I'll be buying this on line from a Canadian distributor.
Any suggestion on what to look at or what to stay away from is appreciated.

post #2 of 31

Misono swedish from JCK is in your price range.  Be diligent about keeping it clean and dry until a patina builds up.  Shipping should be free and pretty fast; in my experience 2-3 days to the US.  Packages usually marked with low value or gift to get around import fees



ps if you get 240mm or bigger you can have a DRAGON

Edited by MillionsKnives - 11/16/15 at 7:26am
post #3 of 31
The Misono Swedish is a fantastic knife with exceptional Fit&Finish. It comes with a weak, overly polished and convexed edge out of the box, though. Hardly a problem for a somewhat experienced sharpener, others may ask their retailer for a first stone sharpening.
post #4 of 31

^ Nice looking knife


Small(ish) handles on that style knife so not good for big hands

post #5 of 31

With a pinch grip, the majority of handles don't bother me.  If it did, there is always the option to rehandle it.  You can have everything you want, but probably not in your budget.

post #6 of 31
Get a wetstone 1000/6000 grit double sided. Get a Glestain offset utility knife from JCK. Japanese chef knife.com. It is the most awesome knife ever made. Go cheaper get a classic shun chef knife. Sointu usa online sells Global knives really cheap. That was my first set 20 years ago and still a damn good knife. P.s. I have a Misono ux10 santuko dimpled. $400. I prefer my Glestain at $220. Easier to sharpen and really holds an edge well.
post #7 of 31

Welcome to Cheftalk.  Maybe you missed a few points in the first post


1) OP asked about carbon steel knives.  All your recommendations are stainless.

2) OP asked for a budget of $150 Canadian.  Your cheap option of $220 USD -> 293 CAD is almost double this budget.

3) I hate the dimples.  How can you thin your knife when you sharpen?  What happens when you sharpen up to where the dimples start, you just get a wavy edge? No thanks.

post #8 of 31

FOZZ, why do you want a santoku?


The vast bulk of santoku's are 180 mm or less, with just a few offered at 190 mm.  Generally, if you are going to have an all-around knife, then the usual minimum is 210 mm, with 240 mm or 270 mm more useful for such tasks as carvifng boneless roasts.  (As an aside, Japanese knives usually come in 30 mm length jumps.  That is because there is a general length measurement in Japan, called the "sun".  And a sun is 30 mm in length).


If I were looking for a basic first Japanese knife, I probably would choose a 240 mm gyuto.  Enough length to be able to do almost anything a European chef's knife can do, and can do anything a santoku can do.  In fact, I would consider length to be much more critical than even budge, especially if I were looking for something that's outside of the stainless sales norm.  


My first choice for a carbon blade would be to look at Japanesechefknives.com, a good source of knives that can be shipped almost anywhere in the world, with a flat shipping rate of $7 USD.  Currently (and possibly for a limited time), there is free shipping for any order over $100 USD.


The least expensive quality Japanese carbon steel 240 mm gyuto I know of is the Fujiwara FKH.  The U.S. Dollar price is $82, with an additional $7 shipping cost.  In Canadian currency, that's $118.46, duty not calculated in.  The steel is SK4, somewhat reactive at first and needing deliberate passivation.  A very basic carbon gyuto.


The next most expensive is the JCK Kagayaki Carbonext.  The 240 mm gyuto is $128 USD.  In Canadian currency, that is $170.37.  Users have reported it to be an excellent blade (even if it is not under $150 Canadian for a 240 mm gyuto)


MillionsKnives' recommendation of the Misono Swedish Steel has a gyuto priced at $153 USD ($203.64 Canadian).  Again, a well-regarded blade, even if it's 1/3rdmore expensive than your stated budget.


Hope that gives you food for thought.



Galley Swiller

post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the reply Galley,

I haven't really choosen Santoku over another blade, I'm open to anything. Through my reading it seemed as though the Santoku was "the do it all knife" which fit the bill for me. Until I started looking for a new knife just recently, I'd never even heard of a Santoku or Gyuto or any other Japanese knife. Very interesting stuff.

I will look into the knives you suggested. I have also been looking into the following brands. Shun. They seem to have a bad reputation, so I'm not sure if I should steer clear. They sell these locally so access is easy. I also looked at Moritaka knives which seem to be very nice, but I've read that they can be brittle and chip easily. I'm don't plan on throwing my knives, so I hadnt even thought of chipping.
post #10 of 31

Concerning santoku's, my reaction is that I'd rather have a longer blade.  Santoku's seemed to have gotten popular in the general public eye just about when Oprah Winfrey decided that they were "one of her favorite things".  What usually blows the general public's reaction upon trying one is that, with their very flat profile, a newbie can use the entire length of the edge, including the tip.  And that is something that suddenly allows them to make much more use than with the usual very curved blade profile with European knives (especially German knives), where the tip is very high up in the air.


However, the bane of such knives is that they just are not as long as a chef's knife - and on big jobs, such as a roast, simply are not as good in making those long strokes.  That's where the gyuto really shines.  And the sweet spot for an amateur chef (at least in my opinion) is the 240mm length.


Now as to the brands you mentioned _ Shun and Moritaka.  Shun is a highly promoted "prestige" brand made by one of Japan's biggest cutlery manufacturers.  Much higher priced than comparable Japanese brands, such as Tojiro.  My feeling is that it's simply much more expensive for the average chef and simply not good value for money.


I don't have experience with Moritaka - so you might want to research it on the web.  Seems to be considerable levels of comments, both pro and con.


For that matter, I don't know if either line has carbon steel blades.


As for chipping, while knife throwing (which I'm not about to even try to think of) very likely will result in chipping, there are other things, such as trying to cut frozen foods or cut bone, which are big time chipping action generators.


What I am noticing with your comments is that you are seeing direct personal feel of the knife as a major consideration.  I would suggest that you first approach such "try and (maybe) buy" sessions with a few caveats.  First, concentrate on approaching your existing knives as initial test subjects.  Try sharpening them first.  Then, practice using a pinch grip.  Finally, with a carrot (hard enough to get good tactile feedback), use a "guillotine and glide" style of cutting (downward start, followed by a forward thrust to clean up and finish the cut).  That will give you some meaningful feel and feedback, so you don't simply go into the store and say to yourself, "Gee!  This!  Is!  Sharper!  Than!  My!  Knife!!!"  The usual reason that they have one of those knives out for you to try is that in comparison to what the vast majority of people have in their kitchens, then their offering cuts much better.


But often with a pinch grip (as MillionsKnives states in Post #5 above), the feel of different handles quickly becomes irrelevant.  And knowing how different knives react can be more useful - IF you sharpen each of the knives to a serviceable level ahead of time.



Galley Swiller

post #11 of 31
Thread Starter 
The knives I use now (stamped stainless) are kept fairly sharp. As part of college, I was trained to sharpen chisel's. Not exactly the same as kitchen knives, but the technique is very similar. I have a full set of wet stones that get a reasonable amount of use. I'm no pro, but better than average.....probably?
Strange as it is, I use the pinch grip already. I didn't know that's what it was called, but it seemed the most natural when I started cooking. I have 2 knives where I use the type of grip, my smallish chef knife (8") and another similar sized but taller knife. Most other knives get the old baseball grip!

I live an hour or so out of Toronto where there are some quality knife retailers. I'll make a point go in and get a feel for my options.
post #12 of 31

Do you like the 5 1/2 or the 8 1/4?

post #13 of 31

Do you like the 5 1/2 or 8 1/4 in the Glestain offset utility?

post #14 of 31
Originally Posted by MillionsKnives View Post

Welcome to Cheftalk.  Maybe you missed a few points in the first post

1) OP asked about carbon steel knives.  All your recommendations are stainless.
2) OP asked for a budget of $150 Canadian.  Your cheap option of $220 USD -> 293 CAD is almost double this budget.
3) I hate the dimples.  How can you thin your knife when you sharpen?  What happens when you sharpen up to where the dimples start, you just get a wavy edge? No thanks.
post #15 of 31
You mention Misono swedish ux10 I own this knife. It's not a high carbon knife. I believe all knives have carbon it's the amount in the steel that makes it a stainless or true carbon knife.
post #16 of 31
The 8 1/4 glestain is my best purchase ever. Second is my 12 inch Dick. Third is my Shun Edo boning knife with flexible tip. That shun is awesome at fileting Dover sole. ( raw)
post #17 of 31
All steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. They can also have traces of other elements. Some amount of chromium makes it stain resistant. Stainless isnt really stainless, it can rust eventually just takes longer. Colloquially, carbon steel refers to non stainless, more reactive steel (oxidation wise).
post #18 of 31
Yes you are correct. I believe chromibium has carbon. But im not sure what vg 10 5 and 3 are made of the Glestains are a trademark in house steel they call acuto 14 I believe. It is fucking great steel.global is chromibium vanadian that was my first set. Whet stones rule.
post #19 of 31
This an interesting thread as I myself am looking to buy my first knife! I have a favourite knife, standard unlabelled yellow kitchen knife at work that I enjoy using for most jobs. The handle and the blade are the same length, blade is about 4.5 inches. The knife just seems so balanced to me.

Iv no preference on the material in the blade just as long as it sharpens easy and cuts even easier. I have used globals in the past and never enjoyed the handle. I have used Robert Welch knives and to date they seem the most comfortable for me. I have been looking around but I have absolutely no clue about decent knives. My father is a chef and he said to me "a sharp knife is a sharp knife"

Any recommendations other than Robert Welch style knives?
post #20 of 31

Chromium ("chromibium"?) is an element with the atomic number of 24.  It is what makes "stainless steel" stainless (chromium is more reactive to O2 in the air, and makes chromium oxide as a shiny, reflective surface patina.  That patina effectively forms a barrier to most oxidation between iron in the steel and oxygen in the air).  There's no carbon in chromium, since both are elements and it would take nuclear fission to get carbon from chromium.  Feasible, but only if you have some sort of nuclear reactor.  Can't say I have one in my kitchen.


Peteypete, what type of grip do you use to hold your knives?  If you are interested in a new knife, what is your budget?  What style of knife are you looking for?  How do you sharpen or keep sharp your current knives?



Galley Swiller

post #21 of 31
i do prefer a plastic grip or a wooden one, preferably full tang. British here guys! So a £100 -£120 budget, just to get me one good knife to last me a few years, a paring knife or your standards chef knife is what I'm looking to go for. I actually like to use Honing steel to sharpen my knives I find that on the surface knife sharpeners blunt my edge. I have never been able to use a whetstone properly.
post #22 of 31

I was asking about how YOU grip the knife handle, not about what type of handle your knife has.  Do you use a pinch grip (thumb and forefinger on opposite sides of and directly on the blade just forward of the handle), or a "racquet" grip (all 4 fingers and thumb wrapped around the handle)?


For a general reading tutorial on knife sharpening, read Chad Ward's work here:  https://forums.egullet.org/topic/26036-knife-maintenance-and-sharpening/


For very good videos by Jon Broida, see his videos on sharpening here:  https://www.youtube.com/user/JKnifeImports


Until we have a better idea of whether you can sharpen or learn how to, then buying any new knife probably will be an exercise in futility and frustration for you.



Edited by Galley Swiller - 11/20/15 at 6:00pm
post #23 of 31

You 'like' the RW knives? Is your knife a RW Signature? I have the 10" and for me, it's a joy - the best knife, in my extremely limited experience I have used/owned.


I'm in the UK and have been browsing this (and other) forums in the search of other 'chef knives' knives to try. Most suggestions are French profile J-knives, not Shun, not V-10, wooden Japanese Wa handled and are very difficult to try out here  


I have tried a Victorinox 8" Chef's (great workhorse, good chopper, rocker, glider, comfortable, easy to sharpen/maintain and can take being abused/chucked around


Wusthof 8" Classic - very heavy, meaty blade (and handle) - the type of dagger you might take into battle. Not for me - sold it on


Then I bought the Robert Welch and my knife world transformed. The 10" seemed huge, but in short-time was my goto. I don't dislike anything about this knife and love everything


A friend swears by carbon, and Sabatier and although the very flat profile isn't for me, I thought I would give carbon a go so went for the JCK Carbonext 240. The handle is too small for my 'XL' hands and the knife doesn't sing to me like the Welch. Its profile is flatter and it doesn't move about too well on the chopping board etc


With all the talk of Tojiro here, I thought I would dip my toe in with a Shirogami Gyuto 240. This is a full carbon which requires maintenance and patina to build. It had reasonable edge OOTB, but I have sharpened in on stones to scary sharp (easily - and I am a novice. Read a couple of online tutorials. felt pen the blade and look at what is happening were good tips for me) 


I have a 9" Kai Shun on order - the Tim Malzer chef's. This has a more rounded profile and a hammered damascus finish. I went for this a pretty knife :)


What I am coming round to is blade material and ease of sharpening as well as handle as priorities, followed by looks (fairly high on my list as I like nice looking kit - I know). I would like to try a Kramer damascus and the like. The other knife I would like to try is the Fujiwara Maboroshi. I think it will suit my bigger hand and I like the finger cut out and taller blade


IAnyway, this has turned into rather a ramble and a collection of thoughts of where I am now - which is still rather lost and confused, but I do hope it helps


Edit: See how similar the Welch knife is to the Nagomi Naru (lovely looker) 


Edited by bonesetter - 11/21/15 at 1:48am
post #24 of 31

I have just browsed the Robert Welch website and several things make me wonder about the knives..


First, the blade profile.  Unlike bonesetter, I do prefer a "French" profile, where the blade profile is a gentle curve.  I can use more of the edge that way, and when I need the tip cutting to my cutting board, I don't have to either raise my entire arm up very high and set my wrist at an awkwardly steep angle, just to get the tip against the board (or switch knives, to one where the tip is lower).  I can still rock-chop (if I am so inclined) with a gyuto, and I can get a very good "guillotine and glide" clean cut with the gyuto.  Others might prefer a high tip and plenty of belly, but not me, thank you.


Second, the steel description.  Robert Welch does not specifically mention what steel is used, other than describing it as "German steel".  Since many cutlery companies do not list what steel is used, then that's probably fair enough (I can think of MAC knives, which are also proprietary in the steel used - but are high quality). However, the description of the steel being "German" in origin makes me think it might very well be either 4116 steel (aka "X50CrMoV15") or something very similar.  That steel is commonly the usual suspect in many high-end German knife lines, and it is best known as being very tough (few or no chips in the edge), at the expense of being able to keep and hold an edge at the level of better Japanese knives (such as the MAC).


One issue with that steel is whether polishing the edge will hold up in use.


The edge is described as having a "Japanese" edge at 15o.  Unless you are dealing with a lobster splitter or some other heavy abuse knife, your knives simply SHOULD be at not more than that angle and not at anything at a higher angle.  But holding that angle will be something to observe in use.


The knife is forged with a bolster.  That's neither good nor bad.  In metallurgic terms, that really doesn't matter,  Since you only get knives which have gone through heat treatment (annealing, quenching and tempering), any advantage you might have started with from forging disappeared with annealing.  


Kudos to the design team in keeping the bolster away from the edge at the heel of the knife.  Too many "modern" designs have extremely massive bolsters along the choil, all the way down to (and even beyond) the heel.  Those massive bolsters are just simply a major nuisance in trying to get a smooth full length sharpening of the entire length of the edge.


The ergonomic handle concerns me.  I use a pinch grip, where thumb and forefinger are directly on different sides of the flat of the blade forward of the bolster, and the other fingers are very loosely wrapped around the handle.  I have found that an ergo handle with an upward bend tends to make my wrist bend at a sharper angle, and, at least to my wrist, is not as comfortable.


Those are my reactions.



Galley Swiller

post #25 of 31

Thankyou Gs for your thoughts, they are very helpful in the appreciation of the Welch knife


When you posted (Sunday) it just so happened I was comparing the Welch to my other main knives in respect of the tip height


While I don't want to start a tip height/profile discussion (as I wouldn't be able to come back with anything as I know next to zilch of blade profiles), what do you think of these pics I have taken of the Welch 10" Chef's, a JCK 10" Chef's and a Tojiro Shirogami 240 Gyuto


OK, I could have positioned them a tiny bit better, but you get the idea. Not much difference in tip position?



post #26 of 31

I must first confess that with advancing age, my squinting may make me not see all of the nuances.


I am assuming that in the first photo, I am seeing the JCK overlay the Robert Welch.  I am also assuming that I see the JCK is a 240 mm and the Robert Welch is a 255 mm, with.the Robert Welch being a wider blade and the JCK being a narrower blade (blade width being measured, or seen, as being the distance from the spine to the edge at the heel of the blade).  And I am seeing, in relation to the rise of the tip (i.e., "flatter" profine vs. "more belly") the JCK is significantly flatter than the Robert Welch.


In the second photo, I am assuming the Tojiro Shirogami 240 gyuto overlays the JCK.  Here, I cannot distinguish where the edge of the JCK is in relation to the relative width of the Tojiro, so I cannot directly determine the relative blade width between the JCK and the Tojiro.  However, viewing the relative angles of the tips of the two knives again suggests that the Tojiro is the flattest profile of the 3 knives.


They might not look like much difference, but even the small changes can have large consequences.


Hold each of the knives so that the blade is upright with the edge of the flat of the  blade directly touching your cutting board while you hold the knife.  Then, with the edge of the knife still in contact with the cutting board, see how much you have to raise the handle for the tip of the knife to reach the cutting board.  Compare all 3 of the knives and feel how your wrist reacts to each knife.  Compare each of the 3 knives, using both a pinch grip and a racquet grip.


If I am going to rock chop, then the Robert Welch might be the knife that many would associate with that form of cutting.  However, either the JCK or the Tojiro would involve much less flexing of the wrist than the Robert Welch.  Combined with the ergonomic handle, that's going to make the Robert Welch much harder for someone like me to use, especially for large jobs.


Galley Swiller

post #27 of 31
Those high tips are fun only for very tall rock-choppers working on far too low a counter.
post #28 of 31

Under those circumstances, it probably would be fun for others to watch the contortions.



post #29 of 31
Here's an example of blade profiles. 
On top, a Masamoto CT, a classic Japanese fine profile. On the bottom a Kanemasa modified to my liking of flat edges. I tried to align the spines for the photo.
Both are single metal. Both are favorites of mine. As you can see, i rarely rock chop. 


I mean: the decision on the profile of the blade, is entirely dependent on your cutting style.

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
post #30 of 31
From top to bottom: modern French, used Misono, brand new Hiromoto.
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